When he wrote this, and as first century Christians migrated and ministered en route to the uttermost parts of the earth, it was against the backdrop of the rule of Rome. Social, political, and cultural dynamics were arguably a bit more challenging than what we see in America today, but those pioneers of the faith once for all delivered were largely unmoved by what would seem to be a daunting challenge. This was because they grasped the concept that the message of the Gospel was more about redemption than reformation, more about individual salvation than solving social problems, more about a world to come than the world that was—or is.
This is not to say that these souls on fire were indifferent to cultural or political matters, but they knew that ultimate hope and change were never really possible via human means and methods. And when they did pray for those in authority—even those with tyrannical tendencies in Rome—they did so with the seemingly singular goal of desiring to be left alone in a sort of libertarian way:
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” – (I Timothy 2:1-5 NIV)
Like the prayer for the Tsar in Fiddler on the Roof—that he may stay far away—this was a plea for freedom. But it was also a plea for a particular kind of freedom, to be able to live right and model and share the hope of the Gospel.
They were a generation under the influence of The Easter Effect—people who were changed from the inside out and who eventually turned the world upside down (See: Acts 17:6).
Happy Easter—He Is Risen!