September 19

Luke's Attitude to the Law Part 1

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After a discussion of the three views of the Sabbath, In the book, Sabbath in the New Testament, Dr. Bacchiocchi presents his arguments for “continuity” between Judaism and Christianity. Bacchiocchi rightly notes that the strength behind both the “abrogation” view and the “transference” view of the law of God is in the alleged radical discontinuity between Judaism and Christianity. Bacchiocchi argues against those views by appealing to Luke, Matthew, and Hebrews to demonstrate continuity rather than discontinuity.

Believing Jews

The first demonstration of this continuity is in the description of the converting Jews as simply “Jews who believed.” This terminology is used in Acts 21:20.

Note that the Bible writer is not describing a totally different group. The writer simply calls these converts Jews who believed that Jesus fulfilled their Messianic expectations. This implies a continuity between the two groups that is borne out in history and scripture.

Respect for the Law

Next, the Biblical record describes these converts as “zealous for the law” (Acts 21:20). In addition, Paul is described as a Pharisee (Acts 23:6) and notes that he observed the law (Acts 25:8; and Acts 28:17). We should also note that Luke calls the Law of moses the “living oracles” (Acts 7:38).

Recognition of Discontinuity

Bacchiocchi acknowledges that there are elements of discontinuity in Luke. For example, Christ is the fulfillment of the Law of Moses, prophets, and psalms (Luke 24:44; Luke 24:27; Luke 4:21).

In addition, Jesus’ statement in Luke 16:16 demonstrates some form of discontinuity. However, Bacchiocchi rightly notes that this “discontinuity” is neither an abrogation of the law for Jesus himself said that heaven and earth would pass away before one jot or title of it would became void (Luke 16:17).

Conclusion

The writings of Luke demonstrate both a continuity and a discontinuity between Judaism and Christianity. However, the discontinuity does not nullify the law of God. In future posts we will look further at the elements of continuity between Judaism and Christianity in the Bible as discussed in Bacchiocchi’s work.

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