A classic medieval prayer for political leaders reads: “O God, almighty Father, King of kings and Lord of lords, grant that the hearts and minds of all who go out as leaders before us, the statesmen, the judges, the men of learning and the men of wealth, may be so filled with the love of thy laws and of that which is righteous and life-giving, that they may be worthy stewards of thy good and perfect gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Paul instructed the church to pray for those in authority, especially political leaders (vv. 1–2, 8). Considering that the cruel Emperor Nero was then in power, this was a remarkable command—ultimately Paul was asking the church to pray for the salvation of such people. If this emperor were to trust Christ, God would be glorified!
Political leaders are an example of “all people”—Paul was actually instructing the church to pray for everyone and especially for their salvation. As implied in the Great Commission, evangelistic prayer and witness are the responsibility and privilege of the church, which is why we are to “live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (v. 2). This kind of gospel witness is driven by the teaching of sound doctrine, an emphasis we’ve seen throughout this epistle.
God Himself desires all to be saved (vv. 3–4; cf. 2 Peter 3:9), though we know from Scripture that this won’t happen. Even so, salvation is His plan, realized in Christ (vv. 5–7; cf. Matt. 20:28; Gal. 4:4–5). The incarnate Son of God made peace between God and humanity, offering Himself as a ransom or substitutionary sacrifice within His Father’s will. There is no other mediator, no other gospel, no other road to salvation.