This is the first in a three-part series.
In or around 33 A.D., the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead from a marked and heavily guarded tomb, according to the Jewish historian Josephus (he puts the guard at 40 Romans and 1,000 Temple guards), a new movement began. At first this movement was called “The Way,” and followers were known as “disciples.” Eventually this movement received the title of “Christian” as a form of mockery (Christian means “little Christs”). Since this new movement began as a fulfillment of Jewish prophecy, it was normal for the earliest followers to be Jewish and it was natural for them to assume that this new movement was simply a continuation of the old faith; a new form of Judaism, but Judaism just the same. They soon discovered that they were wrong.
Faced with this constant pull to continue the Jewish traditions in this new movement, the early church met and discussed it in the city of Jerusalem in or around 50 A.D. (that is only 17 years after the resurrection of Jesus). I encourage you to read about this for yourself in Acts 15. The early church leaders of that conference led by James, the half-brother of Jesus, (same mother different father) decided clearly that this new movement was not Judaism 201. Unfortunately, the die-hard converted Pharisees among them didn’t see it that way, and like many in the church today they left that meeting saying that they disagreed and they continued to propagate their Jewish version of Christianity to all the new churches, which is why many of the letters of the now New Testament were written and why they exist today. Worse, it is this Pharisaical bent that has held sway and influenced the church down through the centuries. The bottom line is, we as Christians today are not under any part of the Old Testament Law, including the Ten Commandments.
Now that I have your attention, let me support my statement through the Scriptures themselves.
First read Acts 15, then read the entire book of Galatians (written about 49 A.D.). This entire book is a polemic against the false teaching that Christians are obligated to keep any of the Jewish law. In fact the Apostle Paul writes clearly, “For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.” (Galatians 5:3, KJV 1900). Just an aside, I use the King James here because I know that those who will take issue with what I am writing most likely will do so from a “King James only” perspective. Note, however, that Paul says if you want to keep even one part of the Law, you obligate yourself to keep all of it! You don’t get to pick and choose as some are prone to do, claiming that the moral law still applies, it’s the ceremonial law that doesn’t. Paul doesn’t make that distinction here. In fact he goes on to warn that if you do “go back to the Old Testament Christ becomes meaningless to you! “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:4, KJV 1900). Now, for the sake of clarity, moving forward I am going to use modern, more accurate translations than the King James. Those who disagree can still check out what I am claiming by checking their King James versions.
Colossians 2 is another interesting passage. Read the whole chapter, but let me highlight just a few verses. “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13–14, NIV84). Note that phrase, “having canceled the written code.” Literally, in the Greek that phrase reads, “having canceled the handwriting of God.” The only thing written by “the finger of God” was the Ten Commandments. So “the Bible” is pretty clear here. Unfortunately, space is gone so we will pick this thought up next week.