Messianic Bible Study #2 (Part 3 of 3): The Law of Moses & the Law of Messiah

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Rom 8:2, NASB)

The Law of Moses has been abolished and believers are now under a new law.[1] This new law is called the law of Christ in Galatians 6:2 and the law of the Spirit of life in Romans 8:2. The Law of the Messiah contains all the commandments applicable to a New Testament believer. The reason there is so much confusion over the relationship of the Law of Moses and the Law of the Messiah is that there a many overlapping commandments, and many believers have concluded that certain sections of the Mosaic Law have therefore been retained. But it has already been shown that this cannot be the case, and the explanation for the sameness of the commandments is to be found elsewhere.

This explanation can best be understood if it is realized that there are a number of codes in the Bible (e.g.  the Edenic, Adamic, Noahic, Mosaic, and Christian). A new code will always contain some of the same commandments of the previous code, but this does not mean that the previous code is still in effect. While certain commandments of the Adamic Code were also found in the Edenic Code, this did not mean that it was still partially in force. The Edenic Code ceased to function with the fall of man. The same is true when we compare the Law of the Messiah with the Law of Moses. There are many similar commandments. For example, nine of the Ten Commandments are to be found in the Law of the Messiah, but this does not mean that the Law of Moses is still in force.

The Law of Moses has been nullified and believers are now under the Law of the Messiah. There are many different commandments. Under the Law of Moses, one would not be permitted to eat pork, but under the Law of the Messiah, he may. There are many similar commandments, but they are nonetheless in two separate systems. Therefore, if one does not kill or steal, this is not because of the Law of Moses but because of the Law of the Messiah. On the other hand, if one does steal, he is not guilty of breaking the Law of Moses but of breaking the Law of the Messiah.

The biblical basis for this freedom to keep the Law can be seen in the actions of Paul, the greatest exponent of freedom from the Law. His vow in Acts 18:18 is based on Numbers 6:2, 5, 9, and 18. His desire to be in Jerusalem for Pentecost in Acts 20:16 is based on Deuteronomy 16:16. The strongest passage is Acts 21:17‑26, where Paul, the apostle of freedom from the Law, is seen keeping the Law himself.

The believer is free from the Law of Moses, but he is also free to keep parts of it. Thus, if a Jewish believer feels the need to refrain from eating pork, he is free to do so. The same is true for all the other commandments. However, there are two dangers that must be avoided by the messianic believer who volunteers to keep the commandments of the Law of Moses. One danger is the idea that by doing so he is contributing to his own justification and sanctification. This is false and should be avoided. The second danger is in expecting others to keep the same commandments that he had decided to keep. This is equally wrong and borders on legalism. The one who exercises his freedom to keep the Law must recognize and respect another’s freedom not to keep it.

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.

8 thoughts on “Messianic Bible Study #2 (Part 3 of 3): The Law of Moses & the Law of Messiah

  1. This is a great study today for all the different congregations keeping the Law or parts of the Law – Thanks for postinig this

  2. As a former UMJC and Tikkun congregation member, I wish this was the majority view! My experience tells me that those leaders who teach we are under the Law of Moses have many in their congregations who struggle under the burden of legalism and the effects of guilt and obligation. Let us remember, Messiah Yeshua said his yoke is easy and his burden light! Thanks for the clear and consistent teaching on this over the years Ariel staff!

  3. Hi, thanks very much for the great teaching. I went to hear Dr. Fruchtenbaum speak at Otago university and it changed my thinking completely. Very thankful I went to hear him.
    There is something I am wondering though and it would be great if someone could comment on this please. In the letter of James, James states in ch 4:17 that… “to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
    This is the law of Christ also? His law written upon our hearts?
    Thank you.

  4. Does Dr. Fruchtenbaum see the “Law of Messiah,” mentioned in the teaching here, and the “New Covenant” in Jeremiah 31:31ff as one and the same? I understand that the “New Covenant” of Jer. 31:31 was made with Israel, and if the “Law of Messiah” and the “New Covenant” are one and the same in what way are Gentiles / the Church related to it?

  5. I mean no offense, but this “Law of Messiah” concept is way overstated.

    The Law of Messiah merely means that Paul and other Jewish believers are free to break Mosaic laws if necessary when to keep them would present stumbling blocks to proclaiming the gospel because the Law of Messiah as Jesus taught it, is that compassion for the life/salvation of another person overrides all other commandments.

    Jewish believers continued to keep the Mosaic Law in its entirety for hundreds of years after Messiah came and with many Rabbinic traditions as well.

    All of these Law issues in the New Testament center around Gentile circumcision and observance of Mosaic Law… NOT Jewish observance.

    This the whole point of Acts 15 and 21. The idea that Jews would not continue to observe the Mosaic Law is completely foreign to the disciples/apostles and is anachronistic to say the least.

    In Acts 21 for example, Paul is informed that he has been accused of teaching Jews to forsake MOSES…. The use of the word “Moses” makes no sense if there is some “Law of Messiah” that is now understood to be the new Law that negates Moses. In addition, the whole point of the narrative is that the accusations are UNTRUE, so Paul can’t be teaching some new Messiah’s Law concept in opposition to Mosaic Law.

    Finally such an idea contradicts the very words of Jesus in Matt 5:17-19 and 23:23 for starters and ignores the fact that Jesus kept many Rabbinic traditions such as reclining at the Passover table/using the Four cups of wine, reading the haftorah portion at synagogue etc.

  6. I have been studying the Messianic Faith for many years now. I here groups separate the Torah. Ten-Commandments and the Law of Moses. You say all 613 commandments are done away with. I agree that the sacrificial part of it is done away with because the Messiah was the true sacrifice.
    Likewise – The Law shows us when we ere. Before i studied the scriptures i did not know they taught about how to conduct relationships, business, marriage to name a few. For this reason i must say that some of the 613 commandments are still in place.
    I do not keep the Law for salvation, but as a result of salvation. If you understand where i am coming from. When i first got into Torah i did focus on the law and not the gift of grace. Once i realized my ere Messiah showed me that i am to keep the law as a result of salvation.,

  7. To add to my last comment i say this ” If you love Me then keep My commandments”.

  8. My understanding of Shaul’s being against circumcision was not circumcision itself. The Jews wanted circumcision as a mandate to be believers. Shaul wanted people to learn of messiah first.

    Look at Father Abraham. He left Ur on faith first. Then he was taught how to live. Circumcision was later given to him and his descendants

    If it was done why was Timothy circumcised?

    The Passover was still being kept by Peter and the disciples, when Peter was arrested. The Torah says “no uncircumcised males are to partake of the Passover”.

    What are your thoughts on this subject as i am trying to learn about your group. I heard good things about you, and want to see how your beliefs line up with the scriptures. That is why i am asking so many questions.

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