The Law and the New Covenant

Grace_and_LawMany today struggle with a misconception of how Paul saw the law and the New Covenant. Most of these misconceptions are easily addressed when one calmly approaches the passages and reads them in their given context without superimposing a bias upon them.

So far as I can tell, in the writings of Paul alone there were 107 clear citations to the Old Testament. Many of these are easily identified by phrases such as… “as it is written,” “for the scripture says,” “for [prophet] says,” or “according to the law.”

In addition to these 107, there are many more that are NOT clear to us, but would have been to New Testament believers.

These appear as partial quotes, direct inferences and indirect references.


It is imperative to remember that the early church (including the Gentiles) were very familiar with the O.T. scriptures because it was the ONLY Bible they had. It was the very same scriptures which Paul told Timothy are able to make one wise unto salvation – 2Tim. 3:15. It was also the same “Word” which Jesus became “and the Word (the Old Testament) became flesh and walked among us and we beheld His Glory…” and the very same scriptures which ARE (still) profitable for doctrine (teaching), reproof (proof, evidence and conviction), correction (to reform and straighten up again), instruction (disciplinary correction and nurture) for right living, SO THAT the man of God (the Christian) can be completely equipped for every good work.


Paul even praised the carnal Corinthians and encouraged the Thessalonians in keeping the Jewish traditions he had taught them – 1Cor. 11:2; 2Thess. 2:15. By “traditions” Paul is NOT referring to the law of the Judaizers because both he and Jesus came against those man-made additions to the law (Matt. 15:9; Col. 2:22; Titus 1:14), but he was referring to those traditions passed down from the Law.


By far, the greatest number of Old Testament citations are in Romans, followed by 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and 2 Corinthians.


The most often quoted book of the Old Testament in Paul’s writings is Isaiah, followed by Psalms, Genesis, and Deuteronomy.


For the most part, these quotations were copied closely from the Septuagint and Hebrew versions of the Old Testament with only minor changes.


A few “New” from “Old” examples below…

  • 1 Cor. 1:19; Isa. 29:14
  • 1 Cor. 1:31; 2 Cor. 10:17; Jer. 9:23 [two times]
  • 2 Cor. 4:13; Psa. 116:10
  • 2 Cor. 6:2; Isa. 49:8
  • 2 Cor. 13:1; Deut. 19:15
  • 8:36; Psa. 44:22
  • 10:15, 16, 18; Isa. 52:7, 15; 53:1; Psa. 19:4


Paul employed at least eight Old Testament citations dealing with various ethical teachings, mostly in a section on Christian ethics in Romans 12–14, perhaps to show that although the law of Moses was fulfilled through Christ, basic ethical rules or laws found in Old Testament scripture were still required. One rule he gave, within the context of a discussion on the validity of the law, was the need to love another as oneself and to please and edify others just as Christ sought to help others, not please oneself (see Galatians 5:14; Romans 13:9; 15:3; Leviticus 19:18 [two times]; Psalm 69:9).


One prohibition Paul gave was against seeking revenge (see Romans 12:19; Deuteronomy 32:35). He stated that one should do good even to one’s enemy (see Romans 12:20; Proverbs 25:21–22).


He reiterated some of the Ten Commandments, such as no adultery, murder, stealing, bearing false witness, or coveting (see Romans 13:9; Exodus 20:13–15, 17).


He argued that one should not judge another, because in the end only God will judge (see Romans 14:11; Isaiah 49:18; 45:23).




Paul used seven Old Testament references to counsel his followers, to separate themselves from the unbelievers, especially in acts of immorality and idolatry. He essentially admonished them to put the wicked away from among themselves because they were temples of God (see 1 Corinthians 5:13; 2 Corinthians 6:16–17; Deuteronomy 17:7; Leviticus 26:12; Isaiah 52:11; 2 Samuel 7:14).


He clearly warned them to guard against immorality (see 1 Corinthians 6:16; Genesis 2:24) and idolatry (see 1 Corinthians 10:7; Exodus 32:6).


He used the Old Testament in dealing with the issue of whether it was lawful to eat food sacrificed to idols or sold by unbelievers (see 1 Corinthians 10:26; Psalm 24:1).


Paul references the Old Testament twice in addressing the saints and their giving practices esp. in regard to giving to the poor and to those who minister the word.

  • 1 Cor. 9:9; Deut. 25:4
  • 1 Cor. 9:13; Lev. 7:6; Num. 18:6, etc.; Deut. 18:1
  • 2 Cor. 8:15; Exod. 16:18
  • 2 Cor. 9:8; Prov. 11:24
  • 2 Cor. 9:9; Psa. 112:9.

The above are only 29 examples of the 107 in Paul’s writings alone. Grant it, there are a few places were Paul makes strong statements concerning the law as though he were against it and as if Christ had eliminated its relevance to the believer, but those verses are all in reference to using the law as a means of obtaining righteousness, justification, sanctification, glorification or the Spirit – not against the law itself. A classic example which is OFTEN misquoted is in Romans 1o:4,

“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”


Often quoted as, “Christ is the end of the law.”


Overwhelmingly the practice of Paul was in favor of the law NOT against it. This places the burden of proof that the moral requirements of the law do not apply to the Christian in the court of those who claim its status is obsolete.



What about the words “Died to the law”

Only occurs 3 times in the New Testament, two of which are clearly saying the same thing as “being under” the law – namely Rom. 7 & I Cor. 7.

The example of that of a woman being “under” our bound by obligation – to her husband while he is alive is one of these. The idea behind both scriptures is that of servitude, from which all believers have been delivered in reference to the law. It is not longer our taskmaster – nor school master.


“For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he lives; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she run off and marry another, she will be called an adulteress: but if her husband be die, she is free from that law; so that she is no longer an  adulteress, though she’s married to another man. For this reasons, my brothers, you to have died to the law by the body of Christ; that you should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, SO THAT we should bear fruit unto God. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead to that relationship of marriage in which we were bound by obligation; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. (Newness of the spirit of the law rather than oldness of the letter of the law). But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, worked to the point of completion  every kind of evil desire within me. For without the law sin was dead.” ~ Rom. 7:2-8


“The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is free to marry whoever she wants; only in the Lord.” ~ 1 Cor. 7:39


There is a third reference which says the same thing, but without making metaphorical reference to the relationship of a wife to her husband. However, the words DO represent a relationship of obligation tantamount to marriage.


“But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might be relationally devoted to God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” – Gal. 2:17-21


The wording, “to be dead to the Law”,  in the Greek create a picture of having no more dependence upon mere legal righteousness for justification and salvation than a dead man would have, as being self-crucified and dead together with Christ. It does not mean the law has no meaning or say in a Christian’s life – they are simply no longer under it and are no longer espoused to it.


So the words “died to the law” are equal to not being “under” it or a slave to it anymore. Which is entirely different than saying it has no place in the life of a believer.

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 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!