If we are no longer under old laws, why is it necessary to read the Old Testament?

  • 1
    Good question, but it has been asked many times on here... I think maybe even by me at some point. Search the site, if you do not find the exact question, you will at least find the answer. Mar 19 '14 at 22:34
  • 1
    Actually, there are pocket New Testaments -- with the OT nowhere to be found! :)
    – Steve
    Mar 22 '14 at 4:37
  • He did not come to rewrite the laws but through him the law was made perfect as the good book says.
    – Neil Meyer
    Jan 19 '15 at 10:34
  • 1
    @NeilMeyer: Why should the law of a perfect being have to be improved?!?
    – vonjd
    Jan 19 '15 at 17:23

Paul gives us a pretty good answer to this in his letter to the church in Rome:

"For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Romans 15:4 NASB

The Old Testament record reveals the character of God in many different ways. In it we see His faithfulness, His justice, His compassion, His holiness and many other things.

We can be encouraged to go to God in prayer, knowing that He has both the power and inclination to act on our behalf--just as we see He did in the Old Testament time and time again.

Additionally, the Old Testament contains many prophecies and pictures of Christ that gives us confidence in the truthfulness of the Gospel and also lets us see the beauty of God's dealings with mankind. Isaiah 53 is an amazing prophecy of the suffering Messiah and the Snake in the Desert beautifully demonstrates the Gospel.

It should be noted that much of the Old Testament is actually not simply laws to follow, but stories of God's interaction with mankind. The Law is contained in the Old Testament, but Genesis, Psalm, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon and the much of the prophets have little or nothing to do with instructions on the Law.

  • 2
    Yes, this is precisely right. The Bible is about revelation, not about laws per se. Mar 21 '14 at 10:12

I once heard an interesting analysis of this.

We are still bound by a portion of the Old Laws - mainly the ones involving morality.

Ancient Israel did not really have the concept of the separation of church and state. So, you had judicial laws/punishments mixed in with morality, mixed in with laws that had to do with ceremonies and cleanliness.

For example, stealing has always been wrong, but societies have punished it differently over the centuries.

Another example: if one also looks at the story where they want to stone the woman for adultery - Jesus condemns the sin of adultery and tells everyone not to stone her, which was the appropriate punishment of the day.

As a result, Jesus kept the basic morality of the OT, but did away with the punishment, for example. The OT provides a lot of the basic groundwork for the NT, such as basic morality - If people were moral there would be no need for punishment.

  • 1
    The idea that Christians are still bound by the moral part of the law and only the moral part is a nice one, but it doesn't work. All of the law was moral, all of it was about being right with God.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 20 '14 at 20:48
  • @curiousdannii: Even if you think it doesn't work (I tend to agree), nonetheless that has been a common approach through the ages. It's represented, e.g., in the Westminster Confession, chapter XIX. Better, I think, is the approach of some other Reformed Christians in the Q&A "Laws in Effect Today" which says the whole law still applies to us, but it applies differently.
    – metal
    Mar 21 '14 at 12:53

The book of Genesis is foundation for events and stories throughout the bible climaxing at Revelation. It provides both history and prophecy.

As far as no longer under old laws is concerned, the ten commandments and other statues are still valid. Colossians 2;14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross. The ordinances spoken of cover the sacrificial system and statues devised by the religious leaders of that period. However, much error is taught and embraced by this verse.

Revelation 22;14 Blessed are they that do his commmandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. There are only seven verses left in the bible. God's law is immutable.


There is a set of laws called Noahide. All humanity is obliged to follow: Noahide laws

The prohibition of Idolatry.

The prohibition of Murder.

The prohibition of Theft.

The prohibition of Sexual immorality.

The prohibition of Blasphemy.

The prohibition of eating flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive.

The requirement of maintaining courts to provide legal recourse.

The Noahide laws comprise the six commandments which were given to Adam in the Garden of Eden, according to the Talmud's interpretation of Gen 2:16,[7] and a seventh precept, which was added after the Flood of Noah. I find the last one gruesome, but I've seen drawings by Spaniards in the conquest of the Americas human animals tethered to a tree having slices of their bodies used for food.

Jesus came to teach the law's true meaning, to go back to those laws. For murder he drew a fence around it by saying it was a sin to be angry. Check the story of Cain and Abel.

The sin of Onan was his greed for his inheritance. Having sex with sheep or horses was sinful because they were not humans. Jesus attempted to put people back on track. To mourn was to groan over sin that one was unable to change, but recognized as sin, which means to miss the mark of good, which is what the purpose of our existence.

We are God's experiment. End game is theosis. We must choose good over evil. That too is a question because doing good can often be evil. Everything is tied into living life well by being good for this is how we were made before the disobedience in the garden.

We humans cannot understand God. He helps us along through condescension. There is a Greek word for that that makes it sound nicer, unfortunately it escapes me.

Moses got to see the back of God, but how if God is incorporeal. Was it Jesus? Jesus is only a way of flagging an entity to explore its purpose. God is always with us. Hence the admonition to be kind. We go round and round here. The outcome is the same. God is Love. We leave God when we forget that. God never leaves us. As long as we know where our bread comes from and say thank you and share w others we are God's people.

The bible did not create religion, man did. We were given the instructions on how to live a moral life. Everybody on this site knows this. No matter how we say it. A prophecy can be changed if the players change their behavior. If all thing remain the same the prophecy will be true. Perhaps it is that way with God?

Once we get to earth, the laws are the GPS for our free will to find him. Yes! I hear the yowling that I'm hop-scotching around. But, when I read the questions and answers we always come back to the same end.

Forgive me for my opinions and unnamed teachers that are in this block of information. Forgive me. I was so happy to learn today twice, that in Hebrew "he" is used neutrally because both man and woman are "he" to be inclusive because a woman has something extra that a man doesn't have. Interesting for Torah. In koine Greek the "he" pronoun is included to mean she. It's unfortunate to have a translation bc I would really like to know what the resurrected Jesus's "agapeo" means to Peter's "fileo" when the bantered word in English is love?

  • 1
    Thanks for reminding me about the Noahide laws! I had forgotten that. A few tips: Hit enter twice and form paragraphs instead of answering in a single block. Include some links for what you are stating (such as en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Laws_of_Noah). Try not to ask a question in your answer (the last sentence). You may want to include which denomination's perspective you are trying to state (I see it; but others might not grasp it and it's good to clarify. Mar 21 '14 at 6:57
  • In regards to the translation, the English for Man has historically meant either Mankind in general or a male human, thus the translation, although the push to say "he or she" has lead people to believe the Bible was directed around men, which is inaccurate as you mention. Mar 21 '14 at 6:59
  • Edited to add paragraph breaks. Not sure if all of them are in the right place, though.
    – Steve
    Mar 21 '14 at 13:17
  • This is good information, but explicitly linking it to the question would help. Mar 21 '14 at 23:42

Why is the Old Testament included in the bible if we are no longer under those old laws?

There are at least two functions of the Old Testament for Christians.

Galatians 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

We also have a trove of fulfilled prophecies and prophecies for what is yet to come.

We have a record of God's faithfulness especially in the face of the faithlessness of Israel that can be an encouragement for those of us who also falter.

We can draw from what God has revealed that which we can apply to our own lives as a matter of principle and benefit from it.


Why do you think we are no longer under the law? Jesus said:

Matthew 5:18 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.

Luke 16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.

As far as I can tell from reading my Bible is that that happens:

Revelation 21:1 KJV And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

Jesus did not do away with the law:

Matthew 5:17 KJV Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

Every time one of us breaks any of the laws Jesus has to pay for it on the cross. The only thing different is that every time you sin Jesus may feel a new pain, the Bible doesn't say that he does, but it also does not say that he doesn't.

  • 1
    Gentiles Christians were never under the law. Jesus 'fulfilled' the law, so that Jewish Christians aren't under it either!
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 19 '14 at 21:23
  • Yes, the fulfilment of the law means we are not under it. Epistle to the Romans makes this clear. Mar 19 '14 at 22:55
  • 1
    @curiousdannii are you saying that thou shalt not steal never applied to us, and not to Jews after conversion?
    – BYE
    Mar 19 '14 at 23:56
  • 1
    The law was part of the Mosaic Covenant, which was a contract God made with the Israelite nation. He would be their God if they would be his people and obey his law. Gentiles were never part of the covenant, and we never had a covenantal obligation to obey the law. That's what it means to not be under the law. The law does express how people who want to follow God should act in certain contexts (which often don't apply to us), but we're not bound by it.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 20 '14 at 4:54
  • 1
    What is with the downvotes? Mar 21 '14 at 7:03

I reject the premise of the question -- the Law does still applies to us today, but it applies differently than it did before the coming of the Christ.

As described in the Q&A "Laws in Effect Today":

[T]he entire law is still applicable because the entire law reflects God's unchanging character (compare Matt. 22:37-40). Nevertheless, the way in which we are to obey the law has changed significantly due to the coming of Christ and changes in other historical circumstances.

Compare also Romans 7:12: "So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good." And 1 Timothy 1:8: "We know that the law is good if one uses it properly." The hitch here, of course, is how to use it properly now that the Christ has come, but that's a topic for a different Q&A.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.