1 Timothy 2:1-2
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;…
I. THE DUTY ENJOINED in the words of our text — namely, "that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings, and all that are in authority."
1. The constituent parts of this important duty. The several parts of public worship are comprehended in the text, in what the apostle denominates "supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks." By supplications we understand the deprecation of those calamities to which we are exposed in common with all men. The apostle next speaks of "prayers" — by which we understand petitions — which it is our privilege to present to the throne of the heavenly grace, through Jesus Christ, for the supply of our various wants. The apostle, in connection with prayer, speaks of "intercessions" — that is, prayer — for others; those petitions which we are called to offer for all sorts and conditions of men, according to their several necessities. To supplications, prayers, and intercessions, the apostle adds "giving of thanks," as an expression of our gratitude for all the benefits vouchsafed to us by the great Author of our being.
2. The extent of our Christian obligations in regard to this duty. The apostle teaches us that in our acts of public devotion we are "to pray for all men." Here is nothing partial, exclusive, or sectarian. But we are not only taught to pray for all men in general, but for our rulers in particular, whether supreme or subordinate. And as it is the Lord "that giveth salvation unto kings," to Him we ought to pray on their behalf, that He may bless them in their royal persons, families, and government. The honour, welfare, and happiness of nations depend much on the wisdom, piety, and government of those who reign. But in praying for all that are in authority, we should not only pray for kings and for ministers, but also for magistrates, who may either be a great blessing or a great curse. It becomes us to pray, from a consideration of the importance of their office.
3. The order in which this is presented by the holy apostle. "I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications and prayers be made for all men." This is not a secondary duty, a thing merely optional; no; it is a duty of paramount importance, which ought to take the precedency of every other in the public assemblies of the Church of God. The prayers of the people of God are more to be depended on than all the strength of our fleets or armies.
II. THE ARGUMENTS BY WHICH THIS IMPORTANT DUTY IS ENFORCED.
1. That as professing Christians we may give no just cause of offence to the government under which we live; "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty"; that we may be preserved "from all sedition, privy conspiracy, and rebellion"; so live as the gospel may not be blamed; but that we who, by the principles of our Divine religion, are taught to abhor everything that would be injurious to others, conduct ourselves so as to prove that we are the friends of all and the enemies of none. If the State be not in safety, the subjects cannot be secure; self-preservation, therefore, ought to lead men to pray for the government under which they live. The psalmist, a true patriot, inspired with the love of his country, a holy zeal for the glory of God, and an ardent desire for the prosperity of both Church and State, says, when speaking of the people of God, "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek thy good." Let us, then, cultivate the spirit of true loyalty, patriotism, and religion, as that which is best calculated to promote our individual interest, the Church's good, and the commonwealth of the nation.
2. That we may secure the Divine approbation of our conduct, which is done by sincerely, faithfully, and affectionately praying for all men; "for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God and our Saviour," and therefore has the highest possible sanction. It is not said that it is good and acceptable in the sight of God to speak evil of dignitaries, by railing against those who are higher in rank, power, or authority than ourselves, whether in Church or State. The evil is prohibited; "it is written, thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people"; and, therefore, to indulge in it were a crime in the sight of God, as well as contrary to the rules of that society by which many of us profess to be governed, which says, that "We shall neither speak evil of magistrates nor of ministers." It is not said that it is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour to treat the office of rightful governors with contempt.
3. That the will of God, in reference to the salvation of our guilty race, may be accomplished. If we ask, what is the will of God our Saviour concerning the human race? we are taught to believe that it is gracious and merciful. He "would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth." Many have been saved in answer to prayer; and we, have good reason to believe that more would if we had prayed more.
III. THE INFERENCES which may be deduced from the subject.
1. That we are not good subjects unless we pray for all our constituted authorities. In early times, the members of the Jewish Church were called to pray for heathen princes, even for those who carried them away captive into Babylon, "unto the God of heaven, for the life of the king and of his sons," and in obedience to the command of God Himself, by the prophet Jeremiah, as a means of securing their own interests "that ye may be increased therein and not diminished; seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it; for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace."
2. If we are not praying subjects, we are not good Christians; for all good Christians are men of prayer, and no Christian can be satisfied with merely praying for himself, his family, or the Church of God.
3. We conclude, from the nature of this duty, that if we are not good Christians we shall never yield a conscientious obedience to the apostolic exhortation recorded in our text.
Parallel VersesKJV: I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
WEB: I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and givings of thanks, be made for all men: