Definition of Words Around the Concept of Biblical Law
The Word of God
Also can be thought of as the Words of God, and includes all of His
Words no matter what "time" it appears that He uttered them to us. His
Word is timeless, it is Bread, it is Life. This includes what we think
of as the Law. "For I, the Lord, do not change..." (Malachi 3:6 -
Compare also 1 Samuel 15:29). His Words are not first 'old' and then
'new.' They, like Him, are "the same yesterday, today, and forever"
(Hebrews 13:8). Jesus is The Word made flesh, and this Word was in
existence before all things were made and will continue after material
things are renewed. No part of what God has ever said can be considered
old or outdated. He does not change, even though we may change. If we
say that God spoke one thing in times past and then changed the meaning
or the speaking later on, then we cannot count on Him as a Rock. All our
hopes are in vain if we think God will change from one "time" to the
For those who love Him His Word is love (John 15:10,
12-14), light and lamp (Proverbs 6:23; Psalm 119:105; Isaiah 8:20;
Revelation 21:23, 22:5); life (Deuteronomy 4:1, 32:46-47; Proverbs 1:17,
8:33-36; Matthew 19:16,17); seed (Matthew 13:18-23),
(Isaiah 1:10; Exodus 16:4 24:12; Jeremiah 35:13; Job 22:22, 36:10; Psalm
78:1; Zephaniah 3:1-7; Malachi 2:1-9, Proverbs 1:2,3,7,8 4:1,2; Romans
15:4; Ephesians 6:4; 1Timothy 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:1, 5:12; 2 Timothy
4:2); law (Jeremiah 6:18-19; Zechariah 7:12; Deuteronomy 5:5 17:11,
27:1-3, 26, 30:10,14, 32:46,47; John 15:25; Acts 6:2-4,7 13:44,48,49,
28:23; Romans 9:28,31,32; 1 Corinthians 15:2; Galatians 5:14); commands,
judgments, teachings & ways (Isaiah 2:3; Proverbs 5:12 7:2 8:10 1:8 4:2
3:1 6:20-23; Jeremiah 32:33; Deuteronomy 4:1; 2 Chronicles 15:1-7;
Matthew 4:23 7:28,29 9:35 13:54 15:9 28:20; Acts 2:42 4:2 18:11; Romans
12:7; 1 Corinthians 14:26); wisdom, and truth (Psalm 119:43,44,142
138:2; Proverbs 23:23; Malachi 2:6; 1 Kings 2:3-4; John 17:17, 18:37-38,
8:31-32; James 1:18, 21-23,25). It is the straight paths for our
feet and a light to our way. It is a rod for discipline (Isaiah 11:4;
Ezekiel 7:11) and a staff for us to lean on (Genesis 49:10; Psalm 23:4
Zechariah 11:9-12) and a yoke for us to walk side by side with Him
(Jeremiah 5:5; Matthew 11:29,30).
See the article titled The Word of God
elsewhere on this site for a list of these references all typed out.
The Spirit of Truth
Also known as the Holy Spirit. He was sent by the Christ to lead us
into all Truth after He rose. This Truth is God's Word.
"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He
will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own
initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose
to you what is to come. "He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine
and will disclose it to you. "All things that the Father has are Mine;
therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you."
(John 16:13-15 NASB)
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him,
"If you continue in My word, then you are
truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will
make you free." (John 8:31,32 NASB)
Therefore Pilate said
to Him, "So You are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I
am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the
world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My
voice." (John 18:37 NASB)
"Sanctify them in the truth; Your word
is truth." (John 17:17 NASB)
Transgression of the Law (any Word of God). Adam and Eve sinned when
they disobeyed God. I John 3:4 - Everyone who practices sin also
practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.
The penalty for transgression of the Law (any Word of God). The Law
is not death, but the result of disobedience is death. Death is another
way of describing separation from God who is Life. God's Word (the Law)
is not death. Disobedience is death.
God's Word (including the Law) without the Spirit, or misuse of the
Law by application without relationship with God. There are no Hebrew or
Greek words that are translated by this word. It is purely an English
construct. However it does serve to help us describe in shorthand form a
concept taught all throughout the Word, which is the act of trying to
"earn" something from God because of following some rules. Whether these
rules are man-made or twisted forms of rules made by God, there is no
way that following them will gain salvation for us. God chastised Israel
because they did not follow all of His Laws, although they followed some
to the letter. Another word for this concept is "merit." Some people
thought (and think) that we could become righteous enough to earn
salvation from God by following rules. This is never taught in the Word,
and is also a "doctrine of men."
This word is a translation from the Greek word nomos.
Nomos means 'that which is assigned' and can mean any kind of rule,
regulation, or law; from natural law such as the law of gravity up to
and including God's Laws (although technically gravity is also God's
Law). There are several Hebrew words for the rules given at Mt. Sinai,
but the main one is Torah. This word is better translated by the word
'instruction.' Torah comes from a root word (yarah) that means,
"straight shooting" or, "to hit the mark." Torah, or all the Words of
God (filled with Messiah), is the mark to aim for.
specifically the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus,
Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). The commands given in these books
were the Instruction of God on how to live a life pleasing to Him (hit
the mark). The writer of Hebrews tells us that this was also the gospel
(the missing ingredient was faith).
For indeed we have had good news preached to
us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them,
because it was not united by faith in those who heard. (Hebrews 4:2 NASB)
God never promises salvation for following some rules anywhere in the
Word. However, after we are saved then blessings are bestowed for
obedience, while disobedience brings curses (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).
The Jewish concept of Law also included rulings from their religious
leaders called the Oral Law. The Jews grouped the Oral Law and the Torah
together most of the time, and the Oral Law was held to be on an equal
footing with the Torah. If the rulings were in agreement with Torah then
they were good. But frequently the rulings departed from the
Spirit-filled meaning of the text, and could be classified as merely the
"traditions of men." If you read the text carefully you will see that on
every occasion that Jesus contended with the religious leaders about the
Law, the subject was not Torah but the traditions that had grown up
around Torah. This was also the case with Paul.
There are no Jews in the first five books of the Bible, only Israel.
Israel is not the same thing as "Jews." A Jew was actually of the tribe
of Judah, a name given after Israel split into a northern and southern
kingdom with Judah and Benjamin in the southern kingdom. This means that
the Law is not a Jewish thing but a God thing.
In the 1st century circumcision was the name of the ceremony for
becoming a Jew. However, there is no ceremony specified anywhere in the
word for becoming a Jew. Circumcision is not found in the Law given at
Sinai except for circumcising babies at eight days old. Jews at the time
of Paul thought that in order to have a part in the heavenly kingdom of
God one must convert to Judaism, because only Jews were going to be
saved, and circumcision was the way to become a Jew. However, this is
not taught in the Word. It is a "doctrine of men." Righteousness has
always been imparted by Grace through Faith, and was never bestowed by
becoming a Jew. This is why Paul makes the argument in Romans 4:9-13
that Abraham was given the promises before circumcision.
New Testament "circumcision" refers to a Jew or to a ceremony for
becoming a Jew while "un-circumcision" is another name for Gentiles
(Galatians 2:7, 12,13). Although circumcision included the idea of
accepting Torah, it was not a reference to Torah. Becoming a Jew meant
accepting both the Oral and the Written Law.
This was a Gentile who believed God and acted on that belief (faith),
so he was given the Promises. Genesis 17:1 has God telling Abraham to
walk before Him and be blameless, Genesis 18:19 tells us that God chose
Abraham so that he would command his children to walk after the way of
the Lord, and Genesis 26:5 tells us that Abraham obeyed God's
commandments, statutes, and Laws so he was given the blessings and
promises (v. 26:4). This is the essence of true faith - hearing the Word
of God and acting on it in obedience. All true children of Abraham do
the same thing.
A person not physically born into the nation of Israel; a member of
one of the other nations. Also called the "uncircumcised" because they
don't have the advantage of exposure to God's Word from birth as a
member of the covenant. However, all births are directed by God in His
Grace, and He since the beginning He has provided a way for all people
to be part of His family by Grace through faith.
A result of going our own way instead of God's Way. Lack of blessing
or the presence of God typified by suffering, hardship, hurt, and harm.
God allows us to feel the consequences for our sin to cause us to turn
from our way to His Ways. God's Word (the Law) is not a curse.
Disobedience to God's Word brings curses.
The flesh or a person without faith and the Spirit of God. Since the
"old man" doesn't have the Spirit, it does not have the power to be
right with God. If the old man tries to "earn" enough right standing
with God to be saved, he is doomed to failure because of the lack of the
Spirit. After repentance and renewing our relationship to God, we
continue to contend with the flesh or old man in order to strengthen our
faith and grow to spiritual maturity. The old man is not God's Word. The
old man disobeys God's Word (the Law) and runs headlong to death.
One New Man
Ephesians 4:4-6 describes the status of God's people.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as
also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith,
one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all
and in all.
There is only one. Gentiles who obey the Father are "grafted in"
(Romans 11) to a new man. There is no longer Jew or Gentile but "one new
man." And what God has joined together let no man split asunder.
Rightness with God, complete harmony with His Word, perfection. Jesus
paid the penalty for our disobedience to God's Word (ways, teachings,
instructions, Law), and we are granted right-standing before Him through
our acceptance of that payment. This rightness is only obtained by God's
Grace through our trusting obedience or faith. It cannot be obtained as
if it were wages by adhering to rules. It is impossible to earn this
righteousness by some supposed following of a law, because without
having a relationship with God in the first place we cannot perfectly
conform to God's Word. Adam and Eve had relationship by Grace first, but
refused to obey. Israel was rescued from Egypt by Grace through trusting
obedience to His Word.
The entire book of Galatians is written by
Paul to refute the belief that one must become a Jew in order to inherit
eternal life, and he includes the broader concept of the insufficiency
of "merit" for earning salvation.
Cannot "do" the Law
This is an incorrect doctrine of man based on an incomplete
understanding of the Word, and there is no reference in the Word that
states this. What we cannot do is earn salvation righteousness by
following a rule. The Law can be "done" but only if we have Jesus. If we
say we "cannot do" the Law then we are implying that God told us to do
something that is beyond our capability, which He would never ever do.
Or, worse, we are implying that there were two methods of salvation -
that of salvation by Law (outdated since Jesus) and salvation by Grace.
Salvation has always, and I mean always, been by Grace through faith. If
we say that we cannot do the Law then we also make God out to be a liar.
Philippians 4:13 says
I can do all things through Him who
"All things" pretty much includes "doing" the Law.
Under the Law
(Romans 2:12, 3:19; I Corinthians 9:20,21; Galatians 3:23, 4:4-5, and
5:18.) No Gentile was ever "under the Law" in the sense of a covenant
relationship as the Jews defined it in the first century. So what does
this term mean? Are we reading it from our own modern viewpoint with
current word definitions or was there a different meaning from Paul's
viewpoint using his definitions? I think we can define this best by
letting Scripture speak for itself. Romans 11:2 says that we are all
"shut up under disobedience." Galatians 3:22 says we are "shut up under
sin" which would be the same thing. In Galatians 3:23 Paul says we are
"under the law."
This just means that without the righteousness
from Jesus, we are under the authority of the Law as regards
righteousness. But we can't obtain this righteousness without faith in
Jesus first because the flesh is weak and incapable of pleasing God.
Remember the verse that says "without faith it is impossible to please
God?" (Hebrews 11:6.) This is always true (always has been). The only
reason an animal sacrifice ever worked to cover sin was because the
sacrifice is connected with the sacrifice of Jesus (which is
appropriated by faith).
Paul is saying that before we exercise
our faith the Law will only judge us because we can't do it without Him.
We are "shut up" or "enclosed" by the Law without the ability to follow
it. But after we establish a relationship with God by faith in the Son,
then we are empowered to "do all things."
Freedom in Christ
We are no longer subject to the authority of the Law as a means of
securing our righteousness, but have been given righteousness by Grace
through faith so we can "walk worthy of the manner in which we were
called." Romans 6:7 says that we have been "freed from sin" but we have
not been freed from having to "walk worthy." Paul says in Romans 6:18
that we are "slaves to righteousness." As a matter of fact, we are
either "slaves to sin" or "slaves to righteousness" and there is no
in-between (Romans 6). Paul also says in I Corinthians. 9:21 that he is
not "without the Law of God" but "under the Law of Christ," indicating
that they are both the Same Law. Therefore, we are "free" to obey our
Father. It doesn't mean "no rules," it means "free to follow" His rules.
Restoration to intimate relationship with God. All who are not thus
restored will eventually have separation from God made permanent. God is
Life, so separation from Him is death. We are "saved" from this state by
In a word, Jesus (or God). He is the source of all things good, holy,
perfect, right, pure and healthy. His Son is the agent by which He works
to impart His Life. He who has the Son has Life, he who doesn't has
death. The Son has always been in the Law (or all Words of God) and
always will be.
If you are with me still, you are wondering that, if the foregoing is
true, then how are we to understand the Law? Simple. The Law is what it
has always been - a part of His Word that is a guide for discipleship.
It is His Word applied to daily living, a lifestyle, a testimony. It
helps us learn and grow in His Ways by showing what is inside of us.
Since all the penalties for disobedience have been paid there is no fear
in learning how our Father wants us to walk. Our actions must conform to
His Ways or we cannot claim to be one of His children. Where there is no
behavior change there is no internal change. This is why Jesus said "if
you love me you obey." If we really "trust" the Father we will act on
that trust by following what He says. The Law is not "sin and death" but
it can cause sin and death if it is misused or a relationship with God
is absent from the usage.
There are many man-made discipleship
programs but they do not work very well because they aren't backed up by
the authority and power that are behind the Word of God. Those who
belong to Him do not have to be afraid of any Word that He speaks
because they are all Life to our very bones.
The problem has
never been God's Word (Law) but the refusal (and inability) of people to
obey or conform to His Word.
In Romans 14 Paul speaks of "disputatious matters." However, a
disputatious matter never, ever included God's Word. In the context,
starting at the end of chapter 13, Paul is speaking of Love being the
fulfillment of the Law. (There's that word again - "filling up full.")
Also note verse one of chapter 14, where Paul indicates he is speaking
about the opinions of men. This was a reference to men's opinions in
general, and probably included the Oral Law. People may not like His
Torah, but that does not mean it is unclear and needs to be argued
about. Paul is here referring to those things that are not clearly
defined in the word such as timing of events and what is included in the
designation "unclean." Never is the Torah referred to as "disputatious."
If we refer to the Father's Torah this way, we do a disservice to the
whole of the Word. We imply, wrongly, that God changes His mind or that
we cannot rely on His word because it might change again.
Elementary things of the world
Paul tells us in the book of Colossians to stay away from these
things. But if you read the context carefully and you will see for
yourself that Paul is speaking of the philosophy, empty deception, and
traditions of men (Colossians 2:8). Paul equates these things to the
"elemental things of the world" (verses 8 and 20 of chapter 2). These
could never be confused with God's Torah (instructions to us for holy
living). Indeed, Paul contrasts the elemental things of the world with
allowing the Word of Christ to dwell richly in you (Colossians 3:16).
And as we have already seen, the Word of Christ was received from the
Father and included Torah (Spirit-filled Torah).