Did Jesus want people to obey the law?


Some people claimed that followers of Jesus were speaking against the law and saying that Jesus was going to change the customs given by Moses. But those were false witnesses. Paul didn’t believe Christ promoted sin. Jesus himself said he had not come to abolish the law. He said as long as the world exists, not even the smallest bit of the law will disappear. After he healed a leper, Jesus told him to go through with the rituals that the law of Moses requires.

According to Jesus, the law is still very important. Keeping the commandments is how you get eternal life! So you must be careful to do everything the teachers of the law tell you. You can’t get into the kingdom of heaven unless you’re even better at obeying the law than law-obsessed people like the Pharisees. (Even they didn’t keep the law thoroughly enough to satisfy Jesus.) And even after you make it into the kingdom of heaven, he says your status there will be determined by how strictly you keep the law.


A lot of the things Jesus taught were in contrast to the Jewish law given by Moses. Jesus would specifically mention one of Moses’s laws,1 and then contrast that with how he thought people should behave. Sometimes he was just adding to what Moses taught, but other times he was telling people not to do what Moses had told them to do.

For instance, Jesus thought the command to love your neighbor also said you should hate your enemy. It doesn’t actually say that, but that’s what Jesus seemed to think the law was. And he said you should do the opposite. Then there’s the “eye for an eye” rule, which actually is in the Old Testament law. Jesus told people to disregard that law, and to instead encourage people who mistreat you to mistreat you even more.

Jesus said it was fine to work on the Sabbath. Why would he think that, when the law clearly says people should be killed for doing that? Because Jesus thinks the law says it’s okay for some people to desecrate the Sabbath,2 so it must be okay for everybody to desecrate the Sabbath! And because God intended to benefit us when he said we have to keep the Sabbath or die, so he must not really mind if we disobey that law! And because when Jesus broke the Sabbath, he was doing good things, so it must have been good for him to break the law! And because David broke the law, so breaking the law must be okay! And because everybody breaks the Sabbath law sometimes! And because he said so!

That’s not the only one of the Ten Commandments Jesus taught people to break. He also required his followers to hate their father and mother, rather than honor them.

This one’s not really explicitly stated in the Old Testament, but Jesus and the experts in the law both agreed that Moses said it was okay for people to get divorced. Jesus, on the other hand, thought divorce was not a legitimate concept, and that anyone who got divorced and remarried was actually committing adultery. He claimed that Moses had only said otherwise because people were too stubborn to accept that marriage was permanent.3

The law says people shouldn’t charge each other interest (at least between Israelites). God takes this law seriously enough to kill people over it. But in one of Jesus’s parables, the character representing Jesus punishes someone for not charging interest.

The law says you should settle a dispute by taking it to court, but Jesus says you should settle it out of court. The law says an adulteress has to be stoned to death, but Jesus convinced people not to do that, for reasons he made up that had nothing to do with the law. The law says a lot of foods are unclean and forbidden, but Jesus declared all foods clean. The law says you should never eat blood, but Jesus told his followers to drink his blood.

Jesus criticized people for unreasonably burdening others by insisting that they follow the law. He promised that his followers wouldn’t be heavily burdened.

Paul said the reason Jesus died was because he knew that no one could achieve righteousness by following the law. He said now that Jesus had died, his followers were released from the law. Now that Jesus has set aside the law and provided a new way to be justified, we are no longer under the law. He said anyone who relied on the law was cursed, and that Jesus had freed us from that curse.

The epistle to the Hebrews says because Jesus has replaced the priesthood that was established by the law, that imperfect law must be changed. It says Jesus set aside the law, because he didn’t think God actually wanted all those offerings that he had demanded in the law.

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