Wednesday, December 05, 2012

ROMANS: RIGHTEOUSNESS ACCOMPLISHED APART FROM THE LAW OF MOSES

In the book of Romans, NOMO, "law" is mentioned at least 50 times. It's interesting that Paul works hard to point people towards Christ and away from the Law of Moses, but Paul says that when we love our neighbor, we fulfill the Law, Rom 13:8,10. Paul says the Christians have been released from that Old Law that included the commandment to not covet (Rom 7:4-7) in favor of being joined to another and to live under the Law of Christ and the Spirit. In Romans 13:8,10 where Paul says "love is the fulfillment of the Law", is he trying to prove once again, as he already has in earlier chapters, that righteousness is still accomplished apart from the Law of Moses contrary to the slanderous claims made earlier that the system of faith and grace encourages sin?  To the Galatians, Paul was apparently dealing with the same slanderous suggestion that if Christians are released from the Law, sin would become rampant. But Paul says there that "you were called to freedom, brethren, only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.", Gal. 5:13. Your thoughts. See the two passages together:
"8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another ; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor ; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Rom. 13:8-10
"13 For you were called to freedom, brethren ; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another." Gal. 5:13  [In fact, the following verses of 5:14ff parallel Paul's discussion in Romans, especially Rom 8 where Paul shows the superiority of walking according to the Spirit.]
I ask this question concerning Paul's use of the 2nd great commandment because Paul seems to make the same case in Romans 8:3 saying "what the Law could not do", "God did" through Christ and in verse 4, "that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us". If the "love" of the 2nd great commandment is part and parcel to the law of liberty in Christ where faith is justified, then Paul would again be driving home his message of Romans that the Jews can indeed let go of the Old Law.

The Jews were concerned - this is being generous - that without the Law of Moses, there would be rampant lawlessness. It's why they accused Paul of giving a license to sin. So in Romans 13 when Paul is telling the Romans to obey the authorities, that would be the opposite of giving a license to do whatever they please. The governing authorities have received their commissions from God and to disobey them is to disobey God. Thus Paul doesn't reestablish Law, but instead says that the Christian way is rooted in the 2nd great command to love thy neighbor (as he says in Gal. 5:13ff). The righteousness that is demonstrated in Christian living is not accomplished in the Law of Moses and is not dependent on that, but is in Christian love and faith in the work of Christ. Humbly offered. Comments are welcome.

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