Deuteronomy 13:1-4 states:

  1. All this word which I command you, that shall ye observe to do; thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

  2. If there arise in the midst of thee a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams--and he give thee a sign or a wonder,

  3. and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spoke unto thee--saying: 'Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them';

  4. thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or unto that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God putteth you to proof, to know whether ye do love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

My understanding is that Christians believe that Jesus abrogated the Mosaic law (e.g. keeping the Sabbath, dietary restrictions, etc.) and they no longer feel bound by them. How, then, do they understand the above passage, which states that one may not subtract commandments from the Law, and which seems to imply that a true prophet will not do so?

  • Note that a minority of Christians (e.g., conservative Presbyterians those following the Westminster Confession of Faith and Seventh Day Adventists) do keep the Sabbath as a standing moral law, though most of them argue that it was moved to Sunday in the New Covenant. See also "Which laws are in effect today?" – metal Jan 31 '14 at 14:22
  • There are many sabbaths in the Mosaic law but there is one Sabbath in God's Law. – One Face Aug 23 '15 at 14:55

The historical answer for this, as it applies to Gentiles, was recorded on the book of Acts.

Mosaic Law was given to the nation of Israel (the Jews), not the Church.

Early on in Church history, the question of whether adherence to Mosaic Law was to be applied to Gentile believers.

Acts 15

New International Version (NIV) The Council at Jerusalem

15 Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.

5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”

6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon[a] has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:

16 “‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, 17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’[b]— 18 things known from long ago.[c]

19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

More is available at Grace Communion International.

Why, then, these four rules? Some scholars say the Jews believed that these laws dated back to the time of Noah, and therefore applied to all nations. Others say that all four rules were associated with idolatry. Some say that these four rules were laws of Moses, and were given so Gentiles and Jews could eat together. None of these suggestions is fully convincing. (See later for more details.)

However, the decree makes it clear that Gentiles do not have to be circumcised, nor do they have to obey the laws of Moses. They are circumcised spiritually, not physically. God never gave those commands to the Gentiles.


To summarize: Some men said that Gentiles should be circumcised and obey the laws of Moses or else they could not be saved. Not so, said the apostles. Gentiles are saved by grace and faith. God is pleased to dwell in people who aren’t circumcised and who don’t keep the rituals. But since Moses is widely preached, we need to give a decree that clearly distinguishes the Christian faith from the Law of Moses. This pleased the entire church, so they wrote it in a letter and sent it to Antioch, where they “were glad for its encouraging message”

  • The history is interesting, but this doesn't really answer my question, namely how Christians interpret Deuteronomy 13:1-4. – Malper Dec 9 '13 at 1:27
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    The first paragraph answers exactly that. It's interpreted as being applicable to the nation of Israel, not the Church. The rest shows the basis of that interpretation. – David Stratton Dec 9 '13 at 1:29
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    But didn't Jesus break the Mosaic law on occasion? I seem to remember that he, for example, broke the Sabbath at some point in the Christian Bible. – Malper Dec 9 '13 at 1:31
  • That would be a different question,and if you're looking fr something that ẃill convince you, personally,you're on the wrong site. I truly mean no offense, but we're not here to convince you.. You asked for the basis for resolving an apparent discrepancy,which I gave. The fact that it is unsatisfying is unfortunate, but proving points is not within the guidelines for the site. I'd ask that second question, or edit this one to ask for more. – David Stratton Dec 9 '13 at 1:41
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    Malper, I think you should ask another question "Did Jesus break the Sabbath?" or similar. – Matt Dec 9 '13 at 2:33

Moses is saying that the covenant must be kept intact - today we'd say that if they change the terms of the contract they break the contract!

Gentile Christians however were never part of the Old Mosaic covenant, and so they are not bound by it. To use the analogy of an employment contract, imagine there are two workers at a company. One has a contract, and another is casually employed. (I'm not a lawyer, I don't know how realistic this is!) The one who has the contract may not change it, and the one who is casually employed is not bound by the other one's contract. The casually employed one may decide they like what the other one's contract says and work as if they were bound by it, but that won't make them part of the contract.

To give another analogy, residents of one country are not required to obey the laws of another country, though they may take inspiration from the laws of other countries. So Christians are not required to obey the Old Testament Law, but there is much in the Law which Christians will want to pay strong attention to.

  • I thought that Jesus himself broke the Mosaic laws on occasion, despite being Jewish himself... – Malper Dec 9 '13 at 1:34
  • You may like to see this question – curiousdannii Dec 9 '13 at 1:36
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    What about the Jewish Christians? None of the answers seem to address whether Jews who accept Jesus should continue to follow the Law. – Gregory Magarshak Jun 8 '14 at 8:06

Jesus himself said he came to fulfill the law not to change it.

The Gentile Christians were not supposed to follow Mosaic Law, but Noahic Law, per the Jews. As was pointed out above, this was approved by the early counsel in Jerusalem when Paul put the question before them. This was already part of Jewish tradition, for Gentiles. The main question, really, was do Christians have to become Jews before they can be Christians. That Counsel made it clear they do not.

  • This is a good answer, Mary, but the part about being required to follow to Noahide laws and reference to an early counsel really requires a source. As it sits, we just have to take your word for it that you are representing what happened accurately. – fredsbend Jan 31 '14 at 16:40

I think this verse speaks it plainly.

Romans 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

The verses you quote is not for Christians and never was meant to be. It was specifically given to the Hebrew people.


Taking things in context helps clear up a lot of problems. When Moses says "All this I command you" - who was the "you" he was talking to? The answer is - the people of the 12 tribes of Israel. It was not addressed to the entire human race down through history.


first off messiah broke no laws of the Father- he was sinless- if he broke the traditions of men -- that is why he was killed. The verse in Deut is about false prophets which abound today. Look at the verse like this- the true messiah and His followers will drawn you into the Word and false teachers and prophets will draw you away to another god or gospel. So the false teachers and prophets will say things like this-- sin is breaking the law but that law was for the Isrealites and does not apply to us- we follow other eternal, holy, just and good laws that are not written in the Word. Or they will say ""do by nature the things contained in the law"" You must ask them what law are they stating the gentile was following? Or they will say you can not be saved by following the Law-- this the law also states -- so they say you do not need to follow the law but a true prophet would ask if you break any part of the law is that not sin. Yes we can not do works of the law salvation- salvation is by faith in messiah- but after receiving messiah do we not desire to follow the law and move away from sin. Look if sin is breaking the law then following the law moving toward righteousness. The deceiver has maligned the whole story- the Jews were to be priests to the entire world- priests are there to show the way- they messed it up but the church got on the bandwagon also-- Be ye Holy for I am Holy---by faith not works-- works is the outward manifestation of an inward change- we desire to follow the commands- all of them. Mary

The church can only see what the Jews did wrong with the Law and say "yeah - do not do that" or you can not do the law- well just who is inside you - a mutant messiah with no power to transform.

  • Please see How we are different than other sites? and then the help page. This answer would be a lot better if you could add references showing that this is a common understanding, and who teaches/believes it. On this site, we're not looking for personal interpretation, but rather focusing on what various Christian groups teach. – David Stratton Jan 26 '14 at 16:19
  • In short, the answer needs a citation. – Double U Jan 26 '14 at 20:30

The Tanakh itself shows that Moses' law would be changed to a new covenant due to Israel's failure to keep the old law (Jeremiah 31, KJV):

31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:

33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

While the interpretation is debatable, it gives Christians a foundation for this doctrine in the old testament.


There is no reconciliation needed.

In Matthew chapter 5 Jesus tells us that not even an accent mark will disappear from the law till Heaven and Earth pass away.

Mat 5:18 KJV

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

So the law is still just as in force today as it was in the days of Moses. What has changed is that Jesus fulfilled the Law.

Mat 5:17 KJV

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

So exactly how did he fulfill the part of the Law about not being deceived by false teachers? you ask.

Well that's a good question, and I'm glad you asked.

This how he fulfilled all of the law and not just the little part about being deceived by false teachers.

He gave the indisputable answer to all questions about not only who was the true God, but who and where and how, and any other question you might have.

He died on the cross and arose from the dead on the third day following, just as he had told people he would do before it took place.

With this indisputable truth, anyone who desires to Spend eternity with God can do so.

There is no other plan, program or theory that can come near competing with that answer.


One cannot say that Jesus was a 'false' prophet because he emphasized that nothing can be added to nor subtracted from the law. Matthew 5: 19. He then goes further, Matthew 5: 20 - 48 and says that the 'Christians' must be even better than the Pharisees and to do that he puts a 'fence' around the law. Not only are Christians bound by the law, they have to make sure they do not even come close to breaking it.

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