Tuesday, December 15, 2009

1 Timothy 1:6-11

V6-11 – 6Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. 7They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. 8We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9We also know that law [or that the law] is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers – and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which He entrusted to me.

Paul begins this section (v6-7) by explaining the false teachers’ motive. They engage in meaningless talk out of pride (not out of love, which is the means and the desired end), thinking themselves capable of teaching the law, but they don’t even grasp it for themselves. They end up confidently affirming things about the law that they don’t really understand. They ought to be fruitful (teaching sound doctrine in love, which edifies and produces love), but they prove to be fruitless (speculating out of pride, which doesn’t edify or produce love). And just in case Timothy needed a refresher course on the law, especially in relation to what these false teachers were proclaiming, Paul gives that in v8-11, which is one long sentence in the Greek language.

His digression on the law implies that it is good when used properly, as a corrective rod and directional staff that reveals our sin and guides us to Christ. The law has no power over us unto condemnation once we are safe in Christ; however, the law is still useful since it reveals God’s character. And the specific sins he mentions in v9-10 mirror the actual Ten Commandments (Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:21), which align with sound doctrine. Paul concludes in v11 that one’s determination of sound teaching and understanding of the law must be in accord with the gospel message. In other words, the law doesn’t determine the meaning of the gospel; rather, the gospel helps us to see the intention of the law, which is to convict us of and restrain sin. (It is also used to point us to Christ and guide us in righteous living once we come to Christ by grace through faith for salvation.)

Finally, with the seldom-used term, “blessed God,” Paul is referring to the truth that only God – Yahweh (YHWH) – is worthy of praise, and only doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel has value. And just in case the Jehovah’s Witnesses are nodding their heads in agreement with Paul, he goes on immediately (v12) to thank Christ as equivalent to Yahweh, thereby refuting the JW’s, as the One who appeared to him on the Damascus Road and commissioned him for gospel ministry.

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