Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Verse 8 (1 Timothy 2:8)

I will therefore - Seeing the apostle had his authority from Christ, and spoke nothing but what he received from him, his βουλομαι , I will, is equal to I command.

That men pray - That is, for the blessings promised in this testimony of God. For, although God has provided them, yet he will not give them to such as will not pray. See the note on 1 Timothy 2:1 , the subject of which is here resumed.

Everywhere - Εν παντι τοπῳ· In every place. That they should always have a praying heart, and this will ever find a praying place. This may refer to a Jewish superstition. They thought, at first, that no prayer could be acceptable that was not offered at the temple at Jerusalem; afterward this was extended to the Holy Land; but, when they became dispersed among the nations, they built oratories or places of prayer, principally by rivers and by the seaside; and in these they were obliged to allow that public prayer might be legally offered, but nowhere else. In opposition to this, the apostle, by the authority of Christ, commands men to pray everywhere; that all places belong to God's dominions; and, as he fills every place, in every place he may be worshipped and glorified. As to ejaculatory prayer, they allowed that this might be performed standing, sitting, leaning, lying, walking by the way, and during their labor. Beracoth, fol. xi. 1. And yet in some other places they teach differently. See Schoettgen.

Lifting up holy hands - It was a common custom, not only among the Jews, but also among the heathens, to lift up or spread out their arms and hands in prayer. It is properly the action of entreaty and request; and seems to be an effort to embrace the assistance requested. But the apostle probably alludes to the Jewish custom of laying their hands on the head of the animal which they brought for a sin-offering, confessing their sins, and then giving up the life of the animal as an expiation for the sins thus confessed. And this very notion is conveyed in the original term επαιροντας , from αιρω to lift up, and επι , upon or over. This shows us how Christians should pray. They should come to the altar; set God before their eyes; humble themselves for their sins; bring as a sacrifice the Lamb of God; lay their hands on this sacrifice; and by faith offer it to God in their souls' behalf, expecting salvation through his meritorious death alone.

Without wrath - Having no vindictive feeling against any person; harbouring no unforgiving spirit, while they are imploring pardon for their own offenses.

The holy hands refer to the Jewish custom of washing their hands before prayer; this was done to signify that they had put away all sin, and purposed to live a holy life.

And doubting - Διαλογισμου or διαλογισμων , as in many MSS., reasonings, dialogues. Such as are often felt by distressed penitents and timid believers; faith, hope, and unbelief appearing to hold a disputation and controversy in their own bosoms, in the issue of which unbelief ordinarily triumphs. The apostle therefore wills them to come, implicitly relying on the promises of God, and the sacrifice and mediation of Jesus Christ.

- Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible