by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 10 Lincolnton, NC September 26, 2004
8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
1901 ASV Translation:
8 I desire therefore that the men pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and disputing.
There are no variations between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26 in verse 8.
I. With this verse, the apostle turns to "application". He specifically addresses the "men" in respect to his teaching in 2:1-7 and makes his "application" a "demand".
A. The word translated "I will/desire" is a word that carries a lot of "insistence". It is used primarily in contexts where the one who "wills" is prepared to put all of his effort/resources behind the "will".
B. It would be a mistake for any "man" reading this verse to "ignore" it, but it would also be a mistake to think that Paul could "force" any man to do what he "wills". When this term is used of God, His "will" is backed by His resources -- i.e. He will force the accomplishment of His "will". When a man "wills" thus, he can only do what he can do. If he has a way to "make it happen", he will, but if he cannot "make it happen", all he can do is say "I will that..." and hope that his expression carries enough weight with those to whom he speaks to motivate them to use their resources to get the thing done.
II. Paul's specific focus upon the "men" is revealed by his use of a word that means "the male".
A. Because the rest of the chapter is given over to addressing the "female" members of his audience, we assume that "prayer" is the primary male responsibility in the Church.
1. This is not because God doesn't want to hear from women.
2. This is because the men typically want to "do" whatever it takes to get things done and God wants them to "pray" to get things done. It is a blunting of the natural proclivities of fallen men -- to "do" and to "fight with each other" over the doing.
B. The instruction of 2:1-7 is not restricted from the women, but it is focused by verse 8 on the men for the above mentioned reasons.
III. Paul's "Demand" that Men Pray.
A. The word translated "pray" is the more broad term for prayer (used previously in 2:1) and, as such, covers all of the ground covered in 2:1.
B. The on-going words enhance this idea of a broad application of prayer.
1. "...in every place..." -- eliminates any possibility that "prayer" is to be forsaken at any time and in any place.
2. "...lifting up holy hands..." -- refers to the typical posturing in prayer as was the norm for prayer as given by the illustration of Moses in the battle with Amalek in Exodus 17. It was symbolic and does not establish a necessary posture for prayer. But, it does establish a necessary attitude: expectancy from God for a real need.
a. The focus upon "holy" hands is instructive: God does not have a strong inclination to minister to the "unholy". Typically, self-serving men seek to turn God into a "Method" of achieving self-centered ends, and God has little patience with that kind of thing.
b. The focus upon "hands" is also instructive: the hands are seen as a primary tool for accomplishing tasks and Paul wants "men" to understand that the primary "Tool" for accomplishing tasks is God Himself as He responds to "men" who want His will to be done.
1) Generally speaking, God's "answers" to men who hold up holy hands is a set of "wisdom instructions" on how to apply their hands to His task so that the end manifestation looks like men applying their hands to a task to accomplish a goal. In other words, an on-looker who did not see the effort of prayer would only see what a person would see if the men didn't pray at all: men applying their hands to a task.
2) Occasionally (very occasionally), God's "answers" to men are instructions to do nothing so that what is done is seen to be "of God"...but biblically this is exceedingly rare...God seems to be wholly committed to the use of intermediaries and very seldom does anything "on His own". It is the essence of Trinitarianism that God is not the Lone Ranger (who, by the way, had Tonto the entire time he was cast in the role as "alone").
C. Then Paul adds the final touch to his demand: without "wrath" and "argument".
1. The word translated "wrath" is generally used to depict "retribution": it is a "justice" word. The implication is that men will almost invariably (even in prayer) lean pretty heavily on "what is deserved" rather than "what is needed". There must, according to Paul, be a jettisoning of the mindset of "law" so that "grace" may triumph. This is not an ungodly "coddling" of the wicked, but it is a deliberate by-passing of the legal mindset that drives Sin ("...the strength of Sin is the Law...).
2. The word translated "doubting/disputing" is generally used to express a strong disagreement caused by an over-commitment to one's own sense that "I know what God wants in this situation". Prayer that is without "disputes" is prayer that acknowledges that, though the Bible is relatively clear about the will of God regarding the vast number of issues men face, the specific application of that "will" at any given point in time regarding any particular issue is complex enough that men need to humble themselves in prayer and cease to "argue" about what He wants. Rather, they need to lay out the issues before Him and then see how He "handles" it.
a. Though Paul does not address the issue of how He will handle it, it seems to be a necessary corollary to holy prayer that the men who engage in it will come to the same mind about a thing as a result of God's response to them. It is, afterall, His plan that a plurality of elders be responsible for the church and, if that is the case, it seems that He will lead that plurality to singularity when it comes to decisions that need to be made.
b. It is interesting how much is not said in the particular texts of the Bible. We have sufficient revelation from the whole to address most of life's issues, but we seldom have sufficient revelation from the particulars to know what it is that God seeks in the specific situation. This He gives when men pray. But how He gives it remains an unsettled question because He often employs a variety of methods.