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What are the Commandments that Christians are supposed to keep?

by Robert Randle  
8/08/2009 / Bible Studies

There are those today who believe that Christians are required to keep the law of Moses, including dietary requirements and observance of the Sabbath; to which the Apostle Paul would say in Colossians 2: 16, Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days. So, the million dollar question which may very well have eternal repercussions is whether believers are required to live according to the teachings of the Law ["Torah"], and if not, since we are led by the Spirit of God, what "Law" measures up to being classified as the commandments of God? The following exhaustive study and commentary is offered for consideration.

5: 17-19
I did not come to destroy ['loosen'] the law ["Torah"] and Prophets but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth shall pass away, one Yodh [smallest letter] or one small stroke will by no means pass from the Law ["Torah"] till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

NOTE: Loosen might convey a better sense of the verse than destroy. Now what are those commandments?

5: 21
You have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall not Murder" (Cp. Exodus 20: 13; Leviticus 19: 16b; Deuteronomy 5: 17).

5: 27
You have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall not commit Adultery" (Cp. Exodus 20: 14; Deuteronomy 5: 18).

5: 31
Furthermore it has been said, "Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce. "But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality [unfaithfulness] causes her to commit adultery (??); and whoever marries a woman who is divorced [for marital infidelity/unfaithfulness??] commits adultery.

NOTE: Under the Law of Moses a divorced woman could remarry another man but the only prohibition was that she could not return back to be a wife to her former husband because it was deemed a 'defilement' (Cp. Deuteronomy 24: 1-2); Jesus goes beyond that in His teaching, too?? Also, under the Old Testament, when a man had sexual relations with a married woman, both of them are to be put to death (Leviticus 20: 10)

5: 33
Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord (Cp. Exodus 20: 16; Leviticus 19: 12b; Deuteronomy 23: 23a).

5: 38
You have heard that it was said of old, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth (Cp. Exodus 21: 12-27; Leviticus 24: 17-21; Deuteronomy 19: 21).

5: 43
You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

NOTE: Deuteronomy 23: 7 says, You shall not abhor an Edomite, and Leviticus 19: 18 says, Love thy neighbor as thyself. There is nothing else in the written Law that uses such a phrase.

19: 17-19
So He said to him, "Why call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.' And he said to Him, "Which ones? Jesus said, "(6) You shall not Murder; (7) You shall not commit Adultery; (8) You shall not Steal; (9) You shall not bear False Witness; (5) Honor your Father and your Mother and You shall love your Neighbor as yourself (Cp. Mark 10: 17-20; Luke 18: 18-21)

NOTE: See Exodus 20: 1-17; Leviticus 19: 1-18; Deuteronomy 5: 6-22; Leviticus 19: 18b).

22: 35-40
Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law ['Torah']?" Jesus said to him, You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (Cp. Deuteronomy 6: 5 which uses 'strength' instead of 'mind').' "This is the first and great commandment. "And the second is like it. 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these 'two commandments' hang all the Law ["Torah"] and Prophets.

NOTE: This seems to encapsulate the very concept of "Love," which according to Exodus 20: 6b, means to keep God's commandments and Leviticus 19: 18b, which says: "but you shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Mark 12: 28-31
Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, seeing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the foremost commandment?" Jesus answered him, "the foremost of the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One (Cp. Deuteronomy 6: 4). And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with your entire mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. "And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these.

NOTE: Matthew 22: 37 doesn't include "strength" and Deuteronomy 30: 6d only uses "heart" and "soul."

Luke 1: 6
And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

NOTE: The Apostle Paul said that in his former life, he attained the same righteousness of the Law and blameless; according to Philippians 3: 4-6.

John 14: 15, 21
If ye love Me, keep My commandments. He that hath My commandments, and keeps
them, he it is that loves Me; and he that loves Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.

John 15: 10
If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My
Father's commandments, and abide in His love.

NOTE: And what are the commandments of God that one must keep?

Romans 3: 19-23, 28-31
Now we know that whatever the Law ["Torah"] says, it says to them that are under the Law ["Torah"], that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the Law ["Torah"] no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the Law ["Torah] is the knowledge of 'sin.' But now the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by "faith" apart from the deeds of the Law ["Torah"]. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is One God who will justify the circumcised "by" faith and the uncircumcised "through" faith. Do we make void ['nullify'] the Law ["Torah"] through "faith"? Certainly not! On the contrary we establish (uphold, confirm) the Law ["Torah"].

4: 3, 5-6, 15
For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was accounted ["imputed"] to him as righteousness (Cp. 4: 17-25; Hebrews 5: 17-19). Because the Law ["Torah"] brings wrath; for where there is no Law ["Torah"] there is no transgression (Cp. 5: 13b; 7: 8b).

NOTE: The word "imputed" occurs 7 times in this chapter.

5: 15-18, 20
For the free gift is not like the offense ["trespass"]. For if by the one man's offense ["trespass"] many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one that sinned. For the judgment which came from the one offense ["trespass"] resulted in condemnation ('judgment'), but the free gift which came from many offenses ["trespasses"] resulted in justification (Cp. 3: 23-26). For if by one man's offense ["trespass"] death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as through one man's offense ["trespass"] judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men resulting in justification of life. Moreover the Law ["Torah"] entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.

6: 1-2, 14-15
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who have died to sin live any longer in it? For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law ["Torah"] (Cp. 3: 19) but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under Law ["Torah"] but under grace? Certainly not!

7: 4, 6-7, 12
Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the Law ["Torah"] through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another; to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God, But now we have been delivered from the Law ["Torah"] having died to what we were held by, so that we shoulde serve in the "newness" of the 'Spirit' and not in the "oldness" of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the Law ["Torah"] sin? Certainly not! I would not have known sin except through the Law ["Torah"]. For I would not have known covetousness unless the Law ["Torah"] had said, "You shall not Covet (Cp. Exodus 20: 17; Deuteronomy 5: 21)." Therefore, the Law ["Torah"] is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good. (Cp. Psalms 19: 7a)

7: 14, 22-25a
For we know that the Law ["Torah"] is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For I delight in the Law ["Torah"] of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the Law ["Torah"] of sin which is in my members. O wretchhed man that I am! ho will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God; through Christ Jesus our Lord!

NOTE: Psalms 19: 7a and James 1: 25a says that the Law ["Torah"] is perfect.

8: 1-2, 9b, 14, 16
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the Law ["Torah"] of sin and death. For what the Law ["Torah"] could not do in that it was weak [in a manner of speaking] through the flesh [human nature??], God did by sending His Son in the "likeness" of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the Law ["Torah"] might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the Sons of God. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

10: 4
For Christ is the end of the Law ["Torah"] for righteousness to everyone who believes.

NOTE: This does not mean "end" as in abolishing the Law ["Torah"], but rather Jesus gives it completion and meaning. It was through His substitutionary blood sacrifice on the Cross that not only satisfied the penalty for "sin" but also the giving of the Holy Spirit is what empowers believers to live up to the holy requirement of the Law ["Torah"]. Remember Jesus' words in Matthew 5: 17: "I did not come to destroy ['loosen'] the law ["Torah"] and Prophets but to fulfill."

13: 8-10
Owe no one anything except to love one another (Cp. John 13: 34; 15: 12, 17) has fulfilled the Law ["Torah"]. For the commandments, "You shall not commit Adultery," "You shall not Murder," "You shall not Steal," "You shall not bear False Witness," "You shall not Covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore Love is the fulfillment of the Law ["Torah"].

NOTE: These commandments {#'s 6-10} deal with one's duty toward their neighbor (Cp. Exodus 20: 1-17; Leviticus 19: 1-18b; Deuteronomy 5: 6-22)
and is the essence of what the Law ["Torah"] is all about; according to Jesus (Cp. Matthew 22: 35-40; Mark 12: 28-31).

I Corinthians 5: 8
Therefore let us keep the 'Feast,' not with the old leaven, not with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

NOTE: The Apostle Paul is using the illustration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Cp. Exodus 12: 15) to this Church at Corinth which was started from within the Jewish synagogue (Cp. Acts 18: 1-17) to shame them for not disciplining a sexually immoral brother. One wonders in retrospect if they ever celebrated this feast?

7: 19
Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.

NOTE: Now just what are these commandments; perhaps the ones mentioned in Romans 13: 8-10?

II Corinthians 3: 5-9, 11-13
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraven on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance (Cp. Exodus 34: 1-4, 29-35), which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech; unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away.

NOTE: There are several things to take note of here, and the obvious is the mistaken conclusion that the Old Testament Law is null and void because this would contradict the Apostle Paul's earlier teachings. If the the Law ["Torah"] was obsolete the wording would not be "is passing away," as opposed to "has passed away;" and what is referred to by "the end of what was passing away" can best be explained by Matthew 5: 17-18, where Jesus says, "I did not come to destroy ['loosen'] the law ["Torah"] and Prophets but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth shall pass away, one Yodh [smallest letter] or one small stroke will by no means pass from the Law ["Torah"] till all is fulfilled and Romans 10: 4: For Christ is the 'end' of the Law ["Torah"] for righteousness to every one that believeth. Also, see NOTE at Romans 10: 4.

Again, it would be helpful to reread Romans 8: 1-2, 9b, 14, 16. Now, As far as the term "passing away," considering that the Lord was expected to return during the lifetime of Jesus' disciples, I Corinthians 7: 31b and I John 2: 17a mention about the world passing away, which would usher in that blessed hope of the revelation of the sons of God ("immortality") and manifestation of the kingdom of heaven.

Galatians 3: 10-14
For as many as are of the works of the Law ["Torah"] are under the curse, for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things that are written in the book of the Law ["Torah"], to do them." (Cp. Deuteronomy 27: 26) But that no one is justified by the Law ["Torah"] in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith." (Cp. Habakkuk 2: 4)

COMMENTARY: Is the Apostle Paul consistent here?
Romans 2: 13 (For not the hearers of the Law ["Torah"] are just before God, but the doers of the Law ["Torah"] shall be justified.

Yet the Law ["Torah"] is not of faith, but the man who does them shall live by them (Cp. Leviticus 18: 5). Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law ["Torah"] , having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree;" Cp. Deuteronomy 21: 22-23), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Cp. Galatians 3: 2)

3: 19, 21-25
What purpose does the Law ["Torah"] serve? it was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made (v. 16); and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Is the Law ["Torah"] then against the promises of God? certainly not! For if there had been a Law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the Law ["Torah"]. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise of faith Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the Law ["Torah"], kept from the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore, the Law ["Torah"] was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

NOTE: So what is the Apostle Paul really talking about here? First, reread Romans 6: 14b-15, and then in Romans 7: 1, 4-6, it states: Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those that know the Law ["Torah"]), that the Law ["Torah"] has dominion over a man as long as he lives? Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the Law ["Torah"] through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another; to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the Law ["Torah"] were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the Law ["Torah"], having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

To live "under" the Law ["Torah"] is condemnation and judgment because it teaches what is "sinful" behavior; but if one is led by the Spirit of God one does not or rather cannot [continue] to 'sin' (Cp. I John 3: 9). And what is this "Faith" that is being talked about? See Ezekiel 11: 18-19; 36: 24-27; Jeremiah 31: 31-34; Hebrews 8: 10; 10: 16-17 which is the inner 'Torah' of the heart which is made alive by the Holy Spirit.

5: 13-14, 18
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the Law ["Torah"] is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall Love your neighbor as yourself." (Cp. Leviticus 19: 18b) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under [condemnation of] the Law ["Torah"].

6: 1-2
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise: "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth." (Cp. Exodus 20: 12; Leviticus 19: 3a; Deuteronomy 5: 16)

One of the very first controversies facing the Church was recorded in Acts 15: 1-31 and since the Apostle Paul was involved in it, he wrote on the matter in Galatians 2: 1-10; but his account was quite a bit different from the other source in Acts. What it centered on was whether Gentiles should be circumcised according to the custom of Moses in order to be saved (Cp. Acts 1: 1). These unnamed men came down from Judea to Antioch in Syria trying to bind this requirement on the Gentile believers. After some heated arguments between these teachers and the Church leaders in Antioch, a delegation including Paul and Barnabas was sent to Jerusalem in Judea to settle the matter. The Apostles and Elders along with the whole Church met [in the Temple??] along with the brethren from Antioch to decide on this matter. Some of the sect of Pharisees [who observe the "Oral Torah" or 'tradition of the elders'] wanted to not only require circumcision but command keeping the Law ["Torah"] of Moses. The Apostle Peter had an interesting testimony before the assembly as he recounted the Gentiles who received God's salvation through his bringing the Gospel to them (Cp. Acts 10: 1-48).

He goes on to say in Acts 15: 10, "Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a 'yoke' on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear." Perhaps this is echoed by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5: 1-6. James [the Lord's brother] as leader of the Church ends the debate by deciding to impose on the Gentiles who are turning to the Lord, the following: to abstain from things polluted with idols; from sexual immorality; from things strangled, and from blood. This saying pleased the apostles, elders, and the whole Church (Cp. Acts 15: 19-22). Perhaps not much value was placed upon the uncircumcised to keep the Law ["Torah"], which the Lord God gave to Israel because these basic reuirements are referred to as part of the "Noahian Covenant" for its blood prohibition (Cp. Genesis 9: 4)and for its simplicity in comparison to the more rigorous requirements contained in all the statutes and ordinances of the Law ["Torah"].

The Apostle Paul went throughout Europe and Asia Minor originally carrying these mandates but word had come to the attention of the Mother Church in Jerusalem and its leader James, in particular, that Paul was teachng that Jews aren't required to keep the Law ["Torah"]; according to Acts 21: 18-24, James wanted Paul to take a vow and prove that he was a faithful Jew, walking orderly in keeping the Law ["Torah"]. Since that time, in all the Epistles written by the Apostle Paul and during his missionary activity present with some regularity, various commandments found in the Law ["Torah']; so why continue to mention these commandments if the Law of Moses is abolished?

Robert Randle
776 Commerce St. #B-11
Tacoma, WA 98402
August 4, 2009

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