Christian Views On The Old Covenant

Christian Views On The Old Covenant

Christian views of the Old Covenant are central to Christian theology, ethics, and practice. The term "Old Covenant", also referred to as the Mosaic Covenant, Mosaic Law, Divine Law, Biblical Law, God's Law, or the Books of Moses, refers to the statements or principles of religious law and religious ethics codified in the "first five books" or Pentateuch of the Old Testament. Views of the Old Covenant are expressed in the New Testament, such as Jesus' antitheses of the law, the circumcision controversy in Early Christianity, and the Incident at Antioch and position of Paul the Apostle and Judaism. Many traditional Christians have the view that only parts are applicable, many Protestants have the view that none is applicable, dual-covenant theologians have the view that only Noahide Laws apply to Gentiles, and a minority have the view that all are still applicable to believers in Jesus and the New Covenant.

In Judaism, the "first five books" are referred to as the Torah, in Hebrew: תּוֹרָה‎, and generally translated as "the Law" in English translations of the Bible. Rabbinic Judaism asserts that the Laws of the Jewish Bible were presented to the Jewish people and converts to Judaism (which includes the biblical proselytes) and do not apply to Gentiles, including Christians, with the notable exception of the Seven Laws of Noah which apply to all people. Rabbi Emden of the 18th century was of the opinion that Jesus' original objective, and especially Paul's, was only to convert Gentiles to Noahide Law while allowing Jews to follow full Mosaic Law.

Although Christianity affirms that the Pentateuch is part of Scripture that is inspired of God, Christian tradition, in this case similar to Jewish tradition, denies that all of the Old Covenant still applies directly to Christians, but different arguments are used to reach that conclusion and there are differences of opinion within Christianity as to which parts, if any, still apply. The predominant Christian view is that Jesus mediates a New Covenant relationship between God and his followers, according to the New Testament, which ended or set aside some or all of the Old Covenant. Christianity, almost without exception, teaches that this New Covenant is the instrument through which God offers mercy and atonement to mankind. However, there are differences of opinion as to how the New Covenant affects the validity of the Old Covenant, how many Old Covenant laws such as the Ten Commandments are continued or renewed in the New Covenant, and related issues. The differences are mainly as a result of attempts to harmonize biblical statements to the effect that the Old Covenant and its law is "perpetual" or "everlasting" or "lasting" with biblical statements to the effect that it does not apply anymore (in the current dispensation) or at least does not fully apply. The topic of Paul and the Old Covenant is still frequently debated among New Testament scholars leading to many views.

Read more about Christian Views On The Old Covenant:  Law-related Passages With Disputed Interpretation

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