Paul (Shaul) uses the phrase “under the Law” throughout his letters but not in a uniform or consistent way. According to Galatians, “not under the law” relates to maturity in one’s relationship with God; the Law, which Paul calls a “caretaker” or “tutor,” is not needed for someone who already knows God’s ways (Gal 3:23-25). But in Romans, Paul uses the phrase differently. He states, “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Rom 6:14).

Based on the above verse, one may reason that the “law” (Greek: νόμος; nomos) is somehow in opposition to “grace” (χάρις; charis). But “grace” means favor or a good disposition towards someone (Hebrew: חֵן; chen), so how can it be opposite to the law (e.g., Rom 3:31; 4:16; 7:7-16; 10:5)? Shaul is not arguing for opposition, but rather highlighting a difference: benefiting from special favor is preferable to being judged by the law.

More, it may seem that “not under law” means “not under Torah,” but the apostle uses the term “law” (νόμος; nomos) in a variety of ways in Romans. For instance, he speaks of what we might call “natural” or “physical” law that governs our bodies and environment — that is, legal systems unrelated to God’s commandments given at Sinai. Furthermore, Paul speaks of “theological” laws that reflect spiritual realities. Consider how Paul refers to both natural and spiritual laws in the same breath: “I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom 7:23). Here, Paul refers to two different laws — the law of his body vs. the law of his mind — but neither of these “laws” is exactly equivalent to the Law of Moses.

The broader context of Romans 6-8 is about slavery to the “law of sin and death” (τοῦ νόμου τῆς ἁμαρτίας καὶ τοῦ θανάτου), which should not have power in the lives of believers (Rom 8:2). Paul speaks of dying with Messiah as a death to sin, which is followed by a rising to new life (Rom 6:6–7). In this way, Paul calls for freedom from sin, not from the Torah. So when Paul says that we are “not under law but under grace” (Rom 6:14), which law does he have in mind? In this context, it is the law of sin and death, not the Law of Moses. 

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98 COMMENTS

  1. The word law is a mistranslation, the word should be Torah. Torah means instruction not law, and Rabbi means teacher. As a Jew Y'shua is my Rabbi, and by the power of His resurrection He gives me the grace to obey Torah.
    • I commend you Allan on understanding these things. You are right in general, though at times Paul does mean law and not Torah as my article notes.

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  2. Hi just enquiring if All the laws Moses gave is it still valid.then why are Christians so confused .or are they deliberately avoiding the truth
    • Avoidance is not the problem. Let me put it this way... All of God's laws are valid and true for all time. And let me qualify that further. Not all of God's laws ever applied to every single individual. Example: the laws of the high priest never applied to anyone but high priests, the laws of the harvest were never intended to apply to stock dividends and etc. And furthermore, not all teaching in Torah ate actual laws or commandments (in a legal sense) they are teachings, instructions, admonitions and etc.
    • Hello, Kay, When Paul refers to the Law in Rom. 6:14 He means the ten commandments. This he clarifies in the first 7 verses of chapter 7. He explains that we not only died to sin, but also to the Law. This is clear in verses 4 and 6.

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    • In answer to your question i believe that they simply beleif what thwy are told without much research. We must go back to the Hebrew. Im not sure if Yeshua will judge us for what we do not know. But there is an awakening out there people want truth.
    • In the context of the three preceding chapters leading up to this summation, Paul mentions "law" (nomos) nearly 90 times - always in the context of "law of sin and death" but NEVER once is he tying it in with the Torah.
  3. I've heard this before and agree with it. However, is Shaul still talking about the law of sin and death when he speaks of Yeshua nailing the law with its ordinances to the cross? If you have a link to an explanation it would be great. Thanks and Shalom!
    • That is yet a different letter and yet another context. We cannot read the letters Paul wrote to different communities addressing very different issues in each of them as if they are one cohesive message.

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    • Somewhere on this site is an article dealing with Colossians 2:14 and the cheirographon that was nailed to the cross. I believe you will find it very helpful.

      Perhaps Professor Shir can provide the title or a link to it.

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    • He nailed the penalty, the charges against you to the cross. Actually this was a Roman tradition to nail the charges laid against the condemned above his head to the execution stake. So it was the charges against Yeshua (Jesus) that were nailed there. But metaphorically it wouldn't be incorrect to say your charges, if you believe and repent are nailed there as well.
  4. Interesting! I have been reading the phrase "under the law" as meaning "under the condemnation of the Law". I'll consider this perspective though.
  5. I disagree. Chapter 6 is a continuation of 5 where he is talking about the written law. I am not saying that it's ok to not follow the law which, he addresses at the start of 6. No more space to write more.
    • You are right, Mark, Rom 5:20 mentions Torah, no doubt. Yet if you re-read the second part of ch 5 the actual topic of discussion is the oppression of sin and transgression and not Torah per se. Torah was mentioned only to say that it actually added to the problem of sin in this particular thought.
  6. Thank you Prof the article is very informative and helps brings perspective to a controversial topic. In my heart I was aware of the truth but just could not find the evidence. Thank you
    • The evidence is all there, right in the text itself. The theological pre-text is what sways people from seeing the answer.
  7. Yeshua did not come to destroy the Law but to Fulfill the Law, therefore since the Laws have been fulfilled then the Law with its obligations has ended. Now Christians should imitate Yeshua and his Instructions to find Grace and guard against Sin.
    • Dear Kieth, I know that your definition of "fulfilled" as "ended" makes sense to you, but that is directly the opposite of what Messiah actually said in that passage. Just reread it. He called people to follow "his commandments" which are just the same as his Father's commandments, if not more stringent... (I and the Father are one). Consider this article on the word "fulfill"

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  8. In Romans Paul-Shaul recognizes and claims himself as jew, Israel is the cultivated olive, but after Chris's death as "damned of the Law", Law is no more the regime, the way, to establish the relationship between God and human beings. It's a complex argument but i'ts Paul's real thought.
    • Dear Luis, your argument has a major flaw and therefore it arrives at an incorrect conclusion. The law was NEVER meant to establish a relationship with God. Among several purposes of Torah that is not one of them. It was given to those who believe and already know God experientially. The law is to MAINTAIN a relationship so that we do not sink deep into sin and destroy ourselves. It is a life guide - do this and you will have a good life.

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  9. 1st thing prof. I see you like to write Paul as Shaul, why?
    Wish all christians wants to admit to this standard. The law of rituals and high priests etc. are the only law's that is active anymore. But if GOD writes on ones heart he will know that.
    • I don't fully understand the second part of your comment, Pepler. But about Paul... His given Hebrew name is Shaul - just like the first king of Israel. Paul (Paulos) is his Roman name, which the apostle used as he traveled the Greek-speaking Mediterranean.
    • To write on one's heart is a Hebrew idiom for memorization. Can you quote me from memory Genesis 1? Leviticus 3? No? Well then, I guess that prophesy is for the end times and not today (I am assuming you are a believer, right?).

      I can't quote them either, so if we are supposed to know them now we are both in trouble!
  10. This is something that I know the Rauch HaKodesh (forgive my spelling, I am learning) has been dealing with me about. I have been studying the Word for 5 years now & coming to understand that many things I heard while growing up are simply not true.
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