- Jesus preaches Naaman and the widow of Zarephath
- Jesus’ standard of perfection
- What about Matthew 5:19?
- If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law
- Jesus rejected legalism
- We are under a new covenant through Christ
- The Mosaic Law was a shadow of the things to come
- Jesus is the new mediator and lawgiver worthy of more esteem than Moses
- The Book of Acts preaches Christ (not legalism)
- Paul preached against Mosaic legalism
- Faith, not the law, makes us righteous
- Although we do not follow the law of Moses, we are not lawless before God
- Jesus overshadowed the Law
- Key verses in Hebrews about the Law (Peshitta, Lamsa Translation)
- Additional Resources
Jesus preaches Naaman and the widow of Zarephath
As soon a Jesus begin his ministry after he proclaimed the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, in Luke 4:25-29 he made direct reference to the story of Naaman (2Kings 5:8-19) and the Widow of Zarephath (1Kings 17:8-16) who were both non-Jews outside of the law. He said, “But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” (Luke 4:25-27) This infuriated the Pharisees as they were filled with wrath and sought to drive him out of town and throw him off a cliff. The idea of God favoring those outside of the law was offensive to many that Jesus encountered.
Jesus’ standard of perfection
When Jesus was asked by a rich man in Matthew 19:16-21, “What good deed must I do to have eternal life,” Jesus said, “If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” But when questioned about which ones, Jesus did not say all of them or the entire law of Moses. He only mentioned six commandments. Five of them are from the ten commandments including, You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, and Honor your father and mother and he added, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Rather than appealing to the entire law, he appealed to these select group of commandments consistent with his teachings of righteousness.
The man said, “All these I have kept, What do I still lack?” Jesus further states in Matthew 19:21, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Here we see Jesus’ standard is not the entire Mosaic Law but those principals of God’s law that pertain to loving humanity and living a selfless life. If Jesus believed the 613 commands of the Mosaic law was critical, this would have been the perfect opportunity to say so. Rather, Jesus’ prescription to focus on the principles of goodness that pertain to love and charity. Rather than complete conformance to the law of Moses, his standard of perfection was living a selfless life as a servant.
What about Matthew 5:19?
Matthew 5:17-19 is often used by those who advocate following the law of Moses. This includes Matthew 5:19 which says, “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” They fail to acknowledge that this is an introduction to Jesus’ sermon on the mount and that the commandments that he is referring to are the ones that come out of his mouth. Matthew 5:19-20 serves as an introduction to the teachings of Jesus on righteousness that are elaborated on in chapters 5-7. The Scribes and Pharisees emphasized a legalistic adherence to the Mosaic Law, but the commandments Jesus emphases pertained to having a pure heart and righteous conduct covering topics such as anger, lust, divorce, oaths, retaliation, loving enemies, giving to the needy, praying, forgiveness, fasting, anxiety, judging others, the golden rule, and bearing fruit.
It is apparent from the context that Jesus is exhorting the crowd not to compromise his teachings when he says, “whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:19) He is not referring to the ordinances laid down by Moses which the scribes and Pharisees constantly argued over. Rather Jesus said, “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:20) The righteousness that he is referring to are his commandments summarized in his teachings given over three chapters.
When Jesus makes reference to the Law or the Prophets, it is in the context of fulfilling them. He is the one who would accomplish all that is written about him. Through this fulfillment, he has established a new covenant in his blood. Now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not the old way of the written code (Rom 7:6).
If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law
Jesus said to the Pharisees, “If you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would have not condemned the guiltless.” (Mat 12:7, Hos 6:6-7, Mic 6:8) This was in response to his disciples breaking the sabbath. (Mat 12:1-2) In doing so he was making the point that the spirit of the law is more important than the letter of the law. (Matt 12:3-7) In fact, the letter of the law does not even apply to the priests of God. (Mat 12:3-5) And we know that those who follow after Jesus have been made priests to his God and Father. (Rev 1:6, Rev 5:10, Rev 20:6) Our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2Cor 3:5-6) A Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. (Rom 2:29) If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Gal 5:18) All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Rom 8:14)
Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. (Gal 3:23) So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. (Gal 3:24) But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. (Gal 3:25-26) Being found in Christ is not having a righteousness of our own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. (Phil 3:8-9) Now we are released from the law, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code (Rom 7:6). For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Rom 10:4) But the righteousness based on faith says, “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.” (Rom 10:6-8) Declares the Lord, “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts.” (Heb 8:10)
Jesus rejected legalism
We should hear and understand as Jesus said, “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” (Matt 15:10-11) In saying this he declared all foods clean. (Mark 7:19) The Pharisees were offended by this saying, but Jesus said of them, “they are blind guides – and if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit. (Matt 15:12-14) Whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled – but what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. (Matt 15:17-18) For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander – these are what defile a person.” (Matt 15:19-20) Jesus said, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducee” referring to their teaching (Matt 16:6-12) He said of them that preach, but do not practice – they tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders. (Matt 23:1-4) Woe to the scribes and Pharisees, they are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness – those who outwardly appear righteous to others, but within are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matt 23:27-28). Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed or hidden that will not be known. (Luke 12:1-3)
When asked, “Which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself – on these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt 22:36-40) Jesus said, “love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. (Luke 6:35) We are to be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36) The new commandment he gave was this, “that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) Jesus said, Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. (John 15:9-12) He said to his disciples, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
Jesus emphasized love over any other rule including loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:43-45) We are to Judge not, that we are not judged – for with the judgement we pronounce we will be judged and with the measure we use it will be measured to us. (Matt 7:1-2) When we pray, we are to forgive those who have trespassed against us, so that God will forgive our trespasses. (Matt 6:12, Luke 11:4) The narrow gate is to do to others as you would wish that others would do to you, this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matt 7:12) Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners according to the principle, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ (Matt 9:13) Jesus calls to those who labor and are heavy laden saying, “I will give you rest – take my yoke upon you, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls – for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30) Those who understand what it means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ do not condemn the guiltless who work on the sabbath. (Matt 12:1-8) The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)
In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Gal 5:6) We fulfill the law of Christ by bearing one another’s burdens. (Gal 6:2) We are to owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Rom 13:8) For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Rom 13:9) Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Rom 13:10) If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. (James 2:8) This is the commandment of God, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. (1John 3:23)
We are under a new covenant through Christ
The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. (Luke 16:16) Jesus’ body was given for us and the new covenant in his blood is the cup that is poured out for us. (Luke 22:19-20) The righteousness of God has now been manifested apart from the law – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe – for there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. (Rom 3:21-22) We are justified through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood to be received by faith. (Rom 3:24-25) Not by a law of works but by the law of faith – one is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. (Rom 3:27-28) Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Rom 10:4) This is in contrast to Moses who writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. (Rom 10:5) The first covenant pertains to the children of a slave woman corresponding to the present Jerusalem, and the second covenant pertains to those who are children of a free woman corresponding to the Jerusalem above. (Gal 4:22-26). We are of the new Jerusalem which is free, born through promise as sons of the free woman. (Gal 4:26)
We are a letter from Christ, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (2Cor 3:3). Our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit – for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2Cor 3:5-6) We were once strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Eph 2:12) But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Eph 2:13) For he himself is our peace, who has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances. (Eph 2:14-15) Christ has obtained a ministry that is much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better. (Heb 8:6) If that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. (Heb 8:7) In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete – what is becoming obsolete is growing old and ready to vanish away. (Heb 8:13)
The Mosaic Law was a shadow of the things to come
The promise of blessing was given to Abraham and his offspring, who is Christ. (Gal 3:17) The law was added 430 years later because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made. (Gal 3:17-20) As righteousness could not be obtained by the law, the law did not cancel the Abrahamic promise. (Gal 3:17, 21). The law that was given that could not give life because righteousness cannot be achieved by the law. (Gal 3:21) Rather, the law came and imprisoned everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (Gal 3:22) The law held captive and imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. (Gal 3:23) The law as our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith in being baptized into Christ and being found in Christ. (Gal 3:26-27) For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Gal 5:6) In Christ Jesus, there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female. (Gal 3:28) If we are Christ’s, then we are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (Gal 3:29)
The law was put in place through by angles through an intermediary which is more than one entity, where God is one. (Gal 3:21) When there was a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. (Heb 7:12) Priests who operate according to the law serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. (Heb 8:5) Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. (Heb 8:6) It is evident that the law was inadequate in the Lord declaring, “The days are coming when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.” (Heb 8:8-9) On one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect), on the other hand, a better hope is introduced through which we are reconciled to God. (Heb 7:18-19)
The Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section of preparation (symbolic for the present age) is still standing. (Heb 9:1-9) Under the first covenant, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. (Heb 9:9-10) The law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities. (Heb 10:1) When Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me.” (Heb 10:5) When he said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book,” he does away with the first order to establish the second. (Heb 10:7-9) And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Heb 10:10) Therefore let no one pass judgement on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. (Col 2:16) These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. (Col 2:18)
The law applies as long as one lives. (Rom 7:1) When one dies, they are released from the law. (Rom 7:2-3) Likewise, those who are part of the body of Christ have died to the law, so that they may belong to another and bear fruit for God. (Rom 7:4) In the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. (Rom 7:5) But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. (Rom 7:6) The ministry of death, carved in letter on stone came with glory which is now being ended. (2Cor 3:7) The ministry of the Spirit now has even more glory. (2Cor 3:8) For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. (2Cor 3:9) The law that once had glory has come to have no glory at all, compared to the glory that surpasses it. (2Cor 3:10) For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more what is permanent. (2Cor 3:11) Those with hardened minds, to this day, whenever the law of Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts (2Cor 3:13-15) Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty and when one turns to the Lord, who is the Spirit, the veil is removed. (2Cor 3:16-18) With unveiled face, through beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another (2Cor 3:18)
Jesus is the new mediator and lawgiver worthy of more esteem than Moses
Moses himself prophesied of Christ saying “The lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers – it is to him you shall listen.” (Deut 18:15) In saying this Moses made it the clear the one who was to come was to be a greater authority than he was while Peter also added, “It shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.” (Acts 3:23) Peter declared to all the house of Israel in no uncertain terms that God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:36) In further recognizing Jesus as the principal authority, Peter proclaimed that God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:31). Jesus is the apostle (messenger) and high priest (mediator) of our confession. (Heb 3:1) For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses. (Heb 3:3) Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later. (Heb 3:5) Now Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son, and we are his house. (Heb 3:6) Because God made an oath to Christ, that he was a priest forever and would not change his mind – this makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. (Heb 7:21-22)
Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. (Heb 8:6) He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. (Heb 9:15) Those in Christ will come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant. (Heb 12:22-24) God our savior desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth – for there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (1Tim 2:4-5)
The Book of Acts preaches Christ (not legalism)
The Acts of the Apostles affirms the core gospel message that, ‘every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.’ (Acts 5:42, Acts 2:36, Acts 9:22, Acts 17:3, Acts 18:5) Peter declared the preeminence of Christ when he declared, “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36) And he said, “God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 5:31) Of critical importance is that Jesus is the prophet of whom Moses said, “You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.” (Deut 18:15) Peter recognized that following Christ above anyone else was paramount, saying, “it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.” (Acts 3:23)
The proclaiming of the resurrection from the dead by means of Jesus annoyed the Jewish leaders. (Acts 4:1-2) Stephan, rebuked them affirming that the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands (undermining the importance of the temple) and that the Jewish leaders were stiff-necked people, uncircumstanced in heart and ears who always resisted the Holy Spirit. (Acts 7:48-51) Stephan said, “Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered.” (Acts 7:52) He concluded by saying that although they received the law as delivered by angels, they failed to keep the law in condemning Christ. (Acts 7:53) This enraged them and they cast him out of the city and stoned him to death. (Acts 7:54-60)
In moving further away from Jewish sentiments, God revealed to Peter, “I should not call any person common or unclean” although it was unlawful for a Jew to associate with or visit anyone of another nation. (Acts 10:28) Peter affirmed, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34) Believers from among the circumcised were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. (Acts 10:45) When Peter relayed the news and said, “God gave the same gift to them as he gave to use when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” (Acts 11:17) In hearing this, those of Jerusalem acknowledged that, also to the Gentiles, God has granted repentance that leads to life. (Acts 11:18)
In Jerusalem, some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, regarding the Gentile believers, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.” (Acts 15:5) Peter stood up against them saying, “why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?” (Acts 15:10) The judgement of James, the leader of the Jerusalem church, was “we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. (Acts 15:18-19). The letter stated, ‘It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements … If you keep yourself from these, you will do well.’ (Acts 15:28-29) In making such a judgement regarding the Gentiles, they were affirming that following the law of Moses was not an essential requirement of being a disciple of Christ.
What we see in Acts is that the gospel of Jesus Christ overshadowed the law of Moses wherein Paul affirmed, “everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:39) In response to Paul’s message, certain Jews were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. (Acts 13:45) The response of Paul and Barnabas was, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you – since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. (Acts 13:46) Later Paul was accused that he taught all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to their customs. (Acts 21:21)
In Acts the new covenant overrides the old as the Apostles bore witness to the preeminence of Christ who is Jesus. (Acts 5:42, Acts 2:36, Acts 9:22, Acts 17:3, Acts 18:5) They preached that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. (Acts 10:42) To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. (Acts 10:43) God has appointed him judge the world in righteousness. (Acts 17:31) This is the one about which Moses said, “You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.” (Acts 3:22-23)
Paul preached against Mosaic legalism
Paul rebuked those who were deserting God and were turning to a different gospel telling believers to follow the law of Moses. (Gal 1:6-7) Although Paul was previously a zealous Jew in following the traditions of his fathers and being more advanced in Judaism than his peers, the grace of God was revealed to him in his son in order that he might preach Jesus among the Gentiles. (Gal 1:14-16) As Paul’s ministry continued, false brothers came into the churches, who slipped in to spy out the freedom that they had in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring them back into slavery. (Gal 2:4) To those who seemed influential, Paul did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved to those he ministered to. (Gal 2:5-6) He even opposed Peter to his face because he was in error. (Gal 2:11) For after eating with the Gentiles, he drew back and separated himself from them, fearing the circumcision party. (Gal 2:12) The conduct of a Jew who lived like a Gentile to force Gentiles to live like Jews was not in step with the truth of the gospel. (Gal 2:13-14)
Those believers who were Jews by birth have come to understand that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. (Gal 2:15) They believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Gal 2:16) It would be a transgression for Paul to rebuild what he tore down since he died to the law, so that he might live to God. (Gal 2:18-19) He was crucified with Christ – living his life in the flesh by faith in the Son of God. (Gal 2:19-20) Paul refused to nullify the grace of God by preaching the law, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Gal 2:21)
Preaching the works the law is foolish for one who bears witness of Jesus Christ crucified for us. (Gal 3:1-2) For we receive the Spirit not by works of the law, but by hearing with faith. (Gal 3:2) So foolish it is, that after having started by the Spirit, we would then vainly pursue a means of being perfected by the flesh. (Gal 3:3-4) He who supplies the Spirit and works miracles does so by hearing with faith and not by works of the law. (Gal 3:5-6) All who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law and do them.” (Gal 3:10) No one is justified before God by the law but rather through faith we obtain righteousness. (Gal 3:11) Abiding by the law is not operating in faith but is a legalistic way of living adopted by those who adhere to it. (Gal 3:12) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, so that in Christ Jesus, the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles and that the promised Spirit could be received through faith.
The Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus might be given to those who believe. (Gal 3:22) Before faith came, they were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. (Gal 3:23) The law was a guardian until Christ came, in other that justification would come by faith. (Gal 3:24) No longer under a guardian are those who through faith in Jesus are now sons of God. (Gal 3:25-26) As many have baptized into Christ have put on Christ and we are all one in him – there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female. (Gal 3:26-27). If we belong to Christ, we are the offspring of Abraham and are the heirs of the promise. (Gal 3:29) Now that we have come to know God and come to be known by God, how can we turn back again and become slaves once more to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world? (Gal 4:8-9) The labor of the Gospel is in vain if we go back to observing days and months and seasons and years. (Gal 4:10-11) Considering that the underlying message of the law points to a better covenant of freedom through Christ, as opposed to the covenant of slavery, it is perplexing that some believers would desire to be under the law. (Gal 4:20-26)
Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. (Rom 14:1-3) Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls – and he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Rom 14:4) Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. (Rom 14:13) I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. (Rom 14:14) The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom 14:16) Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men – So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Rom 14:17-18)
If you accept circumcision you are obligated to keep the whole law and Christ will be of no advantage to you. (Gal 5:2-3) You who would be justified by the law have fallen away from grace, being severed from Christ. (Gal 5:4) For by faith through the Spirit, we eagerly wait for our hope in the one who makes us righteous. (Gal 5:5) For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Gal 5:6) Look out for those who mutilate the flesh, rather it is those who are of the circumcision that worship by the Spirit of God putting no confidence in the flesh. (Phil 3:2-3) Let no one pass judgement on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. (Col 2:16) These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. (Col 2:17) We are free from all such things, not being under the law. (1Cor 9:19-20) Although we can live outside the law, we are not lawless before God but under the law of Christ. (1Cor 9:21) If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Gal 5:18)
Faith, not the law, makes us righteous
The forgiveness of sins is proclaimed through the name of Jesus, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which they could not be freed by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:38-39) By the mouth of Peter, God made a choice that the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. (Acts 15:7) God, who knows the heart, bore witness to their salvation, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to the Jews, and he made no distinction between Gentiles and Jews, having cleansed their hearts by faith. (Acts 15:7-9) There is no reason to put God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that the Jews have not been able to bear. (Acts 15:10) Both Jews and Gentiles will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 15:11) We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus, Christ, so we believe in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Gal 2:16)
We are to die to the law, so that we might live to God. (Gal 2:19) If we have been crucified with Christ, we no longer live by the flesh, but Christ lives in us as we live by faith in the Son of God. (Gal 2:20) We should not nullify the grace of God by trying to obtain righteousness through the law, otherwise, Christ died for no purpose. (Gal 2:21) We receive the Spirit by hearing with faith, not by works of the law. (Gal 3:2) It is so foolish, after being perfected by the Spirit, we go back to being perfected by the works of the flesh. (Gal 3:3) He who supplies the Spirit to us and works miracles among us does so by hearing with faith, not by the works of the law. (Gal 3:5) All things are as loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:7-8) Other things should be counted as rubbish to gain Christ and be found in him, not having not having a righteousness of our own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ – the righteousness from God that depends on faith. (Phil 3:8-9)
It is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Gal 3:11) But the law is not of faith, rather a legalistic way of living. (Gal 3:12) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (Gal 3:13-14) By the works of the law no human being will be justified, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (Rom 3:20) But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, the righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. (Rom 3:21-22) There is no distinction between Jews and Gentiles: all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. (Rom 3:22-25)
Although we do not follow the law of Moses, we are not lawless before God
A common objection by those who follow the law of Moses is that not following the written law is lawlessness. However 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 is key to understanding that this is not the case where Paul indicates that although he was not under the law (of Moses), he was not outside the law of God but under the law of Christ. (1Cor 9:20-21). The Lamsa translation of the Peshitta for 1Cor 9:21 is, ‘I became like one who is without law, though I am not lawless before God because I am under the law of Christ’ and the Murdock translation, ‘I was without the law, (although I am not without law to God, but under the law of the Messiah).’ Accordingly, not following the law of Moses is not to be lawlessness, rather we are under the law of Christ (Messiah).
Jesus overshadowed the Law
Jesus and his disciples work on the Sabbath
Mark 2:23-28 (ESV) – One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
Matthew 12:1-8 (ESV) – At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
Luke 6:1-5 (ESV) – On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” And Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?” And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
John 5:16-17 (ESV) – And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
John 9:16 (ESV) – Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them.
Jesus declared all foods clean
Mark 7:15-23 (ESV) – There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Luke 11:37-41 (ESV) – While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.
Jesus teaches against violence
Matthew 5:38-39 (ESV) – “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Matthew 5:43-45 (ESV) 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Matthew 26:52 (ESV) – Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
Luke 6:27-31, 36 (ESV) – “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them … Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Jesus overrides the law on divorce
Mark 10:2-12 (ESV) – And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
Matthew 5:31-32 (ESV) – “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Matthew 19:3-9 (ESV) – And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
Luke 16:18 (ESV) – “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
Jesus taught not to judge
Matthew 7:1-5 (ESV) – “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Luke 6:37-38 (ESV) – “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Additional commandments of Jesus
The commandments of Jesus, such as described in Matthew chapters 5-7 pertain to having a pure heart and righteous conduct. These cover topics such as anger (Mt 5:21-26), lust (Mt 5:27-30), divorce (Mt 5:31-32), oaths (Mt 5:33-37), retaliation (Mt 5:38-42), loving enemies (Mt 5:43-48), giving to the needy (Mt 6:1-4), praying (Mt 6:5-13), forgiveness (Mt 6:14), fasting (Mt 6:16-18), anxiety (Mt 6:25-34), judging others (Mt 7:1-5), the golden rule (Mt 7:12-14), and bearing fruit (Mt 7:15-20)
Key verses in Hebrews about the Law (Peshitta, Lamsa Translation)
Heb 7:11 – If therefore perfection had been reached by the Levitical priesthood by which the law was enacted for the people, what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec? Otherwise, the scriptures would have said that he would be after the order of Aaron.
Heb 7:12 – Since there was a change in the priesthood, so also there was a change in the law.
Heb 7:18 – For the change which took place in the former law was made on account of its weaknesses and because it had become useless.
Heb 7:19 – For the law made nothing perfect, but there has come in its place a better hope, by which we draw near to God.
Heb 8:7 – For if the first covenant had been faultless, then there would have been no need for the second.
Heb 8:8 – For he found fault with them and said, Behold, the day is coming, says the Lord, when I will perfect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah;
Heb 8:9 – Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt; and because they abode not in my covenant, I rejected them, says the Lord.
Heb 8:10 – For this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law into their minds, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be my people.
Heb 8:13 – For he has spoken of a new covenant; the first one has become old, and that which is old and obsolete is near destruction.
Heb 9:8 – By this the Holy Spirit revealed that the way of the saints would not yet be made known so long as the old tabernacle remained.
Heb 9:9 – Which was the symbol for that time, now past, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices which could not make perfect the conciseness of him who offered them,
Heb 9:10 – But which served only for food and drink, and in various ablutions which are ordinances of the flesh and were imposed until the time of reformation.
Heb 10:1 – For the law had in it a shadow of the good things to come but was not the essence of the things themselves; hence although the same sacrifices were offered every year, they could not perfect those who offered them.
Heb 10:4 – For it is not possible blood of bulls and of goats could take away sins.
Heb 10:8 – Above when he said, Sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and offerings for sins, thou wouldst not have, the very ones which were offered according to the law;
Heb 10:9 – And after that he said, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. Thus he put an end to the first in order to establish the second.