1 Timothy 2.8: the call to men to pray

Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. [1 Timothy 2:8, NASB]

Βούλομαι οὖν προσεύχεσθαι τοὺς ἄνδρας ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ ἐπαίροντας ὁσίους χεῖρας χωρὶς ὀργῆς καὶ διαλογισμοῦ. [Nestle-Aland 28th ed.]

Paul calls the Christian men of Ephesus to prayer. The Greek word ἄνδρας used in this verse is the accusative plural of ἀνήρ, ἀνδρός, whose primary meaning according to BDAG (the leading New Testament Greek lexicon) is ‘an adult human male’, that is, ‘a man’ or ‘a husband’:

In verse 1, where Paul urged prayer to be made for all people:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, [ESV]

Παρακαλῶ οὖν πρῶτον πάντων ποιεῖσθαι δεήσεις προσευχὰς ἐντεύξεις εὐχαριστίας ὑπὲρ πάντων ἀνθρώπων,

the ‘people’ is standing for ἀνθρώπων, the genitive plural of ἄνθρωπος, whose primary meaning is given by BDAG as ‘a person of either sex’, that is, ‘a human being’:

The same word was used in verse 4 concerning God’s willingness for all people to be saved:

who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

ὃς πάντας ἀνθρώπους θέλει σωθῆναι καὶ εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας ἐλθεῖν.

and twice in verse 5, of the Lord Jesus Christ[ref]It may be noted that ἀνήρ is used of the Lord Jesus Christ in Acts 17.31.[/ref], and of the people for whom He is mediator:

Εἷς γὰρ θεός, εἷς καὶ μεσίτης θεοῦ καὶ ἀνθρώπων, ἄνθρωπος Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς,

where a reasonable case can be made for a translation which makes prominent Christ’s humanity, the approach adopted by the NRSV for example:

For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, [NRSV]

In the original text it is impossible to miss the fact that it is men in particular who are being exhorted to pray in verse 8. In English, however, until very recently, the word ‘man’ was commonly used to refer to people of either sex, and many prominent versions have ‘man’ for ἄνθρωπος in verses 1,4 and 5:

… giving of thanks be made for all men  who desires all men to be saved … and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, [NKJV]

… thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, … who desires all men to be saved … one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, [NASB]

The shift to the male sex is signified in these versions by the use of the definite article:

I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere… [NKJV]

Therefore I want the men in every place to pray… [NASB]

which is clear enough in principle, but perhaps less immediately apparent. At any rate, in my own case, it was only when I read 1 Timothy in Greek for the first time, that I was struck by the realisation that this was a specific call to men in particular.

Brothers in Christ Jesus, will you hear and respond to the call?

Andrew Chapman



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