Faith trumps state- Monday- 24th week in ordinary time- 1 Timothy 2: 1-8

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The community of Timothy was certainly under attack. There were the false teachers polluting the minds of the converts, and to top it all, there was a state sponsored threat to Christianity. The accusation from the Roman state was that the community of believers were traitors, because they refused to accept the cult of the Emperor, a custom of praying to the divinized Caesars.

The cult of the Emperor began after the assassination of Julius Caesar in 27 BC. Julius Caesar was proclaimed divine and accepted among the gods of the state, officially allowing for the initiation of his worship. It is the worship of the Emperors that ironically brought about a stabilizing force to the Empire.

Unity and peace was a hallmark of the Roman Empire and if this worship could guarantee stability in the Empire, it was worth implementing, even if it meant that it be done with force. This cult of the Emperor came to a standoff towards the end of the reign of Gaius Caligula. In his arrogance, Caligula attempted to erect a statue of himself within the Temple walls in Jerusalem, to be worshiped by the Jews. Fate however stepped in and Caligula died, averting a disaster.

Paul has boldly declared in 1:17 that there is only one God. He reiterates this core belief in 2:5; yet he sees the need to send a message to the Romans that this does not mean that the Christians oppose the Emperor’s authority. While Paul will not compromise on the worship of the one true God, he does not want to antagonize the Romans. It is for this reason that he cites the need for prayer.

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