Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 7
April 4, 2004
There is one difference between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26 in verse 9. The Textus Receptus has a "moveable nun" on the word "ungodly" that the Nestle/Aland 26 does not have. There is absolutely no difference in meaning.
8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully,
9 as knowing this, that law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and unruly, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
10 for fornicators, for abusers of themselves with men, for menstealers, for liars, for false swearers, and if there be any other thing contrary to the sound doctrine;
11 according to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
- 1. The word "use", in verse 8, is rather consistently found in the New Testament to refer to "making use of a thing in order to accomplish some objective". Paul is here saying that there is a valid application of the Law.
- 2. But, according to verse 9, the Law is not properly applied to the righteous. Here, Paul is using the word "Law" in a specific and limited sense. The sense is this: "Law" is the pronouncement of condemnation upon those who are "unrighteous". In the Bible "Law" can refer to the written revelation of God and, in that sense, it is the focus of the attention of the righteous as is shown by Psalm 119 and, not without emphasis, Psalm 1 makes it very clear that the righteous are highly profited by the Law. Because Paul, in Romans 7, clearly ties the strength of Sin to the Law, it is beyond obvious that he would have all kinds of problems with anyone whose use of it was thus. The entire problem of mankind is his "sinfulness" and the extremes to which he will go to violate what is good and right. Therefore, Paul would be absolutely adamant in opposition to anyone who did not understand the right application of the Law. This brings up a couple of insights. First, the improper use of the Law will always begin with either an improper view of God (note verse 11 -- the false teachings are contrary to the glory of the blessed God), or an improper view of man, or, mostly likely, both. Then, the improper use of the Law will actually do exactly opposite of what the false user of it seeks.
- 3. Paul's theology clearly makes a place for "the Law" ["...wherefore then serveth the Law?...--Galatians 3:19] and he is not against the proper use of it. But, because it can so easily be put under the yoke of those who would use it to further their ungodly objectives, he is adamant that this "place" of the Law be maintained absolutely. There is a fundamental difference between Law and Grace: under Grace, the Spirit of Life is the source of our life and those who walk by the Spirit do nothing contrary to Law. The Law is fulfilled in us when we walk by the Spirit (Romans 8:4 and Galatians 5:14). But, this is the point: it is only by the Spirit that life flows in and through us as we "look unto Jesus" and "walk by faith".
- 4. In the litany of those for whom the Law "was made", Paul sets up a series of couplets that are then followed by a simple list:
- a. the lawless and unruly
- b. the ungodly and sinners
- c. the unholy and profane
- d. the father-killers and mother-killers
- e. man-slayers
- f. sexual deviants [in the sense of sexual expression outside of marriage]
- g. sexual perverts [in the sense of sexual expression against nature]
- h. slave traders who force the free into slavery
- i. liars
- j. perjurors
- k. anyone else who fails to demonstrate legitimate and healthy doctrine that is according to the standard of the Gospel
- 5. The organization of this list reveals the following:
- a. The first five characteristics are "a" + "a positive characteristic".
- b. The four "couplets" begin with the "lesser" offense and move to the "greater" of a similar evil.
- c. The seven in the following list flow as follows:
- 1) The first one follows on the heels of "parent-killers".
- 2) The next two have to do with sexual violations.
- 3) The fourth focuses upon serious abuse of one's fellow-man.
- 4) The fifth and sixth focus upon the use of falsehood to obtain some advantage.
- 5) The seventh is simply a "catch-all".
- 6. The Law "was made for" these: in what sense?
- a. In Romans 4:15 Paul says "the Law worketh wrath".
- b. In Galatians 3:10 Paul says "as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse".
- c. In Galatians 5:3 Paul says "every man that receiveth circumcision ... is a debtor to do the whole Law".
- d. In Galatians 5:14, 18, 23 and 6:2 Paul clearly says he is not "antinomian" because he is interested in a true fulfillment of the righteousness found in the Law; but he is beyond clear that it is not fulfilled by those who take it on as a methodology of life. At the root of legalism is the conviction that man is able without the Spirit. At the root of Christianity is the conviction that man is able by the Spirit. But, the reality seems to be that man in this body is not "fully capable" in the sense that "the blood of Jesus Christ keeps on cleansing us" -- i.e. we are always in need of cleansing no matter how well we "walk by the Spirit".
- e. Therefore, the Law "was made for" the unrighteous as a Revealer of their sin and a Judge of their sin and an Executor of their sentence for sin. It was, in other words, designed to either bring them to Christ or to destroy them from the presence of the righteous.