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  • Writer's pictureScott Carr, Jr.

St. Paul's Ethic

When St. Paul refers to “the Law”, he typically means the Mosaic Law as a whole (Moo 84, 90; Gal. 3:10). The Law had a limited and set task (Moo 82) to guard, discipline, and teach God’s people during this evil age until Christ’s coming (Gal. 3:23-24; 1 Tim. 1:8-11; Deut. 4:14). Jesus came to fulfill the Law (Mat. 5:17; Col. 2:16-17) and took the curse of the Law on Himself in order to share its blessings with the Gentiles (Gal. 3:13-14; Deut 4:25-31; 8:17-20). Christians have died to this Law in baptism and now belong to Christ in the Spirit (Romans 6:1-4, 7:4-6). Instead of living under the constraints of the Law, Christians are free to live in Christ (Gal. 5:1-6). The free Christian life is marked by love for one another (Romans 13:8; Gal. 5:13-14), just as Christ loved the Church and died on her behalf.

Instead of the Law, St. Paul presents a threefold theological vision to root Christian living. First, Christians live in this present evil age as citizens of the age to come, the new creation, which is breaking into the world through the presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Christians live anticipating the final consummation of the new creation (Hays 19-27; Gal. 5:19-21). Second, Jesus’ self-giving love for the Church in His crucifixion serves as the key figure of Christian living (Hays 27-32). Finally, Christians live as members of a community created by God to reflect the love of God to one another in unity (Hays 32-36; Gal. 6:2; Eph. 2:13-22).

Hays, Richard B. The Moral Vision of the New Testament. New York, NY: HarperOne, 1996.

Moo, Douglas J. ""Law", "Works of the Law", and Legalism in Paul." Westminster Theological Journal 45 (1983): 73-100.​

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