14th Jan 2014
Question: I would like to ask you some questions pertaining to the observance of the Law. I believe that Paul and the other believing Jews kept the Law until the end of Old Covenant aeon. I think this is made clear in Acts 15. This being so, do you think it would be right to say that Paul and other believing Jews kept the Law without being under the Law? According to you, what would be the difference, if any, between a Jew under the law and a believing Jew who kept the law?
And finally, how do you understand Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 in light of the continuous observance of the Law among believing Jews: “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jew. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.”
Answer: In regard to the Law, there are several issues that are sometimes not all that clear, at least to me.
1.) Jesus said that none of the Law would pass until it was all fulfilled (Matthew 5:17f).
2.) What is often overlooked is that he also said that anyone teaching others not to keep the Law would be called least “in the kingdom” (v. 19)! This verse is almost always ignored!
3.) I think that in some way, perhaps in ways that we do not yet grasp, that the Judean church, not others in the dispersion, however, but the Judean church was in some way obligated to keep observing the Law, to declare and manifest its fulfillment in Christ and the church to the Jews there. I think that this goes a long way in explaining Acts 21.
4.) All of this had nothing to do with Gentiles keeping the Law, as Acts 15 shows for sure.
5.) Paul told those in Rome (the diaspora), that they had died to the Law (Romans 7). Yet, he kept the Law in Jerusalem in order to keep peace not only in the church there, but, to maintain peace with the non-Christian Jews there as well (Acts 21).
6.) When he wrote Colossians he believed and taught that the Law and the ordinances “shadows of good things about to come” (2:15-16). However, the Gentiles were not to allow themselves to be brought under the Law because it was passing away (2:20f).
7.) If the Law still remained a shadow of the things that were about to come, then this indicates to me that the Jewish Christians, in Jerusalem as shown above, were the ones that were demonstrating the fulfillment of those types and shadows, and thus, helping bring the Law to fulfillment, so that it could pass away. So, in sum, I think that a certain amount of “expediency” was present in some circumstances. However, I also believe that it was necessary for some element of the body of Christ to manifest the fulfillment of the Law in their lives (Paul being one), in order to bring that Law to its determined end.