Applying OT Law Today

J. Daniel Hays has written a helpful article called “Applying the Old Testament Law Today” [Bibliotheca Sacra 158: 629 (2001): 21-35].You can find the full article here. He notes:

What approach should believers follow in interpreting the Old
Testament Law? In accord with sound hermeneutical method, it should be an
approach that (a) is consistent, treating all Old Testament Scripture as
God’s Word, (b) does not depend on arbitrary nontextual categories, (c)
reflects the literary and historical context of the Law, placing it firmly into
the narrative story of the Pentateuch, (d) reflects the theological context of
the Law, and (e) corresponds to New Testament teaching.

Here is a summary of how he would apply his method to a particular passage:

  • Identify What The Particular Law Meant To The Initial

  • Determine The Differences Between The Initial Audience And
    Believers Today

  • Develop Universal Principles From The Text

  • Correlate The Principle With New Testament Teaching

  • Apply The Modified Universal Principle To Life Today

8 responses to this post.

  1. […] Here is an article dealing with the same topic: Applying the Old Testament Law Today HT: Expository Thoughts […]

  2. Thank you for this article. I still haven’t seen a satisfactory answer to the subjective nature of principlizing in application. How can we apply the Scriptures in a way that is still within the parameters of the intended message of the text? How can we judge a principle as being valid or invalid? For instance, what keeps someone from saying that men need to be more sensitive to their emotions because Jesus wept in John 11?

  3. […] to see that the OT anticipated the coming of the Messiah. I would suggest that first and foremost we begin with what the text actually says and means historically. At a basic level this is called grammatical-historical hermeneutics. There is good evidence that […]

  4. ronjourlocke,

    How about this?

    It should be reflected in the text

    It should be timeless

    It should correspond to the broad theology of the rest of Scripture

    It should not be culturally bound/tied

    It should be relevant to both OT and current NT audiences

  5. […] Lamey tackles the tough subject of applying Old Testament law (and principles) […]

  6. […] Applying OT law today. My take: a better take is at Expository Thoughts. […]

  7. Pulpit Magazine is going through a series on the application of the OT Law for believers today that may provoke some though on the issue, they have one week left to go:

  8. Thank you for your response. I still have a problem, though, with textual reflection. The fact that something is stated in the text does not necessarily mean that it follows from the actual message of the text. Using my John 11 illustration, “men should be more sensitive to their emotions” does not follow from “Jesus’ self-revelation as the resurrection and the life”. But that follows your criteria (it’s in the text, it’s timeless, it’s consistent with a biblical understanding of emotions, it isn’t culturally bound, and it could be said for both OT and NT believers).

    I don’t want to be burdensome, but I’m just trying to think through a more grounded theology/theory for application so that we don’t enter our pulpits with good principles that have nothing to do with the message of the text.

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