Editorial – The Law of Moses

In the days of the apostles a dispute arose over circumcision and the question of whether Gentile Christians needed to keep “the law of Moses” (Acts 15:5). So there is a law that is referred to in scripture as “the law of Moses,” and it includes circumcision even though circumcision goes back to the time of Abraham. We know that Moses received those precepts from the Lord Jesus Christ and so the law of Moses can also rightfully be called the “law of the Lord.” See Luke 1:22–24 where the two terms are used synonymously. This law of Moses was referred to by Peter as a yoke which neither their fathers nor they themselves had been able to bear. Paul refers to it as a yoke of bondage (Galatians 5:1). The yoke of bondage that Peter and Paul were talking about is not simply the law of Moses, but the teaching that had developed that you were justified, or made righteous, by the keeping of that law (Galatians 5:4).

When we compare all the texts in the New Testament, and if we believe that truth is always consistent with itself in all its manifestations and therefore must always agree with itself, we are forced to the conclusion that there are two laws—one which is unchangeable and will last for eternity and the other which was temporary and ceased to be in force after the death of Christ. This conclusion is actually made first of all in the writings of Moses. In Exodus 24:12, the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give to you tablets of stone, and a law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them.” You notice in this verse of Scripture that there is a document written by God on stone and that this document is called “a law.” Obviously then the Ten Commandments constitute one law. The Ten Commandments are not ten laws but one law (James 2:12). There are many more lines of evidence to support this conclusion. However, before we examine them in another editorial, we must understand something about the law of Moses that many Christians do not seem to comprehend.

The law of Moses contains many precepts which are simply explanations of the meaning of the Ten Commandments. As such, these precepts were not part of a temporary law but are as unchangeable as the Ten Commandments. Examples of this would be Leviticus 18 which explains the seventh commandment; the health laws in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 which explain the breadth of the sixth commandment; and the instructions about mixed marriages in Deuteronomy 7 which explain, in part, the meaning of the first commandment. (To be continued.)