September 18, 2021

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

The Law of Moses and the Law of Christ (Post 3 of 3)
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Are Christians supposed to keep the Ten Commandments? Are Christians supposed to keep the Sabbath? Are Christians free from the laws of the Old Testament?

Taken from Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s study at Ariel Ministries, I feel that this is the best argument concerning how we interact with the Ten Commandments in light of Scripture.

Even though this posts series was aimed at the Jewish believer, it is relevant to any believer. I have noticed that many, included myself at one time, did and do not quite understand Paul’s teachings. I think this argument helps clear up some of them quite well.
Read the first post in this series here.
Read the second post in this series here.

This is the third final part of the three part series that addresses the above questions. Please enjoy!

The Jewish Believer Is Under A New Law

The Law of Moses has been done away with, and we are now under a new law. This new law is called the Law of Christ in Galatians 6:2, and the Law of the Spirit of Life in Romans 8:2. This is a brand new law totally separate from the Law of Moses. The Law of Christ contains all the commandments applicable to a New Testament believer.

The reason there is so much confusion over the relationship of the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ is that the two have many similar commandments, prompting many to conclude that certain sections of the Law have, therefore, been retained. But we have already shown that this cannot be so, and the explanation for the sameness of the commandments is to be found elsewhere.

First, we must realize that there are a number of covenants in the Bible, including the Edenic, Adamic, Noahic, Mosaic, and New. A new covenant will always contain some of the same commandments as the previous covenant, but this does not mean that the previous covenant is still in effect. While certain commandments of the Adamic Covenant were also part of the earlier Edenic Covenant, it does not mean that the Edenic Covenant was still partially in force; on the contrary, it ceased to function with the Fall of man. The same is true when we compare the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ. There are many similar commandments. For example, nine of the Ten Commandments are to be found in the Law of Christ, but this does not mean that the Law of Moses is still in force.

Let me illustrate this by using an example which you may have also experienced. I received my first driver’s license in the State of California; as long as I drove in California, I was subject to the traffic laws of that state. But two years later, I moved to New York. Once I left California, I ceased to be under California’s traffic laws. The traffic laws of that state were rendered inoperative in my case. Now my driving was subject to a new law – the traffic laws of the State of New York. There were many laws that were different: In California, I was permitted to make a right turn at a red light after stopping and yielding the right-of-way. But in New York this was not permitted. On the other hand, there were many similar laws between the two states, such as the edict to stop at red lights. However, when I stopped for a red light in New York, I did not do so in obedience to the State of California as I once had, but in obedience to the State of New York. Likewise, if I went through a red light without stopping, I was not guilty of breaking California law but New York law. Many laws were similar, but they were, nevertheless, under two distinctly different systems.

The Law of Moses has been nullified, and we are now under the Law of Christ. There are many different commandments: The Law of Moses did not permit one to eat pork, but the Law of Christ does. There are many similar commandments as well, but they are in two separate systems. If we do not kill or steal, this is not because of the Law of Moses but because of the Law of Christ. Conversely, if I do steal, I am not guilty of breaking the Law of Moses but the Law of Christ.

For believers, this understanding can resolve many issues – such as women wearing pants, the Sabbath, and tithing. As the commandments concerning these things are based on the Law of Moses, then they have no validity for the New Testament believer. The Law of Christ is now the rule of life for the individual New Testament believer.

The Principle of Freedom

http://eepurl.com/b1N3hLWhat we are saying is that the believer in Yeshua Hamashiach is free from the necessity of keeping any commandment of the Law of Moses. But it is crucial to note that he is also free to keep parts of the Mosaic Law if he so desires.

The biblical basis for this freedom to keep the Law is evident in the actions of Paul, the greatest exponent of freedom from the Law. His vow in Acts 18:18 is based on Numbers 6:2, 5, 9 and 18. His desire to be in Jerusalem for Pentecost in Acts 20:16 is based on Deuteronomy 16:16. The strongest example is Acts 21:17-26, where we see Paul himself keeping the Law.

So, if a Jewish believer feels the need to refrain from eating pork, for example, he is free to do so. The same is true for all the other commandments. However, there are two dangers that must be avoided by the Messianic Jew who chooses to keep portions of the Law of Moses: One is the belief that one who does so is contributing to his own justification and sanctification. This is false and must be avoided. The second danger is that one may demand or expect others to also keep the Law. This is equally wrong and borders on legalism. The one who exercises his freedom to keep the Law must recognize and respect another’s freedom not to do the same.

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.)

What did you think of the final argument? Does this clarification help you understand the old law better? Did you disagree with anything? Why? Feel free to comment below!

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”. Copyright © 2005, Ariel Ministries. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Image Source
Wikimedia | By Ji-Elle – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


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4 thoughts on “The Law of Moses and the Law of Christ (Post 3 of 3)

  1. Greetings.

    It took me a few minutes of flipping around in your pages to discover that your name is Daniel Currier. Nice to meet you. Perhaps you should place your name somewhere prominent (like on the masthead of your site) so people know who you are.

    My name is Phil Weingart. I’m a teacher and a Jewish believer in Jesus. I have taught in a number of churches in Massachusetts and one or two in Pittsburgh, PA. People who interact with me in person find me to be knowledgeable and a useful instructor in the ways of Jesus, the Messiah.

    I’m glad you’re looking for answers. I’m not sure you’ve found them yet. In order to facilitate your further research, I’m going to ask you a few questions that I’m hoping will shove your investigation in useful directions.

    If your reaction to that includes firing back at me “Who do you think you are?” or some other challenge to my standing, I’ll admit to believing that I know more than you about the subject on which you’re writing here–but I also understand that you have no way of knowing that or verifying it since I have no formal credentials to which you can refer, and that consequently you need to discover the details for yourself. Hence, questions.

    If your reply further includes comments about how rude I’m being, yeah, I’m used to that. I’m very sorry and I don’t intend to bully or disparage. However, facts are facts, and I won’t apologize for stating them. I’m risking offending because I care–about you, about the truth, and especially about the Body of Christ.

    Here we go:

    1) How, precisely, do you define “the Law?” And, are you certain that this is what Paul, the Apostle, Pharisee, and talmid (student, disciple) of Rabban Gamaliel meant when he spoke of it (to say nothing of what Jesus, the Messiah, meant)?

    * If your answer is “613 commands” or words to that effect, then you really do need to investigate further. That’s the core but not the extent.
    * If your answer is “the Torah,” same thing. That’s the core but not the extent of it.
    * If your answer is “the Old Testament” or words to that effect, you need to back-track, because you’re off the track.

    2) Off the top of your head without doing any lookups, where did you get “613”? If I wanted to find a definitive list of all 613 commands, where would I look?

    * If your answer is “the Torah,” then shame on you. Yes, they’re alleged to be a listing of the laws in the Torah, but they’re not numbered or listed there; “613” is somebody’s count. Whose?
    * If your answer is “Jewish tradition,” then you clearly don’t know enough about the subject to be teaching about it. Sorry, that’s just a fact. This is not just tradition: we know *precisely* where that enumeration occurred, in what context, who transmitted it to the modern world, who disputed it and on what basis, and what the use of that number implies about who has the authority to define Jewish law.

    2) a) Subquestion: by using that 613 count, who are you saying has authority to define what the Law is?

    3) When Paul says “Christ is the end of the Law,” in what sense is he using the word “end”? What’s the Greek word behind that, and what does it mean? Where else in Paul’s writing might we find a similar statement about the Law?

    4) When you say “The Jewish believer is under a new Law,” do you really mean to say that God removed one set of laws that we are to obey, but substituted another, comparable set that we are to obey in the same manner? We still have to obey a law, just a more enlightened one? If that’s true, then in what way are we liberated, and how is Christianity different from 1st century Judaism? How is the new law better than the old? And, what is the extent of the new law? Where do I find those rules, and how many are there?

    4) a) Subquestion: in what sense are the Ten Commandments abrogated? Is it therefore acceptable to murder? Under what limits? If not, why not?

    That will do for a starting point. Clearly, you’re under no obligation to answer me; so far as you’re concerned, I’m nobody, just a pompous Internet irritant. If you do answer, you could answer here, but you’re also welcome to send email to me at the address I’ll enter below.

    Under the dominion of God’s Messiah,

    Phil Weingart

  2. Hello Daniel Currier! Some good points in these articles, but also some things that I think miss the boat. I share the following in the hopes of mutual consideration (for us and any reading) and for dialogue, for iron sharpening iron, NOT expecting you to agree with the distinctives I make here.

    The main thing is, I don’t like the big wedge this view drives between the Old (Law of Moses) and the New (Law of Christ), I feel it makes too big of a chasm between the two. It also calls the Law basically abolished when Jesus made it clear his mission was in harmony and fulfillment with it. This wedge view I think is very unfortunate. Strongly related to this, last week i edited a 2 hour broadcast of Dr Michael Brown’s, to just an excellent 25 minutes where he makes some terrific points about how the Old and New Testaments should be viewed, harmoniously that is, contrary to how so many see them.

    https://youtu.be/4Fclfmo9Y7Y

    It’s also interesting that the article stated this Law of Christ keeps 9 of the 10 commandments, to which we would have to add most of the other laws of Moses, which Jesus said were about Justice, mercy, and faithfulness (Matt 23:23). So in the end, this Law of Christ solution of Fruchtenbaums ends up almost identical to the one where we are allowed to see distinctions in the Law between ceremonial and moral issues, just with the added negative wedge. And the California vs New York driving laws analogy doesn’t work, because “The Law of Christ” is mentioned but a few times, and has not much more than a few specified commandments. In other words, it would be like if 99.999% of the laws of one state are only ever specified by the other state’s law, well, in that case, you would have to say the one is *founded* upon the other, just with the potential for some modifications. And these always match the moral law of the OT: love God, love one another.

    On some specifics, Fruchtenbaum seems to be confusing the Law of Moses with the Old Covenant. Yes, they are intertwined entities but not the same thing.

    “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) – “

    But is the “ministry” in that verse really referring primarily to the Law? What is this diakonia? It’s clarified a verse earlier, 3:6, where the apostles are called “ministers” (same root word, diakonos) of *a new covenant*. 2 Corinthians 3:6 (NA28): διακόνους καινῆς διαθήκης

    So the “ministry” that passed away was the old covenant service / ministry. Does the Law of God itself pass away? Does the Law: “love God with all your heart” pass away? How could it? “Love your neighbor as you love yourself?” “Justice, faithfulness, and mercy” (Matt 23:23), the three things Jesus called “the weightier matters of the Law” , do these pass away as well? “Have no other God’s before me?” “Honor your Father and your Mother?” The Law of Christ should not be seen as majorly different from the Law of God given from heaven in the OT, the * heart* is the same.

    The other major thing is the premise in the first article by Fruchtenbaum that it’s all or nothing, not a single thing in the Mosaic Law can be time bound or made obsolete without undoing the whole thing. Ie this is to work against the typical distinction many of us make (as do I) between ceremonial laws and moral laws.

    “One is the practice of dividing the Law into ceremonial, legal, and moral commandments. On the basis of this division, many have come to think that the believer is free from the ceremonial and legal commandments but is still under the moral commandments. The second factor is the belief that the Ten Commandments are still valid today”

    It’s certainly fine for someone to make that case, they would have some points in their favor, I don’t deny. But suffice to say, that case was barely made, and I think a much better case can be made that there *are* layers in the Torah, just as Jesus taught, as a close corollary, that there *are* weightier / most significant commandments, all the way down to least significant ones.

    Hebrew 7:18 was mentioned as proof the Law passed away, but that was about one specific commandment of the Law, the ones ordaining the sons of Aaron as priests.

    Hebrews 7:18: For on the one hand, *a former commandment* (not the whole Law) is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness

    The Aaronic priestly line , as commanded in the OT Law, certainly was weak, and time bound, that’s what’s being referred to there, compared to the eternal priestly service of our Great High Priest, who opposed to weakness, lives forever, and is himself perfect, and is thus a minister of a better covenant, for sure. This change of priestly service does not undo God’s Law, because that old service was prophetic of the new all along, and the heart of God’s Law has always been to love God and Man, what’s to abolish about that? That is an eternal law, as it is a description of the perfect character of God’s heart, which we see in the face of Christ. (1 John 2:29-3:5, “If you know that he is righteous”, “and in him there is no sin”, “but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is”). Cheers!

      1. Thanks for the reply Daniel.

        Fruchtembaum stated, as cited at the top of this article:

        “The Law of Moses has been done away with, and we are now under a new law.”

        The point I am making in bringing up Dr. Brown’s main point in that audio (which thank you for listening to), is:

        Why the need to draw such a sharp distinction between the Law of God, as it was given in the 10 commandments (where it deals with basic morality issues), and the Law of Christ? Why can’t we see these as things that are in harmony? Do we really have a problem with “honor your father and your mother”? Honor your elders? Take care of widows and orphans in their need? Of course you would agree with me that such things are godly and good, but it seems very artificial to just claim somehow the “Law of Christ” subsumes all of those good things, and then to say the original Law that gave them is “done away with”. I would rather say: The Law of Christ essentially is the same thing as the moral Law God gave back then, but the honor is now, once Messiah has come, given to Christ Jesus. In Ephesians 6:1-3, it sure doesn’t sound like Paul is viewing the 10 commandments as somehow replaced with Christ’s Law, he seems rather to gladly be teaching and building upon it.

        The Law of Christ is barely mentioned a few times, with not much more than a few sentences. It’s exegetically thin ice to build a huge, major covenantal teaching off of it. I like “Law of Christ” better than “Law of Moses” though, as I just said, because once Messiah came, we see the heart of all of God’s goodness and commandments through the Son, not just through the servant Moses. So maybe that is a big part of why that expression was used.

        Same thing goes for the other covenants. Fruch. mentioned these, as if the one covenant only annuls later ones. There were parts of the Sinai covenant that were replaced, temple and ceremonial things, because their fullness had come, but if we are to say the whole thing is removed or replaced, then we get back to replacement theology: Because the Jewish nation was called and set apart as a people onto God, in a covenant oath, at Sinai. For us to say it is just replaced, ends up saying Israel has no special place or covenant anymore (but see first part of Romans 3 and 9). Likewise, why do we have to say the creation covenant was replaced? There were wonderful blessings to Adam and Eve, I would like to see it as Christ in the end annulled the curses from our failure to obey, but beyond that, God then is making those creation blessings and mandates able to continue. All in all, I’m arguing harmony in all of these things, instead of disharmony. Thanks.

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