Under the Law, Outside the Law, Within the Law…where are we?!
The Apostle Paul makes an interesting statement in his letter to the Corinthians in regard to his relationship to the law. Most translations blatantly translate this passage inconsistently. Let’s take a close look so that we can truly understand OUR relationship to the law.
Before we read the verse, take note where Paul says we are “under the law of Christ”. This is translated wrongly and should say “within the law of Christ”. This makes a BIG difference as we will see.
1 Corinthians 9:19-21
“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under [should read “within”] the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.”
Now let’s look at it in the Greek:
καὶ ἐγενόμην τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις ὡς Ἰουδαῖος, ἵνα Ἰουδαίους κερδήσω· τοῖς ὑπὸ νόμον ὡς ὑπὸ νόμον, μὴ ὢν αὐτὸς ὑπὸ νόμον, ἵνα τοὺς ὑπὸ νόμον κερδήσω· τοῖς ἀνόμοις ὡς ἄνομος, μὴ ὢν ἄνομος Θεοῦ ἀλλ’ ἔννομος Χριστοῦ, ἵνα κερδάνω τοὺς ἀνόμους·
Yes…because we can all read Greek fluently….RIIIIIGHT.
Let’s just take a close look at how each of the three words in question are translated.
- “Under” ὑπὸ Pronounced “hupo”.
Definition: under. In relation to the law it mean “subject to the penalties of transgressing the law”.
- “Outside” ἀνόμοις Pronounced “anomos”. This word is made up of the Greek word for “law” which is nomos. The prefix “a” is added, which means “no” or “without”.
Definition: lawless, without law, wicked
- “Within” ἔννομος Pronounced “ennomos”. This is the word “nomos” with the prefix “en” which means “in” or “within”.
Definition: in law, walking within the framework of the Torah
Translators erroneously and blatantly translated “ennomos” to “under law”, even though Paul chose to use a DIFFERENT word when speaking of his relationship to the law. Before, Paul said “hupo nomos” when referring to Jews who were under the law. Then he used “a nomos” when referring to Gentiles without the law. When referring to himself he uses “en nomos” which means “within the law”!!! Why did most translators choose to translate those Greek words inconsistently??
Answer: because there is an inherent bias in the translator to make the text appear to suggest that we are not supposed to be keeping the Torah and that somehow Christ’s law is DIFFERENT from His Father’s law. This goes against the rest of scripture and is just plain wrong.
These translations actually translate ennomos (ἔννομος) correctly:
Holman Christian Standard
Young’s Literal Translation
Aramaic In Plain English Bible
(and maybe others)
Our relationship to the law is this:
We are NOT subject to the penalty of breaking the law (under law) because Christ took that penalty upon Himself.
We are no longer without the law like Gentiles who do not have the frame work of the Torah. (Eph 2:11-22)
We are to walk within the framework of the Torah just as our Messiah taught us to do.
Our relationship to the law has to do with our SANCTIFICATION, not our JUSTIFICATION. This concept is covered in other places. (Please see “Saved by Grace Through Fidelity”)