Where are all the "3 P" Men?

What is the greatest problem facing men today? In an article in the New Statesman, Edward Smith attempts to answer that question. While many are advocating an aggressive feminism as the root of man’s ills in society, Smith writes, “The real problem males face today is not, of course, a rise of women – it's a shrinking of men.[1]” Men are shrinking. They are shrinking in their morality. They are shrinking in their work ethic. They are shrinking in their spiritual development. They are shrinking into passivity and lured into entertainment and worldly lusts. The world needs better men. And this is not a new problem.

            Since Adam abdicated his role of leader and protector of his wife in the garden, men have struggled to lead well. They ever abuse their God-given role with force and power or abdicate their God-given responsibility into passivity. The first Adam was not a great role model. The loss of God given identity produces disastrous results. John Piper writes,

Confusion over the meaning of manhood and womanhood today is epidemic. The consequence of confusion is not a free and happy harmony among gender-free persons…. The consequence rather is more divorce, more homosexuality, more sexual abuse, more promiscuity, more social awkwardness, and more emotional distress and suicide that comes with the loss of God-given identity.[2]

Following in the footsteps of fallen Adam produces deadly result in society and in the church.

             Therefore, God sent a New Adam for the good of the world and the glory of the Father. Jesus Christ is the model of true manhood now. He calls to those men who are shrinking from and shirking their God given role, He calls to them to Himself. He calls them to follow him into true manhood. He calls them like Nehemiah did when the wall needed to be built, “Come let us build the wall…that we may no longer suffer derision.” (Nehemiah 2:17) It is time for men to rise up and build the wall so that the name of Christ will no longer suffer disgrace in the world, but the glory of His name would be manifested in our homes, our churches, our communities and our nation. God is looking for a few good men to rise and help build the church for the glory of God.  

            Paul writes to Timothy to encourage the men to represent their new identity in Christ well. Paul wants “3P” men. Men who are prayerful, pure and peaceful. The church is suffering because men are either not leading in prayer or they are leading in prayer while their lives are not pure or peaceful. We must look at 1 Timothy 2:8 in light of the historical context and the context of the letter. Paul has already addressed false teachers in the church and encourage specific kinds of prayers for all people because God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth that the one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all who would trust in Him. And know Paul encourages men to obey the admonition to pray so that they will reflect Christ well and be able to serve as elders in the church. The section immediately following the instructions on men and women will address the leadership in the church.

Prayerful Men

            Paul begins his charge to men simply by directly stating that men are called to pray at all times and in all places, “I desire then that in every place the men should pray.” The reference to every place could refer the many homes that the Ephesians would gather for worship. There could be an extension that believers are called to prayer in all the gatherings throughout the world. Regardless of where, Paul wants men to pray. This is a constant encouragement throughout the Pauline Epistles.

2 Thessalonians 3:1 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you,

Colossians 4:3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—

1 Thessalonians 5:17 pray without ceasing,

1 Thessalonians 5:25 Brothers, pray for us.

Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

2 Corinthians 1:11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

Ephesians 6:18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Philippians 4:6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Colossians 4:2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

And those are just the exhortations to pray and not the example prayers that are placed throughout his corpus. Very simply men should lead the congregation through their prayers.

            As stated above, there may have been some men in the community who were shrinking from their responsibility to pray. Therefore, Paul encouraged the men to pray. Prayer being important to the Christian life and the life of the church is like bacon being important for a good breakfast; it is essential. So what keeps us from prayer?

Laziness – We do not discipline ourselves for godliness so we do not prioritize that which is most important.

Busyness – We may be very productive and efficient at work or even in ministry, but we do not invite God into our work. This busyness reveals our pride and our lack of dependency on the power and presence of God.

Worldliness– It is hard to pursue the Lord in prayer if our minds and hearts are being drawn away from God into conformity to the world.

Sin – Our hearts find more pleasure in sin than in prayer.

There is a myriad of reasons that keep us from praying, but we must pray. Prayer is the lifeblood of the church. If men are not leading in prayer, then they simply are not leading. Men, rise up and pray.            

Pure Men

            Paul does not only want men to pray, but to pray with pure hearts. “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands.” Paul is not really concerned with men lifting their hands in prayer, but lifting their hearts in prayer. It is about purity over posture. David Platt points out two Psalms that show the importance of purity in our prayers,

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart. (Psalm 24:3-4)

            I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar Lord. (Psalm 26:6)

Purity is essential to prayer. God wants us to come to him in prayer. God wants us to come to him in prayer even when we are in sin, but he wants us first to confess our sin before we bring our requests before him.

            Why should we expect God to answer our prayers if we have been hearts set against him? One of the most challenging verses on prayer for husbands should be 1 Peter 3:7, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” Do you see the implication? If you are not living in purity towards your wife than why would God want to honor your prayers? A husband’s prayers are hindered when he does not honor his wife.

            There were some in Ephesus who were praying before the Lord when they had sin in their lives. We know that Hymenaeus and Alexander drifted off into false teaching and most likely false living as they swerved from a clean conscience. Paul could have made this admonition specifically because of them, but either way it is a good reminder for all the men in the church. Alvin Reid shares this story in his evangelism textbook,

I have an evangelist friend with a great burden for awakening in our day. Year ago he studied in Edinburg, Scotland. He visited the tiny principality of Wales, which has been visited with mighty revival several times in the modern era. He discovered a lady who had been converted in the Welsh Revival of 1904-05 as a little girl, and who knew Evan Roberts personally. Roberts was a principal human agent in the Welsh Revival. My friend sat in the little cottage of the elderly woman.

“What was the secret of Evan Robert’s power?” he asked. She simply looked into her fireplace, and in her thick Welsh accent, replied, “Mr. Roberts was a very godly man.” “Yes I know that, but tell me more. Why did God use him?” The lady continued to look into the fire, “God used Mr. Roberts because he was a godly man.” She said.

 My friend was frustrated. Pressing further, he said, “Yes I know, but tell me specifics. How did he pray? What did he do?” The elderly lady turned and faced my friend. “Young man,” she said sternly, “The reason God used Mr. Evan Roberts was that he was a very, very godly man.” Finally, he got the point. You can be a gifted as a preacher, an organizer, a leader, but there is no substitute for godliness.[3]

Brothers, God desires us to pray in all places with pure hearts. Let us rise up and be pure hearted men.

Peaceful Men

            Last P of a “3P” man is to the calling to be peaceful. Men are called to pray, with pure hearts, who are at peace with the brethren. “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands, without anger or quarreling.” Anger and arguing has no place among God’s leaders. Men should not be characterized by anger and arguing with one another. “All of us would be wiser if we would resolve never to put people down, except on our prayer lists.” D.A. Carson. Paul writes in his second letter to Timothy, 2 Timothy 2:24-26,

And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)

Patient. Gentle. It is not our job to force repentance, but model God’s loving and gracious kindness that may perhaps lead them to repentance.

            There were men in Ephesus who were angry and quarrelling with one another. Unity is not only important for joy and comfort within the church, but it is vital for the witness of the church in the world. Remember Paul just reminded the church that God desires all people to be saved. Anger and arguing in the church impacts the mission of God. Missionary Lesslie Newbigin writes,

The world does not believe, because it does not see the signs of an atonement so profound and complete that all mankind in all its infinite variety and contrariety can find there its lost unity. To say that the Church must be one in order that the world may believe is to summon one another to a return to the source of Christ’s being in Christ himself.[4]

Paul taught the people of the vast implications of a unified church. Paul cared about united in the church and expected godly men to pray while being at peace with one another.

A divided church will give a poor reflection of the oneness of the Triune God. On the other hand, a healthy, unified church displays the wisdom of God making the church, as Newbigin stated, a sign, a foretaste and an instrument of the kingdom of God. Unity is essential to make the gospel attractive to the world as it sees the resurrection power on display in a community. Jamie Dunlop and Mark Dever write in Compelling Community: Where God’s Power Makes the Church Attractive, “The gospel asserts that unity in Christ is stronger than worldly difference.[5]” The unity of the church is precious, but also very precarious so leaders must take notice of those things which cause division and lead the people to see the corporate responsibility of all members for the unity of the church as a display of the power of the Spirit.[6]  Unity within a specific congregation must be cultivated so that the world can see the beauty and power of the Gospel.

Jesus cares so much about our relationships with our brothers that he says this to those who are about to offer about a gift to God,

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)

I have often thought of this verse before communion to analyze my own heart, but it would be helpful to analyze even before we pray. God cares about peace. How pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity. Let us rise up and seek peace with the all the brethren.

            We do not have the power in and of ourselves to be prayerful, pure and peaceful men. We need God’s help. Wherever we are at along the process, we must always remember that Jesus Christ came in the world to save sinners. Jesus came as the perfect “3P” man. He was a man of prayer making time to get alone with the Father. He was pure and innocent of all evil. He had a heart that was perfectly set on God. And as the Prince of peace he came to make peace with man through his shed blood on the cross (Col. 1:20). He not only lived at peace, but is our peace.

Jesus Christ did not shrink from his God-given role, but chose to give himself for the sake of others. He died as our ransom and was raised for our hope. Beloved, we must follow Jesus and strive to be like him. Through repentance and faith, we are united with Him. The power that rose Jesus Christ from the dead dwells in us. Jesus was the embodied the “3P” man while we different kind of “3P” men under the power, penalty and price of sin. Thanks be to God that he gives us a new identity in him.

            So what kind of men are we going to be? Are we going to shrink from our responsibilities or are we going rise up and build a community on prayer with pure hearts and peace with another? The world needs godly men. Therefore, I say as for me and my brothers, “Let us rise up and build.”


[1] http://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle/2014/05/real-problem-men-face-today-not-rise-women accessed 2.24.16 I would not recommend reading the entire article as it contains profanity, but the principle he puts forward I believe it correct. The shrinking of men is more important to a man’s demise then the rise of women.

[2] Piper, John (“Vision”) pg. 33 as quoted in Christ -Centered Exposition exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus.

[3] Alvin Reid, Introduction to Evangelism. Pg. 113.

[4] Lesslie Newbigin, The Light has Come: An Exposition of the 4th Gospel. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids 1982 pg. 231

[5] Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop. Compelling Community: Where God’s Power Makes the Church Attractive. Crossway, Wheaton, 2015. Pg. 156

[6] Ibid (156-161).