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a. What is ³the law´ according to the Apostle Paul? Explain the different usage of this word in his letters. b. What is the place of ³the Mosiac Law´ for the Christian according to Paul, give some specific examples. c. Explain the relationship between ³law and grace´ in Paul¶s writings. d. Of the five views on law and grace, which view do you prefer? Give reasons. e. ³I have become all things to all men´ 1 Cor. 9:22. Was Paul a relativist?
By, Jonathan Paran Aran (B. Th) (Mail box no. 77)
Christian Ethics Elder Jack Mock Malaysia Bible Seminary 21 October 2010/Semester II
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. it blends well in what the Hebrew word torah understand as the OT. 2 Noting this evidence. 2004). He further explain that ³..14). 14:21. Westerhold.when Paul speaks of a passage in Isaiah as coming from the ³law´ (1 Cor. See more in 298 -299 3 Ibid. Paul in a more specific sense tell us that law ³refers to the sum of specific divine requirements given to Israel through Moses. something that could be ³done´ (v.a) What is ³the law´ according to the Apostle Paul? Explain the different usage of this word in his letters. Stephen.´1 Thus on this detail we can note that ³law´ in its general sense of how Paul used the word incorporates the understanding that it is to the whole of the Jewish scriptures he is noting. of Isa. Westerholm notes that in designating nomos. Pg 299 1 2 . Pg 298 2 Westerholm also takes note of passages in Galation 6:13 where Paul¶s opponents are those who do not keep the law and more strikingly in Rom 7:7-12 where law is used interchangeably. his extension of the term ³law´ to include the sacred Scriptures as a whole can be paralled in both Greek and Hebrew sources. Perspectives Old and New: The ³Lutheran´ Paul and his Critics.13) and ³kept´ (v. Another way in which Paul mentions law is to designate it to something that is specific namely the Mosaic Laws. was something that Gentiles did not possess (v. Westerholm.17-18).. 3:10-18) as evidence of what ³the law says´ (v.27). arguing from Romans 2 notes some peculiarity in how Paul used the word. when Paul mentions ³the law´ in a general sense of his use it points to the whole of the OT scriptures but in a more specific sense it talks about the Mosaic Law given to the Israelite community. The law.19). 28:11-12). the Greek term for law. and provides a series of quotations from the Psalms and Isaiah (Rom. This according to Westerholm is not disputed and many agree with this understanding. that Jews used it to know God¶s direction in how to live (vv. The idea gleaned here is that Paul cauld not have wanted to point to the whole OT scriptures but to something more specific. The Greek term for what Paul used for law is nomos. noting details above.´3 Therefore.
While Paul¶s criticism of the Mosaic Law is not in the nature of the law but what it was unable to do in accordance with salvation.4 Wayne G. But one thing needs to be pointed out. What is the place of ³the Mosiac Law´ for the Christian according to Paul. 2009). Douglas. On a general basis law is seen as the bulk of the Old Testament Scriptures as a whole. in Gundry. Stanley (Ed). As we have seen above the context and Paul¶s use of the law in his arguments will determine what he means by telling his reader which designation of the law he is talking about. Four can be mentioned looking to Romans where the law is seen as a controlling power (2:17-20. while the control of the Mosaic law has ceased in the coming of Christ. In further detail.The Indelible Image: The Theological and Ethical Thought World of the New Testament. 9:31. namely the law of Christ.We can also note the different usages of the word ³law´ in Paul¶s letters. In a third usage of law. Five Views on Law and Gospel. Ben. Strickland states this as the third way in which Paul used law and this has its association to Christ. (Downers Grove: IVP. Paul point to law in a specific sense where he designates it as the Mosaic Law that was given to the Israelite community at Sinai.5 References to this law can be seen in passages such as Romans 8:2-3 and is in contrast to the Mosaic Law. a new law supersedes it. Pg 236 5 Moo. give some specific examples. Paul presents it as a Christian understanding where. The Law of Christ as a Fulfilment of the Law of Moses. 247 6 Ibid 247 4 3 . the whole OT (3:19) and a principle (3:27). Paul tell us of another law in which Christians are to ascribe to. and that is the law of Christ. 10:3-5). 1999). One might get confused if one reads Paul and interprets his use by designating the meaning of law in one meaning. b.(Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Witherington. the Pentateuch (3:21b).6 On this note that we can conclude that Paul in how he used µlaw¶ he used it in three different ways of understanding.
2008) 11 Ibid 139 8 7 4 . Most. (Lake Mary. As for misunderstanding. His Mission an d His Message. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan. According to Bird. (Grand Rapids: IVP. Michael F. 10 and 2 Corinthians 3´ are where Paul explains the ³weakness of the law. Many find it a grappling issue concerning how Paul viewed the ³Mosaic Law. cf. contend for an extreme view that the law has nothing to do with the life of the Christian. The Law of Christ as a Fulfilment of the Law of Moses. 6:14. Paul could also be seen as seeing the Law as coming to an end where he states that ³³Christ is the end of the law´ (Rom. passages such as ³Galatians 3-4. apparently the contention of most Christians is that the death and resurrection of Christ has nullified the law and thus we are now living under the rule of grace and not law. Green. righteous and good´ (Rom 7:12) and that he upholds it (Rom 3:31). ³you are not under law´ (Rom. Joseph.15). what can be said about the place of the Mosaic Law for the Christian according to Paul? Michael Bird in his concise book ³A Bird¶s Eye View of Paul´10 discusses this sufficiently and shows us Paul¶s view concerning the place of the Mosaic Law for the Christian. Joseph Prince who is an advocate for this view where Grace has overridden the Law. Unmerited Favor. 9:19-22 where it seems he was somewhat of a relativist (This issue will be dealt with in detail later). Pg 319 This type of teaching is made popular among Asian Churches by Pr. A Bird¶s Eye View of Paul: The Man. 2009). Pg 264-265 10 Bird. Lynn H.´ 7 More daunting is what Paul said in 1 Cor. Florida: Charisma House.There might be two issues that pose confusion as well as misunderstanding concerning the place of the Mosaic Law according to Paul. Cohick.´11 He gives examples of Moo. See for example Prince.8 Such views were also contested by the New Perspective which has done some extensive work in reconstructing an understanding of ³Paul¶s theology in the light of his Jewish context. thus. Gary. Douglas. Gene L. The New Testament in Antiquity: A Survey of The New Testament Within Its Cultural Contexts. 10:4a). 2010) 9 See more on this in Burge. There are instances where Paul seemed to have a positive stance to the Mosaic Law where he says that it is ³holy. Romans 6-8. V.´ Was he positive or was he negative about that which was so central to the Jewish faith and community.´9 Amidst the rubble of these two issues.
7:7-13. Pg139-140 15 Moo. 3:5-8. there are three main functions of Law according to Paul. Pg 338 18 Bird. the law heightens human¶s sinfulness against God¶s holiness (Rom. Rom 10:5) he quotes Leviticus 18:5: µThe one who does these things [obeys the law] will live by them. Gal. he says. Pg 140 19 Ibid. pg 335 16 Bird. 2:16). A Bird¶s Eye View of Paul: The Man. 3:21-22.´ 12 Bird further explains that the law. The Law of Christ as a Fulfilment of the Law of Moses. Pg 139 Ibid.¶ but due to disobedience the law brings curses instead of life. 2:17). Douglas. 10:3. 17-24.20 This implies the demise of the law in chartering authority for the Christian. did not have the power to redeem (Gal. Michael F. Paul is not promoting a radical denying of the law. 3:12. Hill 12 13 Bird. where it served as a guardian for the Jewish community on the Old Testament16 to ³direct their behaviours until the time of maturity. 5 . ³which is bound up with the old age´ is further intertwined in a triangle of forces. 14 Ibid. Michael F. His Mission and His Message . 5:7. 20 Ibid. Michael F. which has now been superseded in Christ. though being holy and ascribed to God. A Bird¶s Eye View of Paul: The Man. A Bird¶s Eye View of Paul: The Man. 14 Moo elaborates that the law is not just a mere representation of God¶s character for knowledge.15 Second. everyone can now be justified and live in righteousness (Gal.this where ³In two places (Gal. 1 Cor. the law served as a shadow to introduce a clearer picture in Jesus (Rom. but requires conformity where humanity always fails to ascribe to. Galatians 3:15-25 makes the case that states the temporal function of the law. following the presentation given by Bird. 13 After laying this out. 18 Thus from the description above the law. 2:21) 19but in the coming of Jesus and the Spirit. The Law of Christ as a Fulfilment of the Law of Moses. Col. ³consisting of law-sin-death´ which ultimately condemns both Jews and Gentiles 139 and where under it blessing and salvation is confined to Israel alone. 19-20. His Mission and His Message . 4:4-6). but the Spirit gives life¶. First. µthe letter kills. Pg 140 17 Moo. 2:2-4. His Mission and His Message . In 2 Corinthians 3:6. But before one tries to argue freedom in excess.17 Third. Douglas.´ marked in the coming of the promised messiah.
We find Paul making this distinction as well in Rom 13:10. But as we have discussed earlier in point (a) and (b) concerning Paul¶s use of the term µlaw¶ and what significance it has for the Christian life.explains this by saying that. In that manner. Bird gives a good explanation of this new law as ³signifying the full range of commands and exhortations that belong to the messianic age inaugurated by Christ.22 Thought the law reaches its goal in Christ. encapsulated continuity paved by interpreting it in Christ.21 Thus one can then state that there is a sense of continuity between the Old Covenant and the New. 2002) Pg. the teaching of Christ and the law of love. Most people might make stark contrast when law and grace come head to head where the former is seen as something negative and the latter positive. (Kingsford NSW: Matthias Media. in a specific sense. Law and grace can also be compared in a manner where the former requires work and the latter requires faith and belief. not enslaved to sin but to righteousness (Rom 6:18). which would include the example of Christ. 6:1). the foreshadowing aspects of the Old Covenant warrants us to learn the implications of what it means for us in the NT. 75 22 23 21 ibid Bird 145 6 . 6:2). This is in other words a law that paves a new way of living.´ 23This best describes how the Mosaic law though being superseded. law as understood as the µMosaic law. informs the New. the Old. Explain the relationship between ³law and grace´ in Paul¶s writings. The How and Why of Love: An Introduction to Evangelical Ethics. although Christ is the fulfilment of the Old Covenant and its law. c. Michael. which Paul states as the law of Christ (Gal.¶ When we put it Hill. Freedom from law actually opens up a new law taking place. The law condemns and grace gives life and access to God. it does not negate a life of open freedom as what others might have thought of Paul (Rom.
Paul elaborates that a righteousness apart from law is made available by putting faith in Jesus through grace that was provided (3:21-24). eds. grace on the other hand speaks of a different kind of realization. c1993). pg 373 25 Ibid. which is solely of grace (Eph. good works are to be the very centre piece of the life of gratitude. it is undeserved favour. In Paul¶s usage of grace which is charis in the Greek ³carries the basic sense of ³favour´. the Mosaic Law.´ Where ³while works of the Law (Gal. Hawthorne. Explaining further. (Downer¶s Grove. according to Paul has been superseded by Christ and under him a new Law evolves. which is the law of Christ.. Daniel G. Ralph P. Though the notion of the graciousness of God seems to encourage sin (Rom. Paul is seen as arguing this with a definite ³No. acting in grace towards humankind. where righteousness fails to be exemplified. 2:10).´25 This grace encourages a response of gratitude which entails ethical behaviour.and when God or Christ is its subject. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Martin. law in a specific sense. 1998.in this manner.. but the nature of humanity which is marred by sin is condemned... 24 7 . Gerald F.. 2:8-9). 2:16.. Ideally hearers of Paul would be shocked as to hear some of the ideas Paul presents in this letter.. 6:1). being µunder sin¶ (3:9) and that it is through the law humanity is made conscious of their sin (3:20). and Reid.´24 372 Paul¶s letter to the Romans present to us some needed detail concerning the controversy displayed on the misconception of what Paul means by not being under law now but under grace (6:14). While we noted in (a) and (b) that through the Law.) have no part in justification. IL: InterVarsity Press. which is to characterize those who have been saved by God¶s grace (Eph. Stating that the law was unable to produce righteousness in humanity (3:20) and summing up that Jews and Gentiles suffer the same fate.
But grace should be place more in the nature of God in both Old Testament and the New. the Mosaic law. 27 Taking note of the considerations made above one can conclude here that. Of the five views on law and grace provided. This is not done by any means of µwork¶ but based on God¶s continuing character seen in the Old Testament who chose Israel not on the basis of what she did. the OT and Jewish literature also echoes this idea as well. which is superseded in the coming of Christ become the Christian¶s hinge for placing their trust as well as becoming their ethical dimension. I resonate more towards the view presented by Douglas J. (Downers Grove: IVP.Some might have the misconception that grace is a New Testament Christian invention but Witherington argues otherwise. He states that Jesus. though not being the first Jew who modelled this idea where God was merciful. Moo which states that the law of Christ is the fulfilment of the Law of Moses. 2009) Pg 218 27 ibid 8 . The Indelible Image: The Theological and Ethical Thought World of the New Testament. forgiving and loving. righteousness is given out to those who put trust in the one who now takes over the role of the law now for the Christian. which view do you prefer? Give reasons. as noted above as well. 26 Witherington. By placing faith in Jesus. Moving on to the New Testament.26 The problem might where some who designate grace as tied only to the NT might be that the concept of God being gracious is tied tightly to Christology. d. This view can also be known as a modified Lutheran view. Ben. Of the five views on law and grace. grace need not be seen as opposed to law in a sense that grace is seen as a licence to sin. we see grace being administered in both the Old and the New. God in his grace liberated the Jews in the Exodus narrative and in doing so gave them laws to live by in accordance with his character.
´29 Using texts such as Rom 3:19-20 and 7:7-12 denotes to specify that the law. Pg 338 30 Ibid. the law also has its disabilities. Pg 335 Ibid. 1. Pg 339 31 Ibid. Gal. ³In the law God says in the effect: ³Here is who I am. The Law of Christ as a Fulfilment of the Law of Moses. flee Moo.´ In seeing the impossibility of ever achieving by works the holiness that God demands. when the promised Messiah would be revealed (cf. and here is what you must do be to if you want to stand before me.. (1) this presentation upholds the value of law. the law is unable to bring them salvation. in my contention a balanced view of the Mosaic law.The reason of my preference to this view can be stated in three points which can be stated as. According to Moo.31 Moo further explains this more clearly where. For the Israelites the Mosaic law plays a prominent role in the life and faith of the people. Pg 327 29 28 9 . it implies that one conform to that character or face the punishment of disobedience. although revealing God¶s character. the pious Israelite would. 4:1-7). specifically the mosaic law. although revealing God¶s character heightens the realization of sin. Because of the sin in humanity. specifically the mosaic law Moo gives. Douglas.30 Thus..´the Mosaic law functioned among the people of Israel to direct their behaviour until the time of their maturity. as God intended. This View upholds the value of law. bringing these views in perspective the Mosaic law is revered because it is holy.28 In accordance to Galatians 3:24. Although giving the Mosiac law its primary place in the how it reveals God and what he desires for the people to confer in by way of how to live. (2) this presentation sees the discontinuity of the mosaic law at the coming of Christ. and (3) it is to the Law of Christ in which the Christian must abide to now.
Hos. wherein can be found the only means of righteousness actually available to sinful humanity. rather. 36 Ibid. 31:32). Pg 345 33 32 10 .´37 Moo. ³The entire Mosaic law comes to fulfilment in Christ. is now guided directly by ³the law of Christ. but a new arrangement. 9:7-14.´ This ³law´ does consist of legal prescriptions and ordinances.´32 2. 344 Adding further emphasis to the discontinuity of the Mosaic law is the passage in Jeremiah where ³The covenant is no simple renewal of the Mosaic covenant.´35 Another potent argument that Moo makes is that since the Mosaic Law has some striking resemblance to ³second millennium B. Pg 344 35 Ibid. or judge of. Pg 343 34 Ibid. Discontinuity of the mosaic law at the coming of Christ It is helpful to start this point by stating to Moo¶s thesis concerning this.. Douglas. 37 Ibid. The Law of Christ as a Fulfilment of the Law of Moses. the repeated disobedience of Israel puts the continuation of the Mosaic law is jeopardized (Dan. but of the teaching and example of Jesus and the apostles.´33 In the insistence on the discontinuity of Mosaic law. Christian behaviour. 6:7. ³not. Also. 8:1). and this fulfilment means that this law is no longer a direct and immediate source of.C. the central demand of love. the conduct of God¶s people. Pg 327 Ibid.´34 Other NT writers express the confined validity of the Mosaic law and from this ³it is clear that we cannot press these Old Testament texts to prove the eternal applicability of the Mosaic commandments. and the guiding influence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Moo draws our attention concerning the English word used ³eternal´ and ³everlasting´ were words that was used to translate the Hebrew word to mean ³lasting for an age.. Hittite ³suzerainty´ treaties´36 implies the limited and contextual leanings of the Mosaic law.like the covenant I made with their forefathers´ (Jer.faith to the mercy of God.
³reenacting its events by making demands to which the law pointed forward. Following Moo¶s suggestion we focus our attention to Matthew 5:17-48. 10:4) where he saw Christ as both the goal and end of the law.43 But what is this law of Christ? Central to this insistence is that it is love that gets the main focus in how we are to understand the law of Christ.44369 (Gal 5:1-6) 38 In stating this I am simply noting the general understanding of most Christians that Jesus¶ coming eliminates the stipulations of the law. Pg 358 44 Ibid. Pg 369 11 . 40 Moo goes on to mention that. The understanding that Jesus¶ coming has begun the µdenunciation38. it is not a set of rules but principles derived from Christ teaching and life. there are two popular views held in interpreting in what is generally know as the antithesis passages where (a) Jesus was seen as giving the correct interpretation over against the distorted meanings given and (b) Jesus was giving a more deeper meaning of the law. how Jesus actually fulfils the Mosiac law is by way of him.¶ the Mosaic law.3. For one thing. Douglas. Pg 348 40 Ibid. The Law of Christ is the Fulfilment of the Mosaic law This is a generally held belief particularly among most evangelical or Christians alike.39 But a strict leaning to each interpretive suggestion does not help in giving a good understanding to this. Pg 352 42 Ibid. The Law of Christ as a Fulfilment of the Law of Moses.42 This can be further reasserted by Paul (Rom. applied in specific situation by the wisdom and direction of the Holy Spirit and with the central motivation of love. But to understand this we have to come to an understanding of what is meant by Jesus fulfilling the Mosaic law. 43 Ibid.´41 By pointing forward Jesus was basically proclaiming the kingdom righteousness that the law was anticipating. 39 Moo. Following his study. Pg 348-350 41 Ibid.
48 Ibid. in combining the three points together. with a degree of ³flexibility and subordination´ which boarders ³racial and religious groupings. Was Paul A Relativist?. which is paved by a cultural understanding of what being a slave meant. This then ascribes the Christian to abide under a new rule which is now being under the law of Christ.). became the interpretation tool that Paul used in expressing his obligation to Christ. making another comment on the same word.49 Paul strived under the belt of contextualization. Pg 166-167 12 . Was Paul a relativist? According to Barton. taking into consideration the condition and situation of his listeners. Pg 268 Barton. according to Barton is ³an obligation finding expression in the service of others for whom Christ died also (1 Cor. 45 e. and namely in this manner winning other to Christ. But since being free. Paul used it in a pastoral sense where concern for the µweak¶ was in response to his winning people to Christ. 9:22. Stephen. it does not denote being free to do one¶s will but now being bound under the Lordship of Christ. Pg 166 47 Ibid.´46 Making comments on the word µwin. This obligation. this view gives a balanced position where it insists that the Christian is not free from the law (God¶s general will) but this freedom is from the stipulation of the Mosaic law.48 Thus Barton sees the conversion of a Christian is tied with the obligation of glorifying Christ in all areas.) ³I have become all things to all men´ 1 Cor. Paul¶s understanding. Five Views on Lawand Gospel.Thus. marks his practice where his main thrust was µby all 45 46 Gundry. Ed. 49 Ibid.47 Secondly. 4:5).¶ Barton asserts that this usage reflects a ³more liberal missionary practice´ but that Paul¶s accommodation in winning others was at the expense of abandoning the law. Stanley N (Gen.
be it Gentile or Jew. Paul¶s allegiance is first and foremost to Christ.56 This understanding does not play out in where Paul is reverting to a set of codes but this is explained by way of sacrificial service (Gal. Was Paul A Relativist? Pg 167 Ibid. 6:2) in the context of love which is invoked by their life in the Spirit 50 51 Barton. a service finding expression in costly identification with men still bound to the law. 54 Barton further elaborates on this.51 Barton further comments that.´52 Paul¶s statement on being a gentile to win the gentiles is filled with controversy especially to the Jew. Stephen. 53 But this expression should not put into question Paul¶s obligation to God. First. Pg 168 54 Ibid. Paul¶s acceptance of the law of Christ marks his departure from ³the casuistic living-according-to-rules which he sees as endemic to conformity to an external code. rather.´55 Secondly his designation of being under the law of Christ conjures that Paul now ascribes to a different set of µrules¶ for living. Barton expresses Paul¶s statement ³To the Jews I become as a Jew. 52 Ibid. Pg 168-169 56 Ibid. 9:20) in implying that it denotes Paul¶s discontinued allegiance of µbeing a Jew.means to save some. his obligation. ³It is the great paradox of Paul¶s concept of freedom that while the gospel has freed him from the way of the law. not bound by any boundary. 55 Ibid.¶ But at this point this freedom allows him to also adopt Jewish-law keeping for the reason of eradicating possible offence in his missionary activity among the Jews. 9:22)´50 Further.¶ (1 Cor. But as Barton argues. in order to win the Jews¶ (1 Cor. Pg 169 13 . is now found in Christ which now informs how he is to live. instead to the Mosaic law. 53 Ibid. it has freed him for service. What is important is that his allegiance stays true to the gospel and for the sake of the gospel.
and that is Christ. In further explaining.59 In this case we can say with confidence that Paul was not a relativist. although being free is bound by another. But this should not spell freedom without a sense of control. Pg 171-173 14 . 57 58 Barton. The Christian. 58 170-171 Freedom for the Christian is not under the authority of Law (which separates and is based on the ethnic ethic of a specific group.and which is displayed in the life of the believer by way of the fruits of the Spirit which are displayed in the life of the believer. 57 In other words the law of Christ is not based on a set of codes where Christians are to follow in the sayings of Jesus but this is informed by placing love as the epicentre of Paul¶s understanding of this law of Christ. Pg 170-171 59 Ibid. Paul calls this as being under the law of Christ. Stephen. Jews) which frees the Christian to adapt and accommodate for the sake of winning others to Christ. not in codes but by way of service and by direction of the Spirit. the law of Christ is not a new mosaic code but one that finds its ethic in love of the other by way of service invoked by the indwelling of the Spirit and exemplified in the life of the believer by way of the fruit of the Spirit which makes the mark of being under the law of Christ. This law is the one that necessitates a Christian Ethic for living. Was Paul A Relativist? Pg 179 Ibid.
A Bird¶s Eye View of Paul: The Man. 2009). Gary. IL: InterVarsity Press. Gene L. Witherington.(Grand Rapids: Zondervan. (Downers Grove: IVP. The How and Why of Love: An Introduction to Evangelical Ethics. Green. c1993). Lynn H. Ben. and Reid. (Downer¶s Grove. Stanley (Ed). The New Testament in Antiquity: A Survey of The New Testament Within Its Cultural Contexts. 2009).2008) 3. 1999). Michael F. eds. Stephen. Burge. Was Paul A Relativist? (Source Unknown) 2. Gundry. Five Views on Law and Gospel. 247 5. Michael. Cohick. 15 . Ralph P. 4.. (Kingsford NSW: Matthias Media..The Indelible Image: The Theological and Ethical Thought World of the New Testament. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Barton.Bibliography: 1. His Mission and His Message. 6. Hill.. Hawthorne. 1998. Bird. (Grand Rapids: IVP. Martin. 2002) 7. Gerald F. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Daniel G.