The Conclusion of the Mosaic System
“For the Law was given by Moses,
but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
The Mosaic religious requirements ended with the establishment of Christianity when the world went from having to obey written laws to unwritten laws engraved on the heart (unwritten laws of the Spirit that cannot be read or seen with the eyes). I have shown what the apostle Paul said about this matter in the first chapter. With the final and mature teachings of Christ, the Mosaic system — designed to be kept by spiritual infants — became antiquated and unnecessary. God had something better to give mankind and gave Christianity as His final teaching for the world.
However, understand one important point. The Christian ekklesia [wrongly translated “church” in many versions of the Bible] was not instituted unto Pentecost day after Christ’s resurrection. The word ekklesia simply means “assembly” or “congregation.” The first official Christian congregation of Jews in Jerusalem did not begin when Christ started His ministry. Christ said, “I will build my congregation” (Matthew 16:18). The congregation of Christ did not begin until after His death and resurrection from the dead. Actually, the totality of the ministry of Christ in the flesh was under the banner of the Mosaic system — completely and absolutely! It was reckoned by Him to the conclusion of the Mosaic dispensation, not the start of the new Christian one. This fact may appear strange to some but it is true nonetheless and can be proved from the Bible. It is important we all understand this.
Christ while teaching in the flesh was placing the capstone on the Mosaic system of living by the Law. Christ was prophesied to be a “second Moses” with greater power than Moses to be a legislator . Christ changed the Law of Moses drastically and had complete authority to do so. He had the backing of God the Father to do so. Look at the legislation giving Christ such authority. Christ had the power to change any law He pleased.
“The Lord your God will raise up unto you a Prophet from the midst of you, of your brethren, like unto me; unto him you shall hearken; According to all that you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.’ And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto you, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.”
“The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he [the Messiah] will magnify the law, and make it honourable.”
The message Christ preached during His ministry was a message of law, not grace. Christ said,
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill [fill to the top].”
And “fill to the top” He did! He made the Law so strict that no one could possibly keep it. Christ presented a message that greatly magnified the Law in an extreme sense.
The essential features we reckon today as the main teaching of Christianity taught by Peter, John, and Paul, were thoroughly absent from Christ’s message to the Jews when He was in the flesh. This evaluation may surprise some, but there is no doubt that this is true. Christ’s message in the flesh was a completion (and even a magnification) of the Mosaic Law, not the beginning of the new Christian system. True, Christ gave hints of the new teaching of Christianity soon to merge on earth, but He gave no systematic disclosures about it in the flesh.
There are five factors that show Christ’s ministry to be a completion of the Mosaic system, NOT the beginning of the New Covenant. He did not begin New Covenant teaching until the eve of His crucifixion. Indeed, much of Christ’s early doctrinal teaching was NOT intended for later Christians to observe. It was intended only for those Jews who heard Him during the time of His fleshly ministry. In completing the Mosaic System, Christ changed it in many ways. Some may at first object to this appraisal if they have no looked at the biblical teachings carefully, but it is the truth. There were FIVE MAJOR DEFICIENCIES in Christ’s teaching to the Jews.
Yes! There were five distinct negative teachings in the first teaching of the Gospel by our Lord and He intended it to be that way. These deficiencies were in regard to obtaining salvation. In fact, Christ’s first teaching of the Gospel made salvation an impossible achievement for humans to obtain. It was simply too difficult to achieve. Let us see.
Christ’s early message while He was in the flesh was one of law, not grace. There was not one ounce of salvation in it as far as mankind was concerned. And Christ’s message of law was far stricter than that of Moses. While it was possible to be “blameless” under Moses’ law (Luke 1:6; Philippians 3:6), under the directions Christ gave in what is called the Sermon on the Mount, no one could possibly be considered “blameless.” Look at the teachings Christ required if people ever hoped to be saved.
First compare what Moses precisely taught in the Ten Commandments. One of those commands said “Thou shalt not Kill.” The words are simple and plain. The command referred to the illegal killing of any human being. If one murdered someone, he was judged guilty by the courts in ancient Israel and sentenced to death.
However Christ went far above the simple meaning of the law. He strengthened it far beyond its normal teaching and provided a more severe form of punishment than simple death. Notice it. “Whosoever is angry with his brother” was now reckoned a murderer by our Lord (Matthew 5:22). Even calling someone “Raca” (i.e., empty-headed or a vain fellow) would bring one before the courts of God and he would be found guilty (Matthew 5:22). If someone even called another person a “fool,” his punishment would make him subject to the rigors of Gehenna fire (verse 22). These commands and the judgments associated with them were of extreme severity. No person could possibly keep them. These commands gave most in the world no hope “Narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13).
These teachings of our Lord were so severe, and more stringent than the simple statements of the Ten Commandments, that they led one to hopelessness in trying to keep them. But it did not stop with the first commands. It went further. If one looked longingly on a woman (or man) to lust after her (him), the person was adjudged as committing adultery (Matthew 5:28). President Carter at the beginning of his presidency was not the only one to acknowledge openly that he committed this kind of adultery. It occurs to every normal person unless certain glands have been removed.
Hardly anyone has escaped breaking Christ’s interpretation on this matter. And look at the harshness of punishment for this type of adultery. The right eye was ordered to be plucked out (Matthew 5:29) or the right hand cut off (verse 30). This surgery of part of the anatomy was to prevent all the body being destroyed in Gehenna fire.
But the severity does not end there. Whereas divorce under Moses was allowed for most human weaknesses which were judged reasonable by the courts (Deuteronomy 24:1–3), Christ’s teachign was much more strict (Matthew 5:23, 32). It was so severe that even the disciples responded: “it is good not to marry” (Matthew 19:10). The disciples were simply amazed at Christ’s strict teaching.
These new interpretations of Christ were vast changes to the meaning of the Laws given to Moses. They went far beyond simple obedience to law as understood by Jewish theologians. With Christ’s new interpretation, if someone were to be awarded your coat at law, you were also required to give him your cloak (Matthew 5:40). When compelled to go one mile, you had to go two ((verse 40). And if smitten on the cheek, the other cheek had to be subjected to abuse (verse 39). There were no “ifs, and or buts” to these requirements, which Christ insisted that people must keep. They went far beyond the normal limits of law, whether the law was that of Moses or any of our normal laws today.
The truth is, these new interpretations that Christ gave were so far beyond the ordinary capability of man to observe (whether the laws were of God or man) that no human could possibly on all occasions keep them. This is a fact that no sensible person can deny. Yet, when a young man came to Christ and asked Him what must be done in order to attain eternal [age-lasting] life, Christ said “If you will enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:16–17). Christ meant to keep His commandments, not simply in the Mosaic way but in the manner Christ interpreted them. Though the man said he had observed the normal (Mosaic) meaning of the commandments, he still failed the test of perfection demanded by Christ because he coveted his goods, and refused to sell them and follow Christ (verses 18–22).
The point is, how many of us are capable of keeping these high spiritual teachings of Christ in regard to law? While Elizabeth, Zechariah, Paul were reckoned as “blameless” in observing Moses’ law, no one could possibly say that they kept perfectly the strict interpretations that Christ Jesus put on the law. This over-strictness is reflected throughout the whole of Matthew’s Gospel. Note this point. The Scribes and Pharisees kept the law more scrupulously than any other group (they observed the Mosaic requirements well), but Christ demanded much more of His people.
“Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Why, then, did Christ give us such rigorous interpretations when He knew they could not be kept? It is very simple. It was to increase peoples’ transgressions and show that no one can possibly gain salvation by trying to keep any law. Christ went so far as to make the law so stern that no one could possibly observe it perfectly. And while the apostle Paul stated that the law of Moses had been given “for the purpose of producing transgressions” (Galatians 3:19, Moffatt translation), when Christ came along, following the precedent of Moses, He increased the resultant transgressions tenfold with His above-normal requirements. Of course, Christ had the power to insist on such stringent disciplines if He so pleased. But again, why did He do so?
As stated before, Christ was making the law so impossible to observe in a perfect sense, that there was no chance of anyone being called “blameless” again. He did this in order to direct people to the need of a Savior (Himself) who was to manifest Himself to the earth. And Christ poured on laws upon laws (and extremely stringent ones) that no ordinary human could even begin to keep.
All through Christ’s ministry while He was in the flesh, he emphasized only one way to gain salvation. It was through obedience to law. But when man witnessed the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ (and the sending of the Holy Spirit), a whole new method of gaining salvation was introduced to the earth. Something different from the observance of laws was brought into existence. A new standard of righteousness was introduced. It was given to those who expressed a faith and love in Christ, a reliance on His blood as the sole means for obtaining the Kingdom of God and a salvation that accompanied the promise of the Kingdom.
Thus, through the whole of the ministry of Christ while in the flesh, He insisted on law keeping as the only way to salvation. But this insistence on law (and on an over-strict interpretation of it) represented a conclusion to the Mosaic system; the Law of Moses made even more stringent with Christ’s superlative additions. This shows that Christ’s teaching to the Jews in Palestine was not the beginning of the Christian system in which salvation was awarded through faith, not through law. This first phase of Christ’s teachings shows a deficiency in the message that Christ taught to the Jews (a deficiency intended by God). It shows a great difference between the first teachings of Christ and those taught later by the apostles. Christ’s message of law before His crucifixion was intended to be replaced by something better; replaced by the final teachings of Christ that had grace as the means of salvation. But before Christ’s crucifixion, it was all LAW, LAW and more LAW!
There is a further reason that shows that Christ’s ministry in the flesh was still under the Mosaic system. The New Covenant (the Covenant that characterizes a Christian message) was not brought into existence until the eve of Christ’s crucifixion. Only at Christ’s Last Supper was the New Covenant introduced.
“For this is my blood of the new testament [New Covenant], which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
Christ had to first die before there could be any ratification of the New Covenant. Every stitch of teaching of our Lord while in the flesh was under the authority of the Old Covenant, not the New.
“And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament [New Covenant], that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament [covenant], they which are called might receive the promise of eternal [age-lasting] inheritance. For where a testament [covenant] is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament [covenant] is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator lives.”
Since Christ had not yet died during His earthly ministry, all His teaching to the Jews was within the jurisdiction of the Old Covenant. There is not the slightest doubt about this and even Christ acknowledged it in His teachings. Look at the proof of its Old Covenant relevance: when Christ taught His earlier message, He demanded the necessity of offering animal sacrifices at the altar in the Temple at Jerusalem. Having to sacrifice animals is plain Old Covenant teaching. Note what Christ commanded:
“Therefore if you bring your gift [sacrifice] to the altar, and there remember that your brother has ought against you; Leave there your gift [sacrifice] before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift [sacrifice].”
Christ was still insisting on the offering of animal sacrifices during His teaching in the flesh. (Later, when Christianity was firmly understood, the apostles knew that animal sacrifices were no longer needed [Hebrews 9:9–14]). Christ also ordered the payment of the Temple tribute that Moses demanded (Matthew 17:24–25). Christ was quite ritualistically oriented and He demanded strict obedience to the minute details of certain laws.
To further show the “Old Covenant” nature of Christ’s teaching:
Indeed, Christ made the last statement about the Scribes and Pharisees being the legitimate religious authorities just three days before His crucifixion. This is Old Covenant teaching, not New Covenant.
Why did Christ insist on all these Old Covenant regulations while He was teaching in the flesh? It is quite simple. Christ had not yet ratified the New Covenant. By divine law recorded in the Holy Scriptures given in the time of Moses, all legislative authority was invested in Moses and the Mosaic authorities. Actually, Christ made Moses’ laws even more strict — so strict that the laws could no longer be kept in a blameless way. When one heard Christ in the flesh, he heard laws that no human could possibly fulfill exactly. Christ made Law the basis of His teaching.
Thus, the ministry of Christ was presented in accordance with, in association with, and as part of the Mosaic system. In no way was it a part of the New Covenant (though many New Covenant principles were discussed by Christ that would come on the scene later). True enough, many Christian principles and spiritual interpretations were shown by Christ in various way during the time of His earthly ministry, but he was legally fulfilling Deuteronomy 18:15–19 which showed that Jesus was the “second Moses.” During His time of teaching, Christ was sustaining the fact of law (a very harsh interpretation of it) as the only means of salvation. This shows that His teaching then was really a conclusion to the Old Covenant, not the beginning of the New.
The real teaching of Christianity is dependent upon one central fact: there is a Savior to rescue man from his sins and the consequences of those sins. That Savior is Jesus Christ. It was He who paid the penalty for all mankind’s transgressions. And through His abundant grace, Christ now gives us a salvation unobtainable of ourselves. The real factors of Christianity (the symbolic meaning of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ) are the only means for mankind to gain a certain salvation. That salvation is dependent upon the sacrifice of Christ found through the shedding of His blood and by His resurrection from the dead. It is not based on Law, or the keeping of the Law (any Law).
Note this however! While Christ was teaching in the flesh, He was proclaiming a doctrine of salvation through law (by works of the Law) under the auspices of the Old Covenant. There was no real salvation possible in the message. Christ intended it to be that way.
Why no salvation? It is very simple: there was yet no Savior who had shed His blood to rescue man from their sins. The reconciliation of man to the Father could come through one means only: the death of Christ on the tree of crucifixion. “We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10). Only through the shedding of Christ’s blood can anyone be justified in God’s sight. “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:9).
And only through the resurrection of Christ can we have our hope of salvation confirmed. Or to be plain, had Christ not been resurrected from the dead, we would all have remained condemned and unsaved. “If Christ is not raised, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). Under the Law and its system there was no Savior for mankind in evidence.
These important scriptures prove that no one during the period of Christ’s earthly ministry could have been legally saved (no matter how much the person tried to keep the commandments — because no one ever kept them perfectly). It is time people begin to realize this important point. Trying to keep the Law has no means of salvation in it. I repeat, no salvation was possible when Christ taught in the flesh, because no one ever kept the required law perfectly. Even if one observed Moses to the extent of being “blameless,” no one could pass the more strict teachings of the Sermon on the Mount that Christ gave.
Christ’s emphasis on the keeping of the law during His earthly ministry was to show the utter futility of any law being a means to salvation. A Savior was needed and One was finally provided. That Savior was Christ Jesus with the doctrines of salvation surrounding His death and His resurrection.
There was another major inadequacy that prevented the possibility of salvation during the fleshly ministry of Christ. It was the absence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the masses. A converted Christian is one who has the Holy Spirit resident within him. “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9). Yet in all the period of Christ’s earthly ministry, the Spirit was not offered to the generality of the people. Not even the apostles of Christ were blessed with the Spirit as an integral part of their lives. As late as the eve of Christ’s crucifixion, the apostles had not yet experienced the Holy Spirit individually dwelling in them. “You know him [the Holy Spirit]: for he dwells with you, and SHALL BE in you” (John 14:17).
Note the important distinction in the prepositions of the above verse. The Spirit was with them, but not in them. This represents a fundamental disparity in the matter of conversion. It shows that the apostles, as late as one day before the crucifixion, were not yet Christians in the sense of the word as we know it. This fact also explains Christ’s statement to Peter: “When you [Peter] are converted, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:32). That pronouncement to Peter was made at the Last Supper — the night before Christ’s crucifixion. It shows that Peter, as late as that time was still unconverted. He had not yet experienced the indwelling of the Spirit that makes one a Christian as we know from Paul’s teaching. The Holy Spirit is the key to conversion. And the Spirit was not given until the death of Christ. It was needful for the Spirit to come on the scene.
“This spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was NOT YET given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.”
It was essential for Christ to die for the Holy Spirit to be given.
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter [the Holy Spirit] will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”
Thus, the whole of the ministry of Christ was not a ministry in which the Holy Spirit was offered. It was a ministry emphasizing the keeping of the Commandments (salvation by works) in order to be saved. Christ gave this teaching to show the hopelessness and futility in gaining salvation based upon a system of lawkeeping! Christ knew no one could keep God’s laws perfectly.
Only by the shedding of Christ’s blood and by His resurrection from the dead could salvation be given. And that salvation through Christ could come only by faith (which was given through grace), not by keeping the Law or anything in the Old Covenant system.
There is another important deficiency often overlooked by many today. Christ’s ministry while He was on earth was directed only to the people of Israel. No one from any other nation was given Christ’s basic teachings in an official way. This is because the Old Covenant was made only with Israel and intended only for them. Christ never stepped out of those ethnic or societal boundaries except once.
One time Christ went into the area of Tyre and Sidon — a Gentile region and there He taught the message He had taught in Israel. But notice the circumstances.
“Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, you Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.’
But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, ‘Send her away; for she cries after us.’
But he answered and said, ‘I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ Then came she and worshipped him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’
But he answered and said, ‘It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.’ And she said, ‘Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.’
Then Jesus answered and said unto her, ‘O woman, great is your faith: be it unto you even as you will. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.’”
Though the woman got the healing for her daughter, it should be noted that Christ did not offer her salvation even if she kept the commandments. This was because she was a Gentile. While the Old Covenant leglislation was in force, Gentiles were excluded from any salvation whatever (Ephesians 2:11–12). Christ’s message while He was in the flesh was only to Israel.
“Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter you not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Even Paul recognized that Christ’s ministry was exclusively to Israel and not to uncircumcised Gentiles when He was teaching in the flesh. His ministry was confined (legally) only to Israelites.
“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcised for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.”
Gentiles were then without hope (Ephesians 2:11–12). Christ gave no teaching to the Gentiles. That is why Christ went only to Israel and not once did He offer His message of Law (and His strict teachings on that Old Covenant law) to those who were Gentiles. God never considered Gentiles as part of the Old Covenant relationship and during His ministry Christ continually upheld this well-known Bible teaching. All Gentiles were excluded from the Old Covenant. That meant that everything Christ taught while in the flesh was a basic message intended only for Jews who were then under an Old (not New) Covenant relationship with God.
We will soon see that the New Covenant teachings, as taught later by the apostles under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit, were very different.
The above five points prove that Christ’s earthly ministry was not a message intended to lead anyone to salvation. It was essentially a preaching of the coming of the earthly Kingdom of God, the promised inheritance of the Old Covenant. Indeed, John the Baptist was the precursor of that preaching about the Kingdom. Christ even called him the “Elijah to come” (Matthew 11:14). He was prophesied to introduce that Kingdom and the King (Malachi 4:5). He preached “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). The Kingdom was important to John.
Some six months later Christ began His own teaching. There was little difference in the theme. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye and believe the Gospel [good news of the Kingdom]” (Mark 1:15). The first Gospel of Christ was to the Jews about the Kingdom of God that was going to emerge on earth. And this Kingdom message was one based on the keeping of Law — the Law of God — that had to be kept perfectly to enter. Even one sin on a person’s record consigned him to doom.
This first “Gospel” (good news) preached by John the Baptist and by Christ, was a ministry of law, of the Old Covenant, without a Savior, without the Holy Spirit and meant only for Israel. But it was a message emphasizing the soon coming Kingdom of God, promised by the prophets to appear on earth at the end of the age (Isaiah 11:1–16). Almost all the teaching of John and the ministry of Christ in the flesh were about that Kingdom.
“From the days of John the Baptist until now [said Christ] the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John:
since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man passes into it.”
Matthew 11:12–13, with Luke 16:16
This worldwide Kingdom was prophesied to be established on earth through violence (Zechariah 14:1–4, 12–15). “The violent take it by force.” Even the Jews understood the message that way. The multitudes who followed Christ would have taken Him by force (the same word as above) to make Him the king (John 6:15). And indeed, this was Christ’s message on how to establish the messianic Kingdom. Professor Meyer, one of the great theologians, showed in his commentary that the Kingdom was to be introduced by violence, not by any peaceful means. He renders the verse “Those who by violent efforts, drag it to themselves.” The Kingdom will be introduced by war — by violent conflict. 2
John and Christ preached about that end-time Kingdom to be introduced through a major war led by Israel’s Messiah. “Repent ye, for the Kingdom of God is at hand,” DID NOT MEAN “lay down your swords” and wait peacefully for it. It was an appeal to “get on the side of God and get ready to fight for the Kingdom.” The Jewish disciples thought they were being marshaled to participate in the war to end all wars. The Kingdom was then thought to be “at hand.” The majority of people living in the 1st century thought that the Messianic period was then near.
Though the main teaching of Christ during His earthly ministry was about this soon-coming Messianic Kingdom, He knew that it was not to be introduced until much later.
“And as they heard these things, he added and spoke a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, ‘A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.’”
The establishment of the Kingdom through violence and war was to be put off, delayed until the period just before the beginning of the Millennium. In the meantime, something better was to be revealed which would make any earthly Kingdom (even such a Kingdom established by God) pale to insignificance by comparison. It was a teaching of the Christian Gospel to be centered on the need for the death and resurrection of Christ. And it was a teaching not based on the Law of the Old Testament (the Old Covenant).
The Christian system, which God had in mind was to be fundamentally different from the Old Covenant instruction involving the Kingdom promised solely to Israel. What Christ did with His preaching in the flesh was to show the utter futility of obtaining salvation under law (under any law). But His emphasis on law was to give a contrast to the only message that could bring for the the real salvation that Israel (and even the world) was hoping for. If people want their salvation based on their observance of Law (any Law), then get ready for disaster, because no person on earth can keep the Law.
This is what the apostle Paul came to see with a clear vision. Anyone would admit that this is a correct judgment. So, Christ introduced another way to obtain salvation. It was not to be based on the observance of Law (any Law), but based on a trust in Christ and in His death on the tree of crucifixion. A new way of gaining salvation was inaugurated with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and culminated when Christ was exalted to sit on the Father’s right hand on the day of His resurrection. Every statement made by Peter, John, or Paul about man’s salvation in Christ is based on the teaching of Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and glorification, and this includes John 3:16–17, 12:32–33; Acts 2:36–39; and also Romans 10:9–13 that Protestants love to quote.
As a matter of fact, the apostle Paul in the totality of his Gospel message referred only one time to any teaching that Christ taught in the flesh. That was a reference to the bread and wine that symbolized Christ’s death on the eve of His crucifixion (1 Corinthians 112:23–24). Not once did Paul use as a basis for his Gospel any other statement or commandment that Christ made or presented to the Jews while in the flesh. Paul made a point that when Christ taught the Jews within the Old Covenant relationship (before His death, burial, resurrection, and glorification), this former message about “commandment keeping” as the only means to salvation had no bearing on the Christian Gospel that Paul taught. Paul stated dogmatically:
“Wherefore henceforth [with Christ’s death and resurrection] know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.”
2 Corinthians 5:16
This is very different from what we see in so-called “Law-keeping and Commandment-keeping Churches” today who base their essential doctrinal positions on statements and commandments made by Christ while teaching the Jews in an Old Covenant relationship with God. Paul would have none of this. Paul commenced the teaching of “his Gospel” (Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 2:8) with the death, burial, resurrection, and glorification of Christ. All the teachings Christ gave to the Jews during His earthly ministry within the Old Covenant framework were of no importance to Paul (in matters relating to salvation). Paul did not refer to any of Christ’s teachings (other than the bread and wine) given by Christ while in the flesh. “Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more” (2 Corinthians 5:16).
Those first teachings of Christ while He was in the flesh were given only to the children of Israel and Judah. And though Jews were offered salvation if they kept the commandments, since no one could keep the commandments to be saved, no one was ever saved under that Old Covenant message given by Christ while in the flesh. And Christ offered no Gentiles any salvation whatever before the crucifixion of Christ. But something better was coming. It was a system of salvation to be given by faith (through grace) and not through law. The Gentiles were finally offered salvation (along with Israel).
1 Tithing was only required of Jews when they were in Palestine and adjacent areas. See my book The Tithing Dilemma (at http://www.askelm.com/tithing/index.asp) which shows the complete biblical evidence. ELM
2 Heinrich Meyer, Critical and Exegitical Handbook to the Gospel of Matthew (NY: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1884), p. 79. ELM
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