Grace and Law

God’s Grace and Law of Moses

In Jewish Jesus by Dr. Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

“The new is in the old concealed; the old is in the new revealed,” said Augustine. This quotation’s main achievement is that it boldly opposes the general tendency among many Christian believers to juxtapose two parts of the Holy Bible.

In the majority of translations statements such as “For the Law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17), seem to imply precisely that juxtaposition. Even when translation is more literate (“For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ”) juxtaposition is automatically presumed by readers.

The word translated as Law (νόμος) should be translated as Torah/Pentateuch, because this was the primary meaning of the word when it was used by Jews in the first century. The “grace” and “truth” is far less problematic, but still does not fully bring out the force of the spoken Hebrew behind the written Greek. Therefore, we should read John 1:17 as follows: “The Torah came through Moses and unfailing love (חסד) and truthfulness (אמת) came through Jesus Christ. The grace and truth of God can be clearly seen in the Torah of Moses, while in the Jewish Christ they are displayed to their utmost degree.

The opposite of law was never grace, but lawlessness. The opposite of grace was never law, but disgrace.

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