3 Types of Law
by Rod Jackson

All verses are quoted from the NASB anything in [square brackets] is added by me for clarity.

There are 3 different types of law. The moral law, the civil law and the ritual law.

The moral laws are the 10 commandments etc. When one breaks one of these laws they sin against God. They usually sin against people too.

When someone sins against people then they should be punished by the government. This is where the civil law comes in. They must be made right with their neighbour and any appropriate punishment that they deserve should be given to them.

When one sins against God then one has to be made right with God. This is where the ritual law (sometimes called the ceremonial law) comes in. The person has to be made right with God.

In Australia we have two different main political parties - Liberal and Labour. One party is in for a time and then after a few years in Australian will usually vote in the other party. When each party is in power they try to get their own political policies voted in. The government changes the civil law. A change in government usually means a change to the civil law (the laws of the land). In the New Testament we read an interesting account -

"The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4 they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 "Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?" 6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him." John 8:3-6b

This woman was caught in the act of adultery, yet the Scribes and Pharisees only brought the woman to Jesus. But what about the man who was committing adultery with her? The fact that they did not bring the man shows that they are not truly interested in justice but are only interested in testing Jesus. But what is the test? In the Old Testament we read that

"If there is a man who commits adultery with another man's wife, one who commits adultery with his friend's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death." Leviticus 20:10

If Jesus had said "the adulteress shall surely be put to death", then He is agreeing with God's law. Later when the Jews are trying to get crucified, we read -

So Pilate said to them [the Jews], `Take Him [Jesus] yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.' The Jews said to him, `We are not permitted to put anyone to death,' " John 18:31

So the Jewish people were not allowed to put people to death. When there was a change in government there was a change in the civil law. For Jesus to have said that the woman caught in adultery should be put to death He would have been disobeying the civil law of the land. The Jews were then under the Roman civil law. When there was a change in government from the Jewish government to the Roman government there was a change in the civil law.

In the book of Hebrews talking about how Jesus is a priest in the order of Melchizedek. Where as, the Levities were a priesthood in the order of Aaron. So when Jesus came the priesthood changed from the order of Aaron to Melchizedek.

"For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also." Hebrews 7:12

But the law spoken of here is the ceremonial law or the ritual law. The priests did not have any authority over the civil laws and the moral laws were to be obeyed by all people.

For it was fitting for us [Christians] to have such a high priest [Jesus]... who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He [Jesus] did once for all when He offered up Himself." Hebrews 7:26a & 27

So we no longer have to go to the temple to have our sins "cleansed" because Jesus' blood is the true cleansing agent that purifies us from all unrighteousness. So there is a change in the ritual law.

No where do we read about a change to the moral law.

Back to Home Page