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Which Old Testament Laws Were Abolished?

What Was "Written For Our Learning"? Who Are "Our Examples"?

 

1.) Christ called Abel "RIGHTEOUS" (Matt. 23:35) and we know that "ALL THY COMMANDMENTS (Heb. "mitzvah") are RIGHTEOUSNESS," Therefore, Abel obeyed all of God's COMMANDMENTS (Heb. "mitzvah") (Lev. 27:34; Deut. 26:12).

2.) Why did Noah find grace in the eyes of the Lord? "Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God" (Gen. 6:9). What does it mean to "walk with God"? Amos 3:3 defines it by saying, " Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" Since the "Lord is righteous" (Ex. 9:27; 2 Chr. 12:6) and Noah was "a preacher of righteousness" (2 Peter 2:4-5)" and "all thy commandments are righteousness" (Ps.119:172), there was agreement.

3.) Why did the Lord bless Abraham's descendants? "Because that thou hast obeyed my voice" (Gen.22:18). And again "Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws" (Gen.26:5). If we are Abraham's children, as all Christians are (Gal. 3:7,29; Rom. 4:9), we will do the works of Abraham (John 8:39)

4. We know that MOSES obeyed the law since, of course, he was the human author of the Torah and gave these laws to Israel. Also, Moses "received the lively oracles (ten commandments; statutes; judgments) to give unto us" (N.T. Christians) (Acts 7:37-38) so they aren't abolished. As Christ said, "Do not think that I will accuse you to the father: there is one that accuses you (of sin), even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?" (John 5:45-47). If we don't believe the Torah, we won't believe Jesus.

The examples of obedience by ABEL, NOAH, ABRAHAM, and MOSES to biblical laws were "written for our learning" (Rom.15:4) and "these things (righteous acts in OLDER TESTAMENT) were our examples" and "they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" (1 Cor.10:6,11). "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for DOCTRINE, for REPROOF, for CORRECTION, for INSTRUCTION in RIGHTEOUSNESS" (2 Tim.3:16) and the only "scripture" known to Timothy at that time was the "Older Testament." And "whatever things were written aforetime (in the Older Testament) were written for our learning" (Rom.15:4).

Now since God doesn't change (Mal.3:6) and Jesus Christ is "the same yesterday, and today, and forever" (Heb.13:8) it is safe to say that these LAWS have always existed and continue to exist today. The laws existed before the Older Covenant was ever instituted and so what the Older Covenant didn't bring in, it can't take away if it were abolished!

God's LAWS are part of the eternal laws composing the Older Covenant (Deut.14). God promises to keep this covenant (the Book of Deuteronomy) with his people for 1000 generations (Ps.105:8; 1 Chr.16:15; Deut.7:9) and the Bible defines a "generation" as a "hundred" years (Gen.15:13-16). Therefore, from Moses to our day is only 34 generations. Both the older covenant and the law are still in full force!

These laws DETAIL and MAGNIFY the TEN COMMANDMENTS! Christ didn't come to destroy these laws (Matt.5:17;19:17-19). Just as the Holy Days further define the Sabbath Commandment (fourth), and Tithing further defines what stealing is (eighth commandment), so the Food Laws explain one way a person can commit murder against himself (sixth commandment) and Bathing regularly is one way to avoid spreading disease which is also murder (sixth commandment). If a person DELIBERATELY disobeys God's law, it is a SPIRITUAL SIN and God will destroy him (1 Cor.3:17).God's LAWS existed long before the temple, its priesthood, incense, burnt offerings, and sacrifices. The "ministration of (sacrificial) death" was "added because of transgressions" (Gal.3:19) to an already existing Older Covenant (Ex.19:5 to 24:8). They were either non-existent or not commanded prior to that time (cp. Jer.7:22) but were temporary concepts (Gal.5:2; Heb.7; 9:10). Those permanent laws found between Exodus 19:5 and 24:8 are only a PARTIAL LIST ! Unclean meats, tithing, Feast of Trumpets and Day of Atonement are some other significant omissions from the "book of the covenant." Actually "the book of the covenant" (Ex.24:7) is a condensation of the "book of the law" (Deuteronomy) (Deut. 29:21).

The "Added" Law

In contract law, anything added after the signature is no part of the original contract. Instead it is a separate agreement. After agreeing to obey, blood (the signature) was sprinkled on the people (24:8). This occurred one week BEFORE any RITUALS or SACRIFICES were added (Jer.7:22). Notice that Hebrews 9:21 mentions a separate and LATER sprinkling of blood (signature) by Moses which was added to the covenant of Hebrews 9:18-20 (cp. Ex.29:12,20,36).

The rituals and sacrifices would not have been necessary if Israel had obeyed God. But Israel continually sinned, so God added temporary ritualistic/sacrificial laws -- morning, noon and evening -- to remind them of sin, to teach object lessons (Gal.3:24) and the habit of obedience. Just as it becomes a fixed habit to wind a watch once a day, so the rituals -- morning, noon and evening -- fixed in them the habit of obedience by reminding them of sin's penalty constantly. These laws were "imposed on them until the time of reformation" (Heb.9:10) or the crucifixion in 31 A.D.

These laws were not actually a part of the original Older Covenant. Israel's disobedience required the institution of rituals. Since these rituals required much laborious work, some Christians identify them as "THE WORKS OF THE LAW" of New Testament writings. Those sins committed by Israelites, which didn't deserve death, now had to be acknowledged with manual labor and work to remind them of sin and its penalty. But these rituals didn't forgive anything (Heb.10:4). They may have been the "YOKE OF BONDAGE" (Gal.5:1; Acts 15:5,10) and a "LAW OF SERVITUDE AND BONDAGE" (Gal.4:1-9).

The ritualistic/sacrificial law came "four hundred and thirty years after" the promises to Abraham were confirmed (Gal. 3:17). So we know this law isn't and can't be permanent. It was "added because of transgressions, till the seed (Christ) should come to whom the promise was made" (Gal. 3:19) of inheriting the whole earth forever. It was added to a pre-existing law (the Older Covenant) that had been transgressed by the Israelites. Transgressions aren't possible without laws (Rom.4:15; 1 John 3:4; Rom.5:13). The law which was transgressed is called "my commandments and my laws" (Ex.16:28). But God never did take delight in the other law of sacrifices and offerings (Ps.40:6). "Therefore the (sacrificial) law was our tutor to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a (sacrificial) tutor" (Gal.3:24-25).

Since sin is the transgression of the law (I John 3:4), the MORAL LAW could NOT have been added BECAUSE of TRANSGRESSION because the LAW needs to exist PRIOR to sin. What is the TRANSGRESSION that CAUSED something to be ADDED that didn't exist in the time of Abraham? It was the sin of the golden calf. What got added as a result of the sin of the golden calf? The Levitical priesthood. Exodus 32:19 says "And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount." Exodus 32:26 says, "Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD'S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him." Galatians 3:19 says, "Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions." The Levitical priesthood was added because of the sin of the golden calf.

The Levitical Priesthood was our tutor to bring us to Messiah. Galatians 3:24 says, Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. "The law" was the Levitical Priesthood which was added because of the transgression of the golden calf. Hebrews 7:11 says, "If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?" Hebrews 7:12 says "For the priesthood being changed ..." and Hebrews 7:14 says, "For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood." Hebrews 7:17 says, "For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec." Hebrews 7:22 says "By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament."

Mandatory tabernacle sacrifices really began in Exodus 29 orally and Leviticus 1 in practice (cp. Jer.7:22). The TABERNACLE (Heb.9:11) with its LEVITE PRIESTHOOD (Heb.7:12), and mandatory priestly WASHINGS (Heb.9:10), and SACRIFICING (Jer.7:22; Dan.9:27; Heb.9:12-14) which Paul called a "MINISTRATION of (animal) DEATH" (2 Cor.3:7) were all new concepts. Any man could be priest and offer sacrifices from the time of Adam to Levi or Moses (Ex.24:5). Abel, Noah, Job and Abraham didn't use a tabernacle. These temporary concepts are not found in the "book of the covenant" (Ex.19:5 to 24:8). This new law "stood only in meats and drinks [meal and drink offerings], and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them UNTIL THE TIME OF REFORMATION" (Hebrews 9:10). These rituals, ceremonies, and sacrifices were "a FIGURE for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience" (Heb.9:9). "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not cease to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. For in those sacrifices there is a REMEMBRANCE again made of SINS every year" (Hebrews 10:1-3).

The sacrificial law did not atone for sin -- but it REMINDED THE PEOPLE of their sins, and their need for proper, true atonement!
Paul goes on: "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins" (Heb.10:4). Rather, the sacrifices of the law pointed to the one supreme sacrifice -- the sacrifice of Jesus Christ Himself, the "Lamb of God"! (Heb.10:5-13). "Wherefore the (sacrificial) law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster" (Galatians 3:24-25).

Only the PASSOVER "sacrifice" is mentioned there (23:18). The PASSOVER sacrifice was re-instituted in Egypt weeks BEFORE SINAI and didn't originate with the Old Covenant. This is the only PERPETUAL sacrifice mentioned in the "book of the covenant." The PASSOVER lamb was neither a sin offering nor a burnt offering. Sin offerings were not instituted until after Israel came out of Egypt (Jer.7:22) and burnt offerings weren't mandatory at any time (Lev.1:3; Ez.46:12). The PASSOVER lamb is called "my sacrifice" in Exodus 23:18 and is no part of the law of rituals and sacrifices added later. It is called a "memorial" (Ex.12:14), not just a shadow of Christ.

Those who try to abolish the festivals link them to the sacrifices (Lev.23:37). Since extra sacrifices were performed on the holy days and festivals, people reason that these days must must have been instituted merely for sacrificial purposes. But, if we use that argument, we must abolish the weekly Sabbath also since extra sacrificing took place on that day. Furthermore, sacrifices were offered on every single day of the year (Num.28:3-8). Therefore the entire year must be abolished. But Jeremiah 7:21-23 says, "Thus saith the Eternal of hosts, the God of Israel, Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. For I spoke not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice ... and walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you." The holy days stood by themselves in Exodus 12. All of the festivals existed before the sacrifices were instituted. Exodus 15:26 says that the "statutes" (Heb. "choq") were already in existence (Gen. 1:14). "Choq" means the same thing as "chuqqah," which we saw before. Romans 4:15 states, "where no law is, there is no transgression," so there must have been a law in existence before these sacrifices ever became necessary. Only spiritual sacrifices are required today (Rom.12:1-2; Ps.51:17; 1 Sam.15:22).

Let's continue through the Bible chronologically:

5.) David said, ". . . for all thy commandments are righteousness" (Ps. 119:172). Psalm 119:44 says "So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever." Psalm 119:160 says "Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever."

6.) The nation of Israel was promised blessings for obeying His Law (Deut.28:1-14). Innumerable blessings! The nation was also promised curses if they disobeyed His commandments (Deut.28:15-68).

7.) Isaiah records, ". . . but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and TREMBLETH at my word" (Isaiah 66:2).Isaiah 40:8 says,"The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever."

"Think Not That I Am Come To Destroy The Law"

8.) Christ stated, "Bessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it" (Luke 11:28). "He that hath my commandments, and and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: And he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him" (John 14:21). "And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail" (Luke 16:17). "Think not that I am come TO DESTROY THE LAW, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, BUT TO FULFILL" (Matt.5:17). What did he mean by "fulfill"? Christ answers, "all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the LAW of Moses, and in the PROPHETS, and in the PSALMS CONCERNING ME" (Luke 24:44; see also vv.25-27; Luke 18:31-34 & Acts 13:27-33). These are the three divisions of the OLDER TESTAMENT!

Christ fulfilled the RITUALISTIC TYPES and SACRIFICIAL SHADOWS in the law as well as the PROPHECIES in the prophets. But Christ didn't come to destroy the laws against IDOLATRY, BLASPHEMY, MURDER, ADULTERY or THEFT. These laws aren't prophetic. Unlike sacrifices, the Levite priesthood and the temple, the MORAL LAW reveals God's UNCHANGING CHARACTER (Mal.3:6; Heb.13:8). Jesus told a young rich man, ". . . but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:17). In Matthew 5:20 Christ warned his disciples, "except your RIGHTEOUSNESS shall EXCEED the RIGHTEOUSNESS of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." What was the RIGHTEOUSNESS of the scribes and Pharisees that we must SURPASS or GO BEYOND? See the chart above.

Christ said that man shall live "by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt.4:4) and the OLDER TESTAMENT scriptures were the only written word of God at this time (2 Tim.3:15-16; 1 Cor.10:11). Christ also said, "the scriptures cannot be broken" (John 10:35) -- meaning the OLDER TESTAMENT isn't abolished. Later he said "Thy word is truth" (John 17:17). The OLDER TESTAMENT is true! These laws serve a practical purpose and are not mere shadows or types. They are part of the moral law that reveals God's character which doesn't change (Mal.3:6; Heb.13:8). It's true that Christ also fulfilled the moral law, but in a different way. He magnified the law and made it honorable (Isa.42:21) by adding the full spirit and intent to the mere letter of the law (Matt.5:21-44).

Jesus Christ was a "JEW" (John 4:9; Heb.7:14). He was considered by many to be a "RABBI" -- a teacher authorized to interpret Jewish law (John 1:38,49; 3:2; 6:25; 20:16). CHRIST ATE MEALS together WITH PHARISEES (Luke 7:36-39; 11:37-38; 14:1). To even be called "RABBI" implied that Christ was a LAW-KEEPER! Nicodemus was a ruling Pharisee and said to Christ, "Rabbi, we (Pharisees) know that thou art a teacher come from God" (John 3:2). Certainly this implies that CHRIST OBEYED the FOOD LAWS, FESTIVALS, SABBATH, TITHING and IMMERSED in a MIKVEH.

"Jesus Christ the RIGHTEOUS" (1 John 2:1) knew that "all thy commandments are RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Ps.119:172). Jesus Christ "WHO DID NO SIN" (1 Pet.2:22) knew that "SIN is the TRANSGRESSION of the LAW."

But most significant of all is the fact that Christians should FOLLOW the EXAMPLE that CHRIST SET. First Peter 2:21 says that Christ left us an example, "that ye should follow his steps." First John 2:6 states, "He that saith he abideth in him (Christ) ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." He walked as an observant JEWISH RABBI!

Aren't Law-keepers Judging Others? Why Did Jesus Pardon the Adulteress (John 8)?

Law-keepers do not believe in "inequality toward women." The Bible itself teaches women to remain silent in church (1 Tim. 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 14:33-38). God is fair. Law-keepers do not believe in "prejudice against homosexuals." The Bible itself condemns this perversion and calls it an abomination (Lev. 18:22; 1 Cor. 6:9-10). God is not prejudiced. Law-keepers are not "prejudiced against other races." The Bible itself forbids interracial marriage (Lev. 19:19; Deut. 7:1-4; Deut. 22:9). "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whosoever shall DO and TEACH them, the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matt. 5:19).

It would be wrong to remain silent and not witness to them (Ez. 33; Lev. 19:17). But isn't that judging?

Does a minister need to be perfect himself before he is qualified to preach against sin? If so, then there would be no preachers. But we know that Paul wrote 14 epistles and Peter and James and John all wrote epistles and all preached to congregations. They all judged others. They had repented of sin and were trying hard to be obedient. Therefore, they did not have "logs" in their eyes anymore. Christians ARE qualified to judge others in this sense. "Know you not that we shall judge angels? How much more the things that pertain to this life ... Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? No, not one that shall be ABLE TO JUDGE between his brethren?" (1 Cor. 6:3-5). Only those with logs should not judge those with specks in their eyes.

Why Did Jesus Pardon the Adulteress?

1. If he ordered her to be put to death, he would be assuming authority which belonged only to the Roman rulers, and could therefore be accused and condemned as a usurper.(Jesus didn't live under the Mosaic judicial process just as Christians today don't live under the Mosaic judicial process)
2. He probably wrote their names and their sins in the earth, showing they were just as guilty as she was. So they walked away and there were no accusers left. "All that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be WRITTEN in the EARTH, because they have forsaken the Eternal" (Jer. 17:13).
3. He actually told her to "Go and sin no more" (Don't commit adultery) which is exactly what I teach -- "Go and sin no more."

But did Christ ever COMMAND any of his disciples to follow him? Jesus said to Philip, "FOLLOW ME" (John 1:43) and to Peter and Andrew, "FOLLOW ME, and I will make you fishers of men"(Matt.4:19). If we FOLLOW HIM, we will OBEY the LAW (see also Matt.9:9). Christ "COMMANDED" his disciples when he "opened his mouth, and taught them, saying ... except your righteousness shall EXCEED the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt.5:2,20). The scribes and Pharisees STRAINED OUT A GNAT (Matt.23:23) to avoid unclean creatures and "TITHE MINT and DILL and CUMMIN" (Matt. 23:23) leaves to avoid STEALING. In Matthew 28:19-20, Christ commanded his disciples, "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations ... Teaching them to observe ALL THINGS whatsoever I have COMMANDED you."

"Follow Me As I Follow Christ"

 

9.) In Philippians 4:9 Paul said, "Those things which ye have both LEARNED, and RECEIVED, and HEARD, and SEEN in me, DO." In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul stated, "Be ye FOLLOWERS of me, even AS I also am of Christ." These Corinthians were gentiles (1 Cor.12:2). Paul said, "Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good" (Romans 7:12). "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" "God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Romans 6:1-2).

10.) John said, "And hereby we do know that we know him, IF we keep his commandments" (I John 2:3). "He that saith, I
know him, and keepeth not his commandments, IS A LIAR, and the truth is not in him" (verse 4). "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for SIN IS THE TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW" (I John 3:4). "For this IS the love of God, that we keep HIS COMMANDMENTS: and his commandments are not grievous" (I John 5:3).

What are the "Works of the Law"?

Paul said "a man is not justified by the works of the law," and that "by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified" (Gal.2:16). What did he mean?"For as many as are of the works of the law are under the CURSE: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Gal.3:10). What are these "works of the law"? In his translation, Ferrar Fenton refers to them as "rituals of the law." Most Christians, Protestants and others, think they refer to the "deeds" of the law of Moses -- the entire Law of God given to Israel at Mount Sinai -- including the Ten Commandments, statutes, judgments, and Temple rituals and ceremonies of the Law. The title of an obscure Dead Sea Scroll is MMT, which stands for Miqsat Ma'ase Ha-Torah. the most common GREEK word for ma-ase is ergon -- which in the New Testament is usually translated "works." The Hebrew word Torah is usually translated as nomos, which in the New Testament is generally translated "law." Thus the expression ma-ase ha-Torah then simply means "works of the law." The Septuagint version of the Old Testament leaves no doubt -- it translated the Hebrew expression ma-ase ha-Torah by the Greek ergon nomou. This Greek expression is commonly translated in the New Testament as "works of the law." This expression is found in Romans 3:20,28, and Galatians 2:16, and 3:2,5, and 10.Interestingly, when the British Bible Society translated the New Testament into modern Hebrew in 1976, when the text of the MMT Dead Sea Scroll was known only to a few scholars, they translated the Greek ergon nomou (works of the law) as ma-ase ha-Torah. Says Martin Abegg, author of an article entitled "Paul, 'Works of the Law' and MMT," in the November-December 1994 Biblical Archaeological Review,

"In short, ma-ase ha-torah is equivalent to what we know in English from Paul's letters as 'works of the law.' This Dead Sea scroll and Paul use the very same phrase. The connection is emphasized by the fact that this phrase appears nowhere in rabbinic literature of the first and second centuries A.D. -- only in Paul and in MMT.

"The works of the law that the Qumran text refers to are obviously typified by the 20 or so religious precepts (halakkah) detailed in the body of the text. For the first time we can really understand what Paul is writing about. Here is a document detailing works of the law" (p.53, BAR, 11-12/94 issue)."The issues include bringing Gentile corn into the Temple, the presentation of Gentile offerings, and the cooking of sacrificial meat in unfit (impure) vessels. Other rulings concern cleansing of lepers, admitting the blind and the deaf into the Temple; and permitting intermarriage with Ammonite and Moabite converts, long forbidden to enter the congregation of Israel (Deuteronomy 23:3). Other issues involve the transmission of impurity by a flow of water (musaq), the intermixture of wool and linen (sha-atnez) and perhaps the climax of the discussion: the intermarriage of priests with the common people.

"Most of the rulings espoused by the author of MMT are based directly upon Biblical law (for example, the prohibition against plowing with unlike animals in Deuteronomy 22:10). A few others are interpretations or amplifications of Mosaic prescriptions (for example, bans on Gentile offerings and dogs in the Temple). The list clearly reflects a conservative reaction against a relaxation of Torah precepts" (ibid., p.53-54).Notice! These "rulings" or "works of the law" included "INTERPRETATIONS OR AMPLIFICATIONS OF MOSAIC PRESCRIPTIONS."

The Qumran sect spurned the "rabbinic extensions called Talmud, which effectively built a fence around the Torah, successive layers of which have become codified in the rabbinic works of the Mishnah and the two Talmuds. The Qumranites were the 'Bible only' group of their day" (page 54).

Notice again! The "RABBINIC EXTENSIONS" reflected in the Talmud, that corpus of Jewish religious and rabbinic literature accumulated over the centuries, known as the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds, was spurned by the writers of the MMT Dead Sea Scroll. They developed their own interpretations, expansions, and halakkah. But both came under the over-all description of "works of the law" -- and included various rabbinic interpretations, amplifications, and extensions of the Law of Moses to Jewish life during the first century.

Writes Abegg: "Looking at Galatians and Romans in the light of MMT, it seems clear that Paul, using the same terminology, is rebutting the theology of documents such as MMT. I do not mean to suggest that Paul knew of MMT or of the zealous members of the Qumran community, but simply that Paul was reacting to the kind of theology espoused by MMT, perhaps even by some Christian converts who were committed to the kind of thinking reflecting in MMT."

What does this all mean? Clearly, even in Paul's day, the Jewish scribes and Pharisees were building "fences" around the law of God, and making it into a burden -- a "yoke of bondage" (Gal.5:1). Paul warned of "false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into BONDAGE" (Gal.2:4). He warned the Galatians that we are not justified before God by "works of law" (Gal.2:16).

Paul urged the Galatians not to become entangled in the "works of the law" -- the deeds and decisions and rulings of rabbinic Judaism or its offshoots. He wrote, "Stand fast therefore in the LIBERTY wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (Gal.5:1).

To really understand God's Law, therefore, and its application to Christians, and the New Covenant, we need to search the Scriptures, and the words of Christ. We need to avoid all the "works of the law," or man-made religious taboos and constraints, which men have added from time to time, for one reason or another, to the Scriptures, leading into a yoke of heavy-handed authoritarian bondage and spiritual slavery.

The "works of the law" that Christ and Paul condemned were the human additions to God's Law which made it a system of bondage and misery. Neither of them were condemning the keeping of God's commandments or referring to obedience to God's Law as "works of the law" -- not at all!

"Not Only ... But Also"

Christ said, "NOT that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man, BUT that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man" (Matt.15:11). He was not abolishing the distinction between clean and unclean meat here. Instead he was using a "NOT ... BUT" contrast found so often in scriptures which means "NOT ONLY THIS ... BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY THAT ALSO" as some examples will make clear. Moses said "Your murmurings are NOT against us, BUT against the Eternal" (Ex.16:8) yet obviously they were murmuring against Moses also (16:2). "Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria (only) and not relied on the Lord thy God (also), therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand." (2 Chr. 16:7). Both should be relied upon. "In his disease he sought not the Lord (also), but the physicians (only)" (2 Chr. 16:12). Both should be sought. God says,"For I desire mercy, and NOT sacrifice" (Hos.6:6) yet we know he desires both. Christ said, "whosoever shall receive me, receiveth NOT me (only), BUT him that sent me" (also) (Mark 9:37). People receive both. "Lay NOT up for yourselves treasures upon earth (only) ... BUT lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven" (also) (Matt.6:19-20). We must lay up treasure in both places. "Labor NOT for the food which perisheth, BUT for that food which endureth unto everlasting life" (John 6:27). We must labor for both kinds of food. "For he is NOT a Jew who is one outwardly ... BUT he is a Jew who is one inwardly" (Rom.2:28-29). Both are Jews. Joseph said, "So now it was NOT you that sent me here, BUT God" (Gen.45:8). Both sent him there. "And the Eternal said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee; for they have NOT rejected thee, BUT they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them" (1 Sam.8:7). They rejected both God and Samuel. "In like manner, also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel ... NOT with broided (braided) hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array ... BUT (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works" (1 Tim.2:9-10). Women should adorn themselves with both kinds of beauty. For many more examples, see Genesis 32:28, Proverbs 8:10, Joel 2:13, Matthew 9:13, 12:7, 16:17, 1 Pet.3:3-4, Luke 14:12-14, John 4:21-23,11:4, 12:44, Acts 5:4, 17:24,1 John 3:18 and 1 Corinthians 15:10.. Matt. 16:12; 1 Pet. 3:21

Was the "Yoke of Bondage" (Gal. 5:1; Acts 15:10) Shammai's Oral Law?

John the Baptist and Jesus were both CIRCUMCISED (Luke 1:59; 2:21). Paul was CIRCUMCISED "the eighth day" (Phil. 3:5). Paul said CIRCUMCISION has much VALUE (Rom. 3:1). Isaiah 52:1 says, "For the UNCIRCUMCISED and the UNCLEAN Shall no longer come to" Jerusalem. "Thus saith the Lord God: No stranger, UNCIRCUMCISED in heart, or UNCIRCUMCISED in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary" (Ez. 44:9). Perhaps it is because disease germs are harder to wash off when under a flap.

Why do we find a controversy over CIRCUMCISION in the New Testament? Because some SHAMMAITE Pharisees required STRANGERS to be CIRCUMCISED PRIOR to DWELLING among Israelites (Talmud Yevamot 46b; Acts 15:5; Gal. 5:1-6). Paul and Barnabas "had no small dissension and disputation with them" (Acts 15:2) because Paul was trained by Rabbi Gamaliel the elder, grandson of HILLEL, and followed the HILLELITE oral law of Moses (Acts 22:3). Paul never taught "Jews ... NOT to CIRCUMCISE their children" (Acts 21:21). Instead, Paul believed "all things which are WRITTEN in the law and in the prophets" (Acts 24:14) and had committed no offense against the Torah (25:8). He hadn't even violated the ORAL traditions (28:17) of HILLEL. Later Paul makes the point that God forgives sin BEFORE strangers are CIRCUMCISED (Rom. 4:7-12). Therefore, if you are called by God, CIRCUMCISION is not required for forgiveness of sin (1 Cor. 7:18-19). However, it is required prior to eating Passover (Ex. 12:43). Numbers 9:14 says, "You shall have ONE LAW both for the stranger and the native."

According to the Talmud (Yevamot 46b), Rabbi Joshua of Bet HILLEL ruled that both males and females performed BAPTISM when the Israelites received the Torah at Mount Sinai, whereas Rabbi Eliezer the SHAMMAITE believed that men underwent CIRCUMCISION ONLY, and he makes no mention of any ceremony for women.

Furthermore, the schools of HILLEL and SHAMMAI differed on the issue of a proselyte who had ALREADY BEEN CIRCUMCISED before the time of his conversion: "Beit SHAMMAI states: 'One must DRAW from him the BLOOD of CIRCUMCISION'; Beit HILLEL states: 'One need NOT DRAW the BLOOD of CIRCUMCISION from him'" (Tosef., Shab. 15:9; TB, Shab. 135a). Most of the rabbinic authorities decided in favor of Beit SHAMMAI (Tos. to Shab. 135a; Maim. Yad, Issurei Bi'ah 14:5; Sh. Ar., YD 268:1). In the circumcision benediction of proselytes, the statement is made: "Who hast sanctified us with Thy commandments and hast commanded us to circumcise proselytes and to DRAW from them the BLOOD of the COVENANT" (Shab. 137b). In other words, CUT a CIRCUMCISED man just in order to make him BLEED.

When "certain men ... came down from Judea (and) taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be CIRCUMCISED after the MANNER of MOSES, ye cannot be saved" (convert to Judaism) (Acts 15:1), they were speaking from the perspective of the SHAMMAITE ORAL law. This is proven by the fact that the WRITTEN Torah says hardly anything about the "MANNER" in which it is to be done. They believed that their ORAL Torah was also given by God to MOSES on Mount Sinai at the same time as the WRITTEN Torah (Ber. 5a; Ex. R. 47:1; Shab. 31a). It does specify the MANNER in which CIRCUMCISION is to be done (Shab. 9:3; 18:3; 19:1-6; Pesachim 3:7; Megillah 2:4; N'darim 3:11; Arakhin 2:2; K'ritot 1:1 and N'ga'im 7:5). "But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees (SHAMMAITES), who believed, saying that it was needful to CIRCUMCISE them (Gentiles), and to command them to keep the (SHAMMAITE ORAL) law of Moses" (Acts 15:5). Paul was trained by Rabbi Gamaliel the elder, grandson of HILLEL, and followed the HILLELITE oral law of Moses. Paul said, "I am a Pharisee" (Acts 23:6). He was "zealous of the traditions" of his fathers (Gal.1:14) and urged Gentiles to "hold the traditions which ye have been taught" (2 Th. 2:15) -- the HILLELITE traditions which require ONLY BAPTISM when converting to Judaism, or for those already circumcised, to require no further CUTTING to DRAW BLOOD when converting to Judaism. Peter points out that "God made a choice among us, that the Gentiles by MY mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe (not by the mouth of a SHAMMAITE). "And God ... gave them the Holy Spirit, even as he did unto us. And put no difference between us and them (even though they weren't CIRCUMCISED)... Now, therefore, why ... put a YOKE upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?" (15:7-10) The "YOKE" is clearly the strict ORAL law of the SHAMMAITES since they sat in Moses' seat in 50 A.D. (see Gal. 5:2-3). The "YOKE of the Mitzvot" (B'rakhot 2:2 & Sifra 57b) is a Talmudic phrase referring to ORAL law or "TRADITIONS of the elders" (Mark 7:3). Paul said, "Be not entangled again with the YOKE of BONDAGE" (Gal. 5:1). Jesus said, "You have made the commandment of God of none effect by your (ORAL) TRADITION" (Matt. 15:6). Jesus also said, "My YOKE is EASY"(HILLELITE) (Matt. 11:30).

Nobody is debating the 613 written commands of the Torah! They are "a LAW of LIBERTY" (James 2:10-12). Paul said this LAW was "HOLY,
JUST and GOOD" (Rom. 7:12) and he said "we ESTABLISH the (written) LAW" (Rom.3:31). Instead it is the "middle wall of partition between us ... the law of commandments contained in ordinances" (Eph. 2:14-15) such as the "prohibition of bread, oil, wine and daughters of gentiles" which was one of the 18 decrees passed by Bet SHAMMAI which Peter deliberately violated (Acts 10:28; 11:3). The teaching that Gentiles are unclean is "of scribal origin" (Nid. 69b) and unrelated to the impurities mentioned in the Torah (cf. Tosef., Zar. 2:1; Nid. 34a). Also, "the daughters of the Cutheans (Samaritans) are considered menstruous from infancy" (Gentile uncleanness) -- another of the 18 decrees promulgated near 15 B.C. (TJ Shab. 1:7, 3c; Shab. 17b).

The "false brethren" of Galatians 2:4 who came in secretly to spy on UNCIRCUMCISED Christians were SHAMMAI Pharisees. They were "somewhat" because they were in the majority and IN CONTROL of the San Hedrin in 53 A.D. Because of the SHAMMAITE antagonism toward Gentile converts and the SHAMMAITE rule that Jews can't eat with non-Jews, Peter stopped eating with Gentile converts (Gal. 2:12). Paul then asks, "Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law" (Gal. 3:2) -
- meaning the SHAMMAI ORAL LAW including CIRCUMCISION?

Cornelius the centurion received the Holy Spirit without being CIRCUMCISED according to the SHAMMAITE ORAL LAW (Acts 10:44-45).
In Galatians 4:17 we read that these SHAMMAITES would "exclude you" (Gentiles can't achieve salvation). In Acts 16:15 a new convert named Lydia said, "If you have judged me to be faithful in the Lord, COME INTO MY HOUSE, and abide there." She was testing them to see whether they followed SHAMMAITE ORAL LAW or not. First Thessalonians 2:14-16 says that the Jews who killed Christ and the prophets and have persecuted Christians also "forbid us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved" because they are SHAMMAITE Pharisees who follow the eighteen measures and require CIRCUMCISION before conversion -- before the stranger could "sojourn among you." But to require CIRCUMCISION of a stranger implies he is a servant (Ex. 12:44) and not free to decide whether or not he wants to keep the Passover. The law merely says, "There shall no stranger eat" of the Passover (Ex. 12:43).

The MINIMUM requirements of strangers "to sojourn among" Israelites were that they not offer sacrifices to demon idols (Lev. 17:7-9) or eat blood (Lev. 17:10-11) or eat animals that had been killed by other animals or died of disease or strangulation preventing the blood from draining (Lev. 17:12-16) and that they avoid any sexual misconduct (Lev. 18:1-26). This we find summarized in Acts 15:20 , 29 and 21:25.

Compare the seven Noachide Laws (Sanh. 56a). There were other laws specifically addressed to the stranger such as avoiding blasphemy (Lev. 24:16), incest (Lev. 18:26), participating in the religious festivals (Deut. 16:11,14), fasting and resting on Yom Kippur (Lev. 16:29), getting rid of leaven on the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Ex. 12:19) and using the red heifer (Nu. 19:10), but as Yebamoth 47a explains, the rabbis "do not ... tell him (the proselyte) TOO MUCH, or enter into TOO MANY DETAILS" upon initial conversion. The Israelites at Sinai also said, "We will do and we will hear" (Ex. 24:7) obliging themselves to OBEY the whole Torah BEFORE they KNEW what it required.

But the very next verse of Acts shows that converts were expected to attend synagogues "every Sabbath day" where Moses is read (Acts 15:21). As Exodus 20:10 says, "the stranger that is within thy gates" "shalt not do any work" on the Sabbath cp. Deut. 5:14). Attending with Jews shows that the SAME DOCTRINAL OBEDIENCE was expected of both. As Numbers 9:14 says, "You shall have ONE LAW both for the stranger and the native." As Leviticus 19:34 says, "The stranger that dwells with you shall be unto you AS ONE BORN AMONG YOU and thou shalt love him as thyself." As Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20, "Teach all nations to OBSERVE ALL THINGS whatsoever I have commanded you." And if you will "enter into life, KEEP the COM-MANDMENTS" (Matt. 19:17). (Strangers who sojourn among you must obey the same Old Testament as the Israelites obey.) When a STRANGER eventually decides to observe Passover, he must be CIRCUMCISED (Ex. 12:48). Christians should be CIRCUMCISED, but NOT as a pre-conversion SHAMMAITE DEMAND prior to DWELLING among Israelites (Gal. 5:1-6) and NOT to DRAW BLOOD when the man has already been CIRCUMCISED. Paul never taught "Jews ... NOT to CIRCUMCISE their children" (Acts 21:21). Instead, Paul believed "all things which are WRITTEN in the law and in the prophets" (Acts 24:14) and had committed no offense against the Torah (25:8). He hadn't even violated the ORAL traditions (28:17) of HILLEL. Therefore, if you are called by God, Shammaite CIRCUMCISION is not required for forgiveness of sin (1 Cor. 7:18-19; Rom. 4:7-12). Perhaps this is what Paul was referring to in 1 Corinthians 7:19 when he said, "Circumcision (according to the commandments of men) is nothing, and uncircumcision (according to the commandments of men), but the keeping of the commandments of God." Galatians 5:12 says, "I wish those who are so eager to CUT your bodies would CUT themselves off from you altogether" (Phillips).

The Curse of the Law

Galatians 3:13 -- "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." But Paul called God's law holy, and just, and good. What is the "curse of the Law"? It is simply the penalty of Law-breaking! Exactly what did Christ redeem us from? From the penalty of sin which is death. When you sin you bring upon yourself the penalty of sin -- the curse of the Law -- the death penalty! Because of our sins, we were all sentenced to death (Romans 6:23). But Christ paid the penalty for us, in our stead. He redeemed us from death! Christ DIED for us! He took the curse, which we incurred through disobedience, upon Himself! "For He [God] made Him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor.5:21).

The End of the Law

In the previous verse Paul explains how the Pharisees were going about trying to establish their own righteousness, apart from God's righteousness. They ignored the sacrifice of Christ, and thought that mere commandment-keeping would be enough for anyone. But, "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone which that believeth." (Rom. 10:4) What does "the end of the law" mean? One definition is the aim, or the purpose, the fullness or outcome of the Law. Christ in us gives us the power to keep God's Holy, perfect Law, since we lack the spiritual strength, ourselves (Romans 8:4). Apart from Christ, no one can manage to keep God's Law in the spirit. By his very nature, man falls far short. But through Christ, we can (Phil. 4:13). The aim or end of the Law is to make us like Christ! Christ is the purpose or aim of the Law, for righteousness, to every one that believes. But what is "righteousness"? David said, ". . . for all thy commandments are righteousness" (Ps. 119:172). There is the definition! Clearly, then, God's Law is not done away. It is to teach us to be righteous like Christ was -- and is. This word "end," used in Romans 10.4, is also found in James 5:11. Same word. James writes, "Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the END of the Lord, that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. Now, did James mean that Christ's END had come? Of course not! Christ arose from the dead -- and lives, today, at God's right hand in heaven! (Hebrews 7.26, 9:24). Rather, James explains it himself. They had seen the purpose or aim of the Lord -- "that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."

“Dead to the Law”

What did Paul mean in Romans 7:4, when he said, "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become DEAD to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God"? First, he did not say "the law is dead," he clearly said, "ye . . . are become dead." The law of God did not die, or perish. It was not destroyed or done away. But the people became dead to the law by the body of Christ. "For when we were in the flesh" -- that is, before we were converted, and were living according to the pulls of the flesh -- "the motions of sins, which were [manifest, revealed for what they were] by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death." (Rom. 7:5). When we were yet sinners, we were worthy of death in Gods sight. We had transgressed His holy Law, and the death penalty hung over our heads. "But now we are delivered from the law" (7:6) -- that is, from the death penalty of the Law. Christ paid it for us -- in our stead! The Law of God no longer claims our lives, "that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. While sinners, we were in a state of doom. We were worthy of execution. We were figuratively, sitting on murderers row, awaiting our punishment. But, now, Paul says, we are dead to the Law -- that is, the penalty of death has been paid by another -- Jesus Christ, who gave His life for us -- so no longer does the death penalty hang over us. It has been paid! So far as the Law is concerned, the penalty is paid -- we are dead, in Christ -- and there is no further date with death for us, if we continue to live in Christ! This verse in no way says the Law is done away. It merely shows that Christ paid the penalty of the Law for us, died for us, and our date with death has been kept by Him. We are "dead with Him" (Romans 6.-3-4). No longer does condemnation await us (Romans 8.1), because we are also made spiritually alive with Him through His resurrection from the grave (Romans 6:4-5, 11). No longer, then, are we in a sense married to sin, the way of the flesh -- but we are to be "married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead" in a newness of life, "that we should bring forth fruit unto God" (Romans 7.4, last part).

“Not UNDER the Law”

Some, however, will still turn to Romans 6:14, where we read, "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." Pointing their finger at this verse they will likely exclaim, "There, see? Christians are not under the law! We don't have to keep the law. Paul says we are under grace, not law!" But again -- could this reasoning possibly be sound? After having read all the verses we have seen so far, could we believe Paul contradicted himself? If he did, then obviously his words are not inspired -- and if that be true, the Bible is not inspired, and you have no Saviour!

Therefore let's get this right, once and for all!Begin with verse one. "What shall we say then?" Paul asks. "Shall we continue in sin" - that is, breaking God's Law, for sin IS law-breaking (I John 3:4) -- "that grace may abound?" In other words, is it all right for Christians to transgress God's Law, so they can have more grace to cover their sins? Paul himself answers this shocking question, "God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Romans 6:1-2). There is your thundering answer! God does not save us "IN our sins" -- rather, He saves us FROM our sins! As Christians, we are to reckon ourselves dead to sin (verse 11). Paul plainly says, "Let not sin [commandment-breaking] therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof' (verse 12). Lawlessness is not to reign over true Christians! We are to be law- abiding people! We are commanded not to yield ourselves as instruments of evil, sin, or law- breaking (verse 13). Rather, we are to be instruments of righteousness (same verse). And, what is righteousness? Remember? Read it again in Psalm 119:172 -- ". . . for ALL THY COMMANDMENTS are righteousness"!

Now we come to verse 14, "For sin" -- that is, again, commandment-breaking -- "shall not have dominion," or rule, control, "over you." Why? Why doesn't sin have power over true Christians, as in the case of other people? Paul explains, "for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Notice! There are two vital keys in this verse: (1) This has to do with sin having power over a person! When does sin -- or the penalty of sin-- have power over a person? When he has BROKEN the law! Transgressors of the Law are in a state of condemnation, doom -- awaiting death! Sin holds them captive! True Christians are not under the penalty of law -- in other words, the law is not hanging over their heads condemning them. They are not under the penalty of the law! Why not? Because true Christians are "under grace." What does that mean? What is "grace," anyway? Grace is the free unmerited, mercy and forgiveness of God. It is, in a sense, all the blessings of God. Grace is an expression of God's love. Being under God's grace, then, means OUR SINS HAVE ALL BEEN FORGIVEN, AND CLEARED OFF THE BOOKS! In God's eyes, we are sinless -- spotless -- pure and "sinless," because all our sins have been washed away in the blood of the Lamb of God. A Christian, then, is like a murderer on death's row who has received a pardon from the state governor. He has received grace. He is no longer in a state of condemnation, under the penalty of the law, the law claiming his life, awaiting his final execution!

What Was "Nailed to the Cross"?

Colossians chapter 2, verse 8, Paul warned the brethren in Colossae: "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments [elements] of the world, and not after Christ." Here Paul clearly outlined the danger. False teachings of philosophy -- pagan philosophical ideas -- as well as traditions of men, and elementary concepts of the world were rife in Colossae and threatened to subvert new believers in Christ, deceiving them, pressuring them into returning to their old pagan practices and beliefs! It is important to note that in that day the word "philosophy" was often used to describe an ascetic approach to life. Notice! This truth is made even clearer if we drop down to verses 20-23: "Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world [the teachings of the world around them, the pagan philosophies] why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of MEN?" (Verses 20-22.) These "ordinances," or religious customs and decrees, seemed to be wise and good to the human mind (verse 23). They involved "neglecting of the body" and various forms of asceticism -- abstinence from pleasure, strict codes of conduct. These religious customs involved numerous taboos ("Touch not; taste not, handle not," etc.). But they were merely the ideas and teachings of men (verse 22) - they did not come from the Bible! We will see later just what these "ordinances," commandments and doctrines of men were. So now let's examine Colossians 2:14-17, and understand it in its proper context.

Is God's Law "AGAINST Us"?

In Colossians 2:13-14 we read: "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross." Just what do these verses mean? If, as certain fundamentalists assert, the Ten Cornmandments are "against us," and "contrary to us," then the Bible must contradict itself, because the same Apostle Paul wrote elsewhere of the Law of God: "Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good" (Romans 7:12). He wrote: "For we know that the law is spiritual" (verse 14). How then can God's Law be "against us" or "contrary to us"? The Ten Commandments -- which summarize the Law of God -- are good for us. They show us how to love and worship God, and how to love our neighbor. Read the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. Do you see any one of them which is "against us"? Of course not! Each one of the Ten Commandments is a good commandment, ordained for our welfare, established for our eternal benefit! This is why Jesus told a young rich man, ". . . but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:17). Which commandments did Jesus mean? "Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (verses 18-19). He was clearly talking about the Ten Commandments, because He went right on to list several of them, pointing out which law He was talking about! Now Jesus could have told the young rich man, "Listen! There is nothing you must do to gain eternal life. Just believe on me. The Ten Commandments are (or will be) done away -- abolished!" But He didn't say that. Why? Obviously, because it is not true. Because Jesus knew that to inherit eternal life a man must keep the commandments! If we believe the words of Jesus, our Saviour, then the Ten Commandments -- and ALL the commandments of God -- are still in effect and in force today! But this being true, then what "ordinances" was the Apostle Paul talking about in Colossians 2:14.

"The “Handwriting of Ordinances”

First, notice that what was blotted out was the "handwriting of ordinances." Why did Paul use this strange-sounding expression if he merely meant the Ten Commandments or the Law of God? The original Greek word here translated "handwriting" is cheirographon and actually means "a (handwritten) document, specif. a document of indebtedness, bond'" (Arnt-Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament). The Arndt-Gingrich lexicon translates the expression in Colossians 2:14, "the bond that stood against us." Thus, the original Greek, according to the most up-to-date scholars and authorities, shows that a "bond" or "note of indebtedness" was against us. What was this particular "bond" or "I.O.U." note? Again, notice the original Greek. The whole expression is: cheirographon tois dogmasin. The whole expression in English should be translated "the note of indebtedness in the decrees." The last word, dogmasin, is the dative plural of dogma, which actually means "decree, ordinance, decision, command" (Arndt-Gingrich). It is used in Luke 2:1 in reference to a decree from Caesar Augustus. It is also used in Acts 17:7, again referring to the 'decrees of Caesar.' In Acts 16:4 it is used in reference to 'decrees . . . ordained of the apostles" (obviously Paul was not referring to these decrees being blotted out!).

The same Greek word is also found in Ephesians 2.-15, where we find that Christ has reconciled Jews and Gentiles: "For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity [hostility, hatred that existed between Jews and Gentiles], even the law of cornmandments contained in ordinances [dogmas]. . ." (Ephesians 2:14-15). But here again the question comes up: "What is this law of commandments contained in ordinances?" The original Greek is ton nomon ton entolon en dogmasin. Literally, it should be translated "the law of commandments in decrees." Some have assumed falsely that it refers to God's Law, or the Ten Commandments -- but, as we have already seen, God's Law is spiritual and endures forever (read Psalm 111:7-8; Romans 7.14). Whatever this law is -- it is subject to abolition, and one that consists of "commandments or decrees" -- the same decrees mentioned in Colossians 2:14! So this brings us back to Colossians 2. The decrees (or "ordinances") are mentioned both in verse 14 and in verse 20. As we have already seen, verse 20 plainly refers to man-made regulations, restrictions, decrees or ordinances -- not the laws of God! Let's notice it once again: Paul wrote, "Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances [Greek dogmatizesthe, literally "bind yourself with decrees"] . . . after the commandments and doctrines of men?" Isn't that plain? These particular "ordinances," or decrees, were NOT those of the apostles, or of God, but restrictions, or regulations and taboos imposed by MEN -- human beings, and NOT GOD!! But precisely what restrictions, or regulations? The parenthetical expression in verse 21 explains. These decrees consisted of various ascetic do's and don'ts such as "Touch not, taste not, handle not" -- human religious injunctions and teachings of non-Christian philosophers and Rabbis -- both Jewish and Gentile! They were ascetic legalists and spiritual frauds who relished binding yokes of bondage on the disciples and true Christians! Some of these false teachers, of course, were masquerading AS Christians (compare II Corinthians 11:13-15; Acts 15:1-2), and even entered the Church, professing Christ, but they had substituted their own ideas, laws, decrees, regulations and practices in place of the teachings of Christ! The Ordinances of God The word dogma is never used in the New Testament to refer to the statutes or Old Testament ordinances of God, or the Ten Commandments.

You can check this for yourself in the Englishman's Greek Concordance of the Bible. When the Old Testament ordinances of the Levitical priesthood are mentioned in the New Testament, God inspired the Apostle Paul to use other words. You may notice the word "ordinances" in the King James Version of Hebrews 9:10. Paul wrote of the rites and ceremonies of the Levitical priesthood: "Which stood only in meats and drinks [meat and drink offerings], and divers washings, and carnal [fleshly] ORDINANCES, imposed on them until the time of reformation." The Greek word here is dikaiomasi, not dogma. The same word is used in Hebrews 9:1 speaking of "ordinances" [dikaiomatal] of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary, referring to the Levitical priesthood's ordinances and service of the tabernacle. These are superseded today, since they were only imposed till the coming of the Holy Spirit ("the time of reformation"), which made them unnecessary -- spirit-begotten Christians now being able to worship God "in spirit and in truth" (John 4.-24). However, nowhere in the New Testament are these ordinances called dogma.

The King James Version also uses the word "ordinances" in Luke 1:6, speaking of the parents of John the Baptist, Zacharias and Elizabeth: "And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ORDINANCES [dikaiomasi] of the Lord blameless."
"Ordinance" also appears in the King James Version in Romans 13:2, "Whosoever therefore resisteth the [governmental] power, resisteth the ordinance of God. . ." But the Greek word here is diatage, not dogma. I Peter 2:13 reiterates: "Submit yourselves to every ordinance
28 of man for the Lord's sake. . ." -- Greek ktisis.

Finally, "ordinances" is used in I Corinthians 11:2: "Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances [paradosis], as I delivered them to you. On the other hand when Paul refers to dogma in Ephesians and Colossians, he means RELIGIOUS DECREES, ascetic regulations or at best pseudo-Christian taboos.

The Way of Death

The "ordinances" -- dogma -- referred to in Colossians may have seemed good to the natural mind -- but there is a way which "seems right" and ends in death (Proverbs 14.12; 16:25). These religious decrees were perversions of the truth of God. They led to death. These "ordinances" and commandments of MEN" caused people to break GOD'S commandments -- to SIN. And "the wages of sin is DEATH" (Romans 6.23). What, then, was the cheirographon ("bond of indebtedness") of ordinances? It was the "debt note" that was incurred as a result of having followed human religious taboos and decrees! What was the "debt" incurred from following those "ordinances"? The debt of forfeiting one's life! The debt of DEATH! Now note this very carefully. Obedience to the Ten Commandments never led anybody into SIN. Rather, as David said to God, "All thy commandments are righteousness" (Psalm 119.172). Rather, as the Apostle John said: "Sin is the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4). Sin results from breaking the Ten Commandments! Not from keeping them. These human religious ordinances caused people to break God's commandments, thereby leading then into SIN. And the penalty was death! So now let's recapitulate: Obviously, the Ten Commandments are not "against us." Keeping them, through the power of God's indwelling Holy Spirit, is the way to eternal LIFE! What is "against us" is the debt note associated with man-devised dogmas, religious decrees, or commandments which take us AWAY from keeping the commandments of God, and cause us to break God's Law. These religious decrees were the "ordinances" Paul wrote about. They were the way of DEATH!

Legalistic Asceticism

The Pharisees of Jesus' time had also fallen into the same ascetic spiritual trap as the Gentiles. They had strayed away from properly keeping the Law of God. They added a rigmarole of religious taboos and stringent decrees of asceticism to the law of God. They developed a whole system of religious regulations and traditions called Halacha. In many cases, these halacha were designed by men to be "hedges" to "fence in" the laws of God, supposedly keeping the people from breaking the laws themselves -- because to do that they would have to get through the myriad "hedges" and "fences" first! However, as Jesus Christ said, many of these "traditions of men" were contrary to the Laws of God -- they became a human system of do's and don'ts that became a grievous "yoke of bondage" (Acts 15:10). these regulations created self-righteousness and hardship, and were against the law of God, but often appeared "holy" and "righteous" in the eyes of the common people. Christ rebuked them for these human-devised laws and decrees. He declared: "Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit IN VAIN do they WORSHIP me, teaching for doctrines the COMMANDMENTS OF MEN. For laying aside the commandments of God, ye hold the tradition of MEN, as the washing of pots and cups; and many other such like things ye do" (Mark 7.-6-8). These human inventions and additions were included in the decrees Paul condemned in the epistle to the Colossians. Whether added by Jews, Gentiles, Pharisees, ascetics, philosophers or whoever, such dogmas are wrong and create heavy burdens and lead into SIN.

What Was "Nailed to the Cross"?

That which was "nailed to the cross" was not the Ten Commandments at all! Rather, it was the figurative record of our indebtedness due to sin -- which we incurred as a result of breaking Gods Laws in order to follow human precepts -- which was "nailed to the cross"! Before we knew the truth of God, we followed the wrong way of life. We became slaves to sin (Romans 6:12-14, 16, 23). Due to false teaching, we broke God's Laws and incurred a "debt" -- we owed God our lives! Because we had sinned, we were "as good as dead" in the sight of God. When we repented of having broken God's Law we acknowledged our debt. It is as if we had sent God an I.O.U., a legal certificate, stating: "Because I have followed wrong teachings, and the traditions of men, I have broken your Law. Therefore, I owe you my life. I have incurred the death penalty for my sins. I admit and confess my sins and transgressions, and acknowledge them in this note." "Signed: John Doe." But when Christ died for our sins, He took that death penalty upon Himself. In His Person, our sins were "nailed to the cross," or stake. As the Apostle Paul wrote: "For he hath made him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin: that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (II Corinthians 5.-21). Jesus Christ -- Yeshua -- ransomed us from the grave. He paid our debt-note due to sin FOR us, in our stead! He DIED for us! Therefore, God tore up the I.O.U. He nailed IT to the cross!

Consequently, when we repent of our sins and accept Christ's payment for them, we are no longer under the death penalty. We have been forgiven. The penalty of death has been REMOVED. We now have peace with God (Romans 5:1). But What about Verses 16-17? Those who quote Colossians 2:14 in a vain attempt to prove Gods Law is abolished generally go on to use verses 16 and 17 of this same chapter to argue that the holy days of God are abolished. Read carefully what Paul wrote, word for word; "Let no man [or, no one] therefore judge you in meat or in drink [Greek: eating or drinking], or in respect [merei, part] of an holy day [i.e., in connection with the observance of a festival], or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow [foreshadowing, or prophetic type] of things to come; but the body ["is" is in italics in the King James Version, and was inserted by the translators -- it doesn't belong in the verse] of Christ" (Colossians 2:16-17). In more modem English, we could translate the verses this way: "Let no one judge you regarding eating or drinking, or [other] part of a holy day . . . but [let] the body of Christ." In other words, Paul was telling the brethren at Colossae not to be worried, anxious, or concerned about Gentile neighbors or other human beings who dared to "sit in judgment" on them for eating, drinking and rejoicing instead of being ascetic, in observing Gods annual Holy Days and Sabbath days. They were not to allow outsiders to "judge" them, but rather to let the "body of Christ," the Church of God, which is in training to "judge" even the angels (I Corinthians 6:2-3).

"Christ Obeyed The Law, So We Don't Have To"

"If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matt. 19:17). "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9-10). Yes we HAVE BEEN saved from past sins repented of (Eph. 2:8-9). We ARE BEING saved if we continue to try and live a sinless life (Phil. 2:12) and we SHALL BE saved if we succeed in living righteous lives (Rom. 5:9-10).

Sins deserving death (after conversion) disqualify for inheritance of the Kingdom of God, and therefore for fellowship with those who are "heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to them who love him," or obey him. There can be no sin more deadly than that of a Christian sacrificing to other gods, and cursing Christ, for the sake of present ease and comfort. As Paul said, "If they who were once enlightened shall FALL AWAY, it is impossible to renew them again unto a CHANGE OF MIND, seeing they CRUCIFY AGAIN the Son of God, and EXPOSE HIM to public shame." This is bearing thorns and briars; and as such, Paul saith, "is rejected, and nigh to cursing; whose end is to be burned" (Heb. 6:4-8). For an enlightened man to sacrifice to the gods of Greece and Rome, was for him to "SIN WILLFULLY" -- a sin for which no sacrifice is provided in the system of righteousness devised by God. It is therefore a "sin unto death" and "I say not that ye should pray for it" (1 John 5:16).

Of sins of this sort, Paul says, "If we SIN WILLFULLY after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that DESPISED Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath TRODDEN UNDER FOOT the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the Covenant wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing" (Heb. 10:26; Rom. 3:23; 2 Pet. 2:20; Heb. 6:6). The gospel of the kingdom has no good news for such.

They have denied Christ, and Paul said, "If we DENY HIM, he also will deny us" (2 Tim. 2:12). Jesus said, "Whosoever shall DENY ME before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 10:33). "They profess that they know God; but in works they DENY HIM, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate" (Titus 1:16). "Walking after the flesh" between one's immersion in Christ and one's death will be pronounced "naked" -- not having "watched" or "kept their garments" and will receive things in their body according to their deeds" (Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:6). They will die a second death (Rev. 2:11; Ps. 69:28; Rom. 8:13; Gal. 6:8). The saints have borne the image of the First Adam (1 Cor. 15:45-49) and will bear the image of the Second, "learning obedience by the things they suffer." Therefore, the purpose of life is to be "conformed to the image of his Son" (morality of the Bible) and "Put off the old man" (fleshly morality -- Eph. 2:12; Rom. 1:21-32; Col. 3:9-10).

 

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