Were Gentiles ever supposed to obey the Law?

Question: Is it possible that God did not intend for the Gentiles to be “under the law” (Rom 2:14). I only ask because “the law” was given to the Hebrew people and I wonder if it were somehow a response to their bad behavior in the wilderness. Considering that in the New Testament Christ summed the law up into two commands and Paul wrote that those under the direction of the Spirit are not bound by the law, is it a possibility?

Answer: When God was dealing with Israel before Christ it seems He did expect the Gentile convert to submit to the Law of Moses. I say this because Old Testament laws seem to encompass the “alien” in Israel, someone who came to their commonwealth from another country and race. Ruth submitted to the law. Rahab did, etc. But the Law of Moses was not intended as the form of law that God would expect His people to be under forever. Both Jew and Gentile believers are free from the Law of Moses (not free from the Law of Christ, 1 Corinthians 9:19-23), though they are also free to observe it if they choose (Paul observed it in regard to some men taking vows while he was in Jerusalem, Acts 21:17-26, though ironically this is what got him arrested), but not to require any one else to observe it or observe it as a means of salvation (which it never was).

The Law of Moses was intended as an observance before Yahweh that demonstrated that they belonged to Him and were unique among the rest of the nations. Once the gospel took on more communicable form in the person and work of Jesus, the need for strictly nationally oriented laws evaporated. Every person who believes in Jesus can be subject to the Law of Christ and to the laws of their nation as long as they don’t contradict the Law of Christ. The Law of Christ is what He teaches us to do through His own teaching and that of His apostles. There are some aspects that are the same as in the Law of Moses (love God and one another) and some that have been changed (sacrifices, etc.).

Randall Johnson


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