Perhaps THE Most Familiar Teaching in the Entire New Testament.
At the Same Time, One of the Most Misrepresented and Misunderstood.
What Did the Apostle Paul Actually Mean When He Said, ‘Under the Law’?
© Rich Traver, 81520-1411, 12-6-03
If there is a concept that brings greater comfort to New Testament Christianity, it would be difficult to find. That most often cited passage found in the writings of the Apostle Paul, that “We are not Under the Law” provides the basis for much of what is represented as “New Covenant” Theology. Nowhere does the theme find greater affinity than among the segment of Christianity known for being “antinomian”! (anti- against, nomos- law) Yet among other persuasions, this widely accepted premise is also accepted, though not without a certain degree of discomfort, on account of what so many have casually taken Paul’s statement to mean.
Regarded as Involving Applicability.
We live in a world that has been pre-conditioned to the long-established premise, that being, that the Apostle’s assertive statement here acknowledges the fact that the Law no longer applies to those who are ‘under grace’. That it is a matter of ‘applicability’. “The Law no longer applies to us”, they say. This subliminal premise is not new to theology. In fact, the basic point of view was anticipated and pointedly commented upon by Paul himself. Peter relates that those who really didn’t understand would ‘wrest’ Paul’s statements to mean something other than what he intended. Paul himself identifies one of those important areas. In Romans 3:8, he makes reference to this very issue. “And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil that good may come? ”…This in the context of just having said, …“But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who takes vengeance?… God forbid: for how then shall God judge the world?” Here, Paul is referring to the very same issue that he does in Romans 6: verses 1 and again in verses 14-15.
Some people were prone, and some even eager, to mis-represent Paul’s intent. He understood human nature well enough to foresee that some would regard his statement as advocating continuing in sin, even consciously, in order to become more abundant in grace. Seeing this explains why Paul immediately disclaims that possibility of meaning. When he makes the familiar statement in Romans 6:14 & 15: “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace. What then, shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” Up in verse 1, he says, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.”
Despite Paul’s immediate qualifiers, many still prefer to insist that he meant that the Law no longer applies to us! Injecting the idea of it being about applicability presents a distorted platform from which to understand what he was really saying. This has been the case for centuries. This is the world in which we grew up, from which we drew our earliest conceptions. The premise that the Law no longer applies to us is so ingrained in our religious society and our subconscious, that it can be regarded as heretical to hold a differing view.
Of all Paul’s theological statements, this one is the most mis-understood and mis-represented.
Read the Full Article here: We Are NOT under the Law