Since everything a Christian is required to do is already in the moral law as summarized in the Ten Commandments and as revealed at least to some extent in natural law, the New Testament issues no new laws, ceremonial or otherwise. The New Testament instead proclaims freedom from the law as a tyrant without abrogating the moral law, which it applies to specific cases.
Christ’s commands are not legal in character. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ pointed out that the ancient prohibitions of murder and adultery had always condemned hatred and lust. Rather than issuing new laws, he commanded the oral and visible proclamation of the gospel and freely gave apostles, evangelists, pastors, prophets, etc. (Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 4:11).
Nor can legal regulations be found among the numerous directives in the Pauline epistles. The fact that Paul gave specific instructions on the qualifications of deacons (1 Timothy 3:8-13), on head coverings (1 Corinthians 11:2-16), on appointing presbyters (Titus 1:5), and on Sunday collections (1 Corinthians 16:2) does not mean those instructions are new rules binding in all circumstances (on 1 Timothy 3, see A. Pieper, “Are There Legal Regulations in the New Testament?,” pp. 7-8). Rather, they are inspired applications of timeless wisdom to the current church setting.
Similarly, Paul did not give any new regulation when writing to Timothy about the role of women but rather appealed to the order of creation. Any conclusions drawn from what Paul said are only binding if they can be found in the moral law. For Paul did not appeal to his own authority in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 or any new regulation but instead to the creation account of Genesis 2-3. For example, 1 Timothy 2:14 is readily understood as an application of Genesis 3:17 (M. Braun (1981) “An Exegesis Of I Timothy 2:11-15 And Its Relation To The CHE Statement: ‘The Role Of Man And Woman According To Holy Scripture,’” p. 11).
In fact, Timothy could have learned from the Pentateuch not only what Paul said about the role of women but also what he said about paying elders who govern well (1 Timothy 5:17-19). The cases are similar in that the specific instructions are relevant applications of the will of God already revealed. Any interpretations of those instructions that do not follow from the Pentateuch go beyond what Paul actually argued.
For example, the contention that it is not fitting that females speak on behalf of a male Christ (W. C. Weinrich, “‘It is not Given to Women to Teach’: A Lex in Search of a Ratio,” Concordia Theological Seminary Press, Ft. Wayne, 1993) has absolutely no support from Paul. Rather, it reflects a papal form of the ancient Eros piety and conflicts with what the New Testament says about church and ministry. Recognizing the non-legislative nature of the New Testament can prevent such extreme positions on the ministry of the word.
3 January 2015. Hyperlink updated 6 July 2016.