I enjoyed reading this (warren you still there ?). Here's a Quick Summary (short version):
- There was a controversy that troubled the early New Testament church which was whether God required Gentile Christians to be circumcised and live according to the Law of Moses.
- The position of some Jewish Christians was that "Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the Law of Moses" (Acts 15:5). Without the authorization of the apostles (verse 24), they had spread this disturbing message to certain Gentile congregations.
- The basic message of Paul’s preaching to the Gentiles was that their salvation was a gift that came through faith in Jesus Christ, and that they were complete in him. Paul placed no demands on his converts that they be either circumcised or required to perform other Old Testament laws as preconditions for justification.
- Paul strongly resisted the idea that adherence to the Law of Moses was a requirement for salvation or for maintaining one’s salvation. He appears to have fought a running battle with these "Judaizers," whom he regarded as "false brothers" who had infiltrated the Gentile churches (Galatians 2:4). He wrote his epistle to the Galatian church to counter their teaching, which he labeled a "different gospel" (Galatians 1:6).
- Despite his vigorous efforts, Paul was unable by himself to stamp out the Judaizers’ heresy. He therefore went to Jerusalem to have the church leaders settle the issue. This conference is recorded in Acts 15. After considerable discussion, Peter addressed the council. He explained how God first gave to uncircumcised Gentiles the Holy Spirit, thus revealing to Peter that God had accepted them (verse 8 ). God, said Peter, "made no distinction between us [Jews] and them, for he purified their hearts by faith" (verse 9).
- In countering the Galatian heresy, Paul did not limit himself to addressing only the ritualistic part of the Law of Moses. His strategy in his letter was to show that the entire old covenant
(that is, the Mosaic covenant) had ended and has been replaced by a new covenant (Galatians 4:24–26).
- Paul goes on to explain the purpose of the old covenant law. It was to serve as a custodian or schoolmaster for the children of Israel "until faith should be revealed" (verse 23). In other words, the old covenant law was designed to keep them in the knowledge of God until Christ came, after which faith in Christ would prevail (verse 24).
- Paul concludes: "Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law" (verse 25).
- Christians now live under that new covenant and are not obligated to live according to the requirements of the old covenant. They are justified through faith in Jesus Christ, and justification does not require additional works of the law.2
- In chapters 5 and 6, Paul explains the implications in one’s behavior of living under the new covenant.
- In what way, then, is our relationship to old covenant law transformed through faith in Jesus Christ? "Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes" (Romans 10:4). The Greek word telos, translated as "end," can mean 1) termination," "cessation," or 2) "goal," "culmination," "fulfillment".
- A major purpose of God’s law is to lead humans to Christ by convicting them of sin. But because believers are justified by Christ’s righteousness, the law has no claim over them in the legal sense. After explaining in Romans 7 the accusatory nature of the law and that rescue is through Jesus Christ, Paul writes, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1–2)
- To overcome this stumbling block for Jews, the church asked Gentiles to avoid eating meat that had idolatrous associations, blood and meat that had not been properly drained of blood. Because these dietary rules would facilitate good relations with the Jewish community and fellowship with Jewish believers, and were not given as requirements for salvation, Paul had no objection to asking Gentile Christians to observe them.
- Questions and controversies about the law of God for Christians continued to disturb the early church. Thus, Paul continued to address the subject in the letters he subsequently wrote to various churches and ministers.
- Paul describes himself as not being under the law. From the context it is obvious he means Mosaic Law, the law of the old covenant. But this does not mean he saw himself as without law. Paul was not free from God’s law — he was now under "Christ’s law."
It is important to appreciate this distinction. The Mosaic Law was God’s law for the nation of Israel under the old covenant. The "law of Christ" is God’s law for Christians in the New Testament era. The two are not the same.
- Paul used the phrase "law of Christ" after writing about living "by the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16, 25) as opposed to living "under law" (verse 18). Because the Galatian members were so enamored with law, Paul used the word law in a way they had not anticipated. They were not under Mosaic Law, but they were under the law of Christ, which required them to bear each other’s burdens.
- Finally, the opponents of Paul charged that the Gospel he preached led to loose living. By stressing the law, Judaism had stressed morality. Jews looked down on Gentile sin and excesses. But what would happen if the law should be taken away? Clearly, lawlessness and immorality would increase, the legalizers argued. Paul replies that this is not true (chapters 5, 6). It is not true because Christianity does not lead the believer away from the law into nothingness. It leads him to Jesus Christ, who, in the person of the Holy Spirit, comes to dwell within him and furnishes him with the new nature that alone is capable of doing what God desires. The change is internal.
- Paul’s conclusion concerning law is found in Romans 13:8–10: "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law." The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. For Paul, a Christian’s obligation was to love, and everything else was secondary. Regarding circumcision, for example, Paul wrote: "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 5:6)"
- Under the old covenant, the Israelites lived according to the Law of Moses. Under the new covenant, Christians are to live according to the law of Christ. The difference is love generated by the Holy Spirit. It is possible to fulfill outwardly the Law of Moses without love in your heart. It is impossible to fulfill the law of Christ unless there is love in your heart.
- The result of attempting to relate to God through obedience to Old Testament law, or even to a "New Testament" set of rules, is to descend into legalism. Christianity becomes regulations. The gospel is reduced to a law system.
- Christians today can choose to live according to Mosaic Law, just as Jewish Christians did in the first century a.d. However, their law-keeping will not cause God to give them his Spirit and work miracles in their lives (Galatians 3:5). Nor will it lead them into a deeper understanding of spiritual truths, compared to those who live according to the law of Christ. The opposite may even be true, because the more Christians rely on law to direct them, the less they rely on the Spirit. It seems that it is impossible to rely on law and the Spirit simultaneously — it’s either one or the other. This is the point Paul makes in Galatians 3:1–5. The Galatians had received the Spirit through believing in Christ, not through human observance of the law. Paul asks, "After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" (verse 3).
Long version -> https://www.gci.org/law/lawtoday