Summary: Understanding the Lord’s purpose in giving the Law, using the Apostle Paul’s question, “why then the Law?” The sermon also touches indirectly on the issue of continuity and discontinuity.
Why Then the Law?
Τί οὖν ὁ νόμος; Galatians 3:19 (NA27INT) "Why then the Law?"
(1). Was "added" because of transgressions.
"The verb "added" indicates that the law was not primary in God’s dealings with sinners. The covenant and promises of God were first." (Alva J. McClain, Law and Grace, BHM Books, IN 1954, p. 24)
aor. pass. ind. προσετέθη
προστίθημι (18) From prós (4314), to, toward or besides, and títhēmi (5087), to put. To set, add, put, lay unto or with something. (Zodhiates, Spiros. The Complete Word Study Dictionary : New Testament. electronic ed., G4369. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers,
2000, c1992, c1993.)
The giving of the Law was related to man’s sin, "transgressions."
A time element is also involved, "until" ἄχρι(ς) the Seed which was promised.
ἄχρι(ς) - (1) as a conjunction expressing time up to a point until" (Friberg, Timothy, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller. Vol. 4, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker’s Greek New Testament library, Page 85. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker
Thus the Law was neither first or final in God’s plan for sin. It was "added" temporary, "this indicates a dispensational aspect." (Alva J. McClain, Ibid,
(2). The Law was enacted for the lawless and ungodly. (1 Tim. 1:9-10)
"We know that the law ( ὁ νόμος) is good if one uses it properly (νομίμως- lawfully- a play on words).
We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for (ἀνόμοις) lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and
liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine" (1 Timothy 1:8-10.
The primary idea here is restraint.
Aslo... “Paul is saying that the law is not given to apply in some mystical way to people who are
already ‘righteous.’ (Tom Constable. Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible, 1 Tim 1:8, Galaxie Software, 2003; 2003.)
(3). To give "the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:20)
"Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin." (Romans 3:20.
διὰ γὰρ νόμου ἐπίγνωσις ἁμαρτίας." (Romans 3:20.
ἐπίγνωσις - (full) knowledge, acknowledgment, recognition.
"man becomes more fully conscious of his sin and the need for help which is outside and beyond the Law. In this sense alone, Law may be said to prepare lost men for the gospel of Christ..." (Alva J. McClain, Ibid, 25)
The Law shows man his need for the Bread of Life... the Law does not give Bread nor is the Law itself the Bread. Only Christ can satisfy the hunger for righteousness. Christ and Christ alone is the Bread of Life.
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(4). To show the terrible nature of sin. (Romans 7:8-13)
Romans 7:8-13 (NIV)
8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
Romans 7:8-13 (NLT)
8 But sin took advantage of this law and aroused all kinds of forbidden desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power. 9 I felt fine when I did not understand what the law demanded. But when I learned the truth, I realized I had broken the law and was a sinner, doomed to die. 10 So the good law, which was supposed to show me the way of life, instead gave me the death penalty. 11 Sin took advantage of the law and fooled me; it took the good law and used it to make
me guilty of death. 12 But still, the law itself is holy and right and good. 13 But how can that be? Did the law, which is good, cause my doom? Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God’s good commandment for its own evil purposes."
Rom 7:11 "Sin, seizing the opportunity"
“Suppose a man determined to drive his automobile to the very limit of its speed. If . . . signs along the road would say, No Speed Limit, the man’s only thought would be to press his machine forward. But now suddenly he encounters a road with frequent signs limiting speed to thirty miles an hour. The man’s will rebels, and his rebellion is aroused still further