Table of Contents
- Love Is the Fulfilment of the Law
- Law and Rules
- Love Is Obedience
Every Christians in this world are called to love God and their neighbours. In scripture, we can find a lot of passages where God speaks about love, both in Old Testament and New Testament. At the same time, we also see God gives us commandments, famously the ten commandments in the book Exodus. We can perceive that God talks about love and gave us commandments as well. I have heard many times that all we need is grace and love but that does not mean that we as Christians do not need to follow rules and laws.
Love Is the Fulfilment of the Law
Both Love and law (rules) is not two different entity that works separately or antithetical because love is the fulfilment of love (Romans 13: 10). In Matthew 22:34−40, a lawyer asked Jesus, “what is the greatest commandments?” Jesus’ answer was to love God and love the people. Jesus says that these love sums up all the Law and Prophets (v. 40). Love is the principle of action where the law leads us in the right expression of love. Love does not just follow its own path but it fulfils the law. In John 14: 15, we see that love and law comes together. It is not that NT is only about love and law was only for the OT people. In the Gospels, we saw earlier that Jesus states that law is summed up in two commandments which is to love God and others (Matthew 22: 36- 40, Mark 12: 30- 31, Luke 10: 27). While, in John 13: 34, Jesus asked His disciples to love one another just as He loves them. In previous verses (john 13: 1- 17), Jesus washed His disciples’ feet and displayed His love and servanthood to them. The same love must be in us then, everyone will know that we are His disciples (v. 15). But that does not mean that love has replaced the law and rules that God gave because even Jesus was obedient to the Father (John 5: 30). The command to love is not new because we are asked to love God (Deuteronomy 6: 4- 9) and to love neighbours as ourselves (Leviticus 19: 18) even in the OT. Essentially, the ten commandments are the summary to love God and to love one another and Jesus’ action manifested and personified love as never before. It became the basis to the life of God’s people. Since, love is the fulfilment of the law so, we need rules in our society but we must love one another to fulfill it.
Law and Rules
There are many rules and law everywhere we go. They give us protection, justice and tells us what we can do and what we cannot. This is important for a society. Even in Bible, we see that law is very prominent throughout the Scripture both in OT and NT. Law also can mean decree, commandment, word, custom and prohibition in Bible. There are basically principles and not a set of regulation or case laws. The law or rules covers all part of life. They offer restrictions to human life and have real value for all of life.
However, God intended the Law as a blessing and not to burden the people on what to do and what not to do. The first five books in Bible written by Moses are known as Torah which means law. The entire collection of these books is God’s instruction for His people, Israel on how to live. So, according to Paul in Romans 1, the law is given as a principle, rule or guideline for us to live. God made Law for good purpose; it was holy, just and good.[footnoteRef:10] Our holy life goes together with instructions. The instructions are there for us to please Him by fulfilling His will through His will and more preciously, in the Law of Christ (1 Cor. 9: 21). In Romans and Galatians, Paul says that there is no righteousness through obedience to the law. Then why law is important? The laws are given for us so that we have the knowledge of sin (Rom. 3: 20) and know what is sin through the law (Rom. 7: 7). In NT, some say it is only about love but we need to understand that Jesus actually not only fulfilled the law but actually He raised the standard of the laws. We can see that in the sermon on the Mount where Jesus uses the phrase ‘but I say to you’ to raise the standard of the OT law. He ends it with asking us to love our enemies (Matthew 5: 44). Jesus followed it and even raised the standard of it. So, the rules and the laws are there for us to know what is good and bad, but we can decide whether to follow or rebel against it.
He extends the law against murder (Exod. 20:13) to anger (21–26), adultery (Exod. 20:14) to lust (27–30), divorce (Deut. 24:1) stricter (31−32), prevent lying (Num. 30:2) further (33−37), restrain retaliation (Lev. 24:19−20) further (38−42) and loving our neighbour (Lev. 19:18) to enemies (43−48). The standard of the laws is now even higher which shows that Jesus did not come to abolish. This shows that the law is important.
Love Is Obedience
In John 14: 15, we also see that Jesus tells the disciples that their love towards Him is shown in their obedience to Him. Love is not an option for us to obey but it is the way for us to follow. In the history of Israel (Exodus 19: 4, 5), we see that God initiated the calling of Israel and that means human’s response is to obey Him. It is a privilege to be His people but it has responsibility on our part which is to be obedience. Following the law is the correct respond to the grace of God. For believers, love is importance and it is an act of obedience. It is our part to obey. There are 51 commands to love one another in the New Testament alone. It is a commandment in the Bible because it is often reversal to our human nature. However, Bible asks us to obey the commandment, laws and rules because by that, we show our love to God and to our neighbours. Love does not direct itself in its own norms but rather it obeys the commandment. In Romans 13: 9 and 10, we see that Paul summarized the commandments through the law of love. Law is not substituted with love nor does it surpass or releases us from the law but love empowers us to follow the commandments. Love allows us to joyfully obey the law to love God and the neighbours around us.
Laws (rules) are there for us to love God and people. Love and law (rules) are inseparable. Both exists together in Biblical perspective. In Christian community, we need law and rules which keeps us together to fulfill his will through love.