Is it maybe a different meaning of "abolish (katargeo)" or a different meaning of "law?" Because they seem somewhat contradictory.

Do we then make void [καταργοῦμεν] the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. [Romans 3:31 KJV]

Having abolished [καταργήσας] 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]

  • 1
    I have edited to assist your readership in seeing the wording and to assist yourself in seeing how to highlight quoted references. It becomes clear from the above that making the law 'void' and 'anulling' the enmity between two factions is - actually - quite a different matter.
    – Nigel J
    May 2 at 18:16

4 Answers 4


There is indeed more than one meaning of the word "law", and Romans ch3 v31 needs to be read in the light of v27;

"Boastfulness is excluded". But on what basis? By what law [NOMOS}? Is it by the law "of works" [ERGON]? No, it is by the law "of faith" [PISTEOS].

So when in v31 Paul says that their faith "upholds the law", he must be talking about "the law of faith", not the other one.

Whereas in Ephesians ch2 v15, and everywhere else where Paul talks against the law, he must be referring to "the law of works".

From these references, we may identify "the law of faith" as whatever law allows us in faith to set aside the detailed "law of works" provided by Moses.

  • Rom 3 does not have a V33
    – Dottard
    May 2 at 22:08
  • @Dottard Oops. Corrected, thank you. My eyesight must be going. May 2 at 23:10

First look at the meaning of καταργέω:

καταργέω ... ① to cause someth. to be unproductive, use up, exhaust, waste of a tree κ. τὴν γῆν Lk 13:7 (cp. ἀργεῖ οὐδὲν ἀλλὰ καρποφορεῖ OdeSol 11:23). ② to cause someth. to lose its power or effectiveness, invalidate, make powerless fig. extension of 1 ... τὰ ὄντα κ. nullify the things that (actually) exist 1 Cor 1:28. τὸν νόμον make the law invalid Eph 2:15; cp. Ro 3:31 ... ③ to cause someth. to come to an end or to be no longer in existence, abolish, wipe out, set aside τὶ someth. τὰ τοῦ νηπίου set aside childish ways 1 Cor 13:11.... ④ to cause the release of someone from an obligation (one has nothing more to do with it), be discharged, be released. -- Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). In A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 525-526). University of Chicago Press.

While BDAG puts both verses with the meaning of (2), the context points to Eph. 2:15 having the meaning of (4), thus two different meanings for καταργέω.

The context is "he himself is our peace" in v14. We need to overcome what the English word for peace means to what שָׁלֵם means in the Old Testament law.

See Is the term שָׁלֹום (peace) in Isaiah 53:5 usually misunderstood? and Tetelestai - What did Jesus really say in John 19:30 assuming he spoke Aramaic or Hebrew?

Thus, Eph. 2:15 means Jesus Christ released us from the legal obligation of the Old Testament law by being the sacrifice for our sins. However, as in Rom. 3:31, he did not abolish the law but fulfilled it for us. In Romans 3 Paul wrote that sin is still valid (Rom. 3:23). In Eph. 2:15 Paul wrote that Jesus Christ paid the restitution for the Law.


The difference is between the context, not of semantic nuance of katargeo. In Romans, he is arguing that we do not nullify the law by faith, or the Christian faith doesn't nullify the law but fulfill it.

Ephesians verse is stating that Christ has lawfully according to God's plan, nullified the law, destroyed the dividing wall. Again, the implication is not that there's an enmity between Christian faith and law, since it has expired legally. We establish the law by following Christian faith.


Ephesians is about the law 'contained in ordinances'

'...ordinances, (touch not; taste not; handle not...' Colossians 2:20-21

One can eat pork, adorn mixed fabric, and other such things, after Christ, one no longer needs be concerned about all the ordinances in the law.

Romans is about the law in general. 'Love works no ill to his neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law' Romans 13:10

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