What does 1 Timothy 1:9 mean?
ESV: understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers,
NIV: We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers,
NASB: realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and worldly, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers,
CSB: We know that the law is not meant for a righteous person, but for the lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinful, for the unholy and irreverent, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers,
NLT: For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders.
KJV: 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,
NKJV: 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,
Verse Commentary:
In the prior verse, Paul mentioned those who use the Law incorrectly. He used a turn of phrase that these people use the Law "unlawfully." In other words, they miss the real purpose of the Law. This verse continues to clarify what Paul means. The Law, in truth, is meant to show man his sinfulness. Those who don't think they are sinners should check themselves against the Law. Those who know they are sinners need Christ, not legalism.

Paul's reference to the Law here may refer specifically to when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai (Exodus 20). In fact, Paul's list of sins given here and in verse 10 mirror the pattern of the Ten Commandments. These are similar to lists Paul gave in other passages (1 Timothy 6:4–5; Romans 1:29–31; 1 Corinthians 5:10–11). All three descriptive pairs of people given in the first part of 1 Timothy 1:9 refer to the same group of people: those who disobey God's ways and live unholy lives. They correspond directly to the first three commandments.

The remainder of verses 9 and 10 include specific actions which break the Law. Attacking one's parents breaks the fifth of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:12. Murder violates the sixth commandment (Exodus 20:13).
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.
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