Apostle Paul and the Law
“I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.” Acts 24:14b (NKJV)
The above quote is Apostle Paul’s own words before he left Israel for his final journey to Rome and his eventual death. It would seem to me all of his statements in his various letters should be interpreted in the light of this confession. Paul was neither teaching nor implying that grace replaced the Law.
In my opinion, grace and the sacrificially shed blood of Messiah made provision for the keeping of the Law—of God’s standard of righteousness. Paul does establish that keeping the Law does not earn salvation, but it is the door opener to blessing. Keeping the law is not a substitute for faith in the work of Messiah Yeshua on the cross, but a consequence of it.
Yeshua is the Living Word, the Logos. He is God as well as man. He in effect being God gave the law to Moses and the people gathered at Mt Sinai. During His earthly ministry as a man He amplified and emphasized the law. He never diminished or railed against the word He brought on Sinai. He only spoke against the abuse and manipulation of the word by the religious leaders of the day, or of any day. He proclaimed the consequence for those who taught against the word in Matthew 5:17-20 (NKJV) “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Yeshua came to confirm the prophets and the law. Fulfill does not imply either the words spoken by the prophets or the truth of the law is now of no consequence, that would be to destroy. The prophets and the law has even more significance because Yeshua has come as prophesied by the prophets and the law, in effect validating them.
Apostle Paul, being educated as a Rabbi, was all too familiar with the abuse of the law being made by the spiritual rulers of the day. He saw the fallacy of the pharisaic teaching that by scrupulously following the letter of the law was somehow pleasing to God and would gain eternal reward. As Yeshua taught, Paul taught, that Spirit-empowered keeping of the law was what mattered and pleased God; that could only be done through a personal relationship, a born again experience, with the Lawgiver.