Jesus was gone. This upstart sect of Judaism was nearly dead with its messiah before the news even had a chance to fully spread. Stories of the original disciples performing many acts carried this infant church but as the converts grew so did their need for more than passing stories. In many ways, the people who were being Christ-like still hung on to the Jewish laws, believing only that Christ-like was the story of a perfect life under the law. As it often is, many of the Jews misinterpreted Jesus’ actions, but it was the voice of a converted teacher of the law, Paul, who was able to restructure the doctrine and the foundations to form what we now know to be Christianity. Because of his profound and respected education, he hit the hardest on the separation from Jewish law in the presence of Grace.
31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:
33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Jesus walked into a deep traditionalism, a people living by the letter of the law, knowing that their ancestors had failed recently. They needed Him to follow the laws as he taught them the new way, because it was so essential to their idea of salvation. Jesus was the fulfillment of the law, of the perfect life for the perfect sacrifice, but He also came to teach us that the law was essentially over, to show us a different way of living for God. Paul shows us this exact relationship in Romans 3:19-25, outlining the structure that exists between Grace and law and what Jesus left for us to live and learn from.The Law demanded sacrifice, demanded taxation, and most of all demanded death for sin. Jesus however fulfilled every requirement and entered us into the new covenant spoken of as far back as Jeremiah.
Paul was dealing with those trying to bring their Jewish law into Christianity and force Gentiles to submit to their eating habits and circumcision upon conversion. Paul’s constant contention was that this new covenant had nothing to do with our works in the flesh. His main point was that nothing we could do would purify us, since hundreds of years of the law still left them sacrificing in the Temple for the same sins, and ultimately failing to fulfill the laws on their own. Paul taught that Jesus was the final offering on that altar and with the rending of the temple veil so then was the law declared done.
To emphasize the new structure for salvation, Paul organized the church with ministers instead of priests, local deacons instead of Levites, many churches instead of one Temple. By removing the Temple from the equation, there was not only one way, through sacrifice, to reach salvation, but many ways, many perspectives, and a freedom to be with God everywhere you go. He had sent the comforter to be in you and that by gathering together wherever they found themselves that they could bring the presence of Jesus into their midst. The Law was impersonal legislation to earn one’s way to be with God, but Grace was to be Christ lived through us.