Biblical law in Christianity

Biblical law in Christianity

Biblical law in Christianity generally refers to a discussion as to what and how the biblical law applies in a Christian context. There are diverse views of the issues involved.

Biblical law, commonly called Mosaic Law or Divine Law, refers to the statements or principles of law and ethics contained in the Pentateuch or Torah (in ; , ; , , ) of about 50 AD was the first meeting in early Christianity called upon to consider the application of Mosaic Law to the new community. Specifically, it had to consider whether new Gentile converts to Christianity were obligated to undergo circumcision for full membership in the Christian community, but it was conscious that the issue had wider implications.

At the time, the Christian community would have considered itself a part of the wider Jewish community, with most of the leaders of the Church being Jewish or Jewish proselytes.

The decision of the Council came to be called the "Apostolic Decree" () and instead see ) came into existence only with the Law of Moses, [ [ Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 103, a. 1] ] and were only temporary. The ceremonial commands were "ordained to the Divine worship "for that particular time" and to the foreshadowing of Christ". [ [ Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 102, a. 2] (emphasis added)] Accordingly, upon the coming of Christ they ceased to bind, [ [ Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 103, a. 3] ] and to observe them now would, Aquinas thought, be equivalent to declaring falsely that Christ has not yet come, for Christians a mortal sin. [ [ Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 103, a. 4] ]

Unlike the ceremonial and judicial precepts, which no longer apply, moral commands continue to bind, and are summed up in the Ten Commandments. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states::"2068 The Council of Trent teaches that the Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians and that the justified man is still bound to keep them; the Second Vatican Council confirms: 'The bishops, successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord ... the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments.'" :2070. The Ten Commandments belong to God's revelation. At the same time they teach us the true humanity of man. They bring to light the essential duties, and therefore, indirectly, the fundamental rights inherent in the nature of the human person. The Decalogue contains a privileged expression of the natural law: "From the beginning, God had implanted in the heart of man the precepts of the natural law. Then he was content to remind him of them. This was the Decalogue" (St. Irenaeus, "Adv. haeres." 4, 15, 1: PG 7/1, 1012).:2072. Since they express man's fundamental duties towards God and towards his neighbour, the Ten Commandments reveal, in their primordial content, grave obligations. They are fundamentally immutable, and they oblige always and everywhere. No one can dispense from them. The Ten Commandments are engraved by God in the human heart. [ [ "Part 3, Life in Christ: Section 2, The Ten Commandments: "Teacher, what must I do ...?"] ]

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Apostles [ [ Apostolic Letter "Dies Domini", 1;] [ The Catechism of the Council of Trent:] "The Jewish Sabbath Changed To Sunday By The Apostles"] instituted the religious celebration of Sunday, without transferring to it the ceremonial obligations associated with the Jewish Sabbath, [The choice of the last day of the week (Saturday) and the rules about the precise manner of keeping that day holy are seen as ceremonial precepts like those about abstension from eating pork or from having sex with a woman during her periods.] though later some of these obligations became attached to Sunday, not without opposition within the Church. [ [ Catholic Encyclopedia: "Sunday"] ] The Roman Catholic Church thus applies to Sunday, the Lord's Day, the Third [The Roman Catholic and Lutheran numbering of the Ten Commandments, which are often abbreviated for catechetical purposes (see [ Catechism of the Catholic Church: "The Ten Commandments"] ), differs from that followed by other Protestants.] Commandment about keeping a particular day holy, see also Sabbath in Christianity.

The evangelical counsels, which, as the phrase itself indicates, are not precepts but counsels that Jesus gave in the Gospels, are unrelated to the distinction between the permanent moral and transient ceremonial and judicial precepts of the Law of Moses or to any distinction that may be made among its precepts. [Cf. says Jesus "takes away the first, that he may establish the second", and , ) are understood, in this view, as annulling at least parts of the Law, then the whole Law must be terminated. [Strickland, et al., "Five Views on Law and Gospel". (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993).]

Furthermore, this view holds that Mosaic Laws and the penalties attached to them were limited to the particular historical and theological setting of the Old Testament. In that view, the Law was given to Israel and does not apply since the New Covenant.

Replacing the Mosaic Law is the “Law of Christ” ( and and is also a disputed translation: the "Scholars Version" [Miller, Robert J. Editor "The Complete Gospels" Polebridge Press 1994 ISBN 0-06-065587-9] has: "This is how everything we eat is purified", Gaus' "Unvarnished New Testament" [Gaus, Andy. "The Unvarnished New Testament" 1991 ISBN 0-933999-99-2] has: "purging all that is eaten." See also [ Strong's G2511] .

Others note that Peter had never eaten anything that was not kosher many years after Acts 2 (Pentecost). To the heavenly vision he announced: "Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean." (, , and preached about Ten Commandment topics such as idolatry (, , ). Many Christians believe that the Sermon on the Mount is a form of commentary on the Ten Commandments. In the Expounding of the Law, Jesus said that he did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it; while in Marcion's version of Luke 23:2 we find the extension: "We found this fellow perverting the nation "and destroying the law and the prophets". [ [ Ante-Nicene Fathers: Tertullian: Against Marcion: Dr. Holmes' Note] : "In [Luke 23:2] , after the words "perverting the nation," Marcion added, "and destroying the law and the prophets; [ Gospel of Marcion: Jesus Before Pilate and Herod] ] See also Adherence to the Law and Antithesis of the Law.

Recent scholarship

Leading scholar F. F. Bruce was typical of most scholars of his generation. Unlike his denominational affiliation, he did not support dispensationalism. Other recent scholars influential in the debate regarding the law include Rudolf Bultmann, Heikki Räisänen, Klyne Snodgrass, C. E. B. Cranfield and others, as well as those involved with the New Perspectives movement (see below).

Krister Stendahl argued in "The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West" [Krister Stendahl. "The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West". "Harvard Theological Review" 56 (1963), pp. 199–215. Reprinted in "Paul Among Jews and Gentiles" (Philadelphia: Fortress), 1976, pp. 78–96.] that since Augustine, Western commentators have misunderstood Paul, due to an overly active conscience.

New Perspective on Paul

The "New Perspective on Paul" is a controversial and substantial shift in New Testament scholarship within Protestantism, particularly regarding Paul's writings on Judaism, justification by faith, and imputed righteousness. It become prominent with the work of E. P. Sanders, particularly in "Paul and Palestinian Judaism" (1977), and has also been described as the "Sanders Revolution". It claims that Protestants have read Paul and Judaism in the light of sixteenth-century Catholic-Protestant debates. It claims Judaism is not a religion of self-righteousness whereby humankind seeks to merit salvation before God, and that Paul's argument with the Judaizers was not about Christian grace versus Jewish legalism.

James Dunn and N. T. Wright are two of the leading supporters. It is opposed by John Piper, Don Carson and many other theologians.

N. T. Wright believes the Reformed (Calvinistic) tradition is more faithful to Paul than the Lutheran tradition, and does consider himself to be legitimately within the Reformed tradition.

See also

* Religious law
* Hebrew Bible/Old Testament/Tanakh
* Pentateuch/Torah
* Ten Commandments
* Sermon on the Mount, Expounding of the Law, The Law of Christ
* Law and Gospel
* Covenant Theology, Covenant (biblical), New Covenant, New Testament
* Christianity and Judaism, Judeo-Christian, Jewish Christians, Messianic Judaism, Christian Torah-submission, Judaizers
* Dispensationalism, New Perspective on Paul, Antinomianism, New Covenant Theology
* Cultural and historical background of Jesus
* Sabbath in Christianity, Circumcision in the Bible
* Legalism (theology)
* Canon law
* The Fig Tree
* External "Naskh" (Abrogation)


Further reading


* Gundry, ed., "Five Views on Law and Gospel." Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993. ISBN 0310212715

External links

* [ "New Testament": For and Against the Law] in the "Jewish Encyclopedia"
* [ "Jesus": Attitude Toward the Law] in the "Jewish Encyclopedia"
* [ "Saul of Tarsus": Paul's Opposition to the Law] in the "Jewish Encyclopedia"

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