Author: Ron Graham

Upholding Law

The Law and the Gospel
—Did Jesus Preach the Law of Moses?

This lesson briefly examines two doctrines taught about the gospel, and observes that they do not match with the New Testament's own teaching about the gospel as Christ's new law and covenant for all mankind.

1 The Gospel is for the Church

Some people think that the gospel is only for the lost, and having become a Christian, one leaves the gospel and enters a "covenant relationship". That expression is not found in scripture. Unscriptural terms often indicate unscriptural teachings. Note the following terms in Romans...

These are surely all ways of describing one and the same thing, namely the doctrine that Paul and his fellow apostles were teaching to the world. There is no evidence at all in Romans that Paul had a gospel he preached to the lost that was different to the doctrine he taught the church. In fact he clearly says to the church in Rome. "I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome" (Romans 1:13-18).

The gospel in Paul's mind not only saves the lost from the wrath of God, but bears fruit in the believers, revealing the righteousness of God from faith to faith, whether that be the faith of the lost sinner coming to Christ, or the faith of the members of the church who have been saved.

Everyone, whether lost or saved, has a "covenant relationship" with God under the gospel...

We observe the same thing in Paul's other letters. Take for example his letter to the Galatians. Paul says, "It was because of an illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time" (Galatians 4:12-16). This clearly implies that he preached the gospel to them at subsequent times, yet they were already Christians. In the first chapter he tells them to stick with the gospel he preached to them and not let anyone preach another gospel to them. This clearly implies that Paul's gospel should be preached to them though they be Christians (Galatians 1:6-11). We also observe in Galatians that Paul refers to the gospel as "the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).

2 Jesus Preached the Gospel

Some teach that Jesus, in his ministry, interpreted the Law of Moses to the Jews and did not preach the gospel.

When introducing the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew says, "Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom" (Matthew 4:23). In Matthew chapter five Jesus repeatedly refers to portions of the Law of Moses, then says, "But I say to you..." He contrasts his teaching with that of Moses. And in certain cases he flatly contradicts Moses.

Other scriptures make it clear that Jesus preached the gospel...

3 Jesus Died to Ratify the Gospel

note Although Jesus preached the gospel, not the law, this does not mean that the Law had passed away and the gospel was in force during Jesus' ministry. He said clearly that the Law would not pass in any detail until all of it was fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-19).

At the same time as the Law was fulfilled, and by the same act, the gospel would be ratified and come into force in place of Moses’s law.

The Law was fulfilled and abrogated at the cross (Colossians 2:14). The gospel declared that the time for the law of Moses to cease was the crucifixion of Christ.

In the meantime, people could practise what Jesus taught without conflict with the law of Moses, and even as an enlightened way to keep the law of Moses. The sermon on the mount is an excellent example of this (Matthew 5-7).

After our Lord’s death, people could practise what he taught in place of the law of Moses because Christ had become their high priest in heaven and his gospel was now their new covenant which he had mediated to them (Hebrews 9:11-17).