1 Timothy 1:8
But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
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(8) But we know.—Better, Now we know: a strong expression of his knowledge, learned in the school of the Holy Ghost. He spoke with the conscious authority of an Apostle, confident of the truth of what he preached and taught.

That the law is good, if a man use it lawfully.—“The Law is good,” St. Paul declared with apostolic authoritative knowledge, “should a man—i.e., a teacher of the Law—make use of it lawfully; if he should use it so as to make men conscious of their sins, conscious that of themselves they deserve no mercy, only punishment.” To press this sorrowful knowledge was the Law’s true work upon men. It was never intended to supply materials for casuistry and idle, profitless arguments. It was never meant as a system out of which man might draw material for self-deception. It was never meant as a system through which a man might imagine that by a compliance, more or less rigid, with its outer ritual he was satisfying all the higher requirements of justice and truth.

1 Timothy 1:8-11. We know that the law is good — Answers excellent purposes; if a man use it lawfully — In a proper manner. Even the ceremonial law is good as it points to Christ, and is emblematical of the various branches of salvation that are in and through him; and the moral law is holy, just, and good, resulting from the nature of God and man, and the relations of mankind to him and each other, and of admirable use both to convince men of sin, and to bring them to Christ for justification, as well as to direct such as are justified in the way of holiness. The apostle’s expression, If a man use it lawfully, plainly intimates, as Doddridge observes, “that there were some who abused the law, borrowing a pretence from it to condemn some of the best of men, and to subvert the gospel. And whereas some had represented Paul as an enemy to the law, he here denies and disproves the charge. The design of the Mosaic law was to direct the conduct of those to whom it was given, and to humble them under a sense of their sin. But it could not be intended to save them by a perfect conformity to it, which was το αδυνατον του νομου, what the law could not do, Romans 8:3.” Knowing this — As first necessary in order to the making a right use of the law; that the law is not made for — Greek, ου κειται, does not lie against, a righteous man — Who makes it the rule of his conduct, and has it written on his heart, sincerely loving it, and carefully guarding against every violation of it. Not that the righteous so fulfil the law as to answer its high demands in every respect; in that sense, by the deeds of the law shall no flesh living be justified, Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16; where see the notes. But Christ having redeemed true believers from that curse and condemnation of the law to which they would otherwise be exposed, through him their love to God and man is graciously accepted as the fulfilling of the law, Romans 13:10; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8. But for the lawless — That is, it lies against the lawless; and disobedient — Who, despising or disregarding the authority of the lawgiver, knowingly transgress his commands. Perhaps, as some observe, the expression, κειται, lies, refers to the custom of having laws written on tables, and hung up or laid in public places, to be read by all, and evidently showing against whom the law lay: see on Colossians 2:14. Against the ungodly and sinners — Persons destitute of the knowledge and fear, as well as love of God, and notorious transgressors; the unholy — In heart and life; and profane — Violating the name and day of God, and all sacred things, and so treating with contempt or neglect all the commands of the first table: murderers of fathers and of mothers — The apostle proceeds to speak of those who violate the commands of the second table; and first, of those who, instead of honouring their parents, even imbrue their hands in their blood, and so by one act transgress and trample under foot both the fifth and sixth commands: whoremongers — Adulterers, fornicators, and lewd persons of all kinds, who violate the seventh; men-stealers — Who in the grossest sense possible break the eighth; for of all thieves, those who steal human beings are the worst. In comparison of them, highwaymen and house-breakers are innocent! “They who make war for the inhuman purpose of selling the vanquished for slaves, as is the practice of African princes; and they who, like African traders, encourage their unchristian traffic by purchasing that which they know to be thus unjustly acquired, are really men-stealers.” — Macknight. And such are all the nations who legalize or connive at such proceedings. And what shall we say of those who steal children to beg with them, or that they may rob them of their clothes, or for other purposes: or of those who enlist soldiers by lies, tricks, or enticements? Liars, perjured persons — Who violate the ninth commandment; and if there be any other thing — As there are very many; contrary to sound doctrine Υγιαινουση διδασκαλια, salutary, or healing doctrine. According to the apostle, therefore, the doctrine which condemns and restrains wicked practices, though ridiculed by some as legal and Pharisaic, is, as far as it goes, salutary doctrine. On the other hand, the doctrine which encourages men to sin, or which makes them easy under it, though represented by some as evangelical, and the sweet doctrine of grace, is unwholesome and pernicious. According to the glorious gospel — Which, far from making void, does indeed establish the law, and that in the most effectual manner.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.But we know that the law is good - We admit this; it is that which we all concede. This declaration is evidently made by the apostle to guard against the supposition that he was an enemy of the law. Doubtless this charge would be brought against him, or against anyone who maintained the sentiments which he had just expressed. By speaking thus of what those teachers regarded as so important in the law, it would be natural for them to declare that he was an enemy of the law itself, and would be glad to see all its claims abrogated. Paul says that he designs no such thing. He admitted that the law was good. He was never disposed for one moment to call it in question. He only asked that it should be rightly understood and properly explained. Paul was never disposed to call in question the excellency and the utility of the law, however it might bear on him or on others; compare Romans 7:12 note, and Acts 21:21-26 notes.

If a man use it lawfully - In a proper manner; for the purposes for which it was designed. It is intended to occupy a most important place, but it should not be perverted. Paul asked only that it should be used aright, and in order to this, he proceeds to state what is its true design.

8. But—"Now we know" (Ro 3:19; 7:14).

law is good—in full agreement with God's holiness and goodness.

if a man—primarily, a teacher; then, every Christian.

use it lawfully—in its lawful place in the Gospel economy, namely, not as a means of a "'righteous man" attaining higher perfection than could be attained by the Gospel alone (1Ti 4:8; Tit 1:14), which was the perverted use to which the false teachers put it, but as a means of awakening the sense of sin in the ungodly (1Ti 1:9, 10; compare Ro 7:7-12; Ga 3:21).

But we know that the law is good: not that I speak against the law of God, I know that it is holy, and spiritual, and just, and good, Romans 7:12,14. It is good, though not for justification, yet for conviction, to convince men of sin, and as a schoolmaster to lead men unto Christ, and to direct us in our walking with God; the equity and sanctity of its precepts are evident to the sincere and purified mind.

If a man use it lawfully: and as the law has an intrinsic goodness in its nature, so it is good to men when it is used for the end to which God gave it. But we know that the law is good,.... The apostle says this to prevent an objection that might be made to him, that seeing he bore so hard on such who were fond of being teachers of the law, he was himself against the law, and the preaching and proper use of it; but this he would not have concluded, for he and his fellow labourers in the ministry, and all true believers know, from the Scriptures of truth, from the agreement of the law with the Gospel, and from their own experience, that the law is good, provided it be used in a lawful way, and to lawful purposes: and this is to be understood not of the ceremonial law, which was now disannulled, because of the weakness and unprofitableness of it, so that there was no lawful use of that; but of the moral law, which must needs be good, since the author of it is God, who is only good; and nothing but good can come from him: the law, strictly moral, is a copy of his nature, transcribed out of himself, as well as with his own hands; and is a declaration of his will, and is stamped with his authority, and therefore must be good: the matter of it is good, it contains good, yea, great and excellent things; the matter of it is honestly and morally good, as to love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly with God: and it is pleasantly good to a regenerate man, who loves it, and delights in it after the inner man, and serves it with his spirit; though the carnal mind cannot be subject to it, but rejects it, and rebels against it: and it is also profitably good; for though obedience to it is not profitable to God, yet it is to men; and though eternal life is not obtained hereby, nor any reward given for keeping it, yet in keeping it there is a reward; and that peace is enjoyed, which the transgressors of it are strangers to: it is good in the uses of it, both to sinners and to saints. To sinners it is useful for the knowledge of sin, to convince of it, and bring them to a sense of it, and concern for it, which is effectually done, when the Spirit of God sets in with it, or brings this commandment home to the heart; and if it has not this use, it is sometimes a means of restraining men from sin, which is the use of civil laws among men; and if it has not this, it is of use however to accuse men rightly of sin, and to pronounce justly guilty before God for it, to curse them as they deserve it, and to sentence to condemnation and death: and to believers it is of use, though they are not under it as in the hands of Moses, and as a covenant of works, and are freed from its curse and condemnation, and under no obligation to seek for life and righteousness by it; to them it is of use, to point out to them what is the will of God, and what should be done, and not done; and it is a rule of walk and conversation to them, as in the hands of Christ; and is as a glass to them to behold their own deformity, the impurity of their nature, the plague of their own hearts, and the imperfection of their obedience; by which they see the insufficiency of their own righteousness, how far they are from perfection, and what carnal creatures they are, when compared with this law: and as this serves to put them out of conceit with themselves, so it tends to make Christ and his righteousness more lovely and valuable in their esteem; who has wrought out a righteousness as broad and as long as the law is, and by which it is magnified and made honourable, and has delivered them from its curse and condemnation. And this law is good as it is holy, in its author, nature, and use; and as it is just, requiring just things, and doing that which is just, by acquitting those who are interested in Christ's righteousness, and in condemning those that have no righteousness; and as it is a spiritual and perfect law, which reaches the spirit and soul of man, and is concerned with inward thoughts and motions, as well as outward actions; and especially the end of it, the fulfilling end of it is good, which is Jesus Christ, who was made under it, came to fulfil it, and has answered all the demands of it: so that it must be good, and which cannot be denied,

if a man use it lawfully; for if it is used in order to obtain life, righteousness, and salvation by the works of it, or by obedience to it, it is used unlawfully: for the law does not give life, nor can righteousness come by it; nor are, or can men be saved by the works of it; to use the law for such purposes, is to abuse it, as the false teachers did, and make that which is good in itself, and in its proper use, to do what is evil; namely, to obscure and frustrate the grace of God, and make null and void the sufferings and death of Christ. A lawful use of the law is to obey it, as in the hands of Christ, the King of saints, and lawgiver in his church, from a principle of love to him, in the exercise of faith on him, without any mercenary selfish views, without trusting to, or depending on, what is done in obedience to it, but with a view to the glory of God, to testify our subjection to Christ, and our gratitude to him for favours received from him.

{7} But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;

(7) The taking away of an objection: he does not condemn the Law, but requires the right use and practice of it.

1 Timothy 1:8. In contrast with the heretics’ advocacy of the law, the apostle, in what follows, states its real value.

Οἴδαμεν δὲ, ὅτι κ.τ.λ.] Baur wrongly infers from these words that the heretics, as Antinomians, had no desire to vindicate the law as good. It is not these first words, but the words ἐάν τις κ.τ.λ., that are directed against the heretics. In spite of Hofmann’s denial, οἴδαμεν δέ stands in a concessive sense, (Wiesinger), as in Romans 7:14, 1 Corinthians 8:1, the apostle making an acknowledgment which is restricted by ἐάν τις κ.τ.λ.; still we cannot translate it simply by concedimus, as Heinrichs does.

καλὸς ὁ νόμος] By νόμος we must understand, neither the Christian moral law, nor a single part of the Mosaic law, but the latter as a whole. It is of the entire Mosaic law in its existing form as a revelation of the divine will given in a system of written commands—it is of this that Paul uses καλός as a suitable epithet. It is not enough to take καλός as equivalent to ὠφέλιμος (Theodoret), though the idea of usefulness is included in it; καλός denotes generally the internal excellence of the law, just as the same is set forth in still more significant expressions in Romans 7:12; Romans 7:14. But the good and excellent qualities of the law depend on its being applied according to its nature and signification: when applied otherwise, it ceases to be καλός. Hence Paul, in opposition to the heretics, adds: ἐάν τις αὐτῷ νομίμως χρῆται. The νομίμως, which is clearly a play on words with νόμος, only expresses the formal relation; we can only infer from the thoughts that follow what is meant by the lawful use of law.[57] De Wette rightly remarks: “There is in this passage nothing but what the words really say, that the Christian teacher must not uphold the law as binding on the ΔΊΚΑΙΟς.” While nearly all expositors understand by ΤΙς the Christian as such, Bengel remarks: Paulus hoc loco non de auditore legis, sed de doctore loquitur; in this he is right, as is acknowledged also by de Wette, Wiesinger, van Oosterzee, Hofmann. Paul says nothing here as to how the law is to be obeyed, but rather he tells us how it is to be made use of by Christian teachers.

[57] Most expositors have on this passage told us wherein consisted the material advantage of the law; but however correct their statements in themselves may be, they are out of place, since there is no ground for them in the apostle’s words.1 Timothy 1:8-11. And yet this alleged antagonism of the Law to the Gospel is factitious: the Law on which they insist is part of law in general; so is the Gospel with which I was entrusted. The intention of both is to a large extent identical: to promote right conduct.8. But we know] Yet we are all aware, a correction or concession. St Paul uses ‘we know’ in a similar way, Romans 7:14, ‘I grant that the law is spiritual’; 1 Corinthians 8:3, ‘We are quite aware (with irony) that we all have knowledge.’

if a man use it lawfully] The regular Greek idiom corresponding with our passive, if it be handled as law should be, that is, by the teacher of the law. Ellicott gives the sense of the passage clearly, ‘The false teachers on the contrary, assuming that it was designed for the righteous man, urged their interpretations of it as necessary appendices to the Gospel.’

For the play on the word ‘law’ compare 2 Timothy 3:4; 2 Timothy 4:7, and better 1 Timothy 1:3; 1 Timothy 1:5, ‘charge,’ ‘charges.’1 Timothy 1:8. Ὁ νόμοςνομίμως) Conjugate terms: νομίμως, according to what is agreeable to the law. They used to “strive about the law,” Titus 3:9.—χρῆται) Sophocles has the phrase, νόμῳ χρῆσθαι, which is explained as equivalent to νομοθετεῖν by the Scholiast; and so Paul is speaking in this passage, not of the hearer of the law, but of the teacher.Verse 8. - The Law is good (see the similar statement in Romans 7:12). The Jews thought that St. Paul spoke against the Law (comp. Acts 6:13, 14), because he vindicated its true use (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:24; Galatians 4:4, 5, etc.). But he everywhere speaks of the Law as good and holy. If a man - i.e., a teacher of the Law - use it lawfully; knowing its proper use, as it follows in the next verse. Good (καλός)

Comp. Romans 7:16. Morally excellent and salutary. See on John 10:11. This is the only instance of χρᾶσθαι to use with νόμος law.

Lawfully (νομίμως)

Pasto. olxx. The nature of the proper use of the law - is indicated by the next clause.

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