What is the Law of which Apostle is speaking about?
The word Law is used in several different senses in the New Testament. In this passage Paul is talking about the law as given to Moses. It must then mean the moral or the ceremonial or the judicial law, or a compound of them all together.
Of the judicial law Apostle makes no question. He is speaking of the law which appeared to stand in competition with the promise which had been made to Abraham.
But between the promise and the judicial law, which is the common law of the land, there could be now no such competition. For the promise made to Abraham will be equally in force in every country under heaven. Whatever the local code of laws might be or the outward form of its administration.
Paul does speak of the ceremonial law, and often. Because the ceremonial law was the one that the Jews adhered to with persistence.
But if we admit that Paul talks about the ceremonial law in this passage, it is only included as being that outward form which the Jews supposed to be inseparable from the moral law. And the performance of which they regarded as an obedience to the moral law.
Moral law is the law that was given to Moses on Mount Sinai, the law of Ten Commandments that God wrote on tables of stone and that was given to Moses at that time midst the ministration of angels.
It is the moral law of which the Apostle, chiefly, if not exclusively, speaks. All the ceremonial law was revealed to Moses afterwards, and in private, without any of the attendant pomp with which the moral law was given.
Moral law is the very law that was originally written upon the heart of man in Paradise. The law which was effaced in a great measure by the fall, and altogether obliterated from the minds of men through forgetfulness, and the love of sin.
This love needed now to be republished so that the men might know how transgression had abounded. And how greatly they stood in need of the Promised Seed. The same Messiah that God had before taught His people to expect, and “in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed”.
The same Messiah that God had before taught His people to expect, and “in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed”.
The Moral Law was intended to show God’s people on what terms life had been originally promised to man in Paradise. And on what terms alone the law could give life to man.
But as all had transgressed it, none could obtain life by it now. But all must seek for life in the way which God has provided. Even by faith in the Promised Seed.
The Reason of
Paul arguments that God promised Abraham and
his seed life by faith in the Messiah, who would spring from his loins.
Hundreds of years later God gave to Moses a law of works. Those laws were
partly moral and partly ceremonial.
In publishing this law, did God intend to set
aside the promise?
No, He did not. And He could not.
He could not, because of the promise made to Abraham. I was made to him and to his believing seed, whether Jews or Gentiles, to the end of the world.
But the law given to Moses was given only to a small portion of Abraham’s seed. And that only for a time.
No covenant can be annulled without the consent of both the parties interested in it. And only one of those parties was present at the transaction on Mount Sinai. So nothing that was done there could supersede what had been done with others before.
For what end then was this law given?
Paul answers in Galatians 3:19, “They (the laws) were added after the promise was given, to show men how guilty they are of breaking God’s laws. But this system of law was to last only until the coming of Christ, the Child to whom God’s promise was made.”
The law was given to show to what an extent transgression had abounded. And how greatly the people needed the Promised Seed, to recommend them to God.
Instead of setting aside the promises, the law was put subservient to them. It serves to show to men that being condemned by the law they must seek for life as a free gift of God, through faith to the Promised Seed.
If we admit the ceremonial law to be in part intended by Paul in this passage, it is only in part. It is only as showing that works of every kind, be them ceremonial or moral, are equally excluded from the office of justifying the soul before God.
This is the whole scope of the Apostle’s argument. And he speaks of this both in Galatians and in the Romans.
Are we to be justified by works or by faith?