What Law is Paul Talking About?

Question from a Site Viewer

It is NOT those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who OBEY the law who will be declared righteous.
Romans 2:13

What law?

Tim’s Answer
Thank you for the question on Romans 2:13. Romans 1:18-3:20 develops Paul’s argument that the whole world (both those under the law, that is the Jews, and those without the law, that is the Gentiles) sins and needs a Savior. In Romans 2:1-11 Paul explains that there is no partiality with God, but those who do good will be rewarded (verses 7, 10) and those who do unrighteousness will be punished (verses 8-9). He then states in verse 12 that those who sinned without law will perish without law, and those who sinned in the law will be judged by the law. He explains in verse 14 that it is the Gentiles who do not have the law. He explains in verse 17 that it is the Jews who rest on the law. He also explains in verses 14-16 that the Gentiles, those who do not have the law, have the works of the law written in their hearts. In the immediately preceding verse, Romans 2:12, Paul speaks of those who sinned without the law and those who sinned in the law. In the context, those who sinned without the law are the Gentiles (see verse 14). The other people, those who sinned in the law, would be the Jews (verses 17-24). The law that the Jews had and the Gentiles did not have was the law of Moses.

Accordingly, I believe that Paul had in mind the law of Moses when he makes the statement found in verse 13. I think it is the law that is in context throughout this passage. This would include the 10 commandments as well as the rest of the commandments for the people of Israel found in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

If you follow through the passage, Paul argues that one is not righteous by knowing the law, but by doing the law. Yet, no one fully does the law. James states it very clearly in James 2:10 that if we stumble in one point we have violated the whole law. And all those under the law have stumbled at some point. (The law included the command to love God with all of our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves.) So, Paul’s conclusion in Romans 3:9 is that both Jews and Gentiles are under sin. He states in Romans 2:19 that the law makes all guilty before God. He states in Romans 2:20 that by the law is the knowledge of sin. He says in Romans 3:23 that all have sinned.

Stated another way, if we want to obtain righteousness from the law, it is not enough to know the law, we must practice the law. If we offend any of the requirements of the law, and everyone has except Jesus, then we are guilty as sinners and we cannot then be justified by the law. This is why we need a savior and this is why Jesus came. The answer to our failure to keep the law is the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22, 24-26).

I hope this helps.

May the Lord Jesus guide you into His truth and love,

a fellow servant,


47 thoughts on “What Law is Paul Talking About?”

  1. Paul is not referencing the Sinai code of law in Rom. 2:13 & Rom. 5:20 He is referencing the law that has been added by the law having been changed after the Lord’s ascension. Heb. 7:12 Stephen references this law in Acts 7:53 and Paul also in Gal. 3:19. No individual will be declared righteous by God unless he has the faith to obey this law. There are no exceptions.

    1. I assume you have found some support for your position in the Bible or in the historical interpretation of the Bible by the church. But I admit that I do not reach your conclusion when I read the Bible. “The law,” in Romans 2:13 is a written law (Romans 2:27) the Jews had but not the Gentiles (Romans 2:14,17). At the time Romans is written in 54 A.D., only 6 books of the New Testament had been written and 5 of them were written by Paul and none were written to Rome. So what written law that the Jews had but not the Gentiles do you see as being in view? “The law” in Stephen’s address was a law delivered by angels, which idea we find also in Galatians 3:19 and Hebrews 2:2. Paul tells us in Galatians 3:17 that the law delivered through angels was the one given 430 years after the promise to Abraham. This therefore must be a reference to the Mosaic law, as numerous Scriptures place it a little over 400 years after Abraham. It cannot be a reference to the law given after the ascension. Further, “the law” referenced in Romans 5:20 which increases transgressions Paul mentions again just a few verse later in Romans 7:7 where he states that the law lets us know about our sin. But he also states in that verse that the law he is referencing is the law that said “You shall not covet.” Is this not a reference to the law given on Mt. Sinai?

      Accordingly, given this testimony of Scripture, I remain uncertain of the Scriptural basis for your position. Nowhere does Scripture speaks in terms of “a faith to obey.” It does twice speak of obedience of faith (Romans 1:5; 16:26) which seems to be the polar opposite of your position. The just shall live by his faith (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38), which is an active matter of believing in and growing in love for the unseen God.

      The burdensome nature of legal living was precisely the issue addressed in the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. Paul picks this up in Galatians 5 and states fairly strongly that we are to stand in liberty (Galatians 5:1-3) and love one another, for all of the law is fulfilled in loving our neighbors (Galatians 5:14). My plea is that we not go back and reimpose the burden of the law on believers, but rather that we defend the freedoms that Christ has given us, using those freedoms not to serve the flesh, but to serve others in the name of Christ.

      1. And legalism is believing the law can earn redemption whichY’shua our Messiah did for us. Man broke covenant with our Creator to redeem us he paid the price for us for forgiveness so we could once again be in relationship and walk out His Instruction which means His Torah. His Way His Truth. Why would GOD put the law in our hearts so we can ignore it break His Sabbath and celebrate pegan holidays and offer those up to Him. Which is exactly what the golden calf lesson is all about. Wanting to worship Him the way we want not the way He commands/deserves. I pray one day you all see the great deception that even Christ preached would happen. That many would come in his name say that “Jesus is the Christ” but deceive many. Thats…

        1. 1 Timothy 1:5King James Version (KJV)
          5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience and of faith unfeigned

        2. Both the Lord Jesus and Paul speak of ‘the law’ (or the commandments, sometimes) as one.
          And God now wants us to live and be led by the Spirit, not the law. It’s either the law or the Spirit, grace and truth.

          John 1:17 (NIV):
          For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

          Galatians 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law…

          25 Since we LIVE BY THE SPIRIT, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

          5:18 (NIV) …be [regularly] filled with the Spirit

          22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control …

      2. Rom10:5, for this description go to ROM 2:26 then acts 13:39 then rom15:5 , a little here a little thar line upon line, you are not alone,I to have tried to exsplaned this to believers but will you know the difficulties involved in dull ears n ears that like to be tickeld, but we have a duty to speak truth to lies, its not an easy duty ,well yes it is,the hard part is stony hard hearts, call me friend call me brother in Christ

      3. It seems Paul is saying ,the yoke of bondages is circumcision gal 5:1- I also believe James 2:10 should be part of this subject, I found it helpful .

        1. Circumcision is not bondage! Keeping the law is not bondage. Am I in bondage if I don’t take the name of the Lord in vain? Am I in bondage if I keep the Sabbath? Am I in bondage if I don’t murder, steel, or lie? The person in bondage is the person who does not keep them in the power of God. Or he person who try to keep them, in his own power, in order to be saved. God says love Me with all you heart. Jesus said If you love me keep my commandments. Paul says why matters is keeping the commandments. James says faith without works is dead.

          1. Staying focused on keeping the law but not following Christ is bondage. The very simplistic view is try to keep with the law, understand it is impossible for us to keep it, hence the need for a savior and, as we are Christians (followers of Christ), follow Christ’s examples (his character, life, and ministry) loving one another.

    2. I agree with Tim. That’s exactly how I see it. Paul’s not saying that “if only you all keep the law now you’ll be right with God, as though it is possible to entirely keep the law”. He’s making the point (to the Pharisees, mind you), that the only way to be justified is to keep the law (all of it)… which the Pharisees DID not do.

      If you keep reading the the end of the chapter you know this is the case because Paul blasts the Pharisees for not keeping the law. This, after saying that they’d be justified if they kept it!

      Paul’s point is… you ain’t right with God boys.

    3. Would say it’s the law of love that written on our heart this is filed when show the love of God in action to all

  2. “Truth Saves”, but it is only having the faith to obey what is true that by the obedience of what is true that one is saved. Hearing what is true does not in and of itself save any person.
    For your system of “faith” to be true, and if the word law in Rom. 2:13 is referencing the Sinai code of law, then a person is declared righteous by the faith of obeying only that code of law. Whenever you read the word law in Romans and other OT and NT texts your assumption, and it is a false assumption, is that the word law is always referencing the Sinai code, but it is not. In Gal. 3:17 the word law is referencing the Sinai code, however the question “Wherefore the serverth the law?” law is referencing the law that has been added by the murder, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ regarding the disobedience of all the written code to murder him. Rom. 5:20 “The law was added so that the trespass might increase.” The trespass referenced is the Lord’s murder. The law was fulfilled by making an addition to it authored by Jesus Christ after his ascension and put into effect through angels. Heb 7:12 You do NOT fulfill the law by “loving” your neighbor(s) for fulfilling, completing, the law is something the Lord thy God has already done by changing the law, and you’ve not had any part in it.

    1. You are taking issue with Paul. Although I agree that the term “law” can mean different things in different contexts, one should not assume that the author switches meaning of the term within a single context without some strong evidence. If I write a book set in Detroit, Michigan and I let you know that the Detroit I have in mind is in Michigan, when I mention “Detroit” 100 words later I would not expect you to think that I am now speaking of Detroit, Oregon. When Jesus says that He is the vine, we do not understand that He is speaking of some other “vine” when He tells us in the same passage to abide in the vine. Words are understood in their contexts. In Galatians 3, Paul tells us that the law He has in view is the law that was given 430 years after Abraham. I see no basis for concluding that he then introduces another “the law” only two verses later.

      The bigger issue I have is that the idea of “faith to obey” is contrary to the faith/law dichotomy we find in Scripture. When God appeared to Abram in Genesis 15, God gave a promise to be believed, not a command to be obeyed. Scripture tells us that Abram believed God’s promise and God accounted that belief for righteousness. Paul picks up this contrast and argues in Romans 4 very forcefully that like Abraham, God accounts righteousness based on faith, not works of the law. He goes so far as to state that if those of the law are heirs, then faith is void and the promise of no effect (Romans 4:14). Righteousness, he concludes is accounted to those who believe in Him who raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 4:24). There is no obedience to any law that is required.

      This does not make Christians anti-nomian. We are not against the law, nor do we advance a theology of using our liberty to break every law. Rather, we use our liberty to love God and love one another. But this is in response to the righteousness God has given upon our belief in His promises, rather than the way to obtain His righteousness. And we do not obtain salvation by faith and then live by keeping the law. Paul calls any such teaching as deception in Galatians. We live as we are saved, through believing in His great and precious promises.

      As for Romans 2:13, I do not read Paul to be saying that one can keep the law and be justified. Rather, Paul is saying that one would need to keep the law without sin to be justified (see verse 12). Of course, in the very next chapter Paul argues that none of us have ever done this. James argues that if we break one commandment we are guilty of the entire law (James 2:10). Our inability to keep the law is the reason why we need a Savior.

      Yet, I agree with you that hearing is not enough. As the author of Hebrews points out, the word heard needs to be coupled with our belief in order for there to be righteousness (Hebrew 4:1, see also Hebrews 11:6).

      I am not quite sure of the danger you see in righteousness coming from faith apart from keeping the law. If the concern is that people will live without regard to God’s wishes, Paul addresses that in Romans 6. If the concern is that people will ignore God’s heart, keeping the law did not draw the heart of the Pharisees to God. Living life by keeping law tends to make us either judgmental of others or depressed ourselves because of our failings. Living life by faith keeps us focused on Christ and His great promises.

      1. Amen. Can you explain Ro 7:9 what “without law” means here. It does not seem to have the definite article, hence any law. I surmise that it refers to Paul’s preconversion time, but then he was priding himself on keeping his verions of the Mosaic Law blamelessly if that were possible.

        1. Hi Robert,

          Tim went home to be with the Lord in December of 2014. Romans 7 has received much attention and debate about Paul’s meaning. I think a good understanding of verse 9 is what you have described. It is really hard to imaging a time in Paul’s life that he didn’t have some sense of the mosaic law. I suspect Paul has in mind a time in his past when he did not realize the force of the law’s demands. But that all changed when Paul realized the weight of “the commandment” (perhaps “You shall not covet” in verse 7 or another way to talk about the law in general). Regarding the lack of the definite article, Greek nouns can be definite without the article. Here, and other places in Romans where Paul uses the phrase “apart from the law” (3:21; 7:8; see also 3:28), the noun is definite.

          Hope that helps!


        2. It is the law of the conscience. It’s the law of innocence before a person knows right and wrong. “I was alive without the law once” when? Before a point in time that he was aware of right and wrong. “But when the commandment came sin revived and I died” when that point in time came that ……

    2. The law (never the laws; it’s all one law), says the scripture, came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life, and in whom we are complete.

  3. I’m the one taking issue with what Paul wrote !? That man did not make judgemental mistakes. The faith law dichotomy only exist because of interpretations that are at variance with what that man wrote. Scripture does not argue against scripture.

    1. So if there is no faith/law dichotomy in Paul’s writings, could you please walk me through your interpretation of Romans 3:21-22; 4:14-16; 7:1-6; Galatians 2:16-19; 3:5, 10-25; 5:4 as to ow you interpret the use of “law” and “faith” and what you see Paul as saying? I would also be curious of your take on the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15.

  4. Rom. 3:21, translator’s error. The preposition “from” needs to be “of” to be consistent with 2:13 & 5:20, Acts 7:53, Gal. 3:19, Heb 7:12. Note Isa. 2:3 “The law will go out from Zion, (temple mount), the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” and Micah 4:2 The written code was not put into effect in Jerusalem. Rom. 4:14 “law” references the written code. Rom. 7:5 “law” references the written code. Note 7:6 “old way of the written code” i.e. sacrifice in place of.
    The Jerusalem council’s edict Acts 15. See Isa. 42:8 & 48:11.
    There is no dicomatic issue in Romans. “Where there is no law there is no sin”, but a law has been added to the law whereby He became an accountable sin for us by that addition. The gate into God’s kingdom is the faith of confessing directly to God that you are truly sorry his only begotten son’s life was lost when he was murdered by crucifying him or disobey the law that is not forgivable. There are no exceptions for it is the law.

    1. Thanks for the explanation. The Greek in Romans 3:21 does not permit us to translate the preposition as “of.” While the form of the word “law” is the same as in Romans 2:13 (“nomou”), that word is in a prepositional phrase in 3:21 controlled by the Greek word “choris.” “Choris” means “separate from,” “apart from,” or “without.” See. Abbott-Smith, Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament. The word is found 38 times in the New Testament and when used in a prepositional phrase as exists in Romans 3:21 is always translated with the idea of “separate from,” “apart from,” or “without.” Of particular interest, Paul uses the word 16 times and he consistently uses it to convey the idea of its standard meaning (Romans 3:21; 28; 4:6; 7:8, 9; 10:14; 1 Corinthians 4:8; 11:11(2x some translations use “independent of”); 2 Corinthians 11:28 (some translations use “besides”); 12:3 (some translations use “out of”); Ephesians 2:12; Philippians 2:14; 1 Timothy 2:8; 5;21; Philemon 14). I think it is hard to argue from the grammar that the meaning really should be “of.” “Apart from” carries the consistent meaning of this word across Paul’s writings. Certainly, if we were to try to substitute “of” for “apart from” in other passages where the word is used, such would make no since (Romans 7:8–“for of the law sin was dead”?; Romans 7:9–“I was alive once of the law”?; Romans 10:14–“how shall they hear of a preacher”?).

      Romans 2:13 and Hebrews 7:12 do not use the “choris” word and have no functioning preposition in the Greek. Without the preposition, the prevalent meaning of the genitive “nomou” is “of the law.” The other passages you cite do not contain the genitive “nomou” form of the word. Romans 5:20 and Galatians 3:19 use the nominative case “nomos” that would never be in a prepositional phrase and is not in these two,passages. Acts 7:53 uses the accusative form of the word “nomon” and is not in a prepositional phrase so again there is no “of the law.” So I did not understand why you believed these passages are relevant to understanding Romans 3:21.

      In any event, I think you can understand why Christians down through the ages have seen a faith/law dichotomy in Scripture. Paul draws a distinction between law and faith (Romans 4:13-16; Galatians 3:2, 5, 11-12).

      I certainly agree that when Christ reigns in Jerusalem and peace exists on this earth, then the law will be taught from Jerusalem as Isaiah 2 and Micah 4 teach. I did not follow your thinking on the relationship between Isaiah 42:8 and 47:11 and the Jerusalem Council. The issue at the Council was that some of the Pharisees said that it was necessary for the Gentiles to be circumcised and to keep the law of Moses (Acts 15:5, 24.). Peter argued that God purified their hearts by faith. The Council said they gave no commandment to the Gentiles to keep the the law (Acts 15:24).

      As for the object of faith, Paul states it clearly in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Believing this brings salvation.

  5. The question “What law is Paul talking about?” axiomatically admits to the knowledge of a law’s existence by the quote of Rom. 2:13, where by the faith of obeying that law the individual who does so will be declared righteous. And according to the scripture Paul states “not by the written code” as a relative fact, he CANNOT be referencing the Sinai code in Rom. 2:13. Even Peter says “some things he writes are hard to understand” and he read the original manuscripts of Paul letters without objection. According to Peter how is a heresy introduced? Is your exegetical base of Rom. 3:21 correct? What is the leaven that can destroy the whole lump that the Lord warns us about? Can you state what it is? If it only takes knowing the Greek language to interpret the Bible correctly every natural born Greek should be enabled to interpret the Bible as well or better than you do, but he can’t !
    Since it is true that the Lord says that he most definitely had not come to abolish the law, and Heb. 7:12 says that the law has been changed; what is the only available procedure God had left himself for making a change also of the law? “The law was added so that the trespass (of Jesus’ crucifixion) might increase.” Have you really got anymore learned sophisticated defensive hog wash you might want to share?
    “For it is not those who just hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law which has been added who will be declared righteous.” Rom. 2:13 There are no exceptions.

    1. There is no one who denies the law’s existence, at least no one I know. The question was whether there is a faith/law dichotomy in Scripture. You had suggested that Romans 3:21-22, which seems to show this dichotomy, was mistranslated. I was hoping to share some insight with you of why that verse is translated as it is. I was not seeking to say that one needs to know Greek to understand what God is saying. But the knowledge of Greek is helpful in translation issues.

      I agree with you that the reference to the written code is a reference to the law from Sinai. However, to state that Paul cannot be referencing the Sinai law in Romans 2:13 is not true. In the context, the law he is referencing is a law given to Jews but not Gentiles (verses 12, 14, 17). It is the law that said “you shall not steal” (verse 21) and “you shall not commit adultery” (verse 22). It is the law in which the Jews boasted (verse 23). Mentioning this same law in the next 3 verses, Paul links this law to the written code. Thus, I believe most believers would see Paul as referencing the Mosaic law. To state that this cannot be what Paul is referencing finds no support in the context of Paul’s writings. Paul certainly never in the Romans context speaks of a law that has been added and in the Galatians 3 context when he speaks about a law that has been added, he is referencing the Mosaic law which was added after the Abrahamic Covenant (Galatians 3:16-19).

      A couple of other points. It is not likely that Peter read the original letters of Paul, as the originals went to the churches or to individuals. But copies were made and widely circulated among the churches. It is likely that Peter had copies of all of Paul’s letters. As for heresy, heresy is the departure of the faith given to the churches. It is brought in by false teachers. As for the leaven that leavens the whole lump, in Paul’s writings that leaven was sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 5:1-8) and he also adds the leaven of malice and wickedness. In Galatians 5:9, Paul calls seeking to be justified by the law leaven (see context of Galatians 5:1-9). Christ uses the term “leaven” in Matthew 16:9, 11, Mark 8:15, and Luke 12:1 to reference the teaching of the Pharisees (Matthew 16:12). He also uses the term in the kingdom parables in Matthew 13:33 and Luke 13:21 as a picture of the spread of the kingdom of God.

      Christ did not come to abolish the law, but He certainly came to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). Fulfillment speaks of prophesy. In the view of Christ, the law was a prophesy to be fulfilled by the “Righteous Man.” Having fulfilled it, there is an annulling of it as Hebrews 7:18-19 tells us and a change in the law from the Mosaic Covenant to the New Covenant (see Hebrews 7:12, 16, 22, 28; 8:6, 7-13).

      I am not writing to win some argument (that is meaningless to me), but rather hopefully to help you understand the reason why we and so many other Bible teachers and scholars teach that pleasing God requires a walk by faith apart from the law. There is a totally new and radical way of discovering the joys of the kingdom and to find sweet fellowship with God. It is faith working in love in the way taught in Colossians 3 and 2 Peter 1:2-11 and Romans 8, 12-13 and Ephesians 4-6, and many other passages. And it yields peace, joy, love, freedom, kindness, patience, hope, and removes the focus on sin and all that is evil and replaces it with a focus on Christ.

  6. Look friend! Rom. 2:13 emphatically states that it is not possible for any individual to be declared righteous by God unless he/she has the FAITH to OBEY the law Paul is referencing and there is no way shape or form that Paul is referencing the Sinai code of law in that statement. If it is true that he is referencing the Sinai code the murder of Jesus Christ was completely unnecessary for perfecting the Way of salvation. Rom. 3:21 if not a translator’s error is a manuscript error. God is not the author of confusion as Paul says. It is not possible that there is not an identifiable error from some source relative to a point in time to establish dichotomy in the scriptures. Further are the TWO facts that Jesus Christ is directly quoted, “Do not think I have come to abolish the law” and the other fact that the law had a change made to AFTER his ascension. Heb. 7:12 Your motif of salvation is direct dichotomous objection against three recorded FACTS.

    1. I went back to Romans 2:13 and my Scripture does not read as stating that one must have “faith to obey” to be righteous. Could you let me know what translation you are using that says this? My Romans 2:13 says nothing about faith, but tells me that it is not those who hear the law but those who do the law who will be justified. It speaks nothing of the justification by faith, at least not in the translations I have read. But Paul does not stop there. Rather, He continues his argument in Romans 3 and concludes that because we all violate the law, by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified before God (Romans 3:20), and that there is a way to justification apart from the law (Romans 3:21-24). At least this is what the translations I have read. And, of course, this is consistent with Paul’s other writings elsewhere, that faith is apart from the law (Galatians 2:16–“knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ…that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the worlds of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”). Is Paul speaking of some different law in Romans 3 than in Romans 2? If you think so, can you give the reason why you think so?

      And do you think that Romans 3:21 must be in error because it conflicts with your theology, or is it possible that the verse is properly conveyed to us and therefore the theology of the historical church is right and perhaps it is your theology that needs to be changed? Irenaeus, who was a disciple of Polycarp, a missionary sent by the church at Smyrna to the Gauls in the 2nd century, who lived only shortly after John the Apostle, and shared a connection with John through Polycarp who knew both John and Ireneaus, quotes this very verse around 175 AD, stating: “To this effect, Paul, His apostle, says in the Epistle to the Romans, ‘But now, without the law, has the righteousness of God been manifested, being witness by the law and the prophets;'” and then He goes back to Romans 1:17 and quotes “for the just shall live by faith.” See Against Heresies, bk. 4, chapter 34, section 2. So the verse as it has been delivered to us has an earlier attestation than most of the rest of the New Testament.

  7. “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Rom. 2:13 NIV
    The word law in chp. 3 of Romans is a ref. to the written code. You cannot interpret Romans correctly unless you comprehend which law Paul is referencing which is something that you do not do.

    1. The NIV is a good translation. What do you use to determine which law Paul is referencing? We all want the text to change us and not have our own theology determine the meaning of the text. So I am curious how you determine in all the places that the law is addressed in the New Testament, which law is being referenced?

      1. 1- *Law of God (“the Ten Commandments,” or “Two tablets of the Testimony,”) also known as the “Moral Law,” the “Law of Love” and the “Decalogue.
        (Permanent Written by GOD – Inside the Ark of the Covenant)

        2 – Law of Moses” (the “Book of the Law,” or “Book of the Covenant,”) also known as the “Mosaic Law,” the “Ordinances,” the “Ceremonial Law” and the “Sacrificial Law. (Temporary Handwritten Law – hung on the outside the Ark of Covenant)

        It is important that we learn the difference between GODS Law/commands and Man made Jewish Law. Our Messiah came and did away with all this Rabbinical Law while He establishing HIS Father’s Law.

        So many “added on” traditions of the Elders to God law, even the Sabbath. At the time of His coming they bearly keeping God law – they were more in tune with their own!

  8. Good question. It is not just the NT that references the law which has been added. The OT prophets also reference it. Let’s refer to Rom. 3:27. The statement is a contrast as quite a few of Paul’s statements in Romans are and in other things he has written. “By what law? of works? Nay; but by the LAW of faith.” The written code is referenced first the addition made to the law is referenced as “the LAW of faith.” If it is an interpreter’s assumption that the word law in Romans is a constant referral to the written code every interpretation based on that assumption is wrong. In no case is there any possibility that the sin of murder can be a direct benefit. But only in regard to the sin of Jesus Christ’s murder was the sufficiency established to add to the law. Therefore the grace of God is the allowance of the faith of truthfully repenting of one sin caused by bloodshed for the forgiveness of all past sins even the murder of Jesus Christ. However since it is the law not having the faith to obey God as he has required by law; disobedience of the added word of law is not forgivable. It is this issue that Paul sternly addresses at the beginning of Romans 2, and clearly states the only available remedy in Rom. 2:13. There are no exceptions it is the law.

    1. Okay, I did not understand the criteria you use to determine what “law” Scripture is referencing. Let me try to get at what is bothering me with your approach another way?

      What law is Paul referencing in Romans 2:12 when he first mentions “law”?
      Do you see the four references to law being references to the same law? Is not, why not?
      What is the basis you use to determine what law Paul intended?
      Do you see the reference to the law in Romans 2:13 being to the same law as referenced in the previous verse? If not, why not?
      What law is in Paul’s view in each use in Romans 2:14? Is this a different law than verses 12 and 13? What thought process leads you to your conclusion?
      Again, what law is referenced in Romans 2:15?
      What law is referenced in Romans 2:17?
      What law is referenced in Romans 2:18?
      What law is referenced in Romans 2:20-23?
      What law is referenced in Romans 2:25?
      What law is referenced in Romans 2:26?
      What law is referenced in Romans 2:27?
      Again, with each one of these, how do you determine which law is being referenced?
      Finally, where do you see faith in this passage? Do you see places where faith is being referenced and places where faith is not being referenced? And again, what criteria do you use to determine whether faith is being referenced?

      I think if you can walk me through this passage, it may help me understand your criteria for determining when Paul is referencing the Sinai law (law that both of us agree is not the way to salvation) and the added word of the law that you believe requires one to have “faith to obey.”

      By the way, I do not see the “law of faith” referenced in Romans 3:27 to be equivalent to “faith to obey.” The former is a reference, I believe, to Paul’s following passage where he argues that faith is not tied to and is contrary to justification by works. The law of faith is that our justification comes solely by believing in God’s promises, at least that is how I read Romans 4. But we do not need to go there yet. I first want to see if I can understand the criteria you use to determine whether Paul is talking about the law God gave to Moses or some other law, and whether I can apply consistently that same criteria to other places in Scripture where the law is referenced.


  9. 2:12 & 2:13 are referencing the same law. I’ve briefly scanned your latest comment and you’ve requested quite a bit of information. I’m a bit tired at this time and will answer your questions in due time. Let me suggest that you consider viewing the word law in Romans as referencing a body of law(s) or either a law. Whereas the Sinai code is laws written on stones the law that was added is a single word that was spoken. “If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God”, and he himself will teach you.

  10. 1. Criteria
    “Do not go beyond what is written.” 1 Cor. 4:6
    If the doctrine of substitutionary atonement is true there MUST not be any statement anywhere in the Bible that counters that assumption. If Romans is a defense of that doctrine the one thing that must not be stated is the statement of Rom. 2:13, but it is there. Irregardless of what law Paul is referencing by him having made that particular statement, and he is an apostle, to substantiate “justification only by faith” Rom. 2:13 MUST be ruled to be a false statement, but it is not. You within your own mind rule one of five things. (a) Rom. 2:13 is false. (b) It is true. (c) The law referenced is the Sinai code. (d) The law referenced is not the Sinai code. (e) The law referenced is from some where else. But “Do not go beyond what is written.” I, personally, am not your problem. Renewal of one’s mind is criterially first is it not, and then what is supposed to happen?

  11. OK regarding your question about the list of verses you’ve asked me about.
    To me it seems that Paul is using the factor of absurdity to illustrate his primary objective stated in 2:13.
    2:14&15 Intrinsic to humanity in general is the emotion of empathy. Let’s say a prominent person in your community has lost his son by death because of an illegal act. You are slightly acquainted with the man. You visit the house where that man is in waiting to receive some acknowledgement in regard to his son’s death. Which is the only appropriate comment? “I’m so happy and glad your son, and I understand he was your only son, died like that in my place.” or “God I am truly sorry Jesus, your only begotten son lost his life when he was crucified.” The law referenced in Rom. 2:13 mandates that you actually DO exactly that or pay the penalty of eternal death for not doing it! Which is why the word REPENT has been added to the law of God after the murder of Jesus Christ. Either you have the faith to obey it or you burn. There are NO exceptions for it is the LAW and that word is the LAW of FAITH. Do you understand!!?

    1. After several requests, you still have not given me your basis for determining which “law” Paul is referencing in the various verses in Romans 2. You cite to 1 Corinthians 4:6, stating that one should not go beyond what is written, and then you do just that in a major way. There is no where in Romans 2 that Paul even mentions the concept of faith. So, unless you are going beyond what is written, you cannot support “faith to obey” from Romans 2. Your rejection of Romans 3:21 is also troubling.

      As pointed out previously, Paul references the “law” repeatedly in Romans 2. In verse 12, he divides the world into two groups:1) those who have sinned without the law and 2) those who have sinned in the law. All are sinners, a concept he comes back to in Romans 3:23. He explains this statement by pointing out in verse 13 that to be righteous by the law, one must do the law. And even the Gentiles who do not have the law, he says in verse 14, when they do the things written in the law, show that they are a law to themselves, with their thoughts accusing or excusing them; that is, they are measuring themselves against some moral code. This tells us that the law Paul is referencing is the law given to the Jews, but not to the Gentiles. And if there was any doubt, in verse 17 Paul states that the law he is referencing is the law on which the Jews rested, and in which they boasted (verse 23) and which they broke (verse 23). He continues that circumcision is profitable if one keeps the law (verse 25), but if one does not keep the law it does not profit (verses 25-27). Paul is not switching “laws” in this passage. Paul is building an argument, not seeking to obscure one by using different meanings for the word “law.” Always, the “law” in this passage is the law God gave to Israel, which law is also reflected in the hearts of the Gentiles, even though they do not have the “law.”

      I have tried to discern how you can read it otherwise, but find no discernible basis for how you determine what law is being referenced. As I understand your theology (and I readily admit that I do not yet understand the what and why of what you believe), what you have articulated seems contrary to the faith delivered to the churches. In my mind, I have not been able to determine how your theology as I understand it differs from the Galatians’ heresy (one needs faith plus works to be justified).

      Changing the law to some new law does not help. If there was any law that could be given that could save us, it was the law God gave to Israel. Scripture is clear on this point. In Galatians 3:21-22 God tells us through the Apostle Paul: “For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law? But Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those believe.” In Paul’s argument, no law can bring life. And if a law could be given that would bring life, it would have been the Mosaic law. Paul does not say that there is a new law that can bring life. Rather, he says the exact opposite. He says if any law could, it would have been the law that came 430 years after the promise to Abraham (see Galatians 3:17), the law Paul is referencing throughout this passage. But no law can bring life.

      The problem with law is not that the law is bad, but that we are imperfect. If we must obey perfectly some law, even if it is a law commanding us to be truly sorry for Christ’s death (which law is no where stated in the Bible), what happens to us if in a weak moment we do not feel sorry for His death? What happens if in a moment of distraction we do not even think about His death? If we fail in any point, we are not in obedience and therefore we are lost. Who can keep any law fully? Who can always believe? (See 2 Timothy 2:13; 1 John 3:19-21). What about Peter on the water, when his faith failed him? It seems to me that your formulation empties heaven of any human occupants.

      The purpose of law is to confine us under sin (Romans 7:7-14; Galatians 3:19-25) and point us to our need for Jesus (Romans 3:21-26). Faith is not tied to any law, but to the promises. And as Galatians 3:18 says, we cannot receive God’s blessing through both the law and the promise. We can only receive it through the promise.

      Thus, it is no surprise that Paul, after concluding that we all sin, then takes us back to Abraham and faith as the only way to receive life. Paul addresses this quite thoroughly in Romans 4, where he argues that our justification does not come though the works of the law, but through faith. Lest we somehow misinterpret Paul, he belabors this point, explaining precisely what Abraham did that was accounted to him for righteousness: “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Romans 4:20-22). Paul explains that this was written so that we, like Abraham, may believe in the same way. No law to obey. Only a promise from God to which we cling.

      To inject law back into the promise is wrong. To invent a new law that we need to obey in order to be saved is contrary to Scripture. The passage in Hebrew 7 does not support the imposition of a new law. The change in the law the author has in mind is explained within that same passage, where the law in view is the law relating to who should be a priest. Christ did not qualify as a priest under the Mosaic law, but the change in the law is that Christ is the priest by the power of an endless life, through the word of the oath which God had promised (Hebrews 7:11-28). It is not a change from law to a new law, but the change from law to a Life by the promise that was confirmed by an oath of God.

      None of this means that we who believe do not have commands to obey. But rather it means that obeying the commands of Christ is neither the means for our justification nor our sanctification. We are saved and we live by faith. If our righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain (Galatians 2:21). As Paul says in Galatians 3:3: “Are you so foolish, having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” The just shall live by faith but the law is not of faith (Galatians 3:11-12). We are exhorted by Paul to stand fast in this freedom from law and not be again entangled with the yoke of bondage (Galatians 5:1-8).

      We who believe keep the commands of Christ as sons, not as bond servants bound to obey (Galatians 3:26-4:7). We keep them out of love for God, not to gain a relationship with Him. We walk by the Spirit, saturating ourselves in the truth of His word, and make no occasion for the flesh to fulfill sinful desires.

      I understand that Paul uses the language of commandment in speaking of repentance (Acts 17:30). However, again to the extent I understand your theology, this passage provides no support for your position. Repentance in Scripture means “turning or changing one’s mind.” By simply turning to Jesus one repents. So the command that brings salvation is that we turn towards God. It is not “faith to obey a law,” but rather “a command to turn and believe.” It is not faith that motivates us to do some law, but rather a law that commands us to have faith. His work is that we believe (John 6:29).

      To add any law to faith moves salvation from God’s grace to salvation based on reward and merit, as Paul argues in Romans 4. This is what we cannot do and remain true to the Scriptures and true to the common faith of the believers.

  12. Greetings! I am a little late to this party but I’d like to give my 2 cents not necessarily on what you gentlemen have been going back and forth on but on the whole argument or point that Paul is trying to make to his intended audience in Rome, that judging by the letter were Jewish converts to faith in Christ.
    From chapter 1-8 there is one thought and one thought alone on Paul’s mind that he needs the Jews to understand: “you cannot be declared righteous before God by trying to obey the law – so stop trying!!! You will only be regarded as righteous before Him if you believe in His Son Jesus and that he was raised from the dead”. It is why he goes into such elaborate detail in explaining why this is and yet many people miss this by reading into scripture without keeping in mind the context of the entire letter.
    Paul knew that the audience would be asking themselves as to why the law wasn’t good enough to declare them righteous – after all it was given by God himself to Moses to obey – so Paul wrote to answer the question in anticipation of it. “the law was powerless to do (declare us righteous) because it was weakened by the flesh” Rom 8:3.
    Paul is OBVIOUSLY referring to the Mosaic Law of course. So was it the laws fault? Was it not good enough? Paul says “Certainly not!” He says in Rom7:12 “So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.” The real problem was not the law but SIN that overpowered the law. ” For sin, seizing the opportunity aff

  13. afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death” Rom7:11
    Chapter 6 and 7 goes into great detail as to how we were once all slaves to sin – and someone who is a slave to sin is incapable of submitting to the law (Rom8:7-8). So whether you were a Jew with the law or a Gentile without it, both were enemies of God because of transgression of a holy righteous law due to the sin nature that both Jew and Gentile were enslaved to.
    Now Paul mentions something very interesting that is almost always overlooked or ignored because people can’t seem to understand what he is saying. “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual…(Paul is referring here to a past time when he strived for righteousness through the works of the law)” Rom7:14. There is a deep truth here that is important to understand: The law can only be fulfilled by a spiritual person, or in other words, someone who is filled and guided by the Holy Spirit. A person who has the Holy Spirit has now been set free from the slavery of sin and his new nature in Christ allows him/her to be a slave to the righteous commands of God because it is now his/her nature.
    So where does this leave the law? Is it to be discarded and now overlooked as some of us have come to believe? Must we legalistically follow it and put ourselves under its yoke to try and be holy people before God as some still believe? Certainly not in either case! Paul tells us the following: “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.”Rom3:31 and then reiterates this truth again in Rom8 “And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
    The law remains in its righteousness and holiness!!! And when we as born again believers who have the Holy Spirit look at it, we should rejoice because our new nature now falls in line with the commandments that in the past we could not fulfill because of sin. We have become the righteousness of God in Christ because through FAITH in him and the work of the Holy Spirit we uphold the law! Something we were incapable of doing as unspiritual people when we were not in Christ!
    If the Jews who Paul wrote to understood this, they realized that without the Holy Spirit they were unable to please God in his righteous commands because they were slaves to sin. They understood that no matter how hard they tried to please God by trying to uphold the law as unspiritual people, they would be unsuccessful and never declared righteous because of sin. If the Jews understood Paul, they realized that Christ would be able to free them from the slavery of sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. They understood that now they had been declared righteous by placing faith in Christ and that the indwelling Holy Spirit who replaced the sinful nature allowed them to easily conform to the righteous commands of the law because the law is spiritual and so were they in Christ. And the great news is that so are we!!!! We no longer look to the law for righteousness but we uphold the righteousness of the law in CHRIST through faith!!
    Be Blessed,


  14. This is quite the “debate” that seems futile in manner! Pretty sure Paul was referring to law of Moses . Pretty uncomplicated. Jesus is the fulfillment of the law – now we are saved through Jesus Christ in place of that. We must not still try to uphold the “law” treating it as it is what’s saving us. Rather we should be still living out the law with our full faith in Jesus Christ AS the embodiment of why those laws even came in to existence to begin with. He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it!

    The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and then your neighbor after that! Don’t over think it 😉

  15. Hello Tim…I wanted to let you know that as a brother your argument was not futile. Even now over a year later I read this and it strengthened my understating of the passage. I googled “what law was Paul talking about in Romans 2” your defense helped me understand it. Thank you for being faithful in your defense.

      1. Wow! I read this entire conversation and didn’t notice the time line until you mentioned the guy passed away last December. Do you have an update on your position now?

  16. With regards to T. Jones comment;
    ..to substantiate “justification only by faith” Rom. 2:13 MUST be ruled to be a false statement, but it is not. —- I do not read Rom. 2:13 as being counter to scripture but rather complimenting James 2:14-20 “Faith without works is dead”. Rom 2:13 implies…

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