Hebrews Postscripts: What About the Old Testament Law?
How Much of It Has Been Dropped?

Key Notes: A chart of OT Law. Components of OT Law that have been canceled. The Ten Commandments remain valid but not as a prerequisite for salvation.

The question of the applicability of the Old Testament law comes up because Hebrews 8–10 state that the Old Covenant has been replaced, and the sacrifices have been fulfilled in Christ. But what about the rest of the law? The law can be divided into roughly four sections. A layout of OT Law shows that it covers almost every aspect of human life. The list is in no particular order and is not complete.

God and the prophets marriage law land use
priests and temple childbirth judges and justice property rights
sacrifices and vows sexual conduct territory and boundaries loans and compensation
food rules child discipline alliances poverty and wealth
pollution sickness and death war and spoils of war slavery
festivals and sabbath hygiene, personal care kings agriculture and animals
prayer clothing punishments work
idolatry friends and strangers military service inheritance
tithes and offerings widows and orphans census weights and measures

•When we see the Law outlined this way, it comes as a surprise to realize that the New Testament validates and approves the Law:

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." (II Tim 3:16).

When Paul says “all Scripture”, he refers to the OT. The NT Scriptures had not yet been compiled. The NT supports OT because it expresses God's will for our lives.

Jesus said,
"Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished." (Matt 5:17).
"...and Scripture cannot be broken." (Jn.10:35)

•But we recall that
"...you are not under law but under grace." (Rom 6:14,15)
"All who rely on works of the law are under a curse, for it is written, 'Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them.'" (Gal 3:10)

•How do we resolve this apparent contradiction? How should we think about the Old Testament? People have used and abused the OT in various ways.
*Marcion (160AD) taught that the Creator God of the OT was harsh, warlike, and evil. [A good God could not make a world with evil in it .] The God of the NT was loving and forgiving and gave us the Savior. Marcion worshipped the God of the NT. He censored the NT and well as the OT.
*The early Church chose to interpret the OT allegorically: Noah's ark is the church, the dove is the Holy Spirit, etc.
*Liberal scholars thought of OT as the evolution of a primitive civilization.
*Fundamentalists rightly emphasized the types of the OT--(Christ as the Rock, our Passover Lamb, our High Priest, etc..
* Others use OT for good moral lessons. For example, David protected Saul's son Mephibosheth.

•The simplest rule is to omit from the OT what the NT discards:
     Heb. 8–10 discards the sacrificial system.
     Mk 7:19 Jesus dismisses the food rules.
     Col 2:16 Paul discards the sacred holidays.

•What about government and economics? NT Christians were under Roman rule. Nowhere does the NT envision believers under a theocracy again until the Millennium. So these rules are in abeyance although the principles continue to inform us and our system of justice.

What about the religious and family rules? Think of them as amplifying the command to love God with all our hearts and our neighbor as ourself. The Proverbs are rich in such instruction.

One thing is clear. The NT reinforces the Ten Commandments (I-X).

I." You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve". (Matt.4:10)
II." Shun the worship of idols." (I Cor.10:14)
III." Do not swear at all" (Matt.5:14) "Let your yes be yes and your no, no". ( Jm. 5:1)
IV." The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath".(Matt.12:8)
     " The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" .(Mk.2:7)
     {It is common to think that a day of sabbath rest is excluded in NT.}
V." If anyone does not provide for his relatives, especially for his own family he had disowned the faith and become worse than an unbeliever." (I Tim.5:8). Also Mk.7:1;, Rom.1:30; Eph.6:1; Matt.19:19.
VI" You have heard... you shall not kill... but I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment." (Matt. 5:21–26)
VII." Shun immorality". (I Cor.6:18). Matt.5:27; Rom.1:24–27; I Cor. 5:1–5.
VIII." Let the thief no longer steal but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need." (Eph. 4:28). I Cor.6:10
IX. "Putting away falsehood let every one speak the truth with his neighbor". (Eph. 4:25)
X. No covetous man, that is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom". (Eph. 5:5)
II Tim.3:2, Rom.13:9, Heb.13:5.

To understand the Ten Commandments well, we need to study the OT law, because it tells us how to love God and our neighbor well. It informs our conscience. But we cannot rely on it for salvation. Gal.3:10