by Michael Vlach
Most who study the use of “law” in Paul’s writings note that understanding all of Paul’s uses of the term is not easy. Below is a listing of Paul’s uses of “law” (nomos) in Romans and my attempt to categorize each use. Paul’s use of “law” (nomos) occurs about 80 times. The vast majority of “law” statements refer specifically to the Mosaic Law. Yet there are about 20 uses of “law” that do not refer to the Mosaic Law. At this point in time, this is how I categorize his uses. This could be altered with further study.
Mosaic Law: about 56 times
Mosaic Law for Jews/God’s law known to Gentiles: 2 times
Principle of faith: 1 time
What God requires: 4 times
Law in general: 2 times
Standard of what is right: 1 time
New Covenant Law: 1 time
Old Testament as a whole: 2 or 0 times
Civil law concerning marriage: 4 times
Disposition to sin: 4 times
Anti-God’s law: 3 times
Righteousness through the Mosaic Law: 2 times
Knowing what is right: 1 time
(NOTE 1: I did not find any references to Jewish abuses or misunderstandings of the Mosaic Law)
(NOTE 2: I am not commenting on Paul’s uses of “commandment” (entole) in Romans.
For all who have sinned without the Law (MOSAIC LAW) will also perish without the Law (MOSAIC LAW), and all who have sinned under the Law (MOSAIC LAW) will be judged by the Law (MOSAIC LAW);
for it is not the hearers of the Law (MOSAIC LAW FOR JEWS/GOD’S LAW KNOWN TO GENTILES) who are just before God, but the doers of the Law (MOSAIC LAW FOR JEWS/GOD’S LAW KNOWN TO GENTILES) will be justified. (NOTE: the point seems to be that those who do what God requires will be vindicated on judgment day; see Matt. 25:31-46)
For when Gentiles who do not have the Law (MOSAIC LAW) do instinctively the things of the Law (MOSAIC LAW), these, not having the Law (MOSAIC LAW), are a law (STANDARD OF WHAT IS RIGHT similar to Mosaic Law) to themselves,
in that they show the work of the Law (MOSAIC LAW) written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,
But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely upon the Law (MOSAIC LAW) and boast in God,
and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law (MOSAIC LAW),
a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law (MOSAIC LAW) the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth,
You who boast in the Law (MOSAIC LAW), through your breaking the Law (MOSAIC LAW), do you dishonor God?
For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law (MOSAIC LAW); but if you are a transgressor of the Law (MOSAIC LAW), your circumcision has become uncircumcision.
So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law (essence of the MOSAIC LAW), will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?
And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law (essence of the MOSAIC LAW), will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law (MOSAIC LAW) and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law (MOSAIC LAW)?
Now we know that whatever the Law (MOSAIC LAW OR OLD TESTAMENT AS A WHOLE) says, it speaks to those who are under the Law (MOSAIC LAW OR OLD TESTAMENT AS A WHOLE), so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God.
because by the works of the Law (MOSAIC LAW) no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law (MOSAIC LAW) comes the knowledge of sin.
But now apart from the Law (MOSAIC LAW) the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law (MOSAIC LAW) and the Prophets,
Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law (LAW IN GENERAL)? Of works? No, but by a law of faith (PRINCIPLE OF FAITH).
For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law (MOSAIC LAW).
Do we then nullify the Law (MOSAIC LAW) through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law (MOSAIC LAW as a witness to the righteousness to be manifested in Christ (see 3:21)).
“Blessed are those whose lawless (ANTI-GOD’S LAW) deeds have been forgiven, And whose sins have been covered.
For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law (MOSAIC LAW), but through the righteousness of faith.
For if those who are of the Law (MOSAIC LAW) are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified;
for the Law (MOSAIC LAW) brings about wrath, but where there is no law (EXPLICIT STATEMENT OF WHAT GOD REQUIRES), there also is no violation.
For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law (MOSAIC LAW), but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,
for until the Law (MOSAIC LAW) sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law (LAW IN GENERAL).
The Law (MOSAIC LAW) came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law (LAW IN GENERAL WITH IMPLICATIONS FOR THE MOSAIC LAW) but under grace.
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law (LAW IN GENERAL WITH IMPLICATIONS FOR THE MOSAIC LAW) but under grace? May it never be!
I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness (ANTI GOD’S LAW), resulting in further lawlessness (ANTI-GOD’S LAW), so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law (MOSAIC LAW)), that the law (CIVIL LAW CONCERNING MARRIAGE) has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?
For the married woman is bound by law (CIVIL LAW CONCERNING MARRIAGE) to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law (CIVIL LAW CONCERNING MARRIAGE) concerning the husband.
So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law (CIVIL LAW CONCERNING MARRIAGE), so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.
Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law (MOSAIC LAW) through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law (MOSAIC LAW), were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.
But now we have been released from the Law (MOSAIC LAW), having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
What shall we say then? Is the Law (MOSAIC LAW) sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law (MOSAIC LAW); for I would not have known about coveting if the Law (MOSAIC LAW) had not said, “You shall not covet.”
But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law (MOSAIC LAW) sin is dead.
I was once alive apart from the Law (MOSAIC LAW); but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died;
So then, the Law (MOSAIC LAW) is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
For we know that the Law (MOSAIC LAW) is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law (MOSAIC LAW), confessing that the Law (MOSAIC LAW) is good.
For I joyfully concur with the law of God [PROBABLY MOSAIC LAW) in the inner man,
but I see a different law (A DISPOSITION TO SIN) in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind (KNOWING WHAT IS RIGHT) and making me a prisoner of the law of sin (DISPOSITION TO SIN) which is in my members.
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God (MOSAIC LAW), but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin (DISPOSITION TO SIN).
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (NEW COVENANT) has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (DISPOSITION TO SIN probably linked with the MOSAIC LAW)
For what the Law (MOSAIC LAW) could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
so that the requirement of the Law (MOSAIC LAW INSTRUCTION CONCERNING LOVE (SEE ROM. 13:8-10)) might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God (WHAT GOD REQUIRES), for it is not even able to do so,
who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law (MOSAIC LAW) and the temple service and the promises,
but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness (RIGHTEOUSNESS THROUGH THE MOSAIC LAW), did not arrive at that law (RIGHTEOUSNESS THROUGH THE MOSAIC LAW).
For Christ is the end of the law (MOSAIC LAW) for righteousness to everyone who believes.
For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law (MOSAIC LAW) shall live by that righteousness.
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law (WHAT GOD REQUIRES CONCERNING LOVE).
Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (WHAT GOD REQUIRES CONCERNING LOVE).
*Scripture references are from Biblegateway.com from the NASB.