Has the Mosaic Law Been Abolished? -- By: Roy L. Aldrich

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 116:464 (Oct 1959)
Article: Has the Mosaic Law Been Abolished?
Author: Roy L. Aldrich

Has the Mosaic Law Been Abolished?

Roy L. Aldrich

The Law of Moses a Unit

It is common to divide the Mosaic law into three parts: the Ten Commandments (often called the moral law), the ordinances, and the judgments. The ordinances are the laws governing Israel’s religious life while the judgments are the civil laws. These divisions are sometimes helpful for analysis and study but actually have no Scriptural authority. Many of Israel’s laws would belong in two of the suggested divisions. For example, the law of the tithe is both religious and civil. The Ten Commandments have a prominent place in the law but Christ taught that the greatest commandment was not one of the ten (Matt 22:36–37).

As a matter of fact both the Old and New Testaments regard the law of Moses as an indivisible unit (Jas 2:10; Gal 5:3; Josh 1:8).

In Ephesians 6:1–2 Paul refers to the fifth commandment and comments that it “is the first commandment with promise.” In fact it is the only one of the Ten Commandments which has an accompanying promise. This means that Paul’s use of the word commandment embraces the other laws outside of the ten. The problem of whether or not Paul’s reference here places the Christian under the Ten Commandments will be dealt with later. Now we are concerned only with the bearing of this passage on the unity of the law of Moses.

In Galatians 3:17 Paul speaks of “the law” which was given four hundred and thirty years after the promise to Abraham. It should be evident that in this passage and context “the law” means the entire Mosaic legislation as given at Mount Sinai, and cannot refer only to the ceremonial laws—as some maintain. It should also be apparent that by “the law” Paul does not mean the man-made laws and traditions which were later added to the law of Moses. There were no such man-made laws when the law was first given in its purity.

Yet some writers maintain that the Galatian polemic against “the law” is to be understood as only directed against the man-made laws and traditions of the Jews. Such an interpretation is further embarrassed by Galatians 3:10: “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.” Here Paul identifies “the law” ...

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