foundations-destroyedPMT 2016-092 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This article continues and concludes the previous one. I am showing that the New Testament does not set aside God’s law as a righteous standard for all men.

Paul’s Liberty in Christ
We must comment on the meaning of his tricky statement.

First, when Paul refers to Christ’s “law” he appears to mean Christ’s “authority” (cp. Mt. 28:18; Eph. 1:21; Phil. 2:9-10; Col. 1:17-1) — not a new system of laws and obligations. Paul is under Christ’s lordship; he is Christ’s servant or slave (1 Cor. 9:16-17; 7:22). Paul’s fuller statement that he is “under law to God” is validated by being under Christ’s law or authority. Being a servant of Christ does not remove the obligation to God’s Law. Remember, the whole debate was about Christian liberty (1 Cor. 8:9; 9:1a,19; cp. Gal. 2:4) — liberty in Christ. Here he asserts again that our liberty is not a wholesale, unbridled liberty, but one constrained by obligations to Christ himself.


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Reformed studies covering baptism, creation, creeds, tongues, God’s law, apologetics, and Revelation

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When Paul highlights the distinction between Jew and Gentile (1 Cor. 9:19-21), he apparently assumes a distinction between being a servant of Moses (under his ceremonial and ritual authority) and a servant of Christ (with His superior authority, which fulfills those ceremonial obligations in Himself). He is under the new covenant in Christ rather than the old covenant administered by Moses. He is no longer obligated to Moses who was a “servant in God’s house,” but to Christ who is a “Son over the house” (Heb. 3:2-6).

The New Testament provides several examples of Christians’ being freed from ceremonial strictures because they are no longer “under Moses” but rather “under Christ.” For example, in Acts 6:14 we read: “we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.” See also: Acts 13:38-39; 15:1,5; 21:21.

Consider the strong adversative alla in the phrase “not being without the law of God but (alla) under the law of Christ.” This corrects any misunderstanding of Paul, and is a slap against the abusers of liberty. Not only is he not without the Law of God, but (strong disjunctive) he is under the authority of Christ. His original reader cannot jump on his “without law” and use the term anomos as if it meant “lawless.” He not only proclaims he is not without God’s Law, but is, in fact, under the authoritative lordship of Christ. This agrees with his declaration of his freedom from “all men” (1 Cor 9:19a), while maintaining the Christ-centered obligations within truly Christian liberty. Paul, then, is simultaneously under the Law of God and the authority of Christ. The two are compatible and co-extensive.

The Greatness of the Great Commission

Greatness of the Great Commission (by Ken Gentry)

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Paul’s use of the phrase ennomos (“in lawed”) to refer to Christ’s “authority” rather than the more common word exousia is for literary reasons. Note his repetition of “law” (using various derivations of anomos):

to the ones under law as under law
tois hupo nomon hos hupo nomon

not being myself under law
me hon autos hupo nomon

in order that the ones under law I might gain
hina tous hupo nomon kerdeso

to the ones without law as without law
tois anomois hos anomos

not being without law of God
me hon anomos theou

but in law to Christ
all’ ennomos Christou

in order that I might win the ones without law
hina kerdano tous anomous

When he refers to Christ’s authority over his liberty by using a derivative of nomos, Paul maintains his literary cadence, driving home his point in style with this effective word-play. We must not let his literary technique cloud our understanding of his teaching.

Clearly then, a careful reading of this verse exposes the error of those who resist the application of God’s Law in the modern world.1 Rather than undermining God’s Law as a continuing ethical obligation, Paul here establishes the Law — just as he told us he would in Romans 3:31: “Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.”
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2 thoughts on “NOT “UNDER LAW”? (2)

  1. realitiveinsanity December 16, 2016 at 5:49 am

    Since the “Sabbath” was one of the laws in the Ten Commandments, how is this applicable to Christians?

  2. Kenneth Gentry December 20, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    The Sabbath has been moved from the last day of the week (where it commemorated God’s rest on the seventh day of creation) to the first day of the week (where it commemorates Jesus’ resurrection on Sunday to begin the new creation, cf. 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15). The Sabbath principle still remains, though the day has been changed by God. I hope this helps.

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