Paul On Christ And The Law -- By: Brice L. Martin

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 26:3 (Sep 1983)
Article: Paul On Christ And The Law
Author: Brice L. Martin


Paul On Christ And The Law

Brice L. Martin*

How does Paul view the status of the law now that Christ has come? To this question a quite considerable variety of sometimes mutually exclusive nuanced answers has been given. The answers have ranged from Luther, who denied the usus normativus, to Lutheranism, which affirmed it; from Calvin, who claimed that Christ abrogated the ceremonial law but not the moral law, to the modern view that the law is indivisible; from Albert Schweitzer, who saw the law as belonging to the natural world and the rule of angels, to C. E. B. Cranfield, who believes that Christ is the ultimate goal and innermost meaning of the law.

Contributing factors to this spectrum of opinions are (1) the extraordinary variety of ways in which nomos is used, (2) the remarkably negative and positive affirmations concerning the law, and (3) the ambiguity of the phrase “telos. .. nomou Christos1 those who understand Paul’s view of the law to be essentially positive usually believe that telos means “goal,” while those who believe his view to be essentially negative usually believe that telos means “termination.”

I. Views

Views on Paul and the law center around telos... nomou Christos. There are those such as Cranfield, Howard and Kaiser2 who hold that telos means “goal.” Others such as Bruce, Barrett, Drane, Hellbardt, Schneider and Brin3 believe that telos means “termination and goal.” Still others claim that telos means “termination.” Those who hold the latter position can be divided into at least five categories: (1) the messianic-age view—the law ceases when the messianic age

* Brice Martin is pastor of Bedford Park Chapel in Toronto, Ontario.

begins (Schoeps, Fitzmyer);4 (2) the cosmological view—the law belongs to the natural world and the rule of angels (Schweitzer);5 (3) the salvation-history view—the law is abolished with regard to the attainment of salvation (Conzelmann, Sanders, Hahn);6 (4) the end-of-a-misused-law view (Hübner);7 and (5) the existential view (Bultmann).8

The view that...

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