The Law
Biblical Themes
God's 613 commandments in the Old Testament seem like a list of weird rules. Learn the purpose of these laws in the biblical story and if they still apply today.

Questions for Personal Reflection or Group Discussion:

  1. Read Matthew 22:23-40. What does Jesus identify as the greatest commandment in the law? Notice how Jesus’ statement is a summary of the ten commandments, which are themselves a synthesis of the 613 laws in the Torah. What do you think is significant about this?
  2. Observe the structure of the ten commandments and discuss how they specifically describe practices of loving God and one’s neighbor (see Exodus 20:3-17).
  3. Read Jeremiah 17:5-10. Which metaphors describe desperately sick hearts and which describe blessed hearts? Does humanity have any hope for having healthy, functioning hearts again (see Ezekiel 36:26-27 and Isaiah 61:1-3)? If so, how would we talk about that hope in our own words?
  4. Read John 15:1-13 carefully and notice the metaphor Jesus uses to describe himself. How does Jesus fulfill the law and the prophets as the blessed vine/tree? How do we “abide,” or live, within his blessing?
  5. Compare Exodus 19:3-6 and Exodus 20:1-3 with Galatians 5:1 and Galatians 5:13-14. Notice how these passages describe God’s identity and ours before giving a list of commands. How do you think remembering these identities can provide a foundation for following God’s commands?
  6. How does the Spirit make us new, help us remember God’s redemption, and empower us to follow his life-giving ways (e.g. John 16:7-15, Galatians 5:16-25, Ephesians 1:7-14, Ephesians 2:3-7, Ephesians 3:4-18)?

There are 613 different commands given to the Israelite people in the Torah.

The first five books of the Bible are known by Jewish people as the Torah, which in English means “the law.” The Torah is where you’ll find these 613 commands, the most famous of which are the ten commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai.

But the Torah isn’t just a list of laws. It’s an epic story about how God is partnering with humans to bring his blessing to the world. When Jesus spoke about the Torah, he talked about how he was bringing the storyline of the Torah to its fulfillment.

Love God and Love Others

This command is not as easy as it seems. For example, Jesus explains that treating others poorly or holding resentment for them is equivalent to murdering them in our hearts. And loving others doesn’t just mean loving those who love you. Jesus explains that we are to extend love even to our own enemies.

Human hearts are flawed, and apart from the transforming work of God, we can’t love others in the way we are called to. But where humanity has failed, Jesus has succeeded, demonstrating love even unto death. For followers of Jesus today, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us to fully love others and love God, fulfilling the law that God put in place at the very beginning of the biblical story.

To download videos:
Login  or  Join

Dive Deeper and Explore More

Read the Article
Old Rituals & New Realities
8 min read
Read the Article
Animal Sacrifice? Really?
8 min read
Podcast Series
The Law
2 Episodes
Follow discussions between Tim & Jon as they prepare to write the theme video on "The Law." Jon disc
For advanced bible reading tools:
Login  or  Join
Which language would you like?