What Is The Law Of Christ?
- Marvin Harvey
the law of Christ What is the law of Christ? Is there a law of Christ? Many people do not differentiate the law of Christ and other Biblical laws. The law of Christ is the grace ; the New covenant (New Testaments). This law is so much different from all other laws in the Bible, There are only three major laws in the Bible. These are;
The God laws ( the Ten Commandments ) The Mosaic law and The law of Christ.
In the law, I have talked intensively about the first two laws; the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Law. I have defined what the word law means in the bible and as you have seen the Old Testament is entirely the law. It also contains both the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Laws.
What is the meaning of law of Christ?
In the Pauline epistles – In the Epistle to the Galatians, written by the Apostle Paul to a number of early Christian communities in the Roman province of Galatia in central Anatolia, he wrote: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” ( Galatians 6:2, NKJV ).
This phrase appears once and is never defined. It has been suggested that “the law of Christ” could be an allusion to the second greatest commandment (“love thy neighbor”) or the New Commandment (“love one another; as I have loved you”). Others suggest this phrase is just another name for “the law of God” as Christians believe the Messiah is God.
Possibly related, in a letter to the early Christians of Corinth, Greece, in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul wrote: “To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.” ( 1 Corinthians 9:21, NIV ).
What is the law of Christ according to the Bible?
The law is the Ten Commandments as given by God to Moses which have been summed under two by Christ: Love God with your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Love God and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
How do we fulfill the law of Christ?
ORIGINAL RESEARCH The requirement of the law fulfilled in Romans 8:4 Die vervulling van die wet se vereiste in Romeine 8:4 Dirk J. Venter Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa Correspondence ABSTRACT God effects the fulfilment of the requirement of the law through the agency (mission) of Christ.
Those ‘in him’ are the point of reference in whose favour the law’s requirement is fulfilled, with the effect that they are no longer obligated to Torah. Being ‘in Christ’ they, nonetheless, are also envisioned as living in a way that corresponds to what Torah would have required of them, had they still been subject to it, but they are now being governed and empowered by the Spirit.
Consequently their lives give expression to the ultimate (singular) requirement and intention ( δικαίωµα ) of Torah. The fulfilment of the requirement of the law refers to the purpose of the law as a whole, and not only of the ‘moral’ aspect, often anachronistically separated from the ‘cultic’ aspect.
Ultimately, God who originally gave Torah now effected the fulfilment of its intention – something that had been unrealised before the mission of Christ and the gift of the Spirit due to the incapability of the law. OPSOMMING God bewerk die vervulling van die wet se vereiste ( δικαίωµα ) deur die bemiddeling van (die sending van) Christus.
Dié wat ‘in Christus’ is, is die begunstigdes van die feit dat die vereiste van die wet vervul is, met die gevolg dat hulle nie meer aan die bepalinge van Tora as sodanig onderhewig is nie. Aangesien hulle ‘in Christus’ is, word dit egter voorsien dat hulle steeds sodanig sal leef dat dit ooreenstem met wat Tora in beginsel van hulle sou vereis indien hulle steeds daaraan onderhewig was, maar dat hulle dit nou vanweë die heerskappy en bekragtiging van die Gees uitleef.
Gevolglik gee hulle lewens gestalte aan die uiteindelike (enkelvoudige) doel en vereiste ( δικαίωµα ) van Tora. Die vervulling van die wet se vereiste verwys nie na die vervulling van slegs die ‘morele’ vereistes nie, maar ook na dít wat dikwels op anachronistiese wyse as die ‘seremoniële’ wet afgesonder word.
Uiteindelik het God, wat Tora oorspronklik daargestel het, die vervulling van die wet se bedoeling gerealiseer – iets wat vanweë die onvermoë van die wet ongerealiseerd gebly het in die epog voor die koms van Christus en die gawe van die Gees. Introduction With Romans 8:3-4, Paul addresses the resolution of a threefold problem that stemmed from his argument in Romans 7:7-25.1 Through the mission of God’s Son, the concomitant problems of (1) sin and (2) the weakness of the flesh are resolved by the condemnation of sin in the flesh (Rm 8:3).
Who is or are the subject(s) responsible for the fulfilment of the δικαίωµα τοΰ νόµου ? Is it ‘those who walk according to the Spirit’, the Spirit itself, God, Christ, or are all of the above involved in some way or another? If so, then how? Does Torah itself play an enduring positive role in the fulfilment of its own requirement(s)? If not, then what has taken over the function of capacitating a life that would be pleasing to God (cf. Rm 8:8)? What significance does Paul’s distinction of the δικαίωµα τοΰ νόµου bear upon the fulfilment of the law? Does this distinction support the common separation between the ‘moral’ and ‘cultic’ requirements of the law, implying that Paul envisioned and Romans 8:4 refers to a partial fulfilment of Torah? Lastly, is it not surprising, if not unlikely, that the original purpose of Torah would in the end be met quite apart from Torah?
The subject of ϊνα το δικαίωµα τοΰ νόµου πληρωθη When ϊνα indicates ‘both the intention and its sure accomplishment’ (Wallace 1995:473), often ‘in declarations of the divine will’ (Bauer et al.2000:477) – as is the case in Romans 8:3-4 where the condemnation of sin was God’s will and action – it is used to express both purpose and result (e.g.
Cranfield 1975:383; Bertone 2005:226), that is purpose-result. It was God’s purpose when he (negatively) dealt with sin through its condemnation in the flesh that Christ’s mission should not only accomplish this, but also (positively) the fulfilment of the law’s requirement έν ήµΐν (in us) – and as God purposed, so it was.
Clearly, του νόµου here denotes the law of God (e.g. Cranfield 1975:384; Thurén 2000:132; Dunn 2002:423; Bertone 2005:242; Jewett 2006:485), that is Torah, as it did in Romans 8:3 (Schnelle 2005:339-340). Expositors are also generally agreed that πληρωθη denotes fulfilment in this context.
- BDAG (2000:828) defines the appropriate sense of πληρόω as ‘to bring to a designed end, fulfil’ as in ‘a prophecy, an obligation, a promise, a law’, et cetera (cf.
- Delling 2000:286-298).
- This may perhaps also be described as ‘to complete what was supposed or intended to be done’.
- The question, however, is: Who is the subject of πληρωθη ? or Who fulfils the requirement of the law? Jewett (2006:485) notes that ‘Paul retains a barrier against self-salvation’ by means of the passive πληρωθη and its qualifier έν ήµΐν (cf.
Fee 1994:535; Moo 1996:483-484). Thus the passive is often viewed as a ‘theological passive’ (Fitzmyer 1993:487), that is that God is the actual subject.4 Although the fulfilment of the law’s ultimate requirement does somehow involve our ‘walking’ according to the Spirit ( τοΐς,
Περιπατουσιν, κατά πνευµα ), God remains the subject of Romans 8:3-4. It is he who, by means of the mission of his Son, purposed and achieved not only that sin was decisively dealt with (in the flesh), but also that the law’s requirement is fulfilled. This fulfilment of the law’s requirement does, nonetheless, have ‘us’ as its point of reference ( έν ήµΐν ).5 Thus, the fulfilment of the law’s requirement is God’s action in accordance with his will and initiative – and ‘not the striving of believers’ (Bertone 2005:227), but our own moral involvement 6 is also implied as is clear in the σάρξ – πνευµα antithesis in Romans 8:4-13.
How should this interaction between God’s action and our own involvement in the fulfilment of the law in Romans 8:4 be understood? It is God himself who fulfils what the law requires, and contextually it is clear that he does this through the mission of his Son (Schnelle 2005:340).
The incapability of the law is just as much the incapability of Adamic man to fulfil the law, because it is man’s fleshliness that incapacitates the law, and thus also himself to obey the law. Consequently, God did, through Christ, what the law could not enable man to do: he fulfilled the law’s requirement.
This can be described in covenantal or contractual terms as Christ, being God’s agent, fulfilling those obligations that the Sinai covenant had laid upon God’s people. By summarising all of these obligations with the construction δικαίωµα του νόµου (notice that δικαίωµα is in the singular), Paul is saying that Jesus’ mission – that is his life, in likeness to sinful flesh, and death, whereby sin was condemned – effectively paid the sum of the covenantal obligations of God’s people in toto.
He already did all that the law required. His subsequent resurrection in which they would come to partake (Rm 8:11) and their reception of Christ’s Spirit (Rm 8:9, 15), which testifies to their being God’s children (Rm 8:16), would confirm the establishment of the new kind of covenant that was born out of Christ’s fulfilment of the covenant requirements.
No longer obligated to Torah, but in step with the Spirit This has significant implications for those who are ‘in Christ Jesus’ (Rm 8:1). In terms of Paul’s Adam Christology, Christ having fulfilled everything the law requires means that, by their participation through faith and the application of that which is true of Christ to the lives of the believers by the Spirit, the requirement of the law has already been met with reference to those who are ‘in him’ 7 and is consequently no longer applicable to them.8 They are freed from their obligation to Torah (Rm 8:2; Wolter 2011:372) through their participation in Christ who, as Godsend Adamic representative of humankind, has already fulfilled the sum of all that Torah requires of God’s covenant partners (cf.
Rm 5:18-21). This emancipation, from personified sin and from Torah conquered by it, makes sense, since the obligation to Torah had not brought those who wanted to obey it to obedience in any case (Rm 7:22-23). The emancipation from Torah does not, however, lead to a life without bounds (cf. Rm 6:15ff.).
The irony is that those ‘in Christ’ who have no more obligation to Torah will now actually fulfil what Torah would have required of them, had they still been under it. This happens, because the transformative mission of God’s Son has transferred them from one sphere of authority to another.9 They are no longer subject to Torah, which itself had been conquered by personified sin who reigned in the flesh (Rm 7:13-14, 22-23, 25b).
The sphere of authority where personified sin reigns, is epitomised as ‘flesh’ ( κατά σάρκα, έν σαρκί, etc.) in Romans 8:4-13. Those ‘in Christ’, however, have now been placed under the authority of the Spirit of Christ (Rm 8:9), that is they now function in the sphere of the Spirit ( κατά πνευµα, έν πνεύµατι, etc.) Their walk according to the Spirit (Rm 8:4) is in continuity with Christ’s fulfilment of the law in which they partake.
Elsewhere Paul comments that the law has nothing against this kind of walk (Gl 5:16, 23).10 Consequently, the ‘walk’ itself is often interpreted as living in such a way (i.e. according to the Spirit) that one actually meets the ‘requirement of the law’ (e.g Byrne 1996:244; Cranfield 1975:384; Jewett 2006:485; Fee 1994:535).
- The point is that this way of life, which meets the standard of the law, is enabled by the Spirit as opposed to being enabled by Torah itself, which was incapable of effecting the required outcome.
- An additional point that should not be overlooked, however, is that living in accordance with the Spirit and consequently meeting the standard of the law, is secondary to Christ having first and already fulfilled all that the law required of God’s people.
Thus, those who partake in Christ’s fulfilment of the law now actually do what the law would have required of them – not because they are obligated by the law, but because they are freed and enabled by Christ’s Spirit to do so. A contextual reading of Paul’s use of πληρόω confirms this exposition.
- Δικαίωµα and the fulfilment of the Law – in principle Paul uses the verb πληρόω 13 times (Rm 1:29; 8:4; 13:8; 15:13, 14, 19; 2 Cor 7:4; 10:6; Gal 5:14; Phlp 1:11; 2:2; 4:18, 19) in his undisputed epistles – of which explicitly in relation to νόµος in Romans 8:4 and 13:8 (cf.
- Also Rm 13:10: πλήρωµα ούν νόµου ή άγάπη ), and Galatians 5:14.
The last two of these references identify the fulfilment of the law with love for one another or the neighbour. Common to the contexts of both Romans 8:4 and Galatians 5:14 is Paul’s insistence that those who are led by the Spirit are no longer under the law (Gl 5:18), but free from it (Rm 7:6; 8:2, 12-14).
Consequently, it can be deduced that behind these texts on the fulfilment of the law lies Paul’s conviction that it is possible to fulfil the law in principle without being focused on each and every precept of the law as such, or perhaps without even having the law.11 This is confirmed by the context of πληρωθη in Romans 8:4.
It may be significant that, in this context, Paul does not say (cf. Rosner 2010:411-414) that those who now walk according to the Spirit are fulfilling ( πληρωθη ) the law as such. What is at stake is the fulfilment of the requirement ( τό δικαίωµα ) 12 of the law.
Note the singular (Cranfield 1975:384): ‘requirement’ 13 and not ‘requirements’.14 No longer is the keeping of the commandments as such in view, but rather the fulfilment of the ultimate intention (Thurén 2000:132-133) 15 of those commandments as a whole (e.g Cranfield (1975:384), 16 or in essence (Byrne 1996:244; Schnelle 2005:519).17 Also important is that the keeping of the commandments as such is no longer the way to fulfil the intention of the law as a whole – any such attempt is thwarted by the law’s ultimate incapability because of its inseparability from the weakness of our Adamic fleshliness (Rm 8:3).
The requirement or intended outcome of the law as a whole ( τό δικαίωµα του νόµου ) can be defined as a righteous standing before God, which is first and foremost the result of one’s inclusion or participation ‘in Christ’. The formulation of Romans 8:4, which continues with the ethically laden term περιπατέω,, also signifies, however, that the fulfilment of the requirement of the law implies, and is inseparable from, our righteous living (cf.
- Fee 1994:530; Byrne 1996:237).
- From this second perspective, the δικαίωµα του νόµου can be aptly summarised as ‘God’s will’ (Kasemann 1980:218).18 for his people, which Paul elsewhere himself summarises as ‘to love another’ (Rm 13:8; Gal 5:14; cf.
- Also Wolter 2011:337-338; Kruse 2006:125-127; Schnelle 2005:323).19 One who does God’s will by loving his neighbour is fulfilling the ultimate requirement of the law, even though he may have no knowledge of Torah as such.20 Consequently, the requirement or intended outcome is still valid, even though keeping the distinct precepts of the law as such is no longer required (cf.
Rm 7:1-6; 10:4-10; Kruse 2006:115-129), because it is now primarily the Spirit of Christ that will guide those who believe to ‘walk’ according to God’s will – that is to give concrete expression to the single love commandment. Dunn (2002:423) criticises ‘those who can only see that Paul is trying to maintain an untenable “both and” at this point – the law at an end (10:4) yet still valid’ (e.g.
Raisanen & Sanders). It is possible, however, that this ‘both and’ is not so untenable for Paul because of the distinction he seems to make between keeping the precepts of the law as such and fulfilling, in principle, the ultimate intention of the law. Δ ικαίωµα is a key to this distinction.21 A particular requirement, purpose or intention, originally associated with a particular means of achieving it, may still be valid, even though the means to achieve it has expired or has been replaced because of its ineffectiveness.
Thus, Torah’s requirement, purpose or intention is still valid, but itself, as the means by which one can attain that goal, is no longer valid (Fee 1994:536), 22 having been replaced by the enablement 23 of the Spirit that is diametrically opposed to the ‘incapability of the law in which it was weak through the flesh’.
Since the law itself as the means by which this intention can be fulfilled, has been proven ‘incapable’, the realisation of the law’s intention can only be the result of Christ’s soteriological mission that transferred those ‘in him’ from the sphere of sin and death to the sphere of the Spirit – capacitating a walk according to the Spirit (Kasemann 1980): As he releases us from the dominion of the powers, the Spirit evokes the new obedience and thus establishes the rights of the divine will which had been originally manifested in the law.
(p.218) The law fulfilled in part only? As is not uncommon, Bertone (2005:234) isolates the ‘ethical dimensions’ of the Law from its ‘cultic requirements’, 24 concluding that Paul expects only the former to be fulfilled. Although the intention would seem to be correct, that is Paul does expect moral behaviour that would to a large extent correspond to what the law prescribed, but not that Gentile Christians should observe the ‘cultic requirements’ of the law (cf.
Bertone 2005:230-234), there are, not least in the context of Romans 8:4, notable problems with this distinction, apart from the previously mentioned fact that it is anachronistic (Wolter 2009:468-470) Firstly, it does not do justice to τό δικαίωµα (in the singular) του νόµου denoting the law as a whole, because it dichotomises the law and only allows for the fulfilment of a part of it.
Secondly, this dichotomy begs the question why God instituted these ‘cultic’ requirements in the first place, namely what their purpose was. Did the ‘cultic’ and ‘moral’ aspects of the law really have distinct purposes? Thirdly, as Bertone’s (2005: 230-234) position presupposes, if this is so, the question arises: if the purpose of the ‘moral’ aspect of the law (i.e.
moral living) remained valid, as was shown above, is it not possible that the purpose of the ‘cultic’ aspect of the law, if indeed separable, also remained valid even though the ‘cultic’ commandments themselves are no longer required? As Byrne (2004) stated, the ‘cultic’ requirements of the law:,
possessed great symbolic power as affirming and demarcating the identity of the Jewish people, living within a vast sea of other cultures frequently hostile to it. Jews did not carefully observe these practices in order to earn salvation, but to maintain, in a sociological sense, their sense of identity and privilege.
P.246, ) Dunn (1998:356) describes circumcision as ‘a fundamental identity marker of the people of the covenant’, observance of the Sabbath as ‘a touchstone of covenant identity and loyalty’, and ‘the laws of clean and unclean’, which includes food regulations, as ‘archetypal’ in this sense. These observances played a fundamental role in the affirmation of Israel’s identity as God’s holy people, in the sense of being ‘set apart’ (e.g.
Ex 31:12-17; 25 Lv 20:22-26).26 The ‘cultic’ requirements especially (not exclusively) demarcated Israel’s unique identity.27 Yet ultimately, and also in the self-understanding of Second Temple Judaism (cf. Wolter 2009:464-468), the observance of the ‘cultic’ law cannot be separated from the rest of the law (Wolter 2011:354-355; cf.
- Also Dunn 2006:183) and was also necessary for the maintenance of Israel’s relational standing of being righteous 28 before God.
- Thus, the purpose of the ‘cultic’ law is often differentiated as demarcating and affirming Israel’s covenant identity.
- Yet, its ultimate purpose with the rest of the law pertained to the righteousness of Israel as God’s chosen people, that is Israel’s part of the covenant that Yahweh had made with them in first choosing them as his special people (Dunn 1998:355).
Observance of Torah, as a whole, distinguished Israel from the nations. Naturally, the exclusivist tendency of the law’s identity constitutive and affirmative power was a problem for Paul’s theology and apostolate to the Gentiles. This was perhaps most visible with reference to, what is often anachronistically described as, the ‘cultic’ requirements of the law (cf.
- Wolter 2011:355; Löhr 2003:36).
- Dunn (1998:354-359) has argued that Paul refers especially, but again, not exclusively, 29 to these ‘cultic’ requirements, leading to Judaic exclusivism, when he speaks of the εργα νόµου (e.g.
- Rm 3:20, 28; Gl 2:16), which, for Paul, is not the basis of being justified – over against faith in Jesus Christ.
Whether one ascribes to the ‘old’ or the ‘new’ or some other perspective, it is clear to all that Paul understood at least the ‘cultic’ requirements of the law, so closely related to an exclusivist Judaic self-understanding, to not be transferable to the new era of the Spirit, where God adopted Gentiles into his renewed covenant people on the basis of their faith in Christ and not on the basis of their adhering to the ‘cultic’ or other requirements of the law.
That is not to say, however, that the identity of the Pauline communities of faith was not becoming demarcated or ‘exclusivist’ in their own way (cf. Dunn 2006:324-325). The important difference is that the demarcation of identity boundaries (who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’; cf. Wills 2008:167-189) would no longer be along the lines of nationality and Torah-observance.
Whether ‘Jew’ or ‘Greek’ (Rm 1:16; 2:9-10; 10:12), the gospel is ‘the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith’ (Rm 1:16 NRSV; cf. Wolter 2011:110). The new demarcation lines defining the identity of the redefined ‘righteous’ would be, for example, ‘faith’ (Rm 1:16; 4:5; 10:4; 11:20), belonging to the group who is ‘in Christ’ (Rm 3:24; 8:1; 12:5; 16:7; etc.), and ‘in the Spirit’ (Rm 8:9; arguably also Rm 2:29 and 15:16 etc.; cf.
- Wills 2008:183-188).
- The difference, to be sure, is that the identity of the Pauline communities of faith is no longer determined by their being God’s ethnically based, Torah-abiding, covenant people, but by them being his Spirit-led adopted children (Rm 8:1, 2, 14-16) based on the ethnically inclusive promise to Abraham (see Wolter 2011:356-357), appropriated through faith in Christ (Rm 3:21-4:25).
Paul did not dispute the fact that some would be ‘in’ and some would be ‘out’ of the group of God’s people.30 He did, however, dispute the basis of a valid demarcation. The ‘cultic’ requirements of Torah, which typically and most obviously excluded those whom God, by his Spirit, has clearly included (i.e.
Gentile Christians; cf. Ac 10) or would force them to base their religious identity on something (i.e. Torah) other than their relation to Christ, could no longer be valid. The purpose or function of identity demarcation or affirmation, however, would still be valid – only replaced by other, that is Christ-oriented, delineators.
It is in this sense that the requirement of the law as a whole – both the so-called ‘moral and ‘cultic’ aspects of which the last may particularly have been associated with the unique identity of Israel – is fulfilled with reference to those who not only ‘walk according to the Spirit’, but could also define their identity as being (see Schnelle 2009:319-322) ‘according to the Spirit’ (Rm 8:5), being ‘in Christ’ (Rm 8:1), et cetera.
Ultimately, the point is that as much as Paul does not expect his readers to keep the so-called ‘cultic’ commandments of the law, he does not expect them to keep the other commandments either. The requirement of the law is fulfilled not by keeping any of the commandments of the law, but, in terms of Romans 8, by their participation ‘in Christ’ ( τοΐς έν Χριστώ Ίησοΰ, Rm 8:1; cf.
Moo 1996:483-484), and their ‘walking according to the Spirit’ (Rm 8:4). It implies ‘being according to the Spirit’ ( κατά πνεΰµα, Rm 8:5), ‘thinking upon that which is of the Spirit’ (Rm 8:6), ‘putting to death the works of the body by the Spirit’ (Rm 8:13) and being ‘led by the Spirit’ (Rm 8:14).
Along with their Christ-orientation, 31 it is particularly the Spirit that determines the identity and the morality of Paul’s readers 32 – neither the ‘cultic’ nor the ‘moral’ aspects of the law are determinative anymore. This goes to show that, with regard to Pauline literature, the distinction between the ‘cultic’ and ‘moral’ aspects of Torah is not only anachronistic and extraneous (Wolter 2009:455, 468-470), but its relevance is often also dubious.
Consequently, it is appropriate to conclude that the Spirit displaces the law (cf. Bertone 2005:171-206, 267-269) 33 -both as the regulating and the identity constitutive authority in the lives of those ‘in Christ’. The same subject achieving the same goal, but by a new, effective means The fact that the requirement, purpose or intention of the law is nonetheless fulfilled with reference to those who live within the authority sphere of the Spirit, namely without any obligation to the law itself (cf.
Horn 1992:279-280; Kruse 2006:115-130), should not surprise us. It is, after all, God who originally gave the law – who now also sent his Son, from whose redemptive work emanated the Spirit’s sphere of authority in which Paul’s communities of faith find themselves. God is the guarantor of the fulfilment of the law’s original intention, albeit no longer by the observation of the law itself, but by Christ’s redemptive work and the Spirit’s empowerment and guidance.
Although the law was unable to fulfil its own vision, the comprehensive vision itself that originated with God has not expired. It is only the law in its entirety as the means by which the vision can be accomplished that has expired unequivocally. It is within the parameters of life ‘in Christ’ and ‘in the Spirit’ that the δικαίωµα τοΰ νόµου is fulfilled.
This happens quite ‘apart from the law’ (cf. Rm 3:21-31; Wolter 2011:351-358) – that is without an orientation to the commandments of the law as such – of which those ‘in Christ’ have been discharged (Rm 7:1-6), and which reaches its τέλος because of Christ (Rm 10:4, see Wolter 2011:361-362). Conclusion Concomitant to the problems of sin and the weakness of the flesh was the problem of the law’s incapability, that is of bringing about the obedience of God’s people (cf.
Rm 7:7-25). However, God addressed all three of these problems by means of the mission of Christ – with the purpose-result of the fulfilment of the requirement of the law. As implied subject of πληρωθη, it is God who effects the fulfilment of the law, and he achieves this through the agency (mission) of Christ.
Those ‘in him’ are the point of reference in whose favour the law’s requirement is fulfilled, with the effect that they are no longer obligated to Torah. Being ‘in Christ’ (who fulfilled all that the law required) they, nonetheless, are also envisioned as living in a way that corresponds to what Torah would have required of them, had they still been subject to it.
The fact is, however, that they are now no longer governed and empowered by Torah, but by the Spirit, who applies to their lives all that has been achieved for them by Christ. Consequently, their lives are not orientated toward the fulfilment of the precepts of Torah as such, but nevertheless give expression to the ultimate (singular) requirement and intention ( δικαίωµα ) of Torah.
- Distinguishing between the ‘moral’ and ‘cultic’ requirements of the law is not valid with regard to Pauline literature in general, or in the context of Romans 8:4 specifically.
- However, even where this anachronistic distinction is made, it can be argued that the fulfilment of the requirement of the law refers not only to the ‘moral’ aspect, but also to the ‘cultic’ aspect of the law (exemplifying the ‘boundary markers’ between who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’) – supplanting identity based upon Judaic rituals with Christ-orientated delineators such as faith, et cetera.
Ultimately, God, who originally gave Torah, now effected the fulfilment of its intention – something that had been unrealised before the mission of Christ and the gift of the Spirit due to the incapability of the law. Acknowledgements Competing interests The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationship(s) that may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article.
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Fitzmyer, J.A., 1993, Romans: A new translation with introduction and commentary, Doubleday, New York. Gathercole, S.J., 2002, ‘A law unto themselves: The Gentiles in Romans 2.14-15 revisited’, Journal for the Study of the New Testament 85, 27-49. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0142064X0202400302 Horn, F.W., 1992, Das Angeld des Geistes: Studien zur paulinischen Pneumatologie, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen.
- Jewett, R., 2006, Romans: A commentary, Fortress, Minneapolis.
- Äsemann, E., 1980, Commentary on Romans, transl.G.W.
- Bromiley, SCM Press, London.
- Ruse, C.G., 2006, ‘Paul, the Law and the Spirit’, in S.E.
- Porter (ed.), Paul and his theology, pp.109-130, Brill, Leiden.
- Löhr, H., 2003, ‘Speisenfrage und Tora im Judentum des Zweiten Tempels und im entstehenden Christentum’, Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der alteren Kirche 94(1-2), 17-37.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/zntw.2003.003 Löhr, H., 2007, ‘Paulus und der Wille zur Tat: Beobachtungen zu einer frühchristlichen Theologie als Anweisung zur Lebenskunst’, Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der alteren Kirche 98(3-4), 165-188.
- Löhr, H., 2010, ‘The exposition of moral rules and principles in Pauline letters: Preliminary observations on moral language in earliest Christianity’, in R.
- Zimmermann & J.G.
- Van der Watt (eds.), Moral language in the New Testament, pp.197-211, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen.
- Moo, D.J., 1996, The Epistle to the Romans, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids.
Rosner, B.S., 2010, ‘Paul and the Law: What he does not say’, Journal for the Study of the New Testament 32(4), 405-419. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0142064X10366366 Schnelle, U., 2005, Apostle Paul: His life and theology, transl.M.E. Boring, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids.
Schnelle, U., 2009, Theology of the New Testament, transl.M.E. Boring, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids. Schrenk, G., 2000, ‘ δικαίωµα ‘, in G. Kittel & G. Friedrich (eds.), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, transl.G.W. Bromiley, vol.2, pp.219-224, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids. (Electronic edn., Logos Bible Software).
Thurén, L., 2000, Derhetorizing Paul: A dynamic perspective on Pauline theology and the Law, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen. Wallace, D.B., 1995, Greek grammar beyond the basics: An exegetical syntax of the New Testament, Zondervan, Grand Rapids. Wilckens, U., 1980, Der Brief an Die Römer, Benziger, Zurich.
- Wills, L.M., 2008, Not God’s people: Insiders and outsiders in the Biblical World, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham.
- Wolter, M., 2009, ‘”Zeremonialgesetz” vs.
- Sittengesetz”: Eine Spurensuche’, in M.
- Wolter (ed.), Theologie und Ethos im frühen Christentum: Studien zu Jesus, Paulus und Lukas, pp.453-470, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen.
Wolter, M., 2011, Paulus: Ein Grundriss seiner Theologie, Neukirchener Verlagsgesellschaf, Neukirchen-Vluyn. Wright, N.T., 1992, The New Testament and the people of God, Fortress, Minneapolis. Ziesler, J.A., 1988, ‘The role of the tenth commandment in Romans 7’, Journal for the Study of the New Testament 33, 41-56. Correspondence: Dirk J. Venter PO Box 12 Pretoria 0184 South Africa Email: [email protected] Received: 24 June 2013 Accepted: 26 Mar.2014 Published: 12 Sept.2014 1 Romans 8:3-4 should be read as part of Romans 8:1-17, which is antithetically related to Romans 7:7-25 according to the agenda Paul set out in Romans 7:5-6, that is Romans 7:5 is elaborated by Romans 7:7-25, whilst Romans 8:1-17 elaborates upon Romans 7:6.2 All excerpts in Greek are from Black etat.
- 1997).3 This article contains edited and reworked material from a paper read at the North-West University’s ‘God and Cosmology’ Conference in August 2012 (South Africa).
- Recognition is due to Jan van der Watt for his support and input in the preparation of the paper, and to Cilliers Breytenbach, Michael Wolter, Udo Schnelle, Fika van Rensburg and Hermut Löhr for their comments and suggestions towards the improvement of the paper.4 Cf.
also, in Pauline tradition, 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, where God is entreated to, as subject, fulfil ‘every good resolve and work of faith’ so that the Name of Jesus Christ may be glorified ‘in you’. These ‘good resolves’ and ‘works of faith’ obviously are to be accounted to the believers, although it is God who is entreated to fulfil it.
- This formulation is strikingly similar to Romans 8:3-4 in its theological emphasis on God fulfilling that which would otherwise be described as actions of the believers.5 Appropriate to the syntax and context of Romans 8:4, έν can denote either agency (by/with, i.e.
- ‘instrumental’ in Wallace) or reference and respect (cf.
Wallace 1995:372; BDAG 2000:329). Ultimately, expositors’ decision, as in this article, to avoid the sense of human agency is based on theological grounds, that is based on Paul’s theology as a whole, and not on indications in the immediate text itself.
- Cf. also Fee (1994:536), who argues for the locative sense: ‘e as his people are the sphere in which God by his Spirit has fulfilled his divine purposes set forth in the law’ and ‘it is in us, in the believing community that God is fulfilling his purposes.’ Cf.
- Wilckens (1980:128), who already noted the corporate aspect and the syntactical legitimacy of both the instrumental and locative senses.6 This involvement is described by Paul as a matter of fact when he asserts that we ‘walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit’ (Rm 8:4), and ‘think upon that which is of the Spirit’ (Rm 8:5).
In Romans 8:13 there is an implied exhortation in the form of a conditional clause, namely ‘if you put to death the works of the body by the Spirit’, preceded by the mention of being indebted to God or the Spirit. Cf. Fee (1994:535-538) and Moo (1996:485): ‘Paul does not separate the “fulfilment” of the law from the lifestyle of Christians.
But, this does not mean that Christian behavior is how the law is fulfilled.’ 7 Wolter (2011:237) describes one significant way (determined by context) in which Paul applies the term in Christ as denoting ‘eine prototypische Inklusivitat, which is in contrast of being ‘in Adam’. Paul uses ‘in Christ’ in Romans 8:1 in this way – or alternatively, merely as a way of identifying the group that we would today call ‘Christians’ (Wolter 2011:241-243).
Possibly both interpretations are simultaneously valid for Romans 8:1. Be that as it may, these two uses form the basis of the way ‘in Christ’ is used throughout this article. ‘Inclusion’ and ‘participation’ in what is true of the prototypical Christ are regarded as synonymous terms.
See also Schnelle (2009:321-322).8 This explains why Paul does not, as a rule, base his ethical instructions on Torah (Schnelle 2009:323-324), although his quotations from and allusions to the Old Testament proves that he still regarded it as inspired Scripture, particularly in the sense of it being the promise of (Schnelle 2005:325-326) and witness to Christ.
Where Paul does quote from or allude to Torah in his paraclesis (on why this is a more appropriate term than parenesis, see Schnelle 2009:327), it is in order to concretise and illustrate a general instruction (e.g. to love one’s neighbour in Rm 13:8-10) and to illustrate the authoritativeness of the instruction – not to imply that his readers are to (still) orientate themselves towards the precepts of Torah as such.
On the consistency of Paul’s view of the law, see Schnelle (2005:517-521).9 The transference from one sphere of authority to another through Christ’s mission (particularly his death and resurrection) is simultaneously also transference between ‘epochs’ (see Dunn 1998:317-319).10 Even though this is not effected by being ‘under the law’, but by being led by the Spirit (Gl 5:18).11 See Bertone (2005:232-241).
Cf. also Romans 2:25-29, where the uncircumcised -that is Gentile Christians (Gathercole 2002:39), clearly not keeping certain aspects of the law – are said to keep ( φυλάσσω, τελέω ) the law not according to the γράµµα, but καρδίας έυ πνεύµατι ‘of heart, in spirit’.
- Gathercole (2002:3537, 39-40, 46) argues that Romans 2:14-15 also reflects Gentile Christians who do not have the law ‘by birthright’ ( φύσει ), yet fulfil Torah in a ‘comprehensive’ way (cf.
- Ruse 2006:121-123).
- Wright (1992:450-451) goes a bit further with respect to 1 Corinthians 7:19, arguing that ‘to be acting in accordance with the whole divine purpose for Israel, precisely in dismantling those aspects of traditional praxis, and in disregarding those traditional symbols, by which for centuries Jews had ordered their lives’.12 BDAG (2000:249) defines the appropriate sense of δικαίωµα as ‘a regulation relating to just or right action, regulation, requirement, commandment,13 Ziesler (1988:50-51, 56), noting the significance of the singular form, has argued that δικαίωµ = α does not refer to the law as a whole in the New Testament or the Septuagint (although he concedes that Pr 8:20 and 19:28 are possibilities, but ‘not strong ones’; cf.
however Schrenk 2000:221). He has suggested that the 10th commandment is in view here for the prohibition against coveting also dominated Romans 7:7-25. This proves to be overly restrictive, because the immediate context of Romans 8:4 does not lend support to such an application (Bertone 2005:231).
- Moreover, the 10th commandment is applied in Romans 7:7-25 precisely to function as a key to or ‘paradigm for’ (Kruse 2006:126) the rest of the commandments.
- It is, in that context, the supreme type of the law, so that what is true of it will also be true of every other commandment, and of the law as a whole.
As the law against covetousness has ironically led to covetousness, so any other specific commandment would ironically ultimately awaken the desire ( επιθυµία ) to do what that commandment forbids or not to do what it commands. This is why the 10th commandment is so fitting to be the synopsis of Torah in Romans 7:7-25: it typifies the inherent flaw of the law identified by Paul – it ultimately awakens exactly what it forbids (sin).
- Jewish tradition allowed for covetousness to be the sin from which all others flowed (Ziesler 1988:47).
- Paul took this one step further and argued that the law itself, because of sin and the flesh, became the actual initiator of the desire to sin.
- Even more to the point, Paul uses different words (Byrne 1996:244) for ‘commandment’ in the context of Romans 7:7-25 ( έντολή ) and Romans 8:4 ( δικαίωµα ), making it unlikely that he is still referring to the 10th commandment as such in Romans 8:4.
Rather, the fact that the law could be summarised in one commandment, and often was in Jewish tradition (cf. Rm 13:9; Dunn 2002:778-779), gave Paul the occasion to envision the fulfilment of the intention of the law as a whole with the new term δικαίωµα, which is no longer connected to the έντολή against covetousness as such.14 Cf.
Romans 2:26, where Paul uses τά δικαιώµατα του νόµου to indicate that it is possible for Gentiles to keep the other requirements of the law as opposed to those ‘his fellow Jews would normally focus on as part of their distinctive self-definition’, for example circumcision, Sabbath, food laws, et cetera.
(Dunn 2002:423).15 Cf. Fitzmyer (1993:487): ‘what the law ideally required’ and ‘the goal or purpose of the law’.16 Cf. Schrenk (2000:221): ‘the singular is used again to denote the law in its unity’, comparable to its use in Romans 1:32, on which Schrenk comments: ‘in Paul’s eyes it is important to emphasize that there is for the Gentiles a recognizable divine order which is to be embraced, not as a sum of commands, but as the one divine will’.
Cf. Moo (1996:482): ‘the summary of what the law demands of God’s people’.17 Cf. Dunn (2002:423): ‘the essential requirement which lies behind the individual requirements, the character and purpose which the individual requirements are intended to bring to expression’.18 Jewett (2006:485) also supports this exposition of δικαίωµα as ‘the requirement of the Mosaic Law conceived in its unity’, which he ‘in the light of the rest of the argument of Romans’ equates to ‘the fatherly will of God for his children’ (cf.Cranfield 1975:384).19 Löhr (2010:207) describes love as ‘the summation and fulfilment of the Law’s different έντολαί ‘ and identifies the personification of love in Romans 13:10 as ‘a well-constructed contra-distinction to the personifications used in chapter 6 and 7’, that is particularly sin.
Schnelle (2009:322) states that ‘in the Pauline ethic, love is the goal of every action’,20 In this regard, Schnelle (2005:324) points out (with reference to Paul’s allusions to the Old Testament, and to other Jewish sources) that Abraham was seen as fulfilling Torah before Israel had received it, and that Abraham was counted ‘righteous’, because he did the will of God without knowing or obeying the precepts of Torah as such.21 Although Paul does not make the distinction of the δικαίωµα του νόµου explicit in the context of either Romans 13:8-10 or Galatians 5:14, in both cases he does define the one, ultimate purpose of the law, namely love.
- On the other hand, in the context of Romans 8:2-4, Paul does not describe the ultimate purpose of the law in terms of love, but he points out that there is such a singular requirement or basic principle behind all the commandments by using the term δικαίωµα,
- Thus, he is consistent when he speaks of the fulfilment of the law in that it refers to fulfilment of the law as a whole and in principle – not by keeping the commandments as such.22 Also pertinent here is Paul’s insistence in Romans 3:21-31 that those who have faith in Jesus Christ is justified (Rm 3:26) and also νόµον ίστάνοµεν (Rm 3:31 NRSV), though clearly χωρίς έργων νόµου (Rm 3:28 NRSV; cf.
Wolter 2011:351-358). Thus, Paul finds it possible to maintain that δικαιοσύνη θεου διά πίστεως Ίησοΰ Χρίστου (Rm 3:22 NRSV) constitutes upholding the law (Rm 3:31), even though it is χωρίς νόµου δικαιοσύνη (Rm 3:21). Note that Romans 3:21 does not refer to έργων νόµου but only to νόµου,
- Thus, righteousness is not only apart from the ‘works of the law’, but also quite apart from the law as such.
- In this context, νόµου πίστεως (Rm 3:27) does not denote Torah (Schnelle 2005:321-322).23 The concept of ‘enablement’ should be used and understood with care.
- In Romans 8:4 itself, Paul is not saying that those who walk according to the Spirit are only enabled to fulfil the requirement of the law, but that this requirement is actually fulfilled through Christ and with reference to them.
Such was God’s purpose through the mission of his Son, and such was the result. However, the succeeding context makes clear that Paul is also not thinking in automatistic terms. The fulfilment of the requirement of the law ‘in us’ involves our ‘walking’ according to the Spirit (Rm 8:4), ‘being’ according to the Spirit (Rm 8:5), ‘thinking’ upon that which is of the Spirit (Rm 8:5) and ‘putting to death’ the works of the body by the Spirit (Rm 8:13).
Thus, speaking of the Spirit’s enablement to fulfil the law’s intention is appropriate for the context of Romans 8:4, but keep in mind that in Romans 8:4 proper Paul speaks of the fulfilment of the law’s intention in terms of the ‘already’ rather than the ‘not yet’ or the ‘potential’. Cf. Byrne’s (1996:234-241) ‘ethical possibility’.24 Bertone (2005:234) clarifies what he means by ‘cultic requirements’ as ‘circumcision, food regulations, Sabbath day’, and, in a note on Eckert, equates this with the ‘ceremonial’ law (Bertone 2005:231).
Wolter (2009:458-462, 463, 468-469) has shown that this technical distinction between ‘ceremonial’ and ‘moral’ law actually only dates from the Latin churchfathers and that reading it into Paul’s letters or the literature of any other New Testament author, is an error of anachronism.25 ‘You shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, given in order that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you’ (Ex 31:13 NRSV; ).26 ‘I am the Lord your God; I have separated you from the peoples.
You shall therefore make a distinction between the clean animal and the unclean, and between the unclean bird and the clean; you shall not bring abomination on yourselves by animal or by bird or by anything with which the ground teems, which I have set apart for you to hold unclean. You shall be holy to me; for I the LORD am holy, and I have separated you from the other peoples to be mine’ (Lv 20:24-26 NRSV; ).27 Consequently, it is often epitomised as being ‘boundary markers’, for example Löhr (2003:36).
Wolter (2011:355) aptly clarifies that these laws (with the rest of Torah) actually function as ‘boundary marker’, pertaining to those outside the group, and as ‘identity marker’ to those inside the group.28 Righteousness in the Septuagint ‘implies relationship.
A man is righteous when he meets certain claims which another has on him in virtue of relationship. Even the righteousness of God is primarily His covenantal rule in fellowship with His people’ (Schrenk 2000:195).29 Dunn (1998:358) points out that he is often misunderstood on this point. He does not ‘claim that “works of the law” denote only circumcision, food laws, and Sabbath’, but that ‘these where particular focal or crisis points for (and demonstrations of) a generally nomistic attitude’.30 Cf.
Paul’s image of the olive tree in Romans 11:16-24, where it is clear, from Paul’s perspective, that faith is the basis (Rm 11:20) upon which the Gentiles became part of God’s covenant with Israel, and unbelief is the reason why the greater part of ethnic Israel lost their position within the covenant.
Should they not persist in unbelief, those who are currently ‘out’, will once more be grafted ‘in’ (Rm 11:23), where they actually belong.31 Es geht Paulus vielmehr ganz dezidiert stets um das ganze Gesetz das für Christen in seine Erfüllung durch die Befolgung des Liebesgebots hinein aufgehoben wird Das als ‘Gesetz Christi’ verstandene Liebesgebot ist für ihn eben nicht durch die Tora, sondern allein durch die stellvertretende Lebenshingabe Jesu Christi normiertt which is offset for the Christian, because it is fulfilled by the Christian following the love commandment within The normativity of the love commandment, understood as “the law of Christ”, derives not from Torah but only from Jesus Christ giving his life as substitution’] (Wolter 2009:469).32 Schnelle (2009:324) even states: ‘The norm of the new being is exclusively the Spirit, who explicitly appears in 5:18 as the contrast to the Torah’ (cf.
Löhr (2007:180).33 From the soteriological rather than ethical perspective it is also appropriate to speak of the theological disenabling (Depotenzierung) of the law because of (the primacy of) faith (Wolter 2011:359ff.).
What are the two laws of Christ?
Jesus Christ was perfect exemplar of the two ‘great commandments’ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matt.22:37-40.) As the embodiment of love, Jesus Christ was supremely qualified to issue the two great commandments, which He did while serving as the perfect exemplar of both. From His boyhood, the Savior witnessed His absolute love and devotion to God the Father in word and deed, exemplifying the first great commandment to love God with all one’s heart, soul and mind.
As a youth, Jesus declared that he “must be about my Father’s business,” (Luke 2:49.), and later that He “can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do.” (John 5:19.) He declared His oneness with the Father (John 10:30.), yet humbly deferred to His Father as indicated in His succinct comment to His disciples that “my Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28.) Throughout His life, the Savior manifested a perfect love of His Father through absolute obedience, “that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.
.” (John 14:31.) That obedience and love culminated in Gethsemane, wherein during His moments of atoning agony Jesus prayed: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matt.26:39.) This love Jesus demonstrated for His Father was consistent with the Savior’s perfect love for others, manifest in His life of service and through the supreme sacrifice of laying “down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13.) Jesus spent His life ministering to others’ needs.
He taught through word and deed that “he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matt.23:11.) His good deeds – teaching the gospel, healing the sick and infirmed, comforting the lonely, reproving evil, raising the dead – were each a demonstration of love, often administered to “the one” and with the admonition to “tell no man.” (Matt.8:4.) These acts were of such number and magnificence that “if they should be written every one,,
even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.” (John 21:25.) Yet even with that acclaim He served and loved in perfect purity, enjoining his disciples to “let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.” (Matt.6:3-4.) The Apostle Paul and the prophet Mormon defined such a purity of love as charity and encouraged its acquisition as the loftiest of virtues.
Mormon’s definition of charity, as given in the writings of his son, Moroni, is a precise description of the attributes of love the Savior manifest toward His Father and all mankind: “And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
“Charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” (Mor.7:45, 47.) Moroni further emphasized the absolute need to acquire charity in order to return to Heavenly Father’s presence: “And except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God.” (Mor.10:21.) Mormon provided a key to obtaining this purity of love: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ;,
that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (Mor.7:48.) Paul taught that love, or charity, encompasses all of the commandments and is the “fulfilling of the law”; that all commandments are “briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Rom.13:8-10.) An explicit definition of one’s “neighbor” was given by the Savior immediately on the heels of His declaration of the two great commandments.
- When asked by a certain lawyer, “And who is my neighbour?” Jesus then responded with the parable of the good Samaritan.
- In the story, several phrases are used to describe the charitable acts of the Samaritan toward his stripped and wounded Jewish neighbor who had fallen among thieves.
- In spite of the long-held animosity between the people of Samaria and the Jews, the Samaritan “had compassion on him, “And went to him, and bound up his wounds,,
and took care of him.” The charitable Samaritan then charged the wounded man’s care to an innkeeper, paid for his services and promised to return to repay any additional charges. “Take care of him,” the Samaritan told the inn’s host. (Luke 10:30-35.) At the parable’s conclusion, Jesus directly counseled the lawyer to “Go, and do thou likewise.” (Luke 10:37.) Doing “likewise” is the ultimate demonstration of a person’s love for God and others.
Again, Jesus was the master teacher and exemplar of this principle. In the parable of the sheep and the goats he described those on the right hand of God being called forth and rewarded at the day of judgment:”Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:”For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:”Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? “When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? “Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt.25:35-40.) Conversely, he taught that those who fail to perform such acts of charity “shall go away into everlasting punishment.” (Matt.25:41-46.) Because of God’s perfect love for all of His children, He feels of the pain and the joy they experience at the hands of others.
- Doing unto others – for good or ill – is the same as doing it unto God.
- Thus the two great commandments are tied intrinsically together, interwoven in the ultimate law of love.
- This marriage of the two great commandments was summed up by President N.
- Eldon Tanner, then second counselor in the First Presidency, who spoke of the two in singular fashion: “Let us never forget that the Lord gave us this commandment to love God and to love one another and apply the Golden Rule.
We cannot love God without loving our neighbor, and we cannot truly love our neighbor without loving God.” (Conference Report, April 1967, p.105.) The gospel is encompassed in the law of love, for God is Love. (1 John 3:8.) : Jesus Christ was perfect exemplar of the two ‘great commandments’
What is God’s most important law according to Jesus?
Love your neighbor as yourself – See also: When asked what the greatest commandment is, the Christian New Testament depicts Jesus answering: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” before adding: “‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Most Christian denominations view these two commandments as, together, forming the core of the Christian religion.
What are the 3 types of laws in the Bible?
Reformed – The decalogue of the reformed church of Ligerz, Switzerland The view of the Reformed churches or Calvinism, referred to as Covenant Theology, is similar to the Roman Catholic view in holding that Mosaic Law continues under the New Covenant, while declaring that parts of it have “expired” and are no longer applicable.
The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) divides the Mosaic laws into three categories: moral, civil, and ceremonial. In the view of the Westminster Divines, only the moral laws of the Mosaic Law, which include the Ten Commandments and the commands repeated in the New Testament, directly apply to Christians today.
Ceremonial laws, in this view, include the regulations pertaining to ceremonial cleanliness, festivals, diet, and the Levitical priesthood, Advocates of this view hold that, while not always easy to do and overlap between categories does occur, the divisions they make are possible and supported based on information contained in the commands themselves; specifically to whom they are addressed, whom or what they speak about, and their content.
What is the first law of God?
Supporting Statements –
- Obedience is the first law of heaven.
- ” Obedience is the first law of heaven, the cornerstone upon which all righteousness and progression rest. It consists in compliance with divine law, in conformity to the mind and will of Deity, in complete subjection to God and his commands” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 539).
- “Obedience must be voluntary; it must not be forced; there must be no coercion. Men must not be constrained against their will to obey the will of God; they must obey it because they know it to be right, because they desire to do it, and because it is their pleasure to do it. God delights in the willing heart” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 65).
- “If we love, we will keep his commandments. “Should there be any who offend or fail to keep the commandments of the Lord, then it is evidence that they do not love him. We must obey them. We show by our works that we love the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ we serve him and love our neighbor as ourself. This is the word of the Lord as it has been revealed in these modern times for the guidance of Israel” (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Keep the Commandments,” Improvement Era, Aug.1970, 2).
- “In the political field where so much pressure is exerted on men to compromise ideals and principles for expediency, party workers early learned to admire Marion G. Romney’s intense loyalty to his own conscience as well as to the advice of his Church leaders whose pronouncements on vital issues affecting the welfare of the nation he accepted as divinely inspired even though it frequently brought him into sharp conflict with leaders of his own political party. On one such occasion when church leaders in a tersely-worded editorial had denounced the trends of the political administration then in power, he confided in me something which it might be well if all loyal Church members in public life could emulate: ‘When I read that editorial,’ he told me, ‘I knew what I should do—but that wasn’t enough. I knew that I must feel right about following the counsel of the Church leaders and know that they were right. That took a whole night on my knees to accomplish.’ I submit in that statement the difference between ‘intelligent’ and ‘blind’ obedience. Marion G. Romney, while never disloyal to authority over him, could never be rightfully accused of being ‘blindly obedient.'” (Harold B. Lee, “Marion G. Romney,” Improvement Era, Oct.1962, 742).
- The Lord promises great blessings to those who obey His commandments.
- “Obedience to God can be the very highest expression of independence. Just think of giving to him the one thing, the one gift, that he would never take. Think of giving him that one thing that he would never wrest from you. “Obedience—that which God will never take by force—he will accept when freely given. And he will then return to you freedom that you can hardly dream of—the freedom to feel and to know, the freedom to do, and the freedom to be, at least a thousandfold more than we offer him. Strangely enough, the key to freedom is obedience. ” When I was president of the New England Mission, the Tabernacle Choir was to sing at the world’s fair in Montreal. The choir had one day unscheduled and suggested a concert in New England. One of the industrial leaders there asked for the privilege of sponsoring the concert. “Brother Condie and Brother Stewart came to Boston to discuss this matter. We met at the Boston airport and then drove to Attleboro, Massachusetts. Along the way Mr. Yeager asked about the concert. He said, ‘I would like to have a reception for the choir members. I could have it either at my home or at my club.’ He wanted to invite his friends who were, of course, the prominent people of New England—indeed, of the nation. He talked of this, and then he asked about serving alcoholic beverages. “In answering, Brother Stewart said, ‘Well, Mr. Yeager, since it is your home and you are the host, I suppose you could do just as you want to do.’ ‘That isn’t what I had in mind,’ this wonderful man said. ‘I don’t want to do what I want to do. I want to do what you want me to do.’ “Somewhere in that spirit is the key to freedom. We should put ourselves in a position before our Father in heaven and say, individually, ‘I do not want to do what I want to do. I want to do what thou wouldst have me do.’ Suddenly, like any father, the Lord could say, ‘Well, there is one more of my children almost free from the need of constant supervision.'” (Boyd K. Packer, Obedience, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year, 3–4).
- “Half obedience will be rejected as readily as full violation, and maybe quicker, for half rejection and half acceptance is but a sham, an admission of lack of character, a lack of love for Him. It is actually an effort to live on both sides of the line” (Mark E. Petersen, in Conference Report, Apr.1982, 21; or Ensign, May 1982, 16 ).
- “There is not a man of us but what is willing to acknowledge at once that God demands strict obedience to his requirements. But in rendering that strict obedience, are we made slaves? No, it is the only way on the face of the earth for you and me to become free, and we shall become slaves of our own passions, and of the wicked one, and servants to the Devil, if we take any other course” (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, 225).
Image Christ teaching by Sea of Galilee
- Disobedience is a serious offense in the eyes of the Lord.
- “There is no power given to man, nor means lawful, to be used to compel men to obey the will of God, against their wish, except persuasion and good advice, but there is a penalty attached to disobedience, which all must suffer who will not obey the obvious truths or laws of heaven” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 105–6).
- Jesus Christ set the pattern for obedience.
- “Christ, himself, set the perfect example of obedience for all his brethren. As the great Exemplar he was baptized to witness ‘unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.’ ( 2 Ne.31:7,) In all things his obedience was perfect. As Paul wrote: ‘Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.’ ( Heb.5:8–9,)” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 540).
- Through the Atonement and by obedience to God’s commandments, we can receive eternal life.
- “To get salvation we must not only do some things, but everything which God has commanded. Men may preach and practice everything except those things which God commands us to do, and will be damned at last. We may tithe mint and rue, and all manner of herbs, and still not obey the commandments of God. The object with me is to obey and teach others to obey God in just what He tells us to do. It mattereth not whether the principle is popular or unpopular, I will always maintain a true principle, even if I stand alone in it” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 332).
- “If we keep the commandments of the Lord, we shall enjoy the presence of both the Father and the Son, and we shall receive the Father’s kingdom and shall be heirs of God—joint heirs with our elder Brother. O how wonderful, how great the blessings of the Lord to the Latter-day Saints and to all who are willing to go through the waters of baptism and abide by the law and keep the commandments of the Lord!” (Smith, “Keep the Commandments,” 3).
What is the law in the Bible means?
THE REASON FOR LAWS – The whole creation is established on set rules for its function. Governments and social structures are based upon agreed-upon rules for their functioning as are all organisations and groups. Sometimes those rules are informal as an agreed upon code of ethics between its members, but just the same, any organised activity has to have rules of conduct for the participants and share common goals.
Without that there is anarchy. Rules set the standard for any activity as the guidelines upon which it is to function and define that activity. Those who desire to engage in the activity have to accept the rules. so, the rules are not really the focus. We engage in activities because we enjoy and find fulfillment in those activities and the achievement of the set purpose of the activity.
So it’s more about what our goal is, than about what the rules are and it comes down to the focus of our interest and how important it is to us to be involved in the activity or achieve the set goal. A participant who hasn’t got a clear focus or enthusiasm for the goal, may object to the rules of engagement.
- Yahweh runs everything by rules too.
- Yahweh’s Law, as recorded in the Bible, identifies the moral standards He wants humanity to live by.
- If Yahweh’s law didn’t exist no one would know right from wrong.
- Because He is the ultimate Ruler, He has the right to set the standards and make the rules of engagement.
There are ‘rules’ or principles involved in having a relationship with Yahweh God through Yeshua, His Son. He sets before us the goal of knowing Him and having eternal life with Him in the kingdom of God (John 17:3). The rules are a means to achieve the end purpose and not an end in themselves.
- We are not following a set of rules but a Person with whom we desire to have a relationship; which relationship just happens to be governed and defined by a set of rules to achieve that purpose.
- To anyone not interested in a closer relationship with God, then His rules are a restrictive burden to follow, which will appear legalistic.
Whereas, someone who is passionate about knowing Him in a deeper way, will eagerly embrace the ‘rules’ as that means to the end.
What is Jesus new law?
Gospel of John – The statement of the new commandment by Jesus in John 13:34–35 was after the Last Supper, and after the departure of Judas, The commandment was prefaced in John 13:34 by Jesus telling his remaining disciples, as little children, that he will be with them for only a short time, then will leave them.
- John 15:12 : This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you.
- John 15:17 : These things I command you, that ye may love one another.
What was the law that Jesus fulfilled?
What is the law of Moses? – “The law of Moses consisted of many ceremonies, rituals and symbols to remind the people frequently of their duties and responsibilities,” states the Bible Dictionary in the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Bible.
- It included a law of carnal commandments and performances, added to the basic laws of the gospel.
- Faith, repentance, baptism in water, and remission of sins were part of the law, as were also the Ten Commandments.
- Although inferior to the fulness of the gospel, there were many provisions in the law of Moses of high ethical and moral value that were equal to the divine laws of any dispensation.
“The law of carnal commandments and much of the ceremonial law were fulfilled at the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The law functioned under the Aaronic Priesthood and was a preparatory gospel to bring its adherents to Christ. “One of the major questions the early Church in Palestine had to decide was about the obligation of Christians to the ceremonial law of Moses.
What is the new law Jesus taught us to live by?
1), the New Law is called a ‘ law of faith ‘ insofar as it principally consists in the very grace which is given inwardly to those who have faith (credentes), and hence this grace is called the ‘grace of faith’.
Why do Christians not follow Old Testament laws?
2. The Civil Law – The next type of law is the civil law, and these are the laws that governed Israel as a nation under God. These laws included guidelines for waging war, restrictions on land use, and regulations for debt. Now these laws have indeed expired, meaning that the church today is not required to follow these laws in the same way that Israel was required.
Here’s why: the New Testament Church is not a state like the Old Testament church was, The church is no longer made up primarily of Jewish people, and she is no longer governed directly by God through His priests under an earthly Jewish king, Therefore, the laws that governed Israel as a state are no longer binding on the church today.
The Apostle Paul writes to the church in Rome to be “subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1), which was the Roman Empire. Unlike Israel under the old covenant, the church consisted of people from all nations who were to obey the laws of the land that they resided in.
How many laws did God give?
613 commandments Traditional count of Torah commands
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The tradition that there are 613 commandments (: תרי״ג מצוות, : taryag mitzvot ) or in the (also known as the ) is first recorded in the 3rd century AD, when Rabbi mentioned it in a sermon that is recorded in Talmud 23b. The 613 commandments include “positive commandments”, to perform an act ( mitzvot aseh ), and “negative commandments”, to abstain from certain acts ( mitzvot lo taaseh ).
- The negative commandments number 365, which coincides with the number of days in the, and the positive commandments number 248, a number ascribed to the number of and main organs in the,
- Although the number 613 is mentioned in the, its real significance increased in later medieval rabbinic literature, including many works listing or arranged by the mitzvot,
The most famous of these was an enumeration of the 613 commandments by, Many of the mitzvot cannot be currently observed, following the destruction of the, though they still retain religious significance. According to one standard reckoning, there are 77 positive and 194 negative commandments that can be observed today, of which there are 26,
What is the higher law that Jesus taught?
The Law of Moses and the Sermon on the Mount Jesus spoke of the law of Moses in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7), which he also delivered to the Nephites in the New World following his resurrection (3 Nephi 12–14).
What is the supreme law of God?
As the U.S. Constitution is the highest law of the land (in America), so the Bible is the highest law of God.
Are Christians under the law?
Let’s start with what is clear in the Bible: Christians are not under law. Paul says, ‘Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes’ (Rom.10:4).
What is God’s law in the New Testament?
“Legal” Terminology – Another important aspect of the topic is the usage of “legal” terminology in the biblical writings. The terms “law” and “righteousness” frequently occur in the Hebrew as well as in the Greek Bible. The most common Hebrew terms are torah and s e dakah, which are usually translated in the Septuagint as nomos and dikaiosynê,
The use of these terms within the scriptures of Israel belongs to a certain religious perspective that also determines their specific meaning. Related to this semantic field are also the terms “the righteous one” ( sadik, ho dikaios ), “to do justice” ( sad a k, dikaioô ), and “regulation, commandment” (in Greek dikaiôma, usually as the rendering of ch o k or mišpat ).
Footnote 16 This translation process is remarkable for the relationship of religion and law in the biblical tradition, for it points to the emergence of two semantic fields related to specific perceptions of law and justice. The biblical concept of righteousness and law is based on the conviction that God is the righteous judge whose judges the earth with his impartiality and bestows his own righteousness to those who live in accordance with his will and commandments.
- Righteousness is therefore a proper characteristic of God and at the same time a description of his relationship to the world and to humankind in particular.
- Thus, in Deuteronomy 32:4 God can be called “just and holy” ( dikaios kai hosios ); 1 Samuel 2:10 states: “The Lord shall judge the ends of the earth,” and in Psalm 9:4 we read: “You have sat on the throne giving righteous judgment.” In Psalm 50:6 and 75:8 God is called judge ( schofet, kritês ), who is righteous in his judgments.
Therefore it is obvious that the benchmark for justice and righteousness according to the scriptures of Israel is God himself whose righteousness is beyond question because it is he himself who sets the norm for good and evil. God’s righteousness can be revealed as his mercy or as his liberating activity.
In Jeremiah 9:24 we read, “I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord.” In Psalm 36:11 God’s mercy ( chäsäd, eleos ) corresponds directly to his righteousness (“continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart”); similarly in Psalm 71:15: “My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all day long.” In Psalm 31:2 the pious one prays, “Do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me.” God condemns the guilty and vindicates the righteous by rewarding them according to their righteousness (1 Kings 8:32).
These passages demonstrate that God’s righteousness can be realized as his saving mercy or his compassion with human beings. The response of humankind to God’s righteous and saving activity is described as “doing righteousness,” also formulated as “righteousness and justice” ( s e dakah w e mišpat ; dikaiosynê kai krisis ): Genesis 18:19; Psalm 106:3; Psalm 119:121.
This concept of God’s righteousness, which corresponds to the conduct of humankind, is the basis also for early Christian perspectives on justice and law. When, for example, Paul quotes Genesis 15:6 in two important places—in Galatians 3:6 and Romans 4:3—it becomes clear that Abraham is declared righteous by God because of his faith.
In a similar way, the quotation of Habakkuk 2:4 (“The one who is righteous will live by faith”) in Galatians 3:11 and Romans 1:17 makes clear that righteousness and faith in God are inextricably linked with each other. Of course, for Paul true faith in God means to acknowledge God’s saving power as it is revealed in the gospel.
- But for the present purpose it suffices to note that the concept of righteousness has its foundation in the scriptures of Israel and their understanding of God’s righteousness.
- For Paul it is of utmost important to emphasize that it is God himself who acts as the righteous judge whereas on the side of humankind are only faithlessness and injustice (Romans 3:3–5).
This contrast is outlined in Romans 1:18–3:20, followed by the declaration that God himself is righteous and justifies the one who has faith in Jesus (3:26). At the same time, for Paul as for other New Testament writers there can be no doubt that human behavior has to be in correspondence to God’s righteousness.
- Paul describes this as a life according to the Spirit, whereas, for example, in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and in 1 John the phrase “doing righteousness” ( poiein dikaiosynên ) is used (Matthew 6:1; Acts 10:35; 1 John 2:29, 3:7, 3:10; Revelation 22:11).
- This understanding of God’s righteousness as the challenge for human behavior and a guideline for ethics can be demonstrated by a look at two striking examples from the Gospel of Matthew.
First, in the well-known parable of the laborers in the vineyard, a specific view of righteousness is developed. The landowner agrees with the first group of laborers on a denar for a day’s work, whereas when employing the second group at the third hour of the day he states, “I will give you what is right” (ὃ ἐὰν ᾖ δίκαιον δώσω ὑμῖν).
The surprising solution at the end of the parable is that “what is right” in the perspective of the landowner—who represents God in the parable—stands in stark contrast to what the laborers within the parable itself and also the audience would expect: All the laborers get the same reward, regardless of the actual number of hours of work in the vineyard.
The parable therefore points out that God’s righteousness can foil human understanding of “what is right”: it is God’s sovereignty to give whom he wants to give—in the words of the parable: to give the last as much as the first so that they have enough for their living, even if they did not have the chance to work as much as the first ones.
The second example is the parable of the Unforgiving Servant in Matthew 18:23–35. As in the parable just mentioned, also in this story the legal system—in this case the regulations concerning debts and repayment—is considered from a perspective that baffles the common treatment of this matter. The servant in the parable is admonished to be generous because he has experienced generosity himself.
His right to demand repayment from his debtor is not called into question in general. But it is put into another paradigm: Human life should not just be considered within categories of earthly sustainment. Instead, it should be taken into account that eventually God will judge every human being.
- This view of humankind and earthly life is an important aspect in Matthean as well as in Lukan ethics.
- It puts legal affairs into a new paradigm in that they are regarded from the viewpoint of a commitment to God the creator of world and human beings: God’s mercy and his willingness to forgive sins should be the principle of human behavior.
Human beings should even be perfect as their heavenly father is (Matthew 5:48). This is a critical prefix for human law in general.
What does the term law mean in the Bible?
DEFINITION OF LAW – A Dictionary definition says that a ‘law’ is “a rule established among a community and enjoining or prohibiting certain action, the system made up of these rules, its controlling power, the order produced by it, its administration” etc.
- The Australian Oxford Dictionary) So we have the word defined as a rule or set of rules which prescribe or prohibit our actions to conform to a certain order or pattern of behaviour.
- The ‘Law of God’ has many aspects and there are a variety of words used in the Hebrew text, for the different categories within His Law which identifies their classification.
The word ‘torah’ is the Hebrew word for teaching and direction for life and the one mostly used for the laws/principles which Yahweh God has given to His people for their benefit and spiritual well-being. This is a different concept from the meaning which we normally attach to the word ‘law’ and its penalties.
The other categories for instance are, The Judgments (Mishpatim) are the methods of administering justice in human affairs. The Statutes (Chukkim) are the precepts or regulations for Health Care and Hygiene etc. The Testimonies (Edot) are the earthly types that give witness to His plans and purposes (Tabernacle, Feasts) The Commands (Mitzvot) are the ordinances or commands related to the terms of the covenant
The word ‘law’ is used in very general terms in the New Testament, to cover a wide variety of meaning unlike the Hebrew of the Old Testament. The word in Greek is NOMOS which according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary means “to divide out, primarily that which is assigned, hence, usage, custom, or by statute;,
Nomos became the established name for law as decreed by state and set up as the standard for the administration of justice. In the New Testament it is used in general expressing a general principle relating to law.” Youngs Analytical Concordance gives the rendition of ‘nomos’, as ‘law, ordinance, custom’.
The term ‘law’ then in the new Testament was used for every aspect of the body of the Law, whereas, in the Old Testament we have several Hebrew words for our English ‘law’ which cover the varieties of meaning from laws, statutes and precepts to directions or teaching.
What is God’s law called?
Divine law is any body of law that is perceived as deriving from a transcendent source, such as the will of God or gods – in contrast to man-made law or to secular law. According to Angelos Chaniotis and Rudolph F.