The apostle Paul teaches Deuteronomy in [2 Corinthians 13:1] stating "This will be the third time I am coming to you. By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established. (13:1 Τρίτον τοῦτο ἔρχομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς· ἐπὶ στόματος δύο μαρτύρων καὶ τριῶν σταθήσεται πᾶν ῥῆμα).

Paul conveniently chooses to preach Torah when needed to validate himself.

[Devarim | Deuteronomy 19:15] " By the mouth of two witnesses, or by the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be confirmed. " (עַל־פִּ֣י שְׁנֵ֣י עֵדִ֗ים א֛וֹ עַל־פִּ֥י שְׁלשָֽׁה־עֵדִ֖ים יָק֥וּם דָּבָֽר)

Why does Paul use Deuteronomy 19:15 to establish his own missionary works to the Corinthians, if Paul told the Galatians that works of the Law (like Devarim 19:15) establish nothing?

In [Galatians 2:16] Paul would reject the need to perform any commandment from Deuteronomy, as stated : "knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified." (2:16 εἰδότες ὅτι οὐ δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ἔργων νόμου ἐὰν μὴ διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐπιστεύσαμεν ἵνα δικαιωθῶμεν ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων νόμου διότι οὐ δικαιωθήσεται ἐξ ἔργων νόμου πᾶσα σάρξ)

Did Paul establish in [2 Corinthians 13:1] that keeping Torah was useful when justifying missions?

3 Answers 3


Galatians 2:

16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

Paul had never dismissed all the regulations of Moses wholesale and threw them all out. In this verse, Paul was talking specifically about justification, saying the works of the law could not justify anyone.

Further, note that Paul didn't even say that

a person is not justified by the law

The Torah was extremely important to Paul, Romans 7:

7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

Deuteronomy 19:

15 One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

This decree was practically important to Paul and to Jesus, Matthew 18:

16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’

  • Based on 2 Corinthians 13:1 (reference to Deuteronomy 19:15), does Paul establish Corinthians should observe the laws of Deuteronomy? Oct 26, 2021 at 17:47
  • No. I don't so, not every single stipulation in Deuteronomy. The entire Deuteronomy itself was important to Paul, but not necessarily the observance of all its stipulations.
    – user35953
    Oct 26, 2021 at 17:54
  • By stating : "The entire Deuteronomy itself was important to Paul, but not necessarily the observance of all its stipulations", should we understand 2 Corinthians 13:1 (reference to Deuteronomy 19:15) establishes Paul supports 'Cherry Picking' Deuteronomy to justify missions? Oct 26, 2021 at 18:01
  • 1
    In some human sense, yes. However, Paul had his formal reasons to "pick" when he did. He was guided by the theology revealed to him by the Holy Spirit.
    – user35953
    Oct 26, 2021 at 18:07

Let there be no doubt that the Torah was abandoned by neither Jesus nor Paul. Both quoted freely from the Torah as though still binding upon Christians:

Matt 5:17-19 - Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

The appendix below lists many instances where the NT quotes the Torah laws as still binding upon Christians.

Indeed, we have the frequent statements of Paul that

  • the law is essential because “through the law we become conscious of sin” (Rom 3:21, 7:7, 13),
  • “we uphold the law by faith” (Rom 3:31),
  • “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good” (Rom 7:12),
  • “the law is spiritual” (Rom 7:14),
  • “the law is good” (1 Tim 1:8),
  • keeping the law is to do right (James 2:8).
  • “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Certainly not! Instead, we uphold the law.” (Rom 3:31).
  • “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law, but under grace? Certainly not!” (Rom 6:15);
  • “we are now slaves of righteousness” (Rom 6:16), or, “slaves to God” (Rom 6:22);
  • “And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the very commandment you have heard from the beginning, that you must walk in love.” (2 John 6).

So what of Paul's very significant doctrine of salvation by grace "apart from the law"? He made many such statements such as “free from the law” (Gal 5:1), “not declared righteous… by the law” (Rom 3:21), “not under the law” (Rom 6:14, 15), “released from the law” (Rom 7:6), “the law is powerless” (Rom 8:3), “Christ is the end of the law” (Rom 10:4), “If righteousness could be obtained through the law, Christ died for nothing” (Gal 2:21), “no one who relies on the law will be justified” (Gal 3:11), “the law was our guardian until Christ came” (Gal 3:24), “if you are led by the Spirit you are not under law” (Gal 5:18), “there is no law against such [who have the fruit of spirit]” (Gal 5:22, 23).

Such statements in view of the above does not mean that Christians are not subject to law! Paul’s intention is clearly that the Christian life is free from the chafing constrains of legalism because of the free atonement offered by Jesus. We do NOT have to be good enough to earn God’s favor because, not only do we already have it, but it is offered freely. However, Christians will live morally to reflect the life and character of Jesus, but only when motivated or “walking” by the Spirit who miraculously changes us (Rom 8:1-11).

Indeed, the NT contains for laws for Christians than the OT ever did. For example see the lists contained in places like See https://www.abc.net.au/reslib/201407/r1308729_17984331.pdf and https://www.cai.org/bible-studies/1050-new-testament-commands and https://www.facebook.com/notes/the-real-truth-movement/the-1050-new-testament-commandmentslaws/690826194404882/ and http://www.wholebible.com/NT_commandments.htm and http://www.biblicalresearchreports.com/gods-commands-in-the-new-testament/

APPENDIX - NT Quotes from Torah laws

  • Eph 6:2, 3 quotes Deut 5:16, Ex 20:12
  • James 2:11 quotes Ex 20:13;
  • Rom 13:9 quotes Ex 20:13-15, 17;
  • Rom 7:7 quotes Ex 20:17;
  • Acts 23:5 quotes Ex 22:28;
  • Heb 9:20 quotes Ex 24:8;
  • 1 Peter 1:16 quotes Lev 19:2;
  • Matt 22:39, James 2:8, Gal 5:14 quotes Lev 19:18;
  • 2 Tim 2:19 quotes Num 16:5;
  • Matt 19:18, 19 quotes Deut 5:16-20;
  • Mark 12:32 quotes Deut 6:4;
  • 2 Cor 13:1 quotes Deut 19:15;
  • Matt 5:31, 19:7 quotes Deut 24:1;
  • 1 Cor 9:9 quotes Deut 25:4;
  • Rom 12:19 quotes Deut 32:35;
  • Heb 10:30 quotes Deut 32:35, 36;

... and so forth. This list is not exhaustive.

APPENDIX 2 - All the Torah Laws?

Special Note: I do not wish to suggest that all Torah laws are still valid; indeed, many of the laws in the Torah are now impossible to keep even we wanted to keep them. All the laws relating to the Temple/sanctuary, priesthood and Levitial rites cannot be kept as the temple and priesthood no longer exist.

The laws around jurisprudence cannot be kept because most Christians no longer love in ancient Israel. The same is true of the laws for the conduct of the the earthly king of Israel - the Davidic kingship ended in 586 BC.

However, the moral and ethical laws still apply as shown by their use in the NT.


Paul was following Jesus' teaching:

?“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matt. 18:15–20, ESV)

True, this practice ultimately goes back to Deut. 19:15. But, this is a matter being more truthful and less subjective, not being saved by following the Law.

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