Tuesday, February 26, 2008

We Understand That The Law is Good

As we move on in the 1st Letter of Paul to Timothy who was at Ephesus the second pericope I will take a look at is Chapter 1:8-11. This short passage follows the instruction given by Paul in what is wrong with the teachers of the law who are ignorant about what they are to be teaching and the assumptions that should be made from the law. We read in verse 6 and 7 for a refresher:
For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion. Wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.
But what conclusions are they making from the law that Paul here is wanting Timothy to avoid himself and in teaching his students? Well to understand that we first need too understand what Paul has already written concerning this. We know that we can recall with certainty that Paul's use of the phrase "Teachers of the Law" is not innocuous. He most assuredly means the Jews, his former brethren. We also can point back to any number of places in the rest of Paul's letters to receive his full instruction on the Law, that Timothy must know already, but specifically I want to look back at Romans 3:19-20 because this other pericope I think encapsulates the use of the law Paul is highlighting here in 1 Timothy 1:8-11. Paul says:
Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
The last clause is vitally important for what Paul is about to say in 1 Timothy 1: 8-11, that:
But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals (here Arsenokoitais, cf. Robert A.J. Gagnon's The Bible and Homosexual Practice for further understanding of this word) and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.
So in this short section of 1 Timothy 1 we see Paul laying out for Timothy and for us a proper understanding of the Law of God (as given to Moses) and how the Law is to be properly understood in the context of Justification by Faith Alone in Christ Alone through Grace Alone. That, as Paul says in Romans 3, through the Law comes the knowledge of Sin.

(By the way make sure and check out Spurgeon's Morning lesson for today.)


Eric Wells, Protestant Laird of Glencairn said...

The elect are reminded in Section 6 Chapter 7 of Calvin's Institutes that the Law was given to the Jews not as an end in itself,but to keep alive hope of salvation in Christ until His coming.
Your reverence for the Scriptures clearly reflects your having been foreordained!Keep up the outstanding mission and thank you for your endorsement of my site!

Your Brother In Christ,
Eric Wells,Protestant Laird of Glencairn


Anonymous said...

It was a really important turning point when I *finally* understood what the Law had to do with the Gospel. Between understanding the uses of the Law and the three types of Law, my studies in Reformed theology (after seminary!) changed the way I preached, taught and lived.

Psalm 119 is now one of my favorites in the book.