How Are You Related to Moses?

2172732819_3329213663_oThere is a great deal of confusion in Christendom about how we are to relate to the Old Testament. Surely we must look to the words of Paul, who dealt directly with first-century folks who were coming from one family into another and weren’t entirely happy with their new brothers and sisters. For example, some Jewish believers, new to the Christian family, were under the impression that Gentile Christians needed to keep Moses’ law in order to be right with God. The following passages from Paul’s pen teach two things: (1) The Old Testament is immensely valuable to Christians; but, (2) Christians are not obligated to obey the Old Testament.

  • Romans 15:4. For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
  • Galatians 3:23-29. Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
  • Galatians 5:1-6. For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

Alexander Campbell, the great 19th-century restorationist, illustrated the situation well:

I teach, that the writings of Moses and the Prophets contain not only much useful history and prophecy, but also many communications from God to men of immense importance to us as Christians; and … no man values them more than I. But to teach that we must feel ourselves equally under obligation to obey Moses, a servant in another person’s family, as we do to obey Christ, a Son over his own family, which family is the whole christian (sic) assembly, I cannot. ((Millennial Harbinger, 2[1]:15.))

Moses is part of the Christian family by virtue of adoption, as we are, and so Moses has no more authority in this family than any member (cf. Hebrews 9:15-22). The book of Romans, written to both Jews and Gentiles (see Romans 1:16, 2:17, 11:13), explains that representatives of both groups became part of God’s family by virtue of adoption (Romans 8:9-17). Moses was a lawgiver for the Jewish family, but not for the Christian family. Christ, not Moses, leads this family.


- 2024

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