Did Jesus abolish the Law?

Unity in Doctrine

Did Jesus abolish the law?


Wednesday 05/28/14

Topic: Did Jesus Abolish the Law? – a look at Eph. 2:11-17

Tonight Mark & Dave started to cover verses 15 & 16 in Ephesians 2.

These are very important verses in that they are widely misunderstood.

These verses if left to stand alone leave the impression that the law in it’s entirety has been completely destroyed and removed from any relation to the believer….and yet, Paul uses direct quotes from the Old Testament at least 107 times in his letters, using the Old Testament scriptures as the basis for New Covenant theology and righteous behavior. This being undeniable, what are we to do with verse which make it appear as if the law itself is evil, irrelevant and abolished (destroyed)?

Well, we don’t cover all of that in this session, in fact all we really do is just help to place the believer’s connection with the law into a clear context so that as we press forward we can do so without falling off to the theological ditch on the left or the right.

Some of the conclusions we drew were these:

1. There is a difference between the Old Covenant and the Old Testament.

    • The Old Covenant did not offer righteousness, it only offered a covering (atonement) for our sins and so our relationship with God was one of separation and attempting to gain favor by behavior.
    • The Old Testament is a collection of inspired writings in which God reveals His character to man, beginning with the 10 commandments, then the laws of Moses dictated to him at the entrance of the tent (the Pentateuch), the poetic books of Psalms, Song of Solomon, Job…etc., the historical books in which we witness how God interacted with Man and Israel as a nation, the prophetic books which reveal God speaking to Israel & foretelling details of the coming Messiah.

2. The law is still the basis for morality – in that it reveals the character of God which does not change.

    • As stated earlier, Paul quotes the Old Testament to reveal what righteousness looks like if lived out in the life of one MADE righteous under the New Covenant. One example is in 1 Cor. 9:7-11,

“Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock? Do I say these things as a mere man? Or

does not the law say the same also?

For it is written in the law of Moses, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE AN OX WHILE IT TREADS OUT THE GRAIN.”

Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes?

For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?” 1Co 9:7-11

Notice Paul refers to the law as an authority in the life of the believer and that it was written – NOT for the sake of those living under the Old Covenant only – but also FOR OUR SAKES THIS WAS WRITTEN.

  • The Old Testament was the only bible they had, so when Paul wrote Timothy about the scriptures and their role int he life of a believer he was referring to the Old Testament – and not just part of it, but ALL of it!

“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine (what should be taught), for reproof (proof, evidence & conviction), for correction (to reform behavior and straighten up what has become crooked), for instruction (disciplinary correction and nurture) in righteousness, that the man of God (the Christian) may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” ~ 2 Tim 3:14-17


3. It is the letter that kills the spirit gives life. This statement is in reference to the law. The legalistic interpretation of the law is deadly and will offer only condemnation and death. The Spirit of the law is relational and reveals what God meant by what He said from the beginning.

  • For example, the command “thou shalt not kill” if taken legalistically only means I can’t physically take another person’s life of my own will (this is apart God approved acts of war or judicial acts). The legalist can still be bound up with hate inside for his brother. Jesus on the other hand showed the spirit of the law revealing what God meant by, “Thou shalt not kill”. Jesus said, “but I say unto you, that every one who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say vilify his brother and call him worthless, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire.”

       The death is not in the law itself, but in the abuse/misuse of it and our inability to keep either the letter OR the Spirit          of the law. Paul even said this about the law –

“So that the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and righteous, and good.

Did then that which is good (the law) become death unto me? God forbid!

But sin, that it might be shown to be sin, by working death to me through that which is good; – that through the commandment sin might become exceeding sinful.” ~ Rom 7:12-13

4. The New Testament NEVER said that Jesus fulfilled the law FOR us, but that He IS actively fulfilling it IN us – IF we walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh.

“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” ~ Rom 8:3-5

Did Jesus fulfill the law? Yes!

In what ways?

1. He lived it perfectly – not just the letter of it, but the spirit of it!

2. Jesus fulfilled all that was prophesied that the Messiah would accomplish before the coming of the evil one.

Are there things which Jesus still has to accomplish that were prophesied of Him? Yes!

The Old Testament talks about the end of the time of the Gentiles (which Paul refers to in Rom. 11:25), the coming of the anti-Christ and the establishment of the earthly millennial reign of the Messiah – ALL of which is NOT fulfilled yet.

These are just a few of the things we covered on Wednesday without actually looking very deep into verses 15 & 16 specifically, other than to show that the part of the law that was abolished here was that part which required the Jews and the Gentiles to be separated, which in all reality is pretty obvious by the context.

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!