In response to a question from a friend at church, about the notion of an Eternal Law and Romans 5 & 7:
Personally, I don’t believe Paul’s (pre-Christian) existence was ever apart from the Mosaic Law. As was Jesus, so too Paul was “born under the law”…all Jews were. (Consider Gal.4:4; Phil.3:5) Gentiles, though not having been born under the Law, per se, were born under the condemnation of Adam’s law-transgression. So they all, Gentiles and Jews are born condemned by the transgression of another. More about this below.
As for the “eternality” of law…we know that the Mosaic Law wasn’t eternal, in that it was set in place over Israel 50 days after the Passover and not before. As for the Law of Christ…it (the Rule of the Spirit) was given 50 days after his becoming the Passover, at Pentecost. At Pentecost, the Lord held forth his Scepter, Rule, in the sense that he sent forth his Spirit to now indwell (rule-within) his people. This new law, Holy Spirit Indwelling, operates antithetically to the Old Law, Mosaic.
The Mosaic Law-Precept: which provokes the Flesh unto Sin – being merely external demand of righteousness. (note: all external laws have this same impact on believer and unbeliever)
The Messianic Law-Spirit: who promotes a faith unto righteousness – being an internal creator of righteousness.
I follow the reasoning…God is eternal…therefore…his law is eternal. It seems a rational inference, but I’m not sure it is a biblical one. Rather, I think Paul would have us to see the Mosaic Law typologically…being a shadowy reflection of that righteousness which is revealed in the person Jesus Christ. (Consider Rom.3:21-22)
Now, Israel was once without the Law…pre-Exodus captivity in Egypt. Once the Law came…they sinned instantly. (Consider Ex.32:4) Note: in Ex.19:7-8 the people had already begun to receive the Law, though it was yet (Ex.20ff) to be engraved in stone. It was the actual giving of the Law in Ex.19 that provoked Israel to idolatry, golden calf. (Consider Rom.5:20; Gal.3:19)
Those who lived prior to this covenant law giving, are those who lived from Adam to Moses. They lived under the death-reign earned by Adam because of his one transgression, though their individual sins were not counted as command transgressions as was Adam’s, who was like the One to come, Christ. We believe then that Adam and Christ both function as representative heads under two particular commands. How each succeeded under his respective command determined the fate of all those whom they represented, even though those represented did not themselves transgress or uphold the particular command. (Consider Rom.5:14-19)
The Law was given then (Rom.5:20) to increase the trespass of Adam, confirming that all men are condemned in Adam, apart from Christ. Israel then typified Adam as Adam prefigured Christ. Israel was created under a command context like the one Adam was created under, and hereby God illustrates in one people (Israel) the nature and effect of Adam’s one transgression, thus setting up a command context in which the Messiah would fulfill all righteousness, thereby winning salvation and bearing our sin.