With excitement I have started reading Brian Rosner’s Paul and the Law in the New Studies in Biblical Theology (NSBT) series. I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since I heard his lectures on the topic – see related link below the post. The book is even more pertinent now that I am studying Paul’s letters to the Romans, which alongside Galatians contains the majority of Paul’s thoughts regarding the law.
In Paul and the Law Rosner is proposing a way forward in understanding how Paul treats the law in his letters – a very knotty problem for readers of the Bible.
According to Rosner,
“The crux of the problem of Paul and the law is the fact that his letters present both negative critique and positive approval of the law” (p24, emphasis mine).
Rosner brings this problem to light by comparing three texts with one another: Ephesians 2:15, Ephesians 6:1-2, and Romans 3:31.
The Problem of Paul and the Law
- In Ephesians 2:15 Paul appears to go out of his way to emphasise that Christ has abolished “every last bit of the law” (p24).
- In Ephesians 6:1-2 Paul supports his instruction for Christian living by quoting a ‘commandment’ from the very law that Christ has abolished in Eph 2:15!
- Even more shocking, in Romans 3:31 Paul asserts that his teaching on faith certainly doesn’t abolish the law, it upholds it. This word translated ‘overthrow’ is in fact the very same Greek word translated ‘abolish’ in Ephesians 2:15!
So which is it? Is the law abolished for Christians or is it not? Did Paul unintentionally contradict himself at times? Or did he say whatever he needed to say to get his point across? Or rather, did Paul have a robust theology behind his statements that can be discovered through diligent study?
If the latter is true (which I believe), then how do we reconcile Paul’s apparent contradictions regarding the law? This is what Brian Rosner attempts to do in Paul and the Law. Look out for a review in the near future!
You can buy Paul and the Law from Amazon below: