If the Law was Fulfilled in A.D. 70, Are the Ten Commandments Still Binding?

PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY Forums Forum If the Law was Fulfilled in A.D. 70, Are the Ten Commandments Still Binding?

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    If the Law was fulfilled at the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70, are the Ten Commandments still binding? The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70 and has not been rebuilt since. With the destruction of the Temple it became impossible to fully follow many of the ceremonies and festivals prescribed by the Law. The fact that it was no longer possible to follow the whole Law implies that the Law had finally passed and been fulfilled. This point is implied in James 2:10: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” Thus the destruction of the Temple was the ultimate sign that the Law had finally been fulfilled as Jesus predicted in Matthew 5:17: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” The passing of the Law is also predicted in Hebrews 8:13: “By calling this covenant “new,” [Christianity] he has made the first one [the Law of Moses] obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.”

    Of course, the Ten Commandments are part of the Law. So if the Law had passed, does this mean that the Ten Commandments are no longer binding? Not necessarily. When Hebrews 8 discusses the soon to come passing away of the Law, Hebrews 8:10 says that at the arrival of the new covenant, Christianity, the Law of God will be written on the hearts of the saints: “This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.”

    How could the Law be written in the hearts of the people during the new covenant? In Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus seems to answer this question: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Galatians 5:14 echoes these verses: “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” In Matthew 22:37-40 and Galatians 5:14 one can see that loving God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself is how you can show that the Law is written in your heart. This notion is made explicit in Romans 2:14-15: “(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)”

    The first three commandments show that you love, honor and respect God. Commandments five through ten show that you love your neighbor. For example, if you steal, commit adultery, bear false witness or murder, wouldn’t these actions imply that you do not love your neighbor as yourself? Thus with the exception of the fourth commandment, honor the sabbath day, the Ten Commandments are really just a practical set of rules to show if the Law is written in your heart. If you follow the Ten Commandments you show that you love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. And by doing this you know that you have the Law written in your heart.

    Could it then be said that if some of the Law of Moses like the universal moral precepts; murder, stealing, adultery, etc.; is still binding that this is a slippery slope pointing back to justification by the Law. Not at all! The Law was instituted by Moses. However, even before the Law was given, these universal moral precepts mentioned in the Ten Commandments were still binding just as they still are after the passing of the Law. All of humanity, Jew and Gentile, always knew that it was wrong to lie, steal and kill (Romans 2:14-15). Much of the Ten Commandments merely echoes what people already knew. Did not Cain still sin when he murdered Abel even though this predated the Law and the Ten Commandments? Murder was a sin before the Law, in the midst of the Law, and it is still a sin after the Law passed.

    The saints are justified by faith (Galatians 2:16). Paul echoes this idea of justification by faith apart from the works of the Law in Romans 3:28: “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” That is not to say, however, that we may still keep on sinning by stealing, killing or lying. James makes this point clear when he emphasizes the idea that faith without works of righteousness is dead. The works mentioned in James 2:15-25 is different from the works of Romans 3. The works of Romans 3 is clearly the works of the prescribed ceremonies and stipulations of the Law of Moses. The works mentioned in James 2:15-25 are deeds of righteousness, not works of the Law.

    In fact, James 2 echoes this idea that the moral aspects of the Law are still binding when he introduces what he calls the Royal Law (also called the Law of Our King) or the Law of Freedom in James 2:8, 12. The Royal Law (the Law of Our King) and the Law of Freedom is partially defined in v. 8: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The Royal Law was introduced by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40. Here Jesus taught the Jews to love God with all their heart and love their neighbor as themselves. It is this principle of loving God and other people that James calls the Royal Law (James 2:8) and the Law of Freedom (James 2:12). Throughout James 2, James illustrates how one is to abide by this law of love by not committing adultery (v. 11), by not committing murder (v. 11) and by providing for people in need (vs. 15-16). James also illustrates the idea of loving one’s neighbor by mentioning how Rahab had done this when she saved the lives of the Israelite messengers in Joshua 2:4-15 (v. 25). James also illustrates the importance of loving God with all your heart which Jesus taught in conjunction with loving your neighbor as yourself in Matthew 22:37-40 by calling attention to Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac at the Lord’s command (v. 21).

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