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Many Christians1 believe the laws of God in the Old Testament are no longer pertinent under the New Covenant. Some preachers go so far as to declare that Yah¶s2 laws have been abolished and that we are no longer obligated to keep them. Why should we not believe the same ± especially since the Apostle Paul proclaimed: ³«[We] are not under law, but under grace«. (Romans 6:14)3 and ³«Christ is the end of the law«.´ (Romans 10:4)? At least twenty-seven additional New Testament Scriptures contain essentially the same declaration. With so much scriptural evidence testifying against the perpetuity of Yahweh¶s laws, how could anyone fail to come to the same conclusion? Why would anyone debate otherwise?
First Appearances Can Deceive
The initial evidence appears to support the dissolution of Yahweh¶s laws under the New Covenant. However, this evidence only offers one side of the story. Psalm 119:160 (NASB) instructs us that the sum of Yahweh¶s Word is truth. One cannot fully understand Yahweh¶s will on any doctrine until he has examined all Scripture pertaining to that doctrine. Most ministers present only the Scriptures that appear to suspend Yahweh¶s laws. Unfortunately, these ministers, who should be the champions and defenders of His laws, remain silent about the greater number of passages that uphold Yahweh¶s laws under the New Covenant. These Scriptures include:
Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. (1 Corinthians 7:19) «we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully. (1 Timothy 1:8)
Thirty-five additional New Testament Scriptures testify to the perpetuity of Yahweh¶s law under the New Covenant.
Faced With a Dilemma
Which are we to believe ± the twenty-nine New Testament Scriptures that appear to say Yahweh¶s laws are not for today, or the thirty-seven New Testament Scriptures that declare Yahweh¶s laws are still valid? If we begin with the premise that Yahweh¶s Word is inspired and does not contradict itself, then all sixtysix passages must be accepted and integrated. Those who promote the idea that Yahweh¶s laws are no longer pertinent during the New Covenant often cite the Apostle Paul¶s epistle to the Galatians to ³support´ their position:
But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. (Galatians 3:23-25)
Antinomian (anti-law) Christians are quick to announce, ³See, the law is no longer valid today!´ However, it must be asked, ³Which law?´ The Greek word nomos, from which the New Testament word ³law´ is translated, has a variety of New Testament applications:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Any law whatsoever. The law of Yeshua4 the Christ. The entire Old Testament, including the Psalms, Proverbs, and the Prophets. The first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Pentateuch. The Mosaic Covenant, including its sacrificial and ceremonial laws. The moral laws of Yahweh as contained in His commandments, statutes, and judgments.
Christians who teach Yahweh¶s laws are no longer relevant usually choose some combination of 5 and 6. Seldom do they consider the other options because, in most instances, no one has taught them other options exist.
The Correct Choice
Do Galatians 3 and the twenty-nine other New Testament Scriptures teach that Yahweh¶s commandments, statutes, and judgments have been abolished? In Galatians 3:16-17, Paul identified the law that was annulled as the law that was added four hundred and thirty years after the promises were given to Abraham. This means only what was added at Mt. Sinai was abolished under the New Covenant. Any law in existence prior to the Mosaic Covenant cannot be the law Yeshua repealed. Most Christians are unaware that Yahweh¶s moral law, specifically His commandments, statutes, and judgments, existed before their codification (into a Covenant) at Mt. Sinai. Although we have no evidence they existed in their entirety in written form, we do know they were verbally passed on from father to son among the Hebrews and Israelites.
Prior Existence of Yah¶s Laws
Evidence for the existence of Yahweh¶s laws before Mt. Sinai can be found in several locations. For example, Abraham kept the same laws later codified by Moses:
«Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. (Genesis 26:5)
The book of Jasher5 verifies and expounds upon Abraham¶s law observance:
«Abram served the Lord his God all the days of his life, and he walked in His ways and followed His law. (Jasher 12:42)
Over 500 years prior to Moses, Abraham reminds Isaac of Yahweh¶s instructions and then elaborates upon Yahweh¶s law:
«He [Yahweh] said unto me [Abraham], to thy seed I will give all the lands, and they shall inherit them when they keep my commandments, statutes and my judgments that I have commanded thee, and which I shall command them. (Jasher 26:24)
The structuring of Yahweh¶s moral law into three integral components ± commandments, statutes, and judgments ± is the same structure Moses later codified in the Pentateuch:
Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which YHWH6 your God commanded to teach you«. (Deuteronomy 6:1)
No written testimony of the commandments, statutes, and judgments exists in its entirety before Mt. Sinai, but they were nonetheless in existence. After all, they reflect Yahweh¶s nature and never-changing morality. They were verbally imparted from generation to generation, from Adam to Seth to Noah to Shem and on to their progeny. The Apostle John defines sin as a transgression of Yahweh¶s law:
«whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4)
When Paul declared the law (whatever it was) was ³added because of transgressions´ that occurred during the previous pre-Mosaic dispensation, he provided additional proof that Yahweh¶s moral law existed prior to Mt. Sinai. The sins alluded to by Paul in Galatians 3 were transgressions of Yahweh¶s commandments, statutes, and judgments during the period between Adam and Moses. Where there is no law, there can be no transgression; therefore, the moral laws of Yahweh existed before the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and could not have been the law that was added at Mt. Sinai. As a result, they also could not have been the added law abolished by Yeshua.7
The Added Law
If Yahweh¶s commandments, statutes, and judgments were not the law to which Paul alluded in Galatians 3, to what law was he referring? Hebrews 7:19-22 uses the words ³covenant´ and ³law´ interchangeably. Although comprised of other components, a covenant is a law itself, only more comprehensive in its scope and application. Galatians 3:19 refers to two different laws: one that existed before Mt. Sinai (the commandments, statutes, and judgments that the Hebrews transgressed) and the Covenant (containing those same commandments, statutes, and judgments) that was added at Mt. Sinai. Verse 19 is correctly interpreted in the following fashion:
Wherefore then serveth the law [Mosaic Covenant]? It was added because of transgressions [of Yahweh¶s commandments, statutes, and judgments during the Abrahamic Covenant]«. (Galatians 3:19)
Yahweh¶s commandments, statutes, and judgments were not the law added at Mt. Sinai, therefore they could not have been abolished under the New Covenant. The Mosaic Covenant was added at Mt. Sinai and was therefore the schoolmaster (mentioned in Galatians 3:24) that was abolished when Yeshua sacrificed Himself in payment for our sins. Many contemporary Christians believe the Old Covenant law was superseded by a ³higher´ New Covenant law. Although the New Covenant did supersede the Old Covenant (Hebrews 7:22, 8:6-7), it does not supersede the Old Covenant canon because the moral laws under both Covenants are the same. One covenant replaced the other, but the moral law of Yahweh is the same under both covenants.
Compulsory vs. Voluntary Compliance
The major difference between the Mosaic and Abrahamic Covenants was compulsory versus voluntary compliance. Paul wrote to the Galatian Christians that the law ± the Mosaic Covenant ± was added because of Israel¶s transgressions. Because the Israelites did not love Yahweh and their fellow man enough to freely comply with the moral laws in existence from the beginning with Adam, Yahweh put them under compulsory compliance ± ³in custody´ (Galatians 3:23 NASB) ± by way of the Mosaic
Covenant, which provided us a written record of Yahweh¶s moral code. Under that Covenant, the Israelites were compelled to keep His laws in order to be justified before God. Moses explained it in the following fashion:
«it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before YHWH our God, as he hath commanded us. (Deuteronomy 6:25)
It was this compulsory compliance for righteousness that Yeshua abolished:
«Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. (Romans 10:4)
Paul did not say that Yeshua was the end of the law period, but rather that He was the end of the law (the Mosaic Covenant) for righteousness. Yeshua was the end of the Mosaic Covenant, not Yahweh¶s commandments, statutes, and judgments. Contrast Deuteronomy 4:13 with Hebrews 8:8-10:
And he [Yahweh] declared unto you [Israel] his [Mosaic] covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone. (Deuteronomy 4:13) «Behold, the days come, saith YHWH, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah«. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith YHWH; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts«. (Hebrews 8:8-10)
Under the Mosaic Covenant, the Israelites were compelled to keep the commandments, statutes, and judgments, which had been written on stone. Under the Abrahamic and Christian Covenants (which are essentially the same), those same commandments, statutes, and judgments, written on our hearts and minds, were and are obeyed voluntarily. Yeshua¶s sacrifice and resurrection did not abolish Yahweh¶s law. Instead, it reestablished it as Yahweh initially intended it to have been observed. From the beginning, Yahweh¶s intent has been for His people to voluntarily keep His commandments, statutes, and judgments, thereby confirming His never-changing morality. New Covenant Christians are empowered by Yahweh¶s indwelling Spirit to do what was impossible under the Mosaic Covenant without His Spirit:
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit«. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you«. (Romans 8:4-9)
Because Yahweh¶s law is spiritual (Romans 7:14), we require the indwelling Spirit of God in order to keep it fully. Although obedience is voluntary under the New Covenant, anyone who does not obey Yahweh¶s laws is nevertheless carnal and at enmity with Him. Such a person does not love Yahweh, as demonstrated by his refusal to obey His laws (John 14:15, 21; 1 John 5:2-3), the transgression of which constitutes sin (1 John 3:4).
The Mosaic Covenant was added because of Israel¶s transgressions ³til the seed [Yeshua] should come.´ He has come, thereby abolishing the Mosaic Covenant. He did not, however, abolish Yahweh¶s moral law. God forbid He would abolish what was perfect:
The law of YHWH is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of YHWH is sure, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7) Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. (Romans 3:31)
1. Not everyone claiming to be a Christian has been properly instructed in the biblical plan of salvation. Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41, 22:1-16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:11-13; and 1 Peter 3:21 should be studied to understand what is required to be covered by the blood of Yeshua (Jesus¶ given Hebrew name) and forgiven of your sins. For a more thorough explanation concerning baptism and its relationship to salvation, the book Baptism: All You Wanted to Know and More may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for free. 2. Yah, found forty-eight times in the Hebrew Old Testament, is the abbreviated form of Yahweh, the principal Hebrew name of the God of the Bible. For a more thorough explanation concerning the sacred names of God (without resorting to unscriptural extremes), ³The Third Commandment´ may be read online, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH thy God in vain may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.* 3. All Scripture is quoted from the King James Version, unless otherwise noted. Portions of Scripture have been omitted for brevity. If you have any questions regarding a passage, please open your Bible and study the text to ensure it has been properly used. 4. Yeshua is the English transliteration of our Savior¶s given Hebrew name. Jesus is the English transliteration of the Greek Iesous, the Greek transliteration of the Savior¶s Hebrew name Yeshua, with which He introduced Himself to Saul on the road to Damascus in Acts 26:14-15. For a more thorough explanation concerning the use of the sacred names of God (without resorting to unscriptural extremes), ³The Third Commandment´ may be read online, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH thy God in vain may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.* 5. Although Jasher is not a part of canonized Scripture, it is cited in Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18 and referenced in 2 Timothy 3:8. 6. Where the Tetragrammaton YHWH ± the four Hebrew characters that represent the personal name of God ± has been unlawfully rendered the LORD or GOD in English translations, I have taken the liberty of correcting this error by inserting YHWH where appropriate. For a more thorough explanation concerning the sacred names of God (without resorting to unscriptural extremes), ³The Third Commandment´ may be read online, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH thy God in vain may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.* 7. Additional evidence for the prior existence of Yahweh¶s laws can be found at the times of Adam, Enoch, and Noah ± see Jasher 3, 34 and 35, and Genesis 4:9-10, 14; 7:2-3; 9:4-6, 23; 14:20; 18:19; 24:23; 28:22; 31:39; 34:7; 35:2-4; 38:8, 24; 39:9; and 42:22.
*We are admonished in Matthew 10:8 ³freely ye have received, freely give.´ Although we have a suggested a price for our books, we do not sell them. In keeping with 2 Corinthians 9:7, this ministry is supported by freewill offerings. If you cannot afford the suggested price, inform us of your situation, and we will be pleased to provide you with whatever you need for whatever you can send. You can read more at missiontoisrael.org.