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Dictionary of Bible Themes – 5381 law, letter and spirit of
5381 law, letter and spirit of

5381 law, letter and spirit of

A rigid adherence to the letter of the law often masks hypocrisy and neglect of its spirit, namely having God at the centre of one’s life and putting others before oneself, or recognising that the law points to Jesus Christ.

The letter of the law

Overemphasis on keeping some parts of the law Mk 7:1-8 pp Mt 15:1-2 See also Isa 29:13; Mt 9:10-13 pp Mk 2:15-17 pp Lk 5:29-32

Hypocrisy with regard to keeping the law Mk 7:9-13 pp Mt 15:3-6 See also Mt 23:1-33; Lk 11:37-52; Lk 18:9-14; Jn 9:1-16; Ro 2:17-24; Isa 52:5

The spirit of the law

Jesus Christ and the law Mt 5:17-6:19 See also Mt 19:16-30 pp Mk 10:17-30 pp Lk 18:18-30

Jesus Christ’s attitude to the Sabbath Mk 2:23-3:6 pp Mt 12:1-14 pp Lk 6:1-11 See also Mk 1:21-28 pp Lk 4:31-37; Lk 13:10-17; Lk 14:1-6; Jn 5:1-16; Jn 7:21-24

Jesus Christ’s treatment of the woman taken in adultery Jn 8:2-11

The greatest commandment Mt 22:34-40 pp Mk 12:28-34 See also Mt 25:31-46

The importance of obedience and right attitudes outweighs that of outward actions Ro 2:25-29 See also 1Sa 15:22-23; Ps 51:16-17; Pr 21:3; Isa 1:11-17; Jer 7:21-23; Hos 6:6; Am 5:21-24; Mic 6:6-8; Gal 3:1-5

The spirit of the law is embodied in the new covenant 2Co 3:3-6 See also Jn 4:19-24; Ro 7:4-6; Ro 8:1-11; 1Co 15:45-46; 2Co 3:13-18; Gal 5:18; Heb 7:18-22; Heb 8:1-13; Jer 31:31-34

See also

1352covenant, the new
2324Christ as Saviour
2333Christ, attitude to OT
3140Holy Spirit, teacher
5173outward appearance

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