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8 I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument;


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8 I wish therefore that men may pray This inference depends on the preceding statement; for, as we saw in the Epistle to the Galatians, we must receive “the Spirit of adoption,” 3737     See Commentary on Galatians, Chapter 4, Verse 5 and Verse 6. — fj. in order that we may call on God in a proper manner. Thus, after having exhibited the grace of Christ to all, and after having mentioned that he was given to the Gentiles for the express purpose, that they might enjoy the same benefit of redemption in common with the Jews, he invites all in the same manner to pray; for faith leads to calling on God. Hence, at Romans 15:9, he proves the calling of the Gentiles by these passages.

“Let the Gentiles rejoice with his people.” (Psalm 67:5.)

Again,

“All ye Gentiles, praise God.’, (Psalm 117:1.)

Again,

“I will confess to thee among the Gentiles.” (Psalm 18:49.)

The material argument holds good, from faith to prayer, and from prayer to faith, whether we reason from the cause to the effect, or from the effect to the cause. This is worthy of observation, because it reminds us that God reveals himself to us in his word, that we may call upon him; and this is the chief exercise of faith.

In every place This expression is of the same import as in the beginning of the First Epistle to the Corinthians,

“with all that in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord,” (1 Corinthians 1:2,)

so that there is now no difference between Gentile and Jew, between Greek and barbarian, because all in common have God as their Father; and in Christ is now fulfilled what Malachi had foretold, that not only in Judea, but throughout the whole world, pure sacrifices are offered. (Malachi 1:11.)

Lifting up pure hands As if he had said, “Provided that it be accompanied by a good conscience, there will be nothing to prevent all the nations from calling upon God everywhere. But he has employed the sign instead of the reality, for “pure hands” are the expressions of a pure heart; just as, on the contrary, Isaiah rebukes the Jews for lifting up “bloody hands,” when he attacks their cruelty. (Isaiah 1:15.) Besides, this attitude has been generally used in worship during all ages; for it is a feeling which nature has implanted in us, when we ask God, to look upwards, and has always been so strong, that even idolaters themselves, although in other respects they make a god of images of wood and stone, still retained the custom of lifting up their hands to heaven. Let us therefore learn that the attitude is in accordance with true godliness, provided that it be attended by the corresponding truth which is represented by it, namely, that, having been informed that we ought to seek God in heaven, first, we should form no conception of Him that is earthly or carnal; and, secondly, that we should lay aside carnal affections, so that nothing may prevent our hearts from rising above the world. But idolaters and hypocrites, when they lift up their hands in prayer, are apes; for while they profess, by the outward symbol, that their minds are raised upwards, the former are fixed on wood and stone, as if God were shut up in them, and the latter, wrapped up either in useless anxieties, or in wicked thoughts, cleave to the earth; and therefore, by a gesture of an opposite meaning, 3838     “En monstrant une contenance contraire a ce qui est en le coeur.” — “By showing a countenance opposite to what is in their heart.” they bear testimony against themselves.

Without wrath Some explain this to mean a burst of indignation, when the conscience fights with itself, and, so to speak, quarrels with God which usually happens when adversity presses heavily upon us; for then we are displeased that God does not send us immediate assistance, and are agitated by impatience. Faith is also shaken by various assaults; for, in consequence of his assistance not being visible, we are seized with doubts, whether or not he cares about us, or wishes us to be saved, and things of that nature.

They who take this view think that the word disputing denotes that alarm which arises from doubt. Thus, according to them, the meaning would be, that we should pray with a peaceful conscience and assured confidence. Chrysostom and others think that the apostle here demands that our minds should be calm and free from all uneasy feelings both towards God and towards men; because there is nothing that tends more to hinder pure calling on God than quarrels and strife. On this account Christ enjoins, that if any man be at variance with his brother, he shall go and be reconciled to him before offering his gift on the altar.

For my part, I acknowledge that both of these views are just; but when I take into consideration the context of this passage, I have no doubt that Paul had his eye on the disputes which arose out of the indignation of the Jews at having the Gentiles made equal to themselves, in consequence of which they raised a controversy about the calling of the Gentiles, and went so far as to reject and exclude them from the participation of grace. Paul therefore wishes that debates of this nature should be put down, and that all the children of God of every nation and country should pray with one heart. Yet there is nothing to restrain us from drawing from this particular statement a general doctrine.




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