Law, Grace, and Fulfillment

(3) In the law, kosher eating habits are part of the norm (and still are) – how come Christians can break thesw laws and yet still hold to the 10 commandments? Isn’t it hypocritical to hold to one law and not the others?

“Christians are not under the law, but under grace (John 1:17; Romans 6:14). “The law” specifically refers to the Mosaic law, which includes certain specific things we do not need to hold to anymore. Fleshly ordinances are gone (Hebrews 9:10). Christ is our sacrifice (Hebrews 7:27), our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7), our atonement (1 John 2:2), and our Sabbath (Hebrews 4:9-10).

And, the Son of God has authority over the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8), and He likewise had the authority to declare all foods to be clean (Mark 7:18). Christians do keep the law, but all the law is fulfilled in Christ (Matthew 5:17), by walking in the Spirit and not according to the flesh (Romains 8:4).” (Joshua)

One thing Christ does not say is – he is our law (although word of God is close). I am actually hard pressed to find a place outside Paul where we are actually excluded from keeping the law. And even within Paul it is rather funny a scenario – the law is to be kept – his few exceptions are for the sake of the Gentiles (which Acts 15 is also about). Jesus does not condemn the law – he is thankful for it and realizes its importance (Matt 5:17-20) – even how important keeping commandments are.

Compare these sentences – someone tell me if they are opposite in nature:

The law” specifically refers to the Mosaic law, which includes certain specific things we do not need to hold to anymore” (Joshua)

Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven” (Jesus)

It’s actually rather funny – we do not see Jesus annuling any commandments of God – none at all. Rather he goes into the idea of fulfillment of them – which is very simply:

In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt 7:12)

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:37-40)

What more does one really need to know about the fulfillment of the law – that isn’t being said in those 2 passages?

As for grace, grace is very big and always has been – because it comes from God. The boldest grace I declare about God is that He was even willing to participate in the human drama/comedy. God breaks through into various scenes from Abraham to Joseph – and then gives something concrete – the Law unto Moses for the benefit of the community. That’s unmerited grace at it’s core!

Now Jesus comes – and John and Matthew both use Mosaic symbology to relate the mission and message of Jesus. But essentially, they are comparing Jesus to Moses – Matthew in the sermon analogy (a mini-Sinai moment)  and John compares Jesus to that great moment from Sinai when the Law was passed onto the people (the word of God made flesh). But Jesus is just another moment of God’s revelation in a line of them already existing (from Abe to Micah) – which is all unmerited grace – we were always at the whims of God in the regards of God revealing Himself.

It makes no sense to talk about God’s unmerited grace with regards to it being a new ‘revelation’ to Paul – no – Paul knew this idea from his Jewish roots in the Law/Prophets. God’s grace was always there or favor – one just need read Jeremiah 31:1-3, Genesis 6:8, Exodus 11:3, etc. Everytime something good happens to someone – or they are asked to do something – they always find grace/favor with God. This concept was not foreign to the Jewish people – it was built directly into their earliest scriptures. Jesus was another aspect of that grace – and even he – ascribes to the scribal process and upholding/fulfilling it.

To me the law is very simple as I have explained – and Jesus laid this out in his teachings over and over – we just need to learn to love one another as we love ourselves – for this is pleasing in God’s site.

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30 thoughts on “Law, Grace, and Fulfillment

  1. “…Jesus laid this out in his teachings over and over – we just need to learn to love one another as we love ourselves – for this is pleasing in God’s site.”

    That is the problem. We don’t..indeed…we will ‘not to’.

    If we could learn to, or will ourselves to, then there would have been no need for the cross.

    I believe the death on the cross was the answer to this one, basic problem of self centeredness that we have…sin.

  2. The way I see the kosher laws is that they were there to point to Christ. For example, not eating anything with the blood in it, not eating pork but eating lamb, as well as the Passover meal pointing to Jesus (Watch Zola Levitt’s series on that on Youtube). Once the Promised One had come, they became part of the past.

  3. Until we understand that God has made peace with His creation through the work of the cross, we cannot have peace with ourselves. Until we have peace with ourselves, we cannot have peace with others, and until we have peace with others, we cannot have peace with God. Seems to go full circle, huh? Point being… it starts with Him, and it ends with Him.

  4. Bruce

    Do you think maybe that maybe it never started or ended it just has always been. I think Christians just needed something to wrap their head around. The fact that we’re all ok.

  5. Good point, and I agree. But remember, my message is to the “christians”. That is the perspective from which I share, and from which it is best understood.

  6. “I believe the death on the cross was the answer to this one, basic problem of self centeredness that we have…sin.” (Steve)

    if this is true, then how is that event the answer to our self-centredness? Wouldn’t we still have to learn from the event and adopt the ideas of said event into our lives? Or is there something magical that happens when we realize the event and we are automatically changed?

    “The way I see the kosher laws is that they were there to point to Christ…Once the Promised One had come, they became part of the past.” (Jim)

    Anointed One would be more accurate – since that actually is the term for Messiah. However, there is no proof kosher laws were set aside – except for Gentile believers – which is a Paul concession (which we both are). I think Peter had something similar revealed to him – but in the end that vision becomes about inclusion of all people groups. I happen to think the church in Jerusalem upheld the kosher living – they were stil part of the synagogue for some time.

    As it stands, I am not kosher so I have no problem with someone else being non-kosher…but I admit it is part of the law. However, I tend to think the law is summed up in the passages quoted and keeping kosher or not keeping kosher is one’s choice – as long as we can treat each other like equals then I don’t see any problems with what diet someone chooses.

    I have heard Yael’s idea about kosher and it makes sense – it is something they do to honor their faith, follow the teachings, and be a part of the community (now and of old)…it all adds up. And even Yael mentions idea Gentiles do not have to follow the law in Judaism – unless they convert.

    So for me, the law us summed up in treatment of the other in regards to how we will judge a law. I am not kosher so it is not fair for me to ask someone else to be kosher – nor is it fair for me to denounce someone else’s following of kosher laws – since I am not a part of them.

    That being said, I think the laws reveal something else deeper – concerning health for the human. The kosher laws are actually very healthy for their time – and in some regards – still are. Maybe the laws were given to protect the human and allow them the best health they could recieve…God’s concern being our health. Which, if we follow the intent of the laws, is to make sure health is something we all consider personally and acknowledge as part of laws of our country (as a God given concern). Laws are meant to be deeper than just the literal aspect – that’s my opinion.

    “Point being… it starts with Him, and it ends with Him.” (Bruced)

    I would ask, what is our role in that theology? To be lightning rods of peace that transfer that idea to our surroundings? It does start with God (His grace) and it does end with (His praise for the acts) – but I have to believe the process lacks something without us – since we are nouns even in terms of the use of grace and who gives God worship. I think we have a huge role in that process – we are messengers of sorts – relaying the good news about grace.

  7. The contrast between Law vs. Grace, one or the other, is always interesting. But you can’t really combine the two. Grace is given when you fail the Law. Grace replaces the Law, Jesus fufilled the Law that we can’t, and so forth. The idea comes across as without Jesus, we’d all be running from the Law, or trying to hide from it. Yet it was embraced by the Tanakh writers.

    As a Jew, would Jesus have seen that as a good thing? Are Grace and the Law really meant to be that seperate? Enemies, almost? Or would Jesus have expected the Law to be praised, as it was praised in the Psalms? Is the Law just as much of a gift as Grace is?

  8. The Law is holy, we are not and the Law can’t make us so. Jesus is better than the Law. He restores our relationship with God and God has the power to impute His holiness to us. That is what Grace is all about. Our receiving holiness from God without merit.

    The Law is fulfilled when we truly love others and act in love. I can think of no Commandment that is unloving when fulfilled but certainly, the reverse is unloving. If we love Jesus, we will keep God’s Comandments. If we love our sin, we will not. Faith in Jesus changes our desire from that of being in love with our sin to loving God and loving to obey Him.

  9. Could someone explain something to me? If Jews do not believe that Jesus was the messiah how is it that Christians can use the Old Testament to justify their belief in him? After all it was the Jews who wrote the Old Testament not a bunch of Christians. You would think the original writers would know what they were writing about.

  10. John,

    Some Jews do believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus was sent to the Jews originally and if they had fully accepted Him there would be no gentile Christians. I am a gentile believer and I have been grafted into Israel through faith in Jesus Christ. This is what I believe and I believe it because it is what the Bible teaches. Other Christians believe in replacement theology and hold to the premise that Christians replaced the Jews as the people of God. According to my view, Jews are the Chosen people of God and Christians are the Called Out people of God. Both of us are an intrical part of God’s plan for redeeming humankind and His Creation from sin and death.

    The NT is a revelation of the OT made possible through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

    By the way, Jews wrote the NT also. There are no books in the Bible written by Gentile Christians. In any event, I don’t think I or all Christians use scripture to justify their belief. I believed in Jesus first and then began to understand scripture according to faith. The scriptures are my authority on faith and it is through faith in Christ that I am justified. I guess I don’t really seek to be justified to others for what I believe but I do, at times, use scipture to show another what I believe.

  11. I thought the traditional view of the Gospel of Luke was that he was a Gentile? Or is it just the audience that’s considered Gentile?

    John,

    Your answer to that question is really going to depend on the person answering. 🙂 For me, I find it depends on how each verse is translated, and the meaning behind each verse. Take Isaiah 7:14. To Christians, that clearly indicates a prophecy of the virgin birth. To a Jewish audience, the Hebrew word meant “young woman” not “virgin,” and the birth itself clearly took place in the time frame that the Isaiah chapter was speaking about. The child that the young woman gives birth to will learn to reject evil and choose good, he will eat curds and honey, and so forth. I don’t believe any reader of that time would’ve found that to refer to a later virgin birth of the Messiah.

    So it’s situations like that.

  12. Onesmallstep

    Thanks……Also theres the issue that the Messiah is supposed to be a Man, Not God incarnate. Also the Messiah is supposed to bring peace, and as we can see Jesus sure didnt do that.

  13. One Small Step,

    I stand corrected. I guess I’m not very traditional because I had never heard that Luke was Greek and a Gentile. Anyway, it is always good to learn something new. Thanks.

  14. “…if this is true, then how is that event the answer to our self-centredness? Wouldn’t we still have to learn from the event and adopt the ideas of said event into our lives? Or is there something magical that happens when we realize the event and we are automatically changed?”

    Societyvs,

    That event was our self-centeredness and the answer to it at the same time.

    That death was your death (and mine). The cross was the end of our righteousness. The end of our religious improvement project. There is no improvement project outside of that death because His sacrifice for us needed to be the perfect sacrifice because God demands perfection in His realm and nothing short of perfection can enter therein.

    There is no magic in that event…only power. The power for God to forgive sinners. That power is put into action in your baptism where God (who is the one who baptises) adopts you and makes you His own. He puts a tangible stamp on His promise to forgive you. Same thing in Holy Communion…no magic…just God’s power…manifested in His forgiveness and love…for you.

    But we have to…but we need to…but we ought to…

    No buts. God has done this out of His sheer mercy and goodness for you. He wants you to have it so much that He gives it to you.

    He has taken this out of our hands lest we screw it up, which we would surely do.

    “No one is righteous, no not one. No one seeks for God. All of our righteous deeds are as filthy rags.” That is our true condition. But God died for the ungodly, people like you and me! That’s the Good News!

    Thank you Societyvs!

    – Steve Martin

  15. **All of our righteous deeds are as filthy rags.” **

    This has always been an interesting justification for why we’re all ungodly. Why do we say that applies to everyone, rather than the people/time frame Isaiah was specifically talking about? He’s not making a blanket statement that every deed, period, is righteous, but rather what makes those deeds in that moment as filthy rags. The Isaiah verse earlier references that they’ve all done evil from old, and that is why their deeds are unclean. It’s not exactly saying that even if they feed the poor/help the widow and so forth, the deed is unclean. Rather, they aren’t feeding the poor/helping the widow in the first place, if the deeds they do are evil.

    I mostly say this because the Psalms, and even the Isaiah verses, do contrast the righteous vs. the unrighteous. Are we sure that all the Tanakh writers felt that no one sought God, no one was good at times, that every deed was filthy regardless of the deed? I mean, even look at Psalms 9. He says his cause is right, that the Lord does not forsake those who seek Him, He’s a tower of strength for the oppressed, the wicked will be brought into a trap, but the poor will not always be unheeded. Or a lot of the Proverbs, that contrast the good and bad men. In most circumstances, comparisons like that are used when there are good/bad men.

  16. “The contrast between Law vs. Grace, one or the other, is always interesting. But you can’t really combine the two” (OSS)

    It’s an interesting commentary on theology and it seems to be the all prevailing path. But I wonder why they cannot be combined – because of Paul’s theology? Doesn’t Paul kind of combine the two? Or is he just read as ‘anti-law’ and ‘pro grace’?

    I am trying to develop my theology around the idea law and grace do co-exist – from the Tanakh unto the life of Jesus. What is grace but unmerited favor given by God – isn’t that every single incident/thing in the Tanakh also (where these ideas spring from)? I think Paul and others were looking at the grace of God which always existed in the Tanakh and building from that idea into their writings.

    God’s grace, in one single moment at Sinai, can be seen as the Law. The Law helped a community coming out of Egypt to develop a system whereby to live and govern their society – when nothing prior really existed for them. Isn’t that gracious? God reveals to a whole society the laws that will govern them and help them to ‘live’. To me, Sinai is absolutely about grace and law co-existing – follows the event of Exodus (salvation from slavery) to community (laws).

    Now when I think of Matthew comparing Jesus to a Moses figure – which is how Matthew is written – we have another event of similar fashion. Except this time I think we have the messianic story more or less with regards to salvation – Jesus opens the way for all peoples to find close access to God (as a Father). This is the adoption of all peoples – an exodus from distance to closeness – via the Messiah. Complete with teachings on the law (gospel) – from a hill mount – under close guidance of God. That’s still gracious to me, call me odd.

    For me, grace is any movement God makes towards us – and usually it is unwarranted – cause we cannot move God’s hands. The gospel still is about that to me – a grace to find a way to God and to ‘live’ – and I mean, to truly live. Prior to having any of these teachings I am not sure I would’ve called my day to day activities really ‘living’ – since they were not leading in a direction of fulfillment of life – but darkeness unto more darkness (metaphor). The teachings became a foundation to direct my life – to build discipline – to learn – to heal – to forgive – to wrestle with – they are life leading unto life.

    For me, the teachings became the most gracious things I have ever witnessed. Yet, for some, this is not so. The graciousness is in the act of Jesus alone – what he did on a cross in Golgotha – and the remnants of what that means. I am not saying it ain’t gracious, it obviously is, but to me I see the death as a further promotion of what he taught – and not some catch all moment where everything we did wrong was ‘paid for’. Then all we are celebrating is someone’s death – and that’s very anti-Moses in nature. But even Moses’s death leads to the next stage – the inheritance of the promise.

  17. “I thought the traditional view of the Gospel of Luke was that he was a Gentile? Or is it just the audience that’s considered Gentile?” OSS

    It has been traditionally thought that Luke is a gentile, but their is no real proof that Luke is the author of the gospel that bears his name or that he is a gentile. The writer of the Luke and Acts may well have been a gentile, but it is not a certainty, as the the author seems to have knowledge of Judaism and where would have he learned that. It is more likely that the audience is a combination of gentiles and jewish people.

    On a related note, the authorship of Matthew, Mark, and John are also not totally proven.

    “Also theres the issue that the Messiah is supposed to be a Man, Not God incarnate.” (John T)

    Not necessarily, people of the day (some, not all) may have been waiting for a messianic age, rather than a messianic person. Thus they would not have even been looking for messiah as a man, but messiah as a thought, belief, or way of life. We see it as a Messianic person, because we as Christians tend to read Jesus back into the OT.

  18. “The Law is holy, we are not and the Law can’t make us so. Jesus is better than the Law. He restores our relationship with God and God has the power to impute His holiness to us” (Pam)

    I am not sure Jesus is better than the law (personally) – since not even he denies it’s reason for existence and importance. I think Jesus guided the way for the relationship – or made it clearer – and even promised us help in learning about God – but all this relates to learning God’s teachings. I do not buy into the idea we are imputed righteousness (so we can be just). If that is so, then we are ‘pretend just’(vicariously righteous) and not ‘truly just’. I don’t think all the faith in the world will vicariously make me fulfill the ideal ‘love my neighbor’ – why not? Because that’s something you have to do to find out if it’s ‘meaningful’.

    Vicarious/imputed righteousness is not actually taught by Jesus – just thought I’d note that. The idea is not something that makes sense in reality either – which makes me question it’s truthfulness. For example, let’s say a father steals someone’s money clip and then pockets the cash – for his own gain. Is his wife implicated in the action? Is his son implicated in the action? No, only one person there is to blame; the family is shamed if the incident comes out – but they do not answer for the man’s crime. Now let’s say the father finds a money clip and gives it back to the person who dropped it. Is the wife imputed his good deed? Is his son imputed his good deed? No, but if the incident comes out they can all be overjoyed about the sense of responsibility of their husband/father.

    I don’t buy the idea we are made just by someone else’s justness/righteousness. That is not how the law has ever worked and still does not. It’s actually kind of weird for me, I can see on one aspect how Jesus can take the place of another in regards to some spiritual atonement idea – yet – that does not let us off the hook to our responsibilities concerning living the teachings. It just means the path is clear – we can follow it – but there is teachings and grace the whole way.

  19. “God has done this out of His sheer mercy and goodness for you. He wants you to have it so much that He gives it to you.” (Steve)

    What I am asking – and have asked – then what is asked of us by God? Nothing? It is all done and we have no responsibilities? Even if God gives us this and all the teaching you just did on the subject – wouldn’t we still have to learn what ‘the moral of the story’ is? I do not believe we can say ‘God did it all’ and requires nothing of us – because then a logical next step would be – do we even have any value?

    Humans, just in case this is not known, actually crave/desire responsibility. Our jobs come to develop meaning based on our level of responsibility – our active participation in the meaning of the job. Money is nice, but the biggest motivator for job satisfaction is one’s responsibility level (the joy they acquire with relation to the job). Now if that’s how humans like to function – does God not know this about us?

    “God demands perfection in His realm and nothing short of perfection can enter therein.” (Steve)

    Is holiness and perfection the same thing? If God does demand perfection – then explain Moses and Isaiah? Two imperfect human beings that beheld the presence of God – not calling themselves holy – but God holy – and yet – there they lay before Him (not destroyed but invited). I would also say anything created by God must inherently have God’s affection…our value to God is not derived from perfection but from love.

    “He has taken this out of our hands lest we screw it up, which we would surely do” (Steve)

    But he hasn’t Steve – He left this in our hands – as much as He left us to interpret the bible. Now, I think God is aware we are going to screw up – make mistakes and do some things that are pure oddball. But does God stop loving us because we make mistakes? The premise of why God even cares in the first place is because He loves us – and most parents that see their child trying to ‘get it’ – have more mercy/grace than they know what to do with.

  20. Societyvs,

    For God to love us, He asks nothing of us, you understand me correctly.

    If you have a disobedient, rebellious child , do you ask them to straighten out otherwise you will not love them. I think not. You love them whether or not they are good or bad.

    So if God demands nothing of us with respect to our realtionship with Him, what then do we do? Well, we’ve got lots of neighbors that need us. We are free to help them, and that is what God wants us to do. And there is plenty of work there for all. It never ends.

    But as far as keeping God’s law to improve our standing in His eyes…forget it. That is what the cross was all about. Putting an end to pitiful efforts to please God.

    All our righteous deeds are filthy rags is aimed at everyone in every generation, for we are all tainted with sin, the desires of the self that make all our offerings to God impure. That’s why Jesus needed to come, so there could be a pure offering, or sacrifice for our sins.

    Our works are for the neighbor (alone)… and God’s grace is for all of that fall short of His demanded perfection.

    No one has seen God (except Jesus) in His fullness and lived. The scriptures say Moses saw Him “face to face”, but that was an expression for a conversation in close proximity, not literally face to face. (the burning Bush, etc.) Jacob saw God but in the likeness of an angel, etc.

    St. Paul talks about Christ being the end of the Law for all those who have faith. And also speaks of the Law (on tablets of stone) being “the ministry of death.” (2nd Corinthians) and that now life is in the Spirt of the Law and not the letter of the Law.

    ‘Lex semper accusat’ , ‘ the law always accuses’. But the promise always give life.

  21. Society,

    **But I wonder why they cannot be combined – because of Paul’s theology? Doesn’t Paul kind of combine the two? Or is he just read as ‘anti-law’ and ‘pro grace’? **

    If we go with the idea that the Law is a gift, then I would think they should be combined. Especially if we look at the ten commandments. If those are followed, wouldn’t we have a much happier and healthier life? It’s interesting that you note Paul’s theology being the dividing line, because much of the Law-bad, Grace-good does come from his books, not the Gospels.

    **I don’t buy the idea we are made just by someone else’s justness/righteousness. That is not how the law has ever worked and still does not. **

    I don’t, either. Did Judaism ever teach that the Law does make one just/righteous? Or is that what God does, and the Law is just followed with gratitude? It also ties back to a question I raised way back where if Christ’s righteousness is “imputed” to us, then how much of “us” does God actually see, if He can only see perfection/Christ when looking upon us?

    I just don’t get that message from the Gospels.

    I do happen to think that God demands from us, though. We see this a lot when examples of bad Christians are brought up, and that their behavior indicates that they really weren’t saved in the first place, and even though they believe, they’ll be surprised when facing God. If faith was all that mattered, why would the bad Christians be suprised?

    I dno’t think you can have a relationship with God unless your relationship with the neighbor improves. The two are intertwined.

    Steve,

    **But as far as keeping God’s law to improve our standing in His eyes…forget it. That is what the cross was all about. Putting an end to pitiful efforts to please God.**

    Is the Law to be kept to earn salvation, or is it to be kept out gratitude for receiving the Law in the first place? In much of the Tanakh, the Law is praised, and the writers are incredibly thankful for it, which is odd if it’s only purpose is to accuse.

    Otherwise, we end up with God giving a Law that He knew no one could follow (demanding perfection from imperfect creatures) and then saying that all had to be condemned for the inevitable failure. Is that just?

    **All our righteous deeds are filthy rags is aimed at everyone in every generation, for we are all tainted with sin, the desires of the self that make all our offerings to God impure..**

    But this isn’t supported by the Isaiah chapter itself, or other sections in the Bible, such as the Psalms I mentioned. We all know what a righteous deed is — loving others, honoring God, helping the poor. A righteous deed in itself is not evil. Yet the Isaiah verse earlier says that they’ve all done evil, so by default, they can’t do righteous deeds. They aren’t loving others, or honoring God. The “righteous” there is almost used in sarcasm, because the deeds don’t meet the definition of righteous.

  22. “If you have a disobedient, rebellious child , do you ask them to straighten out otherwise you will not love them. I think not. You love them whether or not they are good or bad.” (Steve)

    But even the child is subject to some sort of discipline – from the parent – for their behavior (if they are being disobedient). Because disobedient by virtue means there is ‘something’ to be obedient to (an idea or a rule) – same for rebellion.

    I think we love the child always – but we do not let the child be however they want…with no conscience for what they do – they need a standard to live towards. Love is the issue at hand – well love is quite the concept (very deep). Some might say having a standard to live by is loving – for example – I could teach a child to not ‘hit others’. There is actually no gain for the child to not ‘hit others’ – just removes the hurt it causes to others. Yet, we’d all agree the standard of non-violence is a good one based on what? I think empathy. Yet without the standard a child might have to wander to find that ideal – if they in fact ever find it. It is more loving to give them the standard as a teacher/parent then for them to wander hrough some wilderness to get to it.

    But that will not change the love for my own child – this rebelliousness or disobedience. But as child – most of this juvenile behavior is harmless anyways. If you read the law – very little is directed at children (if any of it). The problem isn’t children – the problem is that child becoming an adult with unruly behaviors. The law exists as a standard and as an impediment to act upon immorality.

    For example, let’s say someone’s child (30 in age) murders your child (12 in age) – for a necklace or something – if the law is void and gone – then so is your rationale for discipline in this case. No law – no need for justice – since there is nothing to be ‘just/right’ concerning.

    I would say the same for the case of Jesus – and his death – no law – nothing about his death becomes moral or immoral – since there is no law or standard to judge this by – it’s a ‘just is’ event in a series of many like it (crucifixion). No blasphemy charge, no reason to make some of his calls on ethics, and no higher standard to look up to, etc. He sets no precedent with his death – without a law to show ‘why it means something’. The law, for as bad a name it gets – is not as bad as it would seem. My personal guess is we all are thankful for the aspects of the law we have in our society – that govern things like property rights, criminal discipline, traffic, trials, etc.

    I think the law gets such a bad name in our faith – but have any of us studied it’s actual role in the Jewish society? Even if we make the comparison of what the law we have does for us – we all have to admit something painstakingly obvious – we are glad to obey the law. Does the law make us worse people? No. Knowing about property rights actually makes us more informed people – and that’s hardly a bad thing. Does the law kill us? No. The law exists to protect life. Does the law condemn us? No…unless we are the one’s breaking it outright. Paul’s troubles with the law kind of baffle me to be honest.

    “Well, we’ve got lots of neighbors that need us” (Steve)

    That’s based on a law – a standard – a commandment (a mitzvot). We are to love our neighbors – and this comes from God at Sinai.

    “But as far as keeping God’s law to improve our standing in His eyes” (Steve)

    But what if keeping the law is not about gaining a better standing with God – but for our love of our neighbor and God (and ourself) – for the betterment of the society around us? Once one can realize that the law is about ‘treating others in the same way we want to be treated’ – then you realize the actual standard also – it is loving our neighbor and wanting the best for him/her/our community. That’s the law Jesus summed up in a nutshell.

    The law is love – and love does not boast nor is it arrogant. I am not sure why as humans in the West we view faith as some kind of corporate ladder – we climb with each thing we can obey – must be the individualism inherent in our society creeping into the aspects of our faith (which is supposed to be communal). Community is not supposed to be about self – reason pride is a problem in the first place (it can become divisive in the community). But in the community – faith is lived because it keeps the people altogether – as one – and breaking aspects of the laws/standard – harms not one – but all. But we will likely never see that – we are part of a very individualistic and, in some regards, a very selfish faith.

    “And also speaks of the Law (on tablets of stone) being “the ministry of death” (Steve)

    If this is true – then explain why it is true. I think Paul is a great person – but if this is all we get from him and his take on the law – then I am not sure he is accurate in his knowledge of the law. Or maybe I am not. Either way, we cannot know for sure without more details.

  23. “Did Judaism ever teach that the Law does make one just/righteous? Or is that what God does, and the Law is just followed with gratitude?” (OSS)

    I didn’t even think of this aspect in my response to Steve – but yes – honoring God or loving God is all about gratitude. Being gracious to one who was gracious to you in the first place. It’s actually the same argument used in defense of why to follow the faith without the law, but to still obey the law – out of gratitude to God. I just thought of community right away as the first answer to the question – but maybe gratitude is it’s partner.

    “I just don’t get that message from the Gospels” (OSS)

    I find Matthew and the letters of Paul almost opposite in the direction they go theologically – but Matthew fits with James quite well; whereas John and Paul’s letters line up more closely – not sure why. I’d need to read Peter more closely to see where he lines up – likely somewhere in the middle.

  24. I think Jesus picked Paul after all the others for a reason.
    I think He picked a guy steeped in the law (a Pharisee amongst Pharisees Paul referred to himself) to show, once and for all that this faith stuff had nothing to do with law keeping.
    St. Paul himself said that compared to knowing Christ and His righteousness, all that law keeping stiff was ‘dog poop’.

    Pauls was the greatest of the Apostles. None of them did what Paul did. And Paul was able to do it because Christ wanted it done.

    When Peter was trying to make Christians Jews first, before they could become Christians, Paul straightened him out.

    Paul was the guy. His letters comprise the majority of the New testament. and for good reason. He constantly brings Christ back to the center and move ourselves to the periphery and not the other way around.

  25. The thing about Paul’s writings, as good as they are, and worthy of our exploration. They are writen with a certain agenda in mind. Paul seems to be trying to convince Jews that Gentile believers belong in the faith camp, so to speak, while at the same time building up Gentile believers to take a more significant role within the movement. To the point where they, the gentiles, eventually take it over and continually and consistently re-invent Christianity.

    As for the Paul and Peter encounter, we actually only hear one side of the story.

  26. “As for the Paul and Peter encounter, we actually only hear one side of the story” (Just1)

    This is true. Peter and Paul have a disagreeance on the law and the keeping of it – but the very fact Peter (who followed Jesus and might be considered the closest disciple of his) wanted to ‘keep the law’ should say a whole lot about what Jesus was teaching. Fact of the matter is, Paul and Peter never ever do end this issue and it’s quite unsure who won that argument.

    “St. Paul himself said that compared to knowing Christ and His righteousness, all that law keeping stiff was ‘dog poop’” (Steve)

    There is also no proof Paul stopped keeping kosher or following the law. He made exceptions for the Gentiles – but he not being one – we are not sure if this guy ever quit following the law himself. I think he did not personally since he is always quick to never fully dismiss the law – namely in Romans – when the argument he makes seems to be leading to that idea.

    “When Peter was trying to make Christians Jews first, before they could become Christians, Paul straightened him out” (Steve)

    I think I will remind you – Peter, James, and John all headed up the Jerusalem faction of the faith while Paul, Barnabas, Mark, and Apollo all headed outward to the Gentile terrirtories. But what needs to be noted was even Paul looked up to Peter, James, and John’s faith and when issues arose about Gentiles – they went to these disciples for clarification and guidance on issues.

    Paul may sound strong in his letters – but he always was under the guidance of that first congregation – which was made up of 3 of the people that followed Jesus physically and heard every word. To me, if I had to choose to sit under Paul or Peter – I would choose Peter (or James or John) – this guy walked directly across Israel with Jesus – hearing every word – and could verify every teaching of Jesus. And Peter wanted to keep the law. If that doesn’t say something about what Jesus must have been teaching than I am not sure there us any clearer proof.

  27. I didn’t notice you’d made a post quoting me until just now O_O

    Compare these sentences – someone tell me if they are opposite in nature:

    “The law” specifically refers to the Mosaic law, which includes certain specific things we do not need to hold to anymore” (Joshua)

    “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven” (Jesus)

    It’s actually rather funny – we do not see Jesus annuling any commandments of God – none at all. Rather he goes into the idea of fulfillment of them – which is very simply:

    “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt 7:12)

    I don’t see the contradiction, especially not in the context of the rest of what I was saying. The rest of what I was saying indicated Christ fulfilled the law. In doing so, I am, practically speaking, not under the kosher ordinances. Yet you seem to be saying the same thing… so I don’t understand, were you saying I was wrong or were you just expounding upon it?

  28. “so I don’t understand, were you saying I was wrong or were you just expounding upon it?” (Joshua)

    I think to say the law is ‘done’ is wrong – but to say Jesus is going to fulfill the law is accurate – it’s a 2 part thing for Christians (came once and did some fulfilling – will come again and finish that process of fulfilling). Jesus has not fulfilled the whole of the law – if that is what he is supposed to do – because the Messiah is not set up as a king (here and now), no peace on earth yet, etc…which is not to say they will not be accomplished by the Messiah – they will – but they aren’t yet.

    Also then that means the law – which is to be fulfilled – is actually not done away with. Jesus said these things would remian until at least all was fuflilled – unless his teachings and expounding on the law are the fulfillment – then no – the law is still in tact and should be.

    That being said, I don’t see the law as all that bad a thing – as explained in the blog itself – the law is good. The law sets standards for the community to live by – and basically – for humanity to live by. The fact a law has to be done away with is quite a foreign idea to the Judaic community – it makes no sense to say such things – since these are the words given from God to a community of people – to be shared.

    I think the way Paul is interpreted makes the law look like some ‘yesteryear’ invention that can be done away with – or fulfilled and is done away with. Jesus simply states he will not annul (make void) any of these commandments – how can any of us really argue with that? That’s from the Messiah’s own mouth. However, I also think Jesus sums up the intent of the law in 2 commandments (about love) and the idea ‘treat other the way you want to be treated’ – and on those ideas the whole law and prophets are ‘fulfilled’. Jesus was not about annuling the law – but about it’s keeping and then teaching others about it’s words.

    I actually am not in disagreeance with you except in the notion the law is ‘done’…when it’s clear – even from most of the interpretations of Revelations or apocalyptic literature – there is still way more to happen – which means the ‘law’ is still in existence (not all of it fulfilled). Unless Jesus, like i mentioned, views fulfillment in a different way than you and I – with more than one view:

    (a) accomplish what was asked of the prophets

    (b) Teaching on the law was to be elaborated upon – fulfilled (thus the 3 point summation – 2 commandments and one intent of the law). The fulfilling was the filing in of the concept of what the Law was to accomplish – for all – Gentiles included.

    It’s not a common view in theology circles – but I think the law is good and should be kept – and I also think the prophets idea of a Messiah needs to be fulfilled (2 aspects).

  29. I actually am not in disagreeance with you except in the notion the law is ‘done’…when it’s clear – even from most of the interpretations of Revelations or apocalyptic literature – there is still way more to happen – which means the ‘law’ is still in existence (not all of it fulfilled).

    When we try to use certain words to describe the Christian view of the law, it can become ambiguous because of the fine shades of meaning that distinguish each word from the next. I don’t believe the law is “done” either. It’s still there, but Christ is the end of the law of righteousness to those who believe (Romans 10:4). We still have a law to live by, but we live by it spiritually rather than carnally (e.g. circumcision of the heart rather than flesh). Such distinctions are difficult to understand (2 Peter 3:16) and I’m sorry if my words were easy to misinterpret. But now you know what I meant.

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