The law is not made for a righteous man - There is a moral law as well as a ceremonial law: as the object of the latter is to lead us to Christ; the object of the former is to restrain crimes, and inflict punishment on those that commit them. It was, therefore, not made for the righteous as a restrainer of crimes, and an inflicter of punishments; for the righteous avoid sin, and by living to the glory of God expose not themselves to its censures. This seems to be the mind of the apostle; he does not say that the law was not Made for a righteous man, but ου κειται, it does not Lie against a righteous man; because he does not transgress it: but it lies against the wicked; for such as the apostle mentions have broken it, and grievously too, and are condemned by it. The word κειται, lies, refers to the custom of writing laws on boards, and hanging them up in public places within reach of every man, that they might be read by all; thus all would see against whom the law lay.
The lawless - Ανομοις· Those who will not be bound by a law, and acknowledge none, therefore have no rule of moral conduct.
Disobedient - Ανυποτακτοις· Those who acknowledge no authority; from α, negative, and ὑποτασσω, to subject; they neither acknowledge law, nor executive authority, and consequently endeavor to live as they list; and from such dispositions all the crimes in the following catalogue may naturally spring.
For the ungodly - Ασεβεσι· The irreligious - those who do not worship God, or have no true worship; from α, negative, and σεβω, to worship. For sinners, ἁμαρτωλοις those who transgress the laws; from α, negative, and μαρπτω, to hit the mark. This has been elsewhere explained.
For unholy - Ανοσιοις· Persons totally polluted - unclean within, and unclean without; from α, negative, and ὁσιος, holy.
And profane - Βεβηλοις· Such who are so unholy and abominable as not to be fit to attend any public worship; from βε, denoting privation or separation, and βηλος, a threshold or pavement, particularly of a temple. Our word profane comes from procul a fano, "far from the temple." When the ancients, even heathens, were about to perform some very sacred rites, they were accustomed to command the irreligious to keep at a distance; hence that saying in a fragment of Orpheus: -
Φθεγξομαι οἱς θεμις εστι· θυρας δ 'επιθεσθε βεβηλοις Πασιν ὁμως .
"I will speak to whom it is lawful; but these doors, O, shut against the profane."
And that of Virgil, Aen. vi. ver. 258.
Procul! O procul! este profani.
Far! ye profane! get hence.
Murderers of fathers - Πατραλῳαις . The murderer of a father or a mother, notwithstanding the deep fall of man, and the general profligacy of the world, has been so rare, and is a crime so totally opposite to nature, that few civilized nations have found it necessary to make laws against it. Yet, such monsters, like the most awful and infrequent portents, have sometimes terrified the world with their appearance. But I think the original does not necessarily imply the murder of a father or of a mother; πατραλῳας comes from πατερα, a father, and αλοιαω, to strike, and may mean simply beating or striking a father or mother: this is horrible enough; but to murder a parent out-herods Herod.
Manslayers - Ανδροφονοις· Murderers simply; all who take away the life of a human being contrary to law. For no crime, unless it be murder, should any man lose his life. If the law did not speak differently, I should not scruple to say that he whose life is taken away, except for murder, is murdered.
Knowing this - That is, “If anyone knows, or admits this, he has the prover view of the design of the law.” The apostle does not refer particularly to himself as knowing or conceding this, for then he would have uses the plural form of the participle (see the Greek), but he means that anyone who had just views of the law would see that that which he proceeds to specify was its real purpose.
The law is not made for a righteous man - There has been great variety in the interpretation of this passage. Some suppose that the law here refers to the ceremonial laws of Moses (Clarke, Rosenmuller, Abbot); others to the denunciatory part of the law (Doddridge and Bloomfield); and others that it means that the chief purpose of the law was to restrain the wicked. It seems clear, however, that the apostle does not refer merely to the ceremonial law, for he specifies that which condemns the unholy and profane; the murderers of fathers and mothers; liars and perjured persons. It was not the ceremonial law which condemned these things, but the moral law. It cannot be supposed, moreover, that the apostle meant to say that the law was not binding on a righteous man, or that he was under no obligation to obey it - for he everywhere teaches that the moral law is obligatory on all mankind.
To suppose also that a righteous man is released from the obligation to obey the law, that is, to do right, is an absurdity. Nor does he seem to mean, as Macknight supposes, that the law was not given for the purpose of justifying a righteous man - for this was originally one of its designs. Had man always obeyed it, he would have been justified by it. The meaning seems to be, that the purpose of the law was not to fetter and perplex those who were righteous, and who aimed to do their duty and to please God. It was not intended to produce a spirit of servitude and bondage. As the Jews interpreted it, it did this, and this interpretation appears to have been adopted by the teachers at Ephesus, to whom Paul refers. The whole tendency of their teaching was to bring the soul into a state of bondage, and to make religion a condition, of servitude. Paul teaches, on the other hand, that religion was a condition of freedom, and that the main purpose of the law was not to fetter the minds of the righteous by numberless observances and minute regulations, but that it was to restrain the wicked from sin. This is the case with all law. No good man feels himself lettered and manacled by wholesome laws, nor does he feel that the purpose of law is to reduce him to a state of servitude. It is only the wicked who have this feeling - and in this sense the law is made for a man who intends to do wrong.
For the lawless - To bind and restrain them. The word here used means, properly, those who have no law, and then those who are transgressors - the wicked. It is rendered transgressors in Matthew 15:28; Luke 22:37, and wicked, Acts 2:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:8.
And disobedient - Those who are insubordinate, lawless, refractory. The word properly means those who are under no subjection or authority. It occurs in the New Testament only here, and Titus 1:6, Titus 1:10, where it is rendered unruly, and Hebrews 2:8, where it is translated not put under; that is, under Christ.
For the ungodly - Those who have no religion; who do not worship or honor God. The Greek word occurs in the following places, in all of which it is rendered ungodly; Romans 4:5; Romans 5:6; 1 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 4:18; 2 Peter 2:5; 2 Peter 3:7; Jude 1:15. The meaning is, that the law is against all who do not worship or honor God.
And for sinners - The word used here is the common word to denote sinners. It is general, and includes sins of all kinds.
For unholy - “Those who are regardless of duty to God or man,” Robinson, Lexicon. The word occurs in the New Testament only here, and in 2 Timothy 3:2. It has particular reference to those who fail of their duty toward God, and means those who have no piety; who are irreligious.
And profane - This does not necessarily mean that they were profane in the sense that blasphemed the name of God, or were profane swearers - though the word would include that - but it means properly those who are impious, or who are scoffers; notes, Hebrews 12:16. The word occurs only in the following places, in all of which it is rendered profane: 1 Timothy 1:9; 1 Timothy 4:7; 1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 2:16; Hebrews 12:16. A man who treats religion with contempt. mockery, or scorn, would correspond with the meaning of the word.
For murderers of fathers - The Greek properly means a “smiter of a father” (Robinson), though here it undoubtedly means a parricide. This was expressly forbidden by the law of Moses, and was a crime punishable by death; Exodus 21:15. It is said to have been a crime which the Roman law did not contemplate as possible, and hence that there was no enactment against it. It is, indeed, a crime of the highest order; but facts have shown that if the Romans supposed it would never be committed, they did not judge aright of human nature. There is no sin which man will not commit if unrestrained, and there is in fact no conceivable form of crime of which he has not been guilty.
Murderers of mothers - A still more atrocious and monstrous crime, if possible, than the former. We can conceive nothing superior to this in atrocity, and yet it has been committed. Nero caused his mother to be murdered, and the annals of crime disclose the names of not a few who have imbrued their own hands in the blood of those who bare them. This was also expressly forbidden by the law of Moses; Exodus 21:15.
15-21 (1 Timothy 1:9, 10; James 1:22-25; see EGW on 2 Corinthians 3:6-9). Not Obedient, but Transgressors, Under Bondage—Paul in his Epistle to Timothy describes the very men who are under the bondage of the law. They are the transgressors of the law. He names them lawless, disobedient, sinners, unholy, profane, murderers, adulterers, liars, and all who depart from sound doctrine. 1 Timothy 1:9, 10. 6BC 1077.2
The law of God is the mirror to show man the defects in his character. But it is not pleasant to those who take pleasure in unrighteousness to see their moral deformity. They do not prize this faithful mirror, because it reveals to them their sins. Therefore, instead of instituting a war against their carnal minds, they war against the true and faithful mirror, given them by Jehovah for the very purpose that they may not be deceived, but that they may have revealed to them the defects in their character. 6BC 1077.3Read in context »