When the Bible speaks of the law, it is referring to either: (1) the ceremonial laws within the law, or (2) the civil laws within the law, or (3) the Ten Commandments, or (4) all these  collectively.

Also, the New Testament sometimes refers to the Law as the whole of the Old Testament, and sometimes the words of the prophets. We must determined which is under discussion based on the context. 

Nowhere in scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, were Gentiles ever required to keep the civil or ceremonial laws given to Israel. In fact, Gentiles were forbidden from many things contained in the law because they were outside the covenant.

For example, the law forbade uncircumcised Gentiles from observing the Passover. Gentiles were outside the covenant and were forbidden from eating the Passover. If a Gentiles desired to eat the Passover, he had to be circumcised and come under the law of Moses.

This is why Paul tells the Ephesians the following:

Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world… ~ Ephesians 2:11-12

Paul then tells the Gentiles that they had been brought near to God through the blood of Christ, for God had made Jews and Gentiles one in Christ. Consequently the dividing wall which stood between the Jews and Gentiles, which was the law, had been removed.

The ceremonial and civil commands within the law were for citizens of the nation of Israel only, and served the purpose of governing their civil life and the order of their worship.

This has been abolished by the death of Christ.

The ceremonial and civil laws have been taken away by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The laws regarding pots, pans, different kinds of washings, animal sacrifices, stoning offenders, etc,. has been abolished.

The civil and ceremonial laws were given to facilitate the the moral laws given in the Ten Commandments, and governed Israel’s daily life and worship.

Even though Jesus died and gave us a new covenant, the things which the Ten Commandments reveal as sin, such as idolatry, adultery, and covetousness are still sins, and the New Testament reveals that God is going to judge the ungodly by this standard.

The New Testament also teaches us that the godly fulfill the law from their hearts because of the love of God in them. The only command not carried over into the New Covenant is the third commandment, which is the Sabbath.

The Sabbath played a large role in Israel’s ceremonial laws and civil laws.  The New Testament teaches that the Sabbath was a foreshadowing of the rest we have in God, through Jesus Christ.

Many people who make the Sabbath an issue have never actually studied the Sabbath in scripture, and would likely miserably fail a pop quiz regarding the Sabbath.

John tells us that Jesus broke the Sabbath – that will mess with your theology if you dared to believe it. Even though Jesus broke the Sabbath, he fulfilled it – that will really mess with your theology.

For this reason the Jews tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God. ~ John 5:18

Jesus wasn’t a servant of the Sabbath. The Sabbath was his servant. When the Sabbath becomes about legalistic rules, we become it’s servant, and this was never God’s intent. God gave the Sabbath to Israel for multiple reasons.

1. The Sabbath was a sign of God’s covenant with Israel.
2. The Sabbath was a gift of rest because Israel had been slaves in Egypt, under hard labor.
3. The Sabbath was a reminder that Israel’s God is the creator, the only true God.

God rested from all his works of creation on the 7th day, and he therefore commanded Israel to keep the Sabbath, because he alone is the one true God the creator of Heaven and Earth.

Israel’s Sabbath was a memorial to God’s finished work of creation.

Though Israel observed the Sabbath, as a day, they never entered the true rest that God had prepared for them: a rest that had been predestined before the foundation of the world. 

The true rest for God’s people is not found in a day of the week.  It’s found in a person, Jesus Christ, who is the one to whom the Sabbath command pointed. An individual can keep the Sabbath day, but if he isn’t free from sin, and if his heart is cut off from God, he has not truly entered into the Sabbath rest of God.

The rest that God desires for his people is not found in a day, but in a person, and that is why Paul tells the Colossians to let no man judge them regarding the Sabbath. It was only a shadow, and the fulfillment of it is found in Christ!

That is how the law translates to the New Testament.



  2. Great articles!

    With regard to the relationship between Law and Grace, a preacher named Jeff Johnson put this way: “The covenant of Grace is the covenant of Law kept for the elect by Jesus Christ.” Amen.


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