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Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide - 3rd Quarter 2015, Sept 15 2015

Tuesday | September, 15

Paul and the Law

“Do we, then, notify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law” (Rom. 3:31, NIV). What law must Paul be talking about here?

In English translations of Paul’s letters, the word law appears about one hundred thirty times, and in the Acts of the Apostles, about twenty times. Paul endeavored to get his hearers and readers, regardless of cultural background, to understand that “law” carried several meaning, especially for Jews. Laws such as the Ten Commandments are in force for all people at all times. But other kinds of laws in the Old Testament and in Jewish culture, Paul did not consider in force for Christians.

In his writings the apostle used the world law broadly in reference to rules for religious ceremonies, civil law, health laws, and purification laws. He wrote about being “under the law” (Rom. 3:19) and about being “released form the law” (Rom. 7:6). He described a “law of sin” (Rom. 7:25) but also “law of God” (Rom. 7:25). Confusing as these phrases may seem to non-Jews, for the Jewish believer brought up in the Hebrew culture, the context would make clear which law was meant.

Read Romans 13:8-10; Romans 2:21-24; 1 Corinthians 7:19; Ephesians 4:25, 28; 5:3; 6:2. How do these verses help us to understand that God’s moral law, the Ten Commandments, was not nullified at the cross?

Paul realized that be ceremonial laws, detailing how one approached God through priesthood, Hebrew sanctuary, and sacrifices, ceased to be valid after crucifixion. They had served their purpose in their time but were now no longer needed. (This point would become especially apparent after the destruction of the temple).

With the moral law expressed by the Ten Commandments, however, matters are different. In his letters, Paul quotes some of the Ten Commandments and alludes to others as universal ethical demands on all people, Jewish as well as Gentile. Having written against the practice of sin, Paul would not in any way have diminished the very law that defines what sin is. That would make about as much sense as telling someone not to violate the speed limit while at the same time telling them the speed limit signs are no longer valid.

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