Happy 100th anniversary of August Pieper’s paper on our release from all ceremonial law!
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.Matthew 27:50-51a
Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.Colossians 2:16-17
Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.Galatians 5:2-5
. . . In the way in which it is stated in the Ten Commandments the love toward God and toward the neighbor is to express itself unconditionally on the part of absolutely all human beings and under all circumstances (except if he himself should make exceptions) and not a tittle differently (Mt 5:18ff).
But under legal regulations we understand something different. Thereby we mean such precepts, commands, commandments, laws and regulations of God which are not in themselves, immediately, and under all circumstances moral and express love, but do so more or less mediately, under specific outward circumstances. They are therefore given by God for specific reasons for specific purposes to specific persons at specific times. For the reason that they have been given by God they, of course, obligate as long as they are in force in the same measure as does the moral law itself; but they fall away with their specific circumstances, purposes and reasons . . .—August Pieper, Theologische Quartalschrift 13, July 1916, 157-182 (trans. Carl Lawrenz as “Are There Legal Regulations in the New Testament?”)
In fact, interpreting circumstantial imperatives as if they were universally binding legal regulations can have ridiculous or even disastrous consequences, as seen in the examples provided by pp. 10-11 of John Schaller’s “The Origin and Development of the New Testament Ministry,” a Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Essay.