'Law of Moses' in the Bible
For all those people [i.e., Gentiles] who have sinned without [knowing] the law of Moses will also be lost without [knowing] that law. And all those people [i.e., Jews] who have sinned under [the authority] of the law of Moses will be judged by [the requirements of] that law.
For [it is] not those who hear the law of Moses who are right with God, but [it is] those who obey [the requirements of] that law [perfectly] who will be considered right with God.
(For when the [unconverted] Gentiles, who do not have the law of Moses, instinctively practice [some of] its requirements, they become their own lawmakers, even though they do not have the law of Moses.
In doing this [i.e., practicing some of the requirements of the law of Moses], they demonstrate that these requirements are written in their hearts. Their conscience tells them this, and their thoughts alternately accuse them [of wrongdoing], or else endorse them [for doing right]).
But if you call yourselves "Jews," and [claim to] rely on the law of Moses, and brag about [belonging to] God;
if you know His will and have been taught by the law of Moses to [evaluate and] give approval to what is best;
if you are instructors of the ignorant, and teachers of babies [i.e., immature people] and possess in the law of Moses the [correct] form of knowledge and truth ---
You boast about having the law of Moses, [but] do you dishonor God by breaking that law?
Now the practice of circumcision [i.e., the Jewish rite of identity, signifying the responsibility to observe the law of Moses] is worthwhile, providing you obey [the rest of] the law of Moses. But if you disobey the law, you might as well have never been circumcised.
But the [true] Jew is the person who is one on the inside, and [his] circumcision is a heart condition, [produced] by the Holy Spirit and not by the written law of Moses. [Note: Some translate "Spirit" here as "spirit" and make it simply an amplification of "heart"]. This person receives his praise from God and not [merely] from people.
This is because no human being can be considered right with God by [obeying] the requirements of a law. [Note: It is difficult to determine the exact sense in which "law" is used in these verses. It may be law generally, or the law of Moses specifically. See Bruce, pages 52-58]. For the knowledge of what sin is comes from the law of Moses.
For we conclude that a person is made right with God by faith [in Christ], apart from [obedience to] the requirements of a law [or, the law of Moses, See verse 20].
For even before the law of Moses, sin was [being committed] in the world. But man is not responsible for [his] sin when there is no law.
Now the law of Moses was introduced [into the world] in order to cause sin to increase [i.e., it defined many things to be wrong that were previously not regarded as sin]. But with the increase of sin, God's unearned favor increased all the more.
Or, do you not know, brothers, (I am talking to people who know how law works) that the law has authority over a person only as long as he lives? [Note: It is not clear whether this refers to Roman law or the law of Moses].
For when we were in the flesh [i.e., before conversion], our sinful desires, aroused by [the restrictions of] the law of Moses, worked in our bodies to produce activity that led to [spiritual] death.
But now that we have died to what controlled us and have been released from [the requirements of] the law of Moses [i.e., under the Gospel age], we serve [God] in a new way [directed] by the Holy Spirit [Note: Some take "Spirit" here to be "spirit" and see it as describing the inner person], and not in the old way [directed] by the written law of Moses.
What shall we say then? Is the law of Moses sinful? Certainly not! For I would not have known what sin was if it had not been for the law. For [example]; I would not have known [what it meant] to covet [i.e., have a strong desire for what belongs to someone else] except that the law said [Ex. 20:17], "You must not covet."
So, the law of Moses itself is holy and the commandment [against sinning] is holy and just and good.
For we know that the law of Moses is spiritual [i.e., from the Holy Spirit in origin and character], but I am fleshly, sold as a slave to sin. [Note: "Flesh" throughout this section refers to a person's natural inclinations to sin].
the Israelites. These people are God's adopted children; they have [experienced] His glorious presence; they have [received] His Agreements; they have been given the law of Moses; they possess the [Temple] service and the promises [of God].
But the Israelites, who were attempting to become right with God by [conformity to] the law of Moses, never achieved [this righteousness] by that law.
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