Abrogation of Old Covenant laws

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While most Christian theology reflects the view that at least some Mosaic Laws have been set aside under the New Covenant, there are some theology systems that view the entire Mosaic or Old Covenant as abrogated in that all of the Mosaic Laws are set aside for the Law of Christ.

However, other theologians do not subscribe to this view, believing that the Law and the Prophets form the basis of Christian living and Christian ethics, and are therefore not abrogated; rather, they can only be understood in their historical context subsequent to the advent of the Messiah.[citation needed][clarification needed]

Individuals who believe that Old Covenant laws have been completely abrogated are referred to as antinomians by various Christian traditions, such as the Methodist faith, which teaches that the moral law continues to be binding on the faithful.[1][2]

New Covenant theology[edit]

New Covenant theology is a Christian theological system that shares similarities with and yet is distinct from dispensationalism and Covenant theology.[3] New Covenant theology sees all Old Covenant laws as "cancelled"[4] or "abrogated"[5] in favor of the Law of Christ or the New Testament. Douglas J. Moo has argued that 9 of the Ten Commandments have been renewed under the New Covenant.[6]


As a theological system, dispensationalism is rooted in the writings of John Nelson Darby (1800–1882) and the Brethren Movement, but it has never been formally defined and incorporates several variants. Major dispensational views divide history into some seven dispensations or ages:[7]

  1. Innocence (Gen 1:1–3:7), prior to Adam's fall;
  2. Conscience (Gen 3:8–8:22), Adam to Noah;
  3. Government (Gen 9:1–11:32), Noah to Abraham;
  4. Patriarchal rule (Gen 12:1–Exod 19:25), Abraham to Moses;
  5. The Mosaic Law (Exod 20:1–Acts 2:4), Moses to Jesus;
  6. Grace (Acts 2:4–Rev 20:3), the current church age; and
  7. The Millennial Kingdom, a literal earthly 1000-year that has yet to come (Rev 20:420:6).

Traditional dispensationalists believe only the New Testament applies to the church of today. They see the covenant of Sinai (dispensation #5) as having been replaced by the gospel (dispensation #6), but at least some dispensationalists believe that, although the time from Jesus' resurrection until his return (or the advent of the Millennium) is dominated by the proclamation of the gospel, the Sinai covenant is neither terminated nor replaced, rather it is "quiescent" awaiting a fulfillment at the Millennium.[citation needed][clarification needed] This time of Jewish restoration has an especially prominent place within dispensationalism.

Wayne G. Strickland, professor of theology at the Multnomah School of the Bible, claims that his dispensationalist view is that "the age of the church has rendered the law inoperative".[8]


Paul the Apostle[edit]

The relationship between Paul the Apostle and Judaism continues to be the subject of research, as it is thought that Paul played an important role in the relationship between Christianity and Judaism as a whole. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church states that Paul's influence on Christian thinking is more significant than any other New Testament author.[9]

Some scholars see Paul (or Saul) as completely in line with 1st-century Judaism (a "Pharisee" and student of Gamaliel or as part of Hellenistic Judaism),[10] others see him as opposed to 1st-century Judaism (see Pauline passages supporting antinomianism and Marcionism), while the majority see him as somewhere in between these extremes, opposed to "Ritual Laws" (see for example Circumcision controversy in early Christianity) but in full agreement on "Divine Law". These views of Paul are paralleled by Christian views of the Old Covenant. See also Antithesis in the Bible and Christianity in the 1st century.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McPherson, Joseph D. (2016). "In Defense of Ten Commandments: The Perpetual Mandate of Sabbath Observance". The Arminian Magazine. Fundamental Wesleyan Society. 34 (1).
  2. ^ Knight, Hal (22 November 2017). "Cheap Grace". The Missouri Conference of The United Methodist Church. In John Wesley’s day “cheap grace” went by the fancier name “antinomianism,” which literally means “against the law.” Antinomianism insists that if you are saved by faith and not by works, then works are irrelevant. We do not need to be righteous ourselves because we are covered by Christ’s righteousness. Our hearts and lives do not need to be changed as long as we have faith in Christ. “The imagination that faith supersedes holiness,” Wesley wrote, “is the marrow of antinomianism.” (“On the Wedding Garment,” 18).
  3. ^ TMS.EDU: TMSJ 18/1 (Fall 2007) 149-163: Introduction to New Covenant Theology
  4. ^ ALL Old Testament Laws Cancelled: 24 Reasons Why All Old Testament Laws Are Cancelled and All New Testament Laws Are for Our Obedience, Greg Gibson, 2008, page 7: "New Covenant Theology ...[has]... a better priest, better sacrifice, and better covenant (containing a better law)."
  5. ^ Moo Archived August 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, page 375; Gibson, ALL Old Testament Laws Cancelled, pages 48, 143, 144
  6. ^ The Law, the Gospel, and the Modern Christian: Five Views Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993. ISBN 978-0-310-53321-4, also republished as Five Views on Law and Gospel, page 376: "The content of all but one of the Ten Commandments is taken up into "the law of Christ", for which we are responsible. (The exception is the Sabbath commandment, one that Heb. 3-4 suggests is fulfilled in the new age as a whole.)"
  7. ^ Scofield Reference Bible
  8. ^ Five Views on Law and Gospel, Gundry editor, Chapter 4: The Inauguration of the Law of Christ with the Gospel of Christ: A Dispensational View by Wayne G. Strickland, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993, page 259
  9. ^ Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church ed. F.L. Lucas (Oxford) entry on Paul
  10. ^ The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (1915), Volume 4, page 2276 edited by James Orr

External links[edit]