The Law of Moses and the Law of Christ (Post 2 of 3)

In a previous post in this series, we looked at the purpose of the Law of Moses. If you have not read that post yet, please do before reading on. In this post, we will look the law as a unit, the past covenants God gave people and what happened to the Law of Moses.

Like I said in the previous post, I feel that the argument that these three posts make is the best one out there concerning how we interact with the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Law in light of Scripture. Also, like said in the other post, the following is taken from Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s study at Ariel Ministries. Please see the note at end of this post for more information and disclaimer.

Read the first post in this series here.
Read the third post in this series here.

The Unity of the Law of Moses

It must be understood that the Mosaic Law is viewed in the Scriptures as a unit. The word, Torah or “Law,” is always singular when applied to the Law of Moses, although it contains 613 commandments. The same is true of the Greek word, Nomos, in the New Testament. The division of the Law of Moses into ceremonial, legal, and moral parts is convenient for the study of different types of commandments contained within it, but it is never divided this way by the Scriptures themselves. Neither is there any scriptural basis for separating the Ten Commandments from the whole 613 and making only the Ten perpetual. All 613 commandments are a single unit comprising the Law of Moses.

It is this principle of the unity of the Law of Moses that lies behind the idea of keeping the whole law in James 2:10. The Apostle’s point here is clearly that a person needs only to break one of the 613 commandments to be guilty of breaking all of the Law of Moses. And this can only be true if the Mosaic Law is a unit. If it were not, the guilt would lie only in the particular commandment violated and not in the whole Law. In other words, if one breaks a legal commandment, he is guilty of breaking the ceremonial and moral ones as well. The same is true of breaking a moral or ceremonial commandment. To bring the point closer to home, a person under the Law of Moses who eats ham is guilty of breaking the Ten Commandments, although none of the Ten says anything about ham.

In order to clearly understand the Law of Moses and its relationship to the believer (Jew or Gentile), it is necessary to view it as do the Scriptures: as a unit, one that cannot be divided into parts that are nullified and parts that are kept. Nor can certain commandments be separated in such a way as to give them a different status from other commandments.

The Law of Moses Rendered Inoperative

The clear-cut teaching of the New Testament is that the Law of Moses has been rendered inoperative with the death of Messiah; in other words, the Law in its totality no longer has authority over any individual. This is evident first of all from Romans 10:4, with Paul telling us that Christ is the end of the law. Galatians 2:16 concurs, stating that neither is there justification through the Law. Furthermore, there is no sanctification or perfection through the Law (Heb. 7:19).

A second important point here is that the Mosaic Law was never meant to be a permanent administration, but a temporary one. In the context of Galatians 3:19, Paul describes the Law of Moses as an addition to the Abrahamic Covenant. It was added in order to make sin very clear so that all would know they have fallen short of God’s standard for righteousness. It was a temporary addition until Christ . . . till the seed should come; now that He has come, the Law is finished.

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Third, with Christ there is a new priesthood, according to the order of Melchizedek, instead of the former order of Aaron. Whereas the Law of Moses provided the basis for the Levitical priesthood, this new priesthood required a new law under which it could operate. Hebrews 7:11-12 explains that only one type of priesthood was permitted and that was the Levitical priesthood. But the Levitical priesthood – and its sacrificial system of animal blood – could not bring perfection; only the Messiah’s blood could do that (Heb. 9:11-10:18). The Mosaic Law was the basis for the Levitical priesthood. But for the Levitical priesthood to be replaced by a new priesthood, the priesthood of Melchizedek, a change of the Law was required.

Was there a change of the Law? Hebrews 7:18 states that the Mosaic Law was disannulled. Because it is no longer in effect, we can now have a new priesthood after the order of Melchizedek. If the Mosaic Law was still in effect, Yeshua could not function as a priest. But the Mosaic Law is no longer in effect, and so Jesus can be a priest after the order of Melchizedek.

The fourth line of evidence for the annulment of the Mosaic Law zeros right in on the part of the Law that most people want to retain – the Ten Commandments. Second Corinthians 3:2-11 is very significant here: First, we need to see what Paul is saying in this passage concerning the Law of Moses. He calls it both the ministration of death and the ministration of condemnation (vv. 7, 9) – both certainly negative but valid descriptions. In addition, Paul is clearly emphasizing the Ten Commandments, as it is these that are engraven on stones. The main point, then, is that the Law of Moses, especially as represented by the Ten Commandments, is a ministration of death and a ministration of condemnation. And this would remain true if the Ten Commandments were still in force today.

But they are no longer in force, as the Law has passed away (vv. 7, 11). The Greek word used is katargeo, meaning “to render inoperative.” Since this passage’s emphasis is on the Ten Commandments, this means that the Ten Commandments have passed away. The thrust is very clear. The Law of Moses, and especially the Ten Commandments, is no longer in effect. In fact, the superiority of the Law of Christ is seen by the fact that it will never be rendered inoperative.

Paul sheds more light on this in his letter to the Ephesians (2:11-16; 3:6), explaining that God has made certain covenants with the Jewish people. (In fact, God made four unconditional, eternal covenants with Israel: the Abrahamic, the Palestinian, the Davidic, and New Covenants.) All of God’s blessings, both material and spiritual, are mediated by means of these four Jewish covenants, which are eternal, as well as unconditional.

At the same time, Paul points out that God added a fifth covenant: temporary and conditional, this is the Mosaic Covenant containing the Mosaic Law. According to Paul, the Mosaic Law served as a wall of partition (Eph. 2:15). And this is yet another purpose of the Law (one which we alluded to earlier): to serve as a wall of partition to keep Gentiles, as Gentiles, from enjoying Jewish spiritual blessings. In the Old Testament, if a Gentile wished to become a recipient of Jewish spiritual blessings, he would need to take upon himself the entire obligation of the Law – from circumcision to living as every other Jew lived. Only a Gentile who converted to Judaism could enjoy the blessings of the Jewish covenants. If the Mosaic Law were still in effect, there would still be a wall of partition to maintain this distinction between Jews and Gentiles. But the wall of partition was broken down with the death of Christ; again, the wall of partition was the Mosaic Law, and so the Law of Moses was rendered inoperative. Now, Gentiles as Gentiles, on the basis of faith, can and do enjoy Jewish spiritual (though not physical) blessings by becoming fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus.

To summarize, the Law is a unit comprised of 613 commandments, and all of it has been invalidated. No commandment has continued beyond the cross of Yeshua. The Law exists and can be used as a teaching tool to show God’s standard of righteousness and our sinfulness and need of substitutionary atonement. It can be used to point one to Christ (Gal. 3:23-25). It has, however, completely ceased to function as an authority over individuals. Hebrews 8:1-13 draws a parallel between the Mosaic Law and the New Covenant: The writer, quoting Jeremiah 31:31-34, states that as soon as a “new” covenant was enacted, it rendered the Mosaic Covenant the “old” one – and that which is old is nigh unto vanishing away (v. 13). The Mosaic Law grew old under Jeremiah and vanished away when Messiah died.

Did you want to hear the conclusion? Don’t miss the next post in this series (click here to get the next posts to your inbox)! It is going to cover the following:

  • The Law the Jewish Believer Is Under
  • The Principle of Freedom

You will not want to miss the next posts. If you found this one helpful, you will want to keep an eye open for others. The best way is to click here, because you can get them straight to your inbox so you don’t miss out! (Click here.)

Read the first post in this series here: (click)


Notes
Disclaimer
Now it should go without saying that just because I “quote”, “reference” or even “recommend” a book, article, lecture or a person, does not mean I agree with everything he/she says. However, sources I quote, reference and recommend sometimes makes great arguments that I would like to share with my readers. If you are “offended”, sorry. Please make your voice known below if you disagree with anything presented.

Article Source
This article is from Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, the founder of Ariel Ministries and he is a Jewish believer and teaches the Bible from a Jewish perspective. Read more at “The Law of Moses and the Law of Messiah” or here. Copyright © 2005, Ariel Ministries. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Image Source
By El Greco – Web Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15496000

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