Has the law ended?
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.
(Matthew 5:18, KJV)
And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the
law to fail. (Luke 16:17, KJV)
Have both heaven and earth passed? If so, then so has the law; if not, neither has the law.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not
come to destroy, but to fulfil. (Matthew 5:17, KJV)
This is important. Paul's writings have been often misunderstood and misinterpreted on this point, even by the most illustrious of theologians. Let's review two of those crucial texts.
Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments
contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man,
so making peace; (Ephesians 2:15, KJV)
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which
was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his
cross; (Colossians 2:14, KJV)
The "ordinances" were abolished--not the law (despite some spurious Bible translations having altered the message of these important verses, removing the key word "ordinances").
Throughout the Bible, the "ordinances" refer to ritual or ceremonial laws which had been instituted to build faith in God's people in the coming atonement that would be made for their sins. As they did not, prior to his advent, have the benefit of seeing Jesus' sacrifice for them, the sacrifices of animals, the sanctuary ceremonies, the feasts such as Passover--all these ceremonies, called "ordinances," pointed the faith of God's people toward their coming Messiah.
But when the Messiah had fulfilled his atoning role in our behalf, being sacrificed on the cross, these ordinances no longer were necessary for our faith. We knew, by sight, that the great atonement for us had been accomplished.
The following verse shows the distinction between and importance of both ordinances (also sometimes called "statutes") and laws.
And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt show them the
way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. (Exodus
And God says further...
Neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land
which I have appointed for your fathers; so that they will take heed
to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and
the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses. (2 Chronicles
Notice the "ordinances by the hand of Moses." This is the "handwriting" to which Paul refers. This is separate from the law written by God's finger on the stone tablets. The Ten Commandment law was not written by Moses.
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse
for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
(Galatians 3:13, KJV)
Paul, in Galatians 3:13, is quoting from the Torah.
His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in
any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of
God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee
for an inheritance. (Deuteronomy 21:23, KJV)
While the curse of the law ended on the cross, the law itself did not and has not ended. The "handwriting of ordinances" was abolished, which included the Levitical priesthood, the sacrifices, the sanctuary services, and the feasts. Yet the Ten Commandment law--written in stone by God Himself--still stands.