There are passages in the New Covenant writings that are often assumed to teach the annulment of the law of God. Sometimes this is because of mistranslation, sometimes it is because of misinterpretation. These focus on four major issues: clean and unclean foods, the means of being justified before God, the differences between Jews and Gentiles, and the continued applicability of the Law of Moses.
Clean and Unclean Foods
The distinction between clean and unclean animals is not first presented in the Covenant of the Law. God told Noah, "Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate." Gen7:2 Noah was expected to know which animals were clean and which were unclean. At that time, God had not yet given man permission to eat animals. cf. Gen.1:29; 9:3 The distinction was one God had already made long before Abraham, and long before Sinai.
After the flood, God permitted man to eat meat. The Covenant of the Law did not establish which animals were clean and which were unclean. It merely commanded Israel not to eat the flesh of unclean animals.
a) In Mark 7:14-19, Yeshua speaks of how our unclean words defile us. Some translations have significantly changed the text so that it becomes a very troublesome passage. Here is a fairly literal presentation of the text. The King James Version, Phillips, and the New English Bible present essentially the same.
"Again Yeshua called the crowd and said to them, Listen to me, everyone, and understand. There is nothing outside a man that can defile him by going into him, but the things which go out from him, those are the things which defile the man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.
"And when he left the crowd and went into a house, his disciples asked him about this parable. And he said to them, Are you also without understanding? Dont you perceive that nothing that enters a man from the outside can defile him? Because it doesnt go into his heart but into his stomach, and is eliminated, purifying all the food."
The problem does not arise from the text itself. The problem arises from some interpretative translations of the text.
In understanding this text, some interpreters have chosen to follow Origen, who maintained that the Bible had to be allegorized to be understood, and John Chrysostom, a violent anti-semite.
Here is the New International Version of the last two verses " Dont you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him unclean? For it doesnt go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body. (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)" Mark 7:18-19, Others NASV, RSV, LB, TEV, Jerusalem Bible have similar translations. The parenthetical comment was created by inserting "In saying this, Jesus declared" into the text. These words are actually not there. Then the translators changed the verb "purifying" to the adjective "clean", and dropped the definite article "the". The resulting translation turns the text into a doctrinal pronouncement on clean and unclean animals. There is no basis for it in the text.
The word translated as "food" is a generic word referring to food of any kind fruit, vegetables, grains, meats, etc. Yeshua was speaking of the natural biological process that takes place when a person eats any food. He was not defining what qualifies as food.
What Yeshua said was a direct response to the accusation of some Pharisees that his disciples were eating with hands that were not washed according to the traditions of the elders. (Mk.7:1-5) He was addressing the hypocrisy of being clean on the outside, but unclean on the inside. cf. Mt.23:25-26
b) In Gal. 2:11-14, Paul speaks of Peter's vacillation and hypocrisy in first eating with the Gentiles and then not eating with them. So some have assumed that Peter was eating what was prohibited to Jews by Torah. The issue is not what Peter ate, but with whom he ate.
"When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from Jacob, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.
"The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to live as Jews? "
Peter had been eating with the uncircumcised Gentile believers, indicating that God had cleansed them through the atonement of Yeshua. Some Jews from Jerusalem came and were teaching that these Gentiles needed to be circumcised before they could be truly admitted into the community of Israel and therefore before Jews could eat with them. Peter knew that was not true, but out of fear he stopped eating with the Gentiles. Paul condemned Peters hypocrisy.
The question that Paul addresses throughout Galatians is that of justification, i.e. how a person can be righteous before God. His answer is that all people, whether Jewish or Gentile, can be righteous before God in the same way that God declared Abraham to be, by faith. cf. Gen.15:6 Abraham was not circumcised at that time.
Peter knew these things, and had been living according to them in eating with the Gentiles. He was fellowshipping with the uncircumcised, thereby testifying that they did not need to be circumcised and live according to the Law of Moses in order to be justified before God. When he withdrew from them in his hypocrisy, he was acting as if all men needed to become Jews to be justified. That is the point of Paul's question: "How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to live as Jews?" This was not a discussion of what Peter or the Gentiles were eating. That is not mentioned. Peter had separated himself from the Gentiles because they were uncircumcised. In doing so, he was falsely testifying that Gentiles needed to be circumcised, i.e. needed to live as Jews, before they could be admitted to fellowship in Israel.
c. Acts 10:13-15 Before God sent Peter to speak to the Roman centurion Cornelius, He showed him a vision of every kind of animal and reptile. When he saw the vision, Peter did not understand what it meant. (v.17) At Cornelius' house, Peter understood and explained what the vision meant. (v.28) Acts 10:13-15: "Then a voice told him, Get up, Peter. Kill and eat. " Surely not, Lord! Peter replied. I have never eaten anything impure or unclean. "The voice spoke to him a second time, Do not call anything impure that God has made clean. " Acts 10:13-15
"While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simons house was and stopped at the gate." (v.17) At that time, Peter did not know what the vision meant. He had walked with Yeshua from the beginning of his ministry, but had never understood anything Yeshua said to indicate that all foods were clean. [The gospel of Mark is said to be written from the information Peter supplied.]
After God poured out His Spirit on Cornelius and those with him, Peter understood the meaning of the vision. As he said to Cornelius, "You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean." (v.28)
Peter understood the vision to mean that God could make Gentiles clean. That is how he later explained it when his actions were questioned. "So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them. " Acts 11:2-3
He explained to them the vision of the animals and how God had poured out His Holy Spirit on Cornelius and his household. " So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Yeshua the Messiah, who was I to think that I could oppose God? "When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life. " Acts 11:17-18 When the other Jewish believers understood that God had cleansed the Gentiles, "they had no further objection." No one mentioned what Peter ate when he was in the house of Cornelius. The issue was with whom he ate.
During the Council that was called to determine the relationship of the Gentiles to the Law of Moses, Peter again related what took place at the house of Cornelius. "God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith." Acts 15:8-9 People who had been considered unclean were cleansed. No one, including Peter, understood the vision or incident to mean that Jews should no longer observe the God-given distinction between clean and unclean animals. No one even mentions such a thought. The distinction was one that God had made in the days of Noah. cf. Gen.7:2
According to Jacob, all the Jewish believers were zealous for the Law of Moses. Acts 21:20 According to the historical record, especially Irenaeus, all the apostles, including Peter and Paul, scrupulously kept the Law of Moses. There is no evidence to the contrary.
d) In 1Tim. 4:1-5, Paul speaks of false teaching that prohibits the eating of certain foods. Doesn't this show that all foods are permitted for all people? "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.
"For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer."
God gave the Torah to Israel and prohibited specific types of marriage, i.e. the marriage of certain close relatives. When Paul wrote to Timothy, no one was teaching that incest was now permissible. That wasn't the issue. But some were teaching, or would in the future teach, that marriages which God had permitted were now prohibited.
The same thing was true of food. God had specified what things were "foods" to be received with thanksgiving and what things were not. Blood is not a food, though some people eat it. Human beings are not food, though some people eat human flesh.
There were those who were teaching, or would teach, that it was wrong to eat certain foods which God had permitted. They were prohibiting what God had permitted. Paul was not talking about Gods prohibitions. He was talking about demonically inspired teaching that forbids marriage which God has permitted and forbids foods which God has permitted.
e) In Col. 2:16-17, Paul says that laws concerning food and drink are just shadows. Doesn't that mean they have passed away? "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Messiah." cf.Col. 2:20-23
What Paul says here, as with all his writings, must be understood in their context. He is speaking as the Jewish apostle to the uncircumcised, i.e. Gentiles. In Col. 2:13, he makes it clear that he is speaking here to Gentiles. "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ...." Col. 2:13 " The laws relating to clean and unclean animals, the Feasts of the Lord, the New Moon celebration and the Sabbath were given to Israel in the Covenant of the Law.
Gentile believers do not have their relationship with God through the Covenant of the Law. They have their relationship with God through His New Covenant with Israel. Therefore, Gentile believers are not expected to keep the specific laws to which Paul refers.
What does Paul mean when he says that these things are a shadow of what is to come? He means that they are symbolic of a greater reality. Human marriage is a type of the marriage of the Lord to His people. Human fatherhood is a type of divine fatherhood. Life is a shadow of the life to come. The fact that there is a greater reality does not mean that the shadow or type has no significance and should be discarded. On the contrary, the shadows and types help us to understand the greater reality. They give us visible content. They are simply not an end in themselves. They point to what is to come, in this case, Messiah.
f) In 1Cor. 6:12-13, doesn't Paul declare all foods clean? " Everything is permissible for mebut not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for mebut I will not be mastered by anything. Food for the stomach and the stomach for food but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body."
Does Paul mean that he is free to do anything he chooses to, even if God had previously commanded him not to? No, that cannot be what he means, because he says that sexual immorality is not permitted. Just prior to this verse, he listed certain kinds of behavior that will keep a person out of the kingdom of God.
"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexuals, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1Cor. 6:9-10
These things are not permitted. Paul explicitly warned the Corinthians to have nothing to do with anyone who claimed a freedom to do these things: "But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat." 1Cor. 5:11 What then does Paul mean in 1Cor.6:12-13? Pauls letters were written to deal with specific issues which had arisen in the different congregations. Paul knew that the believers in Corinth were quarreling about certain issues. cf.1Cor. 1:11; 3:3
It is generally understood that in responding to these quarrels, Paul sometimes first states the position that some have taken, and then responds. cf.1Cor. 1:12; 3:4 That is why the translators of the NIV put Everything is permissible for me in quotes to signify that this is what some of the Corinthian believers were saying. The phrase is then followed by Paul's responses: "but not everything is beneficial. ...but I will not be mastered by anything."
There was great sin in Corinth, and some were even boasting in it. cf 1Co.5:1-6 They claimed that since Jesus had died for their sins, they were free to do anything. Atonement had already been made for their sin. They were indulging themselves and ignoring the love and the life that is to characterize all followers of Yeshua.
Paul unequivocally, repeatedly rebuked them for doing this. The body is not meant to be indulged and used immorally. Loving God does not permit that. Loving ones neighbor does not permit that. Loving God and loving ones neighbor means that we submit our bodies to the righteousness definded by God. cf. Rom.6:12-18
g) In 1Cor. 8:8-9, doesn't Paul say that it doesn't matter what we eat or don't eat? "But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak." Paul told the Gentile believers in Corinth not to eat food sacrificed to idols. He explained that it is not the food itself that defiles or commends a person to God. It is our love of God and love of our neighbor that God is seeking.
Loving God requires that we obey Him. Part of obeying Him is loving our neighbor. "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen." 1John 4:20
To love God, we need to consider other people and faithfully show to them the Truth of God. That is why the Corinthians should not eat food sacrificed to idols. It does matter. "Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1John 3:18
Paul himself was very conscious of the effect of his own life on those he taught. He was very conscious of his calling to bring the Gentiles to obedience. That is why he said, "I will not venture to speak of anything except what Messiah has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done." Rom. 15:18
To rephrase what Paul said in 1Cor. 7:19: "Food is nothing and refraining from eating food is nothing. Keeping Gods commandments is what counts." God commanded Israel not to eat certain animals. He said, "they are unclean for you." e.g.Dt.14:7,10,19
The Means of Being Justified before God
a) Gal. 2:15-21 "We who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus the Messiah. So we, too, have put our faith in Messiah Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Messiah and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
"If, while we seek to be justified in Messiah, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Messiah promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. "For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Messiah and I no longer live, but Messiah lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Messiah died for nothing!"
If a man murders his neighbor and is captured, a court will determine whether he is innocent or guilty. If the evidence shows his guilt, the court will find him guilty. The fact that there are hundreds and possibly thousands of other laws which he did not break does not remove his guilt for what he did that was wrong. The fact that he didnt rape anyone does not make him not guilty of murder.
If the murderer stands before God, he will find much the same thing. The murderer is guilty of breaking Gods law. The fact that he didnt break other laws does not alter the fact that he is guilty of murder. The fact that he loves his mother does not make him not guilty.
The Bible teaches, and human experience confirms, that Solomon was right when he said, "there is no one who does not sin." 1Kgs. 8:46 No matter how many of Gods laws we do keep, we do not always keep them all. Judged according to His law, we are all guilty before Him, not righteous.
How then can a man be righteous before God? Only in the same way that Abraham was. "Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness." Gen. 15:6 Because of Abrahams faith God considered him righteous. [It is important to remember that Abraham's faith produced obedience. The same must be true for all.]
Yeshua willingly took upon himself the judgment of death which the law of God decrees for our sins. If we place our faith in him as the atonement which God provided, then God also counts our faith as righteousness. If we place our faith in him, then in his death we die to our own lives and to sin. If we then choose to sin all over again, we rebuild what we once destroyed. We destroyed it because it was wrong. If we rebuild what was wrong, our previous turning from sin testifies against us.
b) Gal. 3:10-11 "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law. Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, The righteous will live by faith. The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, The man who does these things will live by them. "
If we seek to be righteous before God by our observance of the law, we will be disappointed. All the good we might do cannot atone for the times we break Gods law. Before entering into the land, all Israel proclaimed a curse on everyone who breaks Gods law.
We must find another way to be justified before God. That way is faith, the same means by which Abraham was considered righteous, the same means by which the Lord said (Hab.2:4) that all the righteous should live. The faith of Abraham is evidenced in our lives by our trusting and obeying God.
The Differences between Jews and Gentiles
a) Does Eph. 2:14-16 teach that the Law is abolished and that Jews and Gentiles are now the same? The NIV translation reads: "For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. "
A literal translation of the text would be, "For he is our peace, who made both one and broke down the middle wall of the fence, having annulled in his flesh the enmity of the law of commandments in decrees, that he might create in himself the two into one new man, making peace; and might reconcile both in one body to God through the cross, having slain the enmity by it." It is not the law that is abolished. It is the enmity between Jew and Gentile, required by the law, that is annulled for believers. It is that enmity, the "middle wall" or "barrier", that is broken down. It is that enmity which was "slain" or "put to death."
The law of God which He gave to Israel contained decrees which separated the Jewish people from the Gentiles. This was in accordance with Gods purpose of making Israel a holy nation. Because the Gentiles had rejected God and turned to idolatry and immorality, God commanded Israel to be a people set apart, living in light of the promises and covenants of God.
Messiah died for the sins of all. Gentiles who repent and believe in him are brought into the commonwealth of Israel (cf.Eph.2:12,19) through the New Covenant, so that they can share in the promises of God. Towards these Gentile believers, the decrees in which God commanded Israel to be separate from the Gentiles have no work to do [katarghvsa]. The purpose of the decrees was to keep Israel holy. e.g. Ex.34:12-16 The Gentile believers have chosen to embrace a holy life, and are therefore incorporated into Israel. Being one with them does not make Jews unholy. They are made one with the believing Jewish remnant.
Ruth had made the same choice many centuries before. So had Rahab. They were brought into Israel. By Gods design and purpose, King David, all the kings of Judah, and Messiah himself are descended from them. As for the separation, Paul makes the application to Gentile believers quite explicit. "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" 2Cor. 6:14
As for the two being made one, they are likened to one body. Paul clearly explained that different member of the same body have different appearances and functions. They are not supposed to be identical. They are supposed to be different. 1Cor. 12:17-20
b) In Col. 2:13-14, doesn't Paul say that the Law is put to death? A literal translation of these verses would be: "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Messiah. He forgave us all our sins, having blotted out the handwriting in the decrees against us, which was adversarial to us; He took it out of the midst, nailing it to the cross."
Paul, the Jewish apostle to the Gentiles, is writing to Gentiles who have become believers. He reminds them that "you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh." The covenant of the Law contains decrees which separate Jews from Gentiles, as discussed above concerning Eph.2:14-16. These decrees stand in the middle, as a wall, between Jews and Gentiles. Messiah, by dying for the sins of Gentiles as well as those of Jews, makes a way for the two to be one in him. The purpose of the decrees was to keep Israel from being polluted by the idolatry and immorality practiced by the Gentiles. They are not applicable to Gentiles who have been sanctified through Messiahs death. They do not divide believing Jews from believing Gentiles. They have been taken out of our midst.
c) Gal. 3:28 "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Messiah Jesus." cf. Col. 3:9
Messiah is one, and everyone who believes in him is a member of his body. Each believer has access to God in the same way, through his death and his life. We are all the same in this. Concerning our functions and callings, there are differences, because God did not make us identical. That is why Paul often separately addresses the very groups that have become one in Messiah Jews [e.g. Rom.7:1] and Gentiles [e.g. Rom. 15:25-27], slaves [e.g. Eph. 6:5] and masters [e.g. Eph. 6:9], men [e.g. Eph.5:25] and women [e.g. Eph. 5:22].
As he explains in 1Cor. 12:12,17-20: "For even as the body is one, though it is made up of many members; and though all the members of the body are many, they form one body. So it is with Messiah.... If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body."
d) 1Cor. 7:18-20 "Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping Gods commandments is what counts. Each one should remain in the calling which he was in when God called him." Those who are called as Jews should live as godly Jews. Those who are called as Gentiles should live as godly Gentiles. Each person should keep the commandments which God has given to him.
1Cor. 9:19-22 "Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.
"To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from Gods law but am under Messiahs law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." Many of the phrases Paul uses can easily be misinterpreted, distorting their meaning. They must be understood in context. What did Paul mean by the phrase "I make myself a slave to everyone"? Does he mean that he does whatever anyone tells him to - lie, steal, kill, turn away from Yeshua? No. He does not mean that. He means that he has freely chosen to serve others, rather than just serving himself.
What did he mean by "under the law"? (He equates this with being a Jew who does not know Yeshua.) He means being under the authority and judgment of the Law of Moses. God commanded Israel to observe the Law of Moses, under penalty of death. The law ruled over Israel. "We were guarded by the law..." Gal. 3:23 The Law had authority to punish transgression with death and a curse. Messiah changed that by suffering death and becoming a curse in our place. "Messiah redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.' " Gal. 3:13 Because of that, Paul, and all Jews who have been put to death in Messiah, are no longer under the authority and judgment of the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses was given to teach God's holiness, to show the necessity of faith, and to point to Messiah. It was not given as a means to make ourselves acceptable to God.
Paul was not looking to his own observance of the Law to make himself righteous before God. He could only be made righteous through faith in the Lord, the same way in which Abraham was made righteous. Abraham lived 400 years before the Law was given at Sinai. He was not circumcised when God counted his faith for righteousness.
To effectively communicate the message of righteousness through faith, Paul sought to put himself in the shoes of those he sought to reach, to speak from and to the position in which they found themselves before the Lord. Faith in Messiah had set Paul free from the death and curse decreed by the Law of Moses, but he knew how to convey the message to those still under the Law. He also knew that the grace of God did not stand in opposition to the law of God. They simply had different functions. "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Dont you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?" Rom. 6:15-16
What did Paul mean when he said, "I became like one not having the law"? Did Paul mean that when he was with immoral Gentiles, he joined them in their immorality, i.e. "When in Rome, do as the Romans do?" Was he saying that if he were with cannibals, he would do as the cannibals do? No. He was not saying that. He would have been denying by his life the very message that he sought to communicate by his words.
He was saying, "I seek to stand on common ground with people, so that I can call them to serve the Lord according to who they are." This is what he did in Athens on Mars Hill. He spoke to the Gentile Athenians of their responsibility to their Creator. He did not speak to them of the requirements of the Law of Moses. Acts 17:16-34
Did he then mean, "When with Gentiles, don't be a Jew"? Of course not. No more than he meant, "When with women, don't be a man." Recognize who you are with, find your common ground, and speak to where they are in the sight of God. He was not without law, but could understand and communicate the message to those who were. That's why he said he was under Messiah's law. What law is that? It is the two great commandments of the Law of Moses - Dt.6:4-5 "Hear O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength." Lev.19:18 "...love your neighbor as yourself" - and their practical explanation: Don't commit adultery, and don't lust. Don't murder, and don't hate. Etc. It includes the universal law of God put into every person's conscience.
The Continued Applicability of the Law of Moses
a) Hebr. 7:11-12,18-19 "If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law....
"The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God."
God said in Tanakh (Ps.110) that Messiah would be a priest forever from the order of Melchizedek, and not from the tribe of Levi. That means that the laws governing his priesthood, i.e. that of the New Covenant, are different from
the laws which God gave at Sinai regulating the Aaronic priesthood. Why did God make those changes?
The Covenant of the Law prescribed a sacrificial system which provided atonement for the repentant lawbreaker. Each new sin required a new sacrifice. There was an ongoing need for sacrifice.
That ongoing need extended far beyond the lifetime of Aaron or any of his
descendants. Aaron died and was replaced by his son Eleazar. Eleazar died and was replaced by his son Pinchas. And so it went, on and on. Many priests offered many sacrifices to atone for many sins, but all of that did not take away the power of sin over the individual. There was an endless cycle of sin, atonement, death, sin, atonement, death... The Aaronic priesthood and its sacrifices did not have the power to break that cycle by changing the individual.
Messiah does have that power in his priesthood. In describing the New
Covenant, God promised, "I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Jer. 31:34 The endless cycle will be broken.
Some people have said that because God changes the regulations governing the priesthood, all the rest of His Law is annulled. There is nothing in this text in Hebrews 7 or in any other Biblical text that says or indicates that. The
text simply says that the regulations for the Aaronic priesthood did not have the power to change the nature of the lawbreakers.
God had changed the priesthood before, when He took the Levites in the place of the first-born males, and instituted the Aaronic priesthood. The Covenant of the Law had That didnt nullify the holiness and righteousness that He was seeking in Israel. It was a means of teaching it. The two major functions of the priests were to teach Gods Law and to offer sacrifices for repentant
The two great commandments in the Law of Moses are: "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might." Dt.6:4-5 "...and you
shall love your neighbor as yourself." Lev.19:18 cf. Mk.12:29-31 The rest of His Law gives practical definition to these two commandments. As Yeshua said, "All the Law and the Prophets are suspended from these two commandments." Matt. 22:40 So only if those two great commandments are abolished would the Law be annulled.
b) 1Tim. 1:8-11,15 "We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and
rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me....
"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Messiah Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst." If everyone always did what is good and right, there would be no need for an external law Mosaic, civil, or otherwise. Because everyone does not always do what is good and right, the law is given to guide, correct, and punish. Paul, as the worst of sinners, knew the need for the Law. That is why he says everything that is ungodly and sinful is contrary to the teaching of the gospel.
c) Rom. 13:8-10 "Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not covet,' and any other commandment are summed up in this one rule: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulness of the law." The Law gives practical definition to what loving God and loving one's neighbor is. Someone who walks according to the Law will walk in love. Yeshua did. Someone who walks in love will walk according to the Law. Love fulfills the Law.
The Law is not about being in bondage. It is about loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
"The law of the LORD is complete, bringing the soul back. The testimony of the LORD is trustworthy, making the simple wise.
"The precepts of the LORD are upright, giving joy to the heart. The
commandment of the LORD is pure, giving light to the eyes.
"The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever. The judgments of the LORD are true and altogether righteous.
"They are more precious than gold, than much fine gold; and sweeter than honey, and the drops from the honeycomb.
"Your servant is also warned by them; in keeping them there is great reward." Ps. 19:7-11 [vv.8-12 in Hebrew]
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