1 Timothy 2:1-3
A Peaceful and Quiet Life
Christians have found themselves under numerous and sundry governments throughout history. All over the globe for the past two-thousand years, Christians have worshiped under governments friendly and hostile, Christian and pagan, monarchies, dictatorships, democracies, and everything in between. Christians have and do worship in places secret and open, in grand cathedrals and underground. The Church has prospered and declined under all these forms. Though we can say under which we would rather live, we cannot say which is best.
The early Church found herself worshiping and ministering under a pagan, imperial administration. That administration tolerated different religions to a point—that point being that religion would submit to Rome where Rome demanded its due: tribute and loyalty. The Church commanded her members to do the former and the latter but up to a point: She would not say, “Caesar is lord,” as such an oath would betray her only true Lord and Savior. That is where both she and Rome drew their lines, and for this cause the Church suffered under Rome’s brutality the first three hundred years of her existence. Some of the Church’s earliest writings which survive from ancient times are from men who tried to persuade the Roman authorities that they had nothing to fear from Christians who paid taxes and actually prayed for the emperor, two of whom were Justin Martyr and Tertullian.
Paul had endured persecution from both pagan and Jewish hands. And as he did in Romans 13, he here lays down rules for Christian worship and practice. No, we can never betray our Lord. But we can certainly pray for our rulers and obey all laws which do not conflict with the word of God or conscience. And why do we do this? “That we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” Christians are people who go to work and raise their families. They are generous and kind to all they meet. They eat their bread with thanksgiving and pray God’s peace on all people, but most of all that they should come to the knowledge of the truth. They help those in need and testify to God’s saving grace as opportunities arise. They meet together and worship once a week to sing praises and hear the word, to encourage and hold one another accountable. But more than this, Christians are people of peace, both inward and outward, who mind their own business, and seek to behave before the world in a godly and dignified manner: Peaceful, quiet, humble, and yet unafraid, friendly, and winsome. And if the world persecute us for this, then let them do so with great shame.