1 Timothy 1. 8 to11
W. E. Vine, Bath
A clear grasp of the teaching of the Epistles to Timothy is of the utmost importance to those who wish to serve God acceptably and effectively in the Church. We strongly commend young men and women to the careful study of these valuable notes.
Verse 8. But we know,—Oida, to know, suggests intelligent perception, in contrast to ginosko which, indicates progressive knowledge. The contrast between the two verbs is illustrated in John 8. 55, “Ye have not known Him (ginosko, ‘you have not entered upon the knowledge’): but I know Him” (oida, that is, I have perfect knowledge of Him). Again, in 13. 7, “What I do thou knowest not now (oida; Peter did not perceive its significance) but thou shalt understand hereafter” (ginosko, thou shalt get to know). In 2 Tim. 2. 19, (ginosko is used of the knowledge of the Lord in regard to His own, but there the verb is used, not in the same sense as just mentioned, but in the sense of an approving knowledge, as effective acquaintance.
that the Law is good—The Apostle is always careful to maintain the essential and inherent perfection of the Law, while declaring its inefficiency as the means of justification and life.
The word translated “good” is kalos, which signifies that which is intrinsically good, as distinct from agathos, that which is good or beneficial in its effects. The words occur together in Luke 8. 15, where the word translated “honest” is kalos (the same word as in the preceding clause), that is, a heart that is genuinely good in the sight of God, whereas the next word, “good,” agathos, indicates the heart of one who acts in a beneficial way. So again in Rom. 7. 18, where the first word “good” is agathos, the phrase signifying incapable of accomplishing good, whereas the next word kalos signifies what is admirable, fair. Here, then, in 1 Tim. 1. 8. the word kalos signifies that which is good morally, that which is excellent in itself. The Law stands here for the whole Mosaic Law, of which the false teachers made wrong use.
if a man use it lawfully,—The Law is good because it is an expression of the character of God Himself. But it must be regarded in accordance with its relation to the believer, who, as a believer, is to fulfil it. No man can be justified by it, no one can obtain life through its instrumentality, nor can anyone receive the Holy Spirit or be brought into the enjoyment of blessing through it (Gal. 3. 2-4). The purpose for which it was given, in regard to transgression, is made known in the remainder of that chapter.
Verse 9. as knowing this—The verb is oida; see verse 8. that law is not made for a righteous man,—The word “law” is not preceded by the definite article in the original. This would seem to indicate that law is to be understood in its general sense. Law in every state is enacted for lawless and unruly persons. It must be remembered, however, that in Paul’s Epistles, when nomos, law is used without the article, it refers mostly to the Law of Moses. See, e.g., Rom. 2. 17, 23, 25; 6. 14; 7. 8, 25, where the absence of the article serves to stress the Mosaic Law in its character as Law. Here also the Apostle has, it would seem, the Law of Moses in view, as in the preceding clause. For the list that follows includes not simply criminals in the eyes of the laws of pagan nations, but the ungodly, sinners, etc.; that is to say, those who are viewed as sinners in the sight of God and therefore are guilty of transgressing His Law rather than the laws of States, which do not regard certain evils as sins, but as breaches of their legislation.
The verb Keimai, translated “is made,” primarily signifies to lie; so an alternative rendering might be “is laid down,” or enacted.
but for the lawless and unruly, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers—The list in verses 9 and 10 is readily divisible info three parts, the first consisting of four pairs of transgressors, the second of an enumeration of those who are guilty of special vices under separate headings, the third of a general and comprehensive statement. The first pair, “the lawless and unruly” is comprehensive of offences against both Divine and human law. The lawless are those who reject all law.
The word anupotaktos, unruly, denotes, firstly, unsubjected—see Heb. 2. 8; then that which refuses to be subjected to control, refractory, here and in Titus 1. 6, 10. The two descriptions are not to be divided, as if the first were a violation of Divine laws and the second of human laws.
The second pair, “the ungodly and sinners,” marks those that disregard conformity to the mind and will of God. The word asebes literally signifies destitute of piety, irreverent. It is found elsewhere in Rom. 4. 5; 5. 6; 1 Pet. 4. 18, where it is joined, as here with hamartolos, a sinner, 2 Pet. 2. 5; 3. 7; Jude 4, 15. The word hamartolos signifies (a) one who is not free from sin, e.g. Matt.. 9. 13; Rom. 3. 7; 1 Tim. 1. 15; (b) one pre-eminently sinful, especially wicked, as here, Jude 15, etc. The word literally signifies one who has missed the mark. This is the most general term used to describe the condition of mankind since the Fall.
The third pair, “the unholy and profane” lays stress upon the lack of inward holiness and purity. The word anosios, unholy, is found elsewhere in the N.T. in 2 Tim. 3. 2. It is the opposite of hosios, holy, which describes that attitude towards, and walk with, God, which fulfils the obligations by which a person is conformed to His character, being the outcome of inward purity.
The word bebelos, profane, signifies unhallowed. It is the opposite of hagios, holy, which signifies that which is set apart to God to be exclusively His.
The two words in the original describing the next pair are considered by some to signify, what the words may indeed mean, smiters of fathers and smiters of mothers, but it seems more probable that they signify here much more comprehensively a breach of the first commandment with promise.
Verse 10. for Fornicators, for abusers of themselves with men, for men-stealers, for liars, for false swearers,—Including the last mentioned in verse 9, six of the special vices are enumerated, all of them consisting of transgressions prohibited in the Law of Moses. For the crime of man-stealing, for which the death penalty was inflicted, see Ex. 21. 16; Deut. 24. 7.
and if there be any other thing contrary to the sound doctrine;—This comprehensive phrase, which closes the list, makes clear at once the importance and beneficial character of the apostolic teaching as contained in the New Testament, putting it on the same level in these respects as the Mosaic Law. That which is contrary to the teaching of the Lord and His Apostles is equally a violation of the will of God as a breach of the commandments given through Moses.
“The sound doctrine” is, more literally, “the healthful teaching.” The verb hugiaino, from which the English word “hygiene” is derived, signifies to be in good health, whether physically, as in Luke 5. 31; 7. 10; 15. 27, 3 John 21, or, metaphorically, of one whose views are free from admixture of error, Titus 1. 13; or sound also in Christian grace, Titus 2. 2. Elsewhere, as here, it describes the incorruptness of the Words and teaching of the faith, 1 Tim. 6. 3; 2 Tim. 1. 13; 4. 3; Titus 1. 9; 2. 1. It will be seen that this verb in its metaphorical use is confined to these three pastoral Epistles. While it signifies the essential character of the doctrines of the faith and of the words of God, it also intimates their healthful effect upon the believer in maintaining his soul in holiness and purity.
Verse 11. according to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God,—Thus the Gospel and the Law are contrary to the same thing. Both pronounce condemnation upon sin, and what the Apostle has just mentioned in verses 9 and 10 is confirmed by Gospel testimony. In other words the phrase “according to the Gospel” refers not simply to “the sound doctrine” at the end of verse 10, but to all that the Apostle has stated. That the Law is not a means of eternal life, whereas the Gospel is the appointed means, is in view here.
The phrase “the gospel of the glory of the Blessed God” points, not to the quality of the Gospel, but to its topic. The glory of God revealed by the Law was that of His holiness. The gospel reveals the glory of His righteousness and grace. The term “blessed” is used of God again in 6. 15, and only in these two places in the New Testament. God is the Blessed One, not only because of the perfections which are essentially and immutably His but also because of the exceeding riches of His grace in Christ Jesus towards man.
which was committed to my trust—The Apostle frequently refers to this. In 1 Cor. 9. 17, he speaks of the Gospel as a stewardship entrusted to him. In 1 Thess. 2. 4, he states that he was “approved of God” (not “allowed” as in the A.V.) to be entrusted with the Gospel. See also Gal. 2. 7. In Titus 1. 3, he speaks of it as the message with which he was entrusted “according to the commandment of God our Saviour.” Two things are especially intimated here:
- The Gospel is of a permanent character. It was never to be subjected to the slightest modification or addition. It is “the faith once for all delivered to the saints,” Jude 3, R.V, For its permanency see also 6. 20; 2 Tim. 3. 14; 1 John 2. 24.
- Trustworthiness is an essential qualification for service. “If is required in stewards that a man be found faithful,” 1 Cor. 4. 2. The maintenance, however, of trustworthiness is a matter of dependence upon God and His mercy, 1 Cor. 7. 25; Acts 26. 22.