This is an expositional breakdown of 1 Tim 2:8 and Titus 2:6-8.
One would be entirely amiss if, when trying to expositionally open a passage, they failed to fully develop the context. Therefore, to get clarity on 1 Tim 2:8 we evaluate the verses immediately preceding in chapter 2. When we open the chapter we see an “urge” for us to be in prayer for, thankful for, in intercession for, and placing supplications for EVERYONE. Why? We are told this is pleasing in God’s sight because De desires all men to be saved and “come to the knowledge of the truth.” God’s heart for the salvation of man is made clear. He desires greatly for man to be saved, and doesn’t stop there. He desires (with similar vigor) for us to come into the knowledge of truth, be set free, truly KNOW who He is. Not only that but He has paid a steep ransom (Himself laid out on the cross) for that to be a possibility. Paul continues to say THIS is the main reason He is preaching. God has appointed man to share this Gospel and open up this truth. That’s where Paul’s entire ministry is based.
Then we arrive at our verse 2:8: “I desire then that in EVERY place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.” With the linking phrase “I desire then” we must connect whatever Paul is about to say with what we have been saying. Paul’s ministry which is based solely upon knowing salvation and helping others grow in a DEEPER understanding of the Lord has led Paul to his current proposal. This means there HAS to be some link to those two principles driving this desire. Logically what we see next is a good foundation for understanding salvation and producing church unity.
Paul says “in every place the men should pray,” which encompasses all believers. Not simply calling on a small group, he desires that the WHOLE of the church be involved in this request. Not only that but the phrase carries a secondary connotation of men EVERYWHERE praying IN ALL PLACES. The desire to pray would not be geo specific in its happening just as it is not geo specific in its calling. Paul wants the entirety of the church to be praying in whatever place they are currently in. A foundation of prayer is vital for the Church and is a logical starting place for Paul’s call to action.
Then Paul certifies the manner in which he wants us to be in prayer. He begins the description saying “lifting holy hands.” Just as with the last phrase we can see a multifaceted meaning here. Lifting our hands to God has been a posture of prayer David, Solomon, and many others in Scripture used. It carries an emotion and general feeling of supplication, need, indicating weakness in our ability, and showing God’s greatness and ability. We are to be posturing respect and need towards God, outwardly and publically demonstrating our unworthiness in supplication. Furthermore Paul describes it “with holy hands.” This is not a descriptor that can be only temporarily certified. That is to say, something is not holy only periodically or haphazardly as holiness is defined as consecrated or set apart unto God! This is an act that is prefaced with much intent and dedication. Additionally hands are used often to refer to our deeds. Thus it could be argued that to be able to carry this desire out our day to day actions need be dedicated unto the Lord.
As Paul continues to certify the manner in which he desires us to be in prayer he says “without anger or quarreling.” This simply echoes Paul’s desires in His letters to the Corinthians and other churches. He wants unity, humbleness, the desire to put others above ourselves as it says in Philipians 2. We need look no further than John 13:35 when Christ says that loving one another is how the Church will show the world they also love Him! This connects back, entirely, to the main point that Paul began with. God desires all men to be saved and to do this they must follow what Christ had said. They must fully be dedicated to one another in love, not allowing division to enter. We are told in 1 Peter 3 that the way we treat our spouse could hinder our prayers. I believe in this same mind unity among the body is necessary to not hinder our prayers. If we are caught up in the actions of another believer and overly focused on the “wrong” we feel they may have committed our prayers will be selfishly driven rather than outwardly focused.
With all of this said Paul is essentially saying: All men of the church everywhere should pray everywhere. Posture yourselves in prayer both now and daily in your actions towards Christ. Dedicating your deeds and thoughts to Him. So much so that you are not driven to strife, anger, or any other acts of division but be putting off all thoughts of selfishness or bitterness. We must be unified in our actions so that we can be in unhindered prayer for everyone. In this we will reach the world and continue on the mission of salvation that God desires.
In the same way Titus 2:6-8 must be looked at in context of the chapter (and the book). We see in chapter 1 that Paul is telling Titus how the Church leadership should be setup. All of the things Paul tells Titus is based upon holding true to the Church’s “trustworthy message” (1:9) and “sound doctrine” (1:9). Again showing us that Paul’s focus in this writing is that God’s desire, namely that all men come to salvation and a deeper understanding of Him, is kept unhindered.
Chapter one also refers to many who were actually hindering the Gospel’s message so Paul moves into chapter 2 explaining how the congregation should be taught in different groups of people. He does this all still under the umbrella of desiring the teaching to be in “sound doctrine” (2:1). Verses 6-8 are specifically directed towards the young men and how to keep them HELPING in the mission at hand.
I find it comical that Paul begins with telling them to be taught self control. I don’t find it funny because of the instruction itself but because he specifically says this in every group leading up to this as well. Paul says the older men, teach them self control. The older women (who should be teaching the younger women), teach them self control. Oh and the young men, teach them self control. Paul wants these people to know that one of the most important things they should be realizing is they should not be living licentiously. To embrace grace and run with it into EVERYTHING their hearts desires is NOT going to assist in their Gospel message. Their actions should be self moderated and evaluated for their worth and, in the same manner, their need to be carried out.
Paul moves quickly into HOW Titus and other leaders should be teaching these young men. He states that they should be teaching them by LIVING OUT what the young men should be doing. This is a theme of the book of James, living out what you’re saying is true. In the same way Paul challenges the leaders to follow this. The way the young men will learn is living out these next few principles: “teach with integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned” (2:7-8). Paul wanted the teachers to be instructing in a way that was honorable and able to be trusted. A way that was likely transparent, not sugar coated, and completely applicable. In like manner they were to speak in a way that added gravity. Their message was urgent and had dire consequences therefore it must be coupled with a sense or urgency. “In soundness of speech that cannot be condemned” (2:8) indicates having understanding and control. They must preach with full knowledge, not throwing unsubstantiated statements and “facts” into messages to puff up their premise.
All of this for what reason again? Oh, verse 8 reiterates the reason! It is so that those who oppose them would have nothing bad to say about them. Yeah, you guessed it, Paul wanted them to have integrity so that others could not point fingers at the people and challenge the Gospel because of their misbehaving or misguided statements. NOW it makes sense why “self control” was mentioned each time. Paul was asking these people to lay down their freedom to haphazardly work in sanctification and was asking them to be intentionally focused on living respectfully for the sake of the Gospel. This would take significant self control. This would take incredible self monitoring to assure they weren’t talking about things or doing things that would hinder their message.
Again with the synopsis: Paul says: Hey, teach these young men to be self controlled too (in case you didn’t realize that was going to be needed by everyone). However, you have to do this by living out the way they should be living. In that, teach with integrity – leave out the fake news. Also, preach with urgency, being consistent and not too over the top with things. We want our message to be pure and above reproach. Therefore, we will have to leave purely, dedicated to God SO THAT His desire will be fulfilled in us preaching His Word so that all can have an opportunity to believe in the Gospel.
Ultimately all of the verses we looked at have this focus: God wants all men to be saved and grow in their understanding of Him. Therefore, live in a way that focuses on and supports the message God has given us. He wants us to work in a way that offers the Gospel unhindered, and welcoming for all. Pray, dedicate yourself, be self controlled, how you live matters. Our lives display God’s love and we must not tarnish His name.