Matthew 5:17-18 (KJV)
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 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.

As I understand it, the Law of Moses is fulfilled in Christ. We don't make sacrifices anymore, and many other of the finer points in the Pentateuch are no longer preached.

Yet, I still see people reference these books for doctrine (for example the 10 Commandments).

How much of the Law of Moses still applies?

  • What do you mean by "apply"? Do you mean binding to the extent that obedience or disobedience determines our judgment to heaven or hell? Or do you mean that the laws still apply in the sense that they show us how we ought to live?
    – Ray
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 1:42
  • possible duplicate of Do we have to obey the laws of the bible? If so, what laws?
    – wax eagle
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 13:04

7 Answers 7


There are many separate views to the matter. I'll try to list the most common ones, along with sources (at the end of each section). I'll first just describe the views briefly; the sources are available for those more interested.


The Catholic Church teaches that the Law of Moses (the Old Law) is a preparation for the Gospel, and as such no longer binding. The New Law (the Law of Gospel) is a perfection of it, given through faith in Christ.

The Law of the Gospel is presented in the Sermon of the Mount (Matthew 5-7), but also in the moral catechesis of the apostolic teachings, such as Romans 12-15, 1 Corinthians 12-13, Colossians 3-4, Ephesians 4-5, etc.

God's Law has always remained the same, and has always been available as the natural moral law (e.g. through conscience), but only Jesus could express it perfectly.

Source: Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second edition. Paragraphs 577-582 and 1950-1986. CCC Table of Contents.


The reformed teaching is that the law was given in three parts:

  • The moral law, which God gave first to Adam, and later to Moses on Sinai (the Ten Commandments).
  • Ceremonial laws, given to the people of Israel, prefiguring Christ.
  • Judicial laws, given to the State of Israel.

The moral law is eternal, binding Adam, the first man, as well as any Christian today. Ceremonial laws were abolished in the New Testament. Judicial laws only concerned the State of Israel.

As noted, the moral law was delivered to Moses as the Ten Commandments. Thus the Ten Commandments apply to Christians today as such. Of other laws in the OT, the moral component applies.

Source: Westminster Confession, chapter XIX.


Theonomy literally means "God's law". It is the notion that God's law is eternal and universally binding. That is, the entire Bible applies to Christians today.

This doesn't mean that salvation comes by keeping the law, as theonomy is often misrepresented. Salvation is granted "solely by grace through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ".

Psalm 119:97-98 (KJV) is a good verse to show what theonomy is about:

O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.

Source: Duncan, T.M. Theonomy: What it is; what it is not.


Dispensationalism makes a distinction between Israel and the Christian church in God's plan. Its major objective is to be able to interpret the Bible consistently literally.

Dispensationalists recognize seven dispensations in the Bible:

  1. Innocence (Genesis 1:1–3:7)
  2. Conscience (Genesis 3:8–8:22)
  3. Human government (Genesis 9:1–11:32)
  4. Promise (Genesis 12:1–Exodus 19:25)
  5. Law (Exodus 20:1–Acts 2:4)
  6. Grace (Acts 2:4–Revelation 20:3)
  7. The millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6)

The different dispensations are different ways that God has related to people. Salvation has always been through faith.

As today's Christians are living during the dispensation of grace, or during the New Covenant, the old laws or the Old Covenant do not bind them. Because God and His will do not change, the moral law of the New Covenant hasn't notably changed from the Old Covenant.

Source: GotQuestions article What is dispensationalism and is it biblical? (Note: I'd like to find a better/more original source)

  • Nice, clear explanation. I'll have to study Dispensationalism more. The church I go to uses the term dispensation as more of the time period of a major prophet than a grouping of the teachings taught.
    – beatgammit
    Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 4:39
  • @tjameson I feel the sources I found for Dispensationalism weren't very definitive, so I might have described it wrongly based on my earlier knowledge. If you study it and can suggest a better source or edits to the answer, please do! Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 7:33
  • Regarding the Catholic teachings, I think it is important to point out that the New Law contains the moral aspects of the Old Law (i.e., the ten commandments), and then some. For example, the Old Law say "Thou shall not kill", but Jesus goes as far as saying those who hate are guilty of murder. This is what is meant by the perfection of it. The Old Law prescribed what not to do in order to avoid damnation, the New Law prescribes what to do to reach salvation.
    – cledoux
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 5:23
  • Just as an FYI, dispensationalists differ on the number of dispensations (as it seems is the case with all Christian interpretation!). From my understanding, the numbers vary from 7 to 12, depending on what is considered a significant change in the dispensation. Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 15:13

This was actually addressed pretty explicitly early on, and doesn't require all that much interpretation.

In Acts chapter 15, the apostles and elders of the church held a council to determine the answer to this exact question. When they reached an answer, they claimed it had the sanction of the Holy Ghost, so their answer is to be understood as divine counsel and not simply Peter's opinion.

Their proclamation was that it was important to observe the provisions against idol worship, fornication (all sexual sin) and eating blood, and that the rest of the Law had been fulfilled in Christ and "that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God" with the rest of it.

  • 1
    Ah, that makes sense. I guessed I missed the connection. Does this mean that everything in the Pentitude can be considered obsolete, and useful only for reference? Christ did make it quite clear that certain parts of the law have been made more refined (divorce, loving others, etc).
    – beatgammit
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 1:40
  • 4
    I think it should be mentioned that the morals of the old testament are included and more strict in the new testament. As repeated in places like Galatians 5.
    – user4060
    Commented Jun 3, 2013 at 17:57
  • This is not only a good answer, but also the RIGHT answer. I am ashamed that as a Christian I didn't remember this. Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 8:34
  • So why do Christians still eat meat with blood in it? Are they always careful to drain the blood when the meat is slaughtered? Commented Jan 11, 2015 at 22:27

This is a difficult issue in many ways, although Mason makes a good point which is worth a lot of thought.

Jesus told us he came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Certainly, the Jewish sacrificial system sees it's entire fulfillment in the work of the cross and is entirely voided and unnecessary as a result.

Paul explains that Christ came to set us free from the law of sin and death by living according to the Spirit instead of the flesh. However that leads to the question of what it means to live by the Spirit.

I have heard it explained that we are free from the law not in the sense that we can break it at will, but rather that our hearts become so aligned with it through the Holy Spirit that we no longer need that law in order to obey. If the law says "do not murder thy wife" and I have no desire to murder my wife then I do not need that law and I am in that sense free from it.

It's my opinion that...

Freedom from the consequences of the law are immediately applied to a person who confesses faith in Christ and follows him. But there's a sanctifying aspect that is worked out over time in which our hearts and wills are ever-increasingly conformed to that of Christ and we experience a consequent increasing freedom from the law as our inclination changes to please God - "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching" (John 14:23).

As a consequence, much of the legislative aspect of Mosaic law, per se, is obsoleted by the far simpler principles of (1) love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and (2) love your neighbor as yourself, which is the summation of all the Jewish law and prophets. The burden is shifted to the believer and the reformation of their heart under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit in community with the body of Christ, his church.

Thus, freedom in Christ is not freedom to do as we please, but freedom from the hold of sin and temptation thereof, in order to be able to ever-increasingly please him. And what pleases him is always perfectly right, true, good and just.

I think when we see legislation creeping back into the church, it's a sign of a shift from life in the Spirit to life under the law and that it's essentially displeasing to God. At the same time, it seems some people just need to have it spelled out for them; perhaps it's that they are immature in Christ, perhaps they just don't care for the responsibility that freedom brings. Perhaps it's a whole bunch of things.

So, in summation, I think the Mosaic law does not apply to the Christian body at all, but a much greater law of love does, which Jesus summed up as love God and love others.

  • 1
    I think your statements are very well said and close to my understanding. However, I must disagree with your summation - Mosaic law does apply in part, I would think. It is just too simplistic to state it "does not apply to the Christian body at all."
    – Xitalogy
    Commented Nov 3, 2012 at 18:50
  • @aeoril: That why I said, "It's my opinion that...".
    – user32
    Commented Nov 5, 2012 at 1:48

The question have at less this three answers:

If you believe in the Convenant Theology, then all the laws in the Old Testament that was not abolished on the New Testament still apply.

If you believe in the Dispensationalist Theology, then all the laws in the Old Testament that aren't confirmed on the New Testament don't apply.

If you are catholic what the church say today.

Font: - Dispensationalism Today, Charles Ryrie - Things to Come, J. Dwight Pentecost - Systemathic Theology, Wayne Grudem


How much of the Law of Moses still applies? First we must understand why we have the Law. Originally, the only rule was to not eat from the fruit of the knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:17). Then what followed because that happened. Cain killed Able (Genesis 4:8). Then eventually the flood. The answer is found in the reason for the flood. "The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. (Genesis 6:5)"

So God's desire can be explained in the inverse: "God would see it great if the human race was kind on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only good all the time."

This idea is also proven by Jesus himself: Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:37-40

The description of kindness and good thoughts of a human heart: If you where set to the task of ruling people toward God's desire. What might you put on your list? (Ok, nobody kill each other, don't steal, etc.)

Why the List didn't work? Pride, Ego, Natural Rebellion (Simply because the list exist).

How Faith leads to kindness and good thoughts and replaced the list. If you want people to have good thoughts about each other. More analysis needs to be focused on what makes people have bad thoughts. If you could stop the bad thoughts, then you have a world of only good thoughts. Lets take a look at psychology and pinpoint what causes anger. What we find is that anger is caused by the decision to fix the threatening behavior. So if we never took negative matters into our own hands, and relied only on God to justly handle the situation. We can prevent ourselves from getting angry.

Does this ideology match with the teachings? Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord (Romans 12:19). But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also (Matthew 5:39). But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth (Colossians 3:8). When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." (John 8:7)

What evidence do we have that God will take care of it for me? When they began to shout and praise, the Lord suddenly attacked the Ammonites, Moabites, and men from Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated (2 Chronicles 20:22).

Oh so the Law is still active? Yes (Luke 16:17).

Oh so God fulfills the law! Yup, if someone cuts out my eye, if God feels that it is necessary, he will cut that eye out for me. This is done so that my thoughts are "good" and that "evil can avoid my heart".

Now what if everyone followed the Law But everyone didn't. "When Jesus went outside, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions," (Luke 11:53). The outcome of the law and the thoughts in their heart.

So the Law is inferior to faith? Yes, because it didn't accomplish God's Desire.


I find no indication in Matthew Chapter 5 that Jesus is referring to the Law of Moses. Jesus' reference to the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, after talking about the commandments (5;19), leave little doubt about the doctrines of the Scribes and Pharisees.

The ten commandments are immutable, as mentioned in Matthew 5;18. The verses in the Book of Revelation attest to this fact.

Revelation 12;17, 14;12 and 22;14

12;17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

14;12 Here is the patience of the saints, here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

22;14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.


Paul writes that in our baptism we go down into the water with Jesus and die with him, setting us free from our old husband, the law,-then,...still in Christ, we also participate in Jesus' resurrection and we come up out of the water with Jesus into resurrected new life in Christ, and Paul writes, 'we are free to marry another', which we do, and it is Jesus.

This is the clearest picture of what happens to us as we are baptized into Christ and become married to him. Because we died, we are free from our former spouse, the law,.. ....because death dissolves marriages and frees the living spouse to marry again, as Jesus taught. The law our former spouse did not change, we changed, because we died 'in Christ' we became 'free from the law'.

The law with all of its demands is still the law, but, because we died with Jesus, 'in Him', the law can no longer access us, because we, upon resurrecting with Jesus, became free to marry another, and we do, we marry Jesus, becoming His spouse.

The law is the same with its demands, we have changed. We have a new relationship with one who is all-encompassing and in whom we find our all in all, who protects us from the law and all of its effects.

Paul further writes, 'does this mean that we should sin freely, then? By all means, No!'

However, 'sin will no longer have any dominion over us.'

Romans 7:4-6King James Version (KJV)

4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. (a fruitful marriage partner)

5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

(In other words, don't continue to sin, but for a new and different reason and with a new and different source of power)

(Romans 6, concurs)

  • Please edit this and use some formatting for your quotes. And do you really need to quote the entirety of Romans 6? And why is every verse on a line by itself??
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 4:48
  • @curious -only the apostle paul can answer this question, which he does in the references.
    – Hello
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 4:54
  • @curious- I have not picked up the ins and outs of posting text in diff. coloured insets, etc. I clicked your edit, and it didn't take me to instructions
    – Hello
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 4:58
  • I think the Apostle answers this question clearly and without confusion.
    – Hello
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 5:02

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