What Does the Phrase “Under the Law” Mean?

Is Paul Affirming or Abolishing the Torah-Law of Moses?

Torah Scroll  21075453

What is the meaning of the phrase “under the law” as used by Paul in some of his epistles? There is much confusion in the church on this subject. Like a drive-by shooter who has only one bullet in his gun, this phrase is often fired in a disparaging manner against the Torah-law of Moses and its advocates by those who believe “the law” has been “done away with” and “is against us,” and thus is no longer binding on Christians. Sadly, in such exchanges, these spiritual drive-by shooters reveal their ignorance about this phrase’s true Hebraic meaning, not to mention its contextual background.

So what is the truth?

In this brief work, we’ll examine every place where the phrase “under the law” is found in the Testimony of Yeshua (the New Testament) including the scriptural context in which it is found. We’ll also discover what spiritual heresies Paul is really warning the first century believers about. The truth will prove both surprising and enlightening.

Romans 3:19

Now we know that what things soever the law [Torah] says, it says to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before Elohim.

Simple Explanation: Without delving into the context of the surrounding verses (which we do below) in which Paul uses the phrase “under the law,” let’s just analyze verse 19 by itself. Sometimes the simplest explanations are the best. For Paul, what does this phrase really mean?

When he says “under the law,” is he referring to the Jews who were legally bound to follow the law of Moses (or the Torah), as the mainstream Christian church teaches? If this is the case, then why does he speak about the whole world becoming guilty before Elohim? The whole world wasn’t Jewish, so how could Paul be referring to the whole world being “under the law” as in being obligated to obey the law of Moses? Furthermore, how is it that the whole world is “guilty before Elohim”?

The answer is simple. The whole world, including the Jews, is guilty of breaking the laws of Elohim (e.g., idolatry, violating the Sabbath, murder, adultery, stealing, lying, eating unclean meats, failing to keep YHVH’s holidays, witchcraft, etc.). In other words, the whole world has sinned, for sin is the violation of the Torah (1 John 3:4). Paul states this four verses later in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of Elohim.” All men are guilty before Elohim of sinning. What is YHVH’s punishment for sin? Paul answers that question too in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of Elohim is eternal life in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.”

Therefore, when Paul uses the phrase “under the law” and applies it all humans becoming guilty before Elohim, he is saying that all are under the Elohim’s death penalty for violating the Torah-law of Moses because all have sinned. He is not saying that the Jews are under obligation to keep the Torah, while the rest of the world (i.e., the Gentiles) are free to disregard the Torah, yet this is what the mainstream churches teach.

Going Deeper: When Paul uses the term “under the law” is he referring to those who are keepers of the law (like the Jews were)? Is he further implying that if one isn’t “under the law” one is free to break the law? This is a viewpoint many people in the church have been led to believe that Paul is advocating. Let’s analyze what Paul is really saying here and see it if lines up with what the mainstream churches teach.

First, if Paul is saying that those who aren’t under the law (because they’re under grace instead) are no longer under any obligation to adhere to the law’s tenets, then this means that it’s permissible to violate the law in regards to the Sabbath, the biblical dietary laws, the feasts, idolatry, murder, lying, theft, rape, incest, witchcraft, homosexuality and the like. This line of reasoning crumbles when we realize that from the Bible’s viewpoint, the Torah-law of Elohim is indivisible: it stands or falls as a unit. James says that if one violates one commandment he is guilty of breaking them all (Jas 2:8–10).

Second, if “under the law” means that believers are now free to disregard the Torah, then how do we explain all the scriptures that show us that Paul and the other apostles (and even Yeshua himself) upheld the validity of the Torah as a rule for the saint’s life? (See Matt 5:17–19; John 14:15; Rom 3:31; 6:14, 15; 7:12, 14, 22; Acts 21:24; 24:14; 25:8; 1 Cor 7:19; 1 John 2:3–6; 3:4.) It is evident that Paul can’t, at the same time, be both teaching against and advocating Torah-obedience. This would make Paul into a duplicitous liar and hypocrite, and call into question the validity and divine inspiration of the Scriptures as well. The fact is, the problem isn’t with Paul or the Bible, but with man’s interpretation of YHVH’s Scriptures.

So when we strip away the layers of men’s church doctrines and traditions, what is Paul really saying in Romans 3:19?

Paul is exposing the Jews for being over-confident in their special relationship with YHVH because (a) they were Jews and the seed of Abraham, (b) because YHVH had given them the Torah, and (c) because they were circumcised. Yet despite these facts, many Jews had failed to obey the Torah, thus making their outward appearance of righteousness (i.e., their circumcision) an act of hypocrisy. Paul takes the Jews to task for this hypocrisy and declares that whether one is uncircumcised or not is immaterial; rather, what matters to YHVH is one’s heart orientation toward him (i.e., is one circumcised in heart or not, Rom 2–3:4). After all, logic decrees that circumcision can’t be a condition for salvation, since it’s impossible for one half of humanity to be physically circumcised, while, at the same time, the entire population (both men and women) can be circumcised in heart!

Paul was being accused of promoting Torahlessness because of his stand that circumcision was not a salvation requirement, and that a Jew who is circumcised, and yet lives a Torahless life is no better than a Gentile sinner. In fact, an uncircumcised Gentile who follows the basics of the Torah that are written in his consciences will be blessed on the day of judgment (Rom 2:14–16).

Additionally, Paul is attempting to level the spiritual playing field (or to tear down the middle wall of separation, see Eph 2:14) between Jews and Gentiles by showing that a hypocritical, law-touting, circumcised Jew has no standing in righteousness before YHVH, while conversely an uncircumcised Gentile who knows little about the Torah, yet follows the light of truth that he does have with his whole heart has righteous standing before YHVH.

The bottom line is that all (both Jews and Gentiles) have sinned (i.e., violated the Torah, 1 John 3:4), and all are under sin’s death penalty (Rom 3:9–19).

After declaring that all men are sinners (Rom 3:9–18), Paul brings in the concept of under the law and relates this to man being “guilty before Elohim” (Rom 3:19). That is to say, since each man has sinned (i.e., violated the Torah, 1 John 3:4), each one has come under the penalty that the Torah prescribes for sin; that is, he has come under the law. Paul expresses this same concept elsewhere when he writes, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, ‘Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them’” (Gal 3:10).

Paul is coming against those who, in his day, put their trust in their own ability to punctiliously obey YHVH’s Torah assuming that this would put them in right standing before Elohim (Rom 3:20). Paul is attempting to correct this spiritual delusion, since no man can keep the law perfectly without sinning, for if he violates but one commandment, he brings upon himself the law’s death penalty and is now under the law. In other words, anyone who sins by breaking one of the least of the Torah’s commandments comes under the curse of the law, which is death, for the Word of Elohim teaches us that the person who sins will die (Ezek 18:4), and the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23).

Therefore, since the Torah defines sin, it cannot at the same time bring man to right standing (or righteousness) before YHVH, since all men are guilty before Elohim of violating the Torah (Rom 3:19–20, 23).

Paul goes on to explain through the remainder of the chapter that we are made righteous (or cleansed from sin or Torahlessness) because of our faith in Yeshua, but that this in no way invalidates (or makes void) the Torah, but rather establishes the Torah (Rom 3:22–31), since the Torah shows us the path of righteous that will keep us from sinning and hence from coming under the laws penalty for sin.

Romans 6:14–15

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace.…What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? Elohim forbid!

Simple Explanation: As we did in our simple explanation of Romans 3:19, let’s just look at the words of this verse alone to see if Paul is really saying that “under the law” means “under obligation to obey the law of Moses (or the Torah)” as many in the mainstream church have been led to believe.

As we learned above, “under the law” literally means “under the penalty of the law.” Does the same phrase mean the same thing in this verse too?

Let’s first define the word sin. Sin, according to the Bible, is the violation of the laws of Elohim (or law of Moses or the Torah, 1 John 3:4). So Paul in this verse is instructing us to not let lawlessness have dominion over us. In other words, Paul says, “Don’t sin,” (i.e., violate the laws of Elohim). Then he tells us that we aren’t under the law, but under grace. Think about it. Why would he first tell us to not sin, but then tell us that it’s all right to sin, since we’re no longer under obligation to obey the Torah? That makes no sense. Then he goes on to ask whether we shall sin (or violate the Torah) because we’re now under grace, and not under the law? Let’s define another term. What is grace? One of its definitions is “free and unmerited pardon.” Pardon from what? From our sins. Everyone knows that! So what Paul is really asking is, “Shall we continue to break Elohim’s laws because we’ve received his free and unmerited pardon for breaking Elohim’s laws?” Paul answers with a strong affirmative, “Elohim forbid!”

As we discovered in Romans 3:19, the phrase “under the law” literally means “under the penalty of the law” which is death, since the wages of sin is death (Rom 3:23).

So once again, the phrase “under the law” isn’t a get-out-of-jail free card giving us license to sin (i.e., to violate the Torah) as the mainstream church erroneously teaches.

Going Deeper: Here Paul is saying that sin (i.e., Torahlessness) shall not have dominion over those who have faith in Yeshua and who have died to their old sinful nature as pictured by the baptism ritual (Rom 6:1–10). The Bible is clear: the wages or sting of sin is death (Rom 6:23; 1 Cor 15:56), for sin is the violation of the Torah (1 John 3:4), and those who are spiritually alive to Elohim through Yeshua (Rom 6:11) not only have had their sins forgiven, but they’re not continuing habitual sin (1 John 3:4–9). They are walking under YHVH’s merciful grace, so that if they sin (i.e., violate the Torah), they can repent and receive his grace (1 John 1:9) instead of death. This is why Paul can say that the redeemed believer is no longer under the (penalty of) the Torah, but is under grace (Rom 6:14).

Because we are under grace and we have been spared by Elohim’s mercy from the penalty for sinning (i.e., violating the Torah), which is death, does this mean that we can continue in sin (i.e., continue violating the Torah, Rom 6:15)? Certainly not, Paul strongly affirms in verse fifteen! Elohim’s grace doesn’t give us a license to sin (i.e., to violate the Torah, 1 John 3:4). If a saint sins, he must repent of his sin and not continue in his sin (1 John 1:9), so that the mercy and grace of Elohim will cover his transgression.

Paul then goes to say (Rom 6:16–23) that since we are no longer slaves to sin because of our relationship with Elohim through Yeshua, we now have become slaves to righteousness (i.e., Torah obedience, see Ps 119:172 where righteousness is defined as Torah-obedience). The Torah not only defines what sin is, but also shows us how not to sin. It is the grace of Elohim that not only gives us grace or unmerited pardon for violating the Torah (i.e., sin), but the same grace divinely enables us to live in obedience to the Torah, so that we will not come under the (penalty of) the Torah through sinfulness. This is why Paul can go on to declare that the Torah is holy, and the commandment holy, just and good (Rom 7:12). It reveals to us the path of righteousness and how not to sin by showing us how to love Elohim and our neighbor.

1 Corinthians 9:20–22

And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to Elohim, but under the law to Messiah,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

Simple Explanation: Paul uses the phrase “under the law” four times in this passage. Three of the four times, the phrase means the same thing, while his fourth usage is a completely different word in the Greek, even though it is translated as “under the law” in most English Bibles.

This passage explains four different categories of people each of which have different, unbiblical views of the Torah. We will explain what these views are in more detail below. In Paul’s final usage of the term “under the law” he adds to it the phrase “to Christ [or Messiah].” The phrase “under the law [Gr. ennomos] to Christ” more accurately should read “in the law to Christ,” which is how several English translations render it (e.g., the Geneva Bible, the Wycliffe Bible, Young’s) or “subject to the law of Christ” (Mounce, Lexham) or “within Christ’s law” (Holman). Ennomos literally means “within law, lawful, legal or obedient to a law” (Mounce), “bound to the law, bound by the law” (Thayer), “legal or lawful” (Ardnt-Gringrich).

So what did Paul mean when he said that he was “in the law to Christ,” or “subject to the law of Christ” or “within Christ’s law”? Let’s let Paul answer his own question. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 he urges us to imitate the Messiah as he imitated him. Messiah Yeshua obeyed the Torah-law of Moses. If not, he was a sinner and not our Savior! Yeshua instructed his followers to love him by keeping his Torah commandments (John 14:15). Elsewhere, Paul upholds Torah-obedience, urges others to obey the Torah, and even states that he faithfully obeys the Torah himself (Rom 3:31; 7:12, 22, 25; 1 Cor 7:19; Acts 21:24; 24:14; 25:8). What Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 9:21 is that he obeys the Torah by following Yeshua’s example of Torah-obedience, out of love for the Messiah, through the power and strength of the Messiah’s Holy Spirit who has written Elohim’s laws on our hearts, and through the divine empowerment of Elohim’s grace at work in us. This passage in no way indicates that Paul is professing the abrogation of the Torah!

Going Deeper: It is evident that when Paul uses the phrase, “under the law” in his writings, he at times infuses different connotations into this phrase. Only by studying the context of the surrounding passages in which this phrase is imbedded can we understand the exact connotation that Paul is attaching to the term “under the law.”

In this passage, the phrase “under the law” is found four times, and doesn’t connote “under the penalty of the law,” (as is the case with Paul’s usage of the term in Romans). The first three times this phrase is found here it means “in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the Torah” (as David Stern translates it in his Complete Jewish Bible and then explains reasons behind this translation in his Jewish New Testament Commentary). Here Paul identifies several groups of people, each of which had its own view of the Torah. These groups were (a) ethnic Jews, (b) those (ethnic Jews or otherwise) who had come under a legalistic view of the Torah in that they believed, for example, that circumcision was a precondition for salvation (certain Pharisees believed this [see Acts 15:1], and Paul was dealing with this doctrinal perversion in the first several chapters of the Epistle to the Romans), (c) those (presumably Gentiles) who had no knowledge of the Torah, and (d) those new believers who were still weak and unstable in their faith.

In Paul’s final usage of this phrase at the end of verse 21, he adds to the phrase under the law” [Gr. ennomos meaning “in the law”] the two words “in Christ.” This changes the whole meaning of the term under the law. As we have noted above, “under the law,” as Paul uses it can mean “under the [penalty of] the Torah,” or “under a legalistic perversion of the Torah,” but here Paul is referring to Torah obedience in the context of a faith in Yeshua. Is Paul referring here to Christians who keep the Torah? Yes! This is what the first century redeemed believers were, and what Paul confesses here about himself (1 Cor 9:21). Paul’s pro-Torah stance is totally consistent with other apologetic statements he makes concerning the Torah along with his confession to being totally Torah-obedient himself (e.g., Rom 3:31; 7:12, 22, 25; 1 Cor 7:19; Acts 21:24; 24:14; 25:8). Torah obedience was also to be a normative attribute of the life of the redeemed believer then and now (e.g., Acts 21:20; 22:12; Rev 12:17; 14:12; 22:14).

So what specifically does the phrase “not being without the Torah toward Elohim, but “under or in the law toward Messiah” mean? Simply this. There is a keeping of the Torah that is done through men’s legalistic efforts that is devoid of trusting faith toward Elohim, whereby one hopes to earn Elohim’s grace or merciful kindness through human effort. This approach Paul proves in Romans 3 and 4 was never how Elohim intended men to come into a spiritual relationship with him, since it is impossible for men to keep the righteous requirements of the Torah perfectly without ever sinning. Thankfully, salvation is by the grace of Elohim through faith in Yeshua (Eph 2:8–10). It is through Elohim working through his Holy Spirit through our relationship with Yeshua that we can do the good works (Eph 2:10) of loving Yeshua by keeping his Torah commandments (John 14:15; 1 John 2:3–6; 3:24; 5:2–3). When Yeshua and his apostles use the term commandments in their writings, how do we know that they’re referring to the Torah-commandments? In Luke 18:19–20, Yeshua answers this question when he connects the word commandments (Gr. entole) with the laws of Torah (in this case, the Ten Commandments, which is the cornerstone of or the basis for all the other 600 plus commandments in the Torah).

Therefore, when Paul says “not being without the Torah toward Elohim, but under [or, in] the law toward Messiah,” he is referring to Torah obedience within the paradigmatic context of Elohim’s grace toward us (which covers our past sins and delivers us from the penalty for violating the law, which is death), and to Yeshua living in the redeemed believer’s life through his Set-Apart Spirit, which enables one to love Yeshua by obeying his Torah-commandments (John 14:15).

Galatians 3:23

But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. (KJV)

Some other Bible translations of this verse read as follows:

But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. (NKJV)

But before the coming of faith, we were guarded under law, having been locked up to the faith being about to be revealed. (J.P. Green)

Now before faith came, we were held in custody under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. (Mounce)

Explanation: Here, Paul attaches yet another nuanced connotation to the term under the law. To help us to understand his meaning, let’s go back to verse 19, where he refers to the Torah as being added because of sin. What was added, and to what was it added? We know that the Torah pre-existed Mount Sinai. Many laws contained in the Torah were specified from the time of creation onward (e.g., the Sabbath, Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the dietary laws, and prohibitions against adultery, rape, murder, lying, etc.), as was the entirety of Torah with its various subsections (Gen 26:5 and 18:19). So obviously, Paul wasn’t referring to the Torah as known to men prior to its being given to Israel at Mount Sinai. What was then added to the Torah? The children of Israel were given the Torah as a legal system with penalties enforcing its violation. Israel was also given a Levitical priesthood system with an elaborate sacrificial system including numerous purification rites, all of which prefigured the sin-atoning death of Yeshua the Messiah on the cross.

The sacrificial system and Levitical system was added to the Torah until the Seed (of Abraham, i.e., Yeshua) should come to whom the promises were made (Gal 3:19). The Torah in its codified form became the national law or legal and judicial system of Israel when it became a nation at Mount Sinai. The Torah as expanded at Mount Sinai defined sin, prescribed the penalties for its violation, which involved an elaborate sacrificial system and purifications rites as administered by the Levitical priesthood. The purpose of this system was to show man what sin is, what he had do when he sinned to make atonement for his sin, and, as Paul shows us, this system pointed the way to Messiah who would once and for all pay the price for all of man’s sins by his atoning death on the cross. The Torah with its added systems, kept Israel walking (more or less) in righteousness (at least compared to the surrounding heathen nations), and preserved them so that there would be a nation from which the Messiah would eventually emerge in fulfillment of YHVH’s promises to Abraham about a Seed coming.

When the Messiah came, the part of the Torah that was added because of sin ceased to be needed; namely, the system of legal penalties, along with the sacrificial and Levitical systems — something the writer of Hebrews makes abundantly clear in Hebrews chapters seven through ten. Was the original Torah which delineates how one is to walk in righteousness in relationship to Elohim and one’s fellow man abolished? We’ll let Paul answer this question. He asks the question, “Do we make void the Torah through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the Torah” (Rom 3:31). Also, he declares, “Shall we sin [or violate the Torah] because we are not under [the penalty] of the law but under grace? Certainly not!” (Rom 6:15). We’ll also give Yeshua the opportunity to address the purpose of his mission. Was it to abolish the Torah? Absolutely not! In his omniscience, Yeshua foresaw those who would erroneously think this when he declared:

Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Torah till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:17–19)

Galatians 4:4–5

But when the fullness of the time was come, Elohim sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the Torah-law, to redeem them that were under the Torah-law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Explanation: In this passage, uses the term “under the law” twice — first in reference to Yeshua, the second in reference to believers.

Earlier Paul says that before one comes to Messiah, he was like child enslaved to the elements (or principles) of this world (v. 3). He was in bondage to sin (i.e., to going contrary to the standards of righteousness as revealed in YHVH’s instructions in righteousness, his Word, the Torah, for sin is the violation of the Torah, 1 John 3:4). At that time, he naturally went with the flow of this world, which is in rebellion to YHVH and his ways.

However, the Torah with its laws showing one how to walk in righteousness along with its penalties for violating those laws not only revealed one’s spiritual deficiency, but pointed one to Yeshua, who, in the fullness of time, was born of a woman under the penalty of the law.

Was Yeshua born under the penalty of the law because he broke the Torah-law of Elohim? Not at all, for the Bible teaches that Yeshua was sinless. However, he put himself under the penalty of the law for humans’ sake that he might bear upon himself the wages of our sin, which is death. He literally became a sin offering to redeem sinful men from the penalty of the law by becoming an offering for sin (Isa 53:5–6, 10–12). By taking upon himself the penalty for our breaking the law, he redeemed us or took upon himself that death penalty (Gal 4:4–5) and thus redeemed us from the penalty of the law. This act of selfless love on Yeshua’s part paved the way not only for our redemption or salvation, but for us to become spiritual sons of Elohim and heirs of future glory in Elohim’s heavenly kingdom (Gal 4:6–7).

Galatians 4:21

Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?

Explanation: The Jews in Paul’s day who glorified the Old Covenant with its stringent penalties imposed on humans when they violated the Torah were sadly misguided. The New Covenant that Yeshua initiated through his death on the cross frees those who place their faith in Yeshua from the Torah’s rigorous penalties as a result of sin.

In essence, Paul is asking the question, why would anyone want to go back under the Old Covenant with its severe penalties, when one can be under the provisions of the New Covenant, and have one’s sins paid for by Yeshua, and be free of the bondage or weight of the Torah’s death penalty, which is like a sword hanging over one’s head by a thread (Gal 5:1)?

Paul goes on to say that those who claim that circumcision (i.e., Torah-obedience) is a mandatory pre-requisite for salvation (Gal 5:3–5 cp. Acts 15:1), are, in essence, going back under the Old Covenant with its severe penalties, and are trusting in their own good works to save them instead of the grace of Elohim. Because of this mistaken belief, they have fallen from grace (Gal 5:3–5).

Galatians 5:18

But if you be led of the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Explanation: To understand this passage, let’s back up to verse 16 where Paul instructs the Galatians to walk in the Spirit of Elohim, and not to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. What are the lusts of the flesh? Doing that which comes naturally to the carnal, sinful man such as lust, adultery, lying, stealing, worshipping false gods, coveting, and so on. All these things are a violation of YHVH’s Torah-commands.

In verse 18, Paul says that if one walks in accordance with YHVH’s Holy Spirit, then one won’t be sinning or violating the Torah, and thus coming under the penalty of the law when one violates it. One, instead, will be fulfilling the Torah by loving one’s neighbor as oneself, which is the fulfillment of the Torah (v. 14). Then in verses 19 through 21, Paul goes on to list the works of the flesh, all of which are violations of the Ten Commandments and the rest of YHVH’s Torah’s laws. He then lists the fruit of the Spirit (vv. 22–25), which are the summation and result of Torah-obedience (cp. Rom 13:8–10; John 14:15; 1 John 2:3–6).

So now what about verse 18? Very simply this. If we walk in accordance with the Spirit of Elohim that convicts us of sin (i.e., Torahlessness, John 16:9 cp. 1 John 3:4) and leads us away from sin (John 16:8) and into the truth of Yeshua who is the Living Torah-word and truth of Elohim (John 14:6; John 1:1, 14), we will be walking in YHVH’s Torah-truth (Ps 119:142, 151), and under YHVH’s grace if and when we sin. If we either don’t place our faith in Yeshua, or try to earn our own salvation by our good works, then we have failed to receive YHVH’s grace and have placed ourselves under the penalty of the law, which ultimately is death. This is a summation and the bottom line of Paul’s message in the Epistle to the Galatians!


11 thoughts on “What Does the Phrase “Under the Law” Mean?

  1. Dear Nathan,
    I have not seen a better analysis on the phrase “under the law”, than your beautifully written treatise.

    May YHVH bless you, keep you and make His face to shine upon you…forever.


      • How can Jews or Gentile believers follow the entire Law of Moses without a temple to perform the ceremonial parts of the Law?

        Furthermore, the Law was added because of transgressions and was out “tutor” to lead us to Christ:

        This point is expounded in Galatians 3:24-25 which reads:

        “So that the law is become our tutor to bring us unto
        Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith is come, we are no longer under a tutor.… [the rest was edited out due to length—NL]

        NL: I would be interested in your thoughts on this issue if you can share them in a more condensed form. This section is for short comments and questions only, not whole articles from the readers. So please share the bottom line of what you are trying to say and repost. Looking forward. Thank you. — Nathan

  2. Wonderful, thorough article with much detail. I found a Natan Lawrence on Facebook who is a pastor of First Baptist Church of Valley Alabama. Is this you? Are you somehow linked up with the Messianic Jewish movement?

  3. Thanks, will you please say if you teach that all Christians must keep the Sabbath on Saturday? Do you keep Sabbath on Saturday?

    • Yes to both questions. I’m not the one saying it, the Bible commands it and every saint in the Bible was a Sabbath keeper including Yeshua the Messiah. This is Bible knowledge 101. Sunday wasn’t advocated by the early church fathers until the early part of the second century, and it took another 200 plus years for it to become the law of the Roman empire. This is well-documented. This is history 101. Surely you know this with your background and credentials. I’m curious why you’re asking me this question? I am pleased to make your acquaintance. BTW, my parents were married and I was born (in the late 1950s) where you received your initial biblical training. Blessings.

  4. Lets make it easy, being under the law means one is commanded to obey the law, not being under the law is to obey the law because of love

    • We need to define the term “under the law” as the author of that phrase uses it, and not as the people in the church colloquially define it. As I point out in this article, for those who have taken the time to actually read it, Paul uses this phrase in several different ways. So we must look at how he uses it in each case and study the context.

      So, no, with respect, I don’t totally agree with your summation of this phrase. For example, Paul tells us clearly in one place that he is “under the Torah-law toward Christ” (1 Cor 9:21). This phrase flies in the face of the conventional Christian understanding of what “under the law” means.

      The bottom line is this: When formulating understandings of scriptural concepts, unless we take the full counsel of Elohim’s word into consideration, we deprive ourselves of the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and can up up with half-truths or no truth at all. To be sure, arriving at the whole Truth requires hard work, time and much diligence. Because few Bible students really want to do this (laziness is a character trait endemic to the human race), they tend to rely on their pastors or other Bible teachers to teach them, who themselves may or may not know the whole Truth dependent on who has taught them. Blessings to you as you search out and learn the whole truth of Scripture.

  5. Luke 17:5-10; dose the servant get thanked for doing what he was commanded to do, no
    Israel was commanded to obey the law, (the law was not made for salvation), Believers obey because of love. the law of Christ is love, ( if you love Me keep my commandments)

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