Romans 12:1 would be an introductory statement that explains the organic function of the members of the body of Christ as they seek individually to live according to the gospel: “I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” In order to accomplish this spiritual paradigm shift in one’s life, Paul explained that we must “be transformed by the renewing” of our minds (Rm 12:2). In another context he wrote, “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus” (Ph 2:5). In reference to discipleship, the following are those areas of our lives on which we must focus in order to transform our minds into the mind of Christ:
A. Focus on prayer (2:1-4):
Our lives must be characterized by continual prayer (1 Th 5:17). The exhortation in this text is that supplications and prayers be directed to God for those who are not a part of the body of God. These are those who have influence upon the social environment in which the members of the body live. When prayers are “made for all men,” then the social environment in which the church exists changes for the benefit of the members. We do not know how God influences “all men” for the benefit of the church, but at least in this request for prayers for all men, God does influence those around us for our benefit. We know that He works in the world around us because the Holy Spirit in this text asks that we pray that things change for the better.
Prayers affect “all who are in authority” for the benefit of Christians. Again, it is not our business to understand how God works in the affairs of man. The simple fact that the Holy Spirit here directs the hand of Paul to enjoin upon Christians the responsibility of praying for government officials assumes that God will work in government for the benefit of the church. Our prayers, therefore, do enhance the function of the body of Christ. Our prayers must extend beyond those who are members of the body of Christ. The principle reason for such prayers is “that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life.”
Offering prayers and supplications for all men and government officials “is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” Since it is the desire of God that “all men to be saved,” then it is necessary that Christians live in a society where their gospel preaching is not disrupted or hindered by social upheaval. Men and women cannot “come to the knowledge of the truth” of the gospel if the preaching of the gospel is hindered through social chaos. We assume, therefore, that the Spirit’s directions concerning prayers for civil government officials are not so much for the salvation of the officials themselves, but for the salvation of the citizenship through our unhindered preaching of the gospel.
[Next in series: April 4]