Here are this weeks Bible study notes for 1 Timothy 2:8. Add your thoughts in the comments section.
1 Timothy 2:8 (NIV)
8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.
The first part of this verse that I want to look at is the use of the word 'everywhere'. In this context Paul is talking about matters within the church, not external to the church and when we then apply that, this part could be read as 'I want the men to pray in every church'. The focus here for Paul was correcting and instructing the church on what they should be doing when they meet together and he is try to convey the message that corporate prayer should be a fundamental part of the church meeting. This is a directive in doctrine that applies to every church congregation, regardless of circumstance or situation, it's an imperative and essential part of our meeting together that prayer is incorporated.
The next section I want to zoom in on is the use of the word 'men'. Paul is assuming that it should be the men within the church that lead prayers. This is a point that is contended amongst the modern church. Many people stand by the doctrine that it should only be men that take the pulpit or leadership within church, whereas others believe that some of the scriptures interpreted in this way were because of the cultural status of women at that time. Personally, when I see the way Jesus treated women in the New Testament and how they held positions of authority in His life, it leads me to believe that there must be an equality of gender within church life. I've met too many women who are amazing leaders to believe that they are not called to leadership or ministry in some way.
The idea of 'lifting up holy hands' also held cultural significance as this was how many of the people of the time worshipped. It also signifies that 'holy hands' are set apart for God and not given over to evil. People often hold their hands up in worship to signify an openness to God and to show an outward physical expression of worship. Part of the significance of this is that Paul is calling the people to life their hands in a public expression to God.
Finally, the last part of this verse 'without anger or disputing' is a very blunt reminder that we must examine our hearts before coming before God. It is displeasing to God is we have anger and strife within the church and it also gets in the way of prayer. For this reason Jesus actually teaches that we should interrupt our prayers, if necessary, to make peace with others.
Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV)
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
When we prayer with anger in our hearts we can do more harm than good, especially in a public arena. So it is important that we put these things right before taking up a position of leading public prayer. Our relationship with God may not depend on those around us, but as human beings our emotions affect our actions and it often easy to see when someone is harbouring anger or bitterness.
Adam Clarke describes this practice in this way:
"Having no vindictive feeling against any person; harbouring no unforgiving spirit, while they are imploring pardon for their own offences.''
- Adam Clarke 1836
I hope you've learned something new from the notes this week and I would love to know what you think about this verse in the comments section.
I pray that this scripture might bless you and enhance both your understanding of God's word and your relationship with Him.