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The Law and Its Fulfillment: A Pauline Theology of Law

ISBN: 9781441252838

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Thomas Schreiner’s The Law and Its Fulfillment is an excellent evangelical synthesis and critique of Paul’s theology. The major purpose of this volume is to build an accurate, relevant understanding of Pauline theology for students, pastors preaching on Paul’s letters, and those who want to understand how to relate God’s holiness and mercy in greater depth. Schreiner explains, “Grasping Paul’s theology [of the law] is essential for understanding his soteriology, the death of Jesus, Christian ethics, the relationship between Jews and Gentiles in the new community, and the continuity and discontinuity between the Testaments.”

Resource Experts
  • Explores Pauline theology in regards to the law
  • Uncovers meaning in central Pauline themes on the law on the basis of new Pauline perspectives
  • Offers alternative views on each examined text
  • The Background to the Debate
  • The Meaning of the Term Law in Paul
  • Why the Works of the Law Cannot Save
  • The Purpose of the Law
  • Is Paul Opposing Jewish Legalism?
  • The Temporary Nature of the Mosaic Covenant
  • The Fulfillment of the Law by Christians
  • Did Paul Teach Justification by Works?
  • Soundings from the Rest of the New Testament

Top Highlights

“Paul says righteousness cannot be obtained by works of law or through the law. This is so because perfect obedience is required for right-standing with God, and such obedience is impossible. Old Testament sacrifices no longer atone; only Christ’s death on the cross provides forgiveness. The focus on human inability to obey the law is substantiated in a number of texts in Romans and Galatians, and chapter 3 will expand this conclusion, showing that the law did not restrain sin but exacerbated it.” (Page 71)

“The law was given to increase the power of sin, states 5:20, so the law led people to sin more, not less. The continuation of Paul’s argument in Romans 6 indicates that the power of sin is in view, for there he declares that those who have died to sin should not let sin dominate their lives. Romans 5:20 is crucial for Pauline anthropology. Instruction and dissemination of moral norms are not necessarily a boon to morality since people without the Holy Spirit will actually do more evil once they become aware of what is good.” (Page 74)

“Most Jews of his day believed that a greater understanding of the contents of the law would curb the sinful impulse and prevent sin from dominating a person’s life.1 Paul turns this theology on its head by saying that the law does not restrain sin but stimulates and provokes it.” (Page 73)

“They defined legalism as the belief that one could merit favor with God by doing good works, so that sufficient goodness would earn eternal life.” (Page 15)

“The impact of Sanders’ work has led to the collapse of the Reformational consensus regarding the Pauline view of the law” (Page 18)

In this excellent book Professor Schreiner reasserts the traditional Protestant understanding of Paul’s approach to the Mosaic law with clarity and exegetical rigor. These qualities have made his treatment of this hotly contested issue one of the standard works in the field.

Frank Thielman, Presbyterian professor of divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

Schreiner offers a reliable guide to the recent discussion in readable style, helping us know where our views should change and where Calvin and Luther remain on target. Overall Schreiner’s book remains an excellent evangelical synthesis and critique of the issues.

Craig L. Blomberg, distinguished professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary

A trustworthy guide through the thicket of current discussion, Dr. Schreiner provides thoughtful analysis and his own balanced conclusions. This rewarding book is marked by evenhandedness, clear thinking, first-rate scholarship, and above all by solid, faithful exegesis. One of the most helpful discussions available.

Donald A. Hagner, senior professor of New Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary

Thomas Schreiner

Thomas R. Schreiner (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He also taught at both Bethel Theological Seminary and Azusa Pacific University.

Dr. Schreiner is a Pauline scholar and the author or editor of numerous books, including New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ; Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology; and the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament volume on Romans.


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  1. Richard Bush

    Richard Bush


  2. Larry Proffitt