Apologetics Hebrew Roots Theology
R. L. Solberg  

The End of the Law of Moses

A Bible Study on 2 Corinthians 3

The theology of Torahism (you may know it as Hebrew Roots or Torah-observant Christianity) teaches that followers of Jesus are required to keep the Law of Moses. And in this article, we’re going to examine Scriptural evidence that shows just the opposite. There are various texts in the New Testament we could go to, but today we’re going to break down a lesser-known passage in 2 Corinthians 3 that doesn’t even use the word “law.” And we’ll see that it shows how the Law of Moses has ended, and therefore, Torahism is a false theology.

And let me clear up something right off the bat. When I refer to the “Law of Moses,” I’m talking about the set of commands that God gave to the nation of Israel through Moses at Mount Sinai. This is what the Bible refers to as the Law of Moses. And as I’m going to demonstrate from Scripture, the Mosaic Law, with its ceremonial commands for feasts, kosher food, Saturday Sabbath, and circumcision, does not apply to Christians under the New Covenant. Our friends in the Hebrew Roots Movement completely reject this idea, of course. They challenge it by saying, “Where does it say that? Show me where the Bible says that the law of Moses has ended!” Okay. Let’s do that.

Second Corinthians 3 discusses how Christians are ministers of the New Covenant. And there’s a short passage in this chapter that presents an insurmountable challenge to Hebrew Roots theology.

Now if the ministry that brought death, chiseled in letters on stones, came with glory, so that the Israelites were not able to gaze steadily at Moses’s face because of its glory, which was set aside, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry that brought condemnation had glory, the ministry that brings righteousness overflows with even more glory. In fact, what had been glorious is not glorious now by comparison because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was set aside was glorious, what endures will be even more glorious.

2 Corinthians 3:7-11

There you have it. This passage teaches that the Law of Moses has ended. Not convinced? Okay, let’s break it down.

Breaking Down 2 Corinthians 3:7-11

Verse 7 begins with the phrase “the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone.” What is that a reference to? When a Jewish teacher like the apostle Paul uses the phrase “carved in letters on stone,” it is a direct reference to Exodus 31.

And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.

Exodus 31:18

The giving of the law at Mount Sinai was the central event in the history of the nation of Israel. And the book of Exodus reveals that God’s finger carved the letters of the law on stone tablets. So the phrase “carved in letters on stone” in 2 Cor 3:7 is a clear reference to the Law of Moses, a law which Paul here labels “the ministry of death.” Those are strong words. But he did not mean that the Mosaic law literally kills us. Paul is referring to the fact that the law can’t save us; it is not a means to salvation but reveals our sins (Rom 3:20, 7:7-25, 8:2), and the wages of those sins, of course, is death (Rom 6:23).

Together verses 7-8 are a complete thought in which Paul contrasts the glory of the Mosaic law, written on stone by the finger of God, with “the ministry of the Spirit.”

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, (in other words “If the Law of Moses…”) came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?

2 Corinthians 3:7-8, comment added

There are two things to point out here. First, although the Mosaic law is called a “ministry of death” in this passage, it was attended by the glory of the Living God. So it cannot be dismissed as some ancient, pointless code. Romans 7:12 says, “So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.” (Notice this statement is written in the present tense.) And the text in Romans 7 then goes on to describe the purpose of the law under the New Covenant, which is to reveal our sins and point us to Jesus. So the phrase “ministry of death” does not imply that the law can be dismissed altogether. Rather, it highlights that the Law of Moses was never intended to provide salvation. And in this text in 2 Cor 3, Paul is also teaching that the Mosaic law never intended to last forever.

Second, the text refers to the fact that God’s glory was reflected in Moses’ face at the giving of the Law. This is a reference to Exodus 34 (Ex 34:29–35), where, after being in God’s presence to receive the Law, Moses’ face shone so brightly that the Israelites were afraid to get close to him. He had to put on a veil. And if the Law of Moses came with such fantastic glory, Paul asks, how much more glory will the ministry of the Spirit have? He’s underscoring the superiority of the ministry of the Spirit over the Law of Moses. But what does Paul mean by “ministry of the Spirit”?

The Ministry of the Spirit

The Apostle Paul commonly uses the terminology of “the Spirit” when contrasting Jesus and the New Covenant with Moses and the Sinia Covenant. Let’s look at a few examples.

Romans 2:29 says, “… circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.” Here Paul contrasts the Spirit with the “written code,” another reference to the Mosaic law. We find the same contrast in Romans 7:6, “…we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” And Romans 8:2 says, “through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Here’s a contrast between what Paul calls the “law of the Spirit” and “the law of sin and death,” an echo of 2 Cor 3:7, where he calls the Mosaic law the “ministry of death.” And in Galatians 5:18, Paul clearly contrasts the Spirit and the law: “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

Here is one last example. A few verses before our passage in 2 Cor 3, Paul tells the church at Corinth, “You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” This is another contrast between tablets of stone, a reference to the law of Moses, and what Paul calls “tablets of human hearts,” a reference to the New Covenant in which God promised to write His law on our hearts (Jer 31:31-34; Heb 8:8-12). Paul then carries this theme into verses 7-8, where he applies that same idea of contrasting Jesus and the New Covenant with Moses and the Old Covenant. He asks, if the Law of Moses came with great glory, how much more glory does the ministry of Christ have?

Paul includes a significant point in verse 7 that we don’t want to miss. He refers to the glory on Moses’ face as “being brought to an end.” Scripture doesn’t say how long Moses had to wear the veil, but after the giving of the law, it’s never mentioned again. And here in 2 Corinthians, Paul is pointing out that, at some point, the reflection of God’s radiant glory on Moses’ face came to an end. And he’s linking that idea to the temporary nature of the Mosaic law. In other words, when God gave the law to Moses, it was accompanied by God’s glory. And just like the radiant glow on Moses’ face eventually ended, so would the law that came with it. So while the Law of Moses was holy and righteous and good, it was also temporary, just like the glow on Moses’ face.

Another Contrast

The next verse in our passage reads, “For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory” (2 Cor 3:9). Here’s another contrast. Paul is comparing two ministries: the “ministry of condemnation” and the “ministry of righteousness.” And the connecting phrase “for if” tells us that Paul is carrying forward the comparison he introduced in verses 7-8. As he often does, Paul is stating the same thing differently for emphasis. Notice that he refers to the Law of Moses as the “ministry of death” (v. 7) and the “ministry of condemnation” (v. 9). And he refers to the ministry of Christ as the “ministry of the Spirit” (v. 7), and the “ministry of righteousness” (v. 9). He is teaching that there was glory in the Law of Moses, but the ministry of Jesus is far more glorious. And what is his point? That Jesus and the New Covenant are superior to Moses and the Old Covenant.

And for good measure, Paul doubles down on this contrast in the last two verses of our passage.

Indeed, in this case, what once had glory (referring to the glory of the law that caused Moses’ face to glow), has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it (the ministry of Jesus). For if what was being brought to an end (another reference to the Law of Moses, which came to an end, just like the glow on Moses’ face) came with glory, much more will what is permanent (the ministry of Christ) have glory.

2 Corinthians 3:10-11, comments added

In Hebrew literature, when an author wants to emphasize a point, they use repetition. We see this throughout the Old Testament, and Paul uses it in 2 Cor 3 in spades. He’s emphasizing that the ministry of Jesus is superior to and far more glorious than the Law of Moses. In our short, 5-verse passage, Paul repeats the same idea four times!

  1. “If the ministry of death . . . came with such glory . . . will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?” (vv. 7-8)
  2. “For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory.” (v. 9)
  3. “…what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it” (v. 10)
  4. “…if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory” (v. 11)

Paul is a lot of things, but subtle is not one of them. His message comes through loud and clear in this passage. And he echoes what the author of Hebrews taught:

But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old (referring to the Levitical priests under the Mosaic Law) as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.

Hebrews 8:6, comment added

Said another way, the ministry and covenant Yahweh established through Moses are inferior to the ministry and the covenant He established through Jesus. And the author of Hebrews ends chapter 8 with this statement, “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one (the Mosaic covenant) obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (Heb 8:13, comment added). And just a few years after these words were written, the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, and the Old Covenant and its law became obsolete and vanished away.

Wrap it up, Solberg

Torahism wants to teach us that Christians today are obligated to keep the Law of Moses. But look at the way Paul describes the Law of Moses in our passage:

  • ministry of death, carved in letters on stone (v. 7)
  • ministry of condemnation (v. 9)
  • came with great glory (v. 7)
  • was being brought to an end (v. 7, 11)
  • what once had glory has come to have no glory at all (v. 10)

The text of 2 Cor 3:7-11 teaches that the Law of Moses has been outshined and, like the glow on Moses’ face, has come to an end. Not because it was bad or wrong. It was intended from the beginning to be temporary. And the Mosaic law is inferior to the exceedingly glorious and far superior law of Christ (1 Cor 9:21).

Allow me to wrap up by humbly offering my own paraphrase of what I believe our passage teaches.

If the Law of Moses came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of it, how much more glory does the ministry of Christ have? There was glory in the Law, but the righteousness of Jesus far exceeds it. In fact, the Law, which enjoyed temporary glory, has ended. It has been surpassed by the glory of Christ, which will never end!

2 Corinthians 3:7-11, author’s paraphrase

24 thoughts on “The End of the Law of Moses

  1. Yvonne U Gordon

    totally agree with your insightful and thought out posting: I just need to add from my own experience, that reading the New Testament, believing in Jesus (the devils believe and tremble) is not the same as “knowing” Jesus Christ, who is the FULFILLMENT of the law. As we “know” him (he won’t have to say, depart from me ye workers of INIQUITY, for I never “knew you”, we decrease in lawlessness and increase in our FAITH in his righteousness and we are able to say, we PUT ON THE RIGHTEOUSNESS of Christ which is the FULFILLMENT of the law and prophets. We can’t miss the mark of truth (the whole armor of God) and claim that the law is fulfilled in us: We are separated unto the gospel in Christ who is the sword (WORD) that separates the evil and good, darkness and light, giving us abundant life over death, and works all things together for “GOOD, LIGHT and LIFE in us. The glory that the children of Israel could not bear to look at is their ‘END” (the end of the mystery of INIQUITY that was found in Lucifer, fallen in Adam, who was perfect in all his ways till INIQUITY was found in him. The iniquity, the workers of iniquity, the removal of iniquity is the carnal mind that builds the “ego” (mystery of iniquity, the vessel of vanity) in us, that we all have to bear through the exile of Adam till he is resurrected through the heart (Jew is a circumcised heart) and mind (the carnal mind gets its true senses through the last candlestick of Laodicea (people in judgement): This is the judgement seat of Christ that everyone must go through to be CORRECTED, so the law is fulfilled in them and the mystery of iniquity is overcome by the MYSTERY OF GODLINESS< which is CHRIST IN US, the HOPE of the GLORY revealed in due time. Moses vailed himself from Israel seeing how they had to overcome the mystery of iniquity (ego, self) to gain the mystery of godliness that they were not ready to receive. Till Israel is ready to receive the MESSIAH in them, Christ "in them", they will be "UNDER" the law (Gen 49): There is no way out for them: LAW ON THE OUTSIDE which is impossible for the ego, the self because it tries to override the WHOLE HEART that must be turned to God who gives the Messiah at this point, the mystery of godliness. Israel prefers their self, their ego and its efforts to try to find perfection through keeping the law: They don't seem to be bothered by the fact that the ego or self can not keep the law perfectly and justify their acceptance by 1) Saying Satan (Yetzer hora and yetzer lashon, evil tongue that blasphemes God) is part of HaSatan that is ruled by Hashem. So its ok with them. Its all good: HaSatan is just for our good in the end. What END? They don't say or "know" because they don't "KNOW" Messiah, the fulfillment of the law in themselves. Its an ENDLESS cycle of self deception and fear of the nations whom Hashem keeps exiling them in or all around them till they say, BLESSES IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF YHVH:

    1. Mitch Chapman

      Yvonne U Gordon,
      Sadly more of the same “blanket comments” which do not apply to me as well as not a few many of my ethnic Jewish cousins before me who were the original disciples and turned the world right side up for Messiah

      1. Yvonne Gordon

        comments are a waste of time: Everyone has an opinion about the coming of Messiah but when you experience him as I did in 1992, there is nothing left to the VAIN imagination that exalts itself against the TRUTH of the experience of those who “know” as they are known”: No problem: Thirty years and I am not understood even if I write in the most stringent detail: NO HEARING HIS VOICE (which is through PROPHECY alone) to people in the last 30 years: BE BLESSED and Mazal Tov: I think at 70, thirty years later, I am going to just REST and leave the “REST” to God:

  2. Mitch Chapman

    For the record I am a Messianic Jewish Rabbi, not a Hebrew Christian or a Jewish Christian and by no means involved with what “the church” refers to as the Hebrew Roots Movement.

    Sadly you are perpetuating the false dichotomy of Torah “law” vs Grace a common misconception handed down through the ages which has become part of the standard western church theology with its terminology and far too many denominations (32,000+?) and doctrinal definitions al doctrines.

    Torah vs Grace #1
    For the Torah was given through Moses but grace and truth came through Yeshua the Messiah.
    Notice with me the KJV and NKJV has inserted the word “but”, indicated by using italics indicating this word “but”, WAS NEVER in the original text!

    The Hebrew word תֹּורַת (“Torah” H8451) literally “teaching, doctrine.” is rendered in both the Septuagint and the Brit Hadashah by the Greek word “лодки,” (nomos G3551) which means “law.” Greek has had a more direct and pervasive influence on English and other modern languages than Hebrew has, and this is why in most languages one speaks of the “Law” of Moses rather than the ‘Teaching” of Moses. It is also part of the reason why the Torah has mistakenly come to be thought of by Christians as legalistic in character.

    Grace and truth are personal attributes of G-d which Yeshua not only revealed in a unique way during his brief earthly lifetime, but, in his eternal capacity as the Word of G-d, has been continually bestowing on humanity since the dawn of creation. Grace, truth and the Torah are all from G-d, supreme expressions of who He is.

    Rev 19:11 uses Faithful and True which are words applied to the Messiah also at 3:14. The two words mean virtually the same thing, since the Hebrew idea of truth was not correspondence to reality (as in Greek thought), but reliability. The “G-d of truth” (Elohim emet, Jeremiah 10:10) is not primarily the G-d who reveals eternal truths, but the G-d who can be trusted to keep His covenant.
    When Yochanan in his Gospel wrote that “grace and truth came through Yeshua the Messiah” (John 1:17), he meant that in the life, death and resurrection of the Messiah, G-d’s faithfulness was revealed in fulfillment of his covenant. Likewise, the return of Yeshua will be the faithful reappearance of him who has already appeared among men; this time he comes to bring G-d’s covenant promises to their final and full consummation.

    Another passage comparing Moshe and the Torah with Yeshua and the New Covenant is 2 Cor 3:6-16. It is sometimes thought that the present verse demeans Moshe, but this is not the case. On the contrary, that a mere man for whom no claim to divinity has ever been made should even be compared with the Word of G-d incarnate shows how highly Yochanan regards Moses. Nor does he demean the Torah, God’s eternal “teaching” about himself as given to Israel, by comparing it with grace and truth. Elsewhere Yeshua himself says that he did not come to abrogate the Torah but to fill it out (Mt 5:17-20) and proceeded to follow this program by interpreting the Torah in ways that make its meaning and commands even clearer (Mt 5:21-48).

    The Greek word for “to complete” is “plerosai (G4137) ” literally, “to fill”; the usual rendering here, however, is “to fulfill.” Replacement theology, which wrongly teaches that the Church has replaced Israel and “christians” have replaced the Jewish people as God’s people (v. 5), AND ALL THOSE WHO ERRANTLY BELIEVE TORAH IS NO LONGER FOR TODAY, with its antisemetic implications and mistranslations understand this verse wrongly in two ways.

    First, Yeshua’s “fulfilling” the Torah is thought to mean that it is unnecessary for people to fulfill it now. But there is no logic to the proposition that Yeshua’s obeying the Torah does away with our need to obey it. In fact. Sha’ul, whose object in his letter to the Romans is to foster “the obedience that comes from trusting” in Yeshua. teaches that such trusting does not abolish Torah but confirms it (Rom 1:5, 3:31). Second, with identical lack of logic, Yeshua’s “fulfilling” the Prophets is thought to imply that no prophecies from the Tanakh remain for the Jews. But the Hebrew Bible’s promises to the Jews are not abolished in the name of being “fulfilled in Yeshua.” Rather, fulfillment in Yeshua is an added assurance that everything God has promised the Jews will yet come to pass (2 Cor 1:20).

    It is true that Yeshua kept the Torah perfectly and fulfilled predictions of the Prophets, but that is not the point here. Yeshua did not come to abolish but “to make full” (plerosai) the meaning of what the Torah and the ethical demands of the Prophets require. Therefore, He came to complete our understanding of the Torah and the Prophets, so that we can try more effectively to be and do what they say to be and do. Verses 18-20 indicate three ways in which the Torah and the Prophets remain necessary, applicable and in force. The remainder of Chapter 5 gives six specific cases in which Yeshua explains the fuller spiritual meaning of points in the Jewish Law. In fact, this verse slates the theme and agenda of the entire Sermon on the Mount, in which Yeshua completes, makes fuller, the understanding of his disciples concerning the Torah and the Prophets, so that they can more fully express what being Gods people is all about.

    The Anglican Christian writer Brigid Younghughes writes: “‘…I came not to destroy, but to fulfil.’ And surely ‘to fulfil’ means to complete, in the sense of bringing to perfection, not, as Christians have all too often interpreted it, to render obsolete; to fulfil in such a way as to perfect a foundation on which to build further.” (Christianity’s Jewish Heritage, West Sussex: Angel Press, 1988, p. 8)

  3. Mitch Chapman

    John 1:17 The Perpetuation of a False Dichotomy #2

    A proper understanding of Yochanan (John 1:17) is that grace G5485 χάρις H2580 חֵ֖ן and truth G225 ἀλήθεια H571 אֱמֶת are personal attributes of HaShem which Yeshua not only revealed in a unique way during His brief earthly lifetime, but, in His eternal capacity as the Word of HaShem, has been continually bestowing on humanity since the dawn of creation. Grace, truth and The Torah ARE ALL FROM HaShem, AND ARE INDIVIDUAL supreme expressions of who He is!

    In this verse Yochanan means that in the life, death and resurrection of Messiah Yeshua, HaShem’s faithfulness was revealed in fulfillment of His covenant. Likewise, Yeshua’s return will be the faithful reappearance of Him who already appeared among men (John 1:14); this time He comes to bring HaShem’s covenant promises to their final and full consummation! Furthermore, faithful and true (Rev 19:11) also applied to Yeshua in Rev 3:14 have virtually the same meaning!

    The Hebrew idea of truth אֱמֶת emeth IS related to reliability. This is demonstrated in Jeremiah 10:10 אֱלֹהִים֙ אֱמֶ֔ת (G-d of truth, Elohim emet), the G-d who can be trusted and the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments to keep His covenant (Deut 7:9). The G-d who remember His covenant forever, the word which He commanded, for a thousand generations (Psalm 105:8)

    לֹ֣א אִ֥ישׁ אֵל֙ וִֽיכַזֵּ֔ב וּבֶן־אָדָ֖ם וְיִתְנֶחָ֑ם הַה֤וּא אָמַר֙ וְלֹ֣א יַעֲשֶׂ֔ה וְדִבֶּ֖ר וְלֹ֥א יְקִימֶֽנָּה lo ish el vi·chaz·zev u·ven-a·dam ve·yit·ne·cham ha·hu a·mar ve·lo ya·’a·seh ve·dib·ber ve·lo ye·ki·men·nah
    “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 24:19 NASB)

    But there’s more!
    God’s Grace and the Law of Moses “The new is in the old concealed; the old is in the new revealed,” said Augustine. This quotation’s main achievement is that it boldly opposes the general tendency among many Christian believers to contrapose two parts of the Holy Bible.

    In the majority of translations statements such as “For the Law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17), seem to imply precisely that contraposition (contradiction). Even when the translation is more literal (“For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ”), such a contrast is automatically presumed by readers.

    The word translated as Law (νόμος) should be translated as Torah/Pentateuch, because this was the primary meaning of the word when it was used by Jews in the first century. The “grace” and “truth” are far less problematic, but still do not fully bring out the force of the spoken Hebrew behind the written Greek. Therefore, we should read John 1:17 as follows: “The Torah came through Moses and unfailing love (חסד) and truthfulness (אמת) came through Jesus Christ.” The grace and truth of God can be clearly seen in the Torah of Moses, while in the Jewish Christ they are displayed to their utmost degree.

    The opposite of law (Torah) was never grace, but lawlessness (without Torah). NOW read Mt 7:23 as the Greek is anomia (without law) The opposite of grace was never law, but disgrace. This is exactly what it is for those who say they love Yeshua and throw out Torah WHERE ALL the command(ment)s are based! (John 14:15, 21)

  4. Mitch Chapman

    WHAT DOES “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” REALLY MEAN? (2 Cor 3:6 KJV)

    The Greek word for “law” or “Torah” “nomos” is not used at all in 2 Corinthians 3 or anywhere else throughout 2 Corinthians! If one is going to make such a statement about “the Torah” on the basis of this passage, one must limit the meaning of “Torah” to the elements given in the passage. Here Sha’ul talks only about a written text [NOT TORAH] which was engraved on stone tablets, which worked death, which worked to declare people guilty, and which came with temporary brightness that was already fading away.

    It is with this written text [NOT TORAH] that he contrasts the New Covenant, which is accompanied by the Spirit, who writes on human hearts, who gives life, who works to declare people innocent, and who lasts. He makes his point with a kal v’chomer argument known in rabbinic literature as “light and heavy”, corresponding to what philosophers call a fortiori reasoning: If A is true, then, a fortiori (Latin, “with (even] greater strength”), В must also be true.

    Kal v’chomer is stated in three different ways (2 Cor 3:7-9, 11; compare John 1:17 and Rom 7:6). There is so much more to the Torah than a written text, so that what Sha’ul says here about a written text does not necessarily apply to all that the Torah is.

    Explicit kal v’chomer arguments, using “how much more” appear in the New Covenant twenty-one times, the others being at Mt 7:11, 10:25, 12:12; Lk 11:13, 12:24, 28; Rom 5:9, 10, 15, 17, 11:12, 24; 1Сor 12:22; 2 Cor 3:9, 11; Phil 2:12; Philemon 16; Heb 9:14, 10:29, 12:25.

    The fact that the New Covenant uses kal v’chomer reasoning so often points to a foundational principle of New Covenant hermeneutics overlooked by most Christian scholars, theologians, apologists and teachers in various christian schools, bible institutes, colleges and seminaries.

    The Jews who wrote the New Covenant participated in the thoughtforms of their time, and these included certain principles of interpretation (hermeneutical rules, Hebrew middot, “measures, norms”) widely used to understand the Hebrew Bible. The basic hermeneutical rules were adopted by “the church fathers”!

    Understand the shock a Jew experiences in hearing the Torah called an instrument of death, since in Jewish understanding the Torah ministers not death but life. Yeshua was well aware of Jewish regard for the Torah as an instrument of life (John 5:39). In the Midrash Rabbah Rabbi L’vi is cited as saying, “God sat on high, engraving for them tablets which would give them life.” (Exodus Rabbah 41:1) The prayer recited every time the Torah scroll is returned to the ark after being read in the synagogue quotes Proverbs 3:18: “It is a tree of life to those who take hold of it.” Proverbs is speaking about wisdom; but since the Torah contains God’s wisdom, the Siddur applies those words to the Torah itself.

    Here is Sha’ul’s explanation of how the Torah, whose “letter killeth,” can be at the same time a tree of life: but the Spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit of God, who lives in believers (Rom 8:9. 1 Сor 3:16) and who is God himself (vv. 16-18), gives life (“enlivens,” or “makes alive”).
    The crucial thing for everyone to know is that the Spirit gives life (John 6:63, Rom 8:2) to sinners who are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1, KJV). But for Jews it is also important to understand that only the Spirit of G-d gives life to the Torah itself, that is, to its “letter.” It is when people are filled with the Holy Spirit of G-d given by Yeshua the Messiah that the Torah becomes for them a tree of life and not a ministration of death.

    All these things are clarified by Rom 8:1-11, which is the best commentary on this passage: “There is no longer any condemnation [as prescribed in the Torah] awaiting those who are in union with the Messiah Yeshua. Why? Because the Torah of the Spirit, which produces this life in union with Messiah Yeshua, has set me free from the ‘torah’ of sin and death” (definable by this equation: God’s “Torah of the Spirit” minus the Spirit equals “torah” of sin and death).

    “For what the Torah could not do by itself, because it lacked the power to make the old nature cooperate, G-d did by sending His only begotten unique Son in the form of man with a sinful nature like our own. G-d did this in order to deal with sin, and in so doing He executed the punishment against sin in human nature, so that the just requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us who do not run our lives according to what our old nature wants but according to what the Spirit wants…. For the mind controlled by the old nature is hostile to G-d, because it does not submit itself to G-d’s Torah…. But you, you do not identify with your old nature but with the Spirit — provided the Spirit of G-d is living inside you, for anyone who doesn’t have the Spirit of the Messiah doesn’t belong to him. However, if the Messiah is in you, then, on the one hand, your body is dead because of sin; but, on the other hand, the Spirit is giving life because G-d considers you righteous” (Rom 8:1-4, 7, 9-10).

    The New Covenant spoken of in 3:6 is that of Jeremiah 31:30-33 (31-34). The distinction Sha’ul draws is precisely the same as Jeremiah makes when he says that the new covenant will be “not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them… out of… Egypt,… but I will put my Torah in their inward parts and write it on their hearts.” (See Mt 26:28, Heb 8:6-13)

    Therefore, it cannot be that Sha’ul is saying that the New Covenant is more glorious than the Torah, because the New Covenant includes the Torah which G-d puts “in their inward parts” and writes “on their hearts.” According to Heb 8:6, the New Covenant itself “has been made Torah.” Sha’ul speaks of the “Torah as upheld by the Messiah” (literally, “Torah of Messiah”) in Gal 6:2 and makes a similar allusion in 1 Сor 9:21.

    Torah, therefore, is still in force. The distinction WAS, IS, AND REMAINS (caps for emphasis only) between “letter” and Spirit, NOT Torah and Spirit.

    Workers serving a New Covenant, the essence of which is not a written text but the Spirit, literally, “workers” (or: “ministers”; 3:3) “of a new covenant, not of letter but of Spirit.” Verses 6-13 are part of Sha’ul’s defense of his office. He claims that as an emissary of the Messiah, his ministry is more glorious than that of Moshe; and not only that, but more glorious than at the very moment of Moses’ greatest glory, when his face shone so brightly as he descended Mount Sinai (Ex 34:29-30; compare Mt 17:2), after seeing G-d’s glory (Ex 33:18-34:8), that he put a veil over his face (Exodus 34:33, 35).

    If one acknowledges that the New Covenant has come, bringing with it the Messiah himself and the very Spirit of G-d, whose glory obviously exceeds that of stone tablets, then one should see that the ministry of its workers has greater glory than that of Moses’ ministry.

    The TaNaK does not say that the brightness was already fading away, or that it ever faded away. Indeed, in Jewish tradition, Moses’ face remained bright until he died. Where did Sha’ul get this idea? Was there another tradition within Judaism along the lines Sha’ul expresses? I do not know of one.
    We are very open, that is, sincere (1:12-14, 18; 2:17; 6:11), unlike Moshe, who veiled his face. The Aramaic expression, “to cover the face,” signifies shame and mourning, while an uncovered head (v. 18) signifies confidence and freedom. In Sha’ul’s midrash here, he uses what Moses did as a parable symbolic of hiddenness and insincerity without implying that Moses was devious, hypocritical or ashamed himself.

    Sha’ul’s point is that we who believe the Gospel have assurance that the glory and brightness of our eternal salvation will never fade, so we have neither need nor desire to hide it.

  5. Anonymous


    There is so much *right* in your post!

    As you say, the Torah was never intended to save anyone, and the iteration of it ON STONE was designed from the beginning to eventually give way to the NEW COVENTANT.

    But there is a serious gap in your post.

    You promised at the beginning of your post to show us where the NT says the Law of Moses does not apply to Christians under the New Covenant.

    Well, I challenge you to look up the OT and NT passages that describe this New Covenant.

    You may find that ALL of them reference God writing his Torah on the hearts of his people (an operation of the Spirit). If it is in our hearts, how much more so will it be in our actions?
    Both the OT and the NT describe . . .what . . .is . . .coming — to replace this ministry of stone: The Torah written ON the HEART.

    1. Eric L

      Whoops – this was me, I did not mean to post anonymously. I hit enter before finishing the comment. Please delete if you would like. Thanks.

  6. Mitch Chapman


    Since you maintain that the Torah, “The Law of Moses”, has ended; therefore YOU MUST NOW reject “The Doctrine of The Immutability of G-D” which comes from Numbers 23:19 which IS contained in the very same Torah “The Law of Moses”.

    Would you kindly reconcile this for me?

    But also, please help me to understand that since the Torah “The law of Moses” is part of G-d’s Word how does this reconcile with Ps 119:89, Is 40:8, Mt 24:35, John 10:35?

    Shavua tov achi
    Have a good week, my brother

    1. R. L. Solberg

      Hello, Mitch! Thanks for the comments.
      Here’s the thing: If you believe there is a conflict with an unchanging God relating to his creation in different ways at different times, you’ve got some reconciling to do before you even leave the Torah. God created mankind to live with Him in peace in the Garden, and then He kicked them out of the Garden. He commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac and then stopped Him from doing so. He created the universe and mankind without a written law, and later at Sinai, He gave them a written law that included new commands. And even as He gave the Law, He knew Israel would not keep it (Deut 31:16-18). And even that written law was not God’s ultimate intention. Jesus taught, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning, it was not so” (Matt 19:8). God’s principles never change because they are grounded in His unchanging moral perfection. But the way He expresses them to His people most certainly does. (See my video Understanding the Law of God through the P&E Framework.)
      God knew and ordained all of these things (and many more) from the beginning. They may look like changes to us, but not to our Living God. He is working out His perfect plan in the way He sovereignly determined and we humans are only finding out about it on a “need-to-know” basis!
      Blessings, Rob

      1. Mitch Chapman


        The essential flaw in your positions remain the assumption that “Christians” are members of a non-Jewish movement, independent in every way from the people of Israel.

        Knowing what we now know about the Jewish background of the Brit Hadasha, more commonly, but errantly referred to as the New Testament, we can say with full confidence that this is clearly not the case.

        The question IS: Should the followers of the Jewish Messiah, who comes from the Nations aka Gentiles, and who are not from Jacob aka Israel, follow the Torah, which is the Consitution of the spiritual Commonwealth of Israel of which you, as my brother, have been grafted into as I have been grafted in again?

      2. Mitch Chapman

        For clarification, it is not I who is conflicted. Rather, I was asking YOU to reconcile YOUR when, why and how Torah ended with the molten calf incident (Exodus 32 from another post) and the Doctrine of The Immutability of G-D (Numbers 23:19).

        Regardless, What have you bought, caught, thought and or have been taught and now teach, is the covenant you assert is being spoken of in Deut 31:16-18?
        Also, what is the context of Mt 19:8?

  7. Eric L


    There is so much *right* in you post!

    As you say, the Torah was never designed to save anyone, and it was planned to “pass away” in the future.

    But there is a big GAP in your post, as well. At the start, you promised to show us how the Bible says the Torah will not apply to Christians in the New Covenant.

    I challenge you to look at the OT verses that describe the coming of said New Covenant, as well as the NT verses that confirm those prophecies: The HALLMARK of the New Covenant – according to plain scripture – is the TORAH written on our HEARTS – an operation of the Spirit!

    The key to understanding this concept in 2 Corinthians 3, is found in verse 14, where Paul modifies his illustration of the veil on Moses’ face to protect the people, to become a veil on the hearts of non-believing Jews, keeping them from the truth:

    “For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.”

    Once the veil, through an operation of the Spirt of Christ is removed, we are no longer under the old covenant of stone tablets.

    Now we get to “serve in the new way of the Spirit
    [New Covenant, or Torah written on our hearts; a guide for living as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit]
    and not in the old way of the written code”
    [Torah written on stone, a constant condemnation].
    Romans 7

    I do not know a single Torah-following-believer-in-Jesus-as-Messiah who is not THRILLED that the New Covenant is HERE and NOW. It is so superior to have Torah supernaturally written on our hearts – thank you, God!

  8. Anthony

    For is that which is done away…
    …that which remaineth…

    1. Mitchell Chapman

      Rob and Anthony,
      For clarification, if you referr to the Torah aka The Law of Moses kindly direct me to where I can locate the use of the Greek word “nomos” rendered in English as “law” in either 1 Cor 3:11, 1 Cor 3 and or all of 1 Cor at all. If it’s not there, AND IT ISN’T, would you disagree or agree you are creating an argument that doesn’t exist in the text?

      1. Anthony

        What argument do you think I’m making? I quoted a few phrases of 1 Cor 3:11. Something is done away, and something remains. I suppose the context would indicate what was done away with and what remains.

        1. Mitch Chapman

          Anthony, Great question and thank you for asking! For clarification, are you part of the “not a few many”, which include Rob, who errantly perpetuate it is the Torah which is done away with in the context of 1 Cor 3:11 and or elsewhere?

          1. Anthony

            To put more flesh on the previous contrast, it seems that A is being considered glorious but B is considered more glorious and that A has no glory because of how much B is more glorious than A. Further, A is done a way with while B remains. This is my paraphrase of 2 Cor 3:10, 11.

  9. Yvonne Gordon

    the GLORY Israel could not bear to look at which is why Moses vailed his face is their “END” (the end of self, egoism, the vessel of vanity): When I was CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST (experienced Zechariah 12) that vail came off and so did the END of the vessel of vanity: NOW I could see the GREATER CLORY, but again, nothing I say makes much of a difference in the past 30 years because most people (none that I speak to) have EQUIVELENCE OF FORM with the creator, with Hashem, so they can’t hear him or those who speak from him as oracles of God: If any man speak, let him speak as an oracle of God: Most people are not MAN, but still the female force that must give birth to Messiah first before they will hear him:

    1. Mitch Chapman

      Anthony, The direct question asked of you which, for some reason you have chosen to not answer directly remains are you holding as does Rob that 1 Cor 3:11, 1 Cor 3 and or 1 Cor refers to the Torah aka “The Law of Moses”?

  10. Mitch Chapman

    Obviously typos above as I’m referring to 2 Cor 3:11, 2 Cor 3 and 2 Cor

  11. Gregory

    The new covenant that rlsolberg describes seems to alter the Decalogue significantly. The fourth is changed in that the solemnity is transferred to the first day of the week. The second is in keeping with the Rabbis and the Catholic authorities who wish to alter the -making the Name come to nothing- (vain) mean, veiling it in the titles of ‏אדוני and the seventh seems to alter in favor of broadening the definition to be equal between the sexes and restricting further.

    I have carefully read his article and all responses. The only thing that sticks out in my mind is the events of Zechariah 14. How can the claimed “old” practices of the law, as the church seems to intimate be resurrected in the Millennial reign of Christ? I speak particularly of Tabernacles, one of the FEASTS outlined in Leviticus 23.

  12. y1tzy

    What I find fascinating is that Paul is self appointed in nullifying the Torah, sure he claims to be chosen by Jesus in a dream, but how can you validate that (on faith? on belief?)? The story of Moses returning to the elders of Egypt was able to validate who he was and what his mission was (this is not in the English translation).

    Meanwhile, Jesus never told his followers to stop following the Torah, he even says not to abolish it (Mat 5:17). His most famous teachings (Mat 22:37) is the Shema (Det 6:5)! “The Golden Rule” (Mat 22:40) is Leviticus 19:18! He never told his followers to stop eating kosher food, he told his followers it was more important of what comes out of someones mouth, rather what goes in. Which is another teaching from the TaNaKh (Psalsm 34:14) or what we call “Lashon Hara” (evil tongue). So even Jesus (your god) told his followers to keep the Torah, not to deviate from it.

    Paul on the other hand single-handedly destroyed it, someone who never met Jesus in real life, someone who never saw him preach. Jesus’ original followers (his own brother!) were Torah observant Jews. This post isn’t very convincing to leave the Torah and follow Paul when Jesus’ (your god) said the opposite.

    Also, Christians aren’t ministers of a “New Covenant”. Jeremiah 31:33 isn’t referring to a “New Covenant”, it’s referring that in the Messianic Age, the Torah will not be written down (like at Mt. Sinai) and taught like when it was given to my ancestors. It will be “inscribed on the heart” so it doesn’t have to be TAUGHT anymore. So the fact that this website is up teaching about “Apologetics” means that it IS NOT “inscribed” on the heart, therefore Moshiach has not come.

    Keep going and refer to Jerimiah 31:36. If G-d ever annulled the decrees ie keeping Shabbos, wearing tzitzit, eating kosher food, ect., the ONLY then will the seed of Israel cease to be a Nation before him.

    1. R. L. Solberg

      Hello, y1tzy! With all due respect, if you think Paul was “nullifying the Torah,” you are not reading Paul’s words for yourself, but rather believing what someone else has told you they say. I agree with you that Yeshua did not teach against the Torah. He was a true prophet! And HaShem raised him from the dead to validate that what Yeshua said and taught was true. (HaShem does not validate false prophets!) Yeshua taught that He is the Jewish Messiah (Matt. 16:15–17), and the Son of God (John 3:18), and He brought us the promised בְּרִ֥ית חֲדָשָֽׁה (New Covenant) (Luke 22:20). Shalom, RLS

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