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Which laws / commandments must we obey according to Jesus / New Testament?

law

We are not supposed to live in lawlessness

There have always been commandments to obey:

  • Between the time – from Adam and Moses
  • Between the time – from Moses to Jesus (the Jewish law)
  • Between the time – from Jesus to present

The moral laws which applied from the very beginning still apply – maybe apart from the commandment to not eat of the forbidden fruit, something we cannot even do due to no access. Nevertheless, numerous Christians tend to believe we are somehow free from the burden of having to obey God because Jesus died on the cross and resurrected, and because of the idea that he ”took our sins on himself” and died instead of us. The Bible however tells us that we are slaves to the one we obey, so if we obey sin we are slaves to sin and not free at all. We are still risking God’s wrath.

What does Jesus say?

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus lists the following things which we must do to get eternal life:

  1. not murder
  2. not commit adultery
  3. not steal
  4. not bear false witness 
  5. honour your father and mother
  6. love your neighbour as yourself

Matt. 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

In the gospel of Mark he has a slightly different order, and he adds ”defraud not”, and skips ”love your neighbour as yourself”.  This of course does not mean that the authors are in disagreement even if they highlight different things. To love God and our neighbor as ourselves is self-evident and the foundation of the Jewish faith. In the gospel of Luke, we can again see the same five commandments (similar as in Matthew and Mark), but also Luke seems to assume that loving God and our neighbor is self-evident for a Jew and this foundation does not even need to be mentioned.

We also know from the rest of the story that the young man continued talking to Jesus, and claimed he had kept all those commandments from youth (true or false?). What else did he lack? Well, Jesus said that if he wanted to be ”perfect”, then he should sell all that he had and give to the poor, which would give him a treasure in heaven. He also said to the young man to follow him. We cannot be sure what sort of ”perfect” Jesus is talking about here. In Matt. 5:48 we are requested to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect, but it is also possible to be perfect in other ways, such as physically perfect (which evidently Matt. 5:48 does not refer to). If the young ruler would accomplish the perfection that Jesus was talking about here, he could expect ”a treasure in heaven”. Is obeying the mentioned commandments necessary to ”get eternal life” while getting rid of the other obstacle (selling possessions which distract from God) necessary if we want to be perfect and get an extra treasure in heaven? Jesus does indicate that it is very hard for rich people to enter the kingdom of God, so if possessions hinder us to focus on God then they might also hinder us to get eternal life. It is safe to assume that Jesus could not have meant that the young man must get rid of 100% of all his belongings, because not even Jesus and his disciples accomplished that. We know of great many people in the Bible who also had many possessions, but who were also fully committed to God. Jesus probably sensed that this young man had many possessions enticing him, and therefore phrased himself the way he did. For this man the many possessions seemed to be holding him back, and he likely placed his possessions before God.

In the gospel of Mark the story is similar, but it adds the information that Jesus loved this young man. Jesus felt that this young man lacked one thing, and again it was the many possessions which were in the way. Jesus did not say it was impossible for the young man to be saved, but for many rich people it seems a lot harder.

Mark. 10:17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

According to Luke (assuming it is the same young man), we get the information that he is a ruler (ἄρχων, Strong’s 758)

Luke 18:18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.

Some might say Jesus mentioned the above commandments while the Mosaic law (as per the old testament) still applied since he had not yet died on the cross and resurrected, but again the moral laws still apply. Sin will continue to separate us from God, and Satan will always be wrong for suggesting the opposite (that sin will not lead to death).

One commandment covers all of the commandments

Jesus of course mentions other examples of things we must ”do” to get eternal life, but those things can all be wrapped up in ”Love God before everything else, and love one another”. If we obey this one commandment, we automatically obey all the rest.

Luke 10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

Matt. 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.38 This is the first and great commandment.39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Mark. 12:28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:30 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.31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.32 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.

Rom. 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Ja. 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well

Jesus specifically tells his disciples (and all of us) to go out and teach all nations to observe all things whatsoever he has commanded them. 

Matt. 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

James advice about which laws gentiles should obeylaw of God

Below we can read that James does not feel that they should trouble the gentiles when it comes to which laws which should apply for them when it comes to the Jewish law, except that they should abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. ”Immorality” (πορνείας/porneias, Strong’s 4202) can also have the meaning of ”fornication”. (According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon πορνεία can be used metaphorically referring to the worship of idols and/or the defilement of idolatry as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols).

Clearly James, Paul and the other disciples did not claim that gentiles are exempted from obeying any commandments at all. They are specifically talking about the Jewish law in relation to new gentile Christians. Apart from the moral law (the commandments which have always applied ever since Adam, and which Jesus repeats above), James proposes that the only Mosaic laws which they should also obey are to abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from fornication (probably with the meaning as per the Greek lexicon above). They do not list murder, adultery, theft, etc, because they are included in the moral commandments and it is self-evident that Jews and gentiles alike must continue to avoid such things until the end of times.

Acts 15:13 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: 14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:16 ‘After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;I will rebuild its ruins,And I will set it up;17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the Lord who does all these things.’18 “Known to God from eternity are all His works.19 Therefore I judge that we should NOT TROUBLE those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality*, from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” (NKJV)

Acts 21:18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. — 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; 21 but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.—   24 Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. 25 But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, EXCEPT that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.” (NKJV)

Annonser

When I have a convenient time I will call for you, said Felix to the Preacher – Acts 24:25

pearl2Is there anything more foolish than rejecting the word of God, and to decline to hear more about the Creator who can save your soul? This happens frequently when christians go out in the world to tell others about Jesus Christ, when those who are approached feel they can afford to say ”no thanks”, or at best ”I will think about it. Maybe in the future” . That is also what Felix the governor did when he had the chance to listen to the apostle Paul when he (Paul) explained how  to enter the kingdom of God and get eternal life. Felix likely felt that he was a much luckier guy than Paul, because Paul was only a poor and despised prisoner while Felix was a powerful governor with few things to worry about in this world – as long as he sided with the right kind of people.

Felix actually had some knowledge about the Way, and learned even more about God through Paul’s initial talk. Yet, he cut it short by adjourning the meeting, and it’s possible that he was too afraid to make a decision himself about Paul’s future (in combination with that he also hoped to get bribed by Paul or his friends). (From NKJV because I had a hard time understanding this section in KJV):

Acts. 24:22 But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the Way, he adjourned the proceedings and said, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case.” 

Maybe it was his conscience that told him that it was a good idea to give Paul some liberty while he was in custody, because Paul was a kind man who did not harm anyone:

23 So he commanded the centurion to keep Paul and to let him have liberty, and told him not to forbid any of his friends to provide for or visit him.

Felix wife Drusilla (daughter of Herodes Agrippa I) seemed to be curious about Paul and his teaching and likely wanted to hear more about it, and also see this man who everyone was talking about. Felix called for Paul when Drusilla was with him, and Paul lost no chance to spread the word of God to all who wanted to hear:

24 And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.

But when Paul told Felix about the conditions for salvation, and that one must be self-controlled in order to be righteous in the eyes of God, and that there is a judgment day ahead of us where the almighty God will judge each one of us for what we have done and not done, and such things, Felix became AFRAID and didn’t want to hear any more. That is often the case when people start to realize the seriousness of sin, and that there actually is a Creator out there who has opinions about the way we live our lives. Some people therefore reason that it’s better to put the lid on in order to not disturb their bad consciences even more, because it’s a scary thing to know that you’re actually heading for eternal damnation. Felix then tells Paul to leave, and explains to him that he will call for him when he has a convenient time! That is such a bitter comment because here is a man of God – the apostle Paul – who has met Jesus in person on the way to Damascus and who knows exactly what is required to get eternal life in heaven, and yet Felix doesn’t take the chance to learn more about how to save his SOUL from HELL. A more convenient time? YOU CAN DIE TOMORROW! If you hear the word of God today, then don’t wait for tomorrow because tomorrow might never come:

25 Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; WHEN I HAVE A CONVENIENT TIME I WILL CALL FOR YOU.

Not only did Felix miss a great opportunity to hear more about how to get this great PEARL in the form of Jesus Christ when Paul was telling him about him and how to reach salvation, but he also hoped to get bribed by Paul, which conveys his worldly outlook on things. For this reason he checked on Paul once in a while and talked to him with the hope that some extra money would be coming his way, because that would certainly be a bonus. On top of this he chose not to release Paul prior to being succeeded by Festus, and thus he left the destiny of Paul’s future in another person’s hands despite that he had the power to release Paul himself. Felix reason for doing so was so that he could make the jews a favor. I don’t believe Felix himself was concerned about whether Paul spread the gospel in the synagogues and in markets or not, but he made whatever decision that was the most advantageous for himself, and not to be fair to others. It’s possible that he felt a bit bad about keeping a nice person like Paul in custody, but he eased his conscience by giving him some liberty…

Jude 1:16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. (NKJV)

As long as Paul was in his custody, there was always a chance that he could be bribed, and at the same time he scored points among the jews who liked the fact that Paul was locked up and no longer could spread his words about Jesus among them. Releasing Paul, on the other hand, would give Felix no benefit at all, so he found no reason to do it now when he didn’t have to. Felix believed he was a smart guy, and yet he was guilty of sin and he let a great opportunity to get saved slip through his hands:

26 Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him.27 But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound. (NKJV)

Friend, if you have not given your life to Jesus today, do it now before it’s too late! All other things can wait while you make this most important decision in your whole life. You are never certain of that you will get a ”tomorrow”, so priority No 1 must be to make sure your soul is saved before you do anything else. It’s not a difficult decision unless you make it that way. You must first start to realize that you are separated from God due to your sins, but if you confess your sins and repent God will forgive you if you truly mean your repentance! God loves you and he hopes that you will come to him to get LIFE, and it will be a decision you will never regret. Spend your time in prayer and by reading his Word in the Bible, and you will get to know him more and more. You will be given the Holy Spirit as a Helper in your life. Don’t uphold your decision for another day!

Matthew 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Luke 12:16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

 

As many as were ordained to eternal life believed, but they were not FORCED Acts 13:48


ArkenAnd when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48)

This verse alone  doesn’t mention the criteria for God’s choice to ordain individuals, unlike many other verses which clarify that it’s our FAITH that is the criteria – which is something that is requested from us. Neither does this verse suggest that God’s appointing is the CAUSE for people’s faith. IF God is the one who chooses who will believe, then he is also the one we should blame each time a person does NOT believe – because lack of faith wouldn’t be anyone’s fault but God’s. If people are not able to believe unless God makes them believe, then God is guilty of preventing people from believing, and also for being in the same team as the devil – who is overjoyed when people don’t believe in God.

The word ”ordain” is a translation from the Greek verb tasso (Strong’s 5021) – and the middle voice of this word is tetagmenoi (it’s not necessary to view this word as a perfect passive participle) – and ”includes no idea of preordination or predestination of any kind” according to Adam Clark (Commentary on Acts 13:48). The word simply means “disposed” (to set in position), and therefore the verse could be translated “as many as were disposed (or who set themselves in such a disposition)to eternal life believed”.  Their disposition to receive the gospel is contrasted with the disposition of the Jews just two verse before, and the Jews had chosen another path.

Acts 13:46Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

So those who judge themselves unworthy of everlasting life did not believe, but those who disposed themselves to eternal life believed, and whether they believed or not depended on whether their heart rejected or accepted the Gospel which was preached to them. Those who hardened their hearts did not believe, but those who softened their hearts did believe, and what made the difference was the disposition which they choose to have to the good tidings. If we won’t accept the offer of salvation, we are sending ourselves to hell and that is of course a very bad choice. God himself doesn’t want anyone to perish and he would like that we ALL should repent. This is the same story that we can read in Romans 1 and in the rest of the Bible.

Below we can read about a sorcerer who WITHSTOOD Paul and Barnabas and who apparently perverted the right ways of the Lord. With other words; God’s will doesn’t always happen.  

Acts 13:8But Elyma the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. 9Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him. 10And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?— 12Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

What would have happened if Paul and Barnabas would not be present to prevent the sorcerer from perverting God’s ways? Paul’s statements make is sound like this wasn’t the first time this sorcerer had perverted the right ways of the Lord. We can also read that the deputy started to believe due to what he saw. If men are elected to believe before the creation of the world, why did the deputy’s faith coincide with what he heard and saw? The Bible says faith comes from hearing the Word of God and we are expected to believe – particularly if we can see God’s works in actions.

Joh. 14:11Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.

We can read that the Word is sent to men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham., and we can read that the Word is sent to ”WHOSOEVER among you feareth God”. To fear is something we do and if God would have chosen a lucky few to believe in him, wouldn’t we rather be reading something like ”And God will make sure he places godly fear in you so that you can believe”?

Acts 13:26Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.

GLAD TIDINGS are declared ”unto you” and why would not ”you” be those mentioned in the verse above and in the rest of verses in the same chapter?

Acts 13:32And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers33God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

Paul continues to address ”men and brethren” and that the forgiveness of sins is preached unto them. We can also read that ”ALL THAT BELIEVE are justified from all things”. This is an offer to all who believe. We are also warned ”BEWARE THEREFORE, lest that come UPON YOU, which is spoken of in the prophets”. So even if Paul is making a wonderful promise to his listeners, there is also a condition for this promise because the risk is always that we can fall away if we don’t walk in the light:

Acts 13:38Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. 40Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;

Paul is telling us about despisers, who are those that perish. Does God want people to despise Him and to NOT believe in Him? No of course God wouldn’t want anyone to reject him or rebel against Him.  Moreover, we can read about further warnings from Paul and Barnabas who persuaded people to CONTINUE in the grace of God, which is not so certain they will:

Acts 13:41Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.—43Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

Here again we can read that salvation is offered also to the gentiles and unto the ends of the earth. Not just a limited amount of people:

Acts 13:47For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.

Comments from various Bible scholars/teachers

The phrase ”as many as were ordained to eternal life believed ”can be compared with a statement such as ”As many as were set for the test passed it”.  Friberg’s lexicon suggests it could mean “as many as had become disposed toward eternal life” , and Max Zerwick  “who had been set (in the way)” in Zerwick and Grosvenor’s  A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament. The NT lexicon BDAG suggests it means “to put in place”, and Henry Alford suggests it means “as many as were disposed” in  The Greek Testament. Thayer’s and Strong’s defines “τάσσω” as determined or disposed and not predetermined or predisposed.  Also John Wesley agrees with this idea.

Adam Clarke:calvinism2

“Acts 13:48: As many as were ordained to eternal life believed – This text has been most pitifully misunderstood. Many suppose that it simply means that those in that assembly who were fore-ordained; or predestinated by God’s decree, to eternal life, believed under the influence of that decree. Now, we should be careful to examine what a word means, before we attempt to fix its meaning. Whatever τεταγμενοι may mean, which is the word we translate ordained, it is neither προτεταγμενοι nor προορισμενοι which the apostle uses, but simply τεταγμενοι, which includes no idea of pre-ordination or pre-destination of any kind. And if it even did, it would be rather hazardous to say that all those who believed at this time were such as actually persevered unto the end, and were saved unto eternal life. But, leaving all these precarious matters, what does the word τεταγμενος mean? The verb ταττω or τασσω signifies to place, set, order, appoint, dispose; hence it has been considered here as implying the disposition or readiness of mind of several persons in the congregation, such as the religious proselytes mentioned Acts 13:43, who possessed the reverse of the disposition of those Jews who spake against those things, contradicting and blaspheming, Acts 13:45. Though the word in this place has been variously translated, yet, of all the meanings ever put on it, none agrees worse with its nature and known signification than that which represents it as intending those who were predestinated to eternal life: this is no meaning of the term, and should never be applied to it. Let us, without prejudice, consider the scope of the place: the Jews contradicted and blasphemed; the religious proselytes heard attentively, and received the word of life: the one party were utterly indisposed, through their own stubbornness, to receive the Gospel; the others, destitute of prejudice and prepossession, were glad to hear that, in the order of God, the Gentiles were included in the covenant of salvation through Christ Jesus; they, therefore, in this good state and order of mind, believed. Those who seek for the plain meaning of the word will find it here: those who wish to make out a sense, not from the Greek word, its use among the best Greek writers, and the obvious sense of the evangelist, but from their own creed, may continue to puzzle themselves and others; kindle their own fire, compass themselves with sparks, and walk in the light of their own fire, and of the sparks which they have kindled; and, in consequence, lie down in sorrow, having bidden adieu to the true meaning of a passage so very simple, taken in its connection, that one must wonder how it ever came to be misunderstood and misapplied. Those who wish to see more on this verse may consult Hammond, Whitby, Schoettgen, Rosenmuller, Pearce, Sir Norton Knatchbull, and Dodd.”