ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Paul and the Law

Updated on May 6, 2017
Roy Blizzard III
Roy Blizzard III

Does Paul Negate the Law?

Paul and the Law

Roy Blizzard III © 2017

Text: Romans 7

“1) Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? 2) For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3) So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. 4) 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. 5) For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. 6) But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”

Lately, I have been reading more and more comments from people on social media that want people to stop reading anything written by Paul because they believe him to be preaching doctrine different than Jesus’ doctrine. They honestly are trying to lead people away from reading and studying Paul’s writings and only reading the words of Jesus because they believe that Paul was leading the flock away from truth into error. Is Paul against the Law? I think not but let us first understand that in Hebrew the word Torah, often translated as Law, usually means Instruction not Legal Edict but can be sometimes understood in this light given context. This misunderstanding arose when the Hebrew Text was translated into Greek and the Greek word Nomos – which means a legal edict, was substituted for Yarah the Hebrew word for hitting a mark or instruction, probably due to a rise in the legalistic group called the Pharisees who took pride in strict regulations.

In Romans 7:1-6 there is a curious passage about a dead husband? In verse 2, it says, “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.” So should we think of the Torah or the Word of God to be considered like a dead husband which nobody really liked so now that he’s dead we can stop regarding anything that he said? No, I don’t believe so. Paul is in fact referring to an ancient Jewish Halachic principle to illustrate his own new relationship to the Torah because of his faith in Jesus.

However, when readers today see this passage they fail to ask two important questions and those are, 1) Was Paul referring to the death of the Torah or was he referring to the death of his flesh? 2) Does Paul believe the Torah to be “a dead husband”?

It is imperative for we as believers to remember that Paul took the study of God’s Word and the surrounding Jewish laws and rulings very seriously and this issue as related to the study and implementing of these Laws and rulings almost consumed him as they related to his missions work amongst the pagan gentiles.

It is unfortunate that today many people fail to recognize that much of what Paul speaks about must be interpreted and understood in light of his educated understanding of all the Jewish Laws and rulings as relates to the their new found relationship as equal partners in God’s family.

In addition to this failing, the Greek text of Romans 10:4 has been severely mistranslated so that it reads, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.” KJV instead of the way it should read in Hebrew as, “For the Messiah is the aim (or goal) of the Law…” If it didn’t mean this then how can we explain Paul’s affirmation in Romans 3:31, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: No, we establish the law.”

Either we have to believe Paul to be a crazy, schizophrenic or certain of his interpreters and translators neglected key aspects of his beliefs and thought processes and have only based their own interpretations on selected texts that are divorced from their context in Paul’s overarching message to the faithful.

It is critical for us to establish some sort of background to Romans 7:1-6 so that we can properly understand Paul’s approach to the Law, the flesh, and the dead husband within the confines of first century Jewish thought. If we fail to do this, then Paul’s message will be distorted and our theology will be askew.

Our first duty is to recognize that the Jewish saying, “When a person dies he is free from the law and the commandments” was a well-known concept in Jewish theology and was almost proverbial (well-known saying) in Jesus’ day – [b.Niddah 61b and parallels]. So, by Paul stating in Romans 7:1 that he was writing to those who know the “Law”, it is clear that he is speaking of a practice within Jewish Halachah – legal law, that all the Jews in the synagogue / congregation of Rome would have been familiar.

In addition, the Jewish marriage laws were also very familiar to the readers and as such Rabbi Gamaliel the Elder, who taught Paul, taught that “a woman – one whose husband is missing without giving her a writ of divorce - is free to remarry even if only one witness gives testimony that her husband had died.[m. Yeb 16:7] Some people take note of the similarities between the two teachers on this point of Law but in truth this was probably pretty much common knowledge amongst the Jews of the day and Paul could have learned it just about anywhere.

It was really because this point of Law was so well known that Paul decided to use it and it shows the value that Paul placed upon his Jewishness.

Most interpreters today destroy Paul’s true message by saying that Paul died to Torah and now he can do whatever he wants and we believers as well can do whatever we want because we are no longer in bondage to the Law. But, this doesn’t make sense in light of Romans 6.

The Rabbis taught that …”a servant is free from his master.” Job 3:19, meaning that a person, as long as he is living is a servant to two masters. He is the servant of his creator (Yotzer) and of his evil inclination (Yetzer) – [this is rabbinic word play]. Whenever he does the will of his creator he angers the evil inclination and when he does the will of the evil inclination he angers the creator. When he dies he is freed, “the servant is free of the master.” This concept parallels Paul’s words in Romans 7:1-6 and makes it clear that a person is enslaved to either his creator and righteousness and will obey God or is enslaved to his evil inclination and sin and will obey the flesh.

Remember that Jesus says a man can’t serve two masters, Matthew 6:24. The Rabbis taught that while a man was alive he was a slave to the evil inclination but when he dies his only master is God. This is exactly the concept that Paul is using in his marriage analogy. Paul didn’t want to tell us that the Law was abolished because a person had died spiritually through faith in Jesus. He was trying to tell us that a person dies to the sin nature so that we can become a servant of God alone. The sinful flesh dies so that a person can become a servant of righteousness.

Are Christians given a pass to violate the Law with impunity? No! He maintained his high standards of morality and ethics even writing to the Galatians in 5:13-25 and telling them exactly the works of the flesh to avoid and the works of the Spirit to seek. Paul didn’t consider the Torah a legalistic system opposing Grace because the Law was imbued with God’s grace and compassion.

Through the Law Paul recognized Jesus’ mission and realized that while no one could be “saved” by just keeping the Law, the Law specified actions that gave meaning to Grace and it was this Grace and the Holy Spirit that gave the believer the power to live a righteous life and fulfill the Torah to the best of their ability.

To Paul, the Law was not Sin and the individual had to die to his sinful flesh so the point Paul makes in Romans 7:1-6 is that the sinful flesh dies so that the individual may Live and thereby Serve God! Paul even comments in Romans 7:7, “What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? Certainly not!” Paul states that the Law is spiritual, Holy and good and it is a guide that leads the believer to Jesus because it clearly shows the person’s need for a salvation and spiritual power necessary to live.

The problem in people’s lives is Sin. However, the Torah is neither the solution to sin nor the problem itself. Let’s look at a Jewish text called 2 Esdras 9:36-37 found in many Bibles, “For we that have received the law perish by sin, and our heart also which received it. 37) Notwithstanding the law doesn’t perish, but remains in its glory.” Paul’s concern for sin is deeply imbedded in his psyche but he understands that Sin doesn’t and can’t negate the Law.

God’s Law, the Torah, reveals man’s sin by exposing it in light of God’s Divine Holiness. We don’t see Paul’s love for the Torah lessened by his love and experiences with Jesus. What we do see is Paul’s entire world view refocused and shifted from a Torah centric view to a Jesus centric view of how to live his life. This can only be accomplished by a correct understanding of the divine will of God as expressed through the Torah and brought to life by Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate aim of the Torah, the Law, and the believer fulfills that by faithfulness to Jesus.

Paul doesn’t consider the Torah to be someone’s dead husband, someone or something to be discarded because it is of no more use. Paul wants us to serve only one master and that is the master that the Torah pointed him and us to Jesus, our Messiah. We do that by dying to the flesh so that our Spirit can live and serve its true master.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • celafoe profile image

      charlie 2 months ago from Planet earth. between the oceans

      are you saying the law given to israel for a season is still in effect?

      Luke 16:16-17

      16 "The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.

    • profile image

      KingdomCome 2 months ago from those of the Ecclesia

      There is a higher standard of Law than the Torah which Jesus Christ had explained in the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew chapters 5-7. In one of the verses it explains The Kingdom Law standard. Matthew 5:19 (NKJV) states: 19 "Who ever therefore break one of least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of heaven; but whoever DOES and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heavem. "

      What follows after this verse Jesus states of few of the Torah law, but then reveales a higher standard of Law when he say; " But I say to you" In each case where he says, "but I say to you" He then reveals a Kingdom standard of LAW.

      This is what people fail to realize. It's a Kingdom standard which far exceeds the Torah. You will note that through out the life of Jesus Christ, He met the Kingdom standard of Law which far exceeded anything in the Torah or the 10 Commandments. This is why we need Jesus Christ, because He fulfilled this Kingdom Law.

    • royblizzard profile image
      Author

      royblizzard 2 months ago from Austin / Leander, Texas

      Charlie, what you are speaking about is referring to what the law and prophets were doing and that was pointing to The Messiah. That is why it says the Law -first 5 books and the prophets - the books commonly used to foretell the Messiah, were until John the Baptizer. Then when Jesus came there was no more need for them to speak of a future event because the future was now. Did those books cease to be important because Jesus came? Nope.

    • royblizzard profile image
      Author

      royblizzard 2 months ago from Austin / Leander, Texas

      Kingdom come, you are not recognizing the rabbinic teachings of Jesus. He is not denigrating the Torah but trying to properly expound on it compared to what the Jewish leaders of his day were doing and teaching. Jesus is emphasizing the doing not the speaking. He was actually speaking of the practice of one of the five hypocritical groups of Pharisees which were infamous for telling everyone what to do but not doing themselves. There is no "higher standard" than which God Himself gave.

    • profile image

      KingdomCome 2 months ago from those of the Ecclesia

      Well royblizzered, you are wrong.

      Have a good day.

    • celafoe profile image

      charlie 2 months ago from Planet earth. between the oceans

      roy- you clearly do not understand scripture. The law came after Abraham to whom the promise of Christ was given. The law was a temporary thing to last only until it was fulfilled, which Jesus did thereby ending it. at the cross a new and final age of man was begun. All things became new.

      the scripture i gave you says the law was only until John. Under Jesus we have entered a new age, the final age of man. All the authority of God on heaven and earth has been given to Jesus until the end of this age when He will return it to His father, the the judgment, then comes ether eternity or destruction in the lake of fire which ever you have qualified for. then come the new heaven and earth and the end of human who are turned into Spiritual beings for eternity.

      Your messianic jewish fables are misleading people

      if you were baptized in the Holy Spirit you would be able to correctly understand scripture because without it it is impossible

      Rom 6:14 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

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

      Gal 3:16-17 "And to your Seed," who is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ,

      Gal 5:14-15 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

    Click to Rate This Article