May 24, 2010

The End of the Law in Luke-Acts

I have been working through Jonathan Bayes,
The Weakness of the Law: God’s Law and the Christian in New Testament Perspective, Paternoster Biblical Monographs, ed. I. Howard Marshall et al. (Carlisle: Paternoster, 2000). Here is a section in which Bayes discusses the end of the ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic Law in Luke-Acts.

"There are indications already in Luke’s Gospel that the coming of Jesus as the Christ who must suffer (Lk. 9:20, 22), heralds the displacement of the ceremonial law by the new reality of fulfillment in Him. It is noteworthy that five references to the law are clustered in 2:22–39, but the word occurs only four more times in the Gospel thereafter. For this reason the authenticity of Luke 1–2 has been doubted, but this view has been compellingly refuted. More likely, the phenomenon is symbolic of the fact that a transition to something new has begun with the event described in chapter 2. Luke notes that, for the angels, it was more important that the One who had been born was the Christ than that His name was Jesus (2:11). Later, Jesus twice pronounces “Woe” on the lawyers (11:46, 52): this again may be an indication of the approaching demise of the law. In 22:37, in connection with the fulfillment in Him of the Scripture prophesying His identification with the transgressors (avno,mwn), Jesus says: “The things concerning Me have an end (te,loj).” Perhaps there is a deliberate double entendre here: the te,loj (goal) of what was prophesied about Jesus, and the life which He lived, was this identification in his death with the lawless, but that very death spells the te,loj (termination) of the law which thus pointed forward to Him.

“Because Jesus is the Christ, His coming, and particularly His death have rendered the old ceremonies unnecessary, since He is their fulfillment. Without Him, the law was incomplete; now that He has come the law is obsolete, and the time would come when that would be recognized and the ceremonies would cease.”

Bayes, The Weakness of the Law, 72–3.


Michael said...

I really like this book. They did a good job.

Charles Savelle said...

I haven't gone through the whole book yet, but I have enjoyed what I have read so far.