Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Law of Moses (Thielman)

In posts below, I've summarized the views of Luther, Westerholm, and Dorsey on the purpose and role of the Mosaic law. My final entry (at least for today!) is the summary theses of Frank Thielman, drawn from his excellent work, The Law and the New Testament: The Question of Continuity, on Paul's view of the law. (See also Thielman's very helpful Paul and the Law.)
  1. Paul believed that the Mosaic law played a critical role in God’s purposes. It not only defined the social boundaries of God’s people, but it also defined sin as transgression of God’s explicit commands and was used by sin to bring about human rebellion against God to its fullest expression.
  2. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ rescued believers from this plight and brought the divinely appointed task of the Mosaic law to an end. Because the Mosaic law is no longer in effect, it no longer defines the boundaries of God’s people.
  3. Paul nevertheless believed that Christians are obligated to a concrete set of ethical standards, analogous to the Mosaic law and incorporating some of its precepts, but based on Jesus’ ethical teaching. Paul called this new law “the law of Christ.”