In Romans 3:21, most English translations distinguish the two uses of νόμος (law) by capitalizing the second:

Νυνὶ δὲ χωρὶς νόμου δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ πεφανέρωται μαρτυρουμένη ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου καὶ τῶν προφητῶν, (NA28)
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it (ESV)

By this I understand that the second refers to scripture more broadly, perhaps determined by its use in the set phrase (?) «the Law and the Prophets.» Nowhere else in the ESV Romans 2-4 (actually anywhere in Romans that I see) is the word capitalized, and nowhere else does it appear as a part of this phrase. (The phrase dose appear repeatedly in the Gospels and Acts, where «Law» is always capitalized in the ESV.)

Reading on, in verse 31:

νόμον οὖν καταργοῦμεν διὰ τῆς πίστεως; μὴ γένοιτο· ἀλλὰ νόμον ἱστάνομεν. (NA28)
Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (ESV)

By the ESV’s rendering, we expect that «law» here refers to the «law that Moses received from God...the standard according to which membership in the people of Israel is determined» (quoting BDAG, which places 3:31 here) rather than «Scripture.» However, several translations do capitalize «Law» here. Also, I was reading the Expositors Greek Testament notes where it says:

Perhaps if Law were written with a capital letter, it would suggest the true meaning. [It is] all that we have ever called Law — the whole Jewish religion — that divinely established order, and everything of the same nature...

This seems to suggest a broader meaning still.

What is meant by νόμος in Romans 3:31?

  • Susan, I addressed this question but see that you have not reacted. May I trouble you to comment on my answer if you disagree with it? Perhaps we can wrap this question up.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 12:56

10 Answers 10



Don't get hung up on the variance of capitalization in English translations. The reason they've capitalized the second use is because it's used in conjunction with "the Prophets". In the original Greek it's the same word nomos (νόμος g3551).


Now, to your questions:

  1. What is the object of the word 'law' where it's used in Romans 3:31?
    • Paul has as his focus here the Torah – the Mosaic Law
  2. What's the meaning of the Greek word nomos (νόμος) translated as 'law'?
    • Paul is upholding the role of Torah (Mosaic Law) in the life of a believer through faith in the Messiah


31 Do we then overthrow [make inactive, katargeō g2673] the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.Romans 3:31 (ESV)

Paul's conclusion is that the justification of both Jew and Gentile is on the basis of faith alone. Far from nullifying the Torah (Mosaic Law) – faith has established it.

Furthermore, Paul is issuing a strong corrective to the one who would teach that the Torah is now done away with because of faith in the Messiah.

Why? Because the Torah always had faith at its core. It was given to reveal sin and lead one to faith in the Messiah, thereby justification.

Moreover, Paul's premise is that it's the doers of the Torah, not merely the hearers, who are justified before God:

13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.Romans 2:13 (ESV)

Thus, the Torah, leading the sinner to the Messiah, is established in that the believer now walks, not according to the deeds of the flesh, but through the Spirit who fulfills the righteous requirement of the Torah within him (Paul's theme later on in Romans 8).

Faith in the Messiah establishes the Torah as it recreates within the believer a new circumcised heart of flesh (no longer stone) upon which the Torah is now written.

And isn't this the promise of the New Covenant we've been engrafted into anyways?

26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.Ezekiel 36:26-27 (ESV)

And again in:

31 "Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.Jeremiah 31:31-33 (ESV)

Hope this helps!


1. Question Restatement:

Does Romans 3:31 refer to The Law or the law?

2. Context & Clarifications:

Romans and Galatians use the word "Law" - a lot. In fact - all of Paul's theology revolves around a juxtaposition between two paradigms of law: The law of promise [of faith, life, spirit, mercy, and reconciliation], and the law of works [of sin, death, condemnation, and law of Moses].

Note: Moses' law is not the only "Law of Works". U.S. Law is a "Law of Works". The "Law of Works" is a "paradigm", a classification of laws. Limited examples of a "Laws of Faith", might be: "Parenting", "Marriage", ... relationships established on "unconditional favor".

In every context, Paul is very consistent to clarify just which Law he is referring to:

"The law of faith", Rom. 3:27, "Law of Sin", Rom.7:23, "Law of the Spirit", Rom. 8:2, "The Law of Christ", Gal.6:2; "Law of commandments contained in ordinances", Eph. 2:14;

And here in Romans 3, Paul is making an argument that both of these legal paradigms require the other to exist, (to be set).

Israel, as a Nation, Never Received the Law of Faith:
Note: Though with exceptions: Abraham, arguably David, Elijah before he died, etc.

Ezekiel 20:25, NASB: I also gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not live;

Romans 9:31, NASB - "but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law."

3. Answer - Paul's topic is explicitly about the "Law of Faith", and distinguishing its merit from the "Law of Works":

Paul is arguing that God is God of "All" and therefore a law must exist that applies to all. (A Gentile is exempt from the Law of Moses, but a Jew is not exempt from the Law of Faith.)

NASB, Romans 3:27 - Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? [The law] of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also?

The Law of Faith Requires the Law of Works to be enforced:

Personal Translation, Romans 3:31, Interlinear - Do we then make to no effect the [Law of Works] through the [law of] faith? May it never be. But the law [of works] is set, [BECAUSE the law of faith is set].

"May it never be" is indicating an approval on Paul's part that condemnation under the law of Works is actually enforced. Because the merit of the Law of Faith is only proven by the lack of merit in the Law of Works. For the value of one paradigm of law to be proven, the other's value must be disproven.

This "Binary" logic is present in multiple places in Paul's writings: The Law of Mercy is only proven greater - because the Law of Condemnation brings no life. And, for it to be just that God shows mercy to those who judge with mercy, he must also show condemnation to those who judge with condemnation. Also, a vessel of destruction establishes the value of the vessel of life, etc., etc.

So, the Law of Works and the Law of Faith are antithetical to each other - they are mutually exclusive in observance. If one appeals to the law of mercy, trusting [faith] in the love of God, they must forfeit the right to accuse - a right that can only exist in view of wrongful works. Because the law of works empowers death, (1 Corinthians 15:56) - it is mutually exclusive to the law of life.

The Law of Faith demands that condemnation under the law of Moses be nullified. However, the law of Moses is in effect a national law, statutes, governed and rendered by Assembly - and is therefore mutable. These laws are an extension to the covenant written on stone, (there is no condemnation on the tablets of stone). Currently, condemnation in Judaism has not been repealed. However, rights to condemn seem to have become a part of Christianity since the establishment of Catholic governments.

None of this is to say that those under the law of faith are exempt from works that bring life. On the contrary, the law of faith IS the law of life. But there simply is no right to condemn, anywhere, while under this law, (in Christ). The fear of God is to obey this command for mercy (for self and others), because judgment will be according to our own judgments.

  • Although I agree(in essence) with your conclusion, it doesn't translate out well. The Law is the Law, and Faith is Faith. To say the Law=Faith violates the premise of the translation. Yes, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, etc. approached the Law through faith; that was it's purpose and intent. Yet Paul's argument states that righteouness may be attained apart from the deeds(doing of) the Law. That is an important distinction, since righteousness was established before Christ through the Law, how can we now say righteousness is apart from the Law? But this is Paul's thesis.
    – Tau
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 6:00

The Greek does NOT supply a definite article ("the") in front of "law." So it should read "we establish A law." Now what law would a good antinomian like Paul be referring to? Of course, "the law of faith" - which he explicitly refers to here, just a few verses before...:

Ro 3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

So he does NOT "make void" the law, but rather "establishes" another law. Two laws exist simultaneously. How does that work? Well, we have an illustration...

The Medes and the Persians (Iranians) did not allow royal laws to be rescinded. If you made a law, it was for good. So it is with the divine law. If you wanted to OVERRIDE an inconvenient law, you had to pass a NEW law that SUPERCEDED the older law. Here is the example:

Da 6:15 Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed. Da 6:17 And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.

So when Namaan had a law made that would allow the Persians to kill the Jews, Mordecai had to write another law to allow them to defend themselves:

Esther 8:8 Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring: for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse. ... 10 And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus’ name, and sealed it with the king’s ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries: 11 Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey,

In this way the Jews triumphed over the plot against them.

So also the law (or, "principle") of faith does NOT in ANY WAY alter or destroy the law of Moses, BUT, it does OVERRIDE it.

Gal 3:15Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case.

Rather than destroy a law, Paul says that faith is a new law that is established, that SUPERCEDES the law of Moses.

NIV Romans 8: 1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law [principle] of the Spirit who gives life has set youa free from the law of sin and death.

All quotes from KJV unless otherwise noted.


I need to address another comment:

"Are you saying the faith of the Gentiles establishes a new law which gives righteousness different from that of Abraham?"

Paul uses "law" terminology loosely. What he's referring to is the "principle" of faith and "the terms" of justification.

Justification by faith is not a new thing. It is as old as Abel:

New American Standard Bible Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.

However, prior to the gospel there was no blanket opportunity for anyone to believe and be justified. One needed a divinely provided opportunity such as when God commanded Noah to build the ark.

With the advent of the gospel, Jew and gentile alike have a "healing serpent" lifted up to which anyone can look and live. This is the "law of faith" that Paul is saying is being established:

KJV Romans 3: 21But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

27Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 29Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

31Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the [actually, "a"] law.

The word translated "establish" is this:

ἵστημι (Hom.+, ins, pap [Mayser 353]; LXX [Thackeray 247f]; pseudepigr., Philo, Joseph., apolog. exc. Ar.) and also ἱστάνω (since I B.C. SIG 1104, 26 ἱστανόμενος; pap [Mayser, loc. cit., with ἀνθιστάνω documented here as early as III B.C.]; Epict. 3, 12, 2; LXX [Ezk 17:14; Thackeray, loc. cit.]; later wr. in Psaltes 236) Ro 3:31; Hs 8, 1, 10 (s. Whittaker on 8, 1, 8; s. B-D-F §93; Mlt-H. 202). Fut. στήσω; 1 aor. ἔστησα; 2 aor. ἔστην, impv. στῆθι, inf. στῆναι, ptc. στάς; pf. ἕστηκα (I stand), ptc. ἑστηκώς, ός and ἑστώς En 12:3; JosAs 7:2; J 12:29,-ῶσα J 8:9 v.l., neut. ἑστώς Rv 14:1 v.l. (s. B-D-F §96; W-S. §14, 5; Mlt-H. 222) and ἑστός, inf. always ἑστάναι; plpf. εἱστήκειν (I stood) or ἱστήκειν GPt 2:3, third pl. εἱστήκεισαν Mt 12:46; J 18:18; Ac 9:7; Rv 7:11 (W-H. spell it ἱστ. everywhere); ἑστάκαμεν w. act. mng. 1 Macc 11:34; fut. mid. στήσομαι Rv 18:15. Pass.: 1 fut. σταθήσομαι; 1 aor. ἐστάθην (PEg2 65). S. στήκω. Trans.: A. Intr.: B, C, D.
A. trans. (pres., impf., fut., 1 aor. act.; s. B-D-F §97, 1; Mlt-H. 241) gener. ‘put, place, set’.
① to cause to be in a place or position, set, place, bring, allow to come τινά someone, lit. ἐν τῷ συνεδρίῳ Ac 5:27. εἰς αὐτούς before them 22:30. ἐκ δεξιῶν τινος at someone’s right (hand)  Mt 25:33. ἐν μέσῳ in the midst, among 18:2; Mk 9:36; J 8:3. ἐνώπιόν τινος before someone Ac 6:6. Also κατενώπιόν τινος Jd 24. ἐπί τι upon someth. Mt 4:5; Lk 4:9. παρά τινι beside someone 9:47.
② to propose someone for an obligation, put forward, propose, lit. (e.g. Just., A I, 60, 3 Μωυσέα … τύπον σταυροῦ … στῆσαι ἐπὶ τῇ ἁγίᾳ σκηνῇ) τινά for a certain purpose: the candidates for election to the apostleship Ac 1:23. μάρτυρας ψευδεῖς 6:13 (cp. Mel., P. 93, 700 ψευδομάρτυρες).
③ to set up or put into force, establish, fig. ext. of 1 (cp. Gen 26:3 τὸν ὅρκον; Ex 6:4) τὴν ἰδίαν δικαιοσύνην Ro 10:3. τὸ δεύτερον (opp. ἀναιρεῖν τὸ πρῶτον, a ref. to sacrificial system) Hb 10:9.—Of legal enforcement κύριε, μὴ στήσῃς αὐτοῖς ταύτην τ. ἁμαρτίαν Lord, do not hold this sin against them Ac 7:60 (contrast ἀφίημι 1 Macc 13:38f; 15:5; Stephen’s expression=ἄφες Lk 23:34; s. Beginn. IV, ad loc.).
④ to validate someth. that is in force or in practice, reinforce validity of, uphold, maintain, validate τὶ someth. fig. ext. of 1 (1 Macc 2:27 τὴν διαθήκην) τὴν παράδοσιν ὑμῶν validate or maintain your own tradition Mk 7:9. νόμον ἱστάνομεν we uphold (the) law Ro 3:31 (s. καταργέω 2).
⑤ to cause to be steadfast, make someone stand δυνατεῖ ὁ κύριος στῆσαι αὐτόν Ro 14:4.
⑥ to specify contractually
ⓐ set/fix a time a period of time ἡμέραν (s. ἡμέρα 3a) Ac 17:31.
ⓑ  determine a monetary amount οἱ δὲ ἔστησαν αὐτῷ τριάκοντα ἀργύρια Mt 26:15 (=Zech 11:12 ἔστησαν τὸν μισθόν μου τριάκοντα ἀργύρους), presents a special problem for interpreters because of the author’s theological and narrative interests, which prompt him to connect an allusion here to Zech 11:12 in anticipation of a fulfillment statement at Mt 27:9f, which in haggadic fashion draws on Zech 11:13 in the longer form of the Mt and Jer 32 (Mt 39):7–9 (s. JDoeve, Jewish Hermeneutics in the Synoptic Gospels and Acts, ’54, 185–87). Jer 39:9 and Zech 11:12 use the verb ἱ. in the sense weigh out on scales (Hom.; X., Cyr. 8, 2, 21, Mem. 1, 1, 9 al.; GDI p. 870, n49 A [Ephesus VI B.C.] 40 minas ἐστάθησαν; Is 46:6; Jer 39:9; 2 Esdr 8:25), and some (e.g. BWeiss, HHoltzmann, JWeiss; FSchulthess, ZNW 21, 1922, 227f; Field, Notes 19f) interpret Mt 26:15 in this sense. Of course Mt’s readers would know that coinage of their time was not ‘weighed out’ and would understand ἱ. in the sense of striking a bargain (ἵστημι=set a price, make an offer, close a bargain: Herodas 7, 68 pair of shoes; BGU 1116, 8 [I B.C.]; 912, 25 [I A.D.]; PRainer 206, 10 [II A.D.] κεφάλαιον), they set out (=offered, allowed) for him (=paid him) 30 silver coins (Wlh., OHoltzmann, Schniewind), but the more sophisticated among them would readily recognize the obsolete mng. Ac 7:60 is sometimes interpreted in a related sense, but the absence of a direct object of amount paid suggests that the pass. is better placed in 3 above....

[intranstive and future forms omitted from citation - Ruminator]

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., pp. 482–483). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Are you saying the faith of the Gentiles establishes a new law which gives righteousness different from that of Abraham? Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 23:10
  • @RevelationLad Did my edit answer your question? And do you agree with it? Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 12:51
  • 1. I don't believe Paul is establishing anything (maybe I'm reading that into your answer). I believe he is articulating what was already in place. There are numerous OT passages which speak to the salvation of the Gentiles. Paul is simply pointing out their salvation is obtained the same as the Jewish people: by faith. 2. The Gospel did not bring a new opportunity: it revealed something which was already in place. 3. I think "healing serpent" is an inaccurate remark. Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 16:22
  • 31Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish (ἵστημι) the [actually, "a"] law. I added BDAG to my post.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 16:37
  • 1
    @Ruminator Your answer has helped me tremendously to finally understand Romans 3:21. "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. So he does NOT "make void" the law, but rather "establishes" another law." This righteousness of God has been manifested through Jesus Christ faith for all. Roman's 3:21-4:25 gives further understanding to the law of faith. Thank you!
    – Sherrie
    Commented May 6, 2023 at 0:02

It is the same "law" in both cases in two parts of this complex sentence. Just like if I write a sentence about a judge whom law allows a personal discretion to bypass law upon his discernment (for instance, if law tells that a thief of a croissant should be punished by one-year imprisonment, but the judge sees that poor thief did it out of starvation and releases him): "Outside of law the judgement of this good judge shone today in court by the law".

Thus, the abolition of law was lawful, so that the self-abolition was included in the very essence of the law for it was a preparation to Christ, for which reason elsewhere Paul says: "by law I died for law" (Gal. 2:19).


Sanday and Hedlam1 say that this "law" means The Law, as in the Pentateuch,

not as an isolated Book, but as the most conspicuous and representative expression of that great system of Law which prevailed everywhere until the coming of Christ. ¶ The Jew looked at the O.T., and he saw there the Law, Obedience to Law or Works, Circumcision, Descent from Abraham. St. Paul said, Look again and see deeper, and you will see—not Law but Promise, not Works but Faith—of which Circumcision is only the seal, not literal Descent from Abraham but spiritual descent. All these things are realized in Christianity.

I would presume to offer this correction, "All these things are realized in Christ." [10:4]

Robert Haldane2 says essentially the same thing as Sanday and Hedlam, commenting on v.21, that

In the first part of this verse, ‘without law,’ where the article is wanting, signifies law indefinitely—whatever has been delivered to man by God as His law, and in whatever way; but here, with the article, it refers to the five books of Moses, thus distinguished from the writings of the Prophets

Then of v.31 he writes,

The article is here wanting before law, indicating that the reference is not to the legal dispensation, or to the books of Moses, as in the last clause of verse 21, but to the general law of God, whether written or unwritten.

I'm not entirely convinced that the article really is the distinguishing thing here. But I agree with these two that the Mosaic Law as a system, not merely the letter of the law, is what Paul has in mind. And I submit that he concludes this line of reasoning in ch.13, where he writes,

8... for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness," “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

The righteousness of God, revealed in Christ, establishes fully and eternally, and in no way abolishes, the Law (Moses' law), which reveals the righteousness of God, and which again is realized in Christ. Haldane's masterful exposition follows this line of reasoning:

  • In its NATURE this righteousness is twofold, fulfilling both the precept of the law and its penalty.
  • Christ the Author of the Law has submitted to His own Law, and to its penalty.
  • Because He is infinite, his suffering and obedience are infinite.
  • Thus his obedience can superabound to us who receive this righteousness by faith.

Finally, that it is really the Jewish Law which is "established" and in no way abolished is rather more evident from an ad hominem approach: If Paul means by law, "the Old Testament in toto" (as some argue), it would be ridiculous to suggest that this righteousness abolishes THAT, since it would include even the prophets that foretold the Christ. It is the Mosaic legal righteousness that some suggested was abolished by this new "righteousness from God by faith", which is rather established in Christ, who is

the end (telos) of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. [Ro 10:4]

that is, the purpose and final fulfillment of God's Law, not the demise or destruction of it.


1 William Sanday and Arthur Hedlam, Critical and Exegetical Commenatary on the Epistle to the Romans, orig. pub. 1895, 5th Ed. 1902, Oxford.

2 Robt. Haldane, Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans, 1874, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1958).


There is the law of Moses and the Ten Commandments. These two laws are different from one another. The law of Moses was meant for the nation Israel because they had fled the Egyptians after being there several centuries learning the arts of idolatry and moral codes of the kemmitians. The scripture states they brought their idols with them.

YHVH knew that the Egyptians(Now Israelis) needed laws to abstain from idol worship since it's all they knew from centuries of practice. He set mosaic laws to prevent this from happening. The focus of these sexual, dietary and celebrative laws was not to condemn homosexuals, pork eaters, etc. but to prevent them from worshipping idols like Moloch and other gods that demanded certain sexual or dietary practices to celebrate homage to their idols and thus prevent them from igniting God's jealousy as the one true God. Ultimately, All laws are given by God. So take the laws of Moses as the constitution of the United States or the constitution of India. These laws might differ from one another, and breaking the law in India might not be breaking the law in the United States. Every nation has different laws, and God gave Israel its own constitution while they had no laws other than Egyptian law before they departed to the promise land. However, the mosaic law was set outside of the arc, on the side, and the 10 commandments were set inside the ark. The Spirit shows us the difference between both laws. The laws of Moses were written by Moses in papyrus while the 10 commandments were written with the finger of YHVH in stone, which I call Yeshua. Stone last longer, than papyrus. The Israelis had papyrus thanks to the Egyptians!

The scripture clearly mentions that they did follow the mosaic laws, God never said they didn't. However, in the OT he said they never once listened to him. Why? Because they were following morality and not following spiritual law. They could not follow the spiritual law, which is the 10 commandments, but instead focused on human laws like mosaic law.

The Ten Commandments are often mistaken by many preachers as moral law, but this is false. God didn't accuse the fruit of the Garden, nor does he hate serpents just because he used whatever fruit or snake to condemn the world. He loved the world as he mentioned in the NT, and he loves his plan and his creation. Satan was astute, he wanted Adam and Eve to break spiritual law. There was the tree of knowledge and the tree of life. The tree of knowledge imposed to be godlike, something we cannot do. To understand what good and evil are, to sit on the throne as a god and judge according to truth and falsehood. The true sin was to be like God, that was the fall of Adam. After the fall of Adam, humans in our flesh intently desire to be godlike by our works. That is why all religions are like the tower of Babel, they follow scales, deeds, and works to achieve godhood by self sacrifice. This is something despicable to YHVH because he is Christ reveled in the flesh, the true tree of life. In contrast, humans desire law and the tree of knowledge (good and evil) as a necessity to become gods or we worship demons as gods!

Furthermore, humans are not capable of following the law. We condemn the murderer for killing our friend, but if he saves the life of our child, we grant them a pass. We condemn the prostitute for not being like a wife, but if we didn't know she is a prostitute and she gave a homeless person a place to stay we exalt her as good. We are all crocked, hypocrites, liars and our flesh is completely focused on itself, and our corrupted judgment.

In fact, we love the law because it makes us feel godlike like Adam and Eve. Satan feels he is a god as well and oh boy! does he love the law and hate grace! We should have never known what good and evil meant because we do not know how to judge by the heart, we only know how to judge by the outer appearance to make us feel or look more holy than the other man in front of us, who has the same issue as we do!

This is the spiritual law.

Thou shalt not steal: Means to not take away from the word of God and rob people of the promise that God gave them through grace in Christ. When you add moral law to grace, you are stealing from your brothers in Christ no matter what background or moral behavior they act upon.

Thou should not murder: Christ is life and he brought you life through his eternal payment. Cain murdered his brother because he sacrificed a lamb that represented Christ. Christ said Satan has been a murderer since the beginning because he is a law keeper and wants to instill law, so you murder the word of Christ by teaching falsehood since he is life. That is why he called Pharisees children of Satan. They wanted to murder Christ as the apostles for speaking truth, they did not murder Christ because of "good works" but because "thou being a man, make thyself YHVH."

Thou shall not commit adultery: In the Old Testament, the Israelites fornicated after other gods they didn't know, thus committing adultery. We are married with Christ in the cross, as one flesh. He is the husband and we the church are his bride. When we worship ourselves as godlike or the creation of our hands, we are committing spiritual adultery. So we must abstain from idol worship because it's the worship of demons. This has nothing to do with sexual human behavior, this has to do with contacting spirits, medium ship, and using ritualistic practices to willingly serve other gods, thus cheating on God. This practice was heavily used in the ancient world and we will go back to it sooner than later.


That is why Paul said through the spirit, that there is a "Spiritual law" and a "Physical law". We follow the spiritual law. If we condemn the homosexual are we judging our brother? When we condemn the prostitute do we condemn our sister? Yes, we do! We are not here to judge our brothers based on the law when in the flesh we have a brick on our eye, as Christ said!

We are here to support our brethren and love them as one. That is when we know we fulfill spiritual law as we grow as babes understanding the incomparable grace of Christ which exceeds all knowledge as he told us not to judge or accuse -- like Satan -- but to love and never condemn our brothers. Instead of saying "you should not be this way" you should say "God loves you, I just want you to know that he paid for you. You are free!" If someone judges your flesh they judge you according to mosaic law or whatever law they made up, but you are not here to condemn, but to love and Christ gave you the true commandment which justifies the law, or spiritual law of the ten commandments!

"Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And love your brethren as you love yourself."

You are not here to change your brethren, you are here to love them and never judge them by physical laws which only fulfill the appetite of the flesh as Paul wrote in the spirit. Feed the spiritual orphans who don't know the Lord and the widows who don't know their husbands. We are spiritual children driven by spiritual law thanks to Christ love and sacrifice, while children of the flesh, only guide themselves by mosaic law or any law that makes their flesh more holy through sacrifice to 'appear' to be godlike in front of God.

May the Lord impart us wisdom through the Spirit thanks to Christ, our Lord!

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    – agarza
    Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 3:08

“Apart from law a righteousness of God has been shown…”. Romans 3:21

Separate from law conditions, a righteousness (God has 2 righteousnesses one under the law one in Jesus Christ. Both are mutually exclusive and oppositional to each other.

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    – agarza
    Commented Feb 24, 2023 at 3:09
  • It would be helpful if you could go on to explain how verse 21 relates to verse 31 (which is the question). Your two sentences following quoting verse 21 simply state your personal opinion without offering any evidence or hermeneutic explanation. A lot more is required on this site! Hope you can supplement your answer.
    – Anne
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 17:56

Expositor's commentary is wrong. There is no need to use Law (Pentateuch) instead of law (Covenant) in the verse. The distinction is superficial. The covenant is the core of the Pentateuch. ESV uses Law whenever the Pentateuch is being interpreted. Those commentators (The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges) are even more disastrous and misleading who interpret it as the moral law, leading to antinomianism.

The word "we uphold/establish" (the law) doesn't fit if they interpret or translate it as Law (Pentateuch), since the whole context is about the covenant of law, as the system for justification. You do not establish or standup a precent but the system; hence the metaphor of uploading it as a pillar or building. The written-precepts and scripture are said to be fulfilled. The inconsistent rendering of the word causes unnecessary confusion in the modern bibles.


The answer to this is quite straightforward. The reason why the law is capitalized in the second instance is because it is a title for the first five books of Moses. Paul is arguing that a man can be justified by God (declared righteous before him) without anything to do with working personal righteousness under the legal requirements of God's moral law. But he wants to point out, though it is a new kind of righteousness it is not a new doctrinal invention but the very scriptures both the Law and the Prophets testified to it. So the reason why the first five books of Moses receives a capital is to distinguish the official letter of the law from the more general moral law of God. He is saying that the 'official letter of the law' (Indicated by CAPS) testifies to a way of righteousness which the moral laws of God have nothing to do with as it is by faith alone.

Regarding Paul's use of the law in verse 31 he wants to show that justification by faith apart form any personal obedience to God's moral law does not overthrow that law. In other words there is no conflict. As the focus is on personal righteousness versus righteousness by faith, it would seem best to take the lowercase 'law' as the continued focus. However one could capitalize it and it would carry, more or less, the same meaning because the gospel does not overthrow anything in the scripture, and the scriptures establish God's moral law. However the heart of the matter is moral righteousness and the claim that righteousness apart from works does not overthrow personal righteousness. Paul is dealing with a subject and law that existed before the scriptures were written as men are born under the obligation to obey God's law. The scriptures only made that original law of creation more clear. What Paul must show is that 'righteousness apart from works' does not overthrow, not only the scriptures, but the very moral obligations of human nature to its creator, before the Law and the Prophets came into being. It is that primal moral law that is not overthrown by the righteousness by faith.

  • Ι trust you are aware that the distinction between "law" and "Law" is only in the English translation.
    – fdb
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 14:51
  • Right, I was using that as a marker for two different senses of the term (since most people seem to agree that this distinction exists in v. 21) in order to frame the question. Mike, I agree with what you're saying here, but I don't think you've answered the question about v. 31.
    – Susan
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 15:03
  • ya your right...i did not answer your question haha...will add that part
    – Mike
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 15:16
  • "… Right, I was using that as a marker for two different senses of the term" I suggest that you not assume that capitializaion in a version reflects a semantic distinction. There is a distincion in rom 3.31 but you cannot generally look at capitializaion as marker of semantic difference. Commented May 2, 2015 at 21:22

Some responses made here, do not seem to be without error.

When you state Romans 3:31 should read as 'we uphold/establish {a} law', instead of '{the} law - merely because the Greek 'article' ('the') is not present, it presents issues with regard to the message, and may fuel the incorrect 'pick and choose', 'no more biblical Sabbath', 'lawless', 'mainstream', Christian message, that we see today in most church buildings, be it Catholic, Protestant, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, or even Messianic.

The following interpretation, to my eye, does not break scripture.

We all have read 'faith without works is dead' (James 2:17); We can observe that works served as a seal to Abraham's righteousness (Romans 4:11), righteousness that he received by faith, hence Romans 3:28. Works also completed Abraham's faith (James 2:22), hence Romans 3:31, we uphold {the} law, and therefore, do.

Further reasoning for this, with the use of a lay 'linguistic' review;

-In Romans 3:28 there is no Greek article ('the') before 'law', though the overwhelming majority of translations read as 'the law';

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. (KJV)

And then, seemingly on the other end of the translation spectrum; - In Romans 7:21, the Greek 'the' is present, and yet the verse has been rendered 'a law', instead of 'the law', in many translations. Hence this translation rule you sight (regarding the Greek 'article), isn't observed in this instance, just as in Romans 3:28, also.

Given this, and also the contextual interpretation above, perhaps not even including an {a}, or even a {the}, in Romans 3:31 is fitting;

Romans 3:28,31; Verse 28, clarifies the law of faith ('for we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of {the} law').

Verse 31, clarifies that we do not then disregard, abolish, or pick and choose from the law of Moses (and, for that matter, the other commandments found in both Old, and New Testaments), rather, verse 31 serves as clarification to the matter; uphold {the} law, whilst {as verse 28 confirms} one is justified by faith apart from works of {the} law. The ESV translation for these passages does well).


For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. - Matthew 5:18-20 KJV


Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. - Matthew 23:1-3 KJV

{Now is a good time for you dear reader, to heed this command. The Mishnah is a document with these rulings from the scribes, Pharisees, and Sages. A good place to start. Also available is the Talmud.

This Mishna document is available for free on your mobile device(s) from the 'google play store'. Search 'ketavi'.

To set the Ketavi Mishnah to English, click the right menu button, then the 'slider' looking button, then 'change language'. Why not begin with the reviewing of the Shabbat (Sabbath) section (as I am!); click the left menu button, then 'Seder Moed', then 'Shabbat'.

We do this whilst also remembering to watch out for 'hypocrisy' (Luke 12:1), and contrary 'teaching'/doctrine (Matthew 16:12) to God's Law. We have also been instructed with regard to the format of prayer (Matthew 6:5-15). We have a commandment from Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach Yehoshua (the Lord Jesus Christ), not to pile up words. Selah.


Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. - Revelation 22:14 KJV

May the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; bless us all, in the name of His risen son Adonai Yehoshua HaMoshiach (the Lord Jesus Christ). Amen.

  • 2
    Blake - your argument is inconsistent. Paul clearly states that the righteousness that is based on the law (a form of self-righteousness) if not the same as the true righteousness that comes by faith (Rom 10:5-6). Faith produces works (1 Thes 1:3) but these are not the works of the law.
    – Richard
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 18:16
  • 1
    Rev 22:14 relates to the Tree of Life, not the Tree of knowledge of good and evil. The 'commandments' referred to are not the ten but the two.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 13:16

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