By Greg Gibson

Most Christians believe that the Sabbath command is cancelled. And, some believe that all Old Covenant laws are cancelled, including the whole Decalogue. So, why do I believe that all Old Testament laws are cancelled?

In my book “ALL Old Testament Laws Cancelled” I devoted 3 chapters to explaining why the laws from Genesis – Sinai are cancelled. Here are the 3 chapter titles…

13. Since Genesis Is Part of the Law, the Commands From Genesis – Sinai Are Cancelled (Genesis is part of the law as revelation, not as covenant which started later at Sinai.)

16. The Church Is Built on the Foundation of New Testament Apostles and Prophets’ Teaching (Eph. 2:19-20ff., cf. 3:5, 4:11)

17. Archaeology Testifies That the Bible Contains 2 Separate Canons (Rules) (The Old Covenant’s structure has several parallels to ancient, near-Eastern treaties, which included historical introductions. Genesis appears to be the historical introduction to the Old Covenant law of Moses.)

Here is Chapter 13 in its entirety…

“Did you know that Genesis is part of the law as revelation (Old Testament?) Here are 4 reasons showing why Genesis is part of the law…

1. Genesis 21 is called “the law” in Galatians 4:21-22.

    “Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: one by a slave woman and one by a free woman” (Gal. 4:21-22 referring to Gen. 21; cf. Rom. 3:31ff.)

2. The phrase “law and prophets” means “Genesis – Malachi” (the whole Old Testament).

3. Moses wrote the book of Genesis.

4. Archaeology testifies that Genesis is the historical introduction to the Old Covenant canon. God patterned the Old Covenant’s literary structure with some similarities to ancient, near-Eastern treaties, which included an historical introduction before the actual covenant document.

Ancient covenants were put into effect with a surrounding body of literature, a.k.a. canon. Covenant produces canon. Our Bible is made of 2 major covenants, the Old and New covenants, each surrounded by its own canon, the Old and New Testaments.

(To understand this more, see The Structure of Biblical Authority in #17 below…)

So, when the New Testament says the law is cancelled, that includes Genesis, not just post-Sinai commands.” (Excerpted from the book: “ALL Old Testament Laws Cancelled”, 24 Reasons Why All Old Testament Laws Are Cancelled, And All New Testament Laws Are for Our Obedience, by Greg Gibson, p. 86)

“ALL Old Covenant or Old Testament Laws Cancelled?” | 2008 | New Covenant Theology | Tags: , , , | Comments (4)

4 Responses to ““ALL Old Covenant or Old Testament Laws Cancelled?””

  1. yosemite says:

    What about the argument that there are three portions of the law: civil, ceremonial, and moral. While the first two are said to be abolished at the cross, the moral is eternal and is still to be kept by Christians.

    So, how do we keep the Ten Commandments?

  2. Greg Gibson says:

    Hi Yosemite,

    Those are fair questions. I’ll try to answer with some excerpts from my book…

    11. The Law of Moses Can’t Be Divided Into 3 Parts

    Did Paul really believe that the law of Moses could be divided into 3-parts: Moral, civil, and ceremonial?

    The 3-Part, Division of the Law
    Invented by a 13th-Century, Roman Catholic?

    Richard Barcellos, a Reformed Baptist, Covenant Theologian, concedes what I’ve heard elsewhere: The 3-part, division of the law can be traced back to Thomas Aquinas, the 13th-century, Roman Catholic philosopher-theologian…

    “1. The History of the Three-Fold Division of the Law
    The three-fold division of the law into moral, ceremonial, and judicial is not unique to Calvin. By the time of Calvin, it was common to divide the law into these three divisions. According to Hesselink, this paradigm goes back to Aquinas. (Hesselink, Calvin’s Concept of the Law, 102).”

    Barcellos is probably correct since Aquinas distinguishes 3 parts of the law in his famous Summa Theologica…

    “We must therefore distinguish three kinds of precept in the Old Law; viz. “moral” precepts, which are dictated by the natural law; “ceremonial” precepts, which are determinations of the Divine worship; and “judicial” precepts, which are determinations of the justice to be maintained among men. Wherefore the Apostle (Romans 7:12) after saying that the “Law is holy,” adds that “the commandment is just, and holy, and good”: “just,” in respect of the judicial precepts; “holy,” with regard to the ceremonial precepts (since the word “sanctus”–“holy”–is applied to that which is consecrated to God); and “good,” i.e. conducive to virtue, as to the moral precepts.”

    So, when Paul made all those negative statements about the law, he could not possibly have meant “only the civil and ceremonial law, but not the moral law,” since that view wasn’t even invented until 1200 years after he wrote.

    The Reformers carried some extra baggage out of Rome, namely the 3-part division of the law of Moses into moral, civil, and ceremonial. Plus, the Reformers borrowed Rome’s practices of infant baptism and state-Church theocracy.

    (Also, did you know that the orthodox, Jewish rabbis in Jerusalem deny that the law can be divided into moral, civil, and ceremonial parts?)

    Scripture makes a distinction between the Ten Commandments, and the rest of the law. But, the distance between distinction and division is as wide as the Grand Canyon.

    And, Scripture ranks a couple duties from the law as “more important” than others (Mk. 12:28-31) and “weightier” than others (Mt. 23:23). But, the difference between importance and division is as big as Mt. Everest.

    Contrary to Covenant Theology, 3 verses show the unity of the whole law of Moses…

    “…Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law and do them” (Gal. 3:10).

    “…every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law” (Gal. 5:3).

    “For whoever keeps the whole law, but fails in one point, has become accountable for all of it” (James 2:10).

    Paul and James knew that the law was one, indivisible, whole covenant. They could not possibly imagine that only part of it (the Decalogue) could still be in force after Christ. (pp. 82-83)

    12. The Apostles Never Made Exceptions Qualifying Their Criticisms of the Whole Law of Moses

    When teaching about the law, the apostles made several positive statements and several negative statements. We dealt with Covenant Theology’s misinterpretation of the positive statements in Part I. But, they also misinterpret the negative statements.

    Covenant Theology would have us believe that when the apostles criticized the law, what they really meant was part of the law, not all of it. But, as we saw in #11 above, the law of Moses can’t be separated into 3, self-existent parts. (Some Covenant Theologians interpret Paul’s negative statements against the law as referring to the curse of the law or legalism.)

    Covenant Theology Reads Exceptions
    Into All the Negative Verses on the Law

    The apostles never once made exceptions or qualifications to their criticisms of the law. Yet, some Covenant Theologians read the following exceptions and qualifications into all these criticisms of the law…

    “by placing (part of the law) a yoke (except the Ten Commandments) on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?” (Acts 15:10).

    “…lay on you no greater burden than these requirements (and the Ten Commandments)” (Acts 15:28).

    “…the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives…you also have died to the law through the body of Christ…But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we should serve not under the old written code (except the Ten Commandments) but in the new life of the Spirit” (Rom. 7:1-6; cf. Gal. 2:19).

    “…the law was our guardian until Christ came…we are no longer under a guardian (except the Ten Commandments)…” (Gal. 3:24-25).

    “Tell me, you who desire to be under the law…Mount Sinai bearing children for slavery…’Cast out the slave woman and her son’ (except the Ten Commandments)…do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 4:21-5:1).

    “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (except the Ten Commandments)…against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:18-23).

    “by abolishing (part of) the law of commandments and ordinances (except the Ten Commandments)…” (Eph. 2:15).

    “…having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements (except the Ten Commandments) that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (NKJV, Col. 2:13-14).

    “For when there is a change in the priesthood there is necessarily change in (part of) the law (except the Ten Commandments) as well” (Heb. 7:12).

    The natural interpretation of “the law” is “the whole law,” not “part of the law.” Isn’t it unthinkable that a Jewish author like Paul intended to preserve the Decalogue when he criticized the whole law without making any exceptions for it? (pp. 82-85)

    Yosemite, to make a long story short, I don’t believe that we obey the Ten Commandments today from the authority of Ex. 20. I believe we obey 9 of the 10 from the authority of the New Testament. Hope that makes sense.

  3. Brian Hyde says:

    Greg,

    I have just read your material with great interest and enjoyment. It is a timely and invaluable resource. Certainly is for me right now, more than you can ever realise.

    I agree wholehearted with your conclusions. Many Christians, when they see the word ‘commandments’, go on auto pilot and immediately read it as referring to the Ten Commandments. It’s astonishing how Christian writers and theologians will wax eloquent about the differences between law and grace, the old and the new covenant etc etc and yet in the very next breath, assert, “Of course this does not apply to the ten commandments, it is the Christian’s duty” It never ceases to amaze me how Christian logic breaks down when confronted with the Ten Commandments. The mindset which automatically sees law as the Decalogue, is without doubt attributable to social conditioning. For centuries a wrong application has been made of the Decalogue in both the UK and the USA. I understand that the Puritans took the concept of ten commandments as man’s sole standard of duty, with them from old England to the States, where it grew in influence to where it is today.

    Interestingly I challenged a Seventh-day Adventist about the divisions they have made to the Mosaic Law and I was told that the Jews do make these distinctions. You say they do not! So, Greg, if you can show otherwise it would be very useful. I would appreciate where you got your information from that the Jews in Jerusalem do not recognise these arbitrary divisions. Certainly they are not Biblical.

    I think that the Christian gospel is currently under attack big time. It is being undermined from within the Christian community. There are a growing number of Judaistic and Messianic Christian cults behind this apart from Reformed Theology. Just go to ‘Which Day is the Sabbath’ on YouTube and you will find them there making their voices known and demanding a return to the Mosaic Law. Its unbelievable!

    God grant us all eyes to see that in Christ there is a righteousness apart from the works of the law which makes us more lawful than those who accuse us of being lawless!

    Brian Hyde

  4. Greg Gibson says:

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for your encouragement.

    I have an orthodox Jewish friend in Jerusalem who confirmed the rabbis don’t believe in the 3-fold division of the Law. If the reabbis did believe it, surely the Covenant Theologians would have quoted them long ago. Since your Adventist friend claims otherwise, the burden of proof is on him to document the evidence.

    This is the first explicit 3-fold mention in history: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2099.htm

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