Law, Mosaic

I. Christians are not under the law
II. Spiritual meaning of the law
III. Purpose of the law

I. Christians are not under the law (Top)

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14

The circumcision in which they trusted is abolished. For He declared that circumcision was not of the flesh, but they transgressed because an evil angel deluded them. Barnabas (A.D. 70-130) ch.9

For He has revealed to us by all the prophets that He needs neither sacrifices, nor burnt-offerings, nor oblations… He has therefore abolished these things, that the new law of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is without the yoke of necessity, might have a human oblation. Barnabas (A.D. 70-130) ch.2

To this end, therefore, brethren, He is long-suffering, foreseeing how the people whom He has prepared shall with guilelessness believe in His Beloved. For He revealed all these things to us beforehand, that we should not rush forward as rash acceptors of their laws. Barnabas (A.D. 70-130) ch.3

Be not seduced by strange doctrines nor by antiquated fables, which are profitless. For if even unto this day we live after the manner of Judaism, we avow that we have not received grace. Ignatius: to the Magnesians (A.D. 35-105) ch.8

But again their scruples concerning meats, and their superstition relating to the Sabbath and the vanity of their circumcision and the dissimulation of their fasting and new moons, I do [not] suppose you need to learn from me, are ridiculous and unworthy of any consideration. For of the things created by God for the use of man to receive some as created well, but to decline others as useless and superfluous, is not this impious? And again to lie against God, as if He forbad us to do any good thing on the Sabbath day, is not this profane? Letter to Diognetus (A.D. 125-200) ch.4

And Trypho again inquired, "But if some one, knowing that this is so, after he recognizes that this man is Christ, and has believed in and obeys Him, wishes, however, to observe these [institutions], will he be saved?" I said, "In my opinion, Trypho, such an one will be saved, if he does not strive in every way to persuade other men - I mean those Gentiles who have been circumcised from error by Christ, to observe the same things as himself, telling them that they will not be saved unless they do so. This you did yourself at the commencement of the discourse, when you declared that I would not be saved unless I observe these institutions." Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.218

II. Spiritual meaning of the law (Top)

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. Mark 12:30-31

He said to them, "These things said the Lord your God" (here I find a new commandment) "Sow not among thorns, but circumcise yourselves to the Lord." And why speaks He thus: "Circumcise the stubbornness of your heart, and harden not your neck?" And again: "Behold, said the Lord, all the nations are uncircumcised in the flesh, but this people are uncircumcised in heart." But you will say, "Yea, verily the people are circumcised for a seal." But so also is every Syrian and Arab, and all the priests of idols: are these then also within the bond of His covenant? Yea, the Egyptians also practice circumcision. Barnabas (A.D. 70-130) ch.9

Now, wherefore did Moses say, "You shall not eat the swine, nor the eagle, nor the hawk, nor the raven, nor any fish which is not possessed of scales?" Is there then not a command of God they should not eat [these things]? There is, but Moses spoke with a spiritual reference. For this reason he named the swine, as much as to say, "You shall not join yourself to men who resemble swine." For when they live in pleasure, they forget their Lord; but when they come to want, they acknowledge the Lord. And [in like manner] the swine, when it has eaten, does not recognize its master; but when hungry it cries out, and on receiving food is quiet again. "Neither shall you eat," says he "the eagle, nor the hawk, nor the kite, nor the raven." "You shall not join yourself," he means, "to such men as know not how to procure food for themselves by labor and sweat, but seize on that of others in their iniquity, and although wearing an aspect of simplicity, are on the watch to plunder others." So these birds, while they sit idle, inquire how they may devour the flesh of others, proving themselves pests [to all] by their wickedness. "And you shall not eat," he says, "the lamprey, or the polypus, or the cuttlefish." He means, "You shall not join yourself or be like to such men as are ungodly to the end, and are condemned to death." In like manner as those fishes, above accursed, float in the deep, not swimming [on the surface] like the rest, but make their abode in the mud which lies at the bottom. Barnabas (A.D. 70-130) ch.10

Moses then issued three doctrines concerning meats with a spiritual significance; but they received them according to fleshly desire, as if he had merely spoken of [literal] meats. David, however, comprehends the knowledge of the three doctrines… But Moses says still further, "You shall eat every animal that is cloven-footed and ruminant." What does he mean? [The ruminant animal denotes him] who, on receiving food, recognizes Him that nourishes him, and being satisfied by Him, is visibly made glad. Well spoke [Moses], having respect to the commandment. What, then, does he mean? That we ought to join ourselves to those that fear the Lord, those who meditate in their heart on the commandment which they have received, those who both utter the judgments of the Lord and observe them, those who know that meditation is a work of gladness, and who ruminate upon the word of the Lord. But what means the cloven-footed? That the righteous man also walks in this world, yet looks forward to the holy state [to come]. Barnabas (A.D. 70-130) ch. 10

The Sabbath is mentioned at the beginning of the creation [thus]: "And God made in six days the works of His hands, and made an end on the seventh day, and rested on it, and sanctified it." Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, "He finished in six days." This implies that the Lord will finish all things in six thousand years, for a day is with Him a thousand years. ... "And He rested on the seventh day." This means: when His Son, coming [again], shall destroy the time of the wicked man, and judge the ungodly, and change the sun, and the moon, and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the seventh day. Barnabas (A.D. 70-130) ch.15

"And the offering of fine flour, sirs," I said, "which was prescribed to be presented on behalf of those purified from leprosy, was a type of the bread of the Eucharist, the celebration of which our Lord Jesus Christ prescribed, in remembrance of the suffering which He endured on behalf of those who are purified in soul from all iniquity, in order that we may at the same time thank God for having created the world." Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.215

Moreover, the prescription that twelve bells be attached to the [robe] of the high priest, which hung down to the feet, was a symbol of the twelve apostles, who depend on the power of Christ, the eternal Priest; and through their voice it is that all the earth has been filled with the glory and grace of God and of His Christ. Wherefore David also says: 'Their sound has gone forth into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.' And Isaiah speaks as if he were personating the apostles, when they say to Christ that they believe not in their own report, but in the power of Him who sent them. And so he says: 'Lord, who has believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?’ Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.215

And that expression which was committed to writing by Moses, and prophesied by the patriarch Jacob, namely, 'He shall wash His garments with wine, and His vesture with the blood of the grape,' signified that He would wash those that believe in Him with His own blood. For the Holy Spirit called those who receive remission of sins through Him, His garments; amongst whom He is always present in power, but will be manifestly present at His second coming. That the Scripture mentions the blood of the grape has been evidently designed, because Christ derives blood not from the seed of man, but from the power of God. Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.222

III. Purpose of the law (Top)

Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane. 1 Timothy 1:9

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Galatians 3:24

For we too would observe the fleshly circumcision, and the Sabbaths, and in short all the feasts, if we did not know for what reason they were commanded you - namely, on account of your transgressions and the hardness of your hearts. Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.203

Moreover, you were commanded to abstain from certain kinds of food, in order that you might keep God before your eyes while you ate and drank, seeing that you were prone and very ready to depart from His knowledge, as Moses also affirms: 'The people ate and drank, and rose up to play.' And again: 'Jacob ate, and was satisfied, and waxed fat; and he who was beloved kicked: he waxed fat, he grew thick, he was enlarged, and he forsook God who had made him.' For it was told you by Moses in the book of Genesis, that God granted to Noah, being a just man, to eat of every animal, but not of flesh with the blood, which is dead. Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.204

Moreover, that God commanded you to keep the Sabbath, and impose on you other precepts for a sign, as I have already said, on account of your unrighteousness, and that of your fathers - as He declares that for the sake of the nations, lest His name be profaned among them. Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.205

And that you may learn that it was for the sins of your own nation, and for their idolatries and not because there was any necessity for such sacrifices, that they were likewise commanded. Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.206

As, then, circumcision began with Abraham, and the Sabbath and sacrifices and offerings and feasts with Moses, and it has been proved they were given on account of the hardness of your people's heart, so it was necessary, in accordance with the Father's will, that they should have an end in Him who was born of a virgin. Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.216

But if some, through weak-mindedness, wish to observe such institutions as were given by Moses, from which they expect some virtue, but which we believe were appointed by reason of the hardness of the people's hearts… Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.218

Death… "reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression." But the law coming, which was given by Moses, and testifying of sin that it is a sinner… It laid, however, a weighty burden upon man, who had sin in himself, showing that he was liable to death. For as the law was spiritual, it merely made sin to stand out in relief, but did not destroy it. Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 448

And Paul likewise declares, "And so all Israel shall be saved;" but he has also said, that the law was our pedagogue [to bring us] to Christ Jesus. Let them not therefore ascribe to the law the unbelief of certain [among them]. For the law never hindered them from believing in the Son of God; nay, but it even exhorted them so to do, saying that men can be saved in no other way from the old wound of the serpent than by believing in Him who, in the likeness of sinful flesh, is lifted up from the earth upon the tree of martyrdom, and draws all things to Himself, and vivifies the dead. Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.465

They [the Jews] were unwilling to be subject to the law of God, which prepares them for the coming of Christ. Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 475

Now, that the law did beforehand teach mankind the necessity of following Christ, He does Himself make manifest, when He replied as follows to him who asked Him what he should do that he might inherit eternal life: "If you will enter into life, keep the commandments." But upon the other asking "Which?" again the Lord replies: "Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor father and mother, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself,"-setting as an ascending series (velut gradus) before those who wished to follow Him, the precepts of the law, as the entrance into life; and what He then said to one He said to all. But when the former said, "All these have I done" (and most likely he had not kept them, for in that case the Lord would not have said to him, "Keep the commandments"), the Lord, exposing his covetousness, said to him, "If you will be perfect, go, sell all that you have, and distribute to the poor; and come, follow me;" Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.476

For the law, since it was laid down for those in bondage, used to instruct the soul by means of those corporeal objects which were of an external nature, drawing it, as by a bond, to obey its commandments, that man might learn to serve God. Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 477

And not only so, but the Lord also showed that certain precepts were enacted for them by Moses, on account of their hardness [of heart], and because of their unwillingness to be obedient, when, on their saying to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give a writing of divorcement, and to send away a wife?” "He said to them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts he permitted these things to you; but from the beginning it was not so;" thus exculpating Moses as a faithful servant, but acknowledging one God, who from the beginning made male and female, and reproving them as hard-hearted and disobedient. And therefore it was that they received from Moses this law of divorcement, adapted to their hard nature. Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.480

Why, then, did the Lord not form the covenant for the fathers? Because "the law was not established for righteous men." But the righteous fathers had the meaning of the Decalogue written in their hearts and souls, that is, they loved the God who made them, and did no injury to their neighbor. Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.481

"But each has his own proper gift of God" - one in one way, another in another. But the apostles were perfected in all. You will find, then, if you choose, in their acts and writings, knowledge, life, preaching, righteousness, purity, prophecy. We must know, then, that if Paul is young in respect to time - having flourished immediately after the Lord's ascension - yet his writings depend on the Old Testament, breathing and speaking of them. For faith in Christ and the knowledge of the Gospel are the explanation and fulfillment of the law; and therefore it was said to the Hebrews, "If you believe not, neither shall you understand;" that is, unless you believe what is prophesied in the law, and oracularly delivered by the law, you will not understand the Old Testament, which He by His coming expounded. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.434

Now this, we affirm, was the function of the law as preparatory to the gospel. It was engaged in forming the faith of such as would learn, by gradual stages, for the perfect light of the Christian discipline. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg.373