Every now and then in a class or Bible study, someone will emphasize that Christians must faithfully obey the Ten Commandments. Now, part of the job of the teacher is to challenge the people they’re teaching, to get them wrestling with vital concepts, to facilitate a certain amount of creative tension. Often we need to spend more time questioning answers than answering questions. And I certainly cause some head-scratching when I ask: “Are we supposed to obey the Ten Commandments?”
“Of course, we are!” a few people will say confidently.
This usually leaves the people more than a little nonplussed. Finally, someone will say, “Because it’s in the Bible. It’s God’s law.”
“So, you keep the Ten Commandments?”
“I do my best to, yes.”
“Do you keep the Sabbath?”
“Well, I . . . um . . . I try to reserve Sunday for worshiping God and spending time with my family.”
“That’s great,” I’ll say, “but that’s not keeping the Sabbath. If we’re going to follow God’s law, we can’t alter it or adjust it. The Sabbath is the seventh day, which is Saturday. And keeping the Sabbath didn’t have anything to do with going to church. It was having a day of total rest. No work, no chores around the house, not even any cooking or traveling. Nothing that would cause you to exert yourself. Do you faithfully do this every Saturday?”
At this point, another believer may jump in and ask, “But aren’t there passages that say we don’t need to observe the Sabbath anymore?”
To which I’ll often respond, “Yes, let’s take a look at a few of them.”
In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable.
You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years. I fear for you. Perhaps all my hard work with you was for nothing. Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to live as I do in freedom from these things, for I have become like you Gentiles—free from those laws.
So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.
I also have them look at the example of the early church in the New Testament and see that there’s no place where Christian believers are taught to observe the Sabbath. Finally, I’ll ask, “So, are Christians required to keep the Sabbath?”
“No,” is usually the answer from everyone.
“Okay, then I guess that means that Christians are supposed to obey the Nine Commandments . . . right?”
And now they’re grappling with the issue again! Do you see where the confusion is coming from? We have a tendency to open the Bible anywhere and, because it’s all God’s Word, assume that everything applies to us. In previous studies, we’ve discussed how this causes a lot of confusion and error. We know instinctively that not all of the Old Testament applies to us now. But surely some of it does. Wouldn’t this include the Ten Commandments?
Some have tried to solve this by distinguishing between moral laws and ceremonial laws. There’s only one problem. We don’t find even one place in the Bible—either in the Old Testament or the New—where it categorizes the law in this way. Instead it consistently refers to “the law” in its entirety. To say ‘this isn’t a moral law, it’s a ceremonial law,’ is really just a fancy way of saying, ‘I don’t think this law should apply to me.’ If we don’t have any biblical basis for making this distinction, we’re right back where we started. (And James is very clear that if we’re going to keep the Mosaic law, we have to keep all of the laws [James 2:10].)
So let’s apply some common sense here:
When were the Ten Commandments given?
When the people were at Mt Sinai, after God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt.
What was the context?
The Ten Commandments were part of a much more extensive law given to the people by God. This was part of God establishing his covenant with the people.
With whom was God entering into this covenant, and to whom was this law given?
The nation of Israel.
Are we part of the nation of Israel?
Many of us are not. We would fall into the same category as the new Gentile believers in the early church, who were not required to become Jews and obey the Old Covenant law.
So the Old Covenant is not our covenant,
and the Old Testament law is not our law.
But what of Jewish followers of Christ today? Are they obligated to observe the Old Covenant law? The Old Covenant (the formal relationship established between God and the people of Israel), with it’s laws and sacrifices, pointed forward to and anticipated Jesus. He established a New Covenant—a new way for any of us to enter into relationship directly with God.
This New Covenant in Christ fulfilled the Old Covenant (and its laws and sacrifices) and superseded it. All followers of Christ—Jews and Gentiles—are New Covenant people of God. We’ve been freed from the Old Covenant law and are no longer under its jurisdiction. (Some Jewish followers of Christ still observe their traditional laws and customs, but this is because they choose to; they don’t follow the old law to earn God’s favor.)
Do we see this in Scripture? The letter to the Galatians was written about this very issue, so let’s begin there:
Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised.
Before the way of Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.
Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. And now that faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.
Corresponding to Paul’s teaching in this letter are the many references to us no longer being “under law, but under grace.” The book of Hebrews also makes clear this change:
The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves.
When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means that he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear.
So, does this mean that we can do whatever we want? That we’re not bound by any law at all? Not at all! Paul makes this clear as well in 1 Corinthians 9:20-21:
When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law.
When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.
Did you notice how he clarifies this? He is not subject to the old Jewish law, but he is still under the law of Christ. James makes the same distinction in James 2:8-13 when he speaks of the “royal law” of love and the “law that sets you free.” Now we can see how significant it was for Jesus to tell his disciples that he was giving them a new commandment (John 13:34).
What is this new commandment of Christ? “Love one another.” When we truly love God and love each other—in faith in Christ and through the power of the Spirit—we fulfill the law. Not only that, but when we view the Old Testament legal instructions through the lens of Christ’s law of love, we’re able to distinguish easily between the unchanging moral requirements of God and the temporary civil and ceremonial laws for the people of Israel.
If you love someone, will you murder them? Of course not. In fact, Jesus says we won’t even have hatred in our hearts toward them. If you love your spouse, will you commit adultery? No. We won’t even entertain lustful thoughts about someone else if we’re truly loving. If we love God, will we worship something or someone in his place? Definitely not.
If we love God and others, will we keep the Sabbath? This isn’t simply a question of love anymore, is it? The Sabbath was intended to set apart the nation of Israel as God’s people. Keeping the Sabbath was a temporary ordinance, not an eternal moral imperative. The same is true of laws prohibiting the eating of pork, marking of one’s body and mixing different kinds of fabric. When we look at the Old Testament law through Christ’s law of love, we’re able to clearly distinguish between the eternal and the temporary, the moral and the ceremonial. But we’re not making this distinction purely on our own, but by seeing everything through Christ’s New Covenant law of love. And it’s not a coincidence that most of the unchanging moral requirements are reiterated in the New Testament, while the temporary civil and ceremonial codes are not.
So are we supposed to obey the Ten Commandments? We follow many of these same commands: we don’t worship other gods, we don’t murder, we don’t steal, etc. But we don’t follow them because they’re in the Ten Commandments. We follow them because we follow the way of Christ and his law of love. To fail to observe these laws would be to fail to love God and each other. But we must keep clear in our minds that we are not the nation of Israel, and we are not under the Old Testament law. We follow Christ and his New Covenant law of love.
We strive every day to love as Jesus loves, and hopefully we’re continually growing in this life of love. One day we will perfectly love as God perfectly loves us. Then we will be truly human as God always intended us to be. And when we are completely transformed by the love and power of Christ, then we will perfectly fulfill the law of God. Because all he requires from us . . . is for us to be who he created us to be.
Are Christians supposed to tithe?
How to study the Bible series:
Which Bible version should I use?
The first three rules of Bible study
Why do we have to “study” the Bible?
Where are we?: Getting a feel for the bigger story
You’ve got mail: Opening the letters to the churches
Building bridges: Cultural differences in the letters to the churches
Following the story: God and his people, part 1
Following the story: God and his people, part 2
Acting on Acts: How do we apply Acts to the church today?
Should Christians obey the Ten Commandments?: Christians and the Old Testament law [see above]
The psalms: Prayers to God that speak to us
Walking with the wise: Learning from the Bible’s poetic wisdom
The prophets: God’s messengers, calling his people back
75 thoughts on “Should Christians obey the Ten Commandments?: Christians and the Old Testament law”
it is nice to give this study to the world to know GOD by keeping his law
Several flaws with your argument:
1. There IS a distinct difference in the ceremonial laws (handwriting of Moses) and the Ten Commandments (handwriting of God, on tables of stone, placed inside the ark, under the mercy seat) Deut 4:13,14; 31;26; 2 Kings 21:8
2. James 2:10 is referring to the Ten Commandments and this can be seen by reading the verse in its context (the only prudent way to study)
3. You are clearly blinded by the Israel deception. Israel is the name given to God’s people. All his people. The church is nothing more than a “called out assembly”. The body of Christ. They are known to God as Israel…spiritual Israel. We find evidence of this time and time again in the NT…Rom 2:28,29; Rom 9:6; Rom 11:17,18 Gal 3:7, 3:28,29; 6:16. Christianity is nothing more than the completion of the Jewish faith; it is a religion based on a Jewish manual. God made his covenant with Israel and the house of Judah. We are all “grafted in” by faith. Israel in the Bible has nothing to do with the physical nation of Israel as we know it today.
4. Read the book 1 John and then try to convince me that the commandments don’t matter. We will all be judged by God’s moral law. It is not possible to be a converted Christian and then break God’s commandments. Obedience out of love is the true test of our faith. Justification + Santification = Glorification. Willful disobedience to God’s commandments (any of them) will result in not gaining entrance to God’s kingdom. Jesus said if you wish to gain eternal life, keep the commandments. Jesus said if you love him, keep the commandments. He is referring to God’s moral law. The Ten Commandments.
5. Absoulutely it is true that we are not under the law but under grace but very few people actually know what this means. Being under the law refers to being under the condemnation of the law or the penalty of the law which is death (Rom 6:23). By grace, we are found to be righteous in God’s sight if by faith we believe in what Christ did for us on the cross. Salvation cannot be earned. It is a free gift. However, just because we are free from sin doesn’t mean we are free to sin and sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). We know from the context in which John was speaking that he is talking about the Ten Commandment law, the moral law of God.
God’s Ten Commandment law, per the scriptures, is just, holy, perfect, righteous, good, pure, true, spiritual, faithful, love, unchangeable, eternal. Funny, this seems to be an accurate description of His character. It is part of his will for us. In order to truly follow, we have to submit to His will and this would include the Ten Commandments. Most people want to throw them out due to the 4th commandment, but that’s a whole different discussion altogether.
Dustin, I always appreciate when people challenge my thinking. None of us are infallible, and we need to be open to correction from others. Having said that, it’s alarming for a commenter to claim that I am clearly blinded by deception, that I am not prudently reading the Bible in context, and that few people actually know what a certain teaching means (while you presumably do). But let’s take a look at what you claim are flaws in my argument.
1. There is no passage of Scripture—including the passages you reference—that distinguishes between moral and ceremonial law. The Ten Commandments are frequently mentioned, but they are never described as moral law in distinction to ceremonial law.
2. James 2:11 does list two of the Ten Commandments. However verse 8 quotes a law that is not part of the Ten Commandments, and verse 10 specifically mentions “all of God’s laws.” So if we read this verse in its context (which I agree is the prudent way to study), it would be inaccurate to somehow limit its meaning to only the Ten Commandments.
3. Whether or not the church now fulfills and replaces everything promised to and about Israel is a fascinating debate, but entirely irrelevant to the subject of this post. Even if the church is to be viewed as spiritual Israel, we are the New Covenant people of God, not the Old Covenant people of God.
4. Did you actually read the whole post to which you’re responding? The New Testament repeatedly teaches that we are no longer bound to the Mosaic code, the Old Covenant law, but that we are still obligated to obey the law of God. Much of my post is explaining how to understand this biblical distinction. Jesus said that if we love him we will keep his commandments (not “the” commandments). 1 John is referring to the same thing, specifically Christ’s commandment that we love one another. As Hebrews 7:12 tells us (after explaining Christ’s role as priest, replacing the OT priesthood): “And if the priesthood is changed, the law must also be changed.” This is why Jesus gives us a “new commandment.” This new law perfectly fulfills the OT law, while also perfectly distinguishing between the unchanging moral law of God and the temporary ceremonial law for the nation of Israel.
5. There is nothing in the context of 1 John indicating the Ten Commandments. Quite the contrary, John repeatedly clarifies which commandments he is intending:
This emphasis is repeated many times throughout this letter. There is no contextual basis for assuming he is referring to the Ten Commandments. You are imposing this on the text, not drawing it from the text.
Please reread 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 (quoted in the post above). Paul wrote that when he was trying to reach Jews still under the Old Covenant law, he followed the requirements of that law even though he was no longer subject to that law (but was still subject to the law of Christ). No, I believe that the many Christian pastors and scholars who teach the truth of what it means to no longer be under the law but under grace understand it clearly, and that it is you who are mistaken.
Grace and peace,
First off, having gone back and reread my post, I can see why you would think that I was attacking your knowledge or that I was the only one who understood these teachings. For that, I appologize as that was certainly not my intent. Sometimes my thoughts or what I am trying to say does not get conveyed in an appropiate manner when I write it down. Trust me, you would find that if we were having this discussion face to face that would not be the impression I would give you. I am a firm follower of Isaiah’s words “come now and let us reason together” and I certainly did not hold true to that initially. Second chance? Having said that, I still do not agree with your statements.
I will make a few counterpoints to my original posts and then expound a bit more…
1) I believe that the argument that we can’t distinguish between the ten commandments and all the other laws, statutes, ordinances is very weak. The sheer majesty in which they were given seperates them from all the other laws. God wrote them with his own finger on two tables of stone. Its the only portion of His word that HE actually wrote. This act alone signifies that they are eternal and unchanging. They were then placed INSIDE the ark of the covenant (while the other laws were written by Moses and placed in a pocket on the side of the ark); the ark was then placed in the most holy place of the sanctuary. The mercy seat sat above the ark and this signified the very presence of God. It was the only piece of furniture found in the most holy place and at the very heart of it was the holy law of God. Absolutely it is seperate and distinct. Secondly, do you believe that these commandments were in existence prior to Mt Sinai? In Genesis 4:7, God warned Cain that “sin lies at the door”. Cain killed/murdered Abel; a violation of the 6th commandment. Then again in Genesis 39:9 when Joseph was tempted by Pontiphar’s wife he rebukes her by saying, “how can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?; a violation of the 7th commandment. We also see in 26:5 that God says Abraham has “kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes and my laws”. Is it unreasonable to suggest that this would include the Ten Commandments? Now I am willing to conceed to the point that the Law does not always mean the Ten Commandments and can also mean the ceremonial laws. However, it is rather easy to determine based on the context and the audience just which laws/commandments are being referred to. For example, Acts 15 is clearly teaching that the ceremonial laws are the ones the disciples are trying to say don’t matter. The converted Jews were trying to persuade the converted Gentiles into obeying their ceremonial laws (namely circumcision). The context is clear that the Ten Commandments were not being thrown out. I also think that many of the teachings of Paul indicate that the ceremonial laws/sacrificial system/feast days were merely shadows of Christ and therefore unnecessary to keep. Type had met Antitype. It’s the same reason we don’t sacrifice lambs today.
2) James 2:8 says “…thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,”. How is this seperate from the Ten Commandments? Jesus said the two great commandments were to love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul and to love thy neighbor as yourself; same thing James is saying. Christ then continues by saying that on these commandments ALL the law and the prophets hang. Now Christ is not giving us two new commandments but merely summarizing the Ten. The first four deal with loving God and the last six deal with loving mankind. So to claim that James 2:10 is not referring to the Ten Commandment law is, in my opinion, a weak argument.
3) I think the subject of spiritual Israel is absolutley valid to this discussion for the very reason you mentioned…Old vs New covenant. Was salvation before the cross merely obedience to the law? Does God now have a different means of salvation for the NT church? Is God a racist? Does he save people based soley on their genetics or family tree? Surely not. The NC faith experience is no different than the OC/OT teachings. Righteousness has always been by faith alone. God has always intended there to be a “circumcision of the heart”. (see Deut 10:16, 30:6; Jer 4:4; Rom 2:29; Col 2:10,11; Deut 30:11-14 vs Rom 10:6-8) The standard of righteousness has always been the Ten Commandments. God’s chosen nation (Israel) continued to break his commandments (namely worshiping idols and breaking the Sabbath) and were thus punished, persecuted, taken captive, etc., etc. His covenant always came with conditions. They were expected to be obedient. The NT clearly teaches that due to their disobedience and rejection of the Messiah, His chosen people were no longer the physical descendents of Abraham. They were no longer given the priviledge of preserving his truth. The door was opened to the Gentiles. But there is never a NC made with anyone but the House of Judah and the House of Israel (Jer 31:31, Heb 8:10). The NT teaches that the NT Church (spiritual Israel) replaces literal, physical Israel as God’s chosen people and promises are fulfilled through Christian believers both Jew and Gentile. Furthermore, the NC in no way abolishes the Ten Commandment law (compare Jer 31:31 with 11:1-8). Heb 8:7 says that “if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place been sought for the second. God’s law is not faulty. Paul says its perfect, holy and just. God found fault with them; the people (Heb 8:8). And then God goes own to say that he will write his laws into their hearts and minds. Never does the NC say that the law has been done away with or that we are not expected to obey it. The apostles do not teach this either (ie Rom 3:31)
4) Just one remark regarding your emphasis of “His commandments”: are you somehow suggesting the God the father’s commandments are different than God the son’s? Jesus says he kept His father’s commandments. Jesus told the young rich man in Matt 19 that if he wanted to enter eternal life that he should keep the commandments (and then quotes from the Ten Commandments). I don’t think I am implying anything to 1 John and that it is erroneous to say that John is referring to God’s Ten Commandments. John says in 2:6 that we ought to “walk, even as he walked”. Jesus lived a sin free life. This would most definitely include the Ten Commandments since John goes on to say that sin is transgression of the law or more accurately translated as “lawlessness”. This would include disboedience to the will of God. Part of God’s will includes the Ten Commandments.
To insist that the Ten Commandments no longer need to be obeyed because we are under grace seems to imply that God imposed a legalistic system upon his people and then punished his people for not following it (OC vs NC). Grace/faith always has and always will come first and obedience will always follow. Just look at the stories of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. It was their faith in God that prevented them from being disobedient to God’s commandments (1 and 2 respectively). Furthermore you cannot seperate the law and the gospel. The law is necessary to show the individual that they are unrighteous and that they now are under its penalty (death) and that they are in need of a savior. Paul expounds on this point in Romans 7:7 (and it is clear that he is referring to the Ten Commandments). The law will always point the sinner to the cross for cleansing. Justification by faith (grace) does not release us from the requirement to obey God’s law, but is the power to obey it (Rom 3:31; 8:3,4). Jesus’s life was a perfect fulfillment of God’s law and we are to emulate His life of obedience throught the faith/grace relationship with the Lord (1 Pet 2:21, Phil 2:5, 1 John 2:6).
One last point to consider: Jesus said that he did not come to abolish the law. He said that heaven and earth would pass away before one jot/tittle of the law would pass away. He said that whoever breaks one of these least commandments and shall teach men to do so shall be called the least by the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17 -28). It is clear from the context that he is most definitely referring to the Ten Commandments. We see in the the book of Revelation that God’s end time people have two things in common. They all keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus (Rev 14:12). I don’t think its a stretch to say that this includes the Ten Commandments.
We live in a society full of moral decay. Many churches have done away with teaching the Ten Commandments because then it requires acknowledging they are breaking the 4th. Lies, deciet, theft, murder are so common place that sometimes I wonder if people even care. I work with high school aged kids on a daily basis and they lie, cheat and take things that don’t belong to them without even batting an eye. I can’t help but wonder if a much needed emphasis on God’s moral law (Ten Commandments) would at least get them to think before acting. Keep in mind, I am not saying that we can be saved by our obedience as I know that it is only by grace/faith since we all fall short of God’s glory. I am only stating that I believe the scriptures do not in any way abrogate the Ten Commandment law and that God expects us to keep them.
Dustin, I understand how online comments can sometimes have a tone that we don’t intend. Thanks for clarifying your intention. I appreciate that.
I think we’re reaching the point of going in circles. But I do want to offer a response to a few things that I see as exegetical and logical errors in your comment.
1. & 2. The point I was making in the original post is that the Bible doesn’t distinguish between moral law and ceremonial law. Of course, there were moral requirements before the law was given at Mt Sinai, as there are still the same moral requirements today. And, these unchanging moral laws would largely overlap with the Ten Commandments, so that it is always wrong to murder, commit adultery, etc. But there is nothing in Scripture to indicate that Abraham was following “the Ten Commandments” per se, and we do not follow God’s unchanging moral laws because they’re part of “the Ten Commandments.” The Ten Commandments are simply one key part of the Old Covenant law that emphasized many unchanging laws of God. (I think you and I would differ on the Sabbath, but that deserves a blog post devoted to that subject alone.)
Your seeing the Ten Commandments specifically and prevalently in the New Testament is based on your own conjecture and not the plain reading of the text. And many of your assertions are simply incorrect. There is nothing in Acts 15 to indicate a distinction between the Ten Commandments and the rest of the law. (I also believe that God’s moral law is unchanging, but this isn’t established in this passage.) When Jesus was asked to name the greatest commandment, he didn’t list any of the Ten Commandments and, no, he was not summarizing the Ten Commandments. He was quoting other laws of God found in other parts of the Old Covenant law. The first commandment he lists is found in Deuteronomy 6:5, and the second is found in Leviticus 19:18. So in naming the two greatest commandments—on which hang all the law and prophets, the following of which fulfills all the law—Jesus did not even hint at a reference to the Ten Commandments. James is referring to the same law in James 2:8, and then refers in verse 10 to “all God’s laws.” So it is your truncating of these passages (and other references to all of the law) to merely the Ten Commandments that is artificial and tendentious, IMO.
3. & 4. No, Jesus did not come to abolish the Old Covenant law, but to fulfill its purpose. And he accomplished that. The Old law has not been removed from its place in God’s plan; it is not now seen as evil or misguided. But it was temporary, intended to lead us to the fullness of Christ. You seem to miss the main points of my original post, and don’t deal with the many passages (far, far more than I referenced) that show a discontinuity between the Old Covenant law for the nation of Israel and the New Covenant law of Christ for both Jews and Gentiles. You haven’t interacted at all with the passages I quoted from Galatians, Hebrews and 1 Corinthians.
Your rhetoric is passionate, but it is not exegetically sound and it is unconvincing. You apparently find my presentation unconvincing as well. So it seems that we are not going to convince each other, and if we go on from here we will simply be repeating ourselves and spinning our wheels. I think this is a good point to end this exchange. We both agree that we are still subject to God’s unchanging moral law. We both submit to him and seek to honor him. I pray that God will continue to lead us both closer to him and deeper into the truth of his Word. And I pray that he richly bless you, brother.
Curt and Dustin,, you both leave me totally confused. Now what??
I’m sorry about that, Pat. That’s the danger of an open exchange in these comments section. At times comments and responses can add needed clarification to an article, but other times they just muddy the waters and confuse what was clear in the original post. If you want, you can let me know what’s confusing you, and I’ll do my best to help. Ultimately, of course, we each need to prayerfully search the Scriptures ourselves.
Thanks Curt, I’ve been grappling with the Sabbath for years!! Most people I know personally say it was not meant for us today. But then, others (Dustin) say it is. How could it be for us? If everyone became a Christian today, then who would do the jobs that require 24/7 employees,, such as hospitals, fire departments. nursing homes, prisons, group homes, zoos, animal shelters. chicken houses, hog houses, etc….? On the other hand,, if we really are suppose to keep the Sabbath, then I certainly want to follow Jesus’ law. All the other commandments we keep anyway.
Hi, Pat. The first thing to realize is that the New Testament shows over and over again that we are no longer under the law of Moses. (And this includes the Ten Commandments. The New Testament never distinguishes the Ten Commandments from the rest of the Mosaic law.) The Old Covenant was established between God and the Old Testament nation of Israel, and the law was an integral part of that Old Covenant with them. So the Old Covenant is their covenant not ours; and the Old Covenant law (including the Ten Commandments) is their law, not ours. Now we follow the “new commandment” given to us by Jesus. We love God and love one another, and thus fulfill the eternal, unchanging moral law of God (which forbids unloving acts such as murder, adultery, etc.).
So what about the Sabbath? The Sabbath was part of the Old Covenant between God and the nation of Israel. It’s their Sabbath, not ours. As the New Covenant people of God, it no longer applies to us, as we see by the passages I quoted above in the original post (Romans 14:5; Galatians 4:10-12; and Colossians 2:16-17). If anyone judges you for living in freedom from bondage to the old Mosaic code and for not observing the Sabbath, they are directly violating these scriptural passages.
We also see this truth lived out in the lives of the early believers. Although the church was originally made up entirely of Jews, we don’t have even one reference in Scripture or in church history to Christian gatherings on the Sabbath. Instead, all of the references that mention a day specify the first day of the week, Sunday. We see this consistently in references from church history and it’s supported in passages such as Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. There is simply nothing in the New Testament teachings to the church that would suggest we should still keep the Old Testament Sabbath taught in the law of Moses.
So I would encourage you by using the same words that Paul used to encourage the Galatian disciples who were being pressured to follow the law of Moses:
Thanks Curt. This has been helpful. I stumbled upon your site by googling the ten commandments, for the purpose of the question I asked you. I will read all of your articles. I haven’t read any others yet. I hope you don’t mind if I ask you more questions. I have some already but I’ll read the ariticles first. They might have some answers for me. Thanks again,,,Pat
I’m glad this was helpful to you. Feel free to ask any questions you want, either in the comments section on this blog or you can email me directly at: email@example.com.
Vedh good site. Thanks.
There is so much unbiblical and false teaching out there in regard to the Law of God and how it applies to people who join themselves to God through faith in Jesus, which is the new covenant. Firstly, we need to know that God works with people through covenants. So what is the new covenant anyway? The bible says in Jeremiah 31:31-34 that God will put His Law in our minds and write it on our hearts and He will be our God. This is the new covenant. God’s Law is the same in the Old Covenant as in the New Covenant. Jesus is the high priest and the mediator of the new covenant and we have been given the Holy Spirit to guide us, but the Law of God is the same. God does not change and neither does His Law.
So why do we follow the 10 commandments? Good question. 1 John 5:3 says “This is love for God, that we obey His commandment and His commandments are not burdensome”. So the answer to the question “Why do we obey the commandments?” To show God our Love. His love is his Grace to us that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. The way we love God back is to obey His commandments. Throughout the new testament we are told to obey the commandments. 1 John 2:4 says: “The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him”
When we enter into the new covenant by faith we become God’s children. This is but the beginning of a life long covenant we enter into. Then in order to know God and grow in the faith we live according to the Law of God. His instructions for life. The more we walk in God’s ways the more we know Him and are transformed more into the image of Christ; from the inside out. Our actions become a testimonie to the change that has taken place in our hearts. The only way this transformation can occur is to walk in God’s ways and to know Him by following His commandments. Jesus said that God’s entire Law (Torah or instructions) can be summarized by Loving God (following His commandments) and loving one another.
In the book of Acts chapter 15 the question is brought before the Jeruselem council about what Gentiles need to do to enter the faith. A group of Jews were teaching they needed to be circumcized and learn the Law of Moses before they could be saved. What this basically means is that they would have to become Jews or Jewish proselytes before they could become Christians. The Jewish council said no they don’t have to become proselytes before becoming a Christian. Instead what they told them to do was to follow 4 Laws that they took from the Law of Moses, and they instructed them to learn the Law of Moses in the synaguage each sabbath. This is very misunderstood. Basically what they were saying is this: you are saved by Grace through faith, you don’t need to become a Jew first. Next, they gave them 4 instructions from the Law of Moses (Torah) and told them to come back each sabbath and learn the rest of Moses (Acts 15:21). The 4 instructions were given them so they would abstain from their Pagan worship practices and be accepted in the synagogues by the Jews each Sabbath.
In short, as Christians we are expected to obey God’s commandments. We are commanded to live our lives by loving God and loving one another and the way we Love God is by obeying His commandments.
There is a lot more I could write on the subject. Read your bible and test everything to scripture. There are a lot of false teaching out there so be a diligent as the Bereans and test everything to scripture.
Tom, thank you for your comment. I do have to begin my response with a caution however. You start off by characterizing the views of those who disagree with you as “unbiblical and false teaching.” This kind of extreme, uncharitable rhetoric is not acceptable on this blog. Any future comments like this will cause your comment to be deleted. I just want to make sure you understand the ground rules. (Please read Contentious Christians: How should we handle controversy? before posting any additional comments.)
I appreciate your call for us to be diligent as the Bereans and test everything according to Scripture. This is something we should all do, and I welcome anyone who wants to search the Scriptures and evaluate the truth of what I teach and write. Curiously, though, you spend a lot of space presenting your own views but don’t seem to respond to much of anything I wrote. Did you actually read the original post (and the comment thread) to which you are seemingly responding?
Regardless, following the example of the Bereans, let me evaluate your comments. At the end of your first paragraph, you claim that just as God does not change so his Law does not change, applying this principle to the Mosaic Law. So what do you do with a passage such as Hebrews 7:12 (referenced above) that tells us “if the priesthood is changed, the law must also be changed”? Does this not directly contradict you? Why does the New Testament speak repeatedly of a “new commandment” given to us by Jesus? Why do we see ‘changes’ in the New Testament as to how the Sabbath and dietary laws are observed?
Let me ask you, Tom, do you still participate in the sacrificial system as explicitly taught in detail in the Old Covenant law? You may respond that this isn’t necessary now because Christ is our sacrifice, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. I would agree. But does this not constitute a change of the Law as given by God to Moses? Do you still observe every tenet of the Law of God as it was given to the people of Israel on Mt Sinai without the slightest modification or reinterpretation? If not, how is this not a change of the Law (just as Hebrews teaches)?
Why do you not interact with the passages I referenced in the original post that teach we are no longer bound to the Old Covenant law? What do you do with the entire letter to the Galatians, especially passages such as 3:19, 3:23-25, and passages in Hebrews like 8:13, 10:1? (These passages are quoted in the post above.) These Scriptures tell us that the Old Covenant law was temporary, intended only until the coming of Christ; that since we now have faith in Christ the guardianship of the law is no longer needed; that the law of Moses was only a dim shadow of the good things to come, and that it’s now obsolete and out of date. What do you with Paul’s distinction in 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 between the Jewish Law that he is no longer subject to and the law of Christ that he cannot ignore?
It seems that everywhere you read the words “law” or “commandment” in the New Testament you assume it’s speaking of the Old Covenant law. Since the New Testament contrasts the Old and New Covenants, speaks of a change of covenant law, contrasts the Mosaic code with the law of Christ, teaches that we are no longer under the law of Moses but that Jesus has given us a new commandment—on what basis do you equate every mention of law or commandment to the old Mosaic code for the nation of Israel?
(I believe you are incorrectly interpreting John’s references to law and commandments in 1 John since he clarifies multiple times what he means and never refers to the Old Covenant law. But since I already discussed this in my interaction above with Dustin, I’m not going to repeat everything I wrote there.)
As a Berean, I must challenge your interpretation of Acts 15 because IMO you are not handling the Scriptures accurately. You claim that Acts 15:21 is instructing the Gentile believers to go to the synagogue and learn the law of Moses. Are you aware that not one English translation of Scripture bears out your unique interpretation? The instruction you claim to find here is simply not there. Or do you alone have the correct understanding of this verse? Not only is this instruction missing, it would be completely contradictory to the rest of the chapter. Let’s take another look at Acts 15.
What was the problem?
Apparently these Pharisees would agree with you, Tom. How did Peter respond?
The one thing this council did not conclude is that the Gentile believers must follow the law of Moses. This was the very teaching they rejected! Instead they had the Gentile believers follow four specific instructions. You’re right that these commands are found in the Old Covenant law. But where exactly are they found? They’re found in Leviticus 17-18, which are not laws for the people of Israel, but requirements for Gentiles living among the people of Israel. These four instructions weren’t some kind of introduction to the law of Moses (they would be very strange choices for such a purpose), but simply a means of avoiding practices that would be abhorrent to the Jews and would therefore destroy fellowship between Jewish believers and Gentile believers. Your interpretation of Acts 15 somehow turns the passage upside down to affirm the very thing it rejects!
Thanks again for your comment. I encourage you to follow your own advice and search the Scriptures as the Bereans did to see what is the true, sound teaching of the Word of God.
Blessings to you,
Thank you for your response and for pointing out the ground rules for future posts. I simply intended to relay that there are many false teachings out there concerning the subject of the Law of God and one must be careful. When I say false teachings I am not simply referring to a difference of opinion, but that the bible indicates there will be false teachers and we should be careful and examine scripture carefully (2 Peter 1-3 is one such example). I can see however, how beginning my post with such a statement can seam inflammatory. I will keep that in mind for future posts.
I didn’t respond to your post point by point because of the length of the post and the depth of the material. In order to respond point by point it would take a huge amount of time and effort. To simply express the problem I see with Romans 14:5, Galations 4:10-12, and Colossians 2: 16 – 17 taken out of context, would take a huge effort. Also, the problem I see associated with the statements about Old Testament Law not being our Law. So, rather than point by point I will try to summarize various points.
The majority of the text you used in support of your article are from Paul’s epistles. First, I’d like to point out what Peter said about Paul’s writing in 2 Peter 3 14 -16
Paul has been greatly misunderstood as saying the Law of Moses has been abolished, or that the Gentiles are not required to follow Torah. I would like to stress that following Torah is not necessary for salvation for we are saved by grace through faith; this is an important distinction to make. However, we follow Torah out of obedience and love for God (1 John 2:3-4 (NKJV)3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. )
There is ample scripture that indicates Paul was jealous for the Law of God. Paul speaks very highly of the Law. In Romans 3:31 he states
I would also like to add the statement that Jesus made concerning the Law of God in Matthew 5: 17 – 20
The question is, how do we reconcile the statements made by Paul that are seemingly contrary to the Law of God with those statements made by both Paul and Jesus that are positive concerning the Law of God?
The only way to begin reconciling these things is to read everything in context and from a Hebrew mindset. We cannot properly understand many of Paul’s writings without first understanding the Old Testament Scriptures.
I would like to share a couple of scriptures. The first is from Amos
This indicates that God reveals all his plans for humanity through His prophets before doing anything. I think something as huge as abolishing His Law would have been written in the prophets if it were to occur.
Isaiah 56: says
Even the foreigner who joins himself to the Lord and hold fast to His covenant will be brought to His holy mountain. This indicates that all who call upon the name of the Lord will join in His covenants and promise.
Numbers 15 13 – 16
The Lord has always had one Law and one custom for both Israel and anyone that would join himself to the Lord. This is also stated in the new testament.
Galations 3 : 26-29
This indicates there is only one Law, we are all one in Christ Jesus and enter into the new covenant and receive its promises through faith. This has always been the case. Anyone who has wanted to enter into covenant with God has observed one Law and one ordinance. This was the same for anyone who joined themselves to God. Just as in the New Covenant all enter in through faith, whether Jew or Greek.
So what is the New Covenant? Jer 31:31-33 (NKJV)
Notice He states He will put His Law on our minds and write it on our hearts. This Law is the exact same Law he gave to Israel in the Old Covenant. There is no other Law of God given.
I believe the bible provides ample evidence that the Law of God given through Moses is still in affect in the New Covenant. The primary difference between the Old Covenant and New is, of course, Jesus, the promised Messiah was crushed for the sins of humanity and is mediator of a New and better covenant. The Law, Torah or instructions we follow after entering into the New Covenant by faith are the same instructions (Torah) as the old covenant. The difference is how they are applied. God put them in our minds and on our hearts so that we will follow them. All of the changes in the Law were prophesied in the books of the prophets because as Amos 3:7 states: Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.
I’d like to take a moment to point out Deuteronomy 13 and make a few comments.
Deut 13:1-5 (NKJV)
Notice that in Deuteronomy 13 that if someone were to rise up and teach anything contrary to the Law of God the Jews were not suppose to follow them. In fact, they were supposed to stone them, right? Now, why would God send His Son to change the Law when the Jews were already told not to follow anyone who changed God’s commandments? Furthermore, why would God instruct Paul to teach the Gentiles something contrary to what God had told the Jews? Especially when God has already said there is one Law for the native-born and the stranger! That makes no sense what so ever.
I’d like to take some time to answer the questions from your previous post. You stated “if the priesthood is changed, the Law must also be changed? Does this not directly contradict you?
Answer: Christ has strengthened the Law in some aspects. For example, the Law states do not commit adultery, Christ said if you look at a woman with lust in your heart you have committed adultery in your heart. Christ strengthened the Law as prophesied but not one jot nor title has been removed from the Law and it still applies. In Hebrews 5 the author establishes that the change in the High Priesthood has been prophetically foretold in the Law and Prophets. According to Amos 3:7 God does nothing without revealing His plan through the Prophets. This was done to strengthen the Law in that Jesus has become our High Priest before God.
An interesting side note: Hebrews 8:4 states that if Jesus were on earth He could not be a priest because there are already priests…. If the Law has been abolished/changed, why does Hebrews 8 indicate that the priestly role is already filled on earth? Wouldn’t the Levitical Priesthood have gone away if the Law were changed?
You asked if I participate in the sacrificial system as explicitly taught in the Old Testament Law?
Answer: The sacrificial system were/are shadows pointing to Messiah, and Laws associated with animal sacrifices are specifically tied with the existence of the temple and Levitical Priesthood. No temple. No sacrifices. I believe the strengthening of this Law was also foretold by the prophets
The new commandment that Christ gave was actually the strengthening of an old one in Leviticus 19:18 (you shall love your neighbor). The reason it was new is because He strengthened it by adding “as I have loved you”. In that He gave us an example of how to love one another.
Acts 15:18-21 states:
Notice verse 21 states “For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues ever Sabbath”. If you put this in context it is talking about Gentile converts. James justification for telling the Gentiles they only need to keep 4 commands is in verse 21. How do you interpret the 4 commands? Does that make any sense at all? Gentiles only have to follow 4 commands from the Law of Moses? So what is James talking about in verse 21, if he isn’t saying that the Gentiles will be taught the rest of Moses on the Sabbath each week?
Acts 15:1 states:
— they were wrongly teaching Gentiles they had to become proselytes (Jews) before they could be saved. The issue is about salvation, not circumcision.
— we both know you are saved by grace through faith. James and the council all knew you are saved by grace through faith and that you do not need to become a Jew to be saved.
— they debated the issue and gave the Gentiles the 4 laws to get them out of the sun god worship they were accustom to… Their pagan worship practices included temple, prostitution, drinking blood, and eating sacrificed strangled animals…. Adhering to these 4 laws would get them started and they could learn the rest of the Law of Moses in the synagogues each Sabbath.
The thing is the interpretation of Acts 15 you state indicates there is a separate Law for the Gentile. Numbers 15 and many other scriptures indicate there is one statute for the native-born and for the stranger. This is the same throughout scripture. One Law for all.
I’d like to leave with one final scripture concerning a warning about those who practice lawlessness.
Matt 7:21-23 (NKJV)
Christ willingly died in our place and took upon Himself the “Curse of the Law” or death that we deserve for transgressing Gods Law. However, if you practice lawlessness you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. We are saved by Grace through faith, that is a gift. We love God through obedience to the Commandments which are the Law of Moses. Obeying God’s commandments (the Law) is the fruit of our faith. We obey out of Love for the Father.
1 John 2 :3-4
Tom, thank you for the tone of your response. I apologize for not responding myself until now; one of the frustrations of blogging is that often other responsibilities must take precedence. Let me offer some thoughts regarding your comments:
You quote Amos 3:7 (using your translation):
But then you comment:
Brother, I think you’re reading into this text more than the words tell us. All this tells us is that God won’t do anything without revealing to his prophets what it is that he’s doing. It doesn’t tell us that: (1) he won’t do anything without revealing it to the Old Testament prophets; or even (2) that he won’t do anything without having previously revealed it through his prophets. (Did any prophet in the Old Testament have a complete picture of what God was going to do in the New?)
Were not the apostles prophets of God? Did he not reveal to them what he was doing in fulfilling and completing the Old Covenant and ushering in the New? Is this not precisely what we read in passages such as as Ephesians 3:2-6:
BTW, I’m confused by your distinction between becoming a Jew and obeying the Old Covenant Law. One who became part of the Old Covenant (by following the OC Law) became part of the covenant nation of Israel, i.e. a Jew. Paul is clearly distinguishing Jews and Gentiles, and he is also distinguishing those who are in Christ from those who followed the Old Covenant Law:
Once again, it appears that your claim directly contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture.
You quote from Numbers 15. Please look a little more closely at verse 14 (again from your translation):
This isn’t just speaking of Gentiles living among the Israelites, but of those who want to join in the worship of the Lord; they must do so according to the Law of God. Of course, this brings us back to the point I made previously. The Law was given specifically to the covenant people of Israel, but it was also necessary for the foreigners living among them to observe certain commands (not the entire Law)—and these required commandments are noted in the Law itself.
You seem to now admit that there has been some kind of change to the Law in the New Testament. You say it’s been strengthened, and I would agree (although we probably see the scope of the strengthened law differently). But I’m confused. In your previous comment, you based quite a bit on your assertion that the Law is unchanging, just as God is unchanging. To strengthen the Law is still to change it. Is the Mosaic Law perfectly unchanging as it was originally given, or not?
Concerning your reference to Hebrews 8:4, are you claiming that the Levitical priesthood is still necessary and normative? If not, I fail to understand your point.
You quote Acts 15:1, focusing on circumcision as the sole point of conflict, but fail to acknowledge 15:5 where it was insisted that:
Why do you ignore this aspect of the problem? And if a man were to follow the Old Covenant Law, would he not have to be circumcised? Why do you not acknowledge that these Christian Pharisees were asserting the same thing you are now? And if one must follow the unchanging Old Covenant Law, how would this not require them to become a Jew?
Yes, there was only one Old Covenant Law for Israel and for Gentiles who wanted to worship God and become part of the covenant people. (Of course, this would make them Jews.) But the Old Testament specifies certain commands that were required of all Gentiles living in Israel. It was to four of these specific commands that James refers. His suggestion is that the Gentiles turning to God should not be troubled. Not troubled with what? Becoming circumcised and following the Old Covenant Law of Moses.
Nowhere in this passage are the Gentiles instructed to observe the Old Covenant Law. This fits perfectly with the view that I’ve presented here. James simply asks that the Gentiles abstain from four things that would make table fellowship with their Jewish brothers and sisters very difficult. I don’t have a problem with this; but for you to make sense of it you must twist the reference to Moses being preached in the synagogue into a command for the Gentiles to go to the synagogue, learn the law of Moses and follow it. The problem is the passage simply doesn’t say this. This is eisegesis, reading into the text what you want to be there. It’s also circular reasoning, assuming your conclusion in interpreting the passage and then using the passage to reach your conclusion!
I not only referenced the letters of Paul in my original post, but also Hebrews, James and the gospel of John. It’s not unusual to dwell on the writings of Paul since he wrote most of the letters to the churches. And the NT books of Galatians and Hebrews, which I mostly referenced, directly address the very issue that we’re discussing.
But once again, you choose not to interact with these passages that contradict your teaching and distinguish between the Old Covenant Law of Moses and the New Covenant Law of Christ. Instead, you make unsupported assertions that these Scriptures are being used out of context, and then present your own case. Might I gently suggest that if you’re not interested in interacting with a blog writer’s original post, but in posting your own presentation, that this is probably not the right forum for you? (Maybe you need to write your own blog. 🙂 ) I’m going to ask that if you comment again that you address specific points made in the original post.
And now I’d like to leave with one final Scripture concerning a warning about those who would seek to bind God’s New Covenant people to the Old Covenant law:
This is my first time on this website and I am impressed with the civility with which you all are corresponding with. I recently have had a very strong desire to study scripture and follow God’s word. I do sincerely believe that God does not change, nor does his will. The ten commandments , written by his own hand and given to Moses were and still are physically and figuratively written in stone. Jesus himself kept the Sabbath, and showed how the pharisees polluted the Sabbath by not allowing anyone to do good deeds on the Sabbath. Jesus healed on the Sabbath. It would not be a sin for any of us to do something good for another on the Sabbath. It is a day holy to the Father. Remember that we are warned in Daniel 7:25 , that times and laws would be changed. Isn’t this what constantine did when he made Sunday the “Lords day” ? Remember this was done to mix paganism with Christianity, thus bringing all of the populace in his kingdom together . I believe that the Sabbath is every bit as important as the other nine commandments. I have not done any work for financial gain on the Sabbath , and have spent time with family and friends speaking about and reading the bible. I have noticed that my life has improved . I intend on visiting this site frequently , as I have seen that there are learned people here , that can help me spiritually. I would like if any of you could write to me their biblical views on the two witnesses, as I am still uncertain of how to interpret the scriptures on this issue. My email is Dan1389yu at aol dot com. Thank you all for posting comments for people like me to view. May the Holy Spirit guide you all to the truth and keep all false teachings away.
Hi, Daniel. Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you appreciate a civil exchange, even between people who disagree. That’s exactly the kind of interaction we want here. Let me respond to a couple of your comments.
I’d like to clarify Constantine’s role in the “Lord’s day.” It’s true that he decreed that Sunday be a day of rest throughout the Roman empire, but he didn’t ‘make Sunday the Lord’s day.’ He was simply making law what was already a long-standing practice going back to the first century. It’s clear from Scripture that the earliest believers began meeting together on Sunday, the day Jesus had been resurrected.
As far as the law being changed, you may have noticed in the comments above that I referenced the 7th chapter of Hebrews that describes how the OT, Jewish priesthood has been replaced by the priesthood of Jesus. Verse 12 then tells us:
This is in harmony with the many, many NT passages that explain how we are no longer subject to the Old Covenant, Mosaic law. (But we are still bound to the law of Christ.) Remember, the Old Testament system of animal sacrifice was an integral part of the Law. All of us acknowledge that this sacrificial system has now been fulfilled in Christ and—since it has been fulfilled—we no longer follow it. Whether we use the word ‘fulfilled,’ or ‘obsolete,’ or ‘no longer subject to,’ this constitutes a change in how we interact with the Old Covenant law.
The New Testament frequently distinguishes between the Old Covenant law that came through Moses and the New Covenant law of Christ. The law of Moses was a covenant made specifically between God and the Old Testament nation of Israel. The Old Covenant is instructive to us, but it’s not our covenant. We are the New Covenant people of God.
Please understand, I’m not saying any of this to try to dissuade you from observing the Sabbath. This is between you and God, and if you feel this is something you should do, then do it in reverence to God. This is exactly what Paul tells us in Romans 14:15:
But just as no one should judge you for observing the Sabbath, so you should not judge a brother or sister for feeling that they are free from observing it. Because Paul also teaches us, in Colossians 2:16-17:
So if you feel that observing the Sabbath is something you should do to honor God, then do it with all your heart. Just make sure you’re not observing the Sabbath to earn God’s favor. Because we’re also warned in Galatians 4:10-12:
Finally, amen to your desire that the Holy Spirit guide us into all truth and keep false teaching away.
Blessings to you,
pretty long, got to the 3rd paragrapoh
Yes, this is a pretty long post. 🙂 (A few of the comments are really long too.) Some people like that, and some people don’t. Thanks for giving it a shot.
I think that Christians are to go beyond just what the commandments say. For example
The Christian is to know God as their Creator, their Savior, their Lord and King.
The Christian’s reality are things unseen, like faith, love and hope. From above and not anything manmade. And idols are a channel used by Satan to deceive people into false worship.
We are the Lord Jesus’ ambassadors, let us live lives worthy of that calling. Let us praise and worship the LORD our God.
I’ve thought hard about the Sabbath and two things occur to me. To keep the Sabbath is to acknowledge the LORD our God as Creator. The emphasis of “do no work” on the Sabbath is to acknowledge that there is nothing we can do to earn salvation, it is totally the work of God, of which we are the beneficiaries thereof.
A commandment with a blessing. A Christian should not just be honoring them externally but within their being, giving thanks and prayer for their parents. Even if some of our parents don’t deserve it.
Don’t murder but bring life, love, hope, grace and mercy, as was shown to you, a condemned sinner, by the LORD our God.
Love your partner, pray for your partner, honor God with your marriage. I would define spiritual adultery as those things that distract you from wanting to spend time with God. Spiritual adultery is robbing you of blessings and joy you could have from being with God. Your time with God will be more fulfilling then any of the titillations the world can give you.
Give instead. Give to those who are hungry both food and the Gospel. God is willing and able to give you blessings, so be a blessing to others.
Not just in court but with gossip also. Jesus said “Bless those that curse you” What about those people sitting next in church? Bless them also.
What God has for you is so much more than any earthly possession. He gives you eternal life without the presence of sin and in His company. How Glorious.
God bless you all.
Thanks for your comment, Robert. I would agree with almost everything you wrote, and I think this is in harmony with my original post. There is one thing I’d like to clarify (I’m not sure if this is a disagreement or not).
There are depths to the commandments that we may not immediately see. Jesus showed this in the Sermon on the Mount when he taught what would make one guilty of adultery or murder. There are also spiritual principles one can base on the commandments. The teaching and following of deeper fulfillments and spiritual principles would have been as appropriate for the people of Israel under the Old Covenant as they are for us under the New (although we can see more and deeper principles from a NT perspective).
But, we can’t focus on a spiritual theme from a commandment—while not fulfilling the clear, literal requirement of the commandment—and then claim that we’re still following the Ten Commandments or the Old Covenant Law. To use your very good example, it’s good for us to honor the “spirit” of the Sabbath by trusting God to have accomplished our salvation and not attempting to earn it through our own efforts. This is the attitude we should all have as Christians, and it can be helpful to see how this connects back to the Old Testament concept of Sabbath. But even if I honor the spirit of the law in this way, if I do not refrain from actual work every Saturday I am not following the Ten Commandments or the Old Covenant Law.
I agree that the deeper spiritual reality transcends the letter of the OT Law. This is why we’re no longer under the Old Covenant Law given to the nation of Israel but under the New Covenant law of Christ. We still learn and benefit from the Old Covenant law, but we look at it through the lens of the New. Again, I’m not saying you’d disagree with any of this. I just wanted to clarify it. Blessings to you!
now i’m confused..can anyone explain why the devil makes war on those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus? Revelation 12:17
and i thought the law of Moses and the law of God were to separate issues..
sorry for 2 separate posts..please forgive..in Jesus name…maranatha!
No problem, Don. In a way, you’ve answered your own question without realizing it. The Law of Moses was the law of God or commandments of God given at a specific time to a specific people (the nation of Israel) and for a specific time (until fulfilled and replaced by the New Covenant in Christ). But not every reference in Scripture to “the law of God” or “the commandments of God” refer back to the Old Covenant Law of Moses.
Those of us who have the testimony of Jesus are not under the Old Covenant of Israel and its Mosaic Law, but we are still under the eternal law of God and bound to keep his commandments (love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; love one another; etc.).
Mr. Parton, you keep saying that we are bound to keep His commandments (love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; love one another; etc.). How do we know how to do this? What are we basing our actions on? Is it up to each individual Christian to determine?
Jesus and his apostles had quite a bit to say about how we are to truly love God and one another. In one of the passages we refer to most, Jesus clarified what it means to love one’s neighbor (Luke 10:25-37). Our perceptions are limited and flawed; we need God to teach us what it really means to love him and to love others. He does this primarily through the Scriptures. The Bible is filled with instruction on how to love God and love each other (interpreting the Old Testament in light of the New). We can’t ignore God’s Word to us and claim to be loving him and others.
So, no, we can’t just determine for ourselves what we think is loving. God has spoken quite clearly and extensively on the subject. Where the Bible doesn’t explicitly speak to an issue, then that specific issue is between the believer and God. But here still, we’re not just simply figuring out what we think is loving, but seeking God’s will and his wisdom in order to live lives that are pleasing to him and healthy for us and others.
So, basically what you are saying is that we know how to love though the scriptures and are able to love through the Holy spirit. In other words we learn what love is by studying what God says love is and by the actions of God which demonstrates love. We gain the wisdom and knowledge to understand what is written, through prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If God says that stealing is not loving then we do not steal. If he says that being lustful is wrong then we do not lust for if something is wrong or sinful then it is not loving and all actions as well as thoughts need to be God pleasing. We know things are God pleasing by what God has revealed to us through His character and word. We also learn what is not pleasing to God, again this would be sin, through the same avenue of studying His character and word.
What commandments of God are the angels talking about in REVELATION 14:12
Why is Christ telling the rich man in MATTHEW 19 to follow the commandments & then recites five of the ten commandments. What commandments are they talking about in 1John 5;2,3. Is it possible that the SABBATH day law is being confused with the laws of the SABBATH of the ceremonial laws
What commandments that are a sign & a perpetual covenant to the generations forever in DEUTERONOMY 28:45,46
Sorry for the delay in replying. I’ve had other pressing ministry needs.
Robert: Yes, I think I agree with everything you’ve said here. A classic example we deal with in our culture today is sex outside of marriage. We may think this is loving, but according to God, it’s not.
Since these people are “maintaining their faith in Jesus” this is describing New Covenant followers of Christ. Many of the commands from the Old Covenant law reflect the unchanging law of God and are reiterated in the New Testament; many are not. The commands referred to in that passage would be from a distinctly New Covenant perspective, not that of the Mosaic Law of the nation of Israel.
The people whom Christ taught were Jews who were still under the Old Covenant law. Jesus always met people where they were at. He did the same thing in the Sermon on the Mount, showing the people what it really means to perfectly obey the law. Notice, he doesn’t tell this man anything about the necessity of faith in him (Christ). Does this mean faith in Christ is not necessary, only obeying the law, selling one’s possessions and giving to the poor? Can good works save us? Jesus is touching the very area in this man’s life where he was struggling with relinquishing control. Christ didn’t have one canned answer he used for everyone. He dealt with them individually depending on what they needed.
There’s absolutely nothing in the context that points back to the Old Covenant law, especially when John writes so much about the “new commandment” that Jesus gave us. Actually, look back two verses before this passage, and he clarifies the kind of command he’s referring to.
How do you scripturally distinguish between these?
Here’s the passage:
It’s not the commandments that are a perpetual sign in this passage. It’s the judgment against the people of Israel because they refused to be faithful to their covenant with God. This judgment still serves today as a sign and a warning to anyone who reads of it in the Scriptures.
Correction, I meant to point out that you infer that the 10 commandment are not part of the New Covenant but falter on the issue that they are neither ceremonial or civil, which affirms they are everlasting commandments and the object of the commandments in Revelation 14:12.
In your article you stated:
But you confirm subsequently that there is a biblical basis for making the distinction between the moral, civil and ceremonial law.
You do have a problem in much of your subsequent nuances in opposing that all of the commandments written by the finger of God were neither civil or ceremonial, including the 4th. I’ll not contend for the 4th at this time but certainly the Mosaic covenant wasn’t monolithic and is divisible as to moral, civil and ceremonial so any denial of this is untenable. And there certainly are Old Testament texts that support this and would be glad to share these in any further correspondence.
Michael, I don’t think the nuances here are that difficult, and I’d ask you to reread the post a little more carefully. When I wrote in the OP:
(which you capitalized for emphasis), I wasn’t saying that we, in fact, do not have such a biblical basis. I was simply establishing that to claim such a distinction between moral and ceremonial laws without a biblical basis for such a distinction is not legitimate. As you point out, I go on to show just such a biblical basis. First, I showed the problem and then I discussed a solution. Are you suggesting some kind of contradiction or inconsistency in this?
I stand by my assertion (in which I am by no means alone) that there is no place where Scripture explicitly distinguishes between moral and ceremonial laws. Certainly we can claim that some laws seem to be ceremonial in nature or seem to have a ceremonial purpose—but we would be making this distinction; it’s not made in the text itself. Some laws are reiterated in the New Testament for the church, which would show their unchanging moral nature, while other laws are not, which could support their ceremonial status. But, again, no where does Scripture itself clearly distinguish between moral and ceremonial laws. You seem to feel this claim is untenable and that the Old Testament does indeed make this distinction. Please give us references to confirm your assertion.
You go on to assert that the 10 Commandments (meaning, I assume, all of the 10 Commandments) are part of the New Covenant, are neither ceremonial nor civil, and thus are the commands referenced in Revelation 14:12. Please also give us your scriptural basis for this assertion.
It is not hard really. The sabbath that was set aside since creation as a day that God made holy and sanctified and that Jesus told us was made for us is not the same as the Sabbath days that were created to be part of the ceremonial laws that were part of the feasts.
The Sabbaths and the feasts were and are foreshadowing of things that were or are to come.
The Sabbath that God gave us from creation, prior to the laws given in the wilderness, is not a foreshadowing. It is a sanctified day that God made holy and was given for our benefit. It is a day of rest both spiritually and physically to recharge ourselves for the ongoing battle that we face here on this earth where we are nothing more than strangers.
Robert, the Sabbath isn’t specifically mentioned before the giving of the law in Exodus, and the seventh day is distinguished only in the creation account in Genesis 2:2-3. This passage tells us that God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy because it was the day he rested, but it gives absolutely no instruction regarding any expected human observance of this seventh day. You have to read such an idea back into the passage. We don’t have even a hint that anyone prior to Moses observed the seventh day in any special way. There is no “Sabbath day law” given here or anywhere prior to the Mosaic Law given by God to the nation of Israel.
Jesus replied to his critics regarding the Sabbath in Mark 2:27:
Jesus may have been referring to the purpose of the Old Covenant Sabbath law or to God’s original blessing of the seventh day. I don’t see how we can be dogmatic either way, and the statement was made in the context of a discussion of the Mosaic Sabbath law. Regardless, this principle he expressed definitely doesn’t establish some pre-Mosaic Sabbath day law. (And the Old Covenant Sabbath law was much more significant than merely “created to be part of the ceremonial laws that were part of the feasts.”)
You can assume some pre-Mosaic law regarding the Sabbath, but you’re basing this on conjecture not on the text of Scripture. If it is your personal conviction that you should observe the Sabbath in a certain way, then by all means faithfully follow what you believe God would have you do (Romans 14:5). But the New Testament is very clear that New Covenant followers of Christ are no longer under the Mosaic law of Israel, and Scripture specifies the dietary laws and Sabbath law as examples of laws to which even Jewish believers are no longer bound (Galatians 4:10-12). Paul encouraged the New Covenant believers to not let anyone condemn them for not observing the Sabbath (Colossians 2:16-17). This would also teach implicitly that no one can judge another believer for not observing the Old Covenant Sabbath law.
To continue. I posted Col 2:4 – 2:23 in my last comment. It is notable that when read in its entirety that Paul is refering to the ordinances, commandments and doctrines of men. He was specifically referencing these things that were created by man that were working against the followers of Jesus. Also in regards to the new moons, meat, drink and sabbaths, this a reference to ceremonial and festival laws. The ten commandments, written by the finger of God, which includes the Sabbath commandment are not foreshadowing of things to come. Paul stated in in Col 2:17 that the things he was referencing are shadows of things to come. To state then that the seventh day Sabbath or any of the ten commandments are being referenced by Paul would be inaccurate.
Curt, you are correct when you say that the law was not specifically given prior to Moses. You can also see that 4th commandment is tied directly back to creation week and that it is a direct reference to that day. As such, it is a day that is sanctified, blessed and made hallow by God. You cannot say the same for the other Sabbaths that are given in the Mosaic law. This shows pretty clearly that the seventh day Sabbath is different than the other Sabbaths.
I do not see where the translation you have gets the words need of the people or requirements but that is for a different day. The verse states that the Sabbath was made for man. This I believe we can agree upon. God set aside a day for his creation to rest not only physicaly but spiritually. A day to recharge ourselves and focus on Him. He knows we need this to be at our best to accomplish the task that he has sent forth for His followers. This is a gift from God. Why would we want to reject any gift from God? I just never understood why someone would want to do that. I guess it is because they feel they know better what is best for us and that God no longer feels we need this rest.
Robert, with all due respect, brother, I disagree strongly with your exegesis. Let me respond to a few things:
— Yes, the Sabbath commandment referred back to God’s original blessing of the seventh day, but this still doesn’t establish a previous law that was to be observed. John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, but that doesn’t mean the people of Israel had previously understood that the lambs they sacrificed pointed forward to Christ.
— You seem to be trying very hard to distinguish the one Sabbath commandment from any others, but I’m not convinced. How can any Law of God not be “sanctified, blessed and made hallow by God”? Are you saying that there are unsanctified, unblessed, unhallowed Laws of God?! You’ll have to show me that in Scripture. If this isn’t true, then it isn’t grounds for distinguishing between different kinds of Sabbaths.
— Circumcision was a meaningful practice given by God to Abraham before the Mosaic Law and then made more explicit in the Old Covenant Law. Yet the gentile believers were not required to practice circumcision. Galatians 5 tells us that if these believers were circumcised in order to be acceptable to God by keeping the law, then they were actually cutting themselves off from Christ! What originally came from God—but was intended for a specific purpose and a specific period of time (Galatians 3:23-4:7)—if people now insisted on it being followed according to the old law actually becomes an entirely different, false gospel (Galatians 1:6-7)!
The same thing is going on in Colossians 2. (It even contrasts spiritual circumcision with physical circumcision, showing a similar theme with Galatians.) Yes, it speaks of ordinances, commandments and doctrines of men. But from Whom did the Sabbath laws originate? Man or God? What about the laws concerning what they were forbidden to eat or touch, or the observing of religious festivals? Did these not come from God in the Old Covenant Law? Then how are they now doctrines of men? Because, just as with circumcision in Galatians, they are now being misused contrary to God’s intended timing and purpose. The people were now trying to use these laws as a means to grow in favor with God, and this not only is ineffective but it draws the focus from Christ and the salvation only he provides.
— Contrary to your claim that Colossians 2:17 doesn’t include the whole Old Covenant Law, this passage actually compares very well with Hebrews 10:1, 8:13, and Galatians 3 (all of which I quote above in the original post). Many passages from the New Testament make it quite clear that we are no longer under the Old Covenant Law—and there is simply no scriptural basis for excluding the Ten Commandments or the Sabbath from these many passages. The only way to attempt to do so is to rely on circular reasoning, assuming your conclusion ahead of time and then trying to read it into the passage.
(BTW, in the future please don’t type out long passages of Scripture. For passages longer than a verse or two, just give us the reference and we [the readers and I] can look it up ourselves. Thanks.)
@Curt Parton I am agreeing on the second post and your post because if you love God Jesus always said feed his sheep, and keep his commandments. I usually sometimes wish we had a interlinear Torah with the New Testament in it to explain things in context for us instead of mans different interpretations ( meaning let the bible quote and interpet itself). In revelation the overcomes who the dragon makes war with are people who keep Gods commandments ( meaning they love God enough to try and keep his commandments even if they fall 1000 times in a day because they know Jesus will forgive them 70*7= a jubilee 490
If Jesus said the greatest commandment is love, and Paul said the Torah was first written on a heart of stone, then a heart of flesh in my understanding of what I am reading it seems like Paul is saying the Israelites were hard headed towards loving God they were more in fear of God than loving him. Out of fear the Israelites followed the Torah not with a heart of flesh but stone. When Jesus came he taught the Israelites how to be intimate with God, to keep his commandments not out of fear of his wrath but with love.
I sometimes think Christianity will fall because of just that one rule loving God means following his commandments, listening to that voice guide you along the path to his kingdom. God doesn’t force anyone to follow him, all he simply told the Gentiles and Jews is follow me, I will forgive you 70*7, if you love me keep my commandments and feed my sheep, under no conditions.
Heck I’m going as far to say not loving God means you are being Lawless, if God is forgiving, if God is mercy, if God is love then not loving him is a sin in itself. Lets just be honest with one another, if we say we love God and slander each other, not love God then the truth is not in us.
Ok now lets say I had a sibling and we both got into a fight in front of our dad and he seen it, he seen I started it and punishes me is it right to then want to follow him after being whooped, or before to be loving and caring for my sibling and not have to get into anymore future punishments? The correct answer is dont be mean and God won’t punish me. We know his laws, we know his statutes, it all comes down to loving and obeying.
Thanks for your comments, Hollis. The correlation between loving God and obeying him is repeated often in Scripture. I agree with you that this is a central truth. The idea that we are not subject to any law of God is not a biblical one. But many conscientious believers, desiring to love and please God, ask: “What is the law of God for us? What does it look like?” Fortunately, Scripture does indeed interpret itself. And the New Testament shows us over and over again that the New Covenant believer must love God and obey him, but isn’t subject to the Old Covenant law of Israel. I think you hit on the crucial point though—if we truly love God and love each other, we will fulfill God’s law.
Please answer these questions for me one by one with Scripture to prove your answer:
1) Did Jesus give the Law at Mount Sinai (James 4:12)?
3) Did Jesus change his mind about which commandments that we are supposed to obey (Numbers 23:19, Hebrews 13:8)?
4) How many non-Israelites came out of Egypt with Israel to receive the commandments at Sinai (Exodus 12:38)?
5) Was Jesus also a Prophet (Matthew 21:11)?
6) Did Jesus (the prophet) teach us that we don’t have to obey the commandments given by God (himself) through Moses (Deuteronomy 13:1-5, Matthew 5:12-17)?
7) Is it possible to love God if you do not obey the commandments He taught us (Matthew 5:12-17, John 14-15).
8) Who is under the Law, those who “obey” or “disobey” the Law? (Romans 3:19-20)
9) Is the Sabbath a temporary commandment or an eternal statute? (Exodus 31:16)
10) If someone rejects the Torah with his mind and his heart, can he be in the New Covenant? (Jeremiah 31:31-33)
Here are the Scriptures I reference above.
[Listed passages edited by Admin. Please see references to these passages above and directly below.]
What commandments have we had from the beginning (1 John 2:4-7) that testify of our salvation if we obey them? So, Dustin was in context when he quoted a few verses later, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).
Don’t we need the messiah BECAUSE we broke God’s Law? Then, after receiving knowledge of the truth and putting my faith in him along for my salvation, why then would I want to continue to insult the Spirit of Grace by disobeying the commandments that got me in trouble in the first place?
BTW, exegesis just means “interpretation” in Greek. So, to say Dustin doesn’t have the correct “exegesis”, is just a big fancy word that makes you look prideful. Just a warning to you in the future… it turns people off. I’m in the same camp with you, but I’ve learned that if you can’t say it in English, it’s just scholarly pride and twisting of tongues. I hope you can take this rebuke with humility.
Just a thought… the ancient Hebrew is amazing. Every letter is a little picture. For instance, YHWH (Yod Hey Vav Hey), the name of God, is the pictures of a hand (Yod), window/behold (Hey), nail (Vav), window/behold (hey). So God’s name literally reads, “the hands behold, the nails behold.” Behold the nails in his hands! Jesus is God! Halleluja! This is great testimony to Jews that Jesus is not just a prophet or rabbi, but God in the flesh.
Father is Alef Bet. Oxhead (aleph) house/body (bet). Father is the “strong one of the house.”
God is Aleph Lamed. Oxhead (aleph) shepherd staff (lamed). God means the “strong shepherd.”
Sabbath is Shin Bet Tav. Consuming fire/righteousness (Shin), house/body (bet), sign/cross (tav). Sabbath means the “righteous body on the cross.” So, any time you say or do the Sabbath, you are literally testifying of Christ Crucified as a sign of the covenant.
So how does the New Covenant build upon (not nullify or add to [Galatians 3:15-17]) the everlasting covenant given at Sinai?
Torah “Law” is Tav Vav Resh Hey. Cross (tav), nail (vav), exalt/face (resh), window/behold (hey). So, “Torah” means “the cross and nails, exalt his face, behold.” Behold and exalt the face of the one with the nails and cross! The Torah literally nailed Jesus to the cross. The statement that “the Law was nailed to the cross” can also be read in the Greek as “the Law nailed him to the cross.” Jesus did not break Torah, but he took on our DISOBEDIENCE to His Torah, and he was nailed BY the Torah to the cross. Sin is breaking Torah. If we break Torah, we deserve nails and a cross. This is what has been written from the beginning. Why then would we continue to disobey the Torah of Jesus and His Father and continually put him up on the cross, insulting the Spirit of grace? The Torah points us TO Jesus, it always has, and it always will. If we want to walk as He did, we must take up our cross, which is revealed through Torah, and follow him (he walked in Torah). We must seek his exalted face, which cannot be separated from Torah or the nails in his hands and in the cross.
Thanks for your comment, Dan. You’ve written quite a bit, but I’ll try to respond to your points as best I can.
First though, I would appreciate if you don’t copy multiple Scripture passages into your comments. Including an occasional, pertinent passage is fine, but otherwise you can just provide the references and we can all look them up ourselves. Thanks.
Secondly, I’m sorry if using the word “exegesis” sounded pretentious to you. You’re a little misinformed about this word, however. While it may have a Greek origin, this is a common, English word that you can find in any English dictionary—and in a great many books, articles and discussions about studying the Bible. (Many other common English words have a Greek origin, such as theology, psychology, etc.) In our culture today, “interpretation” can have an overly broad connotation, such as ‘Well, you have your interpretation, and I have mine.’ But “exegesis” usually refers specifically to interpreting the Bible according to established principles of biblical interpretation. It’s a more precise term, which is why it’s used so often. (You can Google it to see how frequently it’s used, even in casual settings.) This is how I used it above, and I think it’s a better word than interpretation in that context. But I’m sorry if this was off-putting to you.
You seem to be making a mistake that others have made in some of the comments above. You can’t simply read passages that refer to Torah, law or commandments and assume this is always referring to the Old Covenant law. To do so is circular reasoning, assuming the very conclusion you’re trying to establish! Torah, for instance, sometimes refers to the first five books of the Bible, sometimes it means law in a general sense, and sometimes it means instruction or teaching. The context determines the meaning, not an artificial forcing of the OC law into every reference. Many of your listed questions are written already assuming your understanding of law or Torah, which is not a proper approach in this kind of exchange.
Regarding my interaction with Dustin, he was claiming that John (in 1 John) is referring to the Ten Commandments. I would simply repeat my answer to him:
You referenced 1 John as speaking of commandments they had from the beginning, but you’ve changed the text here. In the text, it speaks of a commandment (singular) they had from the beginning. Regardless, what beginning is he speaking of? If he’s speaking of the beginning of creation, you have a problem. Because they didn’t have the Ten Commandments from the beginning of creation. These were given to the nation of Israel at Mt Sinai. But if he is speaking of from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, this all fits into place and is in harmony with the rest of 1 John.
You ask whether the Sabbath is an eternal statute, and reference Exodus 31:16. Let’s look at the passage (it’s not one of the passages you included):
This passage actually supports what I’ve brought out from many other passages. The Mosaic law, including the Ten Commandments, was intended specifically for the covenant nation of Israel (including any foreigners who became part of the nation of Israel). The Sabbath still is exactly what this says it is: a permanent sign of God’s covenant with the people of Israel. Since we aren’t under this covenant, but under the New Covenant, we are not bound to this sign of the Old Covenant. That doesn’t nullify it, it just dates it. When I was a child, cleaning my room was not only required, it was a way of showing loving obedience to my parents. Those past acts will always be a “sign” of this loving obedience. But I no longer clean my room because of some parental command or to show loving obedience to my parents. They and I experience a new “covenant” in our relationship. Isn’t this similar to what Paul wrote in Galatians 3:24-25:
Shortly before this he had written:
He goes on to contrast being slaves of the law with being children of God:
But then he declares alarm because they are wanting to become enslaved again:
And he concludes by challenging them:
If we view part of the OC law as eternal, isn’t it all eternal? And if the Sabbath being eternal means we must eternally observe this law, don’t we have to eternally observe all of the law? But what of the dietary laws that Christ dismissed and eventually discontinued? What of the laws regarding the priesthood and sacrifices? You can say that Jesus fulfilled these laws, and I would say “Amen,” but does this not still constitute a change in the law? Isn’t this the very thing that Hebrews 7:12 talks about? (Comparing well to the rest of Hebrews, specifically such passages as 10:1 and 8:13.) And if our observance of this part of the law has changed, on what basis can we say that our observance of other parts of the law can never change? I would say (as I did in the OP) that we must view the OC law through Christ’s new law of loving God and loving each other. This enables us to distinguish between the law peculiar to the nation of Israel and the unchanging moral law of God.
Many of your questions are essentially asking the same thing: Didn’t Jesus give the law and did he then change his mind? These questions seem to presume that God will never change in the way he interacts with his people. But didn’t the same Jesus who told his apostles not to go to the Gentiles but only to the people of Israel (Matthew 10:6) later explicitly send them to the Gentiles? What happened? Was this the same Jesus? Did he suddenly change his mind? Or was this always part of the plan? Does not the New Testament teach repeatedly that the people of God are no longer constituted by the Old Covenant nation of Israel but by the New Covenant followers of Christ? Does it not teach that this change in covenant and change in law was always part of God’s plan? If Jesus himself has explained in his Word, through his apostles these changes that you now question, shouldn’t we pay heed to his explicit teaching on these things?
You ask about insulting the Spirit of grace (drawing from Hebrews 10:29 I assume). I find this quite ironic because the major theme throughout the book of Hebrews is to convince these Jewish readers not to return to the Old Covenant but to remain faithful to Christ and his New Covenant. I encourage you to reread this important book.
Finally, Dan, I find your use of Hebrew letters highly questionable and unconvincing. Rather than speculating about some claimed esoteric code hidden in the individual letters, I prefer to study what God has clearly communicated in the actual words and paragraphs of Scripture.
Grace and peace to you,
[Comment deleted by Admin. See below.]
Dan, I’ve deleted your comment because of the improper attitude it displays. As you can see from the many comments above, I have no problem accepting comments from people who disagree with me. But I will not allow hostile and quarrelsome comments to be posted to this blog. Before commenting again, please read: Contentious Christians: How should we handle controversy?
Since deleting Dan’s comment above, he has bombarded this blog with eight comments in less than two hours. This belligerence only serves to confirm my concerns. Since I adequately addressed his points in my response, I would ordinarily leave this exchange alone at this point. But Dan continually insists that I cannot or will not respond to his specific questions. Again, ordinarily I wouldn’t continue interacting with someone who insists on framing the exchange their way (and only their way). But this post and its comment thread seem to be getting a lot of attention from those who demand observance of the Sabbath. So, for the purpose of refuting a claim that I can’t answer Dan’s questions, I’ll respond briefly to each:
1) Did Jesus give the Law at Mount Sinai (James 4:12)?
(Dan did not list a question #2.)
3) Did Jesus change his mind about which commandments that we are supposed to obey (Numbers 23:19, Hebrews 13:8)?
As I explained in my response to Dan, God always planned a temporary purpose for the Old Covenant—specifically and solely for the nation of Israel—and for it to be replaced by the New Covenant in Christ. I’ve given many passages establishing this. Please refer to my comment above where I use Jesus’ differing instructions to his apostles as an illustration.
4) How many non-Israelites came out of Egypt with Israel to receive the commandments at Sinai (Exodus 12:38)?
Many non-Israelites came out of Egypt with Israel. Some may have been part of rebellion against God, and subsequently destroyed. Any that committed themselves to the covenant with God, given on Mt Sinai, would then be part of Israel, the (Old) covenant people of God. (I noted this in my response above.) Many non-Israelites became part of Israel—even in the very ancestral line of Jesus.
5) Was Jesus also a Prophet (Matthew 21:11)?
Jesus was more than a prophet. He wasn’t merely a spokesman for God; he was and is God.
6) Did Jesus (the prophet) teach us that we don’t have to obey the commandments given by God (himself) through Moses (Deuteronomy 13:1-5, Matthew 5:12-17)?
Jesus (God) established a New Covenant for everyone that supersedes the Old Covenant he gave only to the nation of Israel. (Please see the many passages I quote above that clearly show this.) If anyone believes that it violates Deuteronomy 13:1-5 for a person to teach that we no longer must observe the Sabbath, then you had better not deviate from any point of the Mosaic law, including the dietary restrictions, the clothing restrictions, circumcision, the Old Covenant priesthood, and the Old Covenant sacrificial system. (And, once again, I addressed this in my response above.)
7) Is it possible to love God if you do not obey the commandments He taught us (Matthew 5:12-17, John 14-15).
If we love God we’ll obey the commandments he gives us. He gave the Old Covenant law for the nation of Israel to follow until Christ came. (See the quotes from Galatians in my response above.) Jesus gave a New Covenant to all of his followers, Jews and Gentiles. If we love him we will obey the commandments he gave us—his New Covenant people—not the old commandments that his Word teaches are now obsolete and out of date (Hebrews 8:13).
8) Who is under the Law, those who “obey” or “disobey” the Law? (Romans 3:19-20)
It depends on what you mean by law. The nation of Israel was under (i.e. subject to) the Mosaic law, regardless of whether they obeyed or disobeyed. Everyone is under (subject to) God’s unchanging moral law.
9) Is the Sabbath a temporary commandment or an eternal statute? (Exodus 31:16)
I directly quoted and answered this question in my previous response.
10) If someone rejects the Torah with his mind and his heart, can he be in the New Covenant? (Jeremiah 31:31-33)
As I explained in my response above, “Torah” can mean different things. New Covenant Jewish believers are no longer subject to the Old Covenant law—and Gentile believers never were! But we all must embrace and obey the law of Christ. (As I’ve mentioned multiple times, you can see Paul make this same distinction in 1 Corinthians 9:20-21.)
I don’t expect Dan to be satisfied with this response, but I have answered each of his questions directly. Given the attitude he has displayed in his many (deleted) comments, I see no reason for any further interaction between us. If anyone else wants to sincerely and respectfully discuss anything I’ve written, feel welcome to do so.
These are commandments of God also, not the Ten Commandments. But if a Christian is suppose to keep the commandments of God then is a Christian disobeying God by not keeping these ones?
Does God desire a Christian to keep these commandments or does He desire us to show mercy and grace as He has shown us, mercy and grace? I see the law as something that God uses to administer His justice when we walk away from, or refuse to accept, His mercy and grace. As a Christian, how well do we need to keep the commandments to please God? 100% of the time! I fail. The only thing that I can rely on, is God’s desire to show mercy and grace and that He has made the way to that, through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. So we do we go from here? Do we try to live the life the ancient Hebrews were called to? Certainly, we would want to honour God with our lives and through our conduct, especially how we treat others.
A thought-provoking comment, Robert. Thank you.
Some of the major confusion regarding the Law has to do with this: where do we get our morality? Often times Grace is relegated to “forgiveness of sins,” and the Law is there for morality. Many folks have a problem with the idea of the Law passing because they think it leaves man with nothing to check ungodliness and grow morality. The narrow view of Grace contributes to that. Paul said:
The word “teaching” is the same Greek word for “chastisement.” If we need forgiveness for sin, Grace is there. If we need a chastisement for growth in morality, Grace is there. We don’t need the Law of written commandments for anything when we have the Spirit of God growing us in righteousness.
I think a great question to ask is: If the Spirit made us all suddenly perfect, and completely without sin in act or sin in the flesh, would we even NEED a Law to tell us what to do? No, it would come to us naturally, according to what Peter called us “partakers of the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:2-4)
Here is what that divine nature helps us do:
We can do things in the law, like not coveting, and not having false Gods, but it will not be due to following the Law of Moses. We do it naturally according to the “divine nature” given to us by Christ. That’s why we can do things in the law, WITHOUT the law. Think of a mountain man who never heard of a Bible or how to read. If the Spirit of God came upon him, and suddenly he walked in perfect love, he would never have needed to have the Law of Moses to walk in righteousness. The 10 commandments wouldn’t be able to tell him anything he didn’t already do by nature.
Thanks, Seth. These are very good and very helpful thoughts. This still leaves us with the question of whether grace will equip and enable us to follow all of the Old Covenant laws or were some of these laws intended for a limited duration and a specific purpose that has now been fulfilled. But you bring to this discussion a crucial underlying truth regarding the nature of grace and of our spiritual transformation and obedience. Thank you!
After reading this blog post, I am honestly seeing that the interpretation here does not make sense. Curt, if the law was only intended for Jews, then why was the sabbath instituted in creation week and given to our first parents to honor and keep?
How can the ten commandments be different from “the moral law” that you say overlap it (which I don’t find in the Bible to be different from the ten commandments itself), if these ten commandments are in fact, moral?
Fulfill means to do what is necessary. Jesus said he came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. Abolishing it (even after keeping it to the letter), would be the same as destroying it. So pls clarify.
The commandments were a firmly established institution to man ever since the creation of the world, and certainly also in heaven. It certainly existed through to and beyond Mt. Sinai. If it was abolished by Jesus (which would be completely against his character), there would be a big outcry by the jews, and at least mentioned clearly in the NT by the early christian church.
You say that the sabbath is the only commandment not mentioned in the NT. But that is not true. It is mentioned as kept by Jesus and His disciples all over the gospels and in Acts as being observed just as commanded by God. See Acts 13:44
And the Greek Luke wrote the book of Acts. not once does he refer to the sabbath as “that Jewish holy day”.
By the way, The Bible doesn’t teach that we must be idle on the sabbath. Jesus never was. Paul exhorts us to not stop assembling on that day.
So pls comment on these points. And use Bible texts. Thank you.
For those who need clearer information into what the Bible says about the ten commandments, especially the sabbath, pls view this video. It is presented very clearly and is completely Bible-based. It makes sense.
God bless you all.
Sorry Curt. I meant to post this video link: http://youtu.be/3ykgrExczQ8
Not the entire playlist.
Ken, thanks for your comments. I appreciate the tone of your interaction. (No problem on the playlist. I edited it out for you.) Have you read through the comments? I address much of what you’re asking about in my responses to others. Nevertheless, I’ll do my best to answer your questions.
I addressed this at length above, but the problem I have with your question is that the Sabbath law was not instituted in creation week and given to our first parents to honor and keep. Here’s what the Word says in Genesis 2:2-3:
Notice there is no mention of the word “Sabbath” here at all, no mention of any law, and no instructions to anyone as to observing this day. It just tells us that God rested on this day and declared it holy. This tells us what God did not what the people were to do. We don’t find any mention of “the Sabbath” until the Mosaic law that God established with the nation of Israel.
This all depends on what you mean by the word “moral.” Most Christians recognize there are unchanging moral laws and there are “ceremonial” laws. As I explain in the post, the Bible itself doesn’t explicitly give us this distinction, but I don’t know of any Christians who deny this (unless they believe we are still under the Old Covenant law in its entirety). In simplistic terms, the question of whether the Sabbath law is a “moral” one or a “ceremonial” one is precisely the issue on which you and I appear to disagree. So for you to just assert that the Ten Commandments are moral doesn’t get you very far. You’ll have to establish this with clear references from Scripture.
The issue isn’t what the English word “fulfill” means, it’s what the original Greek meant in context. Here’s what Jesus said in Matthew 5:17:
Jesus did accomplish the purpose of the law of Moses through his perfect life and through his sacrificial death and resurrection. Now the purpose of the law of Moses has been perfectly fulfilled or accomplished. As Paul wrote in Galatians 3:24-25:
Shortly before this he had written:
You’re absolutely right that Jesus didn’t abolish the law of Moses (he said as much himself), but Hebrews 10:1 tells us:
And Hebrews 8:13 says:
If you’re referring to the commandments in the Mosaic law or to the Ten Commandments, you’ll have to establish this from Scripture. I don’t agree with your assertion and I don’t see this taught anywhere in the Bible.
You do understand, don’t you, that I never said that Jesus “abolished” the Old Covenant law? I said that he fulfilled it and accomplished its purpose, I said that it’s been superseded by the New Covenant law, I said that it was temporary, that it is now obsolete, and that we are no longer under the old law. And I established all of this with direct scriptural references. But I’ve never said that Jesus abolished the law. Again, I address this in detail in the comments above.
I seem to recall that there was. 🙂
I’ve quoted NT references above and many more in the original post and the above comments showing that this is widely discussed in the NT.
I did?! 😯 Where am I supposed to have said this? I’m sorry, Ken, but you’re misquoting me here. I didn’t say this. (I did say that “there’s no place where Christian believers are taught to observe the Sabbath.”)
Jesus perfectly obeyed the Old Covenant law—this was part of fulfilling it—and the people in the Gospels were still subject to the Old Covenant. The OC wasn’t superseded until the death of Christ on the cross (cf. Matthew 27:51). Paul frequently went to the synagogues on the Sabbath to declare the gospel to the Jews. This is where they all met together, and this is when they met! But there is nothing in Acts about Christians observing the Sabbath themselves. Instead they gathered on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; cf. 1 Corinthians 16:2).
Of course he didn’t. You’re absolutely right. He was writing about Jews living in a Jewish cultural context. The Greek Luke also doesn’t refer to “that Jewish Passover” or “those Jewish Temple sacrifices.”
Maybe this is just semantics, and I’m not interested in debating “idle” vs. “rest.” (I didn’t use the word idle.) But the law is pretty clear on this in Exodus 20:9-10:
No, Ken, actually Paul does not exhort us to do this. You’ll have to back this up with Scripture.
Hopefully, the post makes a little more sense to you now. I’d again recommend that you read through the comments. They address and clarify quite a bit of the things about which you’re asking.
Grace and peace to you,
PS: I’ll check out the video you linked to when I have some more time.
This is the same issue that the early Galatians dealt with. I suggest reading the book of Galatians in its entirety for all those who still cling to the Law. Love is the fulfillment of the law.
Here are a couple of Youtube links that might help:
Ken, I tried to watch the video you recommended. Right from the beginning, this teacher reads back into the Genesis account aspects of the Mosaic Sabbath law that are just not in the text. Because of this kind of faulty biblical interpretation, this video is not at all convincing to me.
Lou, I agree that Galatians directly, clearly and strongly addresses this whole issue. I’m amazed at the people who debate this subject without interacting with Galatians (or Hebrews). Thanks for the links, especially the second one. I haven’t finished watching it, but so far it’s a fantastic explanation of the Sabbath and the different covenants.
I think it’s hilarious (by which I mean “sad”) that Jesus’ words are not quoted in the above article, but Paul’s “authoritative” words are quoted relentlessly. I guess Paul is God’s son and the Chosen One of the Creator of the Universe, right? Paul is nothing in the eyes of God. Jesus is everything. Jesus said we must obey the Commandments to be saved to eternal life. And he said his words will NEVER pass away or become irrelevant. Period. End of story.
Stephen, let me ask you a few questions: Do you not accept the scriptural writings of Paul as authoritative? Are the letters written by Paul not part of the Spirit-inspired Word of God? (As well as James and Hebrews, which I also quote.) If you don’t accept these as authoritative Scripture, then you are not approaching this discussion as an orthodox, evangelical Christian, and you should be open and upfront about this. If you do accept these epistles as part of authoritative, divinely-inspired Scripture—then what’s your point? Why is it somehow wrong to draw instruction from the Spirit-inspired letters to the churches, especially when certain epistles address this very issue at length?
Contrary to your glib comment, Paul is not “nothing in the eyes of God.” Jesus himself specifically chose Paul and commissioned him to be one of his apostles. Part of the role of apostle of Christ was to speak Christ’s words with his authority. Just as to ignore an ambassador is to ignore the government that sent him, so to ignore Paul is to ignore Jesus who personally chose, commissioned and sent him. Your forced and artificial choice between Jesus and Paul doesn’t make any sense; it amounts to contrasting Jesus with Jesus. This isn’t either/or it’s both/and. We want to hear both the words of Jesus in the Gospels and the words of Jesus through his apostles. If you must limit yourself to the Gospels because you can’t accept the teachings of the apostles of Jesus, then you are not following the whole counsel of God.
(And BTW I did reference Jesus’ new commandment in John 13:34 in the original post. I discuss Jesus and his New Covenant quite a bit there as well. And in the comment thread we discuss at length some of Jesus’ other statements. Did you read through the comments?)
Jesus did tell one individual that he must obey the commandments to be saved. He also told that same man he must sell his possessions and give all to the poor. Must all of us do this also to be saved? Have you done this? To be consistent you have to insist on this as well, don’t you?
As Robert asked you, do you follow the entire Law of Moses? Do you still follow the Law-required regular animal sacrifices? If you do not, are you not admitting some change in the Law, as far as how it applies to us? You may protest that Jesus has fulfilled this aspect of the Law. And he did tell us in his own words that he came to fulfill the purpose of the Law. But if he fulfilled this purpose of the Law, why is it so difficult to accept that he fulfilled the entire purpose of the Old Covenant Law—ushering in a completely New Covenant with a new priesthood (Jesus himself, our High Priest) and a corresponding new law (Jesus’ new commandment of love)? Does this not show that Jesus’ words in the Gospels and the teachings of Galatians and Hebrews are in harmony? The temporary nature of the Old Covenant and its fulfillment in the New is both anticipated in the OT and made explicit in the NT. (I recommend that you click on the second of Lou’s links above and watch the excellent video that explains this in depth.)
Neither I nor anyone else has suggested that any of Jesus’ words have passed away. The Mosaic Law hasn’t disappeared or been removed from the Bible. It remains an eternal witness of God’s holy covenant with the nation of Israel, and continues to be relevant to us today, teaching us of God’s dealings with his Old Covenant people and of his redemptive plan leading to Christ Jesus.
Finally, Stephen, I’ve answered you at length even though the sarcastic and aggressive tone of your comment is not acceptable on this blog. Before commenting again, please review Contentious Christians: How should we handle controversy. You can question and challenge anything here you like, but if your comments continue to display this kind of attitude, you’ll be blocked from this blog. Fair warning.
So must I obey these commandments from God, to receive eternal life?
Did Jesus, sentence the woman caught in adultery, to death? No! Was she guilty? Yes. Did she ask for forgiveness or repent from her sin before Jesus forgave her? No.
When we stand before the Lord Jesus, will He judge us according to our ability to keep the Law or by the love we have for Him and our fellow humans?
Stephen, have you obeyed all the commandments, so that God will give you eternal life?
If not, then, do you have eternal life? or are you to be condemned?
In accordance to the Sabbath, every day should be the Lord’s Day. Every day belongs to God. I believe that the Sabbath was originally created so that the Jews would keep a day separate for God only. But I think the bigger picture that God wants overall with his new covenant is that it’s a bigger picture than that: Everyday is His day. God wants the whole pie, not just a piece of it. God wants to be part of everyday of your life, not just one day set aside. “Er…yeah sure I think I can fit God into my schedule…lemme just see here…”
I feel like God was teaching his Israelites “baby steps” from the beginning so that when they “grew up” and was time for “maturing” they would understand the bigger picture of all of God’s original commandments.
It’s like when you’re feeding a baby food but they refuse to eat it. “Just two more bites and you can go play some more.” You say, as you try to get them to absorb the two bites. It seems so hard for them to do at the time. Two bites to them is a BIG DEAL, and at that stage in life they can never eat ALL of their food unless they’ve been trained with baby steps. A baby can’t run until he has first learned to walk.
Later in life you would encourage “4 more bites” or “You’re not leaving till you finish all the food on that plate of yours.” So by the time that child is a teenager he will eat all of his food and it won’t even be hard for him anymore. Out of habit it will become just as easy to him. Out of habit he will take the food he knows he can fill up on and he will eat all of it. Because he has learned the baby steps first of all.
I believe that God’s commandments are a lot like t his. Israel had nothign to start out with. God had to set down some very basic boundaries to even have them understand. For this reason I believe God liked to use metaphors a lot. He also used metaphors so that when the time came for Jesus, he could again repeat these metaphors and then explain how these metaphors actually related to Christ. Taking a metaphor that meant something different in that day and age and changing the exact same metaphor to mean (with the same intention) to something else in tihs day and age.
For example back in their age and time they had to sacrifice animals. I believe God was trying to prepare them for Jesus’s coming in doing so. He was trying to teach them that there were consequences for sin and that the “wages of sin is death”. He had to first make them understand that the only way to forgive sins was to put the sins on something else and have that thing die; to do away with sin. God was making it clear that sin had to be done away with in order for forgiveness to happen.
Now instead of sacrificing lambs, Jesus calls himself the “Lamb of God”. It’s cool that Jesus took something that was literal in that day and age and with the same intentions that sin needed to be done away with; applied it to himself. Now instead of sacrificing lambs to put the sin on the lamb and to sacrifice, now they have Jesus. Jesus took all the sins and only needed to die once because He was the truth lamb of God.
There is also a verse in the Bible that says something about the blood of animals can never actually cleanse a person from their sins. That is why I believe that they were “baby steps” for getting the Jews to understand later why Jesus was here. He first had to demonstrate using an animal as an example, even if that old law never really worked; it was all in preparation for the new law that would surely work. The same intention and reason remained; that sins needed to be done away with by placing it onto another through death. A lamb could never replace Jesus but God wanted to make sure that they understood…
Aww man I feel like I can never really put my thoughts into words well enough, like I don’t know how to explain it in a way that fully makes sense…
For the Sabbath day I feel it is much the same. God made a “baby step” for the Jews to follow. “One day is all I require for you to concentrate fully on me” Let’s consider this for a moment: Can a young child multitask? Not really.
If you ask a kid to pay attention to you while idk…playing a videogame or something, they can’t really pay attention to both at the same time. You will either be ignored or the video game will. Kids can only concentrate for so long and on only one thing at a time.
I believe the Jews were much the same way. How were they supposed to understand that God wanted to be a part of their every day lives? How on earth could they give their time and attention to God at the same time as their workload of life? But God wanted more from them I believed. I believe he wants our entire day, he wants to be apart and indulged in every moment of our every day lives. That doesn’t necessarily mean we have to drop what we’re doing to pay attention to God, but a simple acknowledgement that God is involved in whatever it is that you’re focused on in your day to life is what God really wants, I think.
Moving back to the kid playing videogames and paying attention to their parent at the same time, it’s just not that easy for them at all. Yet as teenagers when we’re learning to drive we realize we CONSTANTLY have to multitask. Not only do you have to watch the drivers in front of you, you have to pay attention to the people behind you, the road signs, possible collisions, the whether, the stop lights far ahead of the traffic, maybe even the person beside you if they’re talking or whatever. And yet through all this multitasking your still thinking of how to get to your destination, or maybe your mind is still wondering to other things. How is this possible, this constant multitasking coming from the kid who couldn’t pay attention to their mom and play videogames at the same time??
Under Jesus’s laws Christians are meant to reach maturity from the old law. We learn through the Jews baby steps what it means to be a mature Christian and live under the bigger picture of the New Law.
I could provide many more examples with other laws but it’s 1:48 am and I should be getting to bed soon.
Although I do have a couple questions for you, if the Old Testament is no longer to be followed.
What would you say about homosexuals? Why does Paul still condemn it in the New Testament when it was condemned in the Old?
I also question about tattoos. The New Testament doesn’t mention tattoos , however it does make a reference that your body is the Temple of God and that your body is not yours, it belongs to God. Does that mean we should make the call to treat our bodies as a canvas of art? There was good reasoning behind the Old Testament laws. Some of that reasoning is still easily applied today. Same reasoning, different laws for the same intentions and reasoning. At least that’s what I got out of reading the Bible. I honestly find the whole thing a little bit confusing but it makes sense to me that it’s a story from “baby steps” to adulthood in the Covenant of God.
I hope that makes any sense…
Thanks for your comment. I think much of what you say is on the right track. Paul says something similar in Galatians 3:23-25:
Regarding the Sabbath, we’re told:
So we should dedicate every day to God, but some may consider certain days as especially holy to God. We need to give each other freedom on this issue.
Though we’re not directly under the jurisdiction of the Old Covenant Law for the nation of Israel, we still study it because it contains much that reflects the unchanging moral law of God. The nature of God’s creation of humanity—including our sexuality—has not changed. He still knows what is appropriate for us and what cheapens, demeans and destroys us. This hasn’t changed.
The marking of the body in the ancient cultures around Israel wasn’t simply a stylistic choice, but was part of their idolatrous worship practices. Most scholars don’t see the ancient practice as comparable to contemporary tattoos.
Hope that helps! Merry Christmas!
You are a very patient man. I appreciate your calm, kind and serious consideration you give to every comment. I think most people commenting are not really open to altering their beliefs but are rather looking to find confirmation of their beliefs and/or convince someone else differently.
I rather sheepishly admit that I am no different.
I want to comment on a response you made way back on Jan 29 to Pat which said,
my very weak and simple comment is that EX 20:10 says
It does not say the seventh day is the sabbath of the Jews.
In that same post you also made the following comment.
This is somewhat baffling to me. I’m sure from reading your other responses you will have a very intelligent and wordy defense of this comment but here is a partial list of texts detailing Christians gathering on Sabbath. Luke 4:16 (Jesus as was His custom in the synagogue on Sabbath) Luke 23:56 (Christian ladies kept the Sabbath and waited till Sunday to go to the tomb to put spices and ointment on His body): Acts 17:2 (Paul as his manner was in the Synagogue on Sabbath) Acts 18:4 (Paul in the synagogue every sabbath not just with Jews but with non Jews): Acts 16:13, Acts 13:14, Acts 13:42-44 (Gentiles besought Paul to preach to them the next sabbath as well)
You then said this…
and you gave 2 references , Acts 20:7 and 1 Cor 16:1-2. These are the only 2 verses in the Bible that mention the first day of the week that aren’t just an historical account that Jesus resurrected on the first day of the week. In Acts 20:7 the disciples came together to break bread. You may know better than me but I believe this just means they had a meal together and then Paul preached and continued till midnight. As you no doubt know the first day of the week by Jewish reckoning starts at sundown on what we would call Saturday evening. So this was simply a Saturday evening meal followed by a going away speech by Paul which was very long winded, continuing till midnight, because he was leaving in the morning continuing on a long trip. Also 1 Cor 16:1-2 admonishes the believers to set aside an offering on the first day of the week and lay it in store so that he will not have to waste his time with this collection when he comes to them.
If this is the only “evidence” that the early Christian Church changed their day of worship from Sabbath, the day that God Himself blessed and sanctified (set aside for sacred use) at Creation to Sunday it is very weak indeed.
I didn’t intend to be so lengthy, sorry. Just one more thing. I would be interested in your take on Is 66:22-23 Which talking about the new heaven and the new earth it says,
It seems clear to me that even in Heaven and the earth made new, sabbath will still be a day set aside, (sanctified) for worshiping God the Creator of Heaven and Earth.
Again I appreciate your thoughtful, patient and kind responses which comes through even in the text. So even though we have differing viewpoints in some regards I can see that Christ is working in you to remake you in His image. I pray that that is my experience as well. Thank you and God Bless
Great information thank you, Dustin and Curt is Jesus the Sabbath yes or no?
Yvette, I suppose the answer to your question would be: It depends! I think we can speak of Jesus as our Sabbath in the sense that we find our rest in him and no longer have to try to earn our salvation. Of course, we are saved to do good works, so our work hasn’t entirely ended.
Thank you for your very gracious comment. I apologize for the late response. I’ve been traveling in the States visiting family, and just returned. Here are some thoughts regarding the questions you asked.
First, it’s true the Sabbath is described as the Sabbath of the Lord. But, then, the Temple is also frequently described as the Temple of the Lord your God (and not the “Jewish Temple”), and the sacrifices were the Lord’s sacrifices—but we no longer see a need to continue to worship God by sacrificing in the Temple. Just because something is the Lord’s, or of the Lord, doesn’t mean it must continue in the same form without any fulfillment or accomplishment. All of the Old Covenant Law was the Law of the Lord God, but there is a significant portion of the Old Covenant Law that none of us follow today.
Jesus instructed his disciples to not go to the Gentiles but only to the Jews; this was the command of the Lord our God. But this command was always intended to be temporary, for a specific time and purpose. He later instructed them to go out to the whole world. When Scripture explains the difference in covenants and covenant law, I would be hesitant to argue with the Word of the Lord our God.
And, actually, the text does specify who this law (including the Sabbath law) was for and to whom it was given. He specifies who he is addressing at the very beginning of the Ten Commandments:
To whom is he giving these Ten Commandments and with whom is he establishing this covenant? The people of Israel.
In the paragraph on the Sabbath, God says this law must also be observed by
Who is he addressing? foreigners living among whom?
They are told to honor their father and mother so
What land is this, and to whom was it given?
In verse 22, we read:
And this is all just from Exodus 20. If we read through Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, it’s inescapable that God established this covenant—and gave this law—specifically and exclusively to the people of Israel, his covenant people. The Sabbath is part of this covenant and covenant law. This covenant is from the Lord for Israel, not us. And this Sabbath is from the Lord for Israel, not us.
Royce, you quoted me accurately in my claim that there are no references in Scripture or history to early
on the Sabbath. (I appreciate that; not everyone quotes me accurately!) But then did you notice that you gave a
Brother, that’s not at all the same thing!
Jesus perfectly followed the law given to Israel. He was born an Israelite during the “jurisdiction” of the Old Covenant. Following the law would have included observing the Sabbath. This is also when the people gathered to read and discuss Scripture, so it was the perfect, natural time for Jesus to interact with his people about the Scriptures that referred to him. Until the death and resurrection of Christ, the Jewish people were still under the Old Covenant.
Even after this, many still observed Jewish customs in order to better evangelize their fellow Jews. (Paul explains this in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.) In his travels, Paul routinely went to the synagogues to try to spread the gospel to his fellow Jews. (The text specifies his reason for going to the synagogues.) This, again, is where they all met together to read and discuss the Scriptures. He did this on the Sabbath because that’s when they met! This is no more remarkable than a former Muslim going to mosques on Friday to try to share his faith. This would simply show his desire to evangelize, it wouldn’t mean he was still committed to Friday as a day of worship.
Again, let me clarify that no where in Scripture or early church history do we see even one reference to Christian gatherings on the Sabbath. Before the resurrection, Jews observed the Sabbath, and afterward Christians went to the synagogues on the Sabbath to evangelize the Jews. This is all unremarkable, and exactly what we would expect. It’s true I only gave two references of Christians gathering on Sunday. But what is remarkable about these passages is that they are the only passages that tell us when Christians met in the first century . . . and they both specify the first day of the week.
The Jewish day was from sundown to sundown, but the Gentile day was not. So we would have to speculate as to how they were measuring their days in Acts 20:7. (This was written by Luke, who was Greek.) Regardless, it specifies the first day of the week as the day when they gathered. “Breaking bread” referred not only to a meal but to the Lord’s Supper. So the Holy Spirit specifically tells us in this passage that the early believers intentionally gathered together on the first day of the week to observe the Lord’s Supper together and to hear apostolic teaching. There is no mention of a Sabbath observance or gathering, even in passing.
In 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 they are collecting an offering on the first day of each week. This certainly sounds like a weekly gathering, and I believe this is the consensus among Bible scholars and church historians. Again, these two passages are the only references we have in the New Testament to believers gathering on a specific day of the week. Neither mentions the Sabbath, and both note meeting on the first day of the week. This could seem weak to some if taken by itself, but these passages are in harmony with every reference we have from the earliest Christian writings (emphasis below is mine).
From Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians:
From the Epistle of Barnabas:
From The Didache:
We have similar references from Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, etc. I don’t know of any scholar of church history who doesn’t acknowledge that the early church quickly and universally began gathering for worship on the first day of the week, which they called the Lord’s day.
Isaiah 66:22-23 is a beautiful passage showing the permanence of both the worship of God and his promises. New moon to new moon shows a monthly timeframe, and sabbath to sabbath shows a weekly one. This worship will not only be perpetual, it will be regular. The NLT translates this as: “from week to week and from month to month.” This passage doesn’t say anything about a continual observance of the Old Covenant Sabbath laws.
I hope I’ve been as gracious in my response as you were in your comment. I, too, sense God’s Spirit in the tone of your writing. I pray that God will richly bless you, and that he will continue to guide us both closer to him and deeper into the truth of his Word.
Wow, what a resource this is. Thanks for this.
Thanks, Skyler. I’m glad this is helpful to you.
The bible translation that you are quoting from says things that the original Hebrew and Greek do not say.
I have double checked these verses and they are true to the Hebrew and Greek. Here is a source I used that you can use as well to see the Hebrew and Greek.
God distinguishes between His law and the Law of Moses.
Moses distinguishes between Gods law and the law of Moses.
God wrote the ten commandments.
You said that the sabbath was a temporary ordinance.
Thank you for your comment. I apologize for not responding sooner. The weekend is my busiest time of the week. My blog often has to be put on hold while I focus on pastoral ministry. I appreciate the work you’ve done to check these things out. Unfortunately, there are some problems with your claims.
First, unless you yourself are a Hebrew and Greek scholar, I would be very cautious to say that a certain translation says things the Hebrew and Greek do not. Anyone who speaks two languages knows you can’t just translate individual words and have something make sense in the other language; you have to translate whole phrases and sentences, and take into account whole paragraphs. Since words have ranges of meanings (in Hebrew, Greek and English), there isn’t only one accurate way to translate a particular passage. Each passage has only one meaning, but the translators will choose different English words and phrases to convey that meaning. If you’d like to know more about how this works, you might want to look at Which Bible version should I use? or The NIV controversy, part 2 which examine some of these issues.
Interlinears are wonderful tools, but they’re not intended to be used the way you’re using this one. The English words aren’t there to tell us how the word should be translated into our language, but simply to aid us in finding the corresponding word in the original Hebrew or Greek. As I mentioned, all words—including Hebrew and Greek—have a whole range of meanings. This is why we have Hebrew and Greek dictionaries (often multi-volume works) to help us determine what a specific word in the original means in the context of a specific passage.
Languages are not like codes; you can’t simply find one meaning for a word and then plug that meaning into every place the word is found. That doesn’t work in English, and it doesn’t work in Hebrew or Greek either. Translation is a complex process. Wonderful people have dedicated their lives to learning Hebrew and Greek to produce the best, most accurate translations they can. It’s natural for us to have translations we like more than others, but it is neither wise nor appropriate for people who don’t have extensive knowledge of the translation process to blithely dismiss a translation as ‘saying things the Hebrew and Greek do not.’ We need to exercise humility here.
I don’t think the passages you reference are saying what you think they’re saying. Of course the Ten Commandments are sometimes given special emphasis, such as in Deuteronomy 4:13-14, but this no more makes them a separate covenant (from the rest of the Law) any more than giving the Bill of Rights special emphasis makes them a separate constitution.
I’m a little confused as to the point you’re seeking to make. Are you suggesting that the Law of Moses is somehow not the Law of God?! Verses such as 2 Kings 21:8 show a common Hebrew construction, and it’s saying that “all that I have commanded them” corresponds to “all the Law that my servant Moses commanded them,” not that they are somehow different.
Where did Moses get the “Law of Moses”? Was it referred to as the Law of Moses because it originated with him, or because God chose him to communicate it to the people of Israel? Exodus 20 records the Ten Commandments. Beginning with Exodus 21, we read the rest of the Law (of Moses). Notice how Exodus 21 begins (using your preferred translation):
Who is speaking? God. To whom is He speaking? Moses. And what are these rules? All the rest of the Law. The Law of Moses is no less the Law of God than the Ten Commandments. The books of the Law make it clear over and over again that all of these laws the Israelites were to obey were from God. This is why, in 1 Kings 2:3, David instructs Solomon to:
This is why Ezra 7:6 refers to:
What you seem to be suggesting is dangerously close to those who say we can ignore the scriptural commands of Paul because they’re simply his opinion and not the direct teachings of Christ. Do more careful study of these phrases and you’ll see that the Old Covenant Law of God included all of the Law of Moses, and the Law of Moses included the Ten Commandments.
Notice also, in 2 Kings 21:8, that this is describing a covenant blessing (not causing Israel to wander outside the land) if they remained faithful to the requirements of the covenant God had made with the nation of Israel—which included the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments were part of the Old Covenant, established at Mt Sinai, between God and the nation of Israel. I have explained above from Scripture, many times, why New Covenant believers are no longer subject to the Old Covenant with Israel.
Also notice that, even if everything you say about Exodus 31:16 is correct, who is supposed to be keeping the Sabbath? It’s to be kept by “the people of Israel.” This nicely supports what I’ve written above. The Sabbath was part of the Old Covenant established with the nation of Israel. It’s part of the Old Covenant law, not the New Covenant law. It’s Israel’s Sabbath, not ours.
(The Hebrew word translated “forever” in the ESV can also mean “lasting” [NIV] or “perpetual” [NASB, NET, HCSB, NRSV]. In other words, this is a lasting or perpetual command to be observed without fail as long as the Old Covenant is in force. Regardless, even if “forever” is the correct reading, this a “forever” requirement for the nation of Israel, not the New Testament church.)
Grace and peace,
I’ve continued to receive comments on this post in the two+ years since I wrote it, and I’m glad it has provoked thought and discussion. Unfortunately, many of the comments have become somewhat redundant, repeating challenges I’ve already addressed multiple times in the comment thread. To avoid going round in circles over and over again, I’m closing the comments on this post. If you feel you have a question or challenge that hasn’t been addressed above, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a genuinely new contribution to make to the discussion—and if your tone is reasonably gracious and respectful of others—I’ll arrange for you to be able to add your comment, and I’ll respond here on the blog. Thanks for the discussion everyone!
Pingback: The Story – Week 5 Parent Cue | Parent Connection
Pingback: The Fourth Commandment | With Me On My Journey
Pingback: The Embarrassment that is the Old Testament | rejectingjesus
Comments are closed.