I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. I Timothy 2:8
Men are to pray in every place as Christ’s ministers at the altar.
In the first place, we note, that Paul is writing the authoritative words in this text in the capacity of having been appointed by Jesus Christ to stand in the office of preacher, apostle, and teacher of Gentiles (I Tim. 2:7; II Tim. 1:11; cp. Gal. 2:6-10).
Note also that verse 8 stands at the head of this unit. It is basic. It really is the rock-bottom pillar of the truth addressed to the erring women in the church. We hope to take careful notice of this in Lesson V.
Thirdly, we see that Paul informs Timothy and us why he writes these important and basic matters from Macedonia—i.e., why he does not wait till his next visit with Timothy in Ephesus. The reason, briefly states, is his desire to prevent Satan and all his hosts from working havoc in the church as the house of God, in the very place where God dwells in His house of prayer. Is not this the “place” where God seeks those who worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:21-24)?
Lastly, permit me to point out that when Paul writes as he does in I Corinthians 14:33, 34, he establishes the revealed truth that there is no confusion in any of God’s outgoing works at all. Whether you read of the works of God as they are predetermined before the foundation of the world, or as the unfolding of these divine “thoughts” in all of creation and providence, you will find that God reveals Himself nowhere as a God of confusion. Always we see the wisdom of God as the Builder and Maker of His church. Ever the “law” says, do not blame God for sinful confusion. The “law” is the rule of all our believing thinking. Here the voice of God says loudly and clearly, “Who art thou, O man, that answers against God?”
Let us in seriatim form notice the Word of God in I Timothy 2:8. We focus our attention first on the words, “I will therefore.”
We hardly need to speak at length on this point. The very fact that Paul is appointed to be Christ’s preacher (herald), Apostle, and teacher of the Gentiles indicates beyond contradiction that Paul does not write here as a self-appointed charlatan, but as a true ambassador who cries: “Thus saith the Lord: I will.” In my church it is and shall be my determined and wise will that “men” shall raise up holy hands to me in congregational prayers, combined with the preaching of the Gospel. Hence, it behooves us to take our shoes from off our feet in humble submission to God and to His officially sent emissaries.
The very verb “I will” in the Greek text tells that this is what God wills as based upon divine, wise, and eternal deliberation. These plans and purposes are succinctly stated in Psalm 40:4-6; Hebrews 10:1-10; and Isaiah 55:6-11. God works all those things according to the counsel of His sovereign decree. Now, in full agreement with this counseling will of God, as well as the execution of the same in bringing all the elect to glory, Paul writes: “I will.”
Paul writes, entirely in agreement with the will of God, and also entirely as an obedient herald, apostle, and teacher of Gentiles, “I will that men lift up prayers.” According to what standard? The injunction is that “men” and not “women” should preach and pray in the churches called into being according to “the law” (I Cor. 14:29-35). This standard, “thus saith the law,” is tantamount to saying: “according to the eternally determined will of God.” If we question this, let us all be put in our place with the rebuke uttered in Romans 9:17-23!
Let us not overlook the revealed fact that, in His sovereign and all-wise plan, God qualifies only those whom he calls to perform their assigned ministry. Read Acts 6:1-8. There God qualifies His chosen deacons. We see this particularly in the appointment of Stephen, a man full of the Holy Ghost, upon whom the Apostles also “laid their hands.” Read Acts 7, which records Stephen’s masterful and brilliant defense of the Gospel of Christ. Men who are appointed in “every place” to pray are the men qualified by the Holy Spirit. Such qualification is not for all. We hold that it is quite clear that God according to the Law does not give such gifts unto women, be they ever so pious and knowledgeable in the Scriptures. Once (it was some sixty years ago) an elderly sister spoke to me very disrespectfully concerning her husband. I reminded here that she should reverence he husband. She rejoined with a rather haughty, “What if he does not know anything?” I answered with a question: “Then do you know so much better than he does what the Scripture requires of the wife in Ephesians 5:21-33?”
Prayers must be made by the lifting up of holy hands. This indicates that men who pray must not only have received intellectual charisma of God, but also must partake of the holiness of Christ; for they stand praying and preaching before a holy God in the midst of His sanctified people. They are indeed members of Christ’s church, living members. They do not have bloody hands, murder in their hearts. The church’s ministers, elders, and deacons wear the golden signet on which is written holiness to the Lord (Ex. 29:36)!
The terms “without wrath and (doubtings) wranglings” is very clearly the practical walk and deep spiritual attitude required by the Lord. The term in the Greek which is translated “doubting” in the KJV, is more aptly translated “disputings” in the American Version as well as in the Dutch translation. The term in question in the Old Testament really refers to “thoughts” of God in a good sense, as the holy thoughts and saving purpose of God (see Ps. 33:11, 92:3; Isaiah 55:8; Jer. 23:11). However, the term is also used in the Old Testament with reference to the evil thoughts which proceed from wicked hearts against God and His people (Gen. 6:5; Ps. 94:11: Isaiah 65:2-5, 66:18).
In the New Testament the term refers exclusively to the evil “thoughts” of the hearts of men. The classic text isMatthew 15:10-20, especially verses 17-20. Here Jesus lifts the veil on the spiritual-ethical reality of the fountain of sin in evil men who reject the law of God as spoken of in Matthew 15:8. Isaiah had given the mystery of sin in Isaiah 29:3. (Read this passage carefully.) Jesus lays bare the heart of those who are hypocrites. It is from the unbelieving hearts that the evil thoughts proceed. (Read verses 19, 20. Further, as to “evil thoughts,” read Matthew 7:21; Luke 2:35, 5:22, 9:47; I Cor. 3:20.)
Now we must attempt to see the relevancy of this matter of good and evil thoughts, i.e., the thoughts of God and those of unbelieving men as referred to in I Timothy 2:8. The good thoughts consist of God’s wisdom in His “law” that only qualified “men” lift up holy hands. This is, of course, rejected by unbelieving men and women. Here we see the wrath of man which does not work out the righteousness of God. And in the house of prayer there must be no hot, wrangling debate. Why? Because this is indicative that they who vehemently oppose this do not worship God in Spirit and in truth (John 4:19-24). God is not a God of confusion but of peace!
Question to consider
Do you know that certain men and women in our day, who champion the total equality of women and men both in church and in human society in general, attempt with might and main to usher in a new “theology”? A rather persistent attempt is made to find Scripture passages which teach that the blood of Christ has removed once and for all the “law” spoken of in I Corinthians 14:33, 34. The erring proponents of “feminine theology” make their feeble appeal to Galatians 3:28.
Now I most earnestly request that we, who strive to make ourselves workmen worthy of the name, show ourselves interpreters of the Sacred Scriptures. We must be men who allow the Scriptures to explain the Scriptures. We must be men who allow the Scriptures to explain the Scriptures. Woe to us if we in any way should be unlearned and unstable men who wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction (II Pet. 3:16). Let us tremble before the Word of God.
Since space forbids a lengthy exegetical dissertation, I will attempt to combine clarity with brevity. I will therefore write the arguments against the contention in propositional from.
We have in mind the contention that to be in Christ there must be neither male nor female. The distinction between husband and wife, of which Genesis 3:16, 17 speaks, no longer obtains.
We have in mind that it is the contention of the feminist teaching that he great problem in the world’s grief and sorrows is not a matter of man’s having fallen in to sin, as taught in Genesis 3, nor that of man’s disobedience as stipulated in Romans 5:12-21 and I Timothy 2:13-15, but a matter rather of “our culture, its economic system, social practices, legal systems, socializing processes, family dynamics, language theory and educational curricula.” These create and perpetuate both subordination and the oppression of woman. (See Calvin Theological Journal, Vol. 27, Number 1, April 1992, pp. 68-92.)
We shall take careful notice whether this all squared with clear and infallible teaching of the Sacred Scriptures, D.V., in our explanation of I Timothy 2:9-15.