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Jesus VS Paul on the Law



If one were to read the teachings of Jesus, compared to that of the apostle Paul, one would see clear differences between the two men, especially when it came to the issue of the law.

Jesus made it quite clear that the law was relevant and had a role in salvation, for example when a man came up to Jesus asking him how to be saved, Jesus gave the following response:

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good?except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother." "Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy." Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."  (Mark 10:17-21)

According to Jesus the way to be saved is by following the commandments, as well as to follow Jesus because obviously a true believer at the time had to follow Jesus, as he was a prophet, and God's representative, one couldn't just follow the commandments while rejecting the prophets.

So Jesus’ response to the man wasn’t merely to have faith in Jesus, it was to also follow the law.

Jesus also made it clear that he did not come to abolish the law, i.e. he didn’t come to get rid of it:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17)

So it’s quite clear that the law still had its place according to Jesus, that it wasn’t something to be done away with.

So what was the apostle Paul’s view on this matter? Where did the law and its applicability stand? For Paul it was simple, one was saved by their faith, it had nothing to do with the law or the works.

Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:16)


But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 5:5-6)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, wehave peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1)

Paul even went as far as to call the law powerless:

For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man (Romans 8:3)

So according to Paul salvation is not attained through following the law, or by doing righteous works, rather salvation is attained by faith.

So we clearly have 2 very contrasting messages when it comes to the law, for Jesus, the law was still applicable, for Paul, the law was powerless and weak, and it was solely by faith in which one would be saved.

A very interesting question to ask is this, if the very same man who went and asked Jesus about salvation, and later went to Paul and asked the same question, would he get the same answer?

The answer is quite obvious, Paul would give a completely different reply to that of Jesus, and the above verses prove it, Jesus said follow the Law, Paul said no need for the Law; it's all about the faith, two very different approaches to the same question.

The apostle Paul came up with a very different theology and message to that of Jesus, one that would be very alien to Jesus if he were to listen to it. Would Jesus have accepted Paul’s theology? If Jesus and Paul were preaching at the same time, and Paul was going around saying the law is weak and powerless, and it’s only through faith that one is saved, would Jesus have accepted this? Jesus is going around saying that one must follow the law, Paul is calling the law powerless and weak, so we obviously have a conflict of messages here, and it’s quite obvious to see that if both were preaching this message at the same time, there would’ve obviously been a major disagreement between both men. 

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