Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous
No man is naturally righteous since Adam, excepting the man Christ Jesus: some that are righteous in their own opinion, and in the esteem of others, are not truly and really so; none are righteous, or can be justified in the sight of God by the works of the law; those only are righteous men, who are made so through the imputation of Christ's righteousness to them: and such a righteous man is here intended, who believes in Christ with the heart unto righteousness, who lays hold on Christ's righteousness, and receives it by faith; in consequence of which he lives soberly, righteously, and godly, though not without sin, since there is no such just man upon earth. Now for such a man the law was not made; which must be understood not of its original constitution and make, for it was certainly made for, and given to Adam, who was a righteous man, and was written upon his heart in a state of innocence; and who had a positive law made also for him, and given to him as a trial of his obedience to this: it was also delivered to the Israelites on Mount Sinai, who were, many of them, at least, righteous men; and besides all this, the law was made for Jesus Christ; he was the end, the mark, and scope at which it aimed, and for whose sake it was given to Israel, that he might be made under it, and fulfil it. Nor does this expression deny all use of the law to a righteous man, which has been pointed out on the preceding verse, but only removes an unlawful use, and a wrong end of the law: it never was made with any such view as to obtain righteousness by it; for, a righteous man, as Adam, in innocence, and all that are justified by Christ's righteousness, need it not for such a purpose, because they are already righteous; and sinners can never attain to righteousness by it, since it cannot give life unto them: it is made therefore not for the former with the view now mentioned, but for the latter, and that both for the restraining of sin, and punishing of sinners. The words (dikaiw nomov ou keitai) , may be rendered, "the law does not lie upon a righteous man", or against him. It does not lie as a weight or burden on him; its precept does not lie on him, as a task to be performed; nor does its penalty, the curse, lie on him as a punishment to be bore by him: it does not lie upon him, nor against him, as an accusing law, its mouth is stopped by the righteousness of Christ, by which he is denominated a righteous man; nor as a terrifying law, and bringing into bondage by its threats and menaces; nor as a rigorous law, obliging to obedience in a forcible and compulsive way; seeing there is no need of it, the righteous man delights in it, and cheerfully serves it, and the love of Christ constrains him to obey it freely. And much less does it lie on him, or against him as a cursing or condemning law, since Christ has redeemed him from the curse of it.
But for the lawless and disobedient;
by the "lawless" are meant, not the Gentiles, which were without the written law, but such who have it, and despise and reject it, and live not according to it, but transgress it: and "the disobedient" design such who are not subject to it: who are sons of Belial, children without the yoke; who cast the law of the Lord behind their backs; who are not, nor can they be subject to it, without the powerful and efficacious grace of God. Now the law lies upon, and against such persons, as an accusing, terrifying, cursing, and condemning law.
For the ungodly, and for sinners;
by the "ungodly" are intended, such as are without God in the world, who neither fear God, nor regard man, who neglect and despise the worship of God, and say to him, depart from us, ( Job 21:14 Job 21:15 ) and by "sinners" are designed notorious ones, who are exceeding great sinners, always sinning, making sin their constant business and employment; on and against these the law lies:
for unholy and profane:
such are unholy persons, who are destitute of inward principles of truth and holiness, and who live unholy lives and conversations; and "profane" persons are those who profane the name of the Lord by cursing and swearing, and who profane his day, doctrines, and ordinances, and live dissolute and profane lives, being abandoned to all sin and wickedness; these three couples of wicked men, expressed in general terms, seem to have respect greatly to the moral part of the four precepts of the decalogue, as the following particulars do to the other six:
for murderers of fathers, and murderers of mothers;
though there is no law that expressly mentions this, yet is beyond all doubt a breach both of the fifth and sixth commands; and if cursing parents, and disobedience to them, were punishable by the law with death, then much more the murder of them; see ( Leviticus 20:9 ) ( Deuteronomy 21:18 ) though the words will bear to be rendered, "for strikers of fathers, and strikers of mothers"; and so the Syriac and Arabic versions render them, and against this there was an express law, ( Exodus 21:15 ) . According to the Pompeian law, one guilty of parricide was to be sewed up in a sack with a dog, a cock, a viper, and an ape, and cast into the sea, or into a river F8:
F8 Pompon. Laetus de Leg. Rom. p. 156.