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The Christian and the Old Testament Law

The Christian and the Old Testament Law

This forum focuses on the role of the Mosaic Law in the life of a Christian. The New Testament
teaches the law is eternal and will never pass away (Matt 5:17), but that believers in Christ are �no
longer under the law� (Romans 7; Galatians 3�4). For this assignment, read the article “Applying
the Old Testament Law Today” by J. Daniel Hays and then write a 400-word reflection on what this
article has contributed to your understanding of the Christian�s relationship to the Mosaic Law. You
may discuss areas of agreement or disagreement, and/or specific issues raised in the article. Does
the article help in showing how the Christian uses the law as an ethical and moral guide? Why or why
not? This is a reflection on the article, not a summary of its argument, but you must deal with the

specific ideas and issues raised in the article.

For the second part of the assignment, write a 250-word explanation of how you would take one of the
following passages from the OT law and apply it to your life. In your explanation, your application
must reflect what you have taken away from the article and/or what you have learned about ways the
New Testament itself applies the commands of the Mosaic Law to New Covenant believers. Be clear
and specific in relating how this particular part of the law applies to believers today and make sure

that you reflect the basis and reasons for your application.


The Christian and the Old Testament Law

Throughout the ages, the Old Testament (OT) Law has actually caused a lot of
interpretive problems for Christians. This paper provides a reflection on what Applying the
Old Testament Law Today by J. Daniel Hays has contributed to my understanding of the
Christian’s relationship to the Mosaic Law. Areas of disagreement or agreement are
discussed, and/or particular issues that Daniel Hay has raised in this article.
Part 1: Reflection on Applying the Old Testament Law Today by J. Daniel Hay
In the article, the author clearly sums up the traditional approach to OT Law that
many evangelical scholars and Christians use. Hays’ separation of the Old Testament Law
into ceremonial, civil and moral categorizations is a clear and understandable summary, and
captures what I have actually observed and read on applying the OT Law to current life. All
in all, the article tries to answer the question: How should Christian believers apply the OT
law? The answer of Hays to this question is (i) for Christians to follow his own 5-step
intricate procedure referred to as principlism; that is, an alternative approach to applying the
Old Testament law. (ii) To establish which perpetual moral principle is beneath every single
Old Covenant Law; and (iii) to bring that eternal moral principle into the New Covenant. 1
This supposes that (1) each OT Law certainly has a perpetual moral principle beneath it; (2)
The Lord expects every Christian to be able to carry out the research needed to objectively
perform the task; and (3) each OT Law has to be brought into the New Covenant in such a
way. 2

1 Daniel Hays. “Applying the Old Testament Law Today,” in (Bibliotheca Sacra, 158, No. 629, 2001), 22


Contrary to the Dispensational hermeneutic, Hays maintains that every Christian has
to apply that which The Lord has specifically restated and reiterated to the Church – the
Dispensational hermeneutic – and also that which he believes has to underlie each single
law. 3 This task is impracticable and monumental for average Christians who lack a
theological degree. In addition, it may discourage Bible study as demanding too much.
This article helps in showing how the Christian makes use of the law as an ethical and
moral guide. This is because, as Hays pointed out, a lot of Christians choose to obey some of
the laws and disregard others by deciding which ones are relevant or valid and which ones are
not. I agree with David Hays that Christians breach the Old Testament Law with some
regularity. The OT Laws commonly overlooked by Christians include Leviticus 19: 32: Rise
in the presence of the elderly; Deuteronomy 22: 5: A man must not wear clothing of women
and a woman should not wear clothing of men; and Deuteronomy 14: 8: Pig is unclean as it
does not chew cud though its hoof is split, and their carcasses should not be touched, nor their
meat eaten. 4 I agree with Hays that Christians actually comply with some laws and disregard
others. For instance, they obey the following laws properly: Exodus 20: 13: do not commit
murder; and Leviticus 19:18: love your neighbour as yourself. 5
Nonetheless, Hays chooses to focus on what Christian believers breach rather than what they
actually practice. This way, Hays invites readers to engage in a process of self-justification
instead of true examination in the mirror of The Lord’s law.

2 Russell Earl Kelly. Hermeneutics: Reply to J Daniel Hays. (Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Publishing), 10.
3 Daniel Hays. “Applying the Old Testament Law Today,” in (Bibliotheca Sacra, 158, No. 629, 2001), 26
4 Ibid, 21
5 Ibid, 21


Part 2: Application of one Old Testament (OT) Law: Leviticus 17: 10 – 14
Leviticus 17: 10 – 14 is essentially a law against eating blood. In this passage, the Old
Testament Law stipulates that if any Israelite or strangers in Israel eat any blood, then The
Lord would set his face against him or her, and He will cut that person off from amongst his
or her people. Blood must not be eaten since the life of the flesh is actually within the blood,
and blood is used in making atonement, on account of the life. This passage clearly spells out
that any person who hunts any bird or beast that could be eaten has to pour out the blood of
that bird or beast and then cover the blood with earth. 6
Given that mankind has domination over every other creature on this earth, and since
blood denoted life, the blood of any animal was to be reserved only for sacrifice to God, the
Author of Life. 7 In every circumstance, an animal’s blood was spilled on the alter and
offered to The Lord. This way, the taking of the life of an animal meant a turning from self to
God, and God’s mercy and providence in caring for mankind. I would apply this law into my
own life by avoiding consuming blood whatsoever. Eating animal blood would signify a
turning to self; a participation in sin and worldliness; a rebuff of the life that God gave. The
people who breached the proscription amongst the people of Israel and consumed animal
blood were cut off from other persons. By eating blood, I would not just be made impure by
my actions, but I would also become outcast from the people. As such, I will never eat blood.

6 Rick Mangrum. Old Testament Law and Modern Lives. (London, England: Thomas Nelson Publishers. 2010),
7 Catholics United for the Faith. The Biblical Prohibition of Eating Blood. (Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road
Publishing. 2010), 3.



Catholics United for the Faith. The Biblical Prohibition of Eating Blood. Steubenville, OH:
Emmaus Road Publishing. 2010.
Hays, Daniel. “Applying the Old Testament Law Today,” in Bibliotheca Sacra, 158, No. 629
(2001): 21-35.
Kelly, Russell Earl. Hermeneutics: Reply to J Daniel Hays. Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road
Publishing. 2011.
Mangrum, Rick. Old Testament Law and Modern Lives. London, England: Thomas Nelson
Publishers. 2010.

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