Paul and the Law

An adder is hated not for the euill it hath done but for the poyson that is in it (Pathway to the Scriptures).

We must first be euill ere we do euil, and good before we do good (Pathway to the Scriptures).

The deede is good because of the man and not the man because of his deede (Prologue to Genesis).1

Introduction

The quotes above are from William Tyndale, the greatest of the reformers. Tyndale understood the purpose of the Mosaic Law, the nature of man, and Paul’s doctrine of sin and righteousness. His statements revealed the Biblical truth:

WE ARE SINNERS NOT BECAUSE WE BREAK THE LAW;
WE BREAK THE LAW BECAUSE WE ARE SINNERS.

We sin because we have a nature that wants to sin, to rebel against God. The only way to overcome sin is with a new nature. This truth must sink into one’s being if he is to understand God’s revelation about sin, righteousness, and man’s condition. Apart from such understanding everything God has revealed in the Bible about sin will be misunderstood.

God gave Israel the Mosaic Law for one purpose: to reveal sin and condemn (Romans 2.19). Paul wrote Timothy:

But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted (1 Timothy 1.8-11).

Christendom has never come to grips with this truth. Most believe God gave the Mosaic Law to make one better. Most churches teach the Church, the body of Christ, is under the Mosaic Law. Why? Part of the answer is that most churches spend most of their time in the gospels, which concerns the Jews who were under the Law.

No one who spends time with Paul will conclude the Church is under the Mosaic Law. The great apostle’s teachings are completely contrary to such thought. Tragically, the vast majority in Christendom know little of Paul nor understand his teachings. When one reads acclaimed Pauline “experts” and “scholars” one finds they too have little comprehension of Paul’s doctrines or knowledge of his revelations (secrets).

This article will examine Paul’s teachings about the Law and the believer’s relationship to it primarily through examining Paul’s letter to the Galatians. The goal is to reveal the believer’s freedom in Christ and how we are to live a godly life apart from the governance of the Mosaic Law.

Paul the Pharisee

Paul trained as a Pharisee and became a zealot of Judaism and the Mosaic Law. Paul thought he doing God’s will and keeping the Law in arresting, torturing, and killing those who believed Jesus was the promised Messiah. How wrong he was!

In God’s matchless grace, God saved Saul of Tarsus. God redirected Paul’s zeal for His own purposes and commissioned him “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11.13) and the apostle of grace. No one ever experienced such a radical change in outlook and direction as Paul. As a Hebrew of the Hebrews, God sent him to Gentiles. As a legalistic zealot, God revealed righteous living apart from the administration of the Mosaic Law. To effect this transformation, God gave Paul revelations, “secrets” (μυστήριον), God had kept hidden from the Law and prophets, and from the Twelve.

History of the Mosaic Law

God gave the Mosaic Law to Israel through Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 20). The Mosaic Law was God’s moral, ceremonial, and civil law to govern a Jew’s daily life.2 The Decalogue expressed God’s moral law. But the moral law existed long before Moses’ encounter with God on Mt. Sinai. The moral law reflects the nature and character of God and is eternal. God codified the moral law in the Mosaic Law and made Israel accountable to it. Before the Mosaic Law, morality was “written on the heart” (Romans 2.14-15) in man’s conscience.

The Mosaic Law contained the moral, ceremonial, and civil law but Jews did not regard it as being in three parts; they regarded it as a single tapestry. For the Jew, removal of any aspect of the Law was unthinkable because God had given ALL the Law.

Paul’s Teaching About the Law

What did Paul teach concerning the Law? Outlined below are four points of Paul’s doctrine of the Law:

1. Recipients:God gave the Mosaic Law to Israel alone.Exodus 20.1-17, 22; Romans 2.14-15, 3.19, 9.4; 1 Corinthians 9.20-21; Ephesians 2.11-12;
2. Nature:The Law was good.Romans 2.20, 7.12, 14, 16, 22; Galatians 3.21; Hebrews 10.1
3. Purpose:The Law revealed and condemned sin.Romans 3.19-20, 4.15, 5.13, 7.7; Galatians 3.10, 19; 2 Corinthians 3.7, 9; 1 Timothy 1.8-9
4. Effect:The Law incited sin.Romans 4.15, 5.20, 7.5, 8-9, 22-23; 1 Corinthians 15.56

Paul taught that Israel alone had received the Mosaic Law and was under its administration. Gentiles were excluded from the Law, as was the Church, the body of Christ (Ephesians 2.11-13; Romans 3.1-2, 6.14). However, Paul taught that when Gentiles or the Church come in contact with the Law, it has the same effect it had on Israel: it condemns (Romans 3.19).

Why most of Christendom thinks the Church is under the Mosaic Law is hard to understand. The Scriptures give no support for this idea. Paul’s primary purpose in writing the Galatians was to correct their misguided thinking and behavior of trying to live the Christian life under the Mosaic Law. He declared that believers of his gospel, the gospel of the grace of God (Act 20.24; 1 Corinthians 15.1-4), the glorious gospel (1 Timothy 1.11), were to live under the administration of grace not Law (Romans 6.14). A brief review of Galatians should cure anyone from the notion that Christians are under the Mosaic Law.

The Epistle to the Galatians

Galatians 1

Paul wrote the Galatians to correct a problem created by Jews from Judea who were trying to bring his converts under the Mosaic Law. Paul had dealt with this issue at the Council of Jerusalem (c. 51 A.D.). Jews from Jerusalem had been going to Paul’s converts and telling them they were not saved by believing Paul’s gospel. They declared one must also be circumcised and keep the Mosaic Law to be saved (Acts 15.1, 5). Paul argued against them and won the day when Peter recalled his experience (at least a dozen years earlier) at the house of Cornelius (Acts 10). Peter’s declaration (Acts 15.11) at the Jerusalem Council ended the validity of the gospel of the kingdom’s which the Twelve and those associated with them preached. From that point, Paul’s gospel became the only gospel.

Some, however, continued to cause trouble and mislead Paul’s converts in Galatia. Paul reprimanded the Galatians for deserting his gospel for a “different” gospel, i.e., the gospel of the kingdom (Galatians 1.6-7) which required faith + works for salvation. Paul’s gospel was faith + 0. Paul declared that anyone who proclaimed a gospel other than his was accursed (ἀνάθεμα, Galatians 1.8-9). Paul could not have written this strong statement until after the decision of the Jerusalem Council. He reminded the Galatians how he had received his gospel: directly from the Lord Himself (Galatians 1.11-12), not from the Twelve or anyone else (Galatians 1.15-17).

Galatians 2

The first ten verses of Galatians chapter two recount Paul’s experience at the Jerusalem Council. Even though Peter supported Paul that his gospel alone was valid (Acts 15.11), understanding and living according to this decision proved difficult. In Galatians 2.11-14, Paul wrote how he had to correct Peter when he came down to Antioch:

But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews (Galatians 2.14)?

Peter’s behavior in Antioch flew in the face of his words in Jerusalem. The Jews of the Jerusalem assembly wanted Gentiles to live like Jews under the Mosaic Law. Peter’s dissimulation was a result of his fear of the “party of the circumcision,” i.e., Jewish believers (Galatians 2.12). This is another indicator that reveals how much Peter’s authority had deteriorated over the years. He, the leader of the Twelve, was now afraid of his fellow Jews. Others had assumed power and held sway. Even Barnabas, Paul’s companion in his first missionary journey and companion at the Council in Jerusalem, folded (Galatians 2.13).

Paul explained the believer’s relationship to the Law concisely:

19 For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly” (Galatians 2.19-21).

Paul declared he had “died to the Law” (Galatians 2.19; Romans 7.4, 6).  How much power does law have over the dead? None. Paul’s death was a result of identification with Christ in His death, “I have been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2.20). Paul now lived a new life–a life based based upon faith in Christ through the Holy Spirit–not the Law. It is through this life and this power that one is able to live a godly, holy life before God.

Galatians 3

In chapter 3, Paul began to apply his tonic to the foolish Galatians who were abandoning his teachings of grace for the teachings of Law of the Jerusalem assembly. Paul asked if they had received the Holy Spirit by keeping the Law or through faith (Galatians 3.1-2, 5). They knew the answer was the latter. Paul reminded them that Law-keeping was a work of the flesh (Galatians 3.3) and that those under the Law were under a curse (Galatians 3.10) from which Christ had redeemed us (Galatians 3.13-14).

Paul used Abraham to illustrate (Galatians 3.6; Romans 4.3-5, cf. Genesis 15.4-6) that his salvation was a pattern for all who believed his gospel of grace, in which salvation is obtained by faith alone. The Scriptures declared Abraham was justified by faith alone (Genesis 15.6). Because of this, Paul stated that those who believed his gospel of faith + 0 were “sons of Abraham” (Galatians 3.7). This fulfilled Abraham’s great blessing to Gentiles according to the Abrahamic Covenant (Galatians 3.8).3 

Paul’s argument in Galatians 3.15-18 has been misunderstood greatly and has resulted in much theological contention. The word “seed” (זֶרַעσπέρμα) in Hebrew, Greek, and English is a single as well as a collective noun. In Galatians 3.16, Paul appears to state that the promises made to Abraham’s “seed” referred not to his multiple seed but to Christ alone. But when one examines the texts, one discovers they refer to the multiplied seed, not the single seed (Genesis 12.1-3, 13.14-16, 15.5, 17.6-8, 22.17-18, 26.4, 28.14; Deuteronomy 1.8, 10, 21; Isaiah 60.1-3; Jeremiah 23.3, 5-6; Zechariah 8.13, 23; Acts 3.25-26; Romans 11.15, 25-26). The texts also reveal that not all of Abraham’s offspring were included. Isaac and Jacob were part of the “seed;” Ishmael and Esau were not (cf. Romans 9.6).

Paul’s stated God’s promise to Abraham took precedence over the Law which had come 430 years later (Galatians 3.17-18). God’s program with Israel began with Abraham and the Abrahamic Covenant. According to this covenant, all Gentile blessing would come through Israel. How could Israel’s generations bless Gentiles since their history was largely a history of unbelief? The Biblical record revealed that the nation would experience a glorious victory of faith only to sink into unbelief.

Israel’s blessings were to come through the Messiah. If Israel rejected the Messiah, how could Gentiles be blessed? The prophetic program’s answer was: they couldn’t. God had revealed no means by which Gentiles could be blessed apart from Israel. But Christ is the source of blessing for Jew and Gentile. He was the “seed” who could secure blessings of both. Therefore, even though Israel rejected her Messiah, Gentiles were being blessed through Paul’s gospel (Galatians 3.14). Paul became Israel’s untimely representative (1 Corinthians 15.8) of Gentile blessing–even while the nation remained in unbelief. This was the truth Paul expressed in his use of  the single “seed,” Christ.

Why did God give the Law (Galatians 3.19)? Paul answered, “because of transgressions until the seed came to whom the promise was made.” The Law revealed sin and was valid until Christ, the “seed” of promise came. Was the Law contrary to the promises of God? Paul answered with his familiar, strongest negative, μὴ γένοιτο, “NO!” But the Law could not give life. If it could have, men would have achieved righteousness by keeping it (Galatians 3.21). The Law did its intended job: it condemned.

Paul concluded the chapter stating:

23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

This passage requires careful attention if we are to understand the place of the Mosaic Law in Jewish life. What did Paul mean by his statement, “before faith came?” Was not faith always part of Jewish life and of salvation? Hebrew 11 declares it was. Given the discord Paul had with the Jerusalem assembly, his statement can only mean “before faith alone came.” The Jews in Jerusalem objected to Paul’s gospel not because of faith but because Paul proclaimed a gospel of faith alone. They did not deny Paul’s converts faith. Their objection was that faith alone was insufficient for salvation; one must also be circumcised and keep the Law to be saved (Acts 15.1, 5). That was the point of contention.

Paul stated the Law acted as a “tutor” or “schoolmaster” παιδαγωγός (a guardian hired to train boys in right and wrong) to lead us to Christ. Thus, Paul wrote that the Law “has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith [alone].” And “now that faith [alone] has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” So the Law and the gospel of faith + keeping the Law was valid until Paul’s gospel of grace of faith + 0 came. This was precisely what Peter stated at the Council of Jerusalem: “But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are” (Acts 15.11). From that point onward, Jews had to be saved like Paul’s Gentiles. In other words, from the time of the Jerusalem Council going forward, only Paul’s gospel was valid (cf. Galatians 1.6-9). The gospel of the kingdom (faith + works) was over. Prior to Peter’s declaration such an idea was unthinkable.

As a result of Paul’s gospel, no difference exists between Jew and Gentile in Christ (Galatians 3.28). This was not true before Paul. Paul alone revealed and taught the Church, the body of Christ. As far as being “Abraham’s descendants,” Paul’s point was that since Abraham was justified by faith alone (Galatians 3.29; Genesis 15.6) those who believe Paul’s gospel of faith alone are Abraham’s heirs–not on the basis of Law but on the basis of promise (Galatians 3.29).

Galatians 4

From Paul’s language in Galatians 4, it is clear some of his converts were Jews and some Gentiles. In Galatians 4.1-7, Paul addressed Jews first, who had been under the Mosaic Law. In Galatians 4.8-11, he addressed Gentiles who had been idol worshipers. Paul’s Jewish converts were the easiest targets of the Jews who wished to keep them under the Law. Since the Law had been their lifestyle, it was difficult for them to conceive of life apart from it. God had spent 1,500 years teaching them that they were under the administration of the Law. Now, Paul taught them that the administration of the Law was over. This was a challenge that only the Scriptures working through the agency of the Holy Spirit could overcome.

In Galatians 4.1-7, Paul continued the illustration of guardianship he had introduced in Galatians 3.24. Under the Law a Jew was, according to Paul, a slave–even though he was an heir (Galatians 4.1-2; cf. Acts 15.10). But God has redeemed us from the Law–to be sons rather than slaves (Galatians 4.5-7).

Paul’s Gentile converts had been idolaters, slaves to false gods (Galatians 4.8 cf. 1 Thessalonians 1.9). Believing Paul’s gospel freed them from slavery. Paul asked why they wished to return to slavery–the slavery of the Mosaic Law (Galatians 4.9-11). The next verses, Galatians 4.12-20, reveal how tenderly Paul tried to woo the Galatians back to their previous happy relationship. He enjoined them to remember the freedom they had enjoyed and the kindness between them, “You received me as an angel of God, as Christ,” and asked them, “Where then is that sense of blessing you had?”

Returning to Abraham, Paul presented another illustration from Genesis in the final section of the chapter, Galatians 4.21-31. This was primarily for the benefit of his Jewish believers since they were familiar with the story. Paul rejoined, “Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law?”

Paul recounted the story of Abraham’s first two sons. God promised Abraham He would make of him a great nation (Genesis 12.2). While God had made Abraham wealthy, he had no child, because his wife, Sarai was barren (Genesis 11.30, 15.2-4). In frustration, Sarai suggested he have a child by her handmaid, Hagar (Genesis 16.1-4). Abram agreed and had a son, Ishmael. Later, Abraham and Sarah had their own son, Isaac, when Abraham was 100 (Genesis 17.17; 21.5). Paul stated that Ishmael, the son of the bondwoman, Hagar, was a child of the flesh rather than a child of promise (Galatians 4.22-23). These two sons represented two different approaches: flesh vs. faith, slavery vs. freedom (Galatians 4.24). The child of Hagar was of Mount Sinai, the Law, and earthly Jerusalem; the child of Sarah was of heavenly Jerusalem.

The Bible keeps heaven and earth distinct from Genesis to Revelation (Genesis 1.1; Revelation 21.1). Israel is God’s earthly people. The promises Israel inherits are earthly. The Church, the body of Christ, is God’s heavenly people. The blessings and inheritance of the Church are heavenly (Ephesians 1.3, 2.6; Philippians 3.20). In His earthly ministry, Jesus ministered to Jews under the Mosaic Law. In His heavenly ministry, Jesus commissioned Paul and gave him the ministry to Gentiles, who compose the vast majority in the Church, the body of Christ, who have a heavenly destiny, and are governed by grace. For this reason, Paul wrote, “But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother” (Galatians 4.26). Furthermore, Paul declared, “And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.” The Church, the body of Christ, is not under Law but under Promise, under Grace.

Paul concluded:

29 But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.” 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.

As Ishmael mocked Isaac (Genesis 21.9), those of the “flesh,” those under the Law, persecute those born of the Spirit, of grace. Therefore, Paul declared “Cast out the bondwoman and her son.” The text reads, ἔκβαλε τὴν παιδίσκην καὶ τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς and the verb ἐκβάλλω “throw out,” “cast away” is an imperative, a command. Why? Because we are not children of the bondwoman, of the flesh, of the Law. We are children of the Spirit, of faith and are free. Therefore, obedience to Christ means the Mosaic Law has NO place in the administration of Christian living.

Galatians 5

Having commanded the Galatians to “throw out” the Mosaic Law, Paul commanded them (and us) to keep standing fast (στήκετε, present active imperative) in the freedom of Christ and not be subject to the Mosaic Law (Galatians 5.1). One need comprehend only a little of Paul’s message to the Galatians to understand how great a tragedy exists in most of Christendom regarding living the Christian life. Most churches and denominations teach the opposite to what the great apostle taught, They reject the work of Christ which has set us free from the Law. Legalists and theonomists are modern-day Judaizers who pervert Paul’s gospel of grace and disobey Christ (Galatians 5.11).

In verses 2-5, Paul revisited the issue of circumcision, which the Jewish believers of the Jerusalem church (Acts 15.1) had taught was required for salvation. Paul declared that if one is circumcised he is obligated to keep the entire Law (Galatians 5.3). This does not mean just the Decalogue; it means all the Law–the 613 commandments of the Law identified by Maimonides. The Mosaic Law was a “package.” One could not pick and choose from it. If one accepted the moral law, one also accepted the civil and ceremonial law. Thus, James wrote that to break one point of the Law was to break it all (James 2.10). Furthermore, Paul declared that those who place themselves under the Mosaic Law have been severed from Christ (καταργέω) and have fallen (ἐκπίπτω) from grace (Galatians 5.4). Does this mean that those who teach that Christians are under the Mosaic Law have lost their salvation? No. It means those who place themselves under the Law have turned away from God’s revealed way to live the Christian life: by faith, love, and the Holy Spirit.

Having taught them the freedom of Christ apart from the Law, Paul questioned what had happened to them:

7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough10 I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. 11 But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. 12 I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate (ἀποκόπτω) themselves.

These are strong words. Notice Paul declared that the teaching that Christians are under the Law is “not from Him who calls you.” Those who teach that Christians are under the Law have rejected God’s revelation and have poisoned the body of Christ.

If the believer is not under the Mosaic Law, how is he to live the Christian life? Paul had begun his answer in Galatians 5.6, which reads, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.”

Paul elaborated:

13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

The Christian is to fulfill the moral law of God, just as Israel which was under the Law. But Christians are to fulfill the moral law apart from the administration of the Mosaic Law. Christians are not to be under the administration of the Mosaic Law because we have a far better overseer: the Holy Spirit. Believers of Paul’s gospel were identified with Christ in His death which crucified the Law (Romans 6.3-5, 7.4, 6; Galatians 2.20; Ephesians 2.15; Colossians 2.14). His work provided a wholly new means of keeping the moral law. Instead of operating under the Mosaic Law, the believer operates under the administration of the Holy Spirit who engenders love. Will the Holy Spirit lead one to sin? Will love lead one to sin? Thus, Paul wrote, “if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law” (verse 18 cf. Romans 6.14).

Again, quoting and commenting on Tyndale, C. S. Lewis captured the essence of Paul’s thought concerning the Law:

The transition comes by the gift of faith which immediately and almost by definition passes into love. We are confronted with the redemption which God performed ‘to winne his enemye, to ouercomme him with loue, that he might see Loue and loue again’. The essence of the change is that we now have power ‘to loue that which before we could not but hate’. The ‘fretting’ voice of the law is now the will of the Beloved, already in principle (if not at every moment) our own will, and man can ‘be glad and laugh from the low bottome of his hart’ (Pathway). 4

Galatians 6

In verses 1-10, Paul encouraged those who were spiritual to restore a believer who sinned with a spirit of gentleness, recognizing that we all have weaknesses. Though the Christian is not under the administration of the Law, he is not to sin: God will not be mocked and what a man sows he will reap. In other words, sin has consequences. One cannot escape them.

He closed the letter, verses 11-18, stating that those who wanted to put the Galatians under the Mosaic Law did not keep the Law and that their behavior was “so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.” The “cross of Christ” (1 Corinthians 1.17; cf. Philippians 3.17-19) was Paul’s gospel. Those who advocated that believers were to be under the administration of the Law were enemies of the “cross of Christ” (Galatians 6.14).

Paul used “circumcision” as a metonymy for the Law and stated, “For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Galatians 6.15). This is the heart of the matter. The believer of Paul’s gospel has been crucified with Christ, i.e., identified in His death, burial, and resurrection. He has become a new creation. The old creation, being “in Adam,” could not keep the Law no matter how hard he tried. Only as a new creation, “in Christ,” controlled by the faith, love, and the Holy Spirit can one keep the Law.

As his final exhortation, Paul declared, “And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God” (Galatians 6.16). With this statement Paul declared “peace and mercy” to those who followed his gospel. The “them” were believers of Paul’s gospel and the “Israel of God” were the believing Jews of the Jerusalem assembly (the Judaizers).5

Through numerous passages, Paul made it clear that Christians are under grace, not subject to the Mosaic Law:

1. New Administration:Christians are under grace, not Law, but fulfill the Law.Romans 3.28; 6.14-15, 7.1-4, 6, 8.2-4; 13.8, 10; 1 Corinthians 9.20-21; Galatians 3.13, 17-18, 23-24, 4.4-5, 5.14, 18, 6.2; Ephesians 2.15
2. Salvation:Christians are saved apart from the Law.Romans 4.13-14, 16; Galatians 2.16, 21, 3.11; Philippians 3.9
3. Sanctification:Christians are sanctified by grace, apart from the Law.Romans 3.31, 7.22-25; Galatians 2.19, 3.2, 5, 5.3-4; Colossians 2.6-7

Paul’s dogmatic teaching was that Christians are not under the administration of the Mosaic Law. This does not mean a believer is not under the moral law of God or free to sin. The moral law existed long before the Mosaic Law. Christ freed us from the Law, not to give license to sin, but so we can live holy lives and do good. True freedom is the ability and power to do what is right. The one who believes Paul’s gospel is under new management, the administration of the Holy Spirit. Baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12.13; Titus 3.5-7), the Holy Spirit works through the Scriptures and the believer’s new nature by faith and love to fulfill the moral law. Thus, Paul exclaimed, “For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man” (Romans 7.22). A good tree produces good fruit and the new nature produces good works. Paul taught this new administration was glorious (2 Corinthians 3.8) and that its glory far exceeded the glory of the Mosaic Law (2 Corinthians 3.7, 9, 11).

Paul and the Decalogue

While Christ has freed us from the Mosaic Law, Paul referenced the moral law evidenced in the Decalogue throughout his writings (see chart below). The one exception was the Sabbath. Christians do not keep the “sabbath.” The sabbath is the seventh day, the day God rested from His work of creation (Genesis 2.2-3). God gave Israel, not the Church, the covenant of the Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-18). Christians celebrate the first day of the week because that was the day Christ arose from the dead. But, in reality, for Christians all days are equal. Put another way, every day for the believer is resurrection day–the day of hope and future glory.

Paul’s Reprise of the Decalogue
The Decalogue (Exodus 20. 1-17)Paul’s Writings
13 “You shall have no other gods before Me.”Acts 17.24-25; Galatians 4.8; 1 Thessalonians 1.9
24 “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”1 Corinthians 5.11, 6.9-10, 10.7, 14; 2 Corinthians 6.16; Galatians 5.19-20; Ephesians 5.5; Colossians 3.5; 1 Thessalonians 1.9
3“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”Ephesians 4.31; Colossians 3.8; 1 Timothy 1.20; 2 Timothy 3.1,2
4“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”Colossians 2.16-17 cf. Romans 14.5-6. Every commandment is repeated except the Sabbath. Paul taught believers are not under Sabbath requirements. The Sabbath was the 7th day of the week and applied only to Jews under the Law. The idea Sunday is the new “Sabbath” is non-Scriptural.
512 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”Ephesians 6.1-3; Colossians 3.20; 2 Timothy 3.1-2
613 “You shall not murder.”Romans 13.9; 1 Timothy 1.9
714 “You shall not commit adultery.”Romans 13.9; 1 Corinthians 5.11, 6.9-10, 18, 10.8; Galatians 5.19; Ephesians 5.5; 1 Timothy 1.9,10; Hebrews 13.4
815 “You shall not steal.”Romans 13.9; 1 Corinthians 6.10; Ephesians 4.28
916 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”Romans 13.9; Galatians 1.19; Ephesians 4.25; Colossians 3.9; 1 Timothy 1.9,10, 4.1-2; 2 Timothy 3.1,3; Titus 1.2; Hebrews 6.18
1017 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”Romans 1.29, 7.7, 13.9; 1 Corinthians 5.11, 6.10, 10.6; Galatians 5.16; Ephesians 5.5; Colossians 3.5; 1 Thessalonians 2.5; Hebrews 13.5

Conclusion

God gave the Mosaic Law to Israel, not to Gentiles, and not to the Church. The Law did but one thing: condemn. It could not make one right with God. For the Jews, the Law provided the Levitical sacrifices whereby sins were “covered” (כָּפַר). The animal sacrifices were a “patch.” Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection solved the problem of sin and death. When one believes Paul’s gospel, God seals the believer and baptizes him into the body of Christ (Ephesians 1.13; 1 Corinthians 12.13; Titus 3.5-7). God gives him a new nature and places him under the management of the Holy Spirit. The new nature can obey God for it has not been corrupted by Adam’s sin. It loves God and desires to please him. The Christian life can only be lived by faith. Faith is obedience and engenders love. Thus, the great apostle wrote, “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf (2 Corinthians 5.14-15).

1 C. S. Lewis, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, Excluding Drama, p. 187-188. Lewis’ comment on William Tyndale is the finest succinct explanation of the difference between law and grace ever written. Lewis wrote, “In reality Tyndale is trying to express an obstinate fact which meets us long before we venture into the realm of theology; the fact that morality or duty (what he calls the ‘the Law’) never yet made a man happy in himself or dear to others. It is shocking, but it is undeniable. We do not wish either to be, or to live among, people who are clean or honest or kind as a matter of duty: we want to be, and to associate with, people who like being clean and honest and kind. The mere suspicion that what seemed an act of spontaneous friendliness or generosity was really done as a duty subtly poisons it.” Lewis continued, “Of freedom in the true sense–of spontaneity and disinterestedness–Nature knows nothing. And yet by a terrible paradox, such disinterestedness is precisely what the moral law demands. The law requires not only that we should do thus and thus but that we should do it with ‘a free, a willing, a loving, a lusty and a louing hart.’ Its beginning and end is that we should love God and our neighbors. It demands of us not only acts but new motives.”
2 Maimonides concluded the Torah contained 613 commandments. See 613 Commandments.
3 Paul did not state Jews were saved by faith alone. Abraham was an exception. We have no indication in the Old Testament that Jews were saved by faith alone apart from works. On the contrary, the Biblical evidence is Jews were saved by faith and works. Before Paul, sola fide was unknown. See the author’s article, Faith and Works in James: Resolving the Problem.
4 Lewis, op. cit., p. 188.
5 This verse is analyzed in the author’s article, “Israel” as a Technical Term.”

©2014 Don Samdahl.  Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold.

Updated, 20 April 2015


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97 Responses to Paul and the Law

  1. Ron G says:

    Don,
    Great article, probably one of the most succinct I have read.
    What are your thoughts regarding those in the church today who use the “Decalogue” as a tool in witnessing to show people they are sinners in need of a saviour?
    Also, and this might not be the right area to cover this, and you may have addressed it elsewhere, but in presenting Paul’s gospel of grace to the unsaved, is it important to ensure they understand that Jesus who died for there sins, and was raised, is in fact God and had to be God?
    Ron G

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Ron,
      Thank you. All Scripture is profitable and as the Law’s purpose was to reveal sin it still works. On the other–absolutely. If Jesus was not God He could not have paid for our sins. Remember the scribes remonstrated against Jesus that He blasphemed for “who can forgive sins but God.” So, to demonstrate his authority to forgive sin He told the man to take up his bed and walk.

      • Jared says:

        Hi, love the website! However I have a question you answered and was looking for a little more clarity on your thoughts Referring to Galatians CH 5 verses 2-4. I read where you said that the falling from grace was not saying that you could lose your salvation. I would absolutely agree that we are secure in Christ. But through listening to Les he commented saying that these were unbelievers who turned they’re back on the simple gospel by adding something to it and therefore were not saved.Also saying that if someone adds anything to faith alone then they are not true believers. When reading this passage where it talks about circumcision as a means of salvation it says Christ will profit you nothing! I was under the impression that means you are not saved if you hold to that thinking. Also do you think people who don’t believe in eternal security are truly saved? Again love the site and have learned alot just looking for you thoughts God bless, Jared.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Jared,
          Thank you. The issue with the Galatians was the same Paul faced in Acts 15. These believers were being told they had to keep the Law. But the Law was a total system. Paul argued believers of his gospel were under the system of grace, under the administration of the Holy Spirit, not the Mosaic Law. That is why he wrote that one was debtor to do the entire Law (Galatians 5.3-4). The issue of salvation was settled at the Council of Jerusalem (see my article, The Great Hinge). We read in 2 Timothy 1.15 that all Asia rejected Paul’s teaching and this was the beginning of Pauline apostasy which is why the Church is so confused today. It’s a 1,900+ year problem. Individual exceptions excluded, I doubt people who do not believe in eternal security know the Lord.

  2. Sue says:

    Hi Don,

    What exactly did Paul mean in Galatians 2:2 ….for fear that I might be running or had run this race in vain?

    Thanks for a great article.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Sue,
      This is evidence Paul preached a different gospel from the Twelve and that they did not understand his gospel. Those in the Jerusalem church were causing great harm to Paul’s ministry. Their interference was undermining Paul’s work among Gentiles to the degree that Paul felt he had “run in vain” in his ministry to them. Due to the serious nature of the problem Paul went to Jerusalem by revelation (Christ ordered him to go) and set forth his gospel to the Twelve so they might understand his commission and stop their meddling.

  3. Becky says:

    Thanks for all the great verses. I studied the law vs grace once in the same way and came up with the same conclusion. Something I have been wondering about are the psalms. I think about how Jesus said to love your enemies but some of the psalms seem to go against this command. I sort of understand but it is like I’m missing the “connection” so that I can settle things in my understanding. Hopefully you understand what I am asking.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Becky,
      Thank you. Theologians call these imprecatory psalms, e.g., Psalms 69, 109. While God is a God of love and forgiveness, He is also a God of wrath. He has said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” The Lord Himself in His earthly ministry pronounced woes upon the scribes and Pharisees and overturned the tables of the moneychanges in the Temple. We are to forgive, but there is a legitimate anger against those who oppose God and pervert His truths. God will have His day of reckonning upon His enemies. See Psalm 2 and Isaiah 63. My article, Theology of the Old Testament, might be helpful.

      • Becky says:

        Thanks so much, I never heard the term “imprecatory psalms.” The Holy Spirit recently shed some more light for me on the Lord’s vengeance regarding “loving” our enemies. I would like to share it via your contact link so as not to detract from from this topic. I will definitely check out Theology of the Old Testament as my next question for you was your views on the purpose of the OT. In my dealings with those who “keep” the Law, they treat Moses’ law as if it was “first,” thus the purpose of the OT is to teach us about Moses’ law so we can keep it. As if OT=Moses’ Law and vice versa. But again, the promise came first. Another common thing I have found among those who are adamant about keeping the law is their suspicion of Paul truly being an apostle and his authority. It is subtle but it is there. I experienced it at a Torah keeper’s forum because I kept quoting Paul. Have you done any kind of study on the dangers and consequences of keeping the Law?

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Becky,
          Unfortunately, most of Christendom thinks the Church is under the Mosaic Law in some form of fashion. They either reject Paul or fail to understand him. This is true of even “big” names. I just concluded a discussion on this under the Jesus vs. Paul article. They do not understand the “identifiction truths” Paul taught (see my article, Identification with Christ) and that we keep the moral law by faith, love, and the Holy Spirit, not by the Law.

  4. Becky says:

    Your ‘Follow Paul’ study caught my eye. It confirms so many things I have studied and thought concerning him, but ive never heard of anyone focusing on Paul until now. when I would try to talk seriously to others about him, it seemed to make people “uncomfortable” or something, as if I was “exalting” Paul. It seems to me that if people would really consider who Paul is, there would be less confusion about the law and grace. If people would truly grasp that everything he learned was straight from our Lord Jesus! Everything Jesus wanted the Gentiles to know in order to walk this walk came through the vessel of Paul. I feel very blessed to have come across your site, like I wish we could just sit down and talk! I look forward to spending time checking it all out.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Becky,
      You may enjoy my article Why Paul? Apart from Paul we have no Church and no Christianity. Most are enmeshed in the Christian “myth.” See my article by the same title for more explantation.

  5. Gary says:

    Hi Don
    God bless you for sharing your insights and understanding of the scriptures. I have read almos all of your writings and it has brought clarity and understanding to many misunderstood aspects of what I call the confusion or ignorance surrounding Paul’s ministry and thoe of Jesus in the Gospels.

    I would like your help as it relates to further understanding and how you might equip me to have the discussions with my son who is part of a small cult that espouses to preach Christ and the the Bible. He is insistent on the fact that if you are a true believer and born again of the Holy Spirit then you will manifest the new man by divorcing yourself of all aspects of the flesh and the world; this seems in contradiction to Ephesians 4:22-24. In other words you must divorce yourself of worldly possessions (1John 2:15, Acts 4:32-35), hate your family (Luke 14:26), not associate with non believers (2 Corinthians 6:14), and the list goes on. If Pauls ministry is faith + 0, why does what he is saying sound like another replacement for the law?

    Thank you, Gary

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Gary,
      Thank you. Sound theology requires understanding to whom instruction was given. Jesus ministered to Jews, not to Gentiles (Matthew 10.5-6). He ministered under the Mosaic Law and came to fulfill the promises God gave to Israel (Romans 15.8). Reading the first two chapters of Luke provides a clear understanding of His mission and what the Jews looked for in their Messiah. The Church, the body of Christ, did not exist during Jesus’s earthly ministry. No equality existed among Jew and Gentile in Christ (cf. Matthew 18.15-17). The Church came into being after the risen Lord saved and commissioned Paul (see my article, The Church (The Body of Christ)). We are under orders from the heavenly, glorified Lord which He gave to Paul and are revealed in his letters. We are not the orders (except by application when they agree with Paul) the earthly Lord gave the Twelve. We are under the administration of grace, not under the administration of the Mosaic Law. To follow Jesus in His earthly ministry means obeying the Mosaic Law. This means no work on Saturday. If you pick up a stick on Saturday you are to be stoned. You cannot travel more than 3/5 mile on Saturday. It means not just obeying the 10 commandments but the whole Law–the 613 commandments delineated by Maimonides. Mixing instruction from Jesus’ earthly ministry and from His heavenly ministry to the Church results in confusion. Keep the two separate and everything falls into their proper place.

      • Becky says:

        Hi Don, so basically, to understand which of Jesus “teachings” in the four gospels apply to us, i.e., taking up our cross daily and following Him, they must agree with Paul’s doctrine-of-grace teaching which he received directly from Jesus?

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Becky,
          Yes. Many of Jesus’ teaching can apply to all believers. But for sound interpretation we must keep in mind to whom He spoke. There is a difference between interpretation and application.

  6. Becky says:

    Hi Don, Could you give me a little more insight on your statement that there is a difference between interpretation and application? I understand the meaning of both words but would like an example of the difference so my old brain can kickstart. Thanks so much for your writings, exhortations, and encouragement. I’ve been listening to Les and my understanding has just blossomed like the desert (I live in Arizona:) He takes such a close but simple look at the Scriptures. Just amazing.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Becky,
      Matthew 18.15-17 is used as a standard text for church discipline. Interpretively, Jesus spoke these words to a Jewish audience. The “church” in His address was not the Church, the body of Christ, but an assembly of Jews who believed Jesus was the promised Messiah. A recalcitrant brother was to be treated as a Gentile–hardly, language or behavior we would use in churches today. Applicationally, the passage is helpful for it provides sound guidance for discipline among all believers. Interpretation involves the who, what, to whom, when, i.e., the immediate context and/or those to whom it refers.

      • Becky says:

        Thanks, that clears things up!

      • Becky says:

        Don, the Lord revealed something wonderful to me just now. I was thinking about your answer on interpretation vs application and the woman in Matt 15:22-28 came to mind. It simplified even more how to continue gaining insight and understanding from Jesus in the four gospels that can be applicable for Gentile believers. And when we “see” and “hear” what Jesus is saying, then God is pleased because of our “great” faith (Heb 11:6)! Wow! What makes this even more awesome is that I am reminded of a daily activity in my home. I have a small table I set up everyday for my grandchildren to eat at. Our poodle loves this because children do drop more food off the table than grownups while they are eating. I’m always shooing her away; but I won’t do that anymore because from now on it will remind me of what I have seen this day. Actually, I prefer Mark’s verse in this case because it uses the word “children’s” instead of Matthew’s word, “Master’s”: Mark 7:28  And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.
        So many verses are coming to mind, from Hebrews, Colossians,…. It’s no wonder Paul said, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord……

  7. adam says:

    Hi Sir, can you explain Galatians 5:21? If one is born again but struggles in these areas and truly desires to abstain but finds it difficult will that person not go to heaven or is it refering to inheriting the benefits of the kingdom God during this life. Hoping for the day of the Lord to be delivered from all desires of sin..!! :) Thanks for your teachings

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Adam,
      As long as we are in our mortal bodies we will struggle with sin (Galatians 5.17). Each of us has areas of strength and weakness with respect to sin. Paul is exhorting believers to holy living for the kingdom of God (our destiny) will not contain sin. The reason Paul brought up the Law (Galatians 5.18) was because the Law actually excites sin. To reckon oneself dead to sin, to see oneself under grace rather than Law (Romans 6.14), to walk by the Spirit is the only way of victory in this warfare.

  8. Sue says:

    Hi Don,

    When you said Paul reprised the Decalogue, are you saying he instructed us to keep the sabbath holy ( surely a Jewish concept ) by going to church each Sunday?

    I totally concur we should continue to fellowship with other believers to encourage one another in our faith, but there is so much error that is perpetuated in many traditional
    Sunday Morning gatherings.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Sue,
      Thank you. I thought I had made this point in the paragraph before the chart but have added a comment in the chart to clarify our relationship to the Sabbath.

  9. Sue says:

    Hi Don

    Why is head covering in church no longer necessary?

    Thanks

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Sue,
      Feminine head coverings seemed to have conveyed a social meaning in Paul’s day. That meaning is lost in today’s society. God has provided a natural covering for woman by nature–long(er) hair.

  10. Tom says:

    Good article, but we must realize that we cannot live knowingly in a sinful lifestyle,, and expect to get into heaven. Sin cannot and will not be allowed in God,s presence. We must repent and come out of our sinful life style. Yes we live under grace, but that does not give us the right to keep on sinning, and think that everything will be okay. That God will just accept that. He will not. And it does not matter what that sin is. Homosexuality, adultery, lying, stealing murder. It is all sin, and must be repented of, or we will not get into heaven.
    Repentance means asking for forgiveness, and then turning our back on our sinful life.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Tom,
      Most important is to understand that the Law can only condemn and that salvation is only by faith alone–by believing Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). The Christian life can only be lived by faith.

  11. Vanessa says:

    Good Morning Doctrine,
    Though my question does not pertain to this article I was unsure of where to post it. We are still learning and studying and are so grateful to God for revealing Les Feldick and yourself to us.
    1 Peter verse 9 and 10 confuses us. Who is Peter speaking of here. Verse 9 he clearly is quoting the Old Testament. Then in verse 10 without question he is speaking about Gentiles. Can you shed some light as Gentiles were once not a people but we did obtain Mercy.
    Then in 1 Peter 1 verse 4 . If he is speaking to Jews why is there an inheritance reserved for them in heaven. Jews are earth dwellers. Are we reading this incorrectly. Thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Vanessa,
      Peter wrote to Jews (1 Peter 1.1). As for 1 Peter 1.4, compare it with Matthew 19.21. Jesus’ word’s “treasure in heaven” is a dative of source, not location. Everything the Jew looked for came from the Messiah, Who is presently in heaven. the kingdom is with the King and He will establish it upon the earth when He returns. In 1 Peter 1.9-10, grace was present throughout the Old Testament. See http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/Lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?strongs=H2580&t=KJV and see John 1.17. For us, believers of Paul’s gospel, grace is an administration. We are not under Law and we do nothing for salvation but believe the gospel, etc. God has blessed us with blessings that the Jews knew nothing of. Yet God’s blessings to Israel all come from His grace.

  12. GraceReceiver says:

    Can you please explain Isaiah 66:17, about the swine’s flesh? The context seems to be the end of the Tribulation….
    Do you think that Israel, during the Tribulation, is to follow the Mosaic Law? It seems to be a common teaching among right dividers. While I accept most of their teachings, I am having trouble understanding this one. They say that the remnant followed the Law, that they had to. The few verses used to support this are hardly conclusive.
    The Law was added “till the seed should come”, which says to me that it was done done done at the Cross, for everyone.
    But this Isaiah verse gives me pause.
    Thank you for all of the time that you spend answering questions!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      GraceReceiver,
      Based upon what the Lord taught in Matthew 24.20, Israel will be under the Law. The Temple will have been rebuilt and animal sacrifices will again be offered. The Antichrist will cause sacrifices to cease in the middle of the Tribulation (Daniel 11.31, 12.11 cf. Matthew 24.15).

  13. GraceReceiver says:

    So Galatians 3:19 says that the Law ended when Christ came, Hebrews 8:13 says that it’s READY to end, and the prophecies indicate that the Law will be followed in the Millennium.
    I hope that you can figure out what I’m asking.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      GraceReceiver,
      In these contexts Paul meant the Law had ended in terms of how God dealt with solving man’s sin problem. Christ’s sacrificial death met God’s requirement of justice which animal sacrifices could not do. Paul wrote that believers of his gospel are not “under” Law, that is, not under its administration. The Law’s administration has been replaced by grace and the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Twelve continued to practice the Law and this became a point of contention regarding salvation at the Council of Jerusalem twenty years after Pentecost. The Law will indeed be practiced in the Millennium but not in terms of God deals with sin. Christ fully finished that work. The Law in the Millennium will be written on hearts and the New covenant will replace the Old (Mosaic Law).

  14. GraceReceiver says:

    Thank you.
    So it won’t be the Mosaic Law followed in the Millennium – is this what you’re saying? I hope so. LOL
    I think that it’s safe to assume, then, that the food laws are part of the Mosaic Law that vanishes, right? Otherwise Peter would not have been told to “rise, kill, eat.” (Acts 10:13)
    But we see by Isaiah 66:17 that it’s still going to be an abomination to eat pork in the Millennium/?Tribulation?, unless I’m misunderstanding something.
    Have patience with me, please….I have trouble expressing myself.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      GraceReceiver,
      It appears the Jews will keep the dietary laws in the Millennium. What happened in Peter’s vision in Acts 10 seems to have been a one-time event. The Jewish believers were still practicing the Law in Acts 15 and James stated they were zealous for the Law in Acts 21.20. The Law for the Jew was a complete package–moral, civil, and ceremonial. Members of the body of Christ are under no such prohibitions but the Jews were and will be.

  15. Ronnie says:

    Thank you so much for your website. It has been so helpful to me and I have told many people about it.
    GOD bless you and the beautiful work that you do.
    Maranatha!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Ronnie,
      Thank you for your kind words. My goal is to write clearly as to what the Scriptures teach so people can understand them.

  16. Chuck Wehrheim says:

    Don,
    Regarding the comment: Paul declared that anyone who followed a gospel other than his was accursed (ἀνάθεμα, Galatians 1.8-9). I believe something of importance was lost in this comment. The key word lost is “preach” and “preaching”.

    Galatians 1:8-9New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

    Excellent article,
    Chuck

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Chuck,
      Thank you! Excellent point and I have edited my statement. Things are confused enough already without adding to the confusion.

  17. Roger Spielmann says:

    You wrote, “Most churches teach that the Church, the body of Christ, is under the Mosaic Law.” I personally do not know of any Christian church that teaches we are still under Mosaic Law. Perhaps I missed your point. Was it merely a heuristic device? If not, can you provide any example of a Christian church that teaches we are still under the Law?

    Thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      All reformed churches teach Christians are under the Law. Ask any covenant theologian. The “Lord’s Prayer” is Law and almost all congregations pray it. According to it, God’s forgiveness is based upon one’s forgiveness of others. That’s Law.

    • GraceReceiver says:

      Here is another example of Christian churches that teach that we are still under the Law: much of Christendom says that the 10 Commandments are for the body of Christ, even including #4, which has conveniently been “changed” to Sunday for us!

  18. Dawn says:

    Don,
    I’m hoping you will help me with a conversation I’m having with someone who holds to the torah. And this person teaches Paul taught the torah.
    He wrote to me the following:
    “Peter also prophesied that Paul’s writings would be twisted by those who are uneducated and that is what happened very early on.
    The reason I asked you about the New Covenant is that Jerermiah 31:31 is the ONLY place where God states who it’s for. Paul then says in Ephesians 2 that the Gentiles, who were strangers from the covenants and promises, are now fellow citizens of the commonwealth of Israel. Hence, the new covenant that Jesus brought is specifically for the house of Israel and the house of Judah. If we are not part of one of those houses then we have no part in the covenant. We must prove our positions from the OT first since that is where God makes first reference to everything that he had planned to do.
    Here’s a challenge for you: can show me where in Scripture we actually see the seven dispensations?”
    End of his quote. Where did Peter prophesies Paul’s teachings would be twisted?
    If you can help it would be appreciated

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Dawn,
      Your friend is essentially correct about the covenants. I deal with this in my article, Israel’s Covenants. The Peter/Paul reference is 2 Peter 3.14-16. The seven dispensations is subject to debate. It depends how one thinks about it. See my Framework of Scripture. There, I basically argue for 5 dispensations. The New Covenant is wholly spiritual because it deals with the indwelling Holy Spirit which Paul taught is a down payment of our redemption.

    • GraceReceiver says:

      Dawn,
      There is a website that I frequent called “joyfullygrowingrace.wordpress.com”. While they don’t rightly divide the Scriptures, it’s a great resource concerning this growing Hebrew-Roots Movement.
      I have three friends that are Torah-observant; they are very difficult to reason with. If you start feeling doubts, Dawn, I would recommend the above site, as well as of course doctrine.org!

  19. Joe says:

    In my early study I struggled with whom the New Cov. was for. I finally accepted the covenants are for Israel. The New Cov. is for Israel in the Kingdom but believers today benefit (all blessed) by direct association with the Holy Spirit in the Church Age.

    Accepting that the NC was for Israel only begged the question as to who/what is Israel. I think Christendom is divided on this and as a result so much confusion.

    It was Romans 9-11 that helped me understand.

    Doctrine, am I on the right track re: the New Cov. per se is for the Kingdom Age?

  20. becky says:

    Hi Don,
    I have a question. Paul never says anything about loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. But he does state this: Gal 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Have you addressed this in one of your studies? thanks, Don

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Becky,
      See also Romans 13.8-14. Paul had much more to say about God’s love for us and for us to one another. However, see 1 Corinthians 8.3 and 2 Corinthians 5.14.

  21. Becky says:

    Hi Don,
    I am very pleased with 1 Cor 8.3. In cross-referencing, i also find I Cor 2:9 and Rom 8:28. I was looking at the phrase “love OF God” this morning, trying to see if in certain verses it meant our love FOR God versus God’s love. I thought maybe the word “of” would translate to “for” but this is not the case, at least according to Strong’s. I would like to tap your knowledge on this, if you have the time.

    So it struck me this morning that we cannot love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; only Christ fulfilled that command. But by the grace of Jesus Christ, we can love God. Does Paul teach us how to “love God”? Would it be along the lines of “pleasing” God? Thanks so much

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Becky,
      God is love and as such initiates love. God made us with the ability to respond to Him. We can love Him because He initiated love towards us. Our love grows as we come to understand who God is and understand His goodness and grace to us. Paul’s doctrines teach us God’s grace to us. As we grow in these truths we love God.

  22. Sue says:

    Hi Don

    Has Jesus fulfilled the Law? If so how how does it work.

    Was this done at the cross?

    Thanks

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Sue,
      Jesus kept the Law in His earthly ministry and fulfilled all the legal requirements of redemption. He was the sacrifice that the animals sacrifices had been point to for hundreds of years. He satisfied God’s justice on the cross. His resurrection was proof God accepted His redemption of mankind. He removed the barrier of sin and death for all mankind.

  23. Elvie Manrique says:

    Hi Don,
    Galatians 3:1-2, 5 “did believers speak in tongues as proof that they received the Holy Spirit?” When did this sign end? Thanks

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Elvie,
      Tongues as evidence of salvation and receipt of the Holy Spirt occurred at Pentecost (Acts 2), with Peter and Cornelius (Acts 10), and with Paul with the believers who had been baptized by John’s baptism (Acts 19). Sign gifts ended before Paul was imprisoned in Rome. See my article, Sign Gifts: Valid Today?

  24. Elvie Manrique says:

    Hi Don,
    There are four “I” mentioned in Galatians 2:20. The first I “the old self” was crucified. The second I “the old creation” died with Christ. The third and fourth I is the new creation in Christ. The new creation will live by faith. Please explain further… Thanks

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Elvie,
      Galatians 2.20 can be translated, “by faith in the Son of God” or “by the faithfulness of the Son of God.” In the first, the emphasis is upon the means of life for the believer–living by faith. In the second, the emphasis is upon the faithfulness of Christ in accomplishing His mission. NASB and NIV prefer the former, KJV and NET the latter. I think there’s a little more weight for the latter.

  25. Tom Bittman says:

    Don thanks for this wonderful site and all your hard work!
    I ran across this quote by Myles Coverdale and would like to share it here for others if I might.
    Myles Coverdale produced the first complete printed translation of the Bible in English. He was born probably in the district known as Cover-dale, in that part of the North Riding of Yorkshire called Richmondshire, England, 1488. He died in London and was buried in St. Bartholomew’s Church Feb. 19, 1568.
    Here’s what he said: “It shall greatly help ye to understand the Scriptures if thou mark not only what is spoken or written, but of whom and to whom, with what words, at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstances, considering what goeth before and what followeth after. ”
    That’s what you help us to do!

  26. Becky says:

    Don,

    WOW! I loved this article! Thank you for confirming much of what I’ve come to understand from scripture study regarding Law and Grace . . . Many blessings and may our Holy Father continue to enrich and enlighten you so the Church may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

    P.S Are you familiar with Clarence Larkins’ books, specifically Dispensational Truth? I was taught from this book most of my early Christian walk and was wondering if some of it’s content has been refuted since it was written way back in 1912 and we have gained in knowledge since then. Since my teacher (my dad) passed I began reading scripture myself and found some inconsistencies with it so I’m just curious if you have any thoughts about it.

  27. Jerry Shaw says:

    (cf. Romans 9.6).
    Sorry for such a petty question, but what does the “cf” stand for?

  28. Jerry Shaw says:

    I was interested in the reference to Larkin earlier. Found a site with all his writings. He seems to support you MOST of the way. Sadly, he seems convinced that the Church began at Pentecost. Clearly, he missed the boat, too bad he never got to read Doctrine.org.

    1Co 15:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. “Born out of due time.”
    LOL

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Jerry,
      Larkin was a mainline Acts 2 dispensationalist. He was a brilliant chartist and the Lord used him mightily. The coming of the Holy Spirit was a Jewish, OT promise, and this is so clear by the fact Peter spoke only to Jews. Tragically, people such as Larkin could not overcome 1,900+ years of erroneous theology in this area. Tradition was too strong.

  29. Bobbi says:

    I love how we are under new management! Hee hee, that was great.(and true)

  30. George says:

    Hello bro Don, can u please help me with this verse: Romans 2:16 KJV
    [16] In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

    Do the men in this passage refer to all mankind and if so how can they be possibly be judged by a gospel that was only revealed to Paul? Maybe i am reading it wrong, how do you understand this passage? Thanks.,,

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      George,
      The great problem God solved was the problem of man’s sin. He did this through the death and resurrection of Christ. That is Paul’s gospel. So God will judge mankind based upon this work. Earlier generations did not know how God would solve the problem, but they responded or rejected God. Paul is looking at the ultimate solution, which is the basis of judgment.

  31. George says:

    I agree with you here, but when you specifically take Paul’s exclusive grace gospel, which entails eternal security for the body of Christ, i can’t see this gospel judging ot-kingdom/messianic believers, the gispel of the kingdom( which is based on performance) and Paul’s gospel( no performance) are incompatible, how then does Paul’s gospel trump all and in what way do you see the mechanics of this process where we see the secrets? Of all mankind being judged, please put it all together for me if you can much obliged:)

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      George,
      Ultimately, the unsaved in whatever economy, will be judged by Chris’ts finished work for it is what satisfied the justice of God. A person like Cain, though he did not know Christ would die for him and be raised from the dead will be judged by Christ’s work because Christ’s work satisfied the justice of God. Paul’s gospel is the end work of Christ and everything else anticipated it. Paul is writing from the perspective of this finished work.

  32. mark says:

    Good afternoon
    Can you please give me any information you may have concerning fasting. Is it part of the Law, are Christians required to fast in this age of Grace, do we fast from things other than food…. Please give scripture references.
    As always, thank you for your ministry

    Mark

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Mark,
      Very little information–only one verse other than Paul’s desciptions of his own situation. See 1 Corinthians 7.5; 2 Corinthians 6.5, 11.27.

  33. George says:

    Hello Bro Don, i know that Paul is our pattern, for today, but in some ways he is not. Take for instance Paul baptising, circumcizing, becoming somethong he is not to win souls, do we take stands against these errors or do we do like Paul, compromise our walk and beliefs to win souls?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      George,
      Our practice should be what is found in Paul’s letters. Acts was a transitional book and should not be used for Church doctrine. As for baptism, Paul made it clear that it was no longer a Christian practice in writing the Corinthians and a few years later, the Ephesians.

  34. Vanessa says:

    Hello Don,
    Hope you are well. How does one answer this question to a fellow Christian who has begun to embrace that White people. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) Her question is if God is doing the work in us which I support how come Paul leaves us instructions on how to live our lives. How does one answer that question. Thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Vanessa,
      Israel is the Jewish people. God gave Jacob the name Israel and he had 12 sons, the 12 tribes of Israel. They are from the line of Shem. Most “white people” come from Japheth. I have no idea where one would get the idea that “white people” are Israel. It is not in the Bible.

    • Bobbi says:

      Good morning Vanessa and Don,
      I wonder if because Paul was first in the Body, if that is why he explains how to live. Maybe to explain the things that have been taught him by the Lord Jesus so we will know what it looks like to have Christ in us. The Holy Spirit too helps us to affirm what were doing.
      This lie of the white people thing you spoke of, is is not found, and in fact is obviously untrue in that the Word says we are neither Jew nor Gentile, in the Body.
      Romans 2:11
      “For there is no respect of persons with God.”
      And Paul says in…
      1 Timothy 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
      13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
      14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
      15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
      16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
      17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

      It is apparent more than ever, that we need to prayerfully study and pay attention to doctrine. Is very sad to see all the ways of evil getting to believers. The closer we are to God the more we know He will teach us all things through the Holy Spirit.
      May the Lord keep you and all us in Him!

      Romans 8:24For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
      25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
      26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
      27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
      28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
      29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
      30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
      31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

      • doctrine doctrine says:

        Bobbi,
        I can’t imagine how anyone would come up the the idea that Israel is white people. Bizarre.

        • Bobbi says:

          Don,
          I’ve seen so many heretical things the last month:( We must be very close. I suppose it is another way to throw some off track. Sounds a bit like possible replacement theology… of a sort. It’s totally twisted.
          Hoping everyone sticks to the ‘simplicity in Christ. These things are from the enemy. One of his devices…

  35. George says:

    Thanks, Ok then, we follow Paul as he is given more revelation from Jesus.
    Another question i have that confuses me a little is when Peter went up to Galatia to see the body of Christ, were Peter and Barnabas eating unclean foods ? with the body of Christ, then pulled away from them when their kingdom flock appeared. Shouldn’t Paul scold Peter for comprimising Peter’s own kingdom program rather than pulling away from the body of Christ food fellowship, please shed some light, thanks again!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      George,
      Jews had no dealings with Gentiles. This is why Peter resisted going to Cornelius’ house. I do not know if the Gentiles were eating non-kosher foods. The issue was that Peter was fellowshipping with Gentile believers but when representatives of James came, Peter feared them and withdrew his fellowship. This demonstrated how far Peter’s status had fallen in Jerusalem. James was running everything. Peter was a has been. Paul’s upbraiding of Peter was for his hypocrisy and cowardice.

  36. Vanessa says:

    Thank you. However for me how do I look at this question.“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) My question is if God is doing the work in us which I support how come Paul leaves us instructions on how to live our lives. Thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Vanessa,
      The human will cooperates with the divine will. We are free agents. We still have both the fallen, Adamic nature and the new nature which is at war with God (Galatians 5.16-17). When we choose to believe and obey God, God uses our obedience to conform us to the image of Christ (Romans 8.29). Obedience will be the basis of future reward (1 Corinthians 3.11-15). Notice Paul stated this will continue until the Day of Christ, i.e., the Rapture. It is then that we will receive our resurrection bodies and be free from our fallen, Adamic natures.

  37. RonG says:

    G’Day Don,

    Long time no chat.

    In an earlier post in the comments you said regarding Galatians 5:17 and the sins that would prevent inheriting the kingdom of God…

    “… Paul is exhorting believers to holy living for the kingdom of God (our destiny) will not contain sin. ….”

    Given that the context of the chapter is comparing the futility of trying to add law. And given this was written post the Acts 15 council, couldn’t Paul be actually saying that the law empowers the fleshly sins mentioned and now, believing faith plus law saves, means that the person who dies believing this will not inherit the kingdom because only faith + 0 saves. The Kingdom program and therefore gospel can no longer save. It seems that this could be referring to trusting the wrong gospel for salvation for the wrong destiny, earthly kingdom not heaven. Just a thought…

    I hope I make sense in what I am saying.
    RonG

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      RonG,
      The Law was holy, righteous, and good but had no empowerment for good. The Holy Spirit, working in concert with faith and the new nature can produce good. At the end of the Council of Jerusalem, only one gospel remained–Paul’s gospel. Anyone who proclaims a different gospel is accursed (Galatians 1.6-9).

      • RonG says:

        Don,
        You seemed to be saying that the reference regarding the kingdom of God in this passage is to the Church, the Body of Christ….”…(our destiny..)”
        What I am asking is couldn’t Paul actually be referring to the Jewish(under law) earthly kingdom?

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          RonG,
          See my article, The Kingdom of God. Paul’s references to the kingdom of God were to His whole realm of rule: heaven and earth. It thus includes the Church and the earthly kingdom.

  38. Bobbi says:

    Vanessa,
    One thing I know all of us in Christ have learned or are learning, is to not trust in the deeds of ourselves, because in the flesh, (our physical body) which we will be in our bodies till Jesus comes as Don said,

    Phil. 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
    9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
    The “not having our own righteousness” being key I think.

    The thing is in the Body we have our hearts are :
    Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?

    Mark 7:21 – For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders…

    Romans 3:10As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
    11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
    12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

    Thus we have no righteousness of our own. So we need to trust God.

    Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
    6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

  39. anonymous says:

    you’re teaching work salvation if you’re saying that a homosexual has to stop being a homosexual or a liar has to stop being a liar or a thief has to stop being a thief to be saved if a person who save continues to those type of lifestyles they will lose their rewards crowns and inheritance but they’re still saved to teach otherwise is to teach Works salvation

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Anonymous,
      I never state this. Salvation is based solely upon trusting in the work of Christ on the cross and His resurrection. The Scriptures teach that once one comes to Christ, he is to live a holy, godly life, pleasing to God.

  40. anonymous says:

    Doctrine. Org I’m not stating that you said that please don’t get my comment confused wasn’t trying to accuse you of that we both know what salvation by grace alone is and I agree once a person has trusted Jesus Christ believing the good news about him they should live for him as many scriptures teach but if they never do they are still saved but will have no Rewards no crowns or rulership in Christ Kingdom

  41. anonymous says:

    I got mixed up with lordship salvation many years ago and it affected me really badly so I like to test what people say instead of just believing whatever they say even if they have so-called bible verses to go with it which they twist

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Anonymous,
      Lordship salvation perverts the Scriptures. One is saved by faith alone in the death and resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15.1-4).

  42. Jerry Shaw says:

    Dear Don,
    I am sure that everyone who writes to you begins with awesome gratitude to you for your site and blogs. I must add my name to that list. I hope this note finds you enjoying life.

    It is my intention to put together a book emphasizing the difference and importance of knowing the Gospel of the Kingdom for Israel and our Gospel of the Grace of God for Christians. Without question I owe much of my teaching in that subject to you and of course Les. I found you several years ago and consider that a tremendous blessing. You have completely turned me into a Bible geek, and for that I love you.

    I assume I need your written permission to include parts of your writings in my publication. I will also be in touch with Matthew McGee, Berean Bible Society, David Limbaugh and his Road to Emmaus, and Les.

    I would be grateful and proud to receive your permission. And glad to give you every possible acknowledgment of your work .

    If this is not possible, then I offer my heartfelt thanks for how much you have made my life better.

    Yours in Christ,

    Jerry W. Shaw
    921 Champion Ferry Rd
    Gaffney, SC 29342
    864-489-2623

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Jerry,
      Sure, that’s fine. My whole goal is for believers to be able to understand the Scriptures, grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and become conformed to His image. May the Lord bless your effort. Grace and peace.

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