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By Paul M. Zehr

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Their view and practice of the law are illegitimate. They use the Torah as a source of myths and genealogies or for ascetic practices. The law itself is good when used legitimately (1:8). These teachers are not using the law legitimately, but if corrected, they may change their pattern of life and use it legitimately in the future. Paul does not say that the proper use of the law itself is gospel. Rather, a proper use of the law leads one in the direction of the gospel. Thus, the law is good. The participial phrase knowing this (1:9 GNT) implies that the law is good if used appropriately.

In 1:8-11 the opponents have been misusing the law. Now in 1:12-17, Paul turns from observance of the law to a focus on himself as an example of God’s work of salvation through grace and mercy. Paul’s personal example provides a clear contrast to the teachers who adhered to Jewish myths based on the law. Some commentators see this section as a digression from the thought that Paul conveys in 1:8-11 and picks up again in 1:18-20. But these verses highlight the contents of the chapter from the perspective of Paul’s personal experience.

The participial phrase knowing this (1:9 GNT) implies that the law is good if used appropriately. With this, Paul lays out the appropriate purpose and use of the law as God’s word against sin. He presents a vice list similar to other vice lists in the epistles (Rom 1:29-31; 13:13; 1 Cor 5:10-11; 6:9-10; 2 Cor 12:20-21; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 4:31; 5:3-5; Col 3:5, 8; 1 Tim 6:4-5; Titus 3:3; 2 Tim 3:2-5). These lists of vices are similar to those in the Hellenistic world (Malherbe: 138-41). Paul focuses attention on types of persons rather than types of sins and how their sinful behavior compares to the Decalogue [Vice Lists, p.

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