by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 6 (Focus is on 1:7) Lincolnton, NC March 28, 2004
There are no differences between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26.
7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
7 desiring to be teachers of the law, though they understand neither what they say, nor whereof they confidently affirm.
1. This text explains the intermediate desire of those whom Paul faults for turning aside from love and its requirements of a clean heart, a good conscience, and an unhypocritical faith. They "desire" to be teachers of the Law.
a. First, there is the issue of "desire". Since John pointedly declares that all desires that spring out of a rejection of God's love and its concomitant elements are able to be boiled down to their essence as either "the lust of the flesh", "the lust of the eyes", or the "pride of life", there is no doubt that this "wishing" is motivated by one, or more, of these three fundamental motivators. Paul does not directly mention in this text which of the three, or which composite of the three, he might have in mind. He simply reveals the fact that the false teachers are highly motivated to be recognized as "teachers" of God's law.
b. Then there is the issue of Paul's identifying tag: "teachers of the Law". This descriptive tag is highly likely to have its characteristics unveiled by Paul's diatribe against this kind of "teacher" in Romans 2:17-20. They consider themselves "properly aligned with God"; they believe they "know His will"; they are "confident guides of the blind"; they believe themselves to be "lights to those in darkness"; they consider themselves "instructors of the foolish"; and they think themselves to be "teachers of babes". Here Paul stacks up a litany of self-perceptions that all have to do with being "superior" to others by reason of the possession of God's Law. Interestingly, Paul is functioning as each of those metaphors as he writes his sarcastic description of the "Jews". The difference is not in the realm of "self-perception", but in the realm of "actualized reality". When one "teaches" that one should not steal from the personal reality of being essentially a thief, the self-perception of a "teacher" is suddenly at serious odds with 'reality'. Obviously, if a person is a thief, there is a serious problem at the root of his theological orientation. This subverted orientation does not make his confident assertion, "Thou shalt not steal", a lie, but it certainly does make it a matter about which he knows nothing. A thief cannot tell another to cease to steal without revealing a complete lack of significant grasp of the subject at hand ("thievery"). The major problem is this: one who is in bondage to sin cannot ever establish freedom from sin in another. The very fact that one can "confidently affirm" that stealing is not the will of God while simultaneously being a thief reveals how knowing that stealing is not the will of God is a bondage-producing truth. There are truths which enslave and there are truths which deliver. The "undelivered" can never teach anything besides principles that enslave.
2. This text clearly declares that the undelivered cannot properly "teach" because there exists a complete absence of "understanding".
a. The technical wording may actually be accurate in terms of a severely limited context; but, the technical wording is always plugged into a larger, overall, context that shades the meaning of the words themselves so that, in that larger context, the words become "doctrines of demons". The classic example is Satan's use of Scripture in the temptation of Jesus. The words were technically accurate, but incredibly deceptive within the larger context. No one functions at the technical level. Everyone functions under the larger umbrella and it is at that level that true understanding exists.
b. Thus, if "love" (and a clean heart, good conscience, and unhypocritical faith) have been abandoned, the larger umbrella is set up in the kingdom of darkness and there is no light there.
3. This text also, however, implies a couple of things about "persuasiveness". People do not follow those who are unpersuasive. So, in this text, there are indicators of persuasiveness -- i.e. elements to the generation of "faith".
a. First, "faith" is generated when a recognized authority appears to be the foundation of the teaching [the false teachers were using the Word of God (Law) as the 'apparent' basis for their teaching].
b. Second, "faith" is generated when there is a "saying" going on ["...understanding neither what they say..."]. The word for "say" in this text is a word that implies a link to authoritative reality. Jesus used this word multiple times in His "Verily, verily, I say unto you..." statements that He made when He was making a clear distinction between what He was "saying" and what others had "said". In other words, "faith" comes about in men's minds when they are confronted with what appears to them to be consistent harmony within the whole of the doctrine being explained.
c. Third, "faith" is generated when there is "confident affirmation" going on ["...understanding neither... nor whereof they affirm..."]. In other words, dogmatism often generates a "faithful" following. When someone gives every evidence of total belief in a dogma, others are often influenced to embrace the dogma also. This is where the impact of "screaming" as a preaching style comes into play. If people take the loud volume in the proclamation as indicative of genuine conviction, they are often influenced to buy into the conviction themselves.