Devotional # 194. 6/13/16. 1 Timothy 1:5-11.
Intro. I’ve spent a lot of time on today’s Devotional because it is exciting! We’re told that the law comes from love, but how can that be true? We’ll walk through several sins that were present in Ephesus (v. 3) and see how they contradict the 10 Commandments and how those sins also interestingly directly contradict Jesus’ love.
vv. 5-7. Last week we talked about the first part of this verse: how “love” should be behind everything we do. It’s easier to do this when we’re sharing the sharing the message of Jesus but it also needs to be done when we’re telling someone they’re doing something wrong (like Timothy has to do here with the Ephesians). For more about this “love” read Devotional # 193.
After “love” the person giving the “commandment” (which ultimately comes from God’s word) of correction should also be speaking “from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.” Basically we shouldn’t be hypocrites when we’re telling people what not to do. It always convicts me when I’m talking to someone about not sinning and I’ve just done something similar. Our takeaway from this is to constantly be walking with the Lord so we can always have “a pure conscience” since we never know when God will put us into a situation where we need to lovingly correct someone.
Following his thought of “the commandment” (v. 5) Paul starts talking about “the Law.” Here (vv. 6-7) he explains that some of the Hebrews who converted to Christianity were defaulting back to their old religion. Their desire “to be teachers” so overcame them that they lost their “understanding” of the Scriptures and only desired the Law.
vv. 8-10. The law wasn’t bad since it convicted a person that they had made mistakes which the Bible calls “sin.” But as Romans 18:8 tells us, ‘the end of the commandment is love.’ Paul goes on to name some sins that apparently were happening in the Ephesian church. We’re going to look at how these break the law, for example those who are “unholy and profane” break the 3rd & 4th Commandments (“you shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain” and “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” in Exodus 20:7-8). But why does this matter to us now if we don’t live by the Law? First, that we know what is not lawful and second, that we see how it conflicts with Jesus and His perfect keeping of the law. Here are the sins matched up with Jesus and how we apply it to our lives:
- “murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers” – In the Greek the words are separate here: patroloas (Source 1) and metroloas (Source 2). It does mean to kill your parents but also includes “smiting.” So this has more to do with not beating or striking (expressly to death) your parents. The 5th Commandment says, “honor your father and mother” (Exodus 20:12). When the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus about ceremonially washing hands, Jesus turned the conversation towards a person’s inner defilement by talking about parents (Matthew 15: 1-11). Why did Jesus use this analogy? Because the Pharisees taught that people didn’t have to take care of their parents if they used the money to tithe at church. On the surface Jesus was teaching it was wrong to disrespect and abandon your parents, but on a deeper level He was teaching that we can’t misconstrue God’s word which is evidence of a defiled heart. Jesus’ conclusion was that it was “not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” (Matthew 15:11).
- “manslayers” –I wasn’t sure if this was like our term “manslaughter” but in looking at the Greek (androphonos) the word definitely means “murder” as in premeditated killing (Source 3). The 6th Commandment says, “you shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Jesus told us do not murder and not to say “‘Raca!’” (which literally means “empty headed”) or ‘You fool!’ (Matthew 5:21-22). Jesus is saying verbal abuse is as bad as murder because anger and hatred are the motivations. It is very obvious that hatred is the opposite of love.
- “fornicators” –For this and sodomy we must look at Genesis for what God intended, not what sinful people have created. In Genesis 2:22-24 God commands that two people make a promise to be committed to God and to be committed to each other. A fornicator has made no promise to God or a spouse but selfishly looks for emotional fulfillment and sexual pleasure in another person. This is unnatural in God’s eyes. The idea of the 7th Commandment which says, “you shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14) can apply here. In Matthew 5:27-32 Jesus digs down to the real matter: not just telling people not to commit adultery but questioning them about their heart and motives. True love is unselfishly committed to another person. In the same way Jesus became the groom dying for His bride on the cross; when we selflessly die to ourselves we can love others in such a way it introduces them to Jesus and His perfect love.
- “sodomizers” – In the same way as fornication, sodomy seeks sexual pleasure in place of proper sexual union. Again this is unnatural in God’s eyes (1. babies can’t come from this, 2. numerous medical problems, as well as 3. disease and 4. simple disregard for God’s word, etc.) This also falls under the 7th Jude 1:7 tells us, “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” We have been given examples so we don’t make the same mistakes. What are the mistakes? As the ESV translates this, they “likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire.” When we allow ourselves to be consumed by “unnatural desire” then we disagree with God; we reject His love and say we know better. In the same way that sodomy seeks love, to pursue that lifestyle actually rejects the true love of God.
- “kidnappers” – Apparently this can mean ‘slave traders’ (Source 4) as well as “kidnappers”. We can apply this to the 8th Commandment which says, “you shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15). Whether you are kidnapping a child or trapping an adult and selling them into slavery it is opposed by Jesus. Note we’re not talking about slaves and masters but instead those who trap or kidnap people. To steal a person’s freedom is one of the worst contradictions to Jesus’ love. Jesus told us to serve others since “even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). When we know Jesus’ love we give ourselves to serve Him (a bondservant) but this is our choice, no one can force us to do this. (See 1 Timothy 6:1-2, Devotional # 206 for more on slaves and masters).
- “liars” – When a person lies they know the truth but tell a false story instead. But is a white lie all that bad? In Isaiah 65:16 God gives Himself the title “God of truth” and in Titus 1:2 we’re told “…God, who cannot lie…” promises us eternal life. Our God is a God of truth which is applied here since this comes from the 9th Commandment in Exodus 20:16, which says, “you shall not bear false witness.” What does John 8:31-32 say? “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” If I think my kids or my wife or my boss are lying then I can’t trust them. And it makes me wonder why they don’t trust me enough to tell the truth. Lying brings suspicion and doubt which is the opposite of Jesus’ love.
- “perjurers” – Perjury is lying in court when you promised under oath that you would tell the truth. This is again from the 9th In Matthew 5:33 Jesus tells the people they’ve been taught to not “swear falsely” but He elaborates saying not to swear by anything because we don’t have control over situations, only God does (Matthew 5:34-36). Jesus goes on to say simply keep your word. If you say “yes” to something then do it. When we get to the heart of what Jesus is saying we see that when we love a person (friend or stranger) we won’t lie under oath to them. Honesty in love is the best testimony.
In case the Ephesians (or we today) thought they could get away with something not in this list Paul generalizes all other sins as “any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine”. Just as the 10 Commandments could be applied to the ones above we know the 10th Commandment says, “you shall not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, males servant, etc.” (Exodus 20: 17) so it covers anything else our mind could dream up.
As one commentator reminds us, “we understand what love is only when we see it spelled out for us in terms of the law: thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal—these are ways of describing how love acts” (Source 5). In other words the way the 10 Commandments are written (“you shall not”) is actually showing how to love others. Jesus makes this clear when He says, “love your enemies” because anyone can be nice to a person that is nice to them but it takes Jesus working through us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48).
v. 11. After this list of problems and profane things we’re given the answer: it’s Jesus! Paul basically told us the law isn’t bad but it’s a process to get to a goal, not the goal itself. Jesus and His love is the end goal. Paul was entrusted with sharing this “glorious gospel of the blessed God” and he is passing this important task on to Timothy and on to us.
Conclusion. Paul started this section reminding us that the purpose of the law was love even though there were some in Ephesus who set themselves up to teach the law only and had removed the proper understanding of the Law, which, again was love. That’s why as we walked through each sin, we saw what it meant, which of the 10 Commandments it matched up to and how breaking that law was a direct contrast to the love of Jesus.
Without understanding that we are all “ungodly” and “sinners” (v. 9) we wouldn’t see our need for saving, but if we don’t acknowledge that these things are unhealthy sins and don’t accept Jesus’ love then we are not responding to the command to repent and we reject Him and His love.
Source 1: patroloas (“murderer of fathers”): https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3964&t=KJV
Source 2: metroloas (“murderer of mothers”): https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3389&t=KJV
Source 3: androphonos (“manslayer”): https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G409&t=KJV
Source 4: New Living Translation, Berean Study Bible, etc. Also Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/jfb/1Ti/1Ti_001.cfm?a=1120001
Source 5: Ray Stedman, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/stedman_ray/Adv_1Ti/Adv_1Ti.cfm?a=1120001