Sin Seizing an Opportunity through the Commandments: The Law in 1 Tim 1:8-11 and Rom 6-8

in Horizons in Biblical Theology
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For some, 1 Timothy contains essentially non-Pauline comments concerning the Mosaic law. My general contention is that the concentrated assertions regarding the law that we find in 1 Timothy are compatible with the scattered claims about the law that we find in the undisputed Pauline letters. In this paper, I aim to demonstrate that the author of 1 Tim 1:8-11 and the author of Rom 6-8 are harmonious on at least three points: 1) the goodness of the law, 2) the group for whom the law was instituted, and 3) the function of the law within this intended group. From the outset, the author of 1 Tim 1:8-11 will project his voice. Romans 6-8 will be a crescendo passage, gradually increasing in volume. By the end of the paper, we will discover that “Paul” and Paul are playing the same torah tune.

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References

1

Heikki Räisänen, Paul and the Law (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983) 206.

10

Stephen Westerholm, Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The “Lutheran” Paul and His Critics (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2004) 297, concludes: “Paul sometimes uses ‘law’ (νόμος) to mean the Old Testament Scriptures, or more specifically the Pentateuch. But according to his most frequent usage, ‘law’ refers to the Sinaitic legislation.”

13

With Marshall, The Pastoral Epistles, 375; Luke Timothy Johnson, The First and Second Letters to Timothy: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (ab; New York: Doubleday, 2001) 167.

18

Stanley E. Porter, “Did Paul Have Opponents in Rome and What Were They Opposing?,” in Paul and His Opponents (Leiden: Brill, 2005) 149-168, concludes that the level of conflict Paul had with antagonists in Rome was much less than in other cities. It is perhaps for this reason that his unqualified affirmation of the law was sufficient in Romans. In 1 Timothy, the qualification was probably necessary because of the level of hostility and the type of disagreement.

24

See Westerholm, Perspectives Old and New on Paul, 420.

25

Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1975) 144, says of Rom 7:7ff.: “It is not the law itself, therefore, which is sin. But sin avails itself of the law as its starting point, that is to say, sin—here thought of as a personified power—gets its opportunity through the law. For the law forbids sin. Consequently, when the law comes on man with its prohibition, sin springs into action and awakens in man the desire for what is forbidden by the commandment ” (emphasis added).

26

Mark A. Seifrid, Justification by Faith: The Origin and Development of a Central Pauline Theme (NovTSup 68; Leiden: Brill, 1992) 233.

29

Westerholm, Perspectives Old and New on Paul, 431.

30

Westerholm, “The Law and the ‘Just Man’ (1 Tim 1.3-11),” 83.

31

See, for example, McEleney, “The Vice-Lists of the Pastoral Epistles,” 204-210; Reginald H. Fuller, “The Decalogue in the New Testament,” Interpretation 43 (1989) 254; Oberlinner, Die Pastoralbriefe. Erste Folge, 27; Marshall, The Pastoral Epistles, 378-379; Johnson, The First and Second Letters to Timothy, 168-169.

34

See Marshall, The Pastoral Epistles, 379.

42

See McEleney, “The Vice-Lists of the Pastoral Epistles,” 205; Oberlinner, Die Pastoralbriefe. Erste Folge, 27; B.J. Oropeza, Jews, Gentiles, and the Opponents of Paul (Apostasy in the New Testament Communities 2; Eugene: Cascade Books, 2012) 265.

43

Abraham Malherbe, Paul and the Popular Philosophers (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989) 123, states: “It is not said that sound teaching makes its recipient sound . . . ” But since throughout 1 Timothy Paul emphasizes the connection between orthodoxy and orthopraxy, there is no good reason to try to sever the link between content and conduct here.

48

Marshall, The Pastoral Epistles, 384.

49

Westerholm, “The Law and the ‘Just Man’ (1 Tim 1.3-11),” 83.

50

Schreiner, The Law and Its Fulfillment, 86-87.

52

Schreiner, The Law and Its Fulfillment, 87. See also Thielman, Paul and the Law, 233, who concludes: “[Paul] focuses not on the role of the law in salvation history but on a feature it has in common with all law—the restraint of evil.”

53

This is also pointed out by Johnson, The First and Second Letters to Timothy, 176; Quinn and Wacker, The First and Second Letters to Timothy, 96-97.

55

Schreiner, The Law and Its Fulfillment, 86-87; Thielman, Paul and the Law, 233.

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