Friday, September 14, 2012

When Did the Apostles Learn that the Law was Abolished?

What Happened to the Law?

What happened to the law? It was abolished – at least, this is the conclusion of most Christians including some very brilliant theologians. After all, there are many suppositions, based on Biblical truths, used to justify this conclusion:

Ten Suppositions of the Law Abolishment Doctrine
  1. The law began with Moses at Mount Sinai, and it ended with Jesus at the cross.
  2. The law was weak and ineffective as a means of salvation; therefore, the LORD sent His Son to do what the law failed to do.
  3. Because the law is inextricably linked to God’s covenant with Israel, when Israel broke the first covenant, it became null and void, and its commandments and laws were abolished.
  4. The second covenant was made because fault was found in the first covenant.
  5. The new covenant made the first covenant “old,"  thus the laws of the first covenant were abolished.
  6. Jesus fulfilled the law; and therefore, the law was abolished because it was no longer needed.
  7. The Law of Moses resulted in wrath, death and condemnation.
  8. The reason that we are not “under the law is because it has been abolished.
  9. The LORD took away the first covenant so He could establish the second covenant.
  10. The law was abolished because it was a wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile.
If the law abolishment doctine is legitimately a scriptural doctrine, then the apostles must have known it. If the apostles knew that the law was abolished, then they would have learned this either through the Scriptures that preceded them, the teachings of Jesus, or through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, by doing a chronological search of the Scriptures, we should discover the answer to the question:

When did the apostles learn that the law was abolished?

Although the law abolishment doctrine is based on a dozen or so passages of Scripture, there are two verses that are routinely and universally quoted as proof texts that the law was abolished.

“Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace.” (Ephesians 2:15)

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” (Colossians 2:14)

These verses suggest that the law was abolished at the time of the crucifixion, but they do not answer the question as to when the apostles learned that the law was abolished. In fact, these verses do not actually state whose law Paul is referring to. Furthermore, since Paul did not write these epistles until about 63AD, this would beg an even more provocative question:

What were the apostles doing and teaching from the crucifixion in 33AD, when the law was abolished, until Paul wrote these epistles in 63AD, revealing that the law was abolished?

Keep in mind, these epistles were written to Gentile churches; they were not written to the apostles or any other Jewish believers in Jesus. Moreover, by the time Paul wrote these two epistles, he had already finished all of his missionary journeys; he had already written most of his other epistles; everything written in the book of Acts had already taken place; and half of the original twelve apostles were dead.

Is it possible that God did not inform the original twelve apostles any sooner than 63AD that He had abolished His Own law – and then when He did inform them, He did so second-hand through epistles that were not addressed to them? If so, it would mean the apostles preached the Gospel to the Jewish community for three decades without informing them that the law had been abolished. 

If the apostles knew before 63AD that the law was abolished, then we should find evidence of this in their actions and teachings; after all, Christian doctrine is based on their writings. If there was an event in their lives before 63AD where it was evident that they no longer kept the law, we could conclude that the Holy Ghost informed them that the law was abolished before Paul wrote these epistles. On the other hand, if the apostles continued to keep the law after the crucifixion, it would indicate that neither the Father nor the Son nor the Holy Ghost informed them that the law was abolished. If this is the case, then the law abolishment doctrine would be a doctrine of man and not God.

If the LORD revealed His intent to abolish His Own law, He would have done so either before, during, or after the moment He actually abolished it. My book is divided into these three sections – before the crucifixion, during the crucifixion, and after the crucifixion.

This would be the most likely time when the LORD would reveal His intent to abolish the law, as it is written: “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” If the LORD gave advance notice of His intent to abolish the law, then we should expect to find this stated somewhere in the writings of Moses or the prophets (or at the very latest, during Jesus’ ministry prior to His crucifixion). However, if the law abolishment doctrine does not appear in the Bible until after the apostles began their ministries, then the LORD did not inform the apostles through the “Scriptures” that preceded them.

This would be a less likely time when the LORD would reveal His intent to abolish the law, as it would be uncharacteristic of His nature. Without giving some sort of advance notice, the apostles would not have been able to search the Scriptures to determine whether or not the law abolishment doctrine lined up with the previously existing Word of God. Never the less, if the LORD waited until the moment He abolished the law to reveal that He abolished it, then we should find this stated somewhere in the words of Jesus as He hung on the cross.

This would be the least likely time when the LORD would reveal His intent to abolish His law; in fact, it is highly unlikely that the LORD would have waited until after He abolished the law to “reveal” that He abolished it. Indeed, it would be quite embarrassing to assert that God abolished the law at the cross, but He neglected to inform His Spirit-filled apostles for thirty years (which would be the case if the apostles did not know the law was abolished until after they read Paul’s epistles). Surely, the apostles knew it before reading it second-hand some thirty years after-the-fact. Be that as it may, if the LORD did not reveal that He abolished the law until after He abolished it, then we should expect to find this stated in the life and teachings of Jesus after the crucifixion or through the actions or teachings of the apostles.

Keep in mind that God’s original status quo concerning the law was that His people keep it; therefore, the burden of proof that God reversed this status quo rests with those who claim God abolished the law.