“…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, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:9-10 ESV).
We might associate the kidnappers (NIV) or slave traders (CSB) referenced in this passage with those who engage in human trafficking today. These verses speak to a condition in which human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited, often through the use of force or coercion. (1)
One scholar expands upon this definition with the following insight: “It refers to a slave-dealer, a kidnapper, a man-stealer, as well as to one who unjustly reduces free men to slavery, also to one who steals the slaves of others and sells them. The word includes all who exploit men and women for their own selfish ends.” (2)
This is followed by a reference to “liars and perjurers.” These characteristics represent a direct allusion to the Ninth Commandment as found in Exodus chapter 20: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Exodus 20:16 KJV). While lying is typically associated with blatant dishonesty and/or falsehood, it may be more difficult to recognize the subtle differences between a lie and a viewpoint, opinion, or interpretation of the truth.
We can cut through this ambiguity with the following definition of a liar: “one who breaks faith.” (3) If a statement breaks faith with the truth in a casual conversation, a workplace environment, at home, under oath (in the case of perjury), or anywhere else, it serves to represent a lie.
This discussion also recalls something Jesus once said regarding to the devil and his character: “When he lies, it is perfectly normal; for he is the father of liars” (John 8:44). This helps explain why lying is wrong- it has its source in the nature of the evil one, not God.
It’s important to remember that the Scriptures identify God as a God of truth (Psalm 31:5) who does not lie (Titus 1:2). We should also recognize that those who are untruthful in small matters are likely to be untruthful in larger affairs as well. As Jesus also noted, “Anyone who can be trusted in little matters can also be trusted in important matters. But anyone who is dishonest in little matters will be dishonest in important matters” (Luke 16:10 CEV).
(1) See “human trafficking” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary Retrieved 01 September, 2020 from merriam-webster.com website https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/human%20trafficking
(2) Kenneth S. Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament (1 Timothy 1:8-11) Copyright © 1942-55 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
(3) G5583 Pseustes Thayer’s Greek Lexicon https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g5583