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Rich Coffeen

Puritan Board Freshman
Since Jesus engages in two types of obedience to redeem the elect, does it logically follow that there are two types of law?

In this case the ceremonial law would typify or point ahead to Christ's passive obedience, while the moral law would point ahead to Christ's active obedience.

Since the NT teaches us to imitate Christ's active obedience but not his passive obedience, in Christ the moral law is still to be obeyed while the ceremonial law is no longer to be obeyed.

Can the moral law then be divided into "audience" categories (I'm sure there is a better word than "audience"): laws for individual, church, family, and state? In other words, the requirement to train children is directed toward parents, the lex talionis is directed toward the state, etc.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Since Jesus engages in two types of obedience to redeem the elect, does it logically follow that there are two types of law?

This wouldn't follow logically.

Traditionally the law has been classified into 3 categories, although they are rough and there is some overlap.

We directly have to do with the moral law (The Ten Commandments) and eternally abiding moral principles contained in the ceremonials and judicials.

Roughly speaking:-

(a) Christ fulfilled the moral law by living a perfectly holy life for us.

(b) Christ fulfilled the ceremonial law by being the priest and sacrifice for us.

(c) Christ fulfilled the judicial law by becoming the arch-criminal against the 10C in our place.

Once again (a), (b) and (c) are a very rough guide. There is overlap between these categories, because Christ's perfect fulfillment of the law was a seamless whole.

Christ's passive obedience was His suffering for our sins, and His active obedience was His perfect obedience to God's law. These are just useful theological categories. In reality you could not separate the two. Christ was engaging in active and passive obedience moment by moment throughout His life, although His suffering intensified at the end of His life.

Some theologians would say that Christ's passive obedience particularly pertains to making us right with God and putting us back to square one with Adam in the Garden before he sinned, and we sinned in him. Christ's active obedience particularly pertains to securing us a place in the Heavenly Kingdom.
 
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Rich Coffeen

Puritan Board Freshman
Types of Law

Thank you for the replies. Please allow me to rephrase my question.

The need to categorize OT law seems to come from the fact that we no longer have to obey all the OT law. If the NT went through every single OT law and told us which ones are still in force and which ones are not, then our categories would be very simple: laws reaffirmed and laws abrogated.

But the NT does not do this for us, at least not for every OT law. So we have to develop some sort of interpretive framework or paradigm to help us decide which laws we still have to obey and which ones we don't.

The moral, ceremonial, civil paradigm seems like a good framework, but I wonder if a better one can be developed. That is why I ask about Jesus' two types of obedience. Perhaps the OT law can be broken into two categories (laws we still have to obey, laws we no longer have to obey), and perhaps these categories correspond in some way to Jesus' active and passive obedience.

In this way of thinking, there are OT laws pertaining to the state that are no longer in force. But likewise perhaps there are also some OT laws pertaining to church, family, and individuals that are no longer in force.

Maybe what I am trying to do (divide OT law into 2 categories) simply can't be done. But at the practical level of application it would certainly be helpful, for at the end of the day this is really what we are after: which laws do we have to keep, and which laws do we not have to keep?

The application of the law involves two categories or options, not three, so perhaps the interpretation of the law might also involve only two categories.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Westminster Confession of Faith

Chapter XIX
Of the Law of God

I. God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which He bound him and all his posterity, to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience, promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it, and endued him with power and ability to keep it.[1]

II. This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in two tables:[2] the first four commandments containing our duty towards God; and the other six, our duty to man.[3]

III. Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel, as a church under age, ceremonial laws, containing several typical ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, His graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits;[4] and partly, holding forth divers instructions of moral duties.[5] All which ceremonial laws are now abrogated, under the New Testament.[6]

IV. To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging under any now, further than the general equity thereof may require.[7]

V. The moral law does forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof;[8] and that, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it.[9] Neither does Christ, in the Gospel, any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.[10]

VI. Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned;[11] yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly;[12] discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts and lives;[13] so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin,[14] together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of His obedience.[15] It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin:[16] and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law.[17] The promises of it, in like manner, show them God's approbation of obedience,and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof:[18] although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works.[19] So as, a man's doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law: and not under grace.[20]

VII. Neither are the forementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it;[21] the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely, and cheerfully, which the will of God, revealed in the law, requires to be done.[22]
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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Thank you for the replies. Please allow me to rephrase my question.

The need to categorize OT law seems to come from the fact that we no longer have to obey all the OT law. If the NT went through every single OT law and told us which ones are still in force and which ones are not, then our categories would be very simple: laws reaffirmed and laws abrogated.

But the NT does not do this for us, at least not for every OT law. So we have to develop some sort of interpretive framework or paradigm to help us decide which laws we still have to obey and which ones we don't.

The moral, ceremonial, civil paradigm seems like a good framework, but I wonder if a better one can be developed. That is why I ask about Jesus' two types of obedience. Perhaps the OT law can be broken into two categories (laws we still have to obey, laws we no longer have to obey), and perhaps these categories correspond in some way to Jesus' active and passive obedience.

In this way of thinking, there are OT laws pertaining to the state that are no longer in force. But likewise perhaps there are also some OT laws pertaining to church, family, and individuals that are no longer in force.

Maybe what I am trying to do (divide OT law into 2 categories) simply can't be done. But at the practical level of application it would certainly be helpful, for at the end of the day this is really what we are after: which laws do we have to keep, and which laws do we not have to keep?

The application of the law involves two categories or options, not three, so perhaps the interpretation of the law might also involve only two categories.

Jesus both a Jew and a Christian (both circumcised and baptised) had to keep all the OT laws that were relevant to Him, many of which are no longer relevant to us e.g. Taste not, touch not, handle not laws (Colossians 2:21).

Most scholars would agree that the ceremonial law has been pretty well fulfilled, apart from some moral principles that are covered elsewhere.

The moral law applies to us in full force.

Scholars are still working through the judicial law to see what moral teaching there is there for us.

E.g. One of the laws that is classed as "judicial" is the one that says the Israelite should put a parapet around the flat roof of his house to prevent people falling off and killing themselves.

We could say that this is an OT law with no relevance to us. But is there no moral teaching here on the wider application of the law of love? Would this law not maybe admonish us not to take our car out on the road with faulty brakes?

John Frame who has recently written a magnum opus on Christian ethics has looked at this deeply, and says that each of these "judicial laws" has to be looked at individually in the light of the whole of Scripture and the New Testament in particular.

The difference between Christ's active and passive obedience will not tell you what kinds of laws to follow. What Christ and the Apostles said and did with relation to the law will help distinguish between Old Covenant laws - and certain aspects of Old Covenant laws - that were provisional for the childhood state of the Church and passing away (the childhood Church was between Moses and Christ) and what remains permanent for the adolescent and adulthood state of the Church, which we are in.

The childhood Church needed a picture book Gospel (ceremonials) and childhood discipline (penology). The 10C, spoken audibly to the people by God, written on stone with God's finger, placed in the Ark of the Covenant, breaches of which were atoned for yearly on the Day of Atonement by blood being sprinkled on the mercy seat ("propitiatory") and the related moral laws to the 10C - e.g. incest laws are related to the 7thC -all these moral laws stand firm.

But there are some moral principles and teaching embedded in the ceremonies, and particularly the judicials, which also apply to us. Ask God for light and read the best literature widely and deeply.

Hear John Frame's lectures on ethics, the 10C, and different types of OT law at IIIM (Third Millennium ministries)
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
It's all moral law. The ceremonial and judicial law were and are moral too! ;)

In the sense that the Jews were obliged to obey the lot because God told them to.

There are also abiding moral principles/teaching/commands in the ceremonial and judicial law. There is a degree of debate between "theonomists" and other Reformed people as to the application of certain judicial laws - particularly Mosaic criminal and penal law - in the New Covenant era.

I can't think how the distinction between Christ's active and passive righteousness would help in clarifying the debate about which laws apply to us, Rich. Did you have anything particular in mind?

Jesus did emphasise some laws more than others in His teaching, and also maybe sometimes indicated that some were passing away.

But He Himself was under moral, ceremonial and judicial components of the law, to the extent that they had to do with a sinless Man Who was carrying His people's sins.

He kept them all perfectly, both passively and actively.

Jesus passive righteousness and His active righteousness are theological constructs. In reality Jesus righteousness is one seamless robe which cannot be divided.

His passive righteousness is His paying the full penalty for our sins, throughout His life and particularly at the Cross.

His active righteousness is His obeying God's law perfectly for us, to take us to Heaven.

He did both of these things in an Old Covenant rather than New Covenant context, although He became a Christian, by baptism, as well as a Jew for us, in order "to fulfill all righteousness" and represent Jews and Christians.

But the fact that He did what He did in the Old Covenant period, means that He had to obey the ceremonials and judicials/civils as well as the morals.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Thank you for the replies. Please allow me to rephrase my question.

The need to categorize OT law seems to come from the fact that we no longer have to obey all the OT law. If the NT went through every single OT law and told us which ones are still in force and which ones are not, then our categories would be very simple: laws reaffirmed and laws abrogated.

But the NT does not do this for us, at least not for every OT law. So we have to develop some sort of interpretive framework or paradigm to help us decide which laws we still have to obey and which ones we don't.

The moral, ceremonial, civil paradigm seems like a good framework, but I wonder if a better one can be developed. That is why I ask about Jesus' two types of obedience. Perhaps the OT law can be broken into two categories (laws we still have to obey, laws we no longer have to obey), and perhaps these categories correspond in some way to Jesus' active and passive obedience.

In this way of thinking, there are OT laws pertaining to the state that are no longer in force. But likewise perhaps there are also some OT laws pertaining to church, family, and individuals that are no longer in force.

Maybe what I am trying to do (divide OT law into 2 categories) simply can't be done. But at the practical level of application it would certainly be helpful, for at the end of the day this is really what we are after: which laws do we have to keep, and which laws do we not have to keep?

The application of the law involves two categories or options, not three, so perhaps the interpretation of the law might also involve only two categories.

The principles have been well stated on this thread. The Westminster Standards summary of moral, ceremonial, and civil law given to Israel as a church under age is very helpful.

It's helpful for me to understand that our Lord had to keep all of it (moral, ceremonial and civil) as a standard of righteousness.

So,

ceremonial law was fulfilled in Christ (His perfect life and perfect death). An example would be certain animal offerings required on certain sabbaths. No other nation was set up like this or is required to do so.

civil law was given to Israel as a church under age. An example would be the land allotments given certain tribes (except Levites who would be supported by tithes of the other eleven tribes).

moral law, summarily comprehended in the ten commandments is broadly applied, in thought, word and deed. Our Lord's "Sermon on the Mount" details this explicitly.

Probably the greatest difficult is the civil law given Israel as "a church under age" which is expired with the nation, "not obliging under any now, further than the general equity thereof may require." (British common law and that adopted in the USA is based on this, especially "tort" law.)

It's interesting the way that has been applied for centuries in the legal system- in terms of owing a standard of care to do or not do something, in order to protect one's neighbor.

So, it is phrased, "What would the reasonably prudent man, in the same or similar circumstances, do?" That's an objective standard, and hearkens back to what our Lord said was the sum of all the Law and the prophets... love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

That gives us duties well beyond the strict letter of a statute.

Some of the principles embedded in those laws would apply to us today- not the strict application of the law, but the principles may apply.
 

CIT

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
There are only two types of Law. Those that I keep and those that I don't. HEHEHE:lol:
 
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