How does the “Good News” of Jesus Christ relate to the holy Law of the Old Testament (for example, the Ten Commandments)? Does the forgiveness and grace we receive through Christ render the Law obsolete? These are important questions, and in 1 Timothy 1, Paul explores the relationship between law and grace:
1 Timothy 1:3-17 (CJB)
As I counseled you when I was leaving for Macedonia, stay on in Ephesus, so that you may order certain people who are teaching a different doctrine to stop. Have them stop devoting their attention to myths and never-ending genealogies; these divert people to speculating instead of doing God’s work, which requires trust. The purpose of this order is to promote love from a clean heart, from a good conscience and from sincere trust. Some, by aiming amiss, have wandered off into fruitless discussion. They want to be teachers of Torah, but they understand neither their own words nor the matters about which they make such emphatic pronouncements. We know that the Torah is good, provided one uses it in the way the Torah itself intends. We are aware that Torah is not for a person who is righteous, but for those who are heedless of Torah and rebellious, ungodly and sinful, wicked and worldly, for people who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral — both heterosexual and homosexual — slave dealers, liars, perjurers, and anyone who acts contrary to the sound teaching that accords with the Good News of the glorious and blessed God.
This Good News was entrusted to me; and I thank the one who has given me strength, the Messiah Yeshua, our Lord, that he considered me trustworthy enough to put me in his service, even though I used to be a man who blasphemed and persecuted and was arrogant! But I received mercy because I had acted in unbelief, not understanding what I was doing. Our Lord’s grace overflowed to me with trust and love that come through the Messiah Yeshua. So here is a statement you can trust, one that fully deserves to be accepted: the Messiah came into the world to save sinners, and I’m the number one sinner! But this is precisely why I received mercy — so that in me, as the number one sinner, Yeshua the Messiah might demonstrate how very patient he is, as an example to those who would later come to trust in him and thereby have eternal life. So to the King — eternal, imperishable and invisible, the only God there is — let there be honor and glory for ever and ever! Amen. — 1 Timothy 1:3-17 (CJB)
Questions to Ponder
- Can you relate to Paul’s experience of receiving grace “because [he] had acted in unbelief”? What do you think it means to receive grace even as an unbeliever?
- What do you think is the modern equivalent of focusing on “myths and never-ending genealogies” and “speculating”?
- What role does the Law (“Torah” above) play in our journey to God?