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Error of the Lawless


A Tip:
This article is set up as a list of common questions and answers. It is arranged by order of book and verse for quick reference. However, because you are reading this online, you may find it easier to search the page for the section you are looking for. Hit Control+F (Apple: Command+F) to find what you're looking for faster, by searching the name of a book, or perhaps part of a verse, or a keyword.

The verses listed below are in the NKJV.

It should also be noted that this article has been written, researched, prayed over, analyzed, and reviewed to the best of our ability. As with everything, we ask you to test everything and hold on to what is good
(1 Thessalonians 5:21).

"As also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the lawless" (2 Peter 3:15b-17).

This is a well known verse. Peter warns of people twisting the words of Paul to the their own destruction, and leading away with the error of the lawless (or often translated "wicked"). Today, lawlessness is a prevalent doctrine in the Christian church. It’s commonplace to hear that we are no longer to keep the Law of God as given to Moses. As we’ve already read, the Law of God is eternal and was never done away with. However, there are still a number of verses that we’ve all heard that seem to say otherwise. This is meant to be an explanation for each of these verses. They are arranged by order of book. If you know of any verses that you feel should be added, please let us know at 


Matthew 5:17

17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

Some have said that because Jesus “fulfilled” the Law that we do not need to keep it anymore. Let’s examine that.

First, based on the plain contrast between “fulfill” and “destroy”, there is certainly one thing that “fulfill” cannot mean: destroy.

Second, the Greek word for “fulfill” (plēroō) means to fill up to the fullest extant, and has no connotation of making something void or no longer effective.

Third, as usual context is key. the following verses explain further what he was speaking of:
17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:38-42

38You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

Jesus here references Exodus 21:25, Leviticus 24:20, Deuteronomy 19:21. Some have said that when he says "you have heard...but I say..." That he is replacing the former commandment with another. Firstly, to do so would be sin (Deuteronomy 4:2) and would thus taint his spotless reputation. Secondly, note that certain Pharisees (ones who were against him) took everything he said and tried to turn it against him (example: Matthew 26:61) yet never threw this comment back at him. This should imply to us that nobody in his day took this to mean that he is replacing any of the commandments of God.

Contextually, earlier in the chapter he mentions that "he did not come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it", and then begins to do exactly that - to fully fill it: elaborating on various things regarding the Law and elements of their culture such as "You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart..." (Matthew 5:27-28) and “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment" (Matthew 5:21-22a). Therefore, this section is no different. Jesus teaches that though the Law says that reciprocal justice ("eye for an eye") is just, there is a greater and deeper response that can be made. One can turn the other cheek and show mercy, just as God has done for His people innumerable times before, thus "blessing those who curse you" (Matthew 5:44).

Matthew 12:1-8

At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!” 3But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? 6 Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. 7 But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ (1 Sam. 15:22) you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (See also Mark 2:23-28, Luke 6:1-11)
People often remove parts of this from its original context and message. The point here is that the Sabbath is made for man. It’s not something we have to observe for God’s benefit, as if He lacked anything. God has given this to us and for us. Once the Sabbath day becomes more laborious than a regular day it is no longer a day of rest, which is what “Sabbath” means. It’s the same idea Jesus presents in Matthew 23:23 when he says “ pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the Law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” This does not say to disregard the Sabbath, rather it shows the point of it. Even traditional Judaism understands this concept similarly: “Rabbi Jonathan ben Joseph said ‘For it is holy unto you; I.e., it [the Sabbath] is committed to your hands, not you to its hands.’” (Talmud, Yoma 85b)

Matthew 15:1-20

See Mark 7:1-23

Matthew 22:37-40 37

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
This does not say these are the only commandments, or the only important ones, or anything like that. This says that the point of the Law is love and the rest of the Law describes how God defines that love. Without these instructions we’re left to do “whatever is right in our own eyes” (Deuteronomy 12:8, Judges 17:6)


Mark 2:23-28

Please see Matthew 12:1-8

Mark 7

Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. 2 Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. 4When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches. 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?” 

6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 7 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men —the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” 9 He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”—’ (that is, a gift to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, 13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” 

14 When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: 15 There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” 17 When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. 18 So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does  not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” 20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” Mark 7:1-23 (see also Matthew 15:1-20)


IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: The word “food” used in this section (or any other part of the New Testament) is not defined the same today as it was then. “Food” back then in the Jewish mind was defined as things that God has already declared to be food. Therefore, a pig is not food. So when verse 19 says “thus purifying all foods” it was never referring to things that the Father has already deemed not to be food. To translate into modern thought, if you had someone visit your home and you told them to help themselves to the kitchen, you would not expect them to come back chewing on a cardboard box. There is an understanding of what is and is not food.
Verses 1-5: The Pharisees (today, Orthodox Jews) taught that a clean food becomes unclean unless a very specific ritual washing followed by a blessing is performed first. The blessing goes as follows: “Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning washing of hands.” You can search the scriptures for the rest of your life, you will never find such a commandment for laypeople. 

Verses 6-9: Jesus responds by rebuking them saying multiple times that they have rejected the commandments of God, found in the Law (Torah), so that they may keep their traditions instead. 

Verses 10-13: Jesus uses another example of their traditions replacing the Torah to better illustrate his point. 

Verses 14-23: Jesus explains both the message and the physiology to be learned from this incident. The message is that one is not defiled by not following certain customs but is defiled by his failure to love God and his neighbor. He also tells that the stomach is designed to be able to remove all impurities that may be ingested by eating with unwashed hands. Not that it changes the message (see side note) but another thing to note is that not all manuscripts include the line “thus purifying all foods” nor does Matthew when he records the event" (Matthew 15:17).


Luke 5:36-39

36 Then He spoke a parable to them: “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. 39 And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’”  (See also Matthew 9:16-17, Mark 2:21-22)
Many will say that the “old” and “new” wineskins mentioned here are the old and new covenants, and Jesus is teaching that they are incompatible. 
Let’s test that: 
1. The bible being separated as the “old” and “new” testaments originated by Marcion (a universally recognized heretic) in the 2nd century, who taught that the God of the Old Testament was evil and inferior to the God of the New. Before that, such an idea had not been proposed. God’s covenants did not contradict each other, but rather complimented each other.
2. Contextually, this is an explanation of the preceding verses (33-35) which do not speak of such an interpretation. Jesus is talking about his presence on earth and not about an additional testament. 
3. “the old is better.” (or possibly “the old is good.”). Doesn’t this overturn the new and old incompatibility idea? The point that this incompatibility idea is trying to make is that the new is better, when the text says the exact opposite.

Luke 6:1-11

Please See Matthew 12:1-8


John 1:17

17 For the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 

Some translations include a “but” between the two statements, which does not appear in the Greek. However, that doesn't entirely answer the question. The Law was indeed given through Moses, yet, as we know, the source of the Law was God Himself. When Jesus came, he came to bestow “grace and truth.” In other words, he came to pour out the Spirit of “grace” (Zechariah 12:10) and “truth” (John 14:17, John 15:26). The “spirit of grace and truth” is none other than the Holy Spirit. Indeed, Jesus says “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (John 15:26; Also see Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-8, Acts 2:4). A few verses earlier in John 1:12-13 says “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” How does one become a child of God? Paul explains in Romans 8:14 that “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” Ezekiel prophecies that God would send His Spirit to lead us to follow His Law (see Ezekiel 36:26-27). Evidence that the Spirit is in us is found in the fact that we, as children of God, would obey His Law (see Romans 8:4-8). Thus, what came through Moses and what came through Jesus should not be seen as opposing each other but rather as complimenting each other. Because the people lacked faith (Hebrews 4:2) they didn't permanently receive the Spirit although a select few did (Numbers 11:25-30). Thus, the Law alone came through Moses but both the Spirit and commandments came through Jesus.

John 7:21-24

21 Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel. 22 Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the Law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? 24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” 

The Law never prohibited circumcising on the Sabbath. Jesus thus draws a parallel, saying that it is absolutely acceptable to do a good and lawful thing on the Sabbath. Healing a person any day of the week is not sin. “Judge with righteous judgement” is key. How does God define judgement? 9 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Execute true justice, Show mercy and compassion Everyone to his brother. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, The alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart Against his brother’” (Zechariah 7:9-10). True judgement is to show mercy and compassion.

John 8:1-11

1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. 3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the Law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. 

7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.”And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
The woman did deserve to be stoned if and only if it could be legally proven that she was an adulteress. However, God knew that the death penalty was a very serious ruling so He put checks and precautions in place to save innocent people from being murdered by their vindictive neighbors. For example, the man with whom the woman supposedly had the sexual encounter with was obligated to be present. Secondly, two or three witnesses were required to affirm that the woman did truly commit this crime. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, a legally established court of law had to deal with the woman's case. "Mob justice" was strictly outlawed. (See Leviticus 20:10, Numbers 5:11-31, Deuteronomy 17:6-7, Deuteronomy 19:15, Deuteronomy 22:22). For more on this topic see our article.

The NIV bible includes this note: “The earliest manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53—8:11. A few manuscripts include these verses, wholly or in part, after John 7:36, John 21:25, Luke 21:38 or Luke 24:53.” This would render the whole debate moot.

Acts of the Apostles

Acts 10:9-29

9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. 10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance 11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” 

15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again. 17 Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate. 18 And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there. 19 While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. 20 Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.” 21 Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.” 23 Then he invited them in and lodged them. 

7 On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” 27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. 28 Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 29 Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?”
Let’s walk through the major points of this section: 

Verses 9-13: Peter receives the vision of the animals descending from heaven with the message “kill and eat”. 

Verse 14: This is often overlooked, Peters immediate response is that he has never eaten anything common or unclean. This event happened roughly 10 years after Jesus ascends back to heaven. Did Peter miss the memo that everything is clean now or is there a different message here? 

Verse 15: “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This is obviously the point of this vision, keep it in mind. 

Verse 17a: Peter wondered what it meant, which tells us that it was not an obvious interpretation, like we all seem to hear today. 

Verses 17b-28a: Peter is sent to meet Cornelius, a Gentile. In this time, in the eyes of the Jews, Gentiles were unclean, simply because they were Gentiles. Most Jews felt themselves to be better than the Gentiles because they were God’s chosen nation. Because of this, it was not socially acceptable for a Jew to enter the house of a Gentile. This is why Peter says “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation.” (This is also the same type of problem Paul rebuked Peter for in Galatians 2:11-16.) 

Peter continues to say: But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. So Peter has now understood the interpretation of the vision, applied it, and it was written for our understanding as well. It never says anything about declaring unclean foods suddenly clean but rather declaring so-called unclean people as clean. The physical makeup of an unclean animal did not change after this. Who are we to re-interpret this vision to mean something completely different? To do so suggests that we can interpret Peter’s vision better than Peter.

Acts 15:1-20

And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. 4 And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them. 

5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the Law of Moses.” 6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 

10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” 12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. 13 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: 14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: 16 ‘After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up; 17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the Lord who does all these things.’ 18 “Known to God from eternity are all His works. 

19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”
1. Verse 1 gives us the whole context for this section: salvation. Certain people were going around preaching that unless you are perfectly obedient you cannot receive salvation, this is the context of most of Acts and the epistles. The apostles rightfully rejected that doctrine: salvation is a gift. 

2. Verse 10 is usually something people will argue against obedience to God’s Law. Look at it closely: the yoke which “neither our fathers nor we were able to bear” is almost certainly a reference to the commandments taught by the aforementioned sect of Pharisaism. 

3. Verse 20, many Christians teach that this is the only thing we have to keep now, because that’s all they taught the new believers to keep at that time. The reality is that these are the things that were huge problems coming out of the pagan society they lived in. These things had to be addressed immediately. Then in the following verse, they say that the new believers will learn the rest in the synagogues every sabbath when Moses is read.


Romans 2:12-15

12 For as many as have sinned without Law will also perish without Law, and as many as have sinned in the Law will be judged by the Law 13 (for not the hearers of the Law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the Law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the Law, by nature do the things in the Law, these, although not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)
12-13: For as many as have sinned without being brought into the covenant will also perish without being brought into the covenant. Likewise, those who sinned while in covenant could also perish in the covenant because if you have heard the Law, and do not follow what you have heard, it is unprofitable. What matters is if you do what the Law commands (see 1 Corinthians 7:19). 

14: If Gentiles do the Law without ever hearing it, it’s as if they had a Law just for them. This is because the Mosaic covenant was a legal contract between God and His people (i.e. the Israelites and every Gentile proselyte at Sinai). The phrase “they are a law to themselves” doesn’t mean that they have a different Law or a new Law and it certainly does not mean that there is a Jewish Law and a Gentile Law (see Exodus 12:49, Numbers 15:15, Romans 10:12-13, Galatians 3:28). It simply means that it’s as if God made a covenant with them also by extending His grace to them, thus giving them a “law to themselves”. When we read v. 13-14 (when the Gentiles do the Law, not just hear it), the Gentiles “show that the work of the Law is written in their hearts” and thus becomes their desire. 10 The Law of God as revealed to Moses was written on two tablets and many scrolls. The Gentile believers are a “law to themselves” because their own hearts are equivalent to the tablets and scrolls used at Sinai. They are simply a new medium by which God writes down His instructions. Paul even says this when he teaches that Gentiles are grafted into the "cultivated olive tree," become citizens in the "commonwealth of Israel," and fellow partakers in the "covenants of promise” (see Romans 11, Ephesians 2:11-13). 

It boils down to this: the Israelites had the Law etched on rocks and scrolls. Thus, the Israelites had to obey the Law. The “true Jew” (see Romans 2:29) and Gentiles had the Law etched on their hearts. Thus, they had to obey the Law. It does not matter on what material the Law is etched; only that it is etched. 

15: Also, each Torah-observant Gentile is their own individual “Mosaic Law” in the sense that they keep themselves in check without the thumb of the Law pressing down on them, compelling them to do good, a.k.a. they willing abstain from doing evil. Deuteronomy 6:6 even commands the Israelites (and proselyte foreigners) to do the exact same thing that Paul praises the Gentiles for doing in Romans Ch. 2: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.” This, in fact, was God’s plan from the beginning, that He wouldn’t have to command us to do His wishes (like a slave master), but rather that we would “earnestly seek” to do what He wants (like a child toward its parent or a bride toward her husband). For more on this topic see our entry on Galatians 3:23-25.

Romans 2:25-29

25 For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the Law; but if you are a breaker of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? 27 And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the Law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the Law? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.
Remember that circumcision was only a sign that God’s people were in a covenant-relationship with Him (Genesis 17:11) , so it doesn’t matter whether you’re genetically a Jew or not. It couldn’t! It is not the circumcision itself that bonded you to God, meaning that you could not have a relationship with God simply by doing a good work like circumcision. Circumcision was simply an indicator.

Consider this: it’s kind of like wearing a pink Susan B. Komen ribbon on your car or shirt regardless of whether or not you actually support ending breast cancer. However, a person can still support ending breast cancer without wearing the ribbon. What Paul is saying is that outward signs are less important than inward signs (in terms of having a relationship with God), especially when the inward signs are superior.

So continuing with our example: wearing a pink ribbon doesn’t mean anything. What’s most important is that people actually help prevent breast cancer. The Gentiles are doing the works of the ribbon (preventing breast cancer) without actually wearing the ribbon, so to speak.

Simply put: It doesn’t matter whether you’re ethnically Jewish (from the tribe of Judah) or not. Those who act like Jews, or rather, like how Jews are supposed to act (“fulfill the Law” v. 27) are superior to those who look like Jews. Jesus and Paul called these people “white-washed walls/tombs” – ethnic Jews who legalistically “go through the motions” of doing the Law to appear “righteous” and “holy” but without genuinely loving God (which results in true righteousness and holiness). The only way to actually be righteous and holy is to love God. Selfrighteous adherence to commandments to be “seen by men” (Matthew 6:1, 23:5) cannot gain God’s love. Because God first loved us (i.e. those who are called; see 1 John 4:19), it is impossible to work our way into His love.

Romans 3:19-22a

19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it says to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the Law is the knowledge of sin.21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the Law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.
Being under the Law is shorthand language for being under the curse of the Law. The curse of the Law came about through disobedience to the Law. Please see our explanation on Galatians 5:18 for more on the phrase “under the Law”.
“Every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” The Law will humble all of us, because we all have transgressed the Law (i.e. committed “sin”. see 1 John 3:4). Therefore no one can be justified by it, because we all have failed it at some point. Because of this, His righteousness was sent to us, separate from the works of the Law. By faith in His Messiah, we are accounted righteous.
God is aware that we are imperfect beings in a fallen world and never expected lifelong perfection from us. Salvation is and was always by faith through both Testaments. When we accept this faith we are born again and begin to become sanctified, We begin growing by His Spirit, moving into obedience (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

Romans 3:28

28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the Law.

A true statement, but take it in context, specifically of verse 31: “Do we then make void the Law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” Again, no level of obedience to the Law will save you. Faith saves by grace. However, once accepting faith, obedience is expected to follow. “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Romans 4:15

15 because the Law brings about wrath; for where there is no Law there is no transgression. 

The Law brings about wrath when a person breaks it. Without rules there is nothing to break, and nothing to break means there is no reason for punishment.

Romans 6:6-7

6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 

Our old man is the body of sin. Sin is transgression of the Law, (1 John 3:4) therefore the old man who died is not the old covenant, but your wicked past.

Romans 6:14

14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law but under grace. 

Again, context is key: "12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law but under grace. 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under Law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?" (Romans 6:12-16).
Do not be a slave to sin (i.e. lawlessness, 1 John 3:4). Therefore do not let sin be the master of your mortal body, that you should obey it in its sinful temptations. You must be the master over it instead (Genesis 4:7). Do not allow any part of your physical body to do anything unrighteous (sinful; unlawful) and do not let any part of your spiritual body (your congregation) do anything unrighteous (sinful; unlawful). Instead of committing sin (lawlessness), present yourselves to God as people who have been reborn, spiritually resurrected with Christ and thus freed from the 13 bondage of sin, and that the parts of your bodies (physical and spiritual) may act as instruments of righteousness. 

We do righteousness and put sin to death for God’s sake (simply put, we stop sinning because He wants us to). God uses willing individuals to accomplish righteous acts on the earth. Therefore, do not let sin (lawlessness) have rule (authority) over you. Why should we not allow sin to have rule over us? Because we are no longer under the bondage of the law of sin (John 8:34, Romans 6:18-22, Romans 7:23-25, Romans 8:2, 2 Peter 2:19) but rather we are graciously given salvation from God’s wrath and we are given reconciliation/reunion with God so that we may have a perfect covenant-relationship with Him. 

What should we do now? Shall we sin (commit lawlessness) just because we are no longer under the justly-deserved punishment as stated in the Law? In other words, should we do the crime knowing that we won’t have to “do the time”? Certainly not! Don’t you know that if you present yourself to serve something, you will end up a slave to that thing? If you present yourself as a servant to sin (lawlessness), your fate is death because death is the guaranteed result of intentional lawlessness (see Romans 6:23, Deuteronomy 24:16, Ezekiel 3:18-19, Ezekiel 18:4, 20). If you present yourself as a servant to obedience, your fate is Christ declaring you righteous (see Romans 6:18).

Romans 7

(Due to the amount of verses taken from this chapter, and the amount of context needed, we will just review the entire chapter piece by piece) 

1 Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the Law), that the Law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? 

Verse 1: If you do not “know the Law” you will misunderstand what comes next. To know the Law does not mean you’ve read it a few times, it means you’ve seriously studied it and lived it. It is like the difference between knowing someone you just recently met versus knowing your spouse.

2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the Law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.

Verses 2-3: Paul is setting the stage. He is now talking about the laws of marriage and divorce. This can be found in Deuteronomy 24:1-4.

"4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the Law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God."
Verse 4: Keeping with the context, what is being spoken of? The marriage laws. Therefore, you have become dead to that law through Christ that you may be married to another. Let’s back up a little bit. Jeremiah 3 explains that God was in a marriage covenant with Israel and Judah. Jeremiah 3:8a says “8 Then I saw that for all the causes for which apostate Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce”. God divorced Israel, because of their harlotries. According to the Law in Deuteronomy 24, because Israel was acting as a harlot, simply put “cheating”, Israel is not able to be remarried to her previous husband, who was God.
Then just a couple verses later, Jeremiah 3:12 says “Return, apostate Israel”. By God’s own Law, this isn’t possible. God’s Law states that: “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled” (Deuteronomy 24:1-4a). Paul explains that we have died to this law of divorce to be married to Messiah! We have died in Christ. Paul also states in 2 Corinthians 11:2, “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the Law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. 6 But now we have been delivered from the Law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. 7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the Law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the Law had said, “You shall not covet.”
Verses 5-7: The “sinful passions aroused by the Law” is simply our sinful nature to whatever selfish thing we desire. The Law came and gave guidelines about what is right and wrong and this conflicted with our own nature, thus sin was aroused by the Law. In this particular case it is about the nature of spiritual adultery that occurred throughout all of Israel's past. The reason it is aroused by the Law is explained in verse 7: without rules there is nothing to break and with no rules to break there is no sin. The Law’s primary purpose is to define sin (see 1 John 3:4 and Romans 4:15 with it’s explanation).
8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the Law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the Law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. 12 Therefore the Law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. 13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. 14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Verses 8-14: Sin has taken occasion; it took advantage of the situation. Without the Law, sin (lawlessness) is dead. The Law which was meant to lead people to life also lead some to death because of their disobedience of it. The Law, however, remains holy and just and good but it convicts the sinner by making his sins evident.
15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the Law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the Law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
Verses 15-25: Paul concludes by saying he desires to do the Law of God, but there is another law, a law of sin (of disobedience) dwelling in him, and this creates a constant internal battle. Paul laments the fact that his obedience is hampered by his sinful nature. Similar to what Jesus says in Matthew 26:41: “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Romans 8:3

3 For what the Law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh

As usual, see the context: 3 For what the Law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the 16 flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the Law of God, nor indeed can be 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Romans 8:3-8).

The Law was incapable of fulfilling its intended purpose not because God found fault with it, but rather because He found fault with the people themselves because their obedience was not coupled with faith (Hebrews 8:8). Thus, the people, due to their faithlessness, prevented the Law from achieving all that it was designed to do. The Law cannot be properly done in the flesh, and never could be. The Law can only be rightly performed through the Spirit (verse 4) The carnal mind cannot subject itself to the Law because the flesh is enmity against God (verse 7). In the Spirit, we are not only capable, but eager to keep the Law of God (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

Romans 10:4

4For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth. Romans 10:4 (KJV) 

The word translated "end" is perhaps an intentionally poor translation. It would better be rendered as "aim" or "goal". Christ is the aim of the Law, or stated another way, the Law points to, and is perfected in, Christ. Contextually this makes much more sense because the chapter is about Israel's attempted righteousness. He says: For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the aim of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 10:3-4).

He explains that Israel has been ignorant of God’s righteousness (i.e. God’s Law, Deuteronomy 6:25) or more accurately His intent within His Law, therefore creating their own laws to try to be righteous. This is exactly what they did. Then Paul explains that Christ is the perfect image of what the Law was trying to accomplish and direct us to.

The word “end” (Greek: “te’-los, τέλος) can be defined as: what completes a thing, or renders it perfect, to set out for a definite point or goal; properly, the point aimed at as a limit, the end to which all things relate, the aim, the purpose, or the result of a prophecy. The same Greek word for “end” is found in these following verses in the same translation (KJV). Watch the context closely:

5Now the end of the commandment is charity (love) out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: (1 Timothy 1:5 KJV) Does this mean love has ended as well? No, love is perfected in the commandment.

9Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:9 KJV)
Obviously we are not being called to end our faith, but rather to reach the goal of our faith.

37 For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.” (Luke 22:37 KJV)

“And He was numbered with the transgressors.” is a prophecy from Isaiah 53:12, thus Jesus explains that this prophecy has a “telos”, not a point where the prophecy ceases to be true, but rather a point where the prophecy is accomplished.

The KJV translates “end” consistently, meaning the goal of something. Modern translations will usually pick a more modern word for every instance of this Greek word, except in Romans 10:4 - thus revealing translator bias.

Romans 13:8-10

8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the Law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Some have said that the whole Law is just to love one another. This is true, however it is not up to us to define what love is or what it looks like. God gave us guidelines, the details within the Law. These are how God defines loving Himself, one another, and ourselves. Similar to the explanation given in Matthew 22:37-40:

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Romans 14

(Due to the amount of verses taken from this chapter, and the amount of context needed, we will just review the entire chapter piece by piece)

1Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over opinions.

Who is Paul talking about? Those who are weak in the faith, the baby believers.

2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. 4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

Historically, food sacrificed to idols was a big issue, mainly amongst new believers. Paul also explains this to the Corinthians when he says:

...for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse. 9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”
1 Corinthians 8:7b-13

Some new believers still believed there was power in the idols. So when a believer ate meat that may have been offered to an idol, there was a chance that it might cause a new believer to interpret this as an approval of idolatry - thus causing them to stumble in their faith and ascribe power to the idol, and possibly revert back to idolatry. Paul also says:

25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake; 26 for “the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness.”
27 If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience’ sake. 28 But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake; for “the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness.” 29 “Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience? 30 But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks?
1 Corinthians 10:25-30

Many of the meats sold in the meat markets where first sacrificed to idols. This bothered the new believers that felt that if they ate the meat, then they were intentionally partaking of the sacrifice to the idol. Paul explains that an idol is nothing, and the meat is still just meat. He also says that if you are told that the meat was sacrificed to idols, not to eat it for the conscience of the others, so that you cannot say “I didn’t know”. More simply put, so that the weak believers or pagan gentiles don’t get confused and think you are involved in a sacrifice to another god. The weak believers would then simply abstain from meat altogether, which is why it says  “he who is weak eats only vegetables”. Now, switching back to Romans…

5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.

It is often taught that Paul here is teaching about the Sabbath day and that if one desires to keep it, he may, or if not, he doesn't have to. However the chapter never mentions the Sabbath day, (nor does the entire book of Romans) but it is all regarding food. Paul is talking about fasting. Historically we know that fast days were a huge area of debate in Paul's time, and that’s what he’s addressing (see Matthew 9:14, Mark 2:18, Luke 5:33, Luke 18:12). Paul says that if one desires to observe a certain day to fast, they can. It’s a good thing to do. However, if they do not want to, they don't have to, the Law doesn't say anything about it, (with exception to the Day of Atonement).

7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Simply, whether you fast or do not fast, do it as to the Lord with your best effort and understanding. In fact, whatever we do, we should do as to the Lord (see 1 Corinthians 10:31).

10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written:
“As I live, says the LORD,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”
12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.

He says that you cannot dogmatically judge someone else for having a different opinion than you; that’s up to God. Paul said something similar in 1 Corinthians 10:29: “why is my freedom judged by another's conscience?” However, to be clear, something that is obviously called wrong in scripture (e.g. “thou shalt not…”) must be rebuked.

14 I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.

Is Paul saying that there is literally nothing in the entire universe that is unclean? If he was, he would be contradicting the rest of scripture. For example, Leviticus 11 tells us that various animals are unclean to eat. In Isaiah 6:5, Isaiah says that he is a man of “unclean lips.” In Matthew 8:31, Jesus casts unclean spirits (demons) into unclean animals (pigs). In Revelation 16:13 it says “I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.” Notice that it says that unclean spirits were in the shape of frogs which are unclean animals. Lastly, Revelation 18:2 (ESV) “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.”

So what is Paul saying? Is he contradicting the Bible? No. However, we must understand him in the proper context. Paul is speaking within the context of people who are knowledgeable about the scriptures. They know what is clean and unclean. However, some things are debatable because scripture does not clarify, specify, or elaborate enough in detail to account for every circumstance in all human history. Thus, sometimes there were debates about what was clean and what was unclean. Paul uses food as one example of his main point. He is not saying here that we are free to eat unclean foods. Rather, he is saying that if there is a debate about whether or not something is clean, if a person believes it is unclean then he shouldn’t eat it and if another person believes the thing is clean to eat, then he is free to eat it. However, this is all within the context of what the Bible already calls clean. An example would be meat sold in the marketplace. Are believers allowed to buy beef –a clean meat – that may have been sacrificed to a pagan god? Some believers didn’t want to take the chance of eating paganized beef whereas others were not as concerned about this beef. Either way, we are not to judge each other regarding such debatable matters.

Outside of what is stated in the Law, one person may differ from another in their interpretation of what is right or wrong in matters of food. Therefore “to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean” - to him, based on his own convictions. But to another it may not be “unclean” because of his own convictions (see Romans 14:22-23). Paul explains that we ought not force our own convictions on another who sees differently than we do.

As an example of this in the modern world, we see some sects of Christianity teach that a woman must wear a long skirt or dress for the sake of modesty, whereas other sects will find pants or shorts perfectly acceptable. All that scripture says is that a woman must dress modestly. Although a scriptural standard can be argued, the topic is nonetheless debated and it can be seen as a "debatable matter." How each person understands modesty will inevitably vary from one to another.

19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. 21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. 22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.

Again, Paul teaches not to mislead the weak believers by appearing to eat things sacrificed to idols. Much like the four main rules given to the converting gentiles in Acts 15, food sacrificed to idols is a big one. Paul teaches not to dispute over things that aren't crystal clear: for example, whether or not a food was in fact sacrificed to an idol or not. Kind of comparable to modern churches that teach that things like smoking or drinking are sin, though the bible isn’t exactly clear on the subject. Ultimately you are judged by your own convictions, based on your best understanding and honest seeking of God. “whatever is not from faith is sin”.

1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 7:19

19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.

Paul is not nullifying circumcision. In fact, Paul supports the act of circumcision when he says: “what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way!” (Romans 3:1-2). Circumcision is the sign of the covenant between God and Abraham and his descendants, but was later used to distinguish between Jews and Gentiles. Therefore the (generally religious) Jews were referred to as “the circumcision”. Paul says, as he says much clearer in other places, being a Jew or a Gentile is irrelevant, but what matters is keeping the commandments of God.

1 Corinthians 10:23

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

Again, context is key, keep going to verse 25-26: 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake; 26 for “the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness.” Paul is talking about food sacrificed to idols. He explains that these foods are lawful for him to eat (as long as he does not know that is was sacrificed to an idol and is causing another person to stumble) but they may not be beneficial if it can potentially harm the faith of a weaker believer. If Paul were really teaching that all things are lawful then Paul has nothing to teach; we can do whatever we see fit in our own eyes (Deuteronomy 12:8, Judges 17:6, Judges 21:25, Proverbs 21:2).

1 Corinthians 15:56

56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the Law.

This is very similar to what Paul explains in Romans 7:8-11: 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the Law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the Law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.

Sin has taken “occasion,” meaning it took advantage of the situation. Without the Law, sin (lawlessness, see 1 John 3:4) is dead. The Law came, which was meant to lead people to life (see Leviticus 18:5, Matthew 19:17), but also lead some to death because of their disobedience of it (see Ezekiel 18:4, 20). Therefore the strength of sin is the Law because without something to convict of error; there is no standard of right or wrong and thus no sin. For more on this topic,  see Romans 7.

2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians 3:3-18

3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.
4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. 10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. 11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.
12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech— 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

The letter which was administered by Moses was glorious but because it was designed to show us our sin, it only lead to death and condemnation to those who sin, and all have sinned (Romans 3:23). The new covenant is more glorious in that it is administered by the Spirit in our hearts (see verses 3, 6, 8, 16-17). The Spirit is given to us so that we may walk in this same covenant that was given to Moses from the inside out, rather than from the outside in (see Ezekiel 36:26-27) - from a willful heart and not from external influence (see Isaiah 29:13). This is why Paul also says in verses 5 and 6: "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

Even Moses alludes to the fact that the Law was spiritual and could not be understood in the flesh in Deuteronomy 29:2-4:

2 Now Moses called all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land 3 the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders. 4 Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day.

Moses tells the multitudes that had personally witnessed the miracles and signs in Egypt and in the wilderness that even though they have heard the words of the covenant, that God had not yet given them “a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day.” Pharaoh hardened his own heart to not hear the words of God (Exodus 8:32) and God responded by continuing to harden Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 9:12). Likewise, those brought from Egypt refused to hear the words of God (Exodus 20:19) and so God continued this process by further allowing the people’s hearts to become hard. 

Paul also says in Romans: “…the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the Law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:4-8). He explains that ONLY those who are walking in the Spirit can “keep the righteous requirement of the Law” because the Law can only properly be observed through the Spirit, not the letter (Ezekiel 36:26-27). The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. To contrast, however, those who live according to their own fleshly mind cannot please God and are, in fact, at enmity with Him and are therefore not submitting to His Law.


Galatians 2:16

16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; for by the works of the Law no flesh shall be justified.

The Law alone was never designed to be justifying; it was meant to be coupled with faith as evidence of ones belief, as James says: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). We see that Paul and James are on the same page regarding the role of the Law (Acts 21:20-24) and Paul himself tells us that James did not differ with him regarding the gospel which he preach to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:6-9).

Galatians 2:21

“I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died in vain.”

Grace and Law are not contrary to each other but rather complimentary. In fact, God tells Moses that Moses had found grace in His eyes (Exodus 33:12-13). Was grace a foreign concept to him? No. In fact, Moses, the administrator of the Law, prays to receive this grace as he understood the importance of its necessity. So since Law and grace are not incompatible, we know that Paul is not saying that Law-keepers are acting contrary to God’s grace.

Let’s turn our attention, now, to Deuteronomy 6:25 which says “Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the LORD our God, as He has commanded us.” Moses, the one who wrote this passage, affirms that obedience to God’s commandments does yield righteousness for us. Yet, is it mere obedience that brings righteousness?

In the book of Hebrews it speaks of those at Sinai (see 3:16-18): “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them [the people at Sinai]; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it” (Hebrews 4:2). This is why Paul explains that “Israel, pursuing the Law of righteousness, has not attained to the Law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the Law” (Romans 9:31-32). Thus Paul illustrates that righteousness by works alone is not salvific, but obedience out of faith is. This faith, coupled with obedience, does not make the work of Christ vain.

Galatians 3

Due to the amount of verses used from this chapter to "prove" the abolition of the Law, we will cover the chapter as a whole. The purpose of this section however is still only to explain the questionable verses regarding the Law. For a further study on the entire context of Galatians 3, see our commentary on Galatians 3.

Galatians 3:1-4 “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?

Paul condemns the Galatians for their foolishness because they believed the false gospel account of certain Messianic Pharisees who claimed that to be saved, men had to be circumcised. Paul explains that although it’s important to keep the commandments, the most important thing is faithfulness to God, trust in God, and love of God – cumulatively simply called “faith.” We are saved by faith alone, yet faith without works is dead faith. Are we thus saved by dead faith? No. We are saved by a living faith – we are saved when we trust and love God, doing the work which He has commanded out of love and not out of a feeling of obligation, out of sonship and not out of slavery/servanthood. He also stresses that just because a person keeps the commandments, his works do not force God to give him the Spirit, thus making God a debtor (Romans 4:4). Rather, faith comes first and is followed by works. We have an example in Abraham himself: first came faith (Genesis 15:6) and as a result works came second (Genesis 26:5).

Galatians 3:5 “Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?”

God, Who sends the Spirit to the saints, works miracles among you. Therefore does He do these miracles because of your Law-obedience or does He do the miracles because of that spark of trust in your hearts? Does He do miracles among you because you have robotically obeyed the commandments, or has He done miracles because of your love, pursuance, devotion, trust, and faith in Him? Of course it’s true that if we love God then we will obey His Law (John 14:15, John 14:21-23, John 15:10, 1 John 2:3, 1 John 3:4, 1 John 5:3), but faith and love come before works – not the other way around. First comes faith, then comes works. First Gentiles learn the basics (i.e. the Gospel) and then they are to move on to deeper things (Hebrews 6:1-3, Acts 15:19-21).

Galatians 3:6-9 “just as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness: Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham."

Abraham trusted and obeyed everything God said, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:5-6, Genesis 26:4-5). In Genesis 15:5-6 it says “Then He [God] brought him [Abraham] outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” Then, in Genesis 26:4-5 “And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My Laws.” Biblically speaking, quite literally, faith without works is dead – or in other words, there is no such thing as faith without works. However, there are works without faith and these “dead works” are useless because they are not out of love for God and they are not done out of a hope of things to come. They are, so to speak, intended to make God a debtor, owing the doers of the works eternal life. However, the Bible is clear that we are not saved by dead works, and we know that God owes us nothing (Romans 4:4-5, Romans 11:35). If anything, we owe God a life of continual service done in love and faith (Romans 6:12-23, Romans 12:1) (also, see our commentary on Romans chapter 6).

Abraham’s faith was accounted to him for righteousness: Therefore be aware that those who are of faith are sons of Abraham (and thus heirs to the covenants of promise) (Galatians 3:29, Ephesians 2:11-13). God preached the Gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” It was foretold in scripture that God would justify the Gentiles by faith; therefore those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

Galatians 3:10 “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the Law, to do them.”

Those who are joined in covenant with God must understand that within this covenant there is what is called the curse of the Law, (Deuteronomy 28). When any part of the Law is broken, there is a respective “curse” given. This is also mentioned in such passages as Galatians 3:13. If everyone has broken at least one point in the Law, then we have all broken the Law. If we have all broken the Law, then we are all under the curse of the Law according to James (James 2:10-11) and thus need a redeemer.

It is written, 26 “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God
Deuteronomy 11:26-28a (see also: Deuteronomy 27:15-26, 30:1, 30:15, 30:19)

So according to the Law, the curse of the Law, is not obeying the Law! Paul never said that the Law is a curse, he said that there is a curse in the Law!

Galatians 3:11-12 “But that no one is justified by the Law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” Yet the Law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”

It is clear that people are not justified by the Law. We are not justified by the Law because Habakkuk 2:4 says that the just shall live by their faith. Yet the Law doesn’t necessarily need to be done out of faith. People can do it robotically and for the wrong reasons. The only acceptable reason for Law-obedience is for love of God (1 Corinthians 13:1, 13:13). Every other reason is illegitimate. It says in Leviticus 18:5 and Ezekiel 20:11 that “the person who does the commandments shall live by them”, or worded another way, “shall find life by them”.
It’s obvious that nobody is justified by the Law itself, which is why the Bible says “the just shall live by faith” and “the man who does the commandments shall live by them.”

Galatians 3:13-14 “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”, that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."

Christ has saved us from having to receive the curse that is mentioned in the Torah – that is, the death penalty one would deserve for breaking the Law (Deuteronomy 28). Christ has saved us from having to receive that death penalty, instead taking it on himself and thus paying our debt (because we owed God our lives when we sinned, though Christ offered his life to God so that we would not have to pay via our death). This was done so that the blessing of Abraham might expand to even the ethnically Gentile believers so that we might receive the promise of the Holy Spirit if we have faith.

Galatians 3:15-16 “Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it.  Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. "

He speaks in the manner of men, like an average guy speaking frankly. If a human contract is agreed upon by both parties involved (whether that be in business, marriage, etc.) then no one can add more words to the contract and no one can take away words from it. Now God made a promise to both Abraham and his seed. God made this promise to Abraham’s “seed” (singular), not “seeds” (plural). God made a promise to Abraham and one seed, and that “seed” is Jesus himself.

Galatians 3:17-18 “And this I say, that the Law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the Law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise."

The Law, which came 430 years later, can’t annul the covenant God made with Abraham and his seed, or else it would have made the Abrahamic Covenant useless, null and void, and of no effect. For if the inheritance came by the covenant at Sinai, then it’s no longer the same kind of promise God made to Abraham when He made an agreement (covenant) with Abraham (that if he trusted God, God would make his descendants more numerous than all the stars he could see in the sky).

The Sinai Covenant neither ruined nor destroyed the Abrahamic Covenant because the two covenants, though complimenting each other, were not dependent on one another. When a new covenant was made in the bible it did not annul the former, but rather existed beside it. In Ephesians 2:12 Paul talks about the covenants of promise (plural). God’s covenant with Noah to not flood the world again was not annulled when He made a covenant with Abraham, right?

Galatians 3:19-20 “What purpose then does the Law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through messengers* by the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one."

So then why did God even give the Law to us? He gave it because of our sin (“sin” is defined as “transgression” in 1 John 3:4). Because we kept sinning, God had to point out our error and correct us. If it wasn’t for the Law, people would never have learned what “sin” is (Romans 7:7) and thus we would have kept on sinning. So in this sense, the Law was a blessing because it teaches us what sin is, and with this knowledge we can learn what is good and what is bad. However, although we then learned what to do and what not to do, what is righteousness and what is sin, we did not yet have a good example of how to implement those things.

For example, how are we to love our neighbor when the Law says “you shall love your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:18)? How are we to act justly when the Bible says “act justly” (Micah 6:8)? How are we to observe the Sabbath when the Bible says to keep it holy and do no work (Exodus 20:8-11)? The Law was all we had to teach us about what is right and what is wrong. We were left to figure out how to implement it – and we often got it wrong. This is why we were stuck with only the Law until Christ came to show us how to properly do it (Matthew 5:17).

So simply put: the Law was given by God until the “seed” (Christ) would arrive. This does not mean that the Law was authoritative only until Jesus arrived; it simply means that the Law was all we had to teach us about right and wrong until Jesus came. Now, the commandments were given by means of messengers. The prime messenger (Moses) was also a mediator between the one God and the Israelites at Sinai.

* “messengers” here is the Greek word “aggeloi.” The Hebrew word is “malakh.” These words have two meanings: “messenger” and “angel.” In other words, they can refer to both a human messenger and an angelic one. This is why many translations say “appointed through angels.” However, we believe that Young’s Literal Translation is correct in translating this word as simply “messenger” rather than specifically “angel” (which in modern English has the connotation of a divine being).

So in short, why did God give us the Law? Because we kept sinning and we need the Law to show us how we were sinning because the Law itself defines what sin is (1 John 3:4). The Law was appointed by messengers and through a mediator (Moses) who mediated between God and man.

Galatians 3:21 “Is the Law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the Law.”

Therefore, is the Law against God’s promises (including the promise of the New Covenant)? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life instead of the death-penalty-curse, then surely righteousness would have been by that law. Does this mean that the Law does not give life? On the contrary, God says “Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers" (Deuteronomy 8:1). As the Law says, we shall surely live if we obey God’s commandments. However, no one has kept the Law perfectly except Jesus (Romans 3:23, Hebrews 4:14-15), therefore, we deserve to die (Deuteronomy 28, Hebrews 10:28). Although this Law was designed to give us life, sin took advantage of the Law and instead the Law was forced to give us death (Romans 7:10-15). So if we had obeyed, thus avoiding the incurring of the death-penalty-curse (i.e. the curse of the Law), the Law would have provided us with a righteousness which could save us (Exodus 32:31-33, Psalm 119:160, Luke 1:6) – yet no one has done this but Christ! If we were able to redeem ourselves through the Law, we would have something to brag about (Romans 4:2). It is because of Christ’s perfection that God could raise him from the dead (Acts 13:30, Romans 8:11) and make him the perfect sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 10:14-18) – the perfect Law-keeper died for the imperfect Law-breakers! We must inherit the righteousness of the perfect one, Jesus.

Galatians 3:22 “But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”

But the scripture, particularly the Torah (Law), have acted as a judge and have determined that everyone is a transgressor. It convicts us of wrong doing and preordains our punishment – the cursed death penalty. Therefore, by faith in Jesus Christ the promise made to Abraham might be extended to all those who believe (Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 15:5-6, Genesis 26:5-6, Romans 11, Galatians 3:28-29). Christ came and did what he did so that those who are faithful to him might be grafted in to the Abrahamic Covenant.

Galatians 3:23-25 “But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the Law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the Law was our tutor* to bring us** to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”

*  Paidagogos (pron. “pay-dah-gah-gowss”) is usually translated as “tutor” or “schoolmaster” – two poor translations. However, no better alternatives are available since there is no exact English equivalent. Paidagogos (Strong’s G3807) literally means "child conductor" a teacher of children, also used for slaves, those who are not mature. Strong’s Lexicon defines it this way: “A tutor i.e. a guardian and guide of boys. Among the Greeks and the Romans the name was applied to trustworthy slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class. The boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house without them before arriving at the age of manhood.” We were under the tutor (paidagogos) until Christ, because we were spiritually young children (paidion).

This word is used only one other time (1 Corinthians 4:15-21): For though you might have ten thousand child conductors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me. For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church. Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?” Paul says there are many who will conduct you, as if you were children or slaves. But few who will father you with love. He then says "shall I come to you with the rod or in love?" Paul compares the Law to a rod, a type of disciplinarian, designed to keep us in line. We are no longer under this disciplinarian, we are under the love of the Father. Has the instruction changed? No, but the means of delivering it has.

Before God sent His son to lead us to faith (Romans 12:3, Hebrews 12:2) a paidagogos had kept watch over us; that paidagogos which guarded us and kept watch over us was the Law. The Law kept watch over us until the time when the faith which would be revealed by Christ would come. Therefore, the Law was our paidagogos to Christ. The meaning of this can be found in Proverbs 22:6 which says “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” This was the job of the Law: to train us up in the way we should go so that when we arrived at the appointed age of maturity, we could be delivered from the punishment-power of the Law and delivered into the love of the Father (Romans 3:21-26).

It’s kind of like the picture of the stereotypical (or imagined) British nanny. She raises the children, teaches them right from wrong, punishes them when they disobey, and takes care of their needs. However, her ultimate goal is to guide the children to the point where, one day, they will be able to provide for themselves and correct themselves and make themselves to do right and avoid wrong. Although she will no longer be needed when the children reach maturity, the rules, guidance, wisdom, etc. she gave them will not be done away with. Similarly, the curse of the Law (i.e. the punishment of the nanny) is now fulfilled, completed, and no longer in effect because Christ paid our debt (which we acquired by sinning). Just as the nanny leaves the children and the children live their lives based on the guidance, wisdom, and rules of the nanny, we likewise must mature beyond the former covenant (the one which punished us with a death-penalty-curse) and grow into the new covenant (one where we can now worship in spirit and truth, doing the Law, led by the Spirit, and being forgiven by Christ when we occasionally transgress. Just as it ought to be our ambition to live by the way our nanny taught us, we likewise should live by the way the Law taught us.

Now that we have received the “faith of Abraham” through Jesus (Romans 4:16-25), we are no longer under the disciplinarian* who guides us (i.e. Law (Romans 8:1)). Has the instruction changed? No, since the intention was that we would be trained in the Law since our youth and thus be prepared for when the Messiah would come, since only those who were learned in the scriptures could identify him as such and faithfully follow him (Luke 24:27, Acts 3:22-26, Acts 17:11, Romans 3:21b). Even Paul says in Romans 7:1 “I speak to those who know the Law.” In Romans 3:28 and 3:31 Paul says “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the Law… [but] do we then abolish the Law because of faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the Law” (or more literally, “make a stand on/for the Law.)

Summary: The Law was our “paidagogos” and it was designed to direct us toward Christ. It can no longer punish (Romans 8:1, Galatians 3:13) because we are no longer children. We are supposed to be spiritual adults, living by the Spirit, with the Law written on our hearts, in our innermost being. (Ezekiel 36:26-27, Jeremiah 31:33). Therefore walk and live spiritually mature. (Hebrews 5:12-14, 6:1-3)

(Note: “paidagogos” is loosely explained as Paul continues to preach in Galatians 4:1-7)

Galatians 3:26-29 “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

If you have Abraham-like faith in Christ Jesus, then you are all sons of God. For as many of you as were baptized into the Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek (Exodus 12:49, Leviticus 24:22, Numbers 15:15-16, Numbers 15:29) in terms of salvation. Both are saved by the same means – faith (Romans 3:28-31). Likewise, there is no difference in terms of salvation between men and women, or freedmen and those in slavery. Regardless of who you are or where you come from, one can only be saved if they have faith in God and Jesus. However, as we have also seen, there shall be one Law for the native-born (ethnic Israelite) and foreigner (ethnic Gentile) and we do not abolish this Law through faith but rather we establish it, put it in place, and make it to stand. Regardless of one’s race, gender, or social status, if a person has Abraham-like faith, then the person will be numbered among Abraham’s descendants and thus heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 4:8-11

8 But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. 9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.

It is often said that the days, months, seasons, and years, as well as the weak and beggarly elements Paul refers to, are God’s holy days, especially the Sabbath. The key here is verse 8. “When you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods.” It is important to realize that pagan religions also had holy days (the same days that today have become Christmas, Easter, Valentines day, Halloween, New Years, etc.). Paul is obviously referring to the pagan days and those that are “not gods”.

Galatians 4:21-31

21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the Law, do you not hear the Law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written:
“Rejoice, O barren,
You who do not bear!
 Break forth and shout,
You who are not in labor!
 For the desolate has many more children
 Than she who has a husband.”
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. 29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.

The “promise” was the promise which God gave to Abraham – that his descendants should be more numerous than the sand of the seashore, and more numerous than all the countable stars in the sky. To fulfill this promise, Jesus came and made a way for us to be adopted to God via the “faith of Abraham.” Many Jews believed that because they genetically/physically descended from Abraham they were thus the sons of God. However, Jesus preaches contrary to this by saying that one can only be a son of Abraham, and thus a son of God, if a person does the
works of Abraham, as seen here:

39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”
Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your father.”
Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.”
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.
(John 8:39-42)

However, a greater faith and a greater righteousness are required to become sons of God. The Law was never designed to make us sons. It was designed to make us mere servants. However, if we have faith like Abraham (which included doing all the commandments of God (Genesis 26:5)), then we will become sons of God (Galatians 3:8). Therefore, the old mentality of gaining sonship (robotic obedience) is cast out and the new mentality of attaining sonship (loving and faithful obedience with true affection) is ushered in. Cast out the legalism and bring in the faithfulness!

Galatians 5:6

6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

Here we see three verses that say the same thing:

Galatians 6:15 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation [is what matters].”

1 Corinthians 7:19 “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.”

Romans 2:25-27 “For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the Law; but if you are a breaker of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? 27 And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the Law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the Law?

It is important to understand that when the New Testament speaks of  “the” circumcision it is not speaking of the act of circumcision, but rather speaks of a specific sect of Judaism or sometimes ethnic Jews in general. (See Acts 10:45, 11:2, Romans 3:30, 4:9, 4:12, 15:8, Galatians 2:7-9, 2:12, Ephesians 2:11, Philippians 3:3, Colossians 4:11, Titus 1:10).

Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but… faith working through love is what matters because it makes us a new creation, one capable of keeping the commandments. It doesn’t matter if you’re ethnically Jewish, if you’re an ethnically Gentile convert to Judaism, or just a God-fearing Gentile, so long as you keep the commandments, being of the circumcision doesn’t matter.

There was a belief among many Jews that God-fearing Gentiles were inferior to ethnic Jews and Gentile converts to Judaism. Thus, there existed a “Court of the Gentiles” (not commanded by God) which was part of the Temple complex which Herod built. Only Jews were allowed into the Temple itself while Gentiles were excluded from entering – being restricted to the court outside the actual Temple. That was as close to the Temple as good, God-fearing Gentiles could get. Thus, Paul is saying that it doesn’t matter whether a person is of the circumcision or not. If you keep the commandments, that’s all that counts. Paul is giving his legal opinion and he decides that ethnically Gentile believers should not be discriminated against. In fact, this discrimination cannot be based on biblical grounds. Let it also be known that exclusion of the Gentiles was a rule instituted by Herod. God-fearing Gentiles are allowed to come into the Temple to worship (Isaiah 56:7, John 12:20-21). In fact, these commandment-keeping, God-fearers will even judge those Jews who do not have faith in Jesus (Romans 2:27).

Galatians 5:18

18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

Context is always key...

16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:16-23)

If you walk in the Spirit, you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. The lusts of the flesh, as listed after, are literally all defined in the Law as sin. To be “under the Law” is to be under the bondage of sin (breaking this Law; see 1 John 3:4). According to Deuteronomy 28, to be under the Law is to be under the curse of the Law. On the other hand, to have the fruit of the Spirit is the exact opposite of the curse (fruit of disobedience) thus it is not against any law!

Galatians 6:15

15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.

Please see Galatians 5:6


Ephesians 2:14-18

14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

Often used out of context by saying, “he abolished the law of commandments contained in ordinances,” it is in reference to the Law of God and generally ignores the rest of the section. Truly a shame; this is utterly amazing. So what exactly is he talking about? He’s talking about Ezekiel's two-stick prophecy. 

Israel was once a single, united kingdom which was divided into two kingdoms: the northern house of Israel and the southern house of Judah. The northern house of Israel was dispersed among the nations and lost. Ezekiel prophecies that this lost house will be found and the two houses will become “one stick in your hand” again. Ezekiel says this:

21 “Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; 22 and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. 23 They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God.
24 “David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. 25 Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. 26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 28 The nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”’”
Ezekiel 37:21-28

So what is “the law of commandments contained in ordinances”? It was the man-made commandments of some sects of Judaism that declared the gentiles to be unclean (as in Acts 10 and 11) that kept the tribe of Judah apart from the other tribes dispersed amongst the nations. Jesus came to abolish this law so that all the tribes of Israel can, and will, be reunited into one “stick” again, with David (metaphorically speaking of Jesus) as their king.

The root word of "ordinances" is "dógma" which means "decree" and the root word of "dógma" is "dokéō" (Strong's G1380). It means: properly, suppose (what "seems to be"), forming an opinion (a personal judgment, estimate). According to Strong's Greek Lexicon, "suppose" (dokéō) directly reflects the personal perspective (values) of the person making the subjective judgment call, i.e. showing what they esteem (or do not esteem) as an individual. Both "dokéō" and "dógma" stress "the subjective mental estimate or opinion about a matter.”

Are the commandments contained within the Mosaic Law "subjective mental estimates or opinions"? No! They are directly from God, often beginning with “Thus says the LORD…” (also see Ezra 7:6, 7:12) and are not the inventions of opinionated legislators or lawyers - the "dokéō" and "dógma" are the traditions and doctrines of man that are contrary to the Law!


Colossians 2:14-15

14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

The “handwriting of requirements” is the point in question. “Handwriting” comes from the Greek “cheirographon” (χειρόγραφον) meaning exactly that, something written by ones hand, which would imply it was written of their own will. “Requirements” comes from Greek “dogma” (δόγμα) which means "decree" and the root word of "dógma" is "dokéō" (Strong's G1380). It means: properly, suppose (what "seems to be"), forming an opinion (a personal judgment, estimate). According to Strong's Greek Lexicon, "suppose" (dokéō) directly reflects the personal perspective (values) of the person making the subjective judgment call, i.e. showing what they esteem (or do not esteem) as an individual. Both "dokéō" and "dógma" stress "the subjective mental estimate or opinion about a matter”. In short, the “handwriting of requirements” is in reference to those man-made rulings of Judaism which are contrary to the Law of God, and the principle would apply to all man-made religious decrees, including those of the Christian religion.

Colossians 2:16-19

16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.

When it says “let no one judge you…” in these things, it is usually taken to mean that we ought not to judge one for not doing them, with the implication that we shouldn't be doing them anyway. However, it may better read, “let no pagan gentile judge you…” As we progress, the context makes it clear that those that we shouldn't let ourselves be judged by are those who are “vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head (Christ)“

Verse 17 in the NKJV says “but the substance is of Christ.” Many translations sound very similar. The problem is that the “is” shouldn't be there. Also the word “substance” more literally is “body”. A good translation would read “but the body of Christ”. In context it would then read: “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the body of Christ.” The body of Christ are those that should be judging each other regarding the keeping of such things (see also 1 Corinthians 5:12-13)! Additionally, we know that the body of Christ was doing all these things (example: Acts 18:21).

Colossians 2:20-23

20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

It’s just another example of man made rulings and traditions getting in the way of the Word of God, as is clearly stated in verse 22: “according to the commandments and doctrines of men”. This section has nothing to do with the Law of God.

The regulations of verse 20 are those involved in ascetic practices - activities performed to make oneself miserable, and thus able to focus better on God and spiritual things instead of earthly/ material things. Things which ascetics would abstain from include food, drink, and pleasurable activities including sexual relations even with one’s wife.

The Gnostics worshiped a goddess called Sophia (meaning “wisdom” in Greek). They claimed to have received the true wisdom (“sophia”) and knowledge (“gnosis”) from her. In fact, the Gnostics took their name from the word “gnosis” itself. However, they also claimed to believe in parts of the Bible. The heresy of Gnosticism was infiltrating the Church at this time and Paul was almost certainly arguing against them in this passage. The Gnostics certainly had the appearance of wisdom and religiosity but they did not have the truth. They believed that by punishing and depriving their bodies, that they would become less material and more spiritual. Paul clearly states that their practices “are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” This means that these practices were not effective in suppressing biblically permissible earthly activities such as the aforementioned - activities which the Gnostics believed were sinful due to their materiality/ corporeality.

1 Timothy

1 Timothy 4:1-3

1Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

This is likely in reference to an early sect of Christian Gnosticism called the Encratites. These people claimed to believe in most of the same texts and doctrines the Christians followed. However, the Encratites changed certain things such as forbidding marriage by calling women the work of Satan, and forbidding the eating of meats and the drinking of wine.

Although the Encratites claimed to believe in the Old Testament, some of their practices contradicted it. The Old Testament actually commands the consumption of both wine and meat (Deuteronomy 14:26) and strongly promotes marriage (Genesis 2:24, Isaiah 62:5). Paul is not warning against those who abide by God’s dietary instructions in the Law but rather he is warning against a certain sect that acted contrary to the Law.

This is the context of the next passage we address:

1 Timothy 4:4-5

4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

This is a favorite amongst those trying to justify that every animal is clean. Please notice that the verse specifies that the meat that is good is “of God” and “is sanctified by the word of God,” not only by prayer. A prayer will not sanctify that which God has already called an abomination, in the same way that a prayer cannot sanctify idolatry, child sacrifice, homosexuality, etc. The word of God defines what is sanctified and what is not in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.


To fully understand the confusing verses throughout the Book of Hebrews we highly recommend our article entitled "A Better Covenant". Without reading that article, the following explanations may be confusing to many.

To summarize the above mentioned article:

Jesus is the priest from heaven, serving the tabernacle in heaven. The Levitical priesthood is the earthly replica of that, "see that you make all things according to the pattern (of heaven) that I have shown you on the mountain" (Hebrews 8:5, Exodus 25:40). So if the priesthood is transferred, there must also be a transference of the law (Hebrews 7:12).  It is now Jesus, as the high priest in heaven, teaching us and leading us to the Law of God as the Levites did (Deuteronomy 33:10). Our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20) so our high priest must be also. The Levitical system is unchanged. However, it was limited to earthly life. Jesus, who is our spiritual high priest in heaven, is able to transform, purify, and intercede for people in heavenly ways.

Hebrews 7:11-12

11 Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the Law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law.

Most bibles read "perfection" instead of "completeness" and "changed" instead of "transferred" in these two verses, probably due to translator bias. These Greek words would be more accurately translated as “completeness” and “transferred,” respectively.

The “law” mentioned above and the “commandment” of Hebrews 7:16 are clarified by Hebrews 7:15-16 which defines these words specifically as the “fleshly commandment” (the genealogical requirements of the priesthood). The law / commandment has nothing to do with whether the priesthood should exist at all, rather it refers to the genealogical requirement for priestly service. The Levitical system was limited to the flesh from the start. Therefore there has been a transference (not a transformation) of the law regarding priesthood to the order of Melchizedek, which is the order that makes men priests based on the power of an everlasting life (Hebrews 7:16).

Hebrews 7:18-19

18 For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

The context here is priesthood, therefore the "commandment" mentioned is also in reference to the priesthood. The text says that the former commandment regarding priesthood was annulled (rejected), but how so? Jesus was rejected from being a Levitical priest because he was not a Levite, obviously. Therefore, if he has become a priest, then by necessity he has become a priest of a different order. He was made a priest with an oath (Hebrews 7:20-21) after the order of Melchizedek, and not according to the order of Aaron, for Aaron’s descendants are all mortal (Hebrews 7:23-34). The priesthood of the genealogical requirement was profitable for cleansing the outer (physical) man but was unprofitable for cleansing the inner man because it was not designed to do such a thing – yet we still needed to have our inner man cleansed. For the genealogical requirement could not make a person complete; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope (Jesus), through which we draw near to God.

Hebrews 7:28

For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.

This does not say that the law is useless or nullified. What it does say is that the law appointed men to be priests, but men are mortal and flawed. The Levitical priests, being merely human, needed to make atonement for themselves before they could atone for the people (see Leviticus 16:11, in reference to the Day of Atonement. Then see Hebrews 9:12, 10:4). Because Jesus is immortal and sinless, his priesthood is greater than the Levitical system, in that he has no sins of his own to atone for. The "word of the oath" appoints the son of God, who does not have these problems. In this way, the latter is superior. Simply put, the problem lies with man, not with the Law of God.

Hebrews 8:6-7

6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.

Jesus’ “priestliness” is superior to the earthly priesthood in that it can purify a human heart – something the Levitical system can’t do nor was it designed to do. The covenant of Moses is inferior to the covenant of Jesus since the Law could not change our hearts whereas Jesus and the Holy Spirit (in the New Covenant) can change our hearts. Although the Law remained written on stones and scrolls, it was additionally written on human hearts so that we would have a desire to obey and not merely an obedience done out of fear of punishment (see 2 Corinthians 3:3, Jeremiah 31:33, Ezekiel 36:26-27).

It is important to note that again the covenant mentioned above in context is not the entirety of the Mosaic Law, but the priesthood that officiated it. Notice also that it says that He found fault with them, the priests. The covenant of priesthood was based on the priesthood from heaven; it is perfect in every way. The problem is not the covenant itself; the problem is that the priests were mortal humans and occasionally sinned – thus they became imperfect. This is contrasted with Jesus, our heavenly high priest who never sinned, who can serve perfectly.

The first covenant could indeed cleanse the flesh (Hebrews 9:13-15a). Since the people still had sin in their hearts and needed spiritual cleansing, another covenant was needed to cleanse their hearts. This is the purpose of the better/ second/ new covenant. Thus, it is Jesus who acts as our sinless heavenly high priest who can cleanse us.

Hebrews 8:13

In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Normally it is translated something like "Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away."  However, literally it says, "Now what is becoming old and growing old is ready to vanish away."

When the New Covenant is established it does not automatically nullify the former covenant. Even Paul speaks of plural “covenants of promise” (see Ephesians 2:12). The former covenant left room for men to stray, whereas the New Covenant places the words of the former covenant on our hearts. When the words of the former covenant are placed within the heart of the participants, the former covenant written on stones and scrolls becomes of no need and thus, to those involved in the new, becomes ready to vanish away because it’s already within us.

Hebrews 9:9-10

9It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— 10concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.

The Levitical priesthood was symbolic of the priesthood in heaven. Everything that was done in it was a representation of that which is in heaven, a copy and shadow, performed by mortal man. It was only profitable to the flesh (the body). The bodily nature of it cannot bring a spiritual cleansing. It did it's job well, but it was limited to physical life. This does not inherently make this bad but rather limited.

“This was symbolic for the present time”: This proves that the Temple and the services are a picture of Jesus’ work. The earthly Temple is not merely an impotent shadowy hologram. Rather, the earthly Temple system is being used to metaphorically describe some very mystical truths about what Jesus did.

Regarding Hebrews 9:10, these are all things which pertain to the body and affect physical behavior but cannot affect the heart. They existed and functioned independently of the person’s heart until the coming of the new covenant: when halakha would kiss agadah – when action unites with the heart (perfect faith, the New Covenant).

Hebrews 9:16-17

16For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.

It has been said that the ("Old") testament died with the death of the the testator (Jesus). This all stems from poor translation. Young's Literal Translation (YLT) does a better job of explaining this verse:

“for where a covenant [is], the death of the covenant-victim to come in is necessary, for a covenant over dead victims [is] stedfast, since it is no force at all when the covenant-victim liveth,”
Hebrews 9:16-17 YLT98

Covenants were often made with a sacrifice, a "covenant-victim" (Genesis 15:9-11, Exodus 24:5-8, Psalm 50:5, Jeremiah 34:18-19, Zechariah 9:11). Until the sacrifice was made the covenant was not in force. Thus when Jesus died as the sacrifice, his covenant (at least in part) has been put into effect. Recall when Jesus said "This is my blood of the new covenant..." The evening before his death. Now, with this understanding, consider the context of the rest of this section in Hebrews:

“For where there is a covenant, there must also of necessity be the death of the covenant-victim. For a covenant is in force after dead victims, since it has no power at all while the covenant victim lives. Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.” Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry.”
Hebrews 9:16-21 (see also: Exodus 24:3-8)

Hebrews 10:1-4

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

Regarding Hebrews 10:2, the author is now speaking exclusively of sin sacrifices – no other sacrifices, gifts, offerings. Only sin sacrifices. Though these sins sacrifices were made, they still could not cleanse the conscience of the person.

The earthly priesthood and sacrificial system is not useless; it is an image of the good things to come. However, because it is only an image it cannot do anything more than show you something, meaning it cannot carry out what it shows. But by showing the image, it is a constant reminder of sin, every year as it is acted out, specifically in the Day of Atonement (see Leviticus 16). However, this fact does not nullify the physical benefits of the Temple or its functions.

Hebrews 10:9

then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second.

In Psalms 40:7-8 it says “Then I said, ‘Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. 8 I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your Law is within my heart.’” Additionally, we know that “Your Law is within my heart” is a sign of the new covenant according to Ezekiel 36:26-27 and Jeremiah 33:31-34. Thus, the “I have come to do Your will” means “I have come to abolish sin and temptation,” (the violation of His Law, see 1 John 3:4) and thus rendering sin sacrifices no longer relevant. They still apply, but if no one sins then no sin sacrifices will be required. However, sin has not yet been defeated in us and temptation is far from destroyed. So by implication, sin sacrifices still apply until we become perfect and blameless. We do not believe this will happen, though, until we receive our new bodies (heavenly bodies, the heavenly “temples”) when Messiah returns. In fact, James instructs Paul to help four other believers fulfill their Nazarite vows, vows which involve offering sin sacrifices  (see Numbers 6:13-14, Acts 21:17-26).

Hebrews 10:20

by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,

People often read the phrase "new and living way" and assume that this is in reference to the new covenant. While this assumption is correct, their conclusion that the old covenant became outdated, useless, and dead is not correct.

The fact that this verse is not even a complete sentence should clue us in to look at the context:
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)

In other words: Therefore, brethren, we have boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new heart and a new spirit and repentance from dead works - the living way which he consecrated for us. This is why God lets us draw near with a “true heart” in “faith” and it’s why a person’s heart is cleansed from evil thoughts and intentions.


James 2:10

For whoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

Some say that if you sin at any point in the Law, you’re guilty of all sins - thus concluding that there's no reason too even try. Let’s put this passage back in context:

If you really fulfill the royal Law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the Law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the Law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the Law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:8-13)

James teaches that to stumble in even one point of the Law makes you guilty; In the same way that breaking one link of a chain renders the chain ineffective. Once a person intentionally transgresses a single point, all he has done right, his righteousness, becomes irrelevant and he depends on the mercy of the Judge (see also Ezekiel 18:24-28). Therefore, because of this, he teaches that we should act like those who are about to be judged. He says "judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.” This is comparable to when Jesus says, "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you" (Matthew 7:2) and even clearer in his parable about the unforgiving servant:

Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:23-35).

In summation, James teaches in this section that we aught to be merciful so that our Heavenly Father may be merciful to us.