Mosaic Law and Christian Life…
St. Paul continues his chastisement of St. Peter’s hypocrisy:
But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Kephas in front of all, “If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” -Galatians 2:14, NAB
In earlier verses, we discussed how St. Peter, at the Council of Jerusalem, put to rest whether Christians, both the Jews and Gentiles alike, must live up to old Jewish laws and customs. Now, he was acting hypocritical – taking sides with those who wanted to impose Jewish customs. St. Paul recognized this and publicly chastised him for it.
St. Peter had fallen back into his old ways. He was showing weakness in the face of peer pressure. Instead of standing up for the truth, he ignored the Gospel and took sides with those pushing the Jewish customs.
Believe it or not, this passage still has relevance today. Do we force ourselves into following old Jewish customs and laws? Surprisingly, yes. At times, false interpretations of the Old Testament may lead us to following laws that do not apply to us.
The Laws of Moses (the Mosaic Law) were put into place to give the Jewish people a set of rules to follow for an orderly society. Some of these rules were in regard to basic morality and are sometimes known as the natural law. The Ten Commandments are an example of the natural law. Other Mosaic laws are merely ritualistic and do not apply to us today.
How do we know which laws to follow? That’s a difficult question that scholars have spent centuries debating. Some laws, especially those part of the natural law are obvious – especially the Ten Commandments because they were given to Moses directly from God. Others are not so easy.
The Old Testament laws, the Laws of Moses, should guide us in our morality, but not necessarily in our rituals. St. Peter had fallen back to following the ritualistic laws, and St. Paul stopped him. We, then, must be careful to not fall into the same trap as St. Peter.
This subject could go on and on, but I will leave you links to these other pages for reference:
Remember to follow the ways of Christ. Some of the Mosaic laws may act as a guide for us to follow, but is our relationship with our Lord that should light our paths. There is a large chasm between Mosaic Law and Christian life.