Instruction 3: Men, Pray without Anger or Quarreling

By Adam Brown –

This third instruction, that men are to lead in prayer without anger and quarreling, is directly related to the second instruction, that the church is to pray for all people. Notice the first three English words of 1 Timothy 2:8:

I desire then. . .

These three words indicate that the forthcoming instruction flows out from the previous instruction. Paul is essentially writing, “Since I urge you to pray for all people. . . I desire then. . . that the men lead in prayer without anger and quarreling.”

This instruction is not a prohibition against women praying (c.f. 1 Corinthians 11:5). It is, however, an admonition that the men are to exchange anger and quarreling for prayer. It would seem that the anger and the quarreling of the men was inhibiting the prayer life of the church in some way. The exact details are not given. Nevertheless, there are some possible reasons for this instruction given in 1 Timothy:

(1) The false teachers may have incited anger and quarreling among the men.

In 1 Timothy 1:5, Paul makes it clear that the goal of teaching good doctrine is the cultivation of love. Therefore, knowledge gained by good teaching ought to lead to love. By contrast, the end of teaching bad doctrine is knowledge that leads to vain discussion (1 Timothy 1:6). It is easy to conceive of vain discussion causing anger and quarreling among men who were caught up in this empty pursuit. Thus, the instruction might be a corrective to this scenario; rather than anger and quarreling arising from vain discussion, gather together to pray for wisdom and knowledge that leads to love.

(2) The persecution by Nero and Roman governors may have encouraged the men to consider armed resistance. 

In 1 Timothy 2:2, Paul exhorts the Ephesian church to pray, even for kings and all who are in high positions. The goal of this prayer is “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:2). Thus, the instruction might be a way to encourage prayerful resistance rather than violent opposition. This is in keeping with Jesus’ teaching that we are to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44-48).

(3) A general masculine proclivity toward anger and quarreling may be the issue.

Not every man struggles with anger and an out of control temper. However, a good many men do. Thus, this instruction might be a general alternative to the angry manifestations of sinful tendencies among the men in the church. Rather than anger and quarreling, gather to pray.

(4) A call to male headship may be in mind.

If the church is going to be a group who prays for all people, it is helpful for men to exercise leadership to that end. Thus, the instruction might be a call to male headship in the essential matters of life in the church, which includes prayer.

Whatever the reason for the instruction, this much is clear: Anger and quarreling disrupts the prayer of the church. Therefore, men, lead in prayer without anger or quarreling, to the glory of God.

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