Read Romans 5:13-14. What is Paul teaching us here about the law?
What is Paul talking about here? The phrase “until the law” is paralleled with the statement “from Adam to Moses.” He is talking about the time in the world from Creation to Sinai, before the formal introduction of the rules and laws of the Israelite system, which included, of course, the Ten Commandments.
“Until the law” means until the detailing of God’s requirements in the various laws given to Israel at Sinai. Sin existed before Sinai. How could it not? Were lying, killing, adultery, and idolatry not sinful before then? Of course they were.
It is true that prior to Sinai, the human race generally had only a limited revelation of God, but they obviously knew enough to be held accountable. God is just and isn’t going to punish anyone unfairly. People in the pre-Sinai world died, as Paul here points out. Death passed upon all. Though they had not sinned against an expressly revealed command, they had sinned nevertheless. They had the revelations of God in nature, to which they had not responded and thus were held guilty. “The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen . . . ; so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).
For what purpose did God reveal Himself more fully in the “law”? Rom. 5:20-21.
The instruction given at Sinai included the moral law, although it had existed before then. This was the first time, however, according to the Bible, that this law was written and widely proclaimed.
When the Israelites began to compare themselves to the divine requirements, they discovered that they fell far short. In other words, “the offense” abounded. They suddenly realized the extent of their transgressions. The purpose of such a revelation was to help them to see their need of a Savior, and to drive them to accept the grace so freely offered by God. As stressed before, the true version of the Old Testament faith was not legalistic.
|How do the laws in your own country reveal to you a human conception of right and wrong? If human laws can do that, then what about God’s eternal law?|