According to a widely accepted view of the gospel, Jesus had to die for people’s sins because human beings are unable to follow the Law. If only we could keep the Torah, so the argument goes, then it would lead to salvation; but since Law observance is impossible, Jesus comes to save us. However, this view reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of why God gave the Torah to Israel in the first place. The commandments do not “save” anyone; God does that. The Law was given not for salvation, but for relation.
The so-called Ten Commandments (in Hebrew, the “ten words” [עשׂרת הדברים; aseret ha’devarim; cf. Exod 34:28; Deut 4:13; 10:4]) are the preamble to the Torah; they introduce the rest of the God’s stipulations, which span from Exodus to Deuteronomy. At the outset of the Ten Commandments, God declares, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods besides me” (Exodus 20:2-3). The first declaration of the Law—not to worship any other gods—comes after the God of Israel has already saved the people from slavery in Egypt. Before Moses ascends Sinai, he refers to the “salvation” (ישׁועה; yeshuah) that the Lord wrought in rescuing Israel (cf. Exodus 14:13; 15:2). God offers the free grace of salvation before the Israelites observe a single task of the Torah. The point of the Law was not to “save” the Hebrews. Instead, God saves prior to giving the Law, and the commandments reaffirm the divine-human relationship.
Deuteronomy clarifies that the Law comes in response to God’s salvation, not as the way to achieve that salvation. Moses proclaims to his people, “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God rescued you from there (ויפדך… משם; va’yiphdkha… misham); therefore, I command you to observe this word” (Deut 24:18). Torah observance is the thankful response to God’s gift of salvation. This same sequence of grace followed by action appears in the New Testament: “By grace (χάριτί; chárití) you have been saved (σεσῳσμένοι; sesosménoi) through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God (θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον; theou tò doron), not [a result] of works so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Messiah Jesus, for good works (ἐπὶ ἔργοις ἀγαθοῖς; epì ergois agathois), which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10). Salvation comes through the grace that God provides in Yeshua, and good works are the way that saved human beings say, “Thank you.” Thus, the Torah provides the blueprint for what God accomplishes through Jesus, and for what is expected of those who follow him.
Although contemporary Christianity tends to frame salvation through Christ in opposition to the Law, as though the Law was meant to produce salvation but did not accomplish its goal, the Torah was never a means for being saved. In the history of Israel, God did the saving and Torah observance was a way for God’s saved people to live in relationship with the Lord.
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Thank you for the thoughtful commentary. It may be similar to how I approach "good works" and salvation in my own life as a follower of Jesus. I do not do good works so that what Jesus did on the cross will save me. I do good works as a way of saying "thank you" to what God has already done in Christ. It is a response to salvation, not a prerequisite. Otherwise salvation could be earned, which is not what I think the Apostle Paul was preaching in his letters. Thank you for reading and commenting, Dennis. So true. Amen. Thank you for clarifying this. I have been reading the gospel of John and this very question came to me as I read chapter 1 verse 16. I see that my understanding of the premise and purpose of the law was in error, which led to my confusion. Thank you for reading, Paula. On the view of Law in John 1, see https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/did-moses-give-grace-and-truth/ Thank You so much for your wonderful Knowledge and Enlightenment that you have provided to us . God Bless You. We Pray for your. The wonderful initiative "Israel Bible Center" has taken is really praiseworthy. We are grateful to you all. God Bless You. Amen. Thank you for reading, Joy. We are glad that you're enjoying IBC's resources. I don't know who's included in the "widely accepted view of the gospel", but anyone who has actually read and understood the Gospels should understand John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." Already quoted. Paul says in Galatians 3:24 that the Law was a schoolmaster/tutor/instructor to bring Israel to Jesus. In essence to show us how to live like Christ. Once he came, we no longer needed it as we now had the reality of Christ to follow, not just a shadow. You are right was a schoolmaster, teacher, and guardian to bring Israel to Jesus. I believe it still serves the purpose even to us, Spiritual Israel. It points us to Christ the only one who is our salvation. We do good works because we are saved, not to be saved. What then is the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise hath been made; and it was ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator. Galatians 3:19 What law was added because of sin? It was the sacrificial law So well explained. Thank you. Thank you for reading, Isabel. Thank you. We have sometimes been made to think that Christ and the law are enemies. As if the law and sin are one thing. The keeping of the was not a means of salvation for Israel. Their salvation was by grace which they needed to receive through faith. Thank you for reading, Malunga. Thank you for clarifying this . I can see this perspective is really opening a closer View Now for me as a christian. Thank you for reading, Judit. We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Jewish Gospel of Matthew or The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now! This is very true indeed in- that our YAHWEH,knew that He is going to be our creator and humanity will remain His handimans created,the commandment for sure meant to create a clear and sound able relationship