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1 Timothy 1:5-11

5. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

5. Porro finis praecepti est charitas, ex puro corde, et conscientia bona, et fide non simulata.

6. From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;

6. A quibus postquam nonnulli aberrarunt, deflexerunt ad vaniloquium,

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

7. Volentes esse legis doctores, non intelligentes quae loquuntur, neque de quibus affirmant.

8. But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;

8. Scimus autem quod lex bona sit, si quis ea legitime utatur:

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,

9. Sciens illud, quod justo non sit lex posita, sed injustis et inobsequentibus, impiis et peccatoribus, irreligiosis et profanis, parricidis et matricidis, homicidis,

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;

10. Scortatoribus, masculorum concubitoribus, plagiariis, mendacibus, perjuris, et si quid aliud est, quod sanae doctrinae adversatur;

11. According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

11. Secundum Evangelium gloriae beati Dei, quod concreditum est mihi.

Those unprincipled men with whom Timothy had to deal, boasted of having the law on their side, in consequence of which Paul anticipates, and shews that the law gives them no support but was even opposed to them, and that it agreed perfectly with the gospel which he had taught. The defense set up by them was not unlike that which is pleaded by those who, in the present day, subject the word of God to torture. They tell us that we aim at nothing else than to destroy sacred theology, as if they alone nourished it in their bosom. They spoke of the law in such a manner as to exhibit Paul in an odious light. And what is his reply? In order to scatter those clouds of smoke, 1010     “Pour demesler tout ce qu’ils entassoyent pour esblouir les yeux des simples.” — “In order to sweep away all that they heaped up for the purpose of blinding the eyes of plain people.” he comes frankly forward, by way of anticipation, and proves that his doctrine is in perfect harmony with the law, and that the law is utterly abused by those who employ it for any other purpose. In like manner, when we now define what is meant by true theology, it is clearly evident that we desire the restoration of that which had been wretchedly torn and disfigured by those triflers who, puffed up by the empty title of theologians, are acquainted with nothing but vapid and unmeaning trifles. Commandment is here put for the law, by taking a part for the whole.

Love out of a pure heart If the law must be directed to this object, that we may be instructed in love, which proceeds from faith and a good conscience, it follows, on the other hand, that they who turn the teaching of it into curious questions are wicked expounders of the law. Besides, it is of no great importance whither the word love be regarded in this passage as relating, to both tables of the law, or only to the second table. We are commanded to love God with our whole heart, and our neighbors as ourselves; but when love is spoken of in Scripture, it is more frequently limited to the second part. On the present occasion I should not hesitate to understand by it the love both of God and of our neighbor, if Paul had employed the word love alone; but when he adds, “faith, and a good conscience, and a pure heart,” the interpretation which I am now to give will not be at variance with his intention, and will agree well with the scope of the passage. The sum of the law is this, that we may worship God with true faith and a pure conscience, and that we may love one another. Whosoever turns aside from this corrupts the law of God by twisting it to a different purpose.

But here arises a doubt, that Paul appears to prefer “love” to “faith.” I reply, they who are of that opinion reason in an excessively childish manner; for, if love is first mentioned, it does not therefore hold the first rank of honor, since Paul shows also that it springs from faith. Now the cause undoubtedly goes before its effect. And if we carefully weigh the whole context, what Paul says is of the same import as if he had said, “The law was given to us for this purpose, that it might instruct us in faith, which is the mother of a good conscience and of love.” Thus we must begin with faith, and not with love.

“A pure heart” and “a good conscience” do not greatly differ from each other. Both proceed from faith; for, as to a pure heart, it is said that “God purifieth hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:9.) As to a good conscience, Peter declares that it is founded on the resurrection of Christ. (1 Peter 3:21.) From this passage we also learn that there is no true love where there is not fear of God and uprightness of conscience.

Nor is it unworthy of observation that to each of them he adds an epithet; 1111     “Il donne a chacune vertu son epithet.” — “He gives to each virtue its epithet.” for, as nothing is more common, so nothing is more easy, than to boast of faith and a good conscience. But how few are there who prove by their actions that they are free from all hypocrisy! Especially it is proper to observe the epithet Which he bestows on “faith,” when he calls it faith unfeigned; by which he means that the profession of it is insincere, when we do not perceive a good conscience, and when love is not manifested. Now since the salvation of men rests on faith, and since the perfect worship of God rests on faith and a good conscience and love, we need not wonder if Paul makes the sum of the law to consist of them.

6 From which some having gone astray He continues to pursue the metaphor of an object or end; for the verb ἀστοχεῖν, the participle of which is here given, signifies to err or go aside from a mark. 1212     “Here he makes use of a metaphor taken from those who shoot with a bow; for they have their mark at which they aim, and do not shoot carelessly, or at random. Thus Paul shews that God, by giving us the law, has determined to give us a sure road, that we may not be liable to wander like vagabonds. And, indeed, it is not without reason that Moses exhorteth the people, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it,’ as if he had said that men do not know where they are, till God has declared to them his will; but then they have an infallible rule. — Let us carefully observe that God intends to address us in such a manner that it shall not be possible for us to go astray, provided that we take him for our guide, seeing that he is ready and willing to perform that office, when we do not refuse such a favor. This is what Paul meant by this metaphor; as we are told that all who have it not as their object to rely on the grace of God, in order that they may call on God as their Father, and may expect salvation from him, and who do not walk with a good conscience, and with a pure heart toward their neighborhood, are like persons who have wandered and gone astray.” — Fr. Ser.

Have turned aside to idle talking This is a remarkable passage, in which he condemns for “idle talking” 1313     “De vanite et mesonge.” — “For vanity and falsehood.” all the doctrines which do not aim at this single end, and at the same time points out that the views and thoughts of all who aim at any other object vanish away. It is, indeed, possible that useless trifles may be regarded by many persons with admiration; but the statement of Paul remains unshaken, that everything that does not edify in godliness is ματαιολογία, 1414     “Ματαιολογία has reference to the interminable and unprofitable ζητήσεις mentioned at 1 Timothy 1:4, and called κενοφωνίας at 1 Timothy 6:20; this vain and empty talk being, by implication, opposed to the performance of substantial duties.” — Bloomfield. “idle talking.” We ought; therefore to take the greatest possible care not to seek anything in the holy and sacred word of God but solid edification, lest otherwise he inflict on us severe punishment for abusing it.

7 Wishing to be teachers of the law He does not reprove those who openly attack the instruction of the law, but those who boast of belonging to the rank of teachers of it. He affirms that such persons have no understanding, because they harass their faculties to no purpose by curious questions. And, at the same time, he rebukes their pride by adding, —

Of what things they affirm, for none will be found more bold in pronouncing rashly on matters unknown to them than the teachers of such fables. We see in the present day with what pride and haughtiness the schools of the Sorbonne pronounce their authoritative decisions. And on what subjects? On those which are altogether hidden from the minds of men — which no word of Scripture, and no revelation has ever made known to us. With greater boldness do they affirm their purgatory 1515     “And in Popery what are the articles that shall be held as most certain? What angel, or what devil, revealed to them that there is a purgatory? They have fabricated it out of their own brain, and, after having attempted to produce some passages of the Holy Scriptures, they have at length become bewildered, so that they have no defense of their purgatory, but its antiquity. ‘There it is! It has been always held.’ Such is the foundation of faith, according to the learned Papists. And then we must not call in question that we ought to apply to the departed saints as our advocates and intercessors. To go to God without baying as our guide St. Michael, or the Virgin Mary, or some other saint whom the Pope shall have inserted in his calendar for the occasion, would be of no avail. And why? On what ground? Will they find in all the Holy Scriptures a single word, a single syllable, to shew that creatures, that is, deceased persons, intercede for us? For in this world we ought to pray for one another, and that is a mutual obligation; but as to deceased persons, not a word is said about them.” — Fr. Ser. than the resurrection of the dead. As to their contrivances about the intercession of the saints, if we do not hold them to be an undoubted oracle, they cry out that the whole of religion is overturned. What shall I say as to their vast labyrinths about the hierarchies of heaven, relationships, and similar contrivances? It is a matter that has no end. The Apostle declares that in all these is fulfilled what is said in a well-known ancient proverb,

“Ignorance is rash;” as he says that, “puffed up by their carnal mind, they intrude into things which they know not.”
(Colossians 2:18.)

8 Now we know that the law is good He again anticipates the calumny with which they loaded him; for, whenever he resisted their empty display, they seized on this shield for their defense “What then? Do you wish to have the law buried, and blotted out of the remembrance of men?” In order to repel this calumny, Paul acknowledges that “the law is good,” but contends that we are required to make a lawful use of it. Here he argues from the use of cognate terms; for the word lawful (legitimus) is derived from the word law (lex). But he goes still further, and shews that the law agrees excellently with the doctrine which it teaches; and he even directs it against them.

9 That the law is not made for a righteous man The apostle did not intend to argue about the whole office of the law, but views it in reference to men. It frequently happens that they who wish to be regarded as the greatest zealots for the law, give evidence by their whole life that they are the greatest despisers of it. A remarkable and striking instance of this is found in those who maintain the righteousness of works and defend free-will. They have continually in their mouth these words, “Perfect holiness, merits, satisfactions;” but their whole life cries out against them, that they are outrageously wicked and ungodly, that they provoke in every possible way the wrath of God, and fearlessly set his judgment at naught. They extol in lofty terms the free choice of good and evil; but they openly shew, by their actions, that they are the slaves of Satan, and are most firmly held by him in the chains of slavery.

Having such adversaries, in order to restrain their haughty insolence, Paul remonstrates that the law is, as it were, the sword of God to slay them; and that neither he nor any like him have reason for viewing the law with dread or aversion; for it is not opposed to righteous persons, that is, to the godly and to those who willingly obey God. I am well aware that some learned men draw an ingenious sense out of these words; as if Paul were treating theologically about the nature of “the law.” They argue that the law has nothing to do with the sons of God, who have been regenerated by the Spirit; because it was not given for righteous persons. But the connection in which these words occur shuts me up to the necessity of giving a more simple interpretation to this statement. He takes for granted the well-known sentiment, that “from bad manners have sprung good laws,” and maintains that the law of God was given in order to restrain the licentiousness of wicked men; because they who are good of their own accord do not need the authoritative injunction of the law.

A question now arises, “Is there any mortal man who does not belong to this class?” I reply, in this passage Paul gives the appellation “righteous” to those who are not absolutely perfect, (for no such person will be found,) but who, with the strongest desire of their heart, aim at what is good; so that godly desire is to them a kind of voluntary law, without any motive or restraint from another quarter. He therefore wished to repress the impudence of adversaries, who armed themselves with the name of “the law” against godly men, whose whole life exhibits the actual role of the law, since they had very great need of the law, and yet did not care much about it; which is more clearly expressed by the opposite clause. If there be any who refuse to admit that Paul brings an implied or indirect charge against his adversaries as guilty of those wicked acts which he enumerates, still it will be acknowledged to be a simple repelling of the slander; and if they were animated by a sincere and unfeigned zeal for the law, they ought rather to have made use of their armor for carrying on war with offenses and crimes, instead of employing it as a pretext for their own ambition and silly talking.

For the unrighteous and disobedient Instead of “unrighteous,” it would have been better if translators had made use of the word “lawless;” for the Greek word is ἀνόμους, which does not differ much from the second word in the clause, “disobedient.” By sinners he means wicked persons, or those who lead a base and immoral life.

For the ungodly and profane These words might have been fitly rendered “profane and impure;” but I did not wish to be fastidious in matters of little importance.

10 For robbers The Latin word plagium was employed by ancient writers to denote the carrying off or enticing the slave of another man, or the false sale of a freeman. Those who wish to obtain more full information on this subject may consult authors on the civil law, and especially on the Flavian Law.

Here Paul glances at several classes, which include briefly every kind of transgressions. The root is obstinacy and rebellion; which he describes by the first two words. Ungodly and sinners appear to denote transgressors of the first and second table. To these he adds the profane and impure, or those who lead a base and dissolute life. There being chiefly three ways in which men injure their neighbors, namely, violence, dishonesty, and lust, he reproves successively those three ways, as may be easily seen. First, he speaks of violence as manifested by manslayers and murderers of parents; secondly, he describes shameful uncleanness; and thirdly, he comes down to dishonesty and other crimes.

If there is anything else that is contrary to sound doctrine In this clause he maintains that his gospel is so far from being opposed to the law, that it is a powerful confirmation of it. He declares that by his preaching, he supports that very sentence which the Lord pronounced in his law, against “everything that is contrary to sound doctrine.” Hence it follows, that they who depart from the gospel, do not adhere to the spirit of the law, but merely pursue its shadow.

Sound doctrine is contrasted with frivolous questions about which he says (1 Timothy 6:3) that foolish teachers are in an unhealthy condition and which, on account of the effect produced by them, are called diseased. 1616     “All vices are contrary to sound doctrine. For what is the advantage to be derived from the Word of God? It is the pasture of our souls; and, next, it is a medicine. We have bread and various kinds of food for the nourishment of our body: the word of God is of the same use for our souls. But it is more advantageous in this respect, that, when we are diseased with our vices, when there are many corruptions and wicked desires, we must be purged of them; and the Word of God serves us for various purposes, for purging, for blood-letting, for drink, and for diet. In short, all that physicians can apply to the human body, for healing its diseases, is not a tenth part of what the Word of God accomplishes for the health of our souls On that account Paul speaks here of sound doctrine. For inquisitive and ambitious persons are always in a diseased state; they have no health in them they are like those unhappy patients who have lost their appetite, and who suck and lick, but cannot receive any nourishment. But when the Word of God is applied in a right manner, there must be a contest; there was a war against every vice; and the Word of God must condemn them in such a manner that the hearts of men shall be touched and pierced — shall be humbled and laid low with sincere repentance to groan before God; and, if there be nothing else, that they shall at least be convinced, that they shall have remorse within themselves, that they may so be an example to all that are not altogether incorrigible. This is the way in which the Lord wishes that his word may be applied to a good use.” — Fr. Ser.

11 According to the gospel of glory By calling it “the gospel of glory,” that is, “the glorious gospel,” he sharply rebukes those who labored to degrade the gospel, in which God displays his glory. He expressly says that it hath been intrusted to him, that all may know that there is no other gospel of God than that which he preaches; and consequently, that all the fables which he formerly rebuked are at variance both with the law and with the gospel of God.


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