The relationship between Paul and the Law

It has been challenging to comprehend the connection between Paul and the law because it was one that gave rise to numerous controversies. The study of law and Paul is portrayed by various scholars as having a wide scope and profound implications. The Gordian is a study of Paul and the Law. Paul's perspective on the law has been subjected to a great deal of complexity. However, he focuses most of his remarks on the under the law and above the law aspects of the law. He also challenges the normal understanding of Law when he mentions that the Mosaic Law was established and a new era of lawlessness was introduced when Christ came.

Understanding Paul and the law

The understanding of the relationship that exists between Paul and the however be drawn from the following two verses: Rom 10: 4-5, verse 4 shows that there exists a difference between the law and the gospel when Paul says that Christ will end the law. Interpretations by different scholars show diverging understanding of the same word since some say that it implies Christ is the implication of law while others claim that Paul's implied that Christ would abolish the law. The exact meaning drawn from this verse raises debates in determining Paul's stand on the law. The same verse 4 has been presented in such a manner that it depicts that Christ is the end of the law. The interpretation of the abolishment of the law is such that the people are no longer under the law and Paul is implying the Mosaic Law when he refers to the believers it is however difficult to distinguish the difference that exists between the Jewish Literature and the descriptions presented by (Wilson, 2013). Interpretation of the same is difficult owing to the way the Testaments are interrelated. Paul says that the operation under the Mosaic Law was abolished by Christ, however, at the same time, he expects people to uphold the moral norms that are drawn from the Mosaic Law since they are morally binding yet they have been made to operate above the law since the law was abolished. The Messianic era also brought an end to the Law which defends Paul's statement concerning the Abolishment of the law.

Paul's view on the law differs greatly from the normal understanding and the operations of the law. There is no clear presentation of evidence that actually shows that the law actually came to an end (Hughes, 2005). In as much as there was a rise of a messianic era, the law did not in the real since come to an end; Paul could not have taught the law if there was no law in the first place. Evidence of Paul's statements however can be seen from the literature of some scholars who justify that the law came to an end as a way of salvation. The coming of Christ released Christians from some of the lawful practices such as offering sacrifices and prescriptions that were practiced in the Old Testament. The sacrifice that Christ gave on the cross was sufficient sacrifice to carry the Christians through to eternity.

It can be noted that Paul's prior view of the law before his conversion was totally different. Before he was converted, he was a Pharisee who was known to keep the laws to the latter since it was an obligation of the doctrine (Raisanen, 1987). According to the law that governed them at that time, it was necessary for all believers including the gentiles to be circumcised before embracing the Law. Paul in this state claims self-righteousness which he depicts to come from the law and careful observation and keeping the law. The law kept by the Pharisees and the other Jews and Gentiles of the time was one that presented habitual obedience while claiming no aspect of sin and that habitual keeping of the Law and continually seeking forgiveness of sin would grant righteousness.

After his conversion, Paul reassess the law and comes to a conclusion that righteousness is not granted by keeping the law, however, it is perfect obedience on the basis of faith in Christ since he is the one who abolished the law that would grant one righteousness. In his re-evaluation of the law, he puts this across: no one can be declared righteous by obeying the law. He suggests that intentional violation of God's law will result in condemnation and that there is no category of the righteous since there is no person who is perfect to be able to keep all the laws and therefore no one can be termed righteous by keeping the law. The Jews on the other hand claim that one can only be declared righteous by habitual obedience of the law. Paul goes ahead to show us that it is the law that in the first place that gives us the knowledge of what is right and wrong and as a result is the reason why people fall. The law according to Paul has the purpose of declaring people unrighteous since regardless of one's effort to keep the law, people would eventually break the law (Schreiner, 1993).

He says that the purpose of the law was to pave way for Christ. The role it played can be attributed to creation of sin since as mentioned above, it showed people what was right to do and what was wrong but since the human nature is built in such a way that it is drawn to sin mostly, the level of sin in the world increased which Christ came to end when he added the sacrifice at the cross therefore abolishing the law. It is depicted that the law was not only a means of guiding people but also a tool that pointed out people's sins and contributed to larger scales of sin. However, he states that God's true purpose of giving the law was because there was a need to create a clearly defined problem that Christ was the solution and that trough the law is Knowledge of sin and that there would not be any sin if nobody knew the law. According to second Rom: 20, the law was added so that the transgression may increase.

Problems encountered in the study

The fact that Christians live under lawlessness and there is no law for Christians to observe, present controversies over the Christians who believe in being righteous by keeping the law. A question concerning the Christians who do not operate under the law can be posed: Does this mean that these Christians are allowed to do anything that they wish to without getting any consequences? The answer to this question implies that even the Christians too operate under the law which brings about the controversies in the understanding of what Paul was implying when he said that the law had been removed (Olagungu, n.d). Research from different scholars show that what Paul meant by the abolishment of the law was the new era of the new testament and there was no total conformation to the practices in the old testament which did not imply complete destruction of the old testament however it defined a drop in some of the practices that were required by the law and embracing of new practices while still keeping the old testament in close contact for continuous guidance. Some scholars however argue that instead of using the Old Testament as a reference point of guidance regarding the breaking of the law, grace was initiate and as a result supporting the statement by Paul about the abolishment of the law: the Law of Moses.

The view of the No- Law also presented further challenges in that there was no law guiding the Christians, however, moral law was still expected to be practiced and Paul in his works even creates his own laws that are used to create order in the Ministry. There are other civil laws that still exist in the Roman Empire which the Christians have to obey since they were natural laws that would call for grave actions if one broke them such as failure to pay taxes. The New Testament, as mentioned, depicts the fact that since there was no law, the people were guided on the basis of Grace and forgiveness.

Some of the purposes of Law were: to fulfill the requirements of Christ, it was also used as a tool for to teach, re-proof, correct and train people in righteousness. It was also realized that the law provided for the purpose of revealing sin, to justify one's faith especially for the Pharisees, to show the power of the Holy Spirit that worked in them since it was Him that enabled them to keep the commandments. Under the law in the Pauline context meant the specific Mosaic Law that the people of Israel needed to observe while under the grace which provides contrivances to the need to keeping the Mosaic Law. The works of the law refers the actions that were as a result of law. Some of the contributors of the law included sin that could not be removed however unless by grace.

Some scholars back the view of Paul on the Law using evidences such as Ezekiel 36: 27 which says there exists a new law covenant which is not a law to be observed by people but it was placed in their hearts and as a result, abolishing the law.


The discussion above presents the relationship that exists between the law and Paul. The understanding and interpretation of Paul concerning the law was contrary to the normal understanding of the Law since he depicts that the Law was abolished and there is a new era of operation which is called the New Testament that does not advocate for keeping of the commandments, however, t majorly focuses on operation under the grace. The different scholars present their different understanding of the law and Paul which differ, however, some actually back up Paul's view on Law.


Hughes, J. (2005). The New Perspective's View of Paul and the Law. TMSJ, 16(2):261-276.

Retrieved from

Olagungu, O. (n.d.). Paul's Concept of Law and Grace and Its Relevance For The

Church Today (Rep). Retrieved March 26, 2017, from

Schreiner, T. R. (1993). Westminster Theological Journal 55. Paul's View of The Law in Romans 10:4-5, 35-113. Retrieved from lawrom10-wtj.pdf.

Wilson, A. (2013). Paul and The Law. Retrieved from

Raisanen, H. (1987). Paul and the law. Tubingen: J.C.B. Mohr

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