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  • Writer's pictureBrian O'Kelly

53 - The Law Practiced - Old and New Testament Views

Updated: Dec 3, 2023


1. Old Testament revelation

a. Noah

i. Prior to the flood, apparently, no animal flesh was eaten by man

1. Gen.1:29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.

ii. “Clean” and “unclean” only referred to animals suitable for sacrifice

1. Gen.7:2 You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; 3 also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth


2. Gen 8:20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar

iii. After the flood, man could eat “anything that moves”—no animals were forbidden

1. Gen.9:3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.

b. Abraham

i. Imputed righteous without the Law


1. Gen.15:6 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

2. Rom.4:9-10 Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised.

ii. Circumcision was added as a testimony to his faith

1. Rom.4:11-12 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.

iii. Circumcision was a type of circumcision of the heart

1. Rom.2:28-29 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 [g]praise is not from men but from God.

2. Phil.3:3 For we are the circumcision, who worship [a]God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh

c. David

i. Was justified from his adultery and murder—without, and contrary to, the law

1. Ps.32:1-5 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,

Whose sin is covered.

2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not [b]impute iniquity,

And in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old

Through my groaning all the day long.

4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;

My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah

5 I acknowledged my sin to You,

And my iniquity I have not hidden.

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”

And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

ii. As a man after God’s heart, understood better than many Christians, God’s heart about the ceremonial laws

1. Psalm 40:6-8 Sacrifice and offering You did not desire;

My ears You have opened.

Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.

7 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.”

2. Psalm 51:16-17 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;

You do not delight in burnt offering.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,

A broken and a contrite heart—

These, O God, You will not despise.

iii. Violated, without guilt, the ceremonial law of the showbread

1. Matthew 12:3-4 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how 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?

d. The Prophets

i. 1 Samuel 15:22 Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.

ii. Isaiah 1:11, 15-17 “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats… “Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.”

iii. Hosea 6:6 For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

iv. Jeremiah 22:15-16 Did not your father…do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Was not this knowing Me?” says the Lord.

v. Micah 6:6-8 With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil?... 8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

2. The example and teaching of Jesus

a. Taught that Law and Prophets were temporary and were to be fulfilled by Christ

i. Mat.5:17-18 “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 [b]jot or one [c]tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

b. Said that the law and prophets were until John—then the Kingdom was preached

i. Luke 16:16 “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one [g]tittle of the law to fail.

c. Said that temple worship was to be replaced with spiritual worship

i. John 4:21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.

ii. John 4:23-24 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

d. Ignoring Sabbath

i. Never preached or encouraged Sabbath-keeping

ii. No record of Him resting on the Sabbath

iii. Broke the Sabbath because His Father does so

1. John 5:16-19 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, [d]and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” 18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.

iv. Defended disciples for breaking Sabbath and said that the priests blamelessly profane the Sabbath

1. Matt.12:1-7 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”

3 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how 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 [a]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,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.

v. Said that He is the “Lord of the Sabbath”

1. Matt.12:8 For the Son of Man is Lord [b]even of the Sabbath

vi. Said that it is lawful to “do good” on the Sabbath

1. Matt.12:12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

vii. Said that circumcision preempts Sabbath

1. John 7:22 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.”

viii. but circumcision is “nothing”

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

2. Gal.5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

3. Gal 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.

e. Ignoring clean and unclean

i. Touching lepers

1. Matt.8:3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

ii. Touched by a woman with an issue of blood

1. Mark 5:25-34 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. 28 For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”

29 Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the [f]affliction. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?”

31 But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ”

32 And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. 33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”

iii. Touching the dead

1. Mark 5:41 Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”

2. Luke 7:14 Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”

iv. Declared all foods clean

1. Mark 7:18-19 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, [g]thus purifying all foods?”

3. The teaching and example of Peter

a. On clean and unclean

i. Acts 10:14-15 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 [f]cleansed you must not call common.” 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.

b. On circumcision

i. Acts 15:7-9 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.

c. Said it was “testing God” to impose Torah observance as a “yoke” on the Gentiles, which even the Jews could not bear

i. Acts 15:10 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 [b]Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”

ii. Matt.11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am [f]gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

d. While in Antioch, lived “in the manner of Gentiles, and not as the Jews”

i. Gal.2:14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, [g]why do you compel Gentiles to live as [h]Jews?

4. James, the Jerusalem Council, and the Holy Spirit

a. Acts 15:23-29

i. They wrote this letter by them:

The apostles, the elders, and the brethren,

To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:

Greetings.

24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment— 25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.

ii. Those who teach circumcision and keeping Torah “were not sent by us”

1. v.24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment

iii. The council’s endorsement of Barnabas and Paul

1. v.25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,

iv. Decision verified by Judas and Silas the Jerusalem church

1. V. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth.

2. prophets—v.32

v. This “seemed good to the Holy Spirit

1. v.28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things

vi. Asked restraint from 4 practices (only 2 were in the Torah—blood and ritual prostitution)— and said that nothing more was required, with reference to ceremonial issues

1. v.29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.

b. Four restrictions (Acts 15:19-21) to avoid offending Jews living in Gentile lands

i. 1 Cor.8:13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

ii. 1 Cor 10:23-33 All things are lawful [g]for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things [h]edify. 24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.

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; [i]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?

31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

iii. Rom.14:14-15 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.

5. The teaching and practice of Paul

a. Paul’s general view of Torah observance

i. Viewed his former Torah observance as “Rubbish”

1. Phil.3:4-8 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ

ii. Said that such observance is of no value in subduing the flesh

1. Col.2:20-23 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 [n]neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

2. Rom.7:7-11 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.” 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.

iii. Referred to the Torah as the “stoicheia” (ABC’s), pertaining to immaturity and childhood

1. Gal.4:1-7 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born[a] of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

2. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, [b]“Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir [c]of God [d]through Christ.

3. Gal 4:9-11 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.

iv. Said that the coming of faith ends the role of the “schoolmaster”

1. Gal.3:23-25 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

v. Paul compared the law, written on stone tablets, with the supernatural glow on Moses’ face, in that both were “passing away”

1. 2 Cor.3:6-8 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the [a]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?

2. 2 Cor 3:11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.

vi. Christ is the END OF THE LAW for righteousness

1. Rom.10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

vii. The Gospel presents the righteousness of God “apart from the Law”

1. Rom.3:21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,

b. Torah-observance (cultural sensitivity) as an evangelistic strategy

i. 1 Cor.9:19-21 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the [e]law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without [f]law toward God, but under [g]law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;

ii. Circumcised Timothy

1. Acts 16:3 Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.

c. The Gospel would be compromised by allowing the circumcision of Gentile Titus

i. Gal.2:3-5 Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4 And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), 5 to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

d. On circumcision

i. Counts for nothing to God

1. Rom.2:28-29 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 [g]praise is not from men but from God.

2. Gal.5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

3. Gal 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.

ii. Obligates one to keep the whole law which would include animal sacrifices, pilgrimages, killing rebellious children, idolatrous wives or husbands, etc.

1. Gal.5:3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

e. On clean, unclean and holy days

i. They were a shadow

1. Col.2:16-17 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 [k]substance is of Christ.

ii. There is liberty, not obligation in diet

1. Rom.14:1-5 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 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.

iii. No food is intrinsically unclean

1. Rom.14:14 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.

iv. All foods are sanctified by God’s word and prayer

1. 1 Tim.4:4-5 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.

f. Denounced those who preached Torah observance among Gentile Christians

i. Said that they were teachers who did not know what they were talking about

1. 1 Tim.1:7-9 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.

8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

ii. Called them “false brethren”

1. Gal.2:4 And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage),

iii. Said they preached “another gospel” and a “perversion” of Christ’s gospel

1. Gal.1:6-7 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert[a] the gospel of Christ.

iv. Declared them “anathema”

1. Gal.1:8-9 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be [b]accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

v. Said they were teaching “demonic doctrines”

1. 1 Tim.4:1-3 Now 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.

vi. Said that those who followed them were estranged from Christ, & from grace

1. Gal.5:2-4 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is [b]a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

vii. Said that Paul feared his labor was “in vain” among those who turned to Torah

1. Gal.4:10-11 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.

Σχόλια


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