1 Timothy 1:7
Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) Desiring to be teachers of the law.—“Desiring,” though they really were not. They coveted the respect and influence which was ever paid to the acknowledged teachers of the Law of Moses; but these men utterly failed to understand the real spiritual meaning of that Law which they pretended to teach. Similar pretenders in a neighbouring Church, some years later, received from another Apostle—St. John—a stern rebuke for such pretensions. “I know,” wrote St. John to the Christians of Smyrna, “the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9).

Understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.—A wise teacher must understand what he teaches, and must, at the same time, be clear in his own mind that what he teaches is true.

The false teachers are here charged (1) with not understanding the wild fables and traditions upon which their teaching was based, and (2) with not comprehending the things whereof they make their assertions: that is, they had no real belief in those great truths which really underlie that Law with which they were meddling.

1:5-11 Whatever tends to weaken love to God, or love to the brethren, tends to defeat the end of the commandment. The design of the gospel is answered, when sinners, through repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ, are brought to exercise Christian love. And as believers were righteous persons in God's appointed way, the law was not against them. But unless we are made righteous by faith in Christ, really repenting and forsaking sin, we are yet under the curse of the law, even according to the gospel of the blessed God, and are unfit to share the holy happiness of heaven.Desiring to be teachers of the law - That is, to have the credit and reputation of being well versed in the law of Moses, and qualified to explain it to others. This was a high honor among the Jews, and these teachers laid claim to the same distinction.

Understanding neither what they say - That is, they do not understand the true nature and design of that law which they attempt to explain to others. This was true of the Jewish teachers, and equally so of those in the church at Ephesus, who attempted to explain it. They appear to have explained the law on the principles which commonly prevailed among the Jews, and hence their instructions tended greatly to corrupt the faith of the gospel. They made affirmations of what they knew nothing of, and though they made confident observations, yet they often pertained to things about which they had no knowledge. One needs only a slight acquaintance with the manner of teaching among Jewish rabbies, or with the things found in their traditions, to see the accuracy of this statement of the apostle. A sufficient illustration of this may be found in Allen's "Modern Judaism."

7. Sample of their "vain talk" (1Ti 1:6).

Desiring—They are would-be teachers, not really so.

the law—the Jewish law (Tit 1:14; 3:9). The Judaizers here meant seem to be distinct from those impugned in the Epistles to the Galatians and Romans, who made the works of the law necessary to justification in opposition to Gospel grace. The Judaizers here meant corrupted the law with "fables," which they pretended to found on it, subversive of morals as well as of truth. Their error was not in maintaining the obligation of the law, but in abusing it by fabulous and immoral interpretations of, and additions to, it.

neither what they say, nor whereof—neither understanding their own assertions, nor the object itself about which they make them. They understand as little about the one as the other [Alford].

Desiring to be teachers of the law; Nomodidaskaloi. This term lets us know, that the apostle reflecteth upon some who were or had been Jews, who either pressed the observance of the law in order to justification, or spent their time in pressing the traditions of the elders, and constitutions of the scribes, as sepimenta legis, hedges (as they called them) to the Divine law, though not of the letter of it; upon which there arose a great many questions as insignificant as their traditions themselves, which these vain preachers spent their time in speaking to.

Understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm; neither understanding the Divine law, nor the questions themselves started and spoke unto, yet ambitious to be accounted

teachers of the law. This vain desire of reputation, as persons of excellent skill in the land, was the cause of their erroneous, idle sermons: and their ignorance is aggravated and inexcusable, in that they with presumptuous boldness assert the things of which they are ignorant. Desiring to be teachers of the law,.... They were very fond of being called Rabbi, Rabbi, and styled doctors of the law, and of being thought to have skill in interpreting the law, and good talents in expounding it, and preaching upon it; which was now most in vogue, and gained the greatest applause, when the preaching of the Gospel was treated with contempt, not only by the unbelieving Jews, but by judaizing Christians, and carnal professors,

Understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm: they did not understand the law, the nature and end, the purity and spirituality, and perfection of it, which they were so fond of teaching, and went into many foolish and unlearned questions about it; see 2 Timothy 2:23, and which they as foolishly answered: these are the ignorant and unlearned men, who, notwithstanding their vain show of learning, and pretence to skill in interpreting the law, wrested the Scriptures to their own destruction, and that of others; they were ignorant of the things they talked of, and knew not by what arguments to confirm them, and yet were very bold and confident in their assertions: and generally speaking so it is, that those who can prove least assert most, and that with the greatest assurance.

{6} Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.

(6) There are none more unlearned, and more impudent in usurping the name of holiness, than foolish babblers, who reason fallaciously.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Timothy 1:7. νομαδιδάσκαλοι: The Mosaic or Jewish law is meant. See Titus 3:9. The term is used seriously, of official teachers of the law, in reff.

μὴ νοοῦντες, κ.τ.λ.: Though they understand neither, etc. The participle is concessive, and με is here subjective, as usual, expressing St. Paul’s opinion about them. For the sentiment cf. 1 Timothy 6:4, 1 Corinthians 8:2. λέγουσιν refers to the substance of their assertions, while διαβεβαιοῦνται (affirmant, see Titus 3:8) is expressive of the confident manner (R.V.) in which they made them. They did not grasp the force either of their own propositions (hence resulted βέβηλοι κενοφωνίαι), or the nature of the great topics—Law, Philosophy, etc.—an which they dogmatised, hence their inconsistencies, ἀνιθέσεις τοῦ ψευδωνύμου γνώσεως (1 Timothy 6:20). On the combination of the relative and interrogative pronouns in one sentence, see Winer-Moulton, Grammar, p. 211.7. understanding] More exactly, though they understand; the negative particle used shews that the clause is subordinate to, not parallel with ‘setting themselves up,’ or ‘desiring,’ and expresses their thoughts. ‘We choose to teach, without understanding.’ Winer, § 55. 5 b, p. 607.

neither what they say, nor whereof] They neither understand the statements they make nor even what the questions are about which they make such confident assertions. Confidently affirm gives the force of the preposition in the compound verb; it occurs in Titus 3:8; but not elsewhere in N. T. The middle voice expresses the secondary kind of making firm, by speech, instead of act, as commonly in Class. Gr. Compare to draw up a narrative, Luke 1:1; ‘I laid before them the Gospel,’ Galatians 2:2; Winer, Pt. iii. § 38, 2–6, p. 317.1 Timothy 1:7. Θέλονες, desiring) rashly.—μήτεμήτε, neither—nor) A good teacher ought to be intelligent, and at the same time well-informed. Paul says, both of these qualities are wanting to those of whom he is here speaking.—) those things, which: περὶ τίνων, concerning what things [whereof]. ὃς and τίς differ.—μήτε ἃ λέγουσι, neither what they say) Thence arise the profane vanities of words [“vain babblings”], ch. 1 Timothy 6:20.—μήτε περὶ τίνων διαβεβαιοῦνται nor whereof they affirm) Thence arise the oppositions of science, falsely so called, ch. 1 Timothy 6:20. βέβαιος and θέσις, firm and position, accord with one another.[5]—διαβεβαιοῦνται, affirm) Titus 3:8.

[5] i.e. The βέβαιος in διαβεβαιοῦνται here, answers to the θέσις in the ἀντιθέσεις, ch. 1 Timothy 6:20.—ED.Verse 7. - Though they understand for understanding. A.V.; confidently affirm for affirm, A.V. Teachers of the Law (νομοδιδάσκαλοι. as Luke 5:17; Acts 5:34). This, again, distinctly marks the Jewish origin of these heretics. Though they understand, etc. So our Lord rebuke,1 the scribes and teachers of the Law in his day: "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God;" "Ye do greatly err" (Matthew 22:29; Mark 12:27; Matthew 12:7, etc.; compare, too, Romans 2:17-24). They confidently affirm (διαβεβαιοῦνται). Elsewhere in the New Testament only in Titus 3:8, "I will that thou affirm confidently." So in classical Greek, "to maintain strongly," "to be positive." This was right in the minister of Christ declaring Divine truth, but very wrong in these vain janglers. The nature of their confident assertions is apparent from what follows - they spoke of the Law, but not lawfully. Desiring (θέλοντες)

The participle is explanatory and confirmatory of the preceding statement: since they desire.

Teachers of the law (νομοδιδάσκαλοι)

oP. It occurs in Luke 5:17 and Acts 5:34. Νόμος is, apparently, the Mosaic law. These teachers may have been arbitrary interpreters of that law, but in what way, cannot be shown.

Understanding (νοοῦντες)

Better, though they understand.

What they say - whereof they affirm (ἃ λέγουσιν - περὶ τίνων διαβεβαιοῦνται)

The latter expression is an advance on the former, as appears not only from the verbs themselves, but from the different pronominal expressions. They know not what they say, nor what kind of things they are of which they speak so confidently. The compound διαβεβαιοῦσωαι to affirm, Pasto. Comp. Titus 3:8. The false teachers announce their errors with assurance.

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