…knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 1 Timothy 1:9
Paul begins this verse by referring to everyone in a general sense. At least it should be that way. His words are to be taken as a universal axiom. However, not everyone is either intelligent enough to understand what should be otherwise universally accepted, or some people may be intentionally perverse in their attitude and conduct towards the law. Therefore, it is specifically the person mentioned in verse 8 who is more directly the one being referred to. And so, “knowing this” is speaking of one who uses the law lawfully. As Paul is writing to Timothy, it is then intended for Timothy to understand this and be included in what is being said. And finally, as this letter is intended for the instruction of all people due to its inclusion in the Bible, it is therefore meant for each and every reader of the Bible to understand. With this in mind, he next says, “that the law is not made for a righteous person.”
The Law of Moses precedes the coming of Christ. It is Christ who is wholly righteous, and it is those who believe in Him that are granted His perfect righteousness. Therefore, Paul is saying, clearly and unambiguously, that the Law of Moses is not made for those in Christ. This is simple, straightforward, and obvious on the surface. The believer in Christ stands justified before God because of Christ’s fulfillment of the law on our behalf. Where the law could justify none, Christ surpasses the law. In Him, we stand justified. The law, rather, highlighted man’s sin. It was intended to lead the person aware of their sin to their need for God’s grace and mercy. And these are found in Christ Jesus. As Paul says in Galatians, the law was “our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (3:24). He then immediately follows that up with, “But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (3:25). The law is not intended for those in Christ.
With this understanding, he next says who the law is intended for. It is not for the righteous, “but for the lawless.” The intent here is a person who simply does not recognize any law. Rather than not having a law, it is one who refuses to recognize the law as an authority. These are anarchists who refuse to acknowledge that they are bound to the laws put in place.
Next he says, “and insubordinate.” This is tied in with the lawless. It is those who may recognize a law, but they are disobedient to it. Bonnie and Clyde certainly recognized the law as an authority. In arming themselves in order to fight, they knew the law was valid, but they simply snubbed their noses at it.
Paul then says “for the ungodly.” The ungodly are those who refuse to give God the reverence and respect He is due. In them, there is no fear of God. Supposed “atheists,” like Richard Dawkins, fit this description. This is coupled with, “and for sinners.” Sinners are those who defy God’s law, violating it willfully and flagrantly.
Next he notes “the unholy.” The word describes someone who ignores their duty to God, disregarding it as unnecessary to their life. They will profane the name of the Lord without compunction, and simply give up right living for a life of sin and wickedness. The word used to describe such is only found here and in 2 Timothy 3:2. These degenerates are coupled with the “profane.” The profane speak of sacred things in a lewd manner. Their actions may carry the same intent. The singer Madonna is an example of one who is both profane in her speech and in her actions.
Paul’s next category is “murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers.” These are those who openly violate the Fifth Commandment. The word used signifies to hit or beat one’s parents; not specifically those who murder them. However, a beating can lead to death, and so the stronger sense is translated into English, even if incorrectly. The possibility of murder by such is not far off.
And finally, he completes the list of those for whom the law is intended with “manslayers.” This includes those who kill others either with malice, or with a passion for killing. In other words, it is inclusive of both the violent and the psycho-killer.
Paul will continue with his list of people for whom the law was made in the next verse. In all of them, it is intended for the most vile and disobedient offenders. For those who suppose they are made holy by the law, they claim they apply the law in that fashion. But that is completely contrary to whom Paul says the law is intended for. Instead of applying it to the holiest, it is meant to convict those least holy. For those who teach that Christians are still bound to the law, they are actually placing themselves into this list of people. Instead of drawing nearer to God through the law, they are placing themselves at further enmity with God through it. How stupid!
Life application: The Bible is absolutely clear concerning the Law of Moses. It was intended for keeping lawbreakers in check, and it was intended to highlight them and remove them from society. It was never intended as a means of attaining holiness before God. You Judaizers and Hebrew Roots movement followers have actually set yourself in opposition to God by ignoring the righteousness of Christ. If you are unwilling to live in the New Covenant, you will die by the Old. Best wishes in your endeavors, but better… come to Christ and be freed from this sad end.
Lord God, Your word explicitly tells us that the law was not meant for the righteous, but for the unrighteous. It is Christ who brings righteousness. So why on earth would we reject His completed work, go back, and place ourselves under a law which shows us how bad we are? Instead, let us rest in Christ and place ourselves in His care, showing how glorious You are! Thank You for our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank You for full, complete, and eternal reconciliation with You because of Him. Hallelujah and Amen!