The pseudo-interview with the Apostle Paul inevitably raised some good questions about the role of the law. In my opinion, it’s one of the most complex and important issues of biblical theology.
There are lots of good books for those who want to explore the issues further. (Some of my favorites are Frank Thielman’s Paul and the Law, Thielman’s The Law and the New Testament, Stephen Westerholm’s Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The “Lutheran” Paul and His Critics, Jason Meyer’s The End of the Law, etc.)
But if I had to recommend just one book on the topic, it’d be Tom Schreiner’s 40 Questions About Christians and Biblical Law, forthcoming this fall from Kregel Academic.
Simon Gathercole (University of Cambridge) writes: “Tom Schreiner has spent three decades wrestling with the questions addressed in this book. Here he condenses a career of scholarship into bite-sized chunks with clarity and care. Both the big picture and the detail come into sharp focus, making this an enormously valuable volume.”
Michael Wilkins (Talbot School of Theology, Biola University) writes: “Thomas Schreiner’s balance of scholarship and pastoral heart shines through brightly in this superb book on Christians and Biblical Law. For many years Tom has provided a clear voice that has helped sort out diverse scholarly perspectives of Pauline studies of the Law. Now he brings his scholarship to bear on this topic with a pastoral voice. Thorny passages and issues—as diverse as justification and tithing and preaching—are clarified for the layperson, yet he provides sound guidance for pastors, teachers, and students as well. In concise and succinct individual explanations of the most difficult passages and issues, Tom provides perhaps the most helpful guide available for 40 of the most difficult questions about Christians and Biblical Law.”
I’ve had an opportunity to read an early draft of the book and would give it my highest recommendation. In the weeks ahead I’ll post (with permission) a number of entries here at Between Two Worlds.
Here is the table of contents:
Part 1: The Law in the Old Testament
1. What Does the Word Law Mean in the Scriptures?
2. Was the Mosaic Covenant Legalistic?
3. Does the Old Testament Teach That Salvation Is by Works?
Part 2: The Law in Paul
A. Questions Related to the New Perspective
4. What Is the New Perspective on Paul, and How Should It Be Assessed?
5. What Does the Expression “Works of Law” Mean in Paul?
6. Does Paul Condemn Legalism in His Letters?
7. Is Perfect Obedience to the Law Mandatory for Salvation?
8. How Should We Understand the Use of Leviticus 18:5 in the Scriptures?
B. Questions Related to the Role of the Law in the Christian Life
9. Does Paul Teach That the Old Testament Law Is Now Abolished?
10. What Does the Phrase “Under Law” Mean in Paul?
11. Are Gentiles Under the Law?
12. According to Paul, What Was the Purpose of the Law?
13. How Do Paul’s Negative Comments About the Law Fit with the Positive Statements About the Law in Psalm 19 and Psalm 119?
14. Does Paul Distinguish Between the Moral, Ceremonial, and Civil Law?
15. Are Christians Under the Third Use of the Law?
16. What Is the “Law of Christ”?
17. Is the Law Fulfilled Through Love?
C. Questions Related to Justification
18. What Is the Old Testament Background for the Righteousness of God?
19. What Does the Word “Justify” Mean in Paul?
20. What Does Paul Mean by “the Righteousness of God”?
21. Does the Pauline Teaching on Justification Contradict Jesus’ Message?
22. Should “Faith of Christ” (pistis Christou) Be Translated “Faithfulness of Christ” or “Faith in Christ”?
23. Does Justification by Faith Alone Lead to Moral Laxity?
24. Does Paul Teach That Christians Are Judged by Their Good Works on the Last Day?
25. Do James and Paul Contradict One Another on Justification by Works?
Part 3: The Law in the Gospels and Acts
26. What Is the Role of the Law in the Gospel of Mark?
27. How Should We Understand Matthew’s View of the Law?
28. How Should We Understand the Antitheses in Matthew 5:21–48?
29. Why Do Some Scholars Think Luke-Acts Has a Remarkably Conservative View of the Law?
30. How Should We Understand the Role of the Law in Luke-Acts?
31. What Is the Apostolic Decree of Acts 15, and What Does It Contribute to Luke’s Theology of Law?
32. Why Did Paul Circumcise Timothy When He Refused to Circumcise Titus?
33. How Should We Describe the Role of the Law in the Gospel of John?
Part 4: The Law in the General Epistles
34. What Does John Mean by Keeping God’s Commands in 1 and 2 John?
35. What Does James Teach Us About Keeping God’s Law?
36. What Does the Letter to the Hebrews Teach Us About the Law?
Part 5: The Law and Contemporary Issues
37. Is the Sabbath Still Required for Christians?
38. Should Christians Tithe?
39. What Is Theonomy, or Christian Reconstructionism, and How Should It Be Evaluated?
40. What Role Does the Law Have in Preaching?