Beza On The Threefold Division Of The Law

The law of the Lord our God that was handed down to His people through Moses is partly ethical, partly sacrificial, and partly political.3 The ethical portion shows in what way each person must be disposed of both toward God most of . . . Continue reading →

The Law Of Christ Is The Moral Law

In his provocative March (2020) essay, Matt Smethurst asked “Why Don’t Christians Keep the Jewish Law?” He reminds us that the “Bible is a thoroughly Jewish document,” a note that has been regularly (and properly) sounded in modern biblical studies. From this premise, he asks the provocative question before us. He notes that “God’s people kept it for centuries in the Old Testament. What happened?” He answers by observing that Jesus, the Jewish Messiah and the Son of God kept and completed “the law of God in his people’s place. Jesus embodied in himself everything the law demanded.” Smethurst recognizes two functions of the “Jewish law:”  “God designed the law both to instruct and guide his people and also to expose their sin and need for a Savior.” In the magisterial Protestant traditions we have spoken of these as the normative (third use) and the pedagogical use. Historically there was also a “civil use,” the function of which, according to Louis Berkhof, is to restrain sin and to serve “the purposes of God’s common grace in the world at large.” According to Smethurst, the “Jewish law” is a signpost that is no longer needed now that the “new covenant and new age ushered in by a new king” has arrived. As he puts it, “The signage of the law, therefore, can be taken down. It served its purpose.” Continue reading →

New Resource Page: On The Threefold Division Of The Law

The early Christian theologians implicitly distinguished within the 613 Mosaic Commandments (as the rabbis numbered them) between the judicial, ceremonial, and moral law. The moral law refers to the natural law, the law issued in creation and symbolized by the commandment not . . . Continue reading →