“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” ~ 1 Timothy 2:1-2
This verse instructs us to pray for all men, especially for those in authority that we (Believers) may live in peace and quiet. Sadly, the sentiment of this verse seems quite dissonant with the tones emanating from the church today. The strains of political activism welling up in the Body of Christ are antithetical to the principle outlined in our text.
Paul was writing to Christians living under the tyranny the Roman government had become. Christians were deemed a subversive anti-Roman rebel group to be put down. Thus, their lives and livelihood were under constant threat from those with political power.
The Jews at the time frequently exploited this sentiment to get Christians in trouble: to have them beaten and expelled from their homes/cities. There was no democracy, no way for the common man to express his political will. Caesar, made his edicts and you either “toed the line” or suffered the consequences. Taxes were high and rights for non-Roman citizens were unheard of.
It is under these conditions that Paul encouraged Timothy to PRAY for the authorities. Paul recognized, as should we, that the battle to be fought was not political; rather it was (and still remains) a SPIRITUAL battle. He alludes to this in 2 Corinthians 3:5 and Ephesians 6:12,
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” ~ 2 Corinthians 3:5
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” ~ Ephesians 6:12
Indeed, Jesus did the same. When the people tried to make Him King (John 6:15), he resisted, because the solution they needed was not political but SPIRITUAL. Even if He, Jesus, became their political leader their problem still would not be solved. The solution to the sin problem that plagues mankind is not political, it is SPIRITUAL. Does anyone think that a change in government (of any type) will bring about a change in the hearts of men?? Does anyone believe that righteousness can be legislated??
Josiah and Jeremiah
The greatest king of Israel was Josiah (2 Kings 23:25). Josiah eliminated idol worship during his reign. He led the greatest Passover celebration since the time of Moses. He was a king on fire for God. Yet, as Jeremiah (who began preaching during Josiah’s reign) explained, the hearts of the people were not for God (Jeremiah 3:6). Despite all of Josiah’s reforms, despite his great leadership he could not solve the sin problem of his people. The solution they needed was not political; it was SPIRITUAL.
Daniel and the Angel
To get another perspective on this issue, consider Daniel 10:12-14, 20. In the tenth chapter of the book of Daniel, Daniel sees a vision which puts him in great spiritual and physical distress. Eventually, an angel comes to his aid, to explain the vision and encourage Daniel.
However, the angel also relates that he had been delayed in coming to Daniel because he had been in a battle with “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” for 120 days. Eventually, the chief angel, Michael, had to come and help him overcome the “prince of the kingdom of Persia”.
In addition, as this angel was about to leave Daniel, he further explained that he was going back to fight the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” before the “prince of Grecia (Greece)” would appear.
Now, to be clear, these “princes” were the rebellious angels that had been thrown out of heaven with lucifer (Matthew 25:41, Revelation 12:9). However, we also know from (Biblical and secular) history that there was an ongoing battle between Persia and Greece, in which Greece eventually prevailed under the leadership of the famous Alexander the Great.
Therefore, the scene in Daniel gives us a peek into the SPIRITUAL war that rages behind the scenes of what appears, from a purely human perspective, to be a geopolitical struggle. That battle then, just like the battles now, was SPIRITUAL and they can only be won SPIRITUALLY.
The Spiritual Battle
It is with this in mind that Paul urges us to look beyond the political façade and fight SPIRITUAL battles with SPIRITUAL weapons. Vote as you desire, but don’t be fooled: it is NOT the power of the poll that prevails. For Christians to lead a “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” we must rely on the power of PRAYER.