WHAT DID PAUL MEAN WHEN HE SAID "under the law?"
The apostle Paul used the phrase “under the law” several times – Did Paul mean that Christians were not subject to the ten commandment law of God?
When Paul used the phrase “…under the law…” he meant one of three things:
1. Under the law in the sense that someone was condemned by the law. (Those who sin are under the condemnation of the law.)
2. Under the law as living according to the Mosaic law. (The Jews were required to live under the law)
3. Under the law meaning: subject to the law (the ten commandments)
Each use of the term “under the law” must be looked at in context in order to understand Paul’s meaning. Whenever someone says that we must obey the ten commandments, modern Christianity replies: “Paul said we are not under the law” while ignoring the context. Actually Paul used the term in different ways (never antinomian) and his meaning can only be understood in context.
Here are the verses:
Note: (UTL = under the law)
Romans 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. ( UTL = condemned by the law for sin.)
Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (UTL = not condemned to death by the power of the law for previous sin.)
Romans 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. ( UTL = not condemned to death)
1 Corinthians 9:20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; ( UTL = living under the Mosaic law)
1Co 9:21 To them that are without law, [Gentiles] as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law . ( UTL = subject to the ten commandment law of God in Christ )
Gal 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. ( UTL = under the Mosaic Law)
Galatians 4:4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, ( UTL = born under the Mosaic law system.)
Galatians 4:5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. ( UTL = under the condemnation of the law through sin.)
Galatians 4:21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? ( UTL = desire to be under the Mosaic system)
Galatians 5:18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. (UTL = not under the condemnation power of sin)
COMPARE WITH THESE VERSES DEFENDING THE LAW
1. Romans 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
2. Romans 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law
3. Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.