What does 1 Timothy 1:8 mean?
ESV: Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully,
NIV: We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.
NASB: But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully,
CSB: But we know that the law is good, provided one uses it legitimately.
NLT: We know that the law is good when used correctly.
KJV: But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
NKJV: But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully,
Verse Commentary:
Verses 3–11 encompass a single unit, with verses 8–11 comprising a smaller paragraph within this section. Verse 8 transitions from those who desired to be seen as teachers (1 Timothy 1:7) to the Law itself. Here, Paul writes that "the law is good." The Mosaic law was of great importance to Paul. He was raised in the Jewish culture and religion, studied under the Jewish teacher Gamaliel, and lived as a Pharisee according to the Law. His entire life had been focused on the Law prior to his conversion to Christianity.

Yet the Law could also be mishandled. Paul notes the condition "if one uses it lawfully." The word lawfully can be understood as legitimately or properly. The Greek words nomos (law) and nomimois (lawfully) are both used in this verse, creating a visual and audible parallel which made the phrase easy to remember. In a very literal sense, Paul is saying that the law is good when it's used for what it was originally intended for. The law of Moses was of great benefit when used properly, but the false teachers in Ephesus had mishandled—or "illegally" handled—the Law and were causing problems in the church instead.
Verse Context:
First Timothy 1:3–11 explains the difference between a correct application of the law versus an ''illegal'' use of it. Paul's point is that the law is meant to make us aware of our sin, not to drive us into legalism. The false teachers of Ephesus are bickering over the law and missing the point. This is driven by their desire for prestige, even though they lack knowledge. Paul gives a list of sins parallel to the Ten Commandments showing how the law is meant to convict such people of sin as a means to explain the gospel of Christ.
Chapter Summary:
Paul introduces himself and emphasizes the positive relationship he has with Timothy. The specific mission Timothy has in Ephesus is to oppose false teaching. Some of the Ephesians have rejected the importance of conscience and attempt to teach without having the required knowledge. As a result, they bicker over pointless issues and misuse the law given by God. Paul recognizes his own need for forgiveness and salvation, and encourages Timothy with a reminder that they share a common savior.
Chapter Context:
The first chapter of 1 Timothy frames the situation Paul is concerned about. In particular, he is worried about the false teachers plaguing the Ephesian church. These men are misusing the law, teaching false doctrines, and rejecting the importance of a clear conscience. Paul points out his own past sins and need for forgiveness, however. By anchoring his arguments in truth and in humility, Paul sets up the importance of the letter's instructions. These are not merely suggestions, they are vital strategies Timothy needs to understand.
Book Summary:
First Timothy is one of Paul's three ''Pastoral Epistles.'' Paul's other letters, such as Romans, Ephesians, and Colossians, are meant for a broader audience. First Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus are written to specific people whom Paul is advising on how to best lead their local churches. These three letters present a close look at the form and function of church leadership. First Timothy, like 2 Timothy and Titus, is less formal and systematic, and more personal. This gives great insight into the way pastors, deacons, and elders ought to prioritize their time and energy.
Accessed 5/20/2024 9:05:40 PM
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