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Bible Dictionaries

Smith's Bible Dictionary

Law

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Law. The word is properly used, in Scripture as elsewhere, to express a definite commandment laid down by any recognized authority; but when the word is used with the article, and without any words of limitation, it refers to the expressed will to God, and in nine cases out of ten, to the Mosaic law, or to the Pentateuch of which it forms the chief portion. The Hebrew word, torah (law) lays more stress on its moral authority, as teaching the truth and guiding in the right way; the Greek nomos (law), on its constraining power as imposed and enforced by a recognized authority. The sense of the word, however, extends its scope and assumes a more abstracts character in the writings of St. Paul.

Nomos, when used by him with the article, still refers in general to the law of Moses; but when used without the article, so as to embrace any manifestation of "law," it includes all powers which act on the will of man by compulsion, or by the pressure of external motives, whether their commands be or be not expressed in definite forms. The occasional use of the word "law" (as in Romans 3:27, "law of faith") to denote an internal principle of action does not really mitigate against the general rule. It should also be noticed that the title "the Law" is occasionally used loosely to refer to the whole of the Old Testament, as in John 10:34 referring to Psalms 82:6 in John 15:25 referring to Psalms 35:19 and in 1 Corinthians 14:21 referring to Isaiah 28:11-12.

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Bibliography Information
Smith, William, Dr. Entry for 'Law'. Smith's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/sbd/l/law.html. 1901.

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