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What Does Jesus teach About The Law ? 

Four Definitions of Law:  1. the laws of the empire:  Rome, Egypt etc.  2. The Law of Moses--613 laws and regulations in the 5 books of Moses;   3.  The 10 commandments   4. the two commandments to love God and neighbor [ plus love one another and love your enemies ] 

Augustine greatly confused the question by bringing into the Church the pagan doctrine that the rulers represent the gods and that secular laws have a divine foundation.  Luther and Calvin copied this heresy.   (All three were patriotic conformists--idolaters of the state.)  This doctrine is neither Christian nor Jewish.  The ancient Hebrews believed that The Law given to them by The Lord through Moses was uniquely and exclusively from God.  The Kingdom of God predated the Kingdom of Israel.  The Lord was still their king.  ( 1 Samuel 8  Judges 8.23 )  The laws of other nations had no such origin.  cf. Leviticus 18.3-4.  In my book The Church of the Empire,  I present the evidence that Augustine invented the verses now found in Romans 13.1-7 to justify the Imperial Church of the Roman Empire.  (See chapter XI Augustine and the Manufacture of Scripture.)

Matthew 5.17-19 one jot or one tittle  . . .   Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am come not to destroy, but to  fulfill.  What does fulfillment mean ?  When does it happen ?  Compare Luke 24.44   The fulfillment was finished.   Romans 10.4:  Christ is the end of the law.   Matthew 11.13 says that the law and the prophets were until John.  That is, they were fulfilled in Jesus and brought to an end.  Compare Luke 16.16-18:  The law and the prophets were until John . . .  it is easier for heaven and earth to fail than one tittle of the law to fail . . . Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, commiteth adultery.  This is a kind of sandwich in which the item in the middle contrasts with the items on either side.  No wonder there is some confusion.  The Law of Moses about divorce  (Deuteronomy 24.1-4) is something more than one jot or one tittle.  Not only does Jesus allow it to fail or pass away, he gives it a good boot to help it along in  Matthew 19.3-10.   In the Sermon on the Mount there are drastic revisions of The Law, marked by  You have heard it said . . .  but I say . . .  5.22  anger = murder  5.28  lust = adultery    5.31  divorce = adultery  [ 19.3-10 ]   A spiritual penalty replaces the criminal penalty. (5.22 and 5.29)    5.38-44  eye for an eye (Exodus 21.24) is replaced by love your enemies and turn the other cheek.    Luke 10.25  what shall I do to inherit eternal life  . . .  What is written in the law ?  . . .  love thy neighbor  ( Same as Romans 2.7: eternal life through well doing )  Matthew 19.16   Mark 10.17   Luke  18.18  keep the commandments   AND sell everything !  Is this the law ?  As Jesus teaches it. 

In Matthew 19.16-19  Jesus substitutes Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself for the two covet commandments in the right hand tablet.  Doesn't Jesus know the 10 commandments ? !  Love thy Neighbor  fulfills the right hand tablet.  Love Godfulfills  the left hand tablet.  The two together are the law as Jesus re-defines it.  Matthew 22.40  This is a radical reformation of The Law:  613 ordinances have been replaced by ten commandments and ten have been reduced to two !   Mark 12.33   love God and your neighbor contra  burnt offerings and sacrifices.  Where does that leave The Temple ?  About to be destroyed in 70 AD as Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24.2.  That put an end to the animal sacrifices which made atonement for sin.  The Jews were further dispersed.  By that time Christianity had been launched among all nations including the gentiles and the Jews of the Dispersion.  Thousands of Jews had already been converted as noted in Acts 2.41 and 4.4. 

Jesus versus the Law of Moses:  He taught contrary to their rule bound, sabbath-obsessed religion.  In Matthew 15 and Mark 7 he re-defines unclean as what comes out of your mouth.  In John 5 he tells the man to carry his bed on the sabbath, which makes the Pharisees resolve to kill him.  (John 5.8)  Jesus launched a radical reformation of Judaism:  Love God with all your heart and ignore the silly Sabbath regulations.   The Kingdom of God is no longer tied to the Jewish State.   In John 6.15 he refuses to become their king.   ( precedents:  1 Samuel 8  Judges 8.23 )   In John 18.36 the King of the Jews  defines His Kingdom of God in a way which is incompatible with any Kingdom of Israel. 

Jesus and The Law  II   

The situation in First Century Israel, which Jesus had to confront, was complex in respect to law.  Roman law had been imposed upon Jewish law.  The question put to him:  Is it LAW-ful to render tribute to Caesar ?  illustrates that complexity.  See Render, Not Surrender, Unto Caesar on the web site as to the actual position that Jesus took on Roman law.  The law allowed a Roman soldier to make a civilian carry his pack for a mile.  In Matthew 5.41  Jesus uses this to illustrate his resist not evil teaching:  whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.  Which is as popular with modern secular Christians as his injunction to turn the other cheek.  John 18.31 indicates that the Romans did not allow the Jews to impose the death penalty. 

Jewish law had grown over the centuries.  The 10 commandments written on two flat stones by The Lord himself,  which Moses brought down from Mount Sinai, had grown into a complex legal code which Jesus severely criticizes.   Matthew 15.8-9 honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me  . . .  teaching for doctrines the commandments of men   Mark 7.8 laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups;  7.11 don't have to do anything for your parents if you declare it to be Corban. 

The sabbath regulations Jesus confronted grew out of a simple commandment on the left hand tablet to Keep Holy the Sabbath.  Now it means you can't push an elevator button on Saturday.  Lieberman is pro abortion, but he won't drive a car on Saturday.  You can see this process at work in the elaborate code of regulations which grew out of the rabbinical commentaries on Exodus 23.19:  Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.  That led to devout Jews keeping two sets of dishes, one for food with meat, the other for dairy food.  You can't have a meat dish within six hours of a dairy dish.  On the lower east side of Manhattan there are dairy restaurants which serve no meat and delicatessens where you can't get cream for the coffee. 

A similar development took place in other religions.  When I was growing up,  going to mass on Sunday and not eating meat on Friday showed your loyalty to the Catholic Church.  If you were really devout, you gave up candy for lent.  In 1870 an elder of the Mormon Church declared a Rule of Wisdom which has come to define Mormonism.  The difference between a good Mormon and a jack Mormon is whether you smoke tobacco and drink alcohol and coffee.  The negative reaction of Jesus to this kind of minimalist and rule bound religion is a major theme of the gospels. 

The old Jewish Law was a criminal code for the Jewish state as well as a code of religious regulations which was supposed to keep everyone right with God.  Like other ancient states, the death penalty was prescribed for everything, some 16 different offenses.  If you blasphemed, those that heard you picked up rocks and stoned you to death.  As they did to Stephen and as they almost did to Jesus himself.  In John 8.7 Jesus lays down a rule which negates the death penalty:  He that is without sin among you,  let him first cast a stone at her.  When you read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5, it is obvious that Jesus is no longer talking about a criminal code.  You can't very well stone someone for looking after a woman with lust in his heart:  I was just admiring her hat !  He is teaching a moral law in which the penalties are heaven and hell.  In Matthew 19.8, Mark 10.4, and  Luke 16.18 he sets aside the Jewish law on divorce, without denying that this law originated with Moses.  But he is lenient when he deals with individuals like the Samaritan woman he meets at the well, who has had 6 husbands.  He lets her off with a little sarcasm in respect to her truthfulness instead of calling upon his disciples to stone her.  

For the first 300 years, the followers of Jesus were outlaws who were persecuted by both the Jewish Establishment and the Roman Empire.  They were put to death for refusing to worship the Emperor and refusing to serve in the army.  They violated Roman law by picking up infants exposed to die.  Writing about 200 AD, the church father Tertullian explains why Christians cannot be magistrates or soldiers.  And this outlaw tradition persisted in the underground church.

The apostate church of the 4th century established Imperial Christianity.  Emperors and Kings appeared who were nominally Christian.  The Church itself became part of the legal establishment, just as it was in Israel.   You could be fined or put in jail for not attending the Anglican Church service in colonial Virginia.  Modern patriot and popular churches still depend upon the State to mandate Christian faith and morals.  That is why they are false teachers in respect to The Law. 

Jesus and The Law  III     Heresy of the Christian Nation

The major cause of the confusion about The Law in modern patriot churches is the tradition of Establishment Christianity.  When the Roman Empire divided, the Church of the Empire was divided into the Imperial Catholic Church and the Imperial Orthodox Church.  When the eastern empire fell apart, the Establishment Church was further divided into national Orthodox Churches.  The Czar [ = the Caesar ] remained the head of the  Russian Orthodox Church just as Caesar had been the head of the Roman Imperial Church.  In the West, the Reformation divided the State Church into Catholic and Lutheran and Reformed and Anglican.  All of them persecuted the nonconforming Christians who preserved the anti state traditions of the early church.  Luther was the toady of the German Princes.  Calvin executed nonconformists.  All of these patriot churches adopted the theology of Christendom:  the neo pagan dogma that God appoints the emperor or the king and that it is up to him to mandate Christian faith and morals through the law.  That is still the theology of the modern patriot church.  But now it depends upon The People--America will recover its righteousness if and when The People vote to bring back prayer to the public schools. 

To justify the union with the empire,  and the war, wealth and slavery of the Christian Empire,  Eusebius and Augustine, and the other apostates of the Imperial Church, replaced Christian theology with the discarded theology of the Jewish State found in the Old Testament.  A State in which the faith was mandated by law and morals were enforced by criminal penalties.  The Kingdom of Israel was never much more than a myth.  As 1 Samuel 8 shows, the curse of God was on it from the beginning.  It was not established until halfway through David's reign and it lasted only until the end of Solomon's rule.  The predicted injustice and apostasy of these rulers was compounded in the divided kingdoms until they were conquered by the surrounding empires.  By the time of Jesus, it had been 500 years since there was anything resembling a Kingdom of Israel.  And the ideal of a religious state in which true faith and good morals are mandated and enforced by the King was a bust from the beginning.  It never happened.  But along with the forlorn hope of a restored Kingdom of Israel there was the prophecy of the reappearance of The Kingdom of God.  A return to the time when The Lord lived in a tent in the middle of the Hebrews and personally directed all their goings and comings.  John the Baptist proclaims the advent of the Kingdom of God.  Jesus explains it in a dozen places which the worldly church ignores and explains away.  Paul taught the Kingdom of God to the end of his life.   Where else should real Christians be found except living in the Kingdom of God.  And what does that mean ?  Ask Jesus.  Ask Paul.  Study what they said about it in the gospels and the epistles.  It obviously cannot coincide with any empire or nation which is founded and maintained by the metal sword.  Neither can it enforce any set of laws except those that Jesus himself taught.  The Kingdom of God is a ghost-ocracy.  It is ruled by the Holy Ghost--by Jesus himself, who dwells within his true followers as the Holy Spirit. 

The Kingdom of God must remain the adversary of the kingdoms of this world.  Luke 4.5-8 shows us that Satan is the ruler of the kingdoms of this world.  In John 12.31 and 14.30 Jesus calls him the prince of this world.  In John 15.18-19 he teaches his followers that they also must be adversaries of the world.  In John 18.36 Jesus explains to Pilate in what way He is the King of the Jews:  My kingdom is not of this world.  Which is why his followers do not go to war to establish it.  But his kingdom is here and now.  As other Kingdom verses tell us.  So only the laws of the Kingdom of God apply to those who are serious about being Christians.  And what are they ?  Jesus tells us.  We have no excuse for not knowing.  John 13.34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.  That is the sign of the true Christian church. 

Was the American Empire founded by God ?  That false faith perverts the teaching of the modern patriotic church, especially in respect to law.  It produces the foolish illusion that somehow, some time, a Moral Majority will step behind the voting curtain and flip a lever to re-establish righteousness in the land.  So these Christians have a mandate to pursue political power.  Take back the power bases.  Secular so-called Christians perpetuate the Imperial Church doctrine that it is up to the rulers of this world  and their judges, soldiers and police to establish Christian faith and morals.  They are Saved by Faith but they put their trust in the cops and the Marines to maintain a Christian social order through the Law.  Good works won't save us, but war and capital punishment will.  So they work to get hold of the law instead of living the Christian life.  They ignore and pervert what Jesus taught about The Law and put their faith in the law of the empire ! 




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Terry Sullivan 
1526 East 35th Avenue
Denver Colorado 80205



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