Her name is Babylon, but she is not the Ancient Babylon.

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

ANCIENT BABYLON

This is an article in the series on the identity of the Harlot of Revelation:

On her forehead a name was written, a mystery, ‘Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots’” (17:5).

A common interpretation of “Babylon the Great” among literal interpreters is that it refers to ancient Babylon that will be rebuilt on the literal Euphrates River, to become the political and commercial capital of the world. The current article discusses various arguments for and against this proposal. To do this, we have to ask why she is called “Babylon.” What is the significance of this name?

SUMMARY

BABEL – CONFUSION

Babel” was one of the cities in Nimrod’s kingdom (Genesis 10). God commanded the people, “Fill the earth,” but the people refused. They said, “Let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven … otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” To force people away from the city, God gave them different languages. Because of the confusion which this caused, the city was called Babel.

ANCIENT BABYLON – JERUSALEM’S ENEMY

Babel later became Babylon, located on the banks of the Euphrates River in current Iraq. Babylon invaded Judea, destroyed Jerusalem and its temple, deported Judah’s king and took the people hostage. Babylon took the land away that God gave to His people. Because it is the main enemy of God’s people in the Old Testament, Babylon is mentioned 260 times in Scripture; second only to Jerusalem.

REVELATION USES OLD TESTAMENT LANGUAGE.

One argument, which literal interpreters use to support the proposal that end-time Babylon will be a literal city, is that Revelation uses Old Testament language to describe Babylon. For example, in both the Old Testament and in Revelation, Babylon sits on “many waters.”

Literal interpreters also point out that the Old Testament predictions of the destruction of ancient Babylon are similar to Revelation’s description of the destruction of end-time Babylon. Both will be destroyed suddenly, completely and with fire.

However, the use of Old Testament language to describe end-time Babylon does not prove that it will be a literal city:

TYRE ALSO BECOMES A SYMBOL FOR BABYLON

Firstly, Revelation also uses language from another mighty Old Testament city—Tyre—to describe end-time Babylon.

REVELATION CHANGES THE MEANING.

Secondly, Revelation changes the meaning of the language it borrows from the Old Testament. For example, the “many waters” on which ancient Babylon sat was the Euphrates. But the “many waters” on which end-time Babylon sits are explicitly defined as the peoples of the world (17:15).

JERUSALEM BECOMES A SYMBOL.

Thirdly, if the Babylon of Revelation is a literal city because it has that meaning in the OT, then the Jerusalem of Revelation should also be a literal city, for these two cities are the two great enemies; both in the Old Testament and in Revelation. But the New Jerusalem in Revelation is a symbol of all of God’s people; from both the Old and New Testament eras.

PLACE NAMES COMMUNICATE QUALITIES.

Fourthly, another name for Babylon in Revelation is “the great city” and in Revelation 11:18, “the great city” is called Sodom and Egypt. The name “Egypt,” similar to the name Babylon, signifies that “the great city” is the enemy of God’s people for all times and places. The name “Sodom” signifies the morally “fallen” condition of this enemy of God.

THE EUPHRATES BECOMES A SYMBOL.

The mention of the Euphrates River in Revelation, in conjunction with Babylon, also proves that Babylon must be understood symbolically, for Revelation explicitly redefines the Euphrates as the peoples of the world.  Since the Babylon of the Old Testament was built on the banks of the Euphrates, and since the Euphrates becomes a symbol in Revelation, it follows that Babylon must also be a symbol.

CONCLUSION

For these reasons, the language of ancient Babylon is used as symbols by the Book of Revelation. Revelation borrows the name and description of Jerusalem’s Old Testament enemy, but uses it as symbols for the enemy of God’s people all over the world and for all time.

UNFULFILLED PROPHECIES

A further justification for a literal end-time city is that many prophecies of the destruction of Babylon in the Old Testament have not been fulfilled.

This is true. Ancient Babylon ‘fell’ numerous times at the hands of different invaders, but it never suffered anything like the predicted complete destruction. The land around her did not become des­olate but continued to be populated and fertile.  There was no disturbance in the sun or moon, nor did universal peace follow.

That, however, is consistent with the dual nature of Old Testament prophecies. Such prophecies combined end-time events with major events in the near future. Only in hindsight are we able to distinguish between these events. The Old Testament prophecies of the fall of Babylon, therefore, apply both to the historical fall of ancient Babylon and the end-time destruction of the age-old and world-wide enemy of God’s people.

This fact confirms that literal Babylon will NOT be rebuilt, for it means that the city has already been destroyed as predicted, and those same predictions teach that it will never be rebuilt.

A SYMBOL EXPLAINING A SYMBOL.

Revelation 17:18 explains the harlot as the “great city.” Literal interpreters argue that the “great city” must be understood literally; otherwise we should have the anomaly of a symbol explaining another symbol. However, Revelation frequently explains symbols with other symbols. For example, the seven heads are seven mountains (17:9) and the beast is an eight head or mountain (17:11).

Revelation, therefore, often use more than one symbol for the same reality. Jesus, for example, is both a lion and a lamb (5:5, 6).  In the same way, in 17:18, the harlot and the “great city” are two symbols for the world-wide resistance to the truth of God.

ANCIENT BABYLON IS TOO YOUNG.

The Babylon of Revelation exists throughout history (e.g. 17:5; 18:24). It follows that the literal Babylon of the Old Testament is too young to be the Babylon of Revelation.

– END OF SUMMARY –

BABEL – CITY OF CONFUSION

Babylon is found first in Genesis 10. When Moses traces the descendants of Ham, he wrote:

Nimrod … became a mighty one on the earth … the beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and … in the land of Shinar” (Gen. 10:8-10).

Genesis 11:3-4 records the rebellion of the people of Shinar against God’s plan. God commanded the people to populate the whole world. He said to them:

Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen 9:1).

But Shinar defied this command. They said:

Let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven … otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Gen 11:4).

This was the first recorded attempt to unite the world against God. At the end of time, the kings of the world will again unite at Armageddon (16:16) “for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” (Rev. 16:14).

In the time of Nimrod, to scatter the people around the world, God confused their languages. He gave them different languages so that they would not be able to communicate with one another. That caused great confusion. Therefore the city was called Babel, which means confusion.

ANCIENT BABYLON – JERUSALEM’S ENEMY.

Babel later became Babylon, located in current Iraq, about 50 miles south of Baghdad on the Euphrates River.

Babylon’s greatest glory was during the time of the Chaldean king Nebuchadnezzar; 600 years before Christ. 

To the Jews, Babylon was where they were exiled to under Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 29:1), who invaded their land, destroyed the city of Jerusalem and its temple, and deported Judah’s king. After this point in history, there has not been a king from the line of David on the throne of David in Jerusalem. So historically, we see that Babylon begins as the place of man’s rebellion against God. But eventually, it took the land away that God promised to His people; the Israelites.

Babylon is mentioned 260 times in Scripture; second only to Jerusalem. These two cities are always seen in opposition to each other.  Babel has become Babylon; the main enemy of God’s people Israel in the Old Testament.

TO DESCRIBE BABYLON,
REVELATION USES OLD TESTAMENT LANGUAGE.

One argument, which literal interpreters use to support the proposal that end-time Babylon will be a literal city, is that Revelation uses Old Testament language to describe Babylon.

EXAMPLES OF OLD TESTAMENT LANGUAGE

Revelation 17 and 18 frequently use terminology from the Old Testament (Jeremiah 50-51 and Isaiah 47) to describe end-time Babylon. In both the OT and in Revelation, Babylon:

      • Dwells on “many waters” (Jer. 51:13; Rev. 17:1, see also Ps. 137:1);
      • Boasts that she sits “as queen and am no widow, and will not see sorrow” (Rev. 18:7; Isa. 47:7-9);
      • Commits much sorcery and spells (Rev 18:23; Isa 47:7-9);
      • Has something in a gold cup that makes the people of the world drunk (Jer. 51:7; Rev. 17:3-4; 18:6); and
      • Is suddenly destroyed, on a single day (Jer. 51:8; Rev. 18:8; Jer. 51:30; Isa 47:7-9) by fire (Jer. 51:30; Rev. 17:16; 18:8), final (Jer. 50:39; Rev. 18:21), and deservedly (Jer. 51:63-64; Rev. 18:21).

As another example of the use of Old Testament language to describe Babylon, an angel takes up a stone and throws it into the sea, saying,

Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore” (Rev. 18:21).

This is an intentional allusion to something which Jeremiah instructed his assistant to do, namely to read the book, that predicts the destruction of literal Babylon, before all the people and then:

You shall tie a stone to it and throw it out into the Euphrates. Then you shall say, ‘Thus Babylon shall sink and not rise from the catastrophe that I will bring upon her” (Jer. 51:59-64).

DESTRUCTION ARE SIMILAR

Literal interpreters also point out that the Old Testament predictions of the destruction of literal Babylon are similar to Revelation’s description of the destruction of end-time Babylon:

      • Sudden (“in one day” [18:8, 17]);
      • Complete (18:21) and
      • With fire (Rev. 18:18; 16:17‑21).

They, therefore, argue that the same destruction-event is in view in both the Old Testament and in Revelation. 

END-TIME BABYLON WILL NOT BE A LITERAL CITY.

However, the use of Old Testament language to describe end-time Babylon does not prove that it will be a literal city on the banks of the Euphrates, for the following reasons:

TYRE ALSO BECOMES A SYMBOL FOR BABYLON.

Firstly, Revelation also uses language from another mighty Old Testament city—Tyre—to describe end-time Babylon. 

For examples, both Tyre and Revelation’s Babylon:

    • Are women with daughters (Ezekiel 26:6; Rev. 17:5);
    • Are wealthy (Ezek. 27:12, 18; Rev. 18:12, 13);
    • Support trade via ships (Ezek. 27:9; Rev 18:19); and
    • Enrich others by their wealth (Ezek. 27:33; Rev 18:19).

And both Tyre and Revelation’s Babylon will:

    • Have their music silenced (Ezekiel 26:13; Rev 18:22).
    • Cease to be forever (Ezek. 27:36; Rev 18:21).
    • Be lamented by the princes of the sea (Ezekiel 26:16; Rev 18:17-19), who will cast dust on their heads (Ezek. 27:30; Rev 18:19) and say, “who is like” this city (Ezek. 27:32; Rev 18:18).

This supports the view that the descriptions should be interpreted symbolically.

REVELATION CHANGES THE MEANING.

Secondly, Revelation changes the meaning of the language it borrows from the Old Testament. For example:

MANY WATERS

In the Old Testament, literal Babylon “dwell by many waters” (Jer. 51:13) for it was built over the literal Euphrates River. In Revelation, Babylon also “sits on many waters” (17:1), but now the “many waters” are used as a symbol for the peoples of the world (17:15).

SITTING

In the Old Testament, “sitting” simply meant that Babylon was built on the banks of the river, which supported life in the city. In contrast, in Revelation, “sitting on” signifies Babylon’s influence over the people, namely:

Those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality” (17:2; cf. 14:8; 18:3).

FALLEN, FALLEN IS BABYLON

When the Old Testament said that Babylon “is fallen,” it meant that it will surely physically fall. Revelation uses the same phrase to indicate that Babylon has already fallen spiritually because it “has become” a prison of evil spirits (18:2).

GOLD CUP

In Jeremiah 51, Babylon is a gold cup in God’s hands. Revelation changes this symbol to a gold cup in Babylon’s hands, “full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality” (17:4).

CONCLUSION

Since the language borrowed from the OT changes in meaning, it must be interpreted symbolically. Revelation borrows the name and description of Jerusalem’s Old Testament enemy, but uses it as symbols for the enemy of God’s people all over the world and for all time.

JERUSALEM BECOMES A SYMBOL.

Thirdly, if the Babylon of Revelation is a literal city on the banks of the literal Euphrates River because it has that meaning in the OT, then the Jerusalem of Revelation should also be the literal Jerusalem in Judea, for these two cities are the two great enemies; both in the Old Testament and in Revelation. But the New Jerusalem in Revelation includes all of God’s people; from both the Old and New Testaments (21:9, 10, 12, 14).

PLACE NAMES COMMUNICATE QUALITIES.

Another justification proposed for the view of end-time Babylon will be a literal city is that the names of place have their literal significance in the letters to the seven churches (1:9; 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14) and the writer of Revelation is very clear to point it out when he intends a figurative meaning, for example, as in 11:8:

The great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt.”

The great city” always refers to Babylon (17:18; 18:10, 16, 18, 19, 21, and 16:19). Revelation 11:18, therefore, refers to Babylon is also called Sodom and Egypt:

Egypt” was not a city, but a nation. Babylon and Egypt were Jerusalem’s two great enemies in the Old Testament. It is for that reason that Revelation uses these names for the enemy of God’s people for all times and places: In her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth” (18:24).

Sodom” was a city of ill repute. This name emphasizes the morally “fallen” condition of this enemy of God: All the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her” (18:3).

Names in Revelation, therefore, communicate certain qualities. We should not interpret these names literally as referring to a literal end-time city on the site of ancient Babylon.

THE EUPHRATES BECOMES A SYMBOL. 

Literal interpreters also assume that the mention of the Euphrates River, in conjunction with Babylon, means that a physical city is in view. 

However, it actually proves that Babylon must be understood symbolically, for Revelation explicitly redefines the Euphrates as the peoples of the world (17:15).  The Euphrates is Babylon’s river.  It is not possible to separate Babylon from the Euphrates because the Babylon of the Old Testament was built on the banks of the Euphrates.  Since the Euphrates becomes a symbol in Revelation, then it follows that Babylon must also be a symbol.

UNFULFILLED PROPHECIES

A further justification for the view that end-time Babylon will be a literal city, is that many prophecies of the destruction of ancient Babylon in the Old Testament have not been fulfilled.

PROPHECIES

In these prophecies, Babylon will be destroyed physically, suddenly, violently, literally, completely, and permanently through catastrophes, as was the case in Sodom and Gomorrah (Isa. 13:1, 19‑22; 14, 47; Jer. 50:35, 39‑40 51:8, 24‑26).  It would become an uninhabitable wasteland.  Her walls will be completely destroyed and her gates burned with fire.  There will be nothing left of her, no person shall ever reside there, “nor will the Arabian pitch tents there, nor will the shepherds make their sheepfolds there” (Is. 13:19-20).   It “shall be wholly desolate” (Jer. 50:13).  “The wild desert beasts shall dwell there with the jackals” (Jer. 50:39-40).  This destruction will come in the “Day of the Lord” (Is. 13:6‑11; 13:1; 14:1‑3; Jer. 50:1‑6).  Then there will be a disturbance in the sun and moon (Isa. 13:10).  There-after, “the whole earth is at rest and is quiet; They break forth into shouts of joy” (Is. 14:7).

CYRUS CONQUERED THE CITY IN 539 BC.

These prophecies have never been fulfilled as they were stated.  On the night that Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain and the city came under the control of Cyrus, king of the Medes and Persians, there was no large-scale attack upon the city.  In fact, many within the city were not even aware for quite some time afterward that the city had been taken.  Cyrus diverted the waters of the Euphrates and by night entered the city through the dried-up channel. This allowed armed forces to wade under her defenses without much of a fight.

SLOW DECAY OVER MANY YEARS

After Babylon fell on October 12, 539 B.C. to Cyrus of Persia, the city slowly decayed due to competition and neglect.  Xerxes plundered it.  Even when Greece, the great leopard beast of Daniel’s night vision, came in the empire of Alexander the Great, the city was not destroyed.  Alexander marched to Babylon on Oct. 1, 331 B.C., and the Persian garrison offered no opposition.  After Alexander, the city was ruled by the Seleucid kingdom during which Babylon’s economy declined sharply due to competition with the new capital at Seleucia on the Tigris (274 B.C.).  Although the city still stood when Roman emperor Trajan entered it in A.D. 115, by about A.D. 200 the site of the city was deserted.  Babylon soon became a desert.

CONCLUSION

Ancient Babylon ‘fell’ numerous times at the hands of different invaders, but it never suffered anything like the predicted complete destruction.  The land around her did not become des­olate but continued to be populated and fertile.  There was no disturbance in the sun or moon, nor did universal peace follow.

That, however, is consistent with the dual nature of Old Testament prophecies:

God, for example, through Joel, said, “I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind … The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes … When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem” (2:28-3:1).

This prediction, therefore, promised both that Jerusalem would be restored and that the Holy Spirit would be poured out. Only in hindsight are we able to distinguish between these events.

Jesus, similarly, in Matthew 24, predicted both the fall of Rome and the end of the world. Again, it is only in hindsight that we are able to distinguish between the two events. 

The Old Testament prophecies of the fall of Babylon, therefore, apply both to the historical fall of ancient Babylon and the end-time destruction of the age-old and world-wide enemy of God’s people.

In general, these prophecies combined end-time events with major events in the near future. This fact confirms that ancient Babylon will NOT be rebuilt, for it means that the city has already been destroyed as predicted, and those same predictions teach that it will never be rebuilt.

SYMBOLS EXPLAIN OTHER SYMBOLS.

The harlot is “sitting on” the beast (17:3). This statement includes three symbols, and they are explained in 17:18:

      1. The beast is a symbol of the kings of the world. 
      2. Sits on” means “reigns over.” 
      3. The harlot is the “great city.”

Literal interpreters argue that the “great city” must be understood literally; otherwise we should have the anomaly of a symbol explaining another symbolHowever, Revelation frequently explains symbols with other symbols.

EXAMPLES FROM REVELATION 17

    • The seven heads are seven mountains (17:9).
    • The beast is an eight head or mountain (17:11).

EXAMPLES FROM ELSEWHERE IN REVELATION

The seven lamps are “the seven Spirits of God” (4:5).  “Seven,” here, is not literal, because God does not literally have seven Spirits.  The number “seven” means that God’s Spirit is always present.

The seven stars are “the angels of the seven churches” (1:20). These cannot be literal angels, for Jesus accuses them of sin, for example, “I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead” (3:1).

The seven lampstands are the seven churches (1:20), but these churches also represent all churches of history, as discussed elsewhere.

The innumerable multitude is the people that have washed their clothes in the blood of Jesus (7:14).

The two witnesses are “two olive trees and the two lampstands” (11:4) that kill their enemies with fire from “their mouth” (11:5).

The 144000 are those that did not defile themselves with women (14:4).

CONCLUSION

Revelation, therefore, often use more than one symbol for the same reality. Jesus is both a lion and a lamb (5:5, 6) and the beast from the earth is also “the false prophet” (13:12-13; 19:20).  In the same way, in 17:18, the harlot and the “great city” are two symbols for the world-wide resistance to the truth of God.

ANCIENT BABYLON IS TOO YOUNG.

Another article in this series shows that the Babylon of Revelation exists throughout history (e.g. 17:5; 18:24). It follows that the ancient Babylon of the Old Testament is too young to be the Babylon of Revelation. 

Some literal interpreters defend this point by saying Babylon is actually the false system of worship which originated in Nimrod’s days.  If this is the argument, then the name Babylon means the persisting influence that false religion on the kingdoms of the world. In that case, “Babylon” no longer means what it meant in the Old Testament, but has become a symbol for that false religion.  If Babylon exists for all human history in the form of that religious influence, why does it have to be rebuilt? By the way, more recent research disputes the truth of the Semiramis and Tammuz religion.

 

 

 

Your merchants were the great men of the earth (Revelation 18:23).

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

BABYLON, THE GREAT HARLOT

This is an article in the series on the identity of the Harlot of Revelation. That book describes her as a woman with different relationships with different categories of people:

Kings – She sits on the beast (17:3), which is explained as that she “reigns over the kings of the earth” (17:18). “The kings of the earth committed acts of immorality” with her (17:2).

People of the world – She also “sits on many waters” (17:1). The “many waters” is a symbol of the people of the world (17:15). That she sits on them means that “those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality” (17:2). 

God’s people – She kills God’s people. “In her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth” (18:24). That is also the meaning of the name “Babylon.” In the Old Testament, literal Babylon was the main enemy of God’s people. For that reason, Revelation refers to this power as “Babylon.”

Merchants – Babylon sits on the kings and the peoples of the world (17:3, 15). In other words, the kings and the peoples are separate from her, but the merchants are described as: “Your merchants were the great men of the earth” (18:23).  They are hers. They belong to her. They are part of her and work for her. Since they are called “the great men of the earth,” are they greater than the kings?

The purpose of the current article is to explain who these merchants are.

SUMMARY

Because the merchants are closely related to Babylon (18:23), we need to understand who she is before we will be able to identify the merchants.

WHO IS BABYLON?

THE POWER OF MONEY

Some have proposed that Babylon is a symbol of the power of money. This does fit many of Babylon’s features, such as that she always exists and that she is world-wide. But it does not fit some other of her attributes, such as:

      • She is a woman who claims Christ as her husband.
      • Her focus is to kill God’s people.
      • In the end-time, the kings will destroy her. 
      • Her relationship with the kings is described as immoral.

THE WEALTH OF HER SENSUALITY (18:3)

Babylon is “the great harlot.” It is not her wealth that attracts kings, but her “sensuality.” She obtains her wealth from the kings through her “sensuality.

This article series proposes that Babylon’s attributes indicate that she is false religion. In addition to the features listed above, she always exists, intoxicates the people with false concepts about God and reality, and only false religion is able to persecute God’s true people. 

Her sensuality, therefore, is the power that religion has over the people of the world. Political authorities desire that power to strengthen their own control over people.

ACTS OF IMMORALITY

The kings committed acts of immorality with her (18:3). The immoral acts with the kings symbolize unity of state and religion, which strengthens both the state and the religion. People are more willing to accept a religion that is supported by the strong arm of the state and to obey a government that is validated by religion. Unity of state and religion is immoral because true religion does not allow itself to be used for political gain.

WHO ARE THE MERCHANTS?

HIGHLY FIGURATIVE

Some say that the merchants are simply highly figurative language with no specific meaning, but this article will propose a specific meaning. 

LITERAL MERCHANTS

Others propose that these are literal merchants. However, Revelation uses literal objects and literal events from the Old Testament as symbols of spiritual realities. Furthermore, the merchants are the “great men of the earth” (18:23) and Revelation 6:15 makes a distinction between the “great men” and “the rich.”

WEALTH IS A SYMBOL.

The merchants receive their wealth from Babylon: “The merchants of these things, who became rich from her.

The letters to the seven churches use the concepts of poverty and wealth as symbols of spiritual condition. Smyrna is literally poor but spiritually rich (2:9). Laodicea thinks they are “rich,” but they are “poor and blind and naked” (3:17). In other words, to be rich is to be justified (right with God). To be poor is to be lost; to be far from God. 

TO BUY AND SELL SYMBOLIZE TRADING IN SALVATION.

In 3:18, Jesus is the Merchant.  He sells gold, white garments, and eye salve.  Elsewhere, Revelation uses buying as a metaphor for saving people (14:3-4; 5:9).  To buy and sell, therefore, symbolize trading in salvation. 

GREAT THROUGH DECEPTION.

The merchants became great through Babylon’s deception (18:23). The devil and the false prophet also deceives. Since the merchants become great through deception, they are not neutral forces but part of Satan’s army.

FALSE PROPHETS

Based on the above, this article proposes that the merchants are false prophets. In summary:

      • Babylon symbolizes false religion.
      • The merchants are part of Babylon and work for her.
      • Babylon’s immoral relationship with the kings is the source of their wealth.
      • Wealth is a symbol of being right with God.
      • To buy and to sell mean to preach and accept the gospel.
      • The merchants become great through deception.

– END OF SUMMARY –

WHO IS BABYLON?

Because the merchants are closely related to Babylon (18:23), we need to understand who she is before we will be able to identify the merchants.

THE POWER OF MONEY

Given that the merchants belong to her, some propose that Babylon is a symbol of the power of money. This does fit many of Babylon’s characteristics, such as that:

Babylon always exists. For example, she sits on all seven heads (17:9).

She is world-wide. For example, she is responsible for all persecution of God’s people (18:24).

However, the Power of Money does not fit many of Babylon’s other attributes, such as the following:

Revelation symbolizes God’s people as a woman (12:1; 19:7).  Since Babylon is also a woman, it implies that she claims to be the bride of Christ (19:7).  The Power of Money does not make that claim.

Babylon specifically opposes God’s people and is the ultimate cause of all the prophets and saints that were ever “slain on the earth” (18:24).  This cannot be said of the Power of Money.  If the Power of Money is a persecutor, it does not specifically persecute God’s people.  

The Sea Beast receives a fatal wound but recovers from it (13:3). This implies a period of temporary incapacity. Since Babylon sits on the Beast (17:3), she goes through the same period of temporary incapacity.  But the Power of Money always remains strong and even becomes stronger when the economy weakens.

In the end-time, the final confederacy of kings will destroy Babylon (17:16). Why would the evil kings of the world agree to join forces to destroy the power of money? An how could that be done? 

Babylon commits “acts of immorality” with the kings of the world (17:2). Why would a partnership between the Power of Money and the kings of the world be called immoral (18:3)?

THE WEALTH OF HER SENSUALITY (18:3)

Babylon is “the great harlot” (17:1). Her “sensuality” is the source of the merchants’ wealth:

The merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality” (18:3).

This reads “the wealth of her sensuality,” not “the sensuality of her wealth.”  In other words, it is not her wealth that attracts kings, but her sensuality.  She obtains her wealth from the kings through her “sensuality.” This implies that the real source of their wealth is the kings, obtained through the immoral relationship between the harlot and the kings. This is explained further below.

BABYLON IS FALSE RELIGION.

This article series proposes that Babylon is a symbol of false religion. Some of the considerations are:

As stated above, the fact that she is a woman implies that she claims to be the bride of Christ.

False religion has always existed.

It intoxicates the people of the world (18:3) with false concepts about God and reality.

Her primary focus is to destroy God’s people and only false religion is able to identify and persecute God’s true people.  Political authorities are not able to distinguish between true and false believers.

BABYLON’S SENSUALITY

Babylon’s identification is false religions helps to explain her sensuality, as discussed in the previous section.  Her sensuality is the power that religion has over the minds of people. Political authorities desire that power to strengthen their own control over people.

ACTS OF IMMORALITY

The kings committed acts of immorality with her (18:3). This symbolizes unity of state and religion. Such unity strengthens both the state and the religion. People are more willing to accept a religion that is supported by the strong arm of the state and to obey a government that is validated by religion.

Unity of state and religion is immoral because true religion has a relationship with God only. True religion does not allow itself to be used for political gain.

WHO ARE THE MERCHANTS?

Who are these merchants of Babylon?

NO SPECIFIC MEANING

One possible explanation is to throw your hands in the air and say that that it is simply highly figurative language with no specific meaning.  Such an argument may be based on the fact that much of the merchant language in Revelation 18 comes from Ezekiel 27 and 28, which predict the downfall of Tyre.  Both Babylon and Tyre are described as very wealthy and as the source of the wealth of her people (Ezek. 27:9, 33). 

However, as shown below, with a little effort, it is possible to propose a specific meaning. 

LITERAL MERCHANTS

On the other end of the spectrum, some propose that these are literal merchants. However, as explained elsewhere, Babylon is not a literal city.  Rather, Revelation uses literal objects and literal events from the Old Testament as symbols of spiritual realities. This implies that the merchants cannot be literal. 

Furthermore, the merchants are the “great men of the earth” (18:23).  The only other place in Revelation where the term “great men” (18:23) appears in the NASB, is in 6:15, which makes a distinction between the “great men” and “the rich:”

Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains” (6:15).

This supports the view that the merchants (the “great men”) are not the literally wealthy peoples of the world.

The following helps us to identify the merchants:

BABYLON IS THE SOURCE OF WEALTH.

The merchants became rich from Babylon:

The merchants of these things,
who
became rich from her” (18:15).

All who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth” (18:19).

As stated, as part of the final end-time events, the Ten Horns will destroy Babylon (17:16). Since Babylon is the source of the merchant’s wealth, her destruction causes all commerce to cease:

    • The merchants … mourn over her,
      because no one buys their cargoes any more
      ” (18:11).
    • All things that were luxurious and splendid
      have passed away from you
      ” (18:14).
    • In one hour such great wealth has been laid waste” (18:17).

WEALTH IS A SYMBOL.

To understand who the “merchants” are, we need to understand what “wealth” means.  Is it literal wealth?  The letters to the seven churches use the concepts of poverty and wealth as symbols of spiritual condition. Jesus said to Smyrna:

I know … your poverty (but you are rich)” (2:9).

Smyrna, in other words, is literally poor, but spiritually rich (2:9). Laodicea is the opposite. To this church, Jesus said:

You say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (3:17).

When Laodiceans claim that they are rich, this means that they think of themselves as justified (right with God); God is on their side.  When Jesus responds and accuses them of poverty, it means they are far from God. Wealth is, therefore, a symbol of spiritual condition.

TO BUY AND SELL SYMBOLIZE TRADING IN SALVATION.

A related concept is buying and selling.  In 3:18, Jesus is the Merchant:

I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself” (3:18).

Elsewhere, Revelation uses buying as a symbol for saving people:

No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been purchased from the earth.  … These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.”  (14:3-4) 

They sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (5:9).

To buy and sell, therefore, symbolize trading in salvation; to assure people of temporal and/or eternal goodwill of the gods or God. 

In the end-time, “no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark” (13:15).  This would then mean that nobody will be allowed to preach, except the people with the mark of the beast.

MERCHANTS BECOME GREAT THROUGH DECEPTION.

The word “because” in 18:23 implies that the merchants become great through Babylon’s deception.

Your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery” (18:23). 

The devil deceives (12:9; 20:3, 8, 10). The false prophet also deceives (13:14; 19:20). Since the merchants become great through deception, they are not neutral forces but part of Satan’s army.

THE MERCHANTS ARE THE FALSE PROPHETS.

Based on the above, this article proposes that the merchants are the prophets of false religion. In summary:

      • Babylon symbolizes false religion.
      • The merchants are part of Babylon and work for her.
      • Babylon’s immoral relationship with the kings is the source of their wealth.
      • Wealth is not literal but symbolic of being right with God; to be assured of God’s goodwill.
      • To buy and sell symbolize trading in assurances about temporal and/or eternal benefits.
      • The merchants become great through deception.

The merchants sell a false justification (a false means of being reconciled to God.) Based on what we read in the Bible, particularly in Paul’s letters, they teach that we need to do certain things to be saved, rather than simply to trust that God loves us. They sell a false picture of God.

The merchants are the great men of the earth through the religious authority of the harlot. However, that authority is not based on truth, but on the protection and support she enjoys from the kings through their immoral relationship. 

 

Does Galatians contradict Jesus with respect to the Law of Moses?

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE SERIES

According to Galatians and the Acts 15 Church Council, the Law of Moses has been nullified and replaced by “the Law of Christ.” However, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets … until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments … shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.”

The purpose of this article series is to explain this apparent contradiction.

All quotes are from the NASB.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

For some years after Christ’s death, the church consisted only of Jews and the church was a sect of Judaism. Like all other Jews of their time, these Jewish Christians believed that uncircumcised people are unclean and that Jews will be contaminated if they come in contact with such people.

But after some years, as recorded in Acts 10, God gave the Holy Spirit also to uncircumcised people; just as to the Jews at Pentecost. At the same time, God gave Peter the dream of unclean animals. Non-Jews were always allowed to convert to Judaism, but on condition that they are circumcised and comply with the Law of Moses. By the events of Acts 10, God indicated to the Jewish Christians that they must accept non-Jews into the Church without circumcision and without conversion to Judaism.

However, this caused the Jewish Christians to be persecuted, for the Jewish communities regarded the Jewish Christians as contaminated through their contact with uncircumcised people.  For that reason, some Jewish Christians avoided the Gentiles. Particularly Pharisees that became Christians even put pressure on the non-Jewish Christians to accept circumcision.

But circumcision was the door into Judaism. Once a person accepts circumcision, that person is obliged to also comply with all other requirements of the Law of Moses.

THE LAW OF MOSES HAS BEEN NULLIFIED.

Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians to resist the attempts to circumcise non-Jewish Christians.  He wrote that God’s people (both Jews and non-Jews) are no longer under (subject to) the Law of Moses. Paul described the law as Israel’s “tutor” and says, “we are no longer under a tutor.” 

Since God gave the Law to Moses more than 400 years after God made the covenant with Abraham, the covenant is permanent.  But the Law of Moses was temporarily “added because of transgressionsuntil the seed (Christ) would come” (3:19).  God made the covenant with Abraham before his grandson Israel moved to Egypt. During the long years as slaves in Egypt, Israel had forgotten the God of Abraham and has grown accustomed to idol worship. Therefore, after God brought them out of Egypt, He gave them His law in a form that was ‘perfect’ for their weakened spiritual condition of the time.

The Church Council in Acts 15 assembled to settle the Galatian controversy. It agreed with Paul that Gentile Christians do not have to be circumcised. However, that Council only concluded on the requirements for non-Jewish Christians. Unfortunately, this made a distinction between Jewish and non-Jewish Christians. Jewish Christians continued to live according to the Law of Moses.

THE LAW OF CHRIST REPLACED THE LAW OF MOSES.

While the earlier chapters of Galatians argue against the Law of Moses, the later chapters introduce the concept of “the Law of Christ,” expressed as to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2). Given the nature of the controversy which Galatians deals with, the mention of “the law of Christ” implies that it comes in the place of the frequently mentioned “Law” (of Moses).

1 Corinthians 9:20-21 confirms that “the law of Christ” came in the place of the “law of Moses.” This is the only place, apart from Galatians, where Paul explicitly mentions the “Law of Christ.” In those verses, Paul states that he (and, therefore, all Christians) is NOT under the Law of Moses but “under the law of Christ.”

EVERYTHING IN THE OLD TESTAMENT WILL COME TO PASS.

Jesus, on the other hand, in the Sermon on the Mount, taught that everything in the Old Testament will come true.

In verse 17, Jesus said that He did not come “to abolish the Law or the Prophets.” “The Law or the Prophets” is the term that the Jews used for what is known today as the Old Testament.  Jesus continued, “I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” “Fulfill” does not mean that the OT was done away with. In this verse “fulfill” means that Jesus came to put into effect what the Old Testament promised. 

In verse 18, Jesus said, “until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Given the context of verse 17, “the Law” refers to the whole Old Testament.

Verse 18, therefore, confirms verse 17. While verse 17 speaks of Jesus’s mission specifically, saying that He came to put the Old Testament into effect, verse 18 is about the Old Testament more generally, saying everything in it will be accomplished. 

THE OLD TESTAMENT FORESAW THAT THE LAW OF MOSES WILL FALL AWAY.

This leaves us with an apparent contradiction.  Galatians explains that “the Law” is no longer relevant to God’s people. How do we reconcile this with Jesus’ statement that nothing in the Old Testament will fall away “until all is accomplished?”

The answer is that THE OLD TESTAMENT TAUGHT that the Law of Moses was a temporary addition that would be nullified when the Christ comes.  Consequently, to teach that the Law of Moses fell away is not a deviation from the Old Testament but is derived from the Old Testament.  For example:

The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith (rather than through the Law) …” (Gal. 3:8).

NO COMMANDMENT WILL FALL AWAY.

In Matthew 5:19 Jesus continued to say that none of “these commandments” will ever fall away. While “the Law” in verse 18 refers to the first five books of the Bible, the “commandments” refer to specific commandments, such as the Ten Commandments. Different things are, therefore, said in verses 18 and 19:

In verses 17 and 18, the topic is the whole Old Testament; saying that everything in it will come to pass.

Verse 19 switches the topic more specifically to the “commandments,” stating that not a single one of them will ever be annulled.

Galatians teaches that the Law of Moses has been nullified. But Jesus said that everything in the Old Testament will come to pass. We solved that apparent contradiction by showing that the Old Testament foresaw that the Law of Moses would be nullified.

But verse 19 presents us with another apparent anomaly, for Jesus said that not one of the Old Testament commandments will fall away. That can also be solved:

The focus in Galatians is on the ceremonial rituals while Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, spoke only about moral commandments.  Galatians, essentially, teaches that Christians are NOT obliged to comply with the ceremonial rituals while Jesus said that the Old Testament moral principles are eternal.

However, Galatians does teach that THE WHOLE Law of Moses has been replaced by the Law of Christ. Galatians does this because Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, increased the standards. He said, for example, love your enemy. He did not do away with any of the Old Testament moral commandments but He increased the standards so much that, in effect, His teachings came in the place of the moral commandments of the Law of Moses.  Therefore, Paul refers to His teachings as the “Law of Christ.

To validate these assertions, we will now continue to show that:

      1. The focus in Galatians is on the ceremonial rituals.
      2. Jesus did not talk about ceremonial rituals.
      3. Jesus did replace the Law of Moses with His teachings.

1. THE FOCUS IN GALATIANS IS ON THE CEREMONIAL RITUALS.

Firstly, Galatians focuses primarily on the ceremonial rituals of the Law. This is indicated by the following:

Firstly, the main point of controversy was circumcision.

Secondly, the controversy was NOT over Gentiles doing morally wrong things.

Thirdly, the things which the Jewish Christians required the Gentile Christians to do are described as the “works of the Law.” The article Doers of the Law explains the “works of the Law” as circumcision and similar external ceremonies and rituals required by the Law of Moses. 

Fourthly, as stated above in the historical context, it was Paul who was changing church practice (not the Jewish Christians), and since moral principles, by definition, never change, the things that Paul changed, and that which the controversy was over, were the ceremonial rituals.

Fifthly, the Acts 15 Church Council set only a very limited number of basic requirements.  In other words, the council assumed that the moral principles of the Old Testament are eternal and remain valid.

2. JESUS DID NOT TALK ABOUT CEREMONIAL RITUALS.

Jesus, on the other hand, did not talk about the ceremonial rituals. He mentioned several commandments, such as murder, adultery & divorce, false vows, “an eye for an eye,” and love for one’s neighbor, but NEVER ONCE did He tell His followers, to comply with the ceremonial rituals. By implication, the ceremonies and rituals are not included in “these commandments” that will never be annulled.

3. JESUS DID REPLACE THE OT MORAL COMMANDMENTS.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus mentioned several Old Testament commandments and, for each one, said, “but I say to you” and then gave moral commandments at a much higher moral level.

For example, God gave to Moses the rule “AN EYE FOR AN EYE, and a tooth for a tooth” (Matt. 5:38), but Christ continued, “but I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also” (Matt. 5:39).

The words, “but I say to you” explicitly contrast Jesus’ teachings with the Law of Moses and replace the Old Testament moral principles with far higher principles.  Christians are subject to what Jesus taught. The Christian ‘laws’, therefore, are these higher standards; not merely the Old Testament moral commandments. Effectively, He replaced the moral commandments of the Old Testament with His teachings.

This is confirmed by the emphasis which Jesus put on His own commandments as if to say that the Old Testament commandments have been nullified. He said, for example, “a new commandment I give to you ….”

It is for these reasons that Galatians claims that even the moral commandments of the Old Testament had been nullified and replaced by “the Law of Christ.

THE LAW OF CHRIST

Jesus’ teaching on divorce in Matthew 19 helps to explain the distinction between the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ:

He indicated that divorce was not allowed “from the beginning,” which refers to the creation.  This implies that Christ derived “the Law of Christ” from the way that things were created to be.  

Jesus said that Moses allowed them to divorce “because of your hardness of heart.”  This confirms that the Law of Moses was an adaptation of God’s law to fit Israel’s weakened spiritual condition

He added, “what therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” This serves as an example of how Christ canceled the Law of Moses and reverted to God’s eternal law. 

Jesus’ final words to His disciples were, “make disciples of all the nations … teaching them all that I commanded you.” “The Law of Christ,” therefore, refers to the collection of all of Christ’s teachings. 

In His teachings, He condensed the moral laws of the Old Testament into one single rule, namely love for one’s fellow human beings:

In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Because this was Christ’s command, Paul, in Galatians 6:2, refers to it as “the law of Christ”  and beautifully interprets that commandment as “bear one another’s burdens.” The “Law of Christ,” therefore, is essentially simply ‘love for one another’, which is only possible if we love God.

The Ten Commandments translate God’s eternal principle of love in terms of the practical realities of a world controlled by evil.  Christ brought us back to God’s fundamental and eternal rule for eternal life on this planet; love for one another.  

According to Galatians, the Law of Christ replaced the Law of Moses.

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE SERIES

ACTS 15 CHURCH COUNCIL

According to Galatians and the Acts 15 Church Council, the Law of Christ has been nullified and replaced by “the Law of Christ.” However, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments … shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.”

The purpose of this article series is to explain this apparent contradiction. 

All quotes are from the NASB.

GALATIANS; HISTORICAL CONTEXT

This section provides the historical context of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

SECT OF JUDAISM

At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell only on Jews. For some years, the church consisted only of Jews and the church was a sect of Judaism. (See Jerusalem Phase of the Early Church.)  Like all other Jews, these Jewish Christians believed that uncircumcised people are unclean (Acts 10:8-9, 28; 11:3) and that Jews will be contaminated if they have social contact with such people. It is for that reason that Peter said:

You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him” (Acts 10:28; cf. 10:14-15; 11:34-35).

FIRST GENTILE CHRISTIANS

But, some years after Christ died—after Israel forfeited its final opportunity to accept Christ (See Seven Last Years.)—God gave the Holy Spirit also to uncircumcised people just like to the Jews at Pentecost (Acts 10:44-45; 11:17). At the same time, God gave Peter the dream of the unclean animals (Acts 10). God did this to indicate to the Jewish Christians that non-Jews are not unclean (Acts 11:9) and must be accepted into the church (Acts 11:12). For example, Peter interpreted his dream as follows:

God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean” (Acts 10:28).

And, later, Peter explained the events of Acts 10 that God “made no distinction between us and them” (15:9), referring to the uncircumcised people as “them.” 

Non-Jews were always allowed to convert to Judaism, but on condition that they allow circumcision and comply with the requirements of the Law of Moses.  The events of Acts 10 meant that non-Jews must be accepted as Christians without circumcision and without conversion to Judaism. 

CHRISTIAN JEWS PERSECUTED

However, this caused the Jewish Christians to be persecuted.  Almost all Christians at the time were Jews and their Jewish relatives and friends persecuted them; firstly, because they believe in Christ as the Messiah, but they also regarded these Christian Jews as ‘contaminated’ through their association with uncircumcised people:

Those … try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ” (Gal. 6:12).

DEMAND GENTILE CIRCUMCISION

For that reason, some Jewish Christians put pressure on the Gentiles Christians to accept circumcision.  One technique was to avoid the Gentiles, even by shutting uncircumcised Gentiles out from their worship meetings:

They wish to shut you out so that you will seek them” (Gal. 4:17; cf. 2:12).

To justify their demand that the Gentiles be circumcised, particularly some Jewish Pharisees, who have become Christians (Acts 15:6) claimed that Gentile Christians cannot be saved unless they comply with the Law. This means that they had to convert to Judaism through circumcision (Acts 15:5). 

CIRCUMCISION WAS THE DOOR INTO JUDAISM

In Galatians, Paul explicitly wrote against circumcision (6:12) but also warned that “every man who receives circumcision … he is under obligation to keep the whole Law” (5:3).  The battle was fought on the circumcision front, but circumcision functioned as a sign that a person has converted to Judaism (effectively, has become a Jew).  Circumcision, therefore, was a sign, but what these Christian Pharisees demanded was that the Gentiles Christians become as “zealous for the (whole) Law” as the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem were (Acts 21:20).

GALATIANS – LAW OF MOSES NULLIFIED

Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians to resist this pressure on the Gentiles to be circumcised, arguing that “man is not justified by the works of the Law” (Gal. 2:16).  Given this early church context, Galatians is possibly the earliest of Paul’s letters in the New Testament. 

NO LONGER UNDER THE LAW OF MOSES

Paul wrote that God’s people (both Jews and non-Jews) are now no longer under (subject to) the Law of Moses. For example, he stated, “I died to the Law” (Gal. 2:19) and “the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Gal. 3:24-25).  

The allegory in Galatians 4 is painfully clear on this matter. It describes the Law of Moses (symbolized by Mount Sinai) as “slavery” (Gal. 4:24, 25) and concludes:

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (5:1)

Since the Law of Moses was added more than 400 years after God made the covenant with Abraham (3:17), Paul argues that that covenant is permanent while the Law of Moses was a temporary addition “until the seed would come” (Gal. 3:19). The “seed” (of Abraham) is Christ (3:16):

For this reason, Paul based his theology on God’s covenant with Abraham, which he interpreted as justification by faith.

THE LAW WAS ISRAEL GUARDIAN.

Why did God give a perfect law to Israel; only to abolish it later?  Paul explains:

Why the Law then?
It was added because of transgressions
” (Gal. 3:19).

The Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ” (3:24)

In other words, due to their “transgressions” (v19), Israel needed a “tutor” (v24).

The Law of Moses “was added” to the covenant with Abraham.  God made the covenant with Abraham before his grandson Israel moved to Egypt. During the long years as slaves in Egypt, Israel had forgotten the God of Abraham and has grown accustomed to idol worship. Therefore, after God brought them out of Egypt, He gave them His law in a form that was ‘perfect’ for their weakened spiritual condition of the time, given God’s purpose with Israel, for that nation was to be the conduit of God’s word to the world and to serve as a cradle to receive the Son of God.

ISRAEL NEEDED A LIST OF RULES.

In Galatians 4:1-3, Paul compares the Israelites to children; “held in bondage under the elemental things of the world” (4:3).  In his letter to the Colossians, Paul described these “elemental things” as “decrees, such as, ‘Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch’” (Col. 2:20-21). In other words, the “elemental things” are a list of things that must be done and not be done. Due to their weak spiritual condition, this is what Israel needed and this is what God gave them in the form of the Law of Moses.

Since the Law was added to the covenant thousands of years after Adam and hundreds of years after Abraham, the Law of Moses was not the form in which God gave His ‘law’ to Abraham or Adam. Nor was it the form in which God gives His eternal law to angels, for their desires are different.

Galatians is therefore quite clear that the Law of Moses is no longer applicable to God’s people.

NO LONGER LIVED LIKE JEWS.

Consequently, Christians Jews such as Peter and Paul no longer lived like Jews:

Before the party of the circumcision arrived, Peter lived “like the Gentiles and not like the Jews” (Gal. 2:14; cf. v12).

Paul referred to his opponents as, “those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves” (6:13).

Paul begged to Galatians, “become as I am, for I also have become as you are” (4:12). In other words, Paul already lived like a non-Jew.

ACTS 15 CHURCH COUNCIL

The Church Council in Acts 15 was called to bring resolution in the Galatian controversy (See When was Galatians written?).  It agreed with Paul that Gentile Christians do not have to be circumcised (15:1, 5), which also means that they are not subject to the Law of Moses (15:5, 10). For further discussions of this, see also Comments on Matthew 5:17-18.

Acts 21:17-26 shows the consequences of that decision. It tells how Paul went into the lion’s den (Jerusalem), where thousands of Jews have become Christians, “and they are all zealous for the Law” (v20). They were concerned that Paul was teaching “the Jews” “to forsake Moses” (v21). They were quite happy that Paul taught the non-Jews not to observe the Mosaic Law because that was what the Acts 15 Church Council decided (Verse 25; cf. Acts 15:28). As explained in the article on the Acts 15 Church Council, the council made an unfortunate distinction between Jewish and Gentile Christians concerning the Law of Moses.  Jewish Christians continued to live according to the Law of Moses.

LAW OF CHRIST

While the earlier chapters of Galatians argue against the Law of Moses, the later chapters introduce the concept of “the Law of Christ.”

In chapter 5 of Galatians, Paul emphasizes that, although the Law of Moses has been nullified, that does not mean we are free to sin.  There still are norms of good and bad. He lists “deeds of the flesh” and “the fruit of the Spirit” (5:13-26) and said:

You were called to freedom (from the Law of Moses – see Gal. 4:24) … only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13).

He concludes:

Bear one another’s burdens,
and thereby fulfill the law of Christ
” (Gal. 6:2).

Given the nature of the controversy which Galatians deals with, the mention of “the law of Christ” implies that it comes in the place of the frequently mentioned “Law” (of Moses). See the article Law of Christ for further information.

THE LORD’S COMMANDMENT

1 Corinthians 14:37 refers to the Law of Christ as “the Lord’s commandment.” Paul wrote:

The things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.”

The Lord” does not refer to God, the Father.  In First Corinthians consistently makes a distinction between “God” and “the Lord” (1:3-4, 9; 6:14; and 8:6). These verses identify the Father alone is as “God” while they refer to Christ as “Lord.”  In several verses, that letter identifies “the Lord” specifically as Jesus Christ, for example, “call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:2; cf. 7, 8, 10; 5:4, 5; 9:1; 11:23; 12:3; 15:31, 57). In other instances, the context identifies “the Lord” as Christ, for example, “they … crucified the Lord of glory” (2:8; cf. 4:5; 7:10; 11:20, 26, 27). These examples show that “the Lord,” in First Corinthians, consistently refers to Jesus Christ. “The Lord’s commandment,” therefore, are Christ’s teachings; also described as “the law of Christ.” 

1 CORINTHIANS 9

1 Corinthians 9 confirms that “the law of Christ” came in the place of the “law of Moses.” This is the only place, apart from Galatians, where Paul explicitly mentions the “Law of Christ.”

NOT UNDER THE LAW OF MOSES

First, verse 20 contrasts Paul with the Jews. The Jews are “under the Law” but Paul Himself is not “under the Law” (of Moses):

20 To the Jews I became as a Jew,
so that I might win Jews; 
to those who are under the Law,
as under the Law
though not being myself under the Law,
so that I might win those who are under the Law;

In other words, when he was with Jews, he behaved like a Jew; as if he was subject to the Law of Moses. But the important point is that Paul explicitly states that he is not under the Law of Moses.

UNDER THE LAW OF CHRIST

The next verse contrasts Paul with the non-Jews.
They are “without law” (the law of Moses):

21 to those who are without law,
(I became) as without law,
though not being without the law of God but
under the law of Christ,
so that I might win those who are without law.

This means that, when he was with non-Jews, he lived like a non-Jew.  As stated above, Paul wrote to the Galatian Gentiles, “I also have become as you are” (4:12).

According to verse 21, Paul is under “the Law of Christ” but not without “the Law of God.” That means that “the Law of Christ” is “the Law of God.” The Law of Moses is also the Law of God, but, as argued above, it is an adaption of God’s law to fit the needs of one specific nation at one specific point in history.

SUMMARY

Paul wrote that he (and, therefore, all Christians) is NOTunder (subject to) the Law” but “under the law of Christ.” This sets a clear contrast between these two laws and implies that the Law of Christ replaced the Law of Moses. This also applies to Jews, for Paul himself was a Jew, and even he was not “under the Law.