Bible Question:

Is there a distinction between the Ten Commandments and the Law of Moses? Do verses like Acts 13:39, Rom. 3:28, and Gal. 2:16 include the Ten Commandments in the definition of Law? Does the term Law throughout the Bible always include the Ten Commandments?

Bible Answer:

The expression “The Law” is used in at least three different ways in the Bible.

Ten Commandments

The expression “The Law” includes the Ten Commandments since the Ten Commandments are major set of laws within Law of Moses. We can see this in the book of James.

For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. James 2:11 (NASB)

Here we are told that if we commit adultery or murder, we have broken the Law. Those two commandments come from Exodus 20:1-17. This demonstrates that the expression “The Law” can refer to the Ten Commandments.

Mosaic Law

“The Law” can also refer to the first five books of the Bible. We can see this in Luke 24:44.

Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Luke 24:44 (NASB)

The Jews call the Old Testament the “Tanakh.” It is divided into the Torah, Nevi’im, and Kethuvim. The Torah is also called the “The Law,” “The Five Books of Moses,” or “The Prophets.” The Nevi’im is also called “The Prophets.” The “Kethuvim includes all the other books such as the Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and the historical books.

The Tanakh

The expression “The Law” sometimes includes the entire Old Testament or Tanakh. Notice that 1 Cor. 14:21 refers to “The Law” and then quotes Isaiah 28:11. It is a loose quote.

In the Law it is written, “BY MEN OF STRANGE TONGUES AND BY THE LIPS OF STRANGERS I WILL SPEAK TO THIS PEOPLE, AND EVEN SO THEY WILL NOT LISTEN TO ME,” says the Lord. 1 Cor. 14:21 (NASB)

Conclusion:

The expression “The Law” sometimes refers to the Ten Commandments, sometimes to Genesis through Deuteronomy, or to the entire Old Testament. In short it refers to the commands, ordinances, and expressions of God. We have to read the passage and determine how the expression is being used. May the Lord bless you as you seek Him.

Reference

I. Howard Marshall. Commentary on Luke. New International Greek Testament Commentary. The Paternoster Press, Eerdmans Publishing. 1992. p. 655.

Reference Links:

Peace With God
What is the Tanakh?
What Old Testament laws can we ignore?