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Torah and the concept of law in the New Testament

Synopsis: the lecture discusses the concepts of law (Torah), legal norm (nomos) and provision of law (dikaioma) as the basis for analyzing the problem of compliance of believers in Christ with the Mosaic Law. The aim of the lecture is to show that Jesus did not remove the Law, but complemented the norm of the Law, and according to this completed standard, we fulfill the provisions of the Torah as referring not to the old man, whom we were without faith, but to the new man, whom we have become by repentance and conversion to Christ.

Contents:

  1. Law, Prophets, Writings
  2. Nomos as the norm in the context of the legalism of scribes
  3. The norm of the Torah in the New Testament
  4. The provisions of the Torah in the New Testament
  5. Dead to the law
  6. Review of texts

The concept of law is fundamental not only in the Old Testament, which is the record of the history of Israel under the Mosaic Law, but also in the New Testament. Suffice it to say that that Greek nomos usually translated as 'law' occurs here 196 times. In addition, we find tens of occurences of terms, such as commandment (entole - 67 occurences), precept (entalma - 3 occurences), provision/ deed (dikaioma - 10 occurences). This short statistic in a natural way proves the importance of man's compliance with the law established by God, but not only this. Already at the very beginning of Jesus' service, an additional thread appears, associated with the relationship of our Lord and his followers to the Mosaic Law - the Law, which on the one hand is the provision of God, and on the other hand it also has its specified addressee, which is the nation Israel.

This last statement may have been undisputed until the first century AD, but since our Lord Jesus Christ began his service - a Jew who, according to the statement by the apostle Paul, was born under the law (Gal. 4:4) - the matter was no longer so obvious. We have a teacher who declares that 'he has not come to destroy the Law or the Prophets' (Mt. 5:17), and at the same time we have his front apostle, the Gospel envoy to Gentiles, who announces that "Christ is the end of the law" (Rom. 10:4; Gal. 2:7-9). The contradiction is obvious. However, the purpose of the lecture is to show that this is not a contradiction in the doctrine. This is a contradiction that follows from the imperfections of translations we have, and secondly also, and even above all, from the deficit of precision of concepts. If we talk about the law, we must be clear about the ​​concepts that we use - this is an obvious requirement for correct exegesis, and yet very often overlooked. Intuitively, we know what the law is and this intuitive definition we use. However, we also need to put it in a historical and linguistic context because only then our understanding will have the chance to meet the real sense of text.

Law, Prophets, Writings

However, the discussion about the law should begin not in the New Testament, but in the Old Testament. There God provides the law to his chosen nation. We find the record of these events in 5 Mosaic Books, called by the Jews the Torah. The word Torah itself comes from the Hebrew jarah meaning teaching, but also launching arrows to the goal, which very aptly shows the goal of God's law transferred by Moses in the Pentateuch - teaching man behaviour that will fall within the framework of Divine Justice. Therefore, although the Torah in itself is not one string of instructions - we find there all the history not only of Israel, but also their ancestors, reaching the time of the creation of man - the legal element as undoubtedly dominant found its reflection in calling the entire five books by the name of the Torah.

It is important to notice already at this point two elements that are shown in the etymology of the word Torah. The definition of the Torah as the law quite loosely corresponds to the fact that it is a codified set of rules. However, the law has in itself the element of purpose, i.e. every regulation leads to something. Just as a goal of the arrow is a certain point, the purpose of the provision is a certain state, a specific result of proceedings. This duality of the construction of the law - in this case the law referred to as the Torah - was perfectly shown in the word jarah, from which as we said, the term Torah originates. We have an arrow that is released to the destination, as concrete rules of the Mosaic Law were also given to the people on a specific purpose: if you fullfil them, you will live (Deut. 30:15-20). Calling the Pentateuch by the name Torah - instruction, principle of behaviour - shows that its purpose is to fulfill a specific standard recognized by God as just. The codified rule is a means to this end, but not the end in itself. This must be emphasized because the same element of the norm and the provision will also appear in the New Testament discourse, but more on that will come later in the lecture.

However, the whole Hebrew Bible is not only the Torah, but also the Nevi'im, or "Prophets" and Ketuvim, or "Writings". The whole is referred to as the Tanakh (acronym connecting the first letters of the names of the above three parts of the Bible). Jesus, however, when he speaks about Moses, he rather lists individual elements of the Tanakh. For example, in the Gospels, we oftentimes read about 'the Law and the Prophets' (Mt. 5:17, 7:12, 22:40, Lk. 16:16), which seems to be a reference to two parts of the Tanakh - the Torah and the Nevi'im. One will also come across the term 'Writing' or 'Writings' in the plural, which may refer to Ketuvim, but in many cases it can also be the overall definition of the entire Hebrew Scriptures. However, important for us here is the fact that speaking about the law, Jesus does not use the word Torah. Instead, the Greek nomos appears in the New Testament. When Jesus says he did not come "to destroy the Law or the Prophets", he clearly talks about the content of the Torah (Mt. 5:17), but in the verse there actually appears nomos, usually - as in this case - translated simply as 'the law'.

Nomos as the norm in the context of the legalism of scribes

Nomos translated as 'the law', however, leads to misunderstandings because under the term 'law' we usually understand a set of rules in a codified form, and this in turn completely does not correspond to the meaning of nomos. Nomos is in its basic sense the standard of conduct, the norm (especially sanctioned with tradition), custom. The essence of nomos is its social authorization, universal and undisputed practice of behaviour. Therefore, nomos penetrates different spheres of life, such as religious ceremonial or the law, becoming the norm of ritual practice or conviction about the appropriateness of specific principles*. If therefore the New Testament uses nomos in relation to the Torah, it refers not to the regulation of the Torah, but the norm of the Torah. The New Testament is in this use of the Torah compatible with the Hebrew meaning. If, based on the etymology of the term Torah, we will say that God's law is a set of regulations - arrows - leading to the goal of compliance with the norm, the New Testament shows that the meaning of the Torah - the meaning of God's law - is the norm, and not the regulation.

Understanding that the essence of the law is the norm allows one to see what the dispute between Jesus and the scribes is about. An example of such an exchange we find in Mk. 7:1-13, where the Pharisees accuse Jesus' disciples of breach of the provision concerning washing hands. It must be emphasized - the human provision, as we read in Mk. 7:2-4, "For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. (4) When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold..." (NKJV). Jesus, however, in response, provides an example of a norm that has been abolished by the human provision which concerns respect for parents: "For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' (11) But you say, 'If a man says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban" (that is, a gift to God), (12) then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, (13) making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do" (Mk. 7:10-13 NKJV).

The problem of the Jewish tradition was twofold. On the one hand, there was multiplication of provisions that did not have anything to do with the preservation of the norm of the Torah, and their only effect was to burden those who were obliged to respect them (Mt. 23:4). On the other hand, there is a problem of maintenance of the Torah norm. An example of respect for parents referred to above was not accidentally given by our Lord to draw attention to the problem of the provision and its goal. We have here the goal in the form of the norm defining relations with parents, but we also have the detailed provision based on tradition which undermines the norm. Here, then, the situation is quite obvious: the norm of God's law is undermined by a provision added to it.

In Mt. 12:1-8 we find a different situation. Here the issue also de facto concerns tradition, but Jesus redirects the argument, giving a lesson regarding the wider problem of the norm-regulation relationship. We have a regulation forbidding to consume showbread by non-priests on the one hand, and David with his people eating the bread on the other hand. However, they remain innocent because the provision is essentially subordinate to the norm, and the norm requires one to love one's neighbor. This example very clearly shows not only the hierarchy of the divine law, but also one fundamental element that differentiates the regulation from the norm: there may appear an exception from the regulation, but not from the norm. If the norm of God's law is love for God and one's neighbor, then there is no situation in which we would be exempt from this (Mt. 22:36-40). A further consequence of this statement will be love for our enemies. For if the norm is universal, it works anywhere and for anyone.

The norm of the Torah in the New Testament

The immutability of the norm has this fundamental consequence that it leads us beyond the Old Testament. In this sense the norm of the Torah does not apply only to a Jew, but also to every human being regardless of origin. Naturally the believers in Jesus Christ are subject to it as well. We read about it in Mt. 5:17-19, where our Lord at the very beginning of his service explains what his attitude to the law is: "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. (18) For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. (19) Whoever therefore breaks one of the 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 heaven" (NKJV). First of all, let us take note of the fact that the law Jesus speaks about is nomos - the norm of the Torah. Our Lord thus confirms the conclusion which appeared earlier in the lecture: the norm of the Torah is unchanged and applicable at all times, to the Jew and the non-Jew.

By saying "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law", Jesus confirms that the Torah norm will also apply to his followers. The same thought is additionally emphasized by the sanction for those who would like to change or omit something - they "shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven". The role of Jesus Christ does not consist in keeping the norm. His task is to complete it. The Greek pleroo, which is found in Mt. 5:17, means not so much to fulfill, as it means 'to complete', 'to fill sth up'. What is completed, we do not have to guess because Jesus himself explains in the following words: "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' (22) But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire" (Mt. 5:21,22 NKJV).

"It was said to those of old", so there was established in the Torah a certain norm of behaviour. Jesus completes this norm on the level of the spirit. For it does not suffice to refrain from a physical act, and at the same time kill your brother in your mind. The divine judgement according to the completed norm concerns both these situations. This example well illustrates the words of the apostle Paul who calls the Law 'a fleshly commandment' (Heb. 7:16 NKJV). In reality the norm of the Torah as well as detailed regulations based on it, regulate the external sphere, the sphere of deeds - what and how needs to be done and what shouldn't be done. By completing the norm of the Torah, Jesus refers not to the sphere of the body, but to the sphere of the spirit and the condition in which the heart of man should be found.

Exactly the same thought is raised by the apostle Paul in Rom. 10:1-8. The fragment begins with the reference to Israel, who did not understand what Jesus was teaching about in his sermon on the mountain - namely the basis of human justice is the interior, whether one's mind and heart are practiced in compliance with the law. The Jew, according to Rom. 9:32 and 10:3, did not recognize God's justice because they did not understand the norm, aiming at the same time at the righteousness 'out of deeds', i.e. by compliance with regulations. Justification meanwhile is from faith in Christ, which is the 'maturity of the law' - not the end, as most translations render Rom. 10:4. Maturity, or the complemented norm that Jesus speaks about in Mt. 5:17. Only faith in the Son of God supported by the knowledge of the extended Torah norm can justify man, i.e. actually repair one's character and bring man to full compliance with the norm of the divine justice.

The same thought is additionally emphasized in Rom. 10:5-8. In verse 5, Paul evokes the condition of justice specified in the Law: "The man who does those things shall live by them" (Lev. 18:5). The Jew took these words as a direction for justification. Meanwhile, as we have said, the Law regulated the sphere of the body - what to do what not to do. In this sense, it fulfilled the role of the educator, of which the apostle Paul speaks in Gal. 3:24. The task of the educator is to consolidate in the nature of his pupils certain patterns of behaviour - similarly the legal regulation, enacted repeatedly, was to consolidate the appropriate patterns in the nature of the Jews. However, the problem is that while the character determines a pool of relatively stable scripts of behaviour, life is dynamic and oftentimes we meet situations for which there is no ready script; which require maturity of understanding and applying knowledge in practice.

Therefore, justification is from faith: because faith - which according to the definition given in Heb. 11:1-3 is a manifestation of the divine order (truth) in the minds of believers - is an indispensable element of serving the variable aspect of reality. It allows one to make decisions based on knowledge of universal principles in situations with which we have never met before. Because they are new, our character does not have ready scripts. What will be the best path of proceeding, you must decide in your mind. However, in Rom. 10:6-8 Paul assures us that developing character on the basis of an external instruction is not sufficient. We do not bring Christ from the outside - from heaven or abyss, but "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (NKJV). This is the essence of the maturity of the law which Paul discusses in Rom. 10:4 - Jesus Christ completes the norm in such a way that it works from the inside of a human being, changing one's external behaviour as a consequence.

The provisions of the Torah in the New Testament

In summary of the latest thoughts, we have the Torah with its norm and regulations issued on its basis. We also have our Lord who comes to complete the norm. We have not said anything about the regulations of the Torah and their application under . In Mt. 5:17-19 our Lord makes a mention also on this topic: "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled" (NKJV). 'Fulfilled' here is translated from the Greek ginomai, which also means to 'be born', 'appear' or 'be made'. Therefore, until our Lord came, the Torah regulations had not been observed in a full way. The full implementation required the completion of the norm. Speaking of full implementation, we should have something more on mind than just application of provisions to physical activities because the Torah norm was sufficient for this purpose.

What fulfillment does our Lord talk about is further explained by the apostle Paul in Col. 2:16-17, quote after Greek Interlinear Bible: "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath [days]: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [is] of Christ" (OGIB). Christ's Body is a shadow of Christ because we are shaped in his image (). Similarly, the provisions of the Torah regarding food, feasts, the Sabbath, listed here are the shadow "of things to come". So if under the Mosaic Law we celebrate the Sabbath, under the New Covenant we celebrate the proper Sabbath, of which that one was only a shadow, i.e. which was a prophetic announcement. And indeed in Heb. 4:1-11 Paul teaches that the believers in Christ also participate in the Sabbath, only that the antitypical one. The analysis of the Sabbathu antitype shows that inasmuch as the typical Sabbath was related to the Torah norm, observance of the antitypical Sabbath by believers required the completion of the norm by our Lord in the element of consecration.

Participating in the antitypical Sabbath described in Heb. 4:1-11, we not only carry out the completed norm, but also implement the Torah regulation regarding the observance of the Sabbath. But we carry it out not on the way of the flesh because the antitypical Sabbath is not related to the corporeal rest. But it is related to the rest of the new creature, which we have become by (Jn. 1:12,13; ). It should be noted that the provisions of the Torah, although related to the body and the corresponding 'incomplete' norm, nonetheless pointed to the future completion in Jesus Christ. The mentioned Sabbath may serve as an example here, but an even more vivid illustration of this point is shown in the institution of circumcision.

Circumcision was given to Abraham, but a clear provision on this matter was also included in the Mosaic law (Lev. 12:2). In the New Testament, this obligation is still valid, but according to the norm completed by our Lord. Under the Old Covenant, the obligation consisted in removing the foreskin covering the head of the penis - under the New Covenant it is no longer about removing part of the body, but about 'shedding' the body by submitting it in its entirety as a sacrifice to God, holy and pleasant (Rom. 12:1). Therefore, Paul states: "we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (Phil 3:3 NKJV). About the relationship of the "worship in the spirit" with circumcision we read in turn in Col. 2:11,12 - "In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, (12) buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead" (NKJV).

The circumcision of which we read in the Torah is therefore typical of the circumcision of believers in Christ. The holy spirit operating by faith introduces us into the state of consecration, in which our bodies are presented to God as a sacrifice for the service with the spiritual things of the spiritual Tabernacle. We die in baptism for material matters to revive as a new creature for spiritual matters. As in the case of the Sabbath, here also not only the Torah norm is met - and the norm completed by our Lord in the element of consecration - but also the regulation of the Torah to a much greater extent and much deeper meaning than it took place under the Old Covenant. Only on the basis of these two cases - the Sabbath and circumcision - one can see the principle according to which the bodily provisions of the Torah are performed under the New Covenant in relation to the Spirit. For the Sabbath we celebrate spiritually, giving our new creatures a rest from engagement in material matters, as well as in the spirit we are circumcised by consecrating faith.

It is therefore extremely important to emphasize the change that the New Covenant brings with each other in the context of fulfilling the regulations of the Old Covenant. All these provisions are still valid, but the definitions are different. I have already mentioned this in an earlier part of the lecture on the example of the redefinition of the concepts of murder or adultery that Jesus introduces (Mt. 5:21-28). More of such redefinitions are shown in the New Testament. There is also under the New Covenant the spiritual Tabernacle, the high priest in the person of Jesus, priesthood offering sacrifices, spiritual Levites and the people, the non-elect, the spiritual journey from the Egypt of this world to the promised land, the spiritual Canaan and the spiritual Manna. By carrying out our consecration, we participate in the fulfillment of Moses's regulations, despite the fact that we do not fulfill them in a literal (material) sense.

Dead to the law

The apostle Paul corroborates the above conclusion in Rom. 7:1-6 - "Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? (2) For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. (3) So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. (4) Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another — to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. (5) For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. (6) But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter" (NKJV).

The argument is in fact simple and profoundly logical: the law is performed by one who lives. The one who died, does not perform it. The law applies to the body, while the body is sacrificed to death in baptism - the body of the character that we have developed without the participation of faith, must be annihilated and replaced with the . This is the essence of baptism by the spirit in which the old man tied to body dies, and a new person tied to the spirit is born by conversion (1 Cor. 12:12,13). Paul writes about it a chapter earlier: "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? (4) Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" ().

Similarly, Col. 3:1-3 - "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. (2) Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (3) For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (NKJV). If baptism in the element of consecration consists in "putting off the body of the sins of the flesh", as literally states Col. 2:11-12, then the provision concerning the body does not apply. At the same time, Paul teaches that "He [Jesus] condemned sin in the flesh, (4) that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit". This fulfillment is connected with 'the law of the spirit' - with the completion of the norm of the Torah by our Lord, who came in the likeness of the flesh so that an example of consecration might be given to those who follow him (Rom. 8:1-4 NKJV).

It is necessary to emphasize: the norm of the Torah did not cover consecration. The Jew did not offer his body on the altar, but only the body of a lamb, a bull, a dove. Also promises for this nation were earthly promises. And because the law did not cover the sacrifice of the body, it was ineffective in the reform of the moral disposition of man, for "it was weak through the flesh ... those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit" (Rom. 8:3,5 NKJV). It is therefore necessary to sacrifice according to the complemented norm because only putting a stop to the desires of the body will create space for the development of the spirit. That is why in Mt. 5:18 Jesus says that every jot in the law must be fulfilled - every single regulation. But it must be fulfilled not in its application against the body because in this sense the regulations of the Torah had been used for over 1.5 thousand years. However, it must become a provision applied on the basis of the complemented norm, including consecration, where sacrifices are not breeding animals, but ourselves.

It is worth paying attention to one more element, namely what is it with which Jesus Christ completes the norm. Because the Torah regulated behavior issues, our Lord by completing the norm of the Torah moves some requirements to the state of the spirit, as we read about it in Mt. 5:20-48. And if the completed norm concerns the spirit, also the provisions used on the basis of this norm concern the spirit. Therefore, it is not the body that is the addressee of the law under the New Covenant, but the spirit - the new creation, which we have become by (Jn. 3:3-8). And in this sense, the regulations of the Torah must 'become' in relation to the new creation under the New Covenant, just as the regulations issued on the basis of the 'incomplete' norm concerned the old man under the Old Covenant.

Review of texts

Among Christians there are two basic views about the Torah. One view maintains that Jesus removed the Law by his death and so we are no longer subject to it today and we do not have to express any interest in it at all. The second view maintains exactly the opposite, i.e. the Law is still in force and should be observed as the Jews observe it - some will add, with the exception of sacrifices. Meanwhile, the above argument shows that none of these views is correct. Jesus did not remove the Law, but he completed its norm, and according to this supplemented norm, we fulfill the regulations of the Torah as referring not to the old man, whom we were before conversion, but to the spiritual new creation, which we have become by the spirit. The purpose of the last section of the lecture is an overview of several additional fragments of the New Testament which concern the application of the Law under the New Covenant.

A very large number of texts of the New Testament contain a clear message saying that in Christ we are not subject to the letter of the Law and these texts do not require further analysis here (this applies, among others, to Ephesians chapter 2, almost all of the letter to the Galatians, a large part of the letter to the Hebrews). However, there are several fragments that are used to support the opposite thesis, i.e. as evidence that the Law also applies to the consecrated people of God, and these texts have been considered below. Comments on verses are given in square brackets.

Acts 21:24 NKJV - "Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law" [ritual purification to which Paul subjects himself is to convince the Jews that he also follows the Law. However, the context of Acts 21:18-22 shows clearly that Paul's motivation here is to follow the request of church elders aimed at avoiding riots among the Jews, not his internal need to comply with the letter of the Law]

Acts 24:13,14 NKJV - "Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. (14) But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets" [the verses are used to support the claim that Paul literally observed the Law. Here, however, it only says that the apostle believed the teaching of the Torah, and served God "according to the Way which they (Jews) call a sect." In Acts 16:3 there is information that Paul circumcised Timothy according to the Law, but there is also information that it happened not to fulfill the regulation of the Torah, and "because of the Jews who were in that region"]

Rom. 3:29-31 NKJV - "Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, (30) since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. (31) Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law" [God, do not let the Law to be made void. So in what way do we establish the Law? The Greek histemi occuring here can also be found in the context of the Law in Heb. 10:9. In verses 5-9 we have our Lord, who speaks prophetically that God did not like sacrifices, "which are offered according to the law", so he comes to perform the will of the Father. And what does he do: "He takes away the first (animal sacrifices under the Law) that He may establish (histemi) the second (sacrifices related to our sanctification and obeying the will of God)" (NKJV). Verse 10: "By that will we have been sanctified (offered as antitypical sacrifices) through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." In the case of Heb. 10:9 histemi does not indicate in any way the continuation of the literal performance of the Torah, but rather its establishing by performing the norm of the Torah completed in the element of consecration (i.e. offering to God our own bodies as sacrifice after the pattern of Jesus Christ). There is no reason to assume that the meaning of histemi which we find in Rom. 3:29-31 is suddenly completely different - also here the faith leading to sacrifice means performing the completed Torah norm, which we 'establish' in this way - perform as the basis of our sacrifice]

Rom. 7:12 NKJV - "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good" [the apostle Paul's view on the Torah is obvious. These words, however, do not necessarily mean, especially in the light of other testimonies, that Paul enforced the letter of the Torah, the more so that two verses later he says that "the law is spiritual", whereas the letter of the Torah is "the law of a carnal commandment", as he speaks about it in Heb. 7:16 (OGIB). The spiritual law is the Torah in the norm completed by our Lord and referring to the new creation. On the other hand, the words of Rom. 7:12 certainly make it impossible to look at the Torah as worthless, which some of the teachers of different denominations postulate]

Col. 2:13-23 NKJV - "And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, (14) having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (15) Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. (16) So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, (17) which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. (18) Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, (19) and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. (20) Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations — (21) "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," (22) which all concern things which perish with the using — according to the commandments and doctrines of men? (23) These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh"

[The theme raised by the apostle Paul in Col. 2:13-23 is the teaching of Jewish agitators who followed the apostle to the congregations set up by him and agitated in favour of compliance with the literal laws of the Torah, but also with dozens of meticulous regulations established apart from the Law (see Acts 15:1). In Col. 2:20-23 Paul calls these regulations "commandments and doctrines of men". However, these provisions were taught in relation to the Torah, therefore Paul teaches that Jesus "has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross" (verse 14, see Gal. 3:13; Eph. 2:15). And because the letter of the Law has been removed, also Jewish "principalities and powers" lose the argument that they used (i.e. the implementation of the Torah regulations) to impose their self-invented laws. In this way, their usurpation was exposed (verse 15). Then Paul teaches that the lack of literal application of the Torah cannot be subject to judgment because these things "are a shadow of things to come" (NKJV), so their meaning is prophetic (verses 16 and 17)]

Jas. 2:18-12 NKJV - "If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you do well; (9) but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. (10) For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. (11) For He who said, 'Do not commit adultery,' also said, 'Do not murder.' Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. (12) So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty" [James teaches that anyone who would fullfil all nomos - all norms of the law, but failed in one (nomos), becomes guilty of the whole law. There is no mention here of the letter of the law - regulations relating to the body - but about the norm of the law, which is identical with "the royal law" given by Jesus Christ. And on the basis of this completed norm, called here "the law of liberty", we will be judged before God]

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All believers in Christ who would like to fulfill regulations of the Torah literally need to remember that "whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all" (Jas. 2:10 NKJV). The end of this practice is a curse, this way or another, "for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them'" (Gal. 3:10 NKJV). The apostle Paul clearly states that "by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight" (Rom. 3:20 NKJV). Following the letter of the Torah, we are bound to be condemned. This is not a method of justification that has been shown in Christ. This is a method that led to Christ, and its goal was to raise man to the consciousness of sin (Gal. 3:19, Rom. 3:20). "But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor" (Gal. 3:25 NKJV).

The view that we are subject to the letter of law in Christ, do not take into account the element of the new birth or insufficiently understands it. Baptism of the spirit means not only a new birth for us, but also the death of a man we have been so far. Death not only in the sense of forsaking former personality, but also of sacrificing our bodies in the service for the truth. This is the meaning of what Paul says in 2 Cor. 5:14-17. If we died by consecration, "we regard no one according to the flesh." For God, we are a new creation, 'citizens of the heavens' sitting with Christ 'in heavenly places' (Eph. 2:6; Phil. 3:21). Following the letter of law when this applies to the body - the body that is burned on the divine altar - is a misunderstanding and this is very clearly taught by the apostle Paul in the already discussed Rom. 7:1-6. If we are spiritual - let's use spiritual law. However, if we are still fleshy, may it not mean that also "estranged from Christ" (Gal. 5:1-6).

* Extensive material documenting the meaning of nomos based on scientific sources (published dictionaries, lexicons, etc.) is available at


Keywords: Torah, nomos, the Mosaic Law
 
Bible translations used in the lecture:
NKJV – New King James Version
OGIB - Online Greek Interlinear Bible


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