Dead To The Law - or - The Law Is Dead

Dead To The Law - or - The Law Is Dead

“19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” Galatians 2:19-21

The book of Galatians is theologically considered to be a treatise proving the Law has been done away with in Christ. The net result of this thinking has become a pick-and-choose theology whittled down to one word: Love.

One of my study Bibles also says the following: “To be dead to the law is to be free from the obligation to obey it.”

Theologians and scholars have, over time, turned Paul’s writings 180 degrees from what he meant concerning our observance of the Law post-Yeshua. It has, in effect, become inverted.

This is due in large part to the teaching of Dispensationalism since the early 1900’s. Primarily, Dispensationalism got its jump-start through the Scofield Study Bible. However, the trickle-down effect of this teaching still permeates much of mainstream Christianity today.

Here’s my proposition for those that might be so inclined to consider it —

When reading Paul’s writings regarding the Law/Torah, try to see what he’s saying from the reverse perspective. If you think a verse or section of Paul’s writing is saying the Law has been done away with and we are “free from the obligation to obey it” — flip it 180 degrees.

Enter Albert Barnes …

Albert Barnes lived from 1798-1870 (before the big push of Dispensationalism). In my opinion, he offers a very balanced perspective in his commentaries. As with any commentator there is wiggle room to agree or disagree with him. But overall, I like his approach to expounding Scripture.

Here’s Barnes’ note on Galatians 2:19 in full. The emphasis throughout is mine.

“For I through the law - On this passage the commentators are by no means agreed. It is agreed that in the phrase "am dead to the law," the Law of Moses is referred to, and that the meaning is, that Paul had become dead to that as a ground or means of justification. He acted as though it were not; or it ceased to have influence over him. 

“A dead man is insensible to all around him. He hears nothing; sees nothing; and nothing affects him. So when we are said to be dead to anything, the meaning is, that it does not have an influence over us. In this sense Paul was dead to the Law of Moses. 

“He ceased to observe it as a ground of justification. It ceased to be the grand aim and purpose of his life, as it had been formerly, to obey it. He had higher purposes than that, and truly lived to God. 

“But on the meaning of the phrase "through the law" there has been a great variety of opinion.

“Bloomfield, Rosenmuller, and some others suppose that he means the Christian religion, and that the meaning is, "by one law, or doctrine, I am dead to another;" that is, the Christian doctrine has caused me to cast aside the Mosaic religion. {I don’t agree with this view.}

“Doddridge, Clarke, Chandler, and most others, however, suppose that he here refers to the Law of Moses, and that the meaning is, that by contemplating the true character of the Law of Moses itself; by considering its nature and design; by understanding the extent of its requisitions, he had become dead to it; that is, he had laid aside all expectations of being justified by it. This seems to me to be the correct interpretation. 

Paul had formerly expected to be justified by the Law. He had endeavored to obey it. It had been the object of his life to comply with all its requisitions in order to be saved by it. But all this while he had not fully understood its nature; and when he was made fully to feel and comprehend its spiritual requirements, then all his hopes of justification by it died, and he became dead to it.

“That I might live unto God - That I might be truly alive, and might be found engaged in his service. He was dead to the Law, but not to every thing. He had not become literally inactive and insensible to all things, like a dead man, but he had become truly sensible to the commands and appeals of God, and had consecrated himself to his service.”

I think that’s a balanced presentation of what Paul meant when he said he was “dead to the Law.” The Law was not dead to him; rather, he was dead to the Law. He was free to live out the “appeals of God” through Christ. He wasn’t saved by Law; but, He was saved to correctly live out the Law.

Please don’t misunderstand. Barnes was not anywhere close to the Messianic mindset as we know it today. But I have found that expositors who desire to be loyal to the Scriptures are at times (be it, unbeknown to them) swimming in our direction. They, in essence, don’t throw the whole baby (Torah) out with the bathwater (complete disavowal).

This whole issue isn’t easy, granted. The waters are so muddied that even a pair of goggles don’t help much.

But there is hope in navigating these waters.

My personal belief is that we are approaching the end times. Truthfully, I never anticipated I’d see such a rapid progress toward the end time in such a short time.

That being said, it “appears” God is calling out His people in preparation for Yeshua’s return and His Kingdom. As such, the hearts of His people are imperceptibly being drawn into an awareness, an awakening, regarding the place and purpose of the Torah (the Word/Torah made flesh) in our lives now, at this time.

Not sure I’m correct?

Those of you who have been saved for any length of time have noticed a shift towards “Jewish” customs and observances in the Christian church at large. It is becoming more common to see churches hosting Passover Seder services. There’s a greater awareness respecting God’s Biblical calendar.

But not too long ago …“back in my day” … these sort of things were unheard of in the Church. To have acknowledged any purposeful meaning in these was considered heresy.

However brethren —

The winds of change are not only coming, they are here. There’s a scent in the air that believers all around the world are noticing. And with it there’s a renewed interested in, and observance of, the ways of the Torah.

We can’t do all of the Torah now though. Yeshua knew that. That’s why, in part, He came when He did. Jerusalem would soon be under siege and the Temple torn down. His people would be scattered outside the Land until His return. So, He came to prepare us for that inevitability.

We’re outside the Land. No Temple or Priesthood. And no … we don’t stone our children. That’s “inside the Land” stuff.

But there’s plenty left that can be lived out practically, in our everyday lives.

For those that have an interest remember this:

Whenever you’re reading those “the Law has been done away with in Christ” passages, think 180 degrees from what you’re used to. I promise you’ll be amazed at how the whole Bible will begin to fit together as one continuous, unified whole.

The Law is not dead. — 180 degrees — We are dead to the Law.