Tackling the Theological Controversies, Including the Place of the Law in the Life of the Believer

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Dr. Brown answers your toughest theological questions and also discusses the place of the Law in the life of the believer. He’ll also be taking your calls and answering your emails on a wide range of biblical and theological topics. Listen live here 2-4 pm EST, and call into the show at (866) 348 7884 with your questions and comments.

 

Hour 1:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: When it comes to the Sabbath, let us always remember that the Sabbath is the shadow and the substance is found in the Messiah.

 

Hour 2:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: Let us honor one another in the midst of nonessential differences. Let us hold to our convictions before God, and honor those who differ over the nonessentials.

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467 Comments
  1. Dan1el,

    Is it an advantage to have the written torah over the gentiles that by nature have the work of the law written on their hearts?

  2. Bo,
    Are there Gentiles who keep the precepts of the Law without knowing the Law, and who are justified by keeping those precepts?

  3. Bo,
    I believe it is better to be an unregenerate Jew with the Law than to be an unregenerate Gentile without the Law–but that’s not relevant since I’m talking about a regenerate Gentile.

  4. I asked first and you are being coy. You do not believe that having the written torah is an advantage. You have said so many times. Do you agree with Paul that it is an advantage to have the written torah or not?

  5. Bo,
    What ever my response to your question is won’t make a difference with respect to the fact that there are Gentiles who keep the precepts of the Law without even knowing the Law.

    The fact that there are Gentiles who keep the precepts of the Law–these are believers, who are circumcised by the Spirit of God and have praise from God–without knowing the Law proves my position is correct.

  6. Bo,
    Because that is the language of Scripture.

    Romans 2
    26So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regardedb as circumcision? 27Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

  7. Bo,
    He is talking about saved Gentiles, who do not know the Law, keeping the precepts of the Law–who are circumcised in the heart by the Spirit and have praise from God.

    How?
    It is not a revelation of any man’s righteousness, but a revelation of GOD’S righteousness: GOD is doing His works in them, causing them to be qualified as “doers of the Law justified” (NATURALLY/INVOLUNTARILY)–just as sin once did its works in Paul and caused him to become disqualified from being called a “doer of the Law… justified” (when he NATURALLY/INVOLUNTARILY coveted).
    This is how they are “doers of the Law… justified” without contradicting “no flesh will be justified by the doers of the Law.”

  8. Dan1el,

    The translation you are using is not a word for word translation. The Greek word for precepts is not in there.

    26 If, therefore the uncircumcision the righteousness of the law may keep, shall not his uncircumcision for circumcision be reckoned? (Young’s literal translation)

  9. Bo,
    What ever you may say, the Gentiles of which he speaks are righteous according to the Law–a far cry from his description of ALL Jews and Gentiles in Romans 3:

    9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.
    10 As it is written:
    “There is none righteous, no, not one;
    11 There is none who understands;
    There is none who seeks after God.
    12 They have all turned aside;
    They have together become unprofitable;
    There is none who does good, no, not one.”
    13 “Their throat is an open tomb;
    With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;
    “The poison of asps is under their lips”;
    14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
    15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
    17 And the way of peace they have not known.”
    18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

    You’re saying some flesh is justified by the deeds of the Law; and you are wrong.

  10. It seems to me that the work of the law was to make known sin. It also makes known righteousness.

    Yet it is not to have priority over the gospel of Christ, for that is not it’s place in scripture, nor is that it’s place in heaven.

  11. Bo,
    If the Gentiles of which he speaks are not saved, then how are they said to be “righteous” when it says “there is none righteous”?
    Why does it say they are circumcised by the Spirit and have praise from God?

  12. Bo,
    Bill Mounce is a relatively accessible man; I will email him and ask why he decided (as chair of NT translation of the ESV) “precepts” was an acceptable translation.

  13. Whatever I am saying, I am only saying that Paul is not saying that the nations in Romans 2 are saved or are being led by the Spirit. It is via nature that they know some things and some of those gentiles follow that nature. And thus their ideas judge each other’s actions as good or evil.

    14 when Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.
    15 they show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them

    14 When the gentiles, who have no knowledge of the Law, act in accordance with it by the light of nature, they show that they have a Law in themselves,
    15 for they demonstrate the effect of a Law operating in their own hearts. Their own consciences endorse the existence of such a law, for there is something which condemns or excuses their actions.

    14 When outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience.
    15 They show that God’s law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God’s yes and no, right and wrong.

  14. Bo,
    You see how you have to add words to Scripture to try to make your point? That is dishonest.

    As I said before, neither Jews nor Gentiles who are unsaved “keep the righteousness of the Law.
    You also have the problem of the fact that these Gentiles are circumcised by the Spirit and have praise from God.

    These are not unbelieving Gentiles.

  15. Bo,
    Someone who “keeps the Law” is not righteous/justified?

    Ro 2
    26So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law.

  16. Bo,
    14 When outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience.
    15 They show that God’s law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God’s yes and no, right and wrong.

  17. No one is justified by keeping the law…for none has kept it perfectly…except Messiah.

    Ro 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

  18. Bo,
    It says these Gentiles keep the Law.

    That’s exactly the point: they were doers of wickedness before they were saved, but now that they are saved they are keeping the Law because God is doing the Law.

    We are justified by faith that Jesus died and resurrected; however, that same faith causes God to live in us and to work His works in us–establishing the Law.

  19. Bo,
    Here is a description of Gentiles who are not saved:

    Romans 3
    A. all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10as
    B. “NONE IS RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE;
    C. no one does good, not even one.”
    D. “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
    E. “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
    F. “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
    G. “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.”
    H. “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

    Do you disagree with that?
    If not, how can you say there are unsaved Gentiles who “keep the Law” and who “keep the righteous requirement of the Law”?

  20. Bo,
    An answer I got for why it might have been translated “precepts” is as follows:

    “The following could be why:

    pre·cept
    /ˈprēˌsept/
    noun
    noun: precept; plural noun: precepts
    1. a general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought.

    “moral precepts”

    synonyms:
    principle, rule, tenet, canon, doctrine, command, order, decree, dictate, dictum, injunction, commandment

    mitzvah;
    formal prescript
    “the precepts of Orthodox Judaism”

    2. a writ or warrant.
    “the Commissioner issued precepts requiring the companies to provide information”

    Thinking this through, it seems to me that the word precept is not commonly utilized; I can’t remember ever using it or even bringing it to mind. Perhaps this also it why it doesn’t seem to work for you here although its definition does seem to represent δικαιώματα adequately.”

    The word is “requirement”.
    These Gentiles keep what the Law requires.
    Unsaved Gentiles are not good and do not do good.
    These Gentiles must be saved. Indeed, as it says they are circumcised by the Spirit. There is no other way they could have been “doers of the Law”.

  21. Bo,
    You said:
    “@ 417…it doesn’t say they are righteous.”

    It says they “keep the requirements.”
    That is righteousness.

  22. Bo,
    Paul couldn’t even keep from coveting–could not keep the Law’s requirements–on the other hand, these Gentiles are keeping the Law’s requirements.

    If these Gentiles are lost individuals keeping the Law better than Paul did (when he was unsaved), there is no reason to tell saved Gentiles to serve by the Law, since even the unsaved Gentiles accomplished a greater righteousness than the unsaved Jews (e.g.: Paul) without the Law.

  23. Bo,
    If “the doers of the Law will be justified”, and you’re saying these are unsaved Gentiles who are keeping the Law, aren’t they justified by the works of the Law? Doesn’t it say “no flesh will be justified by the works of the Law”?

  24. Bo,
    What words did you add?

    While taking exception to the ESV rendering “requirements” as “precepts”, you allow yourself to quote from “the Message” Bible which isn’t even an interpretation but a paraphrase?

  25. Bo,
    The Gentiles in Romans 2 who don’t know the Law but keep the Law are an example of how grace establishes the Law–revealing the righteousness of God apart from the Law.

  26. Bo,
    Romans 2
    12For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

    1a. Question: Will anyone who sinned under the Law be justified by keeping SOME of the Law?
    Answer: No. No flesh will be justified by the works of the Law; only God’s mercy and grace (by faith) will save and justify those who sinned under the Law.
    1b. Question: Will anyone who sinned without the Law be justified by keeping SOME of the deeds of the Law?
    Answer: No. No flesh will be justified by the works of the Law; only God’s mercy and grace (by faith) will save and justify those who sinned without the Law.

    2. After Paul contrasts mere “hearers of the Law” (who are not going to be justified) against actual “doers of the Law” (who “are righteous before God” and “will be justified”), he gives an example of just such people who are “doers of the Law…justified”:
    14For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature *do what the law requires*, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.
    To reiterate, it becomes clear what v14 means when it says (of the Gentiles) “do what the law requires” when we simply see them in context (the words which precede them in v13–“the doers of the Law will be justified”): these Gentiles are “doers of the Law” and are “justified” for being “doers of the Law”.
    That being said, it isn’t they who are doing the works they are doing (as Paul says: “…abundant in labors above them all, yet not I but the grace of God which was with me” [1 Co 15:10]), so it isn’t an example of “sinful flesh” being justified by the deeds of the Law (because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justfied before God); instead, it is an example of God’s righteousness being revealed “from faith to faith” [Ro 1:16-18], “establishing the Law” [Ro 3:31] “apart from the Law” [Ro 3:21]. The fact that they are “doers of the Law… justified” is another aspect of God’s being “Him who *justifies* the ungodly” [Ro 4:5] (“only the doers of the law will be *justified*”): “causing” [Ez 36:27] them to “naturally” [Ro 2:14] be “doers of the Law” (by His Grace), just as they were formerly “naturally” sinners by the Law of Sin and Death in the flesh [Ro 7:7-8:4], is the way “justification” works in the “being saved” paradigm (we “were saved”, are “being saved” and “will be saved”).
    Just believing in Jesus is not enough; when we believe in Jesus, we enter grace “wherein we stand” [Ro 5:2]–God justifies us in the present-tense salvation paradigm by causing us to be justified as a gift by causing us to be doers of the Law as a gift (what Ro 5:17 calls “abundance of grace and the *gift of righteousness*”).

    Romans 2
    14For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature *do what the law requires*…
    26So, if a man who is uncircumcised *keeps the requirement of the law*…
    27Then he who is physically uncircumcised but *keeps the law*…
    Romans 8
    3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,c he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that *the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit*.

    3. Who fulfills the “righteous requirement of the Law”?
    A) unsaved Jews/Gentiles who walk according to the flesh
    B) saved Jews/Gentiles who walk according to the Spirit

  27. Bo,
    The Law of Sin in the flesh FORCES unsaved people to commit sins (whether they want to or not) [Ro 7:7-7:24]; therefore, Paul is NOT going to be holding up unsaved Gentiles as examples of “doers of the Law”.
    Again, unsaved Gentiles are most certainly not “doers of the Law”: the Law is “good” and unsaved people don’t do good (“…no one does good, not even one.”) [Ro 3:9-18].

  28. Bo,
    Paul identifies what it is about these Gentiles that sets them apart, and makes them “doers of the Law… justified”: they are inwardly Jews, circumcised of the Spirit in their hearts (and consequently praised of God).

    Romans 2
    25For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

  29. Bo,
    Eternal life is earned by righteousness (the commandment promised life [Ro 7:10]); however, since it turns out that righteousness is a gift so is eternal life (which is awarded the righteous).
    If righteousness was not a gift, neither would eternal life be.

  30. Bo,

    Would you please do me the honor of exegeting those verses. How do you interpret them?

    I see you and Daniel have been on an outing together, but, hopefully you can come back to it.

    Thanks.

  31. Bo,
    The same accusation of hypocrisy being leveled against the Jewish believers in Ro 2:1-5 is the same accusation of hypocrisy being leveled against the Jewish believers in Ro 1:17-29–they are the same men. The Gentiles of Ro 2:13-15 are also the same as the Gentiles of Ro 2:25-29.

    Wouldn’t it make more sense that Paul is comparing the behavior of saved Gentiles against that of saved Jews rather than the behavior of unsaved Gentiles against the behavior of saved Jews?

    And even if what you said you thought the verses meant were true, what you are saying is that unsaved Gentiles (who are not good [Ro 3]) who don’t even know the Law are doing more of the Law than saved Jews who have the Law!
    Don’t you see how ridiculous that claim is?
    Once again (this time, even more so): even if you wanted to claim they were unsaved (which is against every reasonable reading), I would say that if UNSAVED Gentiles are capable of greater obedience to the Law than Jewish believers we will do better to not be placed under the Law.

  32. Dan1el, How about asking Bo, if he would think it strange if the apostle Paul would have said in Col 2:16, “Let no man judge you concerning bearing false witness against thy neighbor.” or “Let no man judge you concerning committing adultery.” or by using some other one of the ten commandments?

    How would a man answer such a question if he believes he is to live exactly by every word written, both of the law and of the gospel?

  33. Ray,
    My thoughts on Col 2:16,17 are that it says not to allow others to judge you about Sabbath-observance because it was a shadow but the substance to which it pointed/body that cast the shadow was Christ.

    The seventh-day Sabbath was a commemoration of the day of God’s resting from His work of creating the old creation; we’re in the New creation and there must also be a new Sabbath.

  34. Bo,
    Are the Gentiles spoken of in Romans 2:13-15, 25-29 unsaved?
    Is it unsaved Gentiles who are “doers of the Law” “by nature”, or aren’t unsaved Gentiles “by nature children of wrath” and “sons of disobedience” so that “not one does good” [Ro 3:9-18; Ep 2:1-3]?
    Is it not saved Gentiles who are “naturally” “doers of the Law”–men who have been circumcised in the heart by the Spirit, and “inwardly Jewish”?
    The Law never gave anyone righteousness or (the result of righteousness) eternal life as a gift; God’s grace did this (what the Law could not do [Ro 8:1-4]–the Law could not a. make anyone righteous or b. grant anyone life by reason of conferring righteousness [Gal 2:21, 3:21]). Since the partaker in the New Covenant is righteous enough to obtain eternal life (awarded only to the righteous), why do you insist on contradicting this by accusing them of unrighteousness if they do not serve God by the Written Code [Ro 7:6]–especially seein they already reached righteousness in God’s sight, and they *didn’t* reach it by the Law? Is the Law going to help them NOW? No! The Law was incapable of making them reach the status of “doers of the Law… justified” which they currently enjoy; and serving by the Written Code isn’t going to START helping them NOW. “Are you so foolish?” After they have begun by the Spirit (hearing of faith) are you now saying they will be perfected by the flesh (works of the Law–by the Written Code) [Gal 3:1-3]? When it is already clear that the Gospel of grace is an establishing of the Law [Ro 3:31] *apart from the Law* by reason of it being a revelation of God’s own righteousness [Jer 23:5,6; Gal 3:21], are you, contradicting this fact, threatening people with “consequences” if they do not serve God by the Written Code?

    Come off it.

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