Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, December 2nd, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Dictionaries

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary

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In the Bible, signifies sometimes the whole word of God, Psalm 19:7-11 119:1-176 Isaiah 8:20; sometimes the Old Testament, John 10:34 15:25 , and sometimes the five books of Moses, which formed the first of the three divisions of the Hebrew Scriptures, Luke 24:44 Acts 13:15 . The Pentateuch was probably "the law," a copy of which every king was to transcribe for himself and study, and which was to be made known to young and old, in public and in private, Deuteronomy 6:7 17:18,19 31:9-19,26 . In other places the Mosaic institutions as a whole are intend by "the law," in distinction from the gospel, John 1:17 Acts 25:8 .

When the word refers to the Law of Moses, careful attention to the context is sometimes requisite to judge whether the civil, the ceremonial, or the moral law is meant. The ceremonial or ritual laws, concerning the forms of worship, sacrifices, priests, purifications, etc., were designed to distinguish the Jewish nation from the heathen, and to foreshadow the gospel dispensation. They were annulled after Christ's ascension, Genesis 3:24 Ephesians 2:15 Hebrews 9:1-28 10:1-22 . The civil laws, Acts 23:2 24:6 , were for the government of the Jews as a nation, and included the Ten Commandments. The whole code was adapted with consummated wisdom to the condition of the Jews, and has greatly influenced all wise legislation in later years. Its pious, humane, and just spirit should characterize every code of human laws. The moral law, Deuteronomy 5:22 Matthew 5:17,18 Luke 10:26,27 , is more important than the others, from its bearings on human salvation. It was written by the Creator on the conscience of man, and sin has never fully erased it, Romans 1:19 2:12-15 . It was more fully taught to the Hebrews, especially at Mount Sinai, in the Ten Commandments, and is summed up by Christ in loving God supremely and our neighbor as ourselves, Matthew 22:37-40 . It was the offspring of love to man, Romans 7:10,12; required perfect obedience, Galatians 3:10 James 2:10; and is of universal and perpetual obligation. Christ confirmed and enforced it, Matthew 5:17-20 , showing its demands of holiness in the heart, applying it to a variety of cases, and supplying new motives to obedience, by revealing heaven and hell more clearly, and the gracious guidance of the Holy Spirit. Some have argued from certain passages of Scripture that this law is no longer binding upon Christians; that they "are not under the law, but under grace," Romans 6:14,15 7:4,6 Galatians 3:13,25 5:18; and the perversion of these passages leads men to sin and perish because grace abounds. Rightly understood, they harmonize with the declarations of the Savior, Matthew 5:17 . To the soul that is in Christ, the law is no longer the arbiter of doom; yet is still comes to him as the divinely appointed teacher of that will of God in which he now delights, Psalm 119:97 Matthew 5:48 11:30 .

The word "law" sometimes means an inward guiding and controlling power. The "law in the mind" and the "law in the members," mean the holy impulses of a regenerated should and the perverse inclinations of the natural heart, Romans 7:21-23 . Compare also Romans 8:2 9:31 James 1:25 2:12 .

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. Entry for 'Law'. American Tract Society Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​ats/​l/law.html. 1859.
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