Law of Christ

The phrase “law of Christ” is a notoriously troublesome genitive qualifier and is difficult to interpret considering it only appears twice in Paul’s writings (Gal 6:2; 1 Cor 9:21). In this post,  I will only focus on the phrase used in Galatians 6:2.

“Law of Christ” used in Galatians 6:2 occurs within a larger section where Paul is discussing life in the Spirit and love (Gal 5:13-6:10). He writes that Christians are to “walk in the Spirit” (Gal 5:18), “be led by the Spirit” (Gal 5:18), exhibit “the fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22-23), “live by the Spirit” (Gal 5:25), “keep in step with the Spirit” and “sow to the Spirit’ (Gal 6:8).  Throughout the section, Paul delineates between what is not loving (Gal 5:15, 19-21, 26) and what is loving (Gal 5:22-23, 6:1-2, 6-10).

The key link for this discussion on the “law of Christ” is between Galatians 5:13-14 and 6:2. These verses have shared terminology which includes ‘fulfillment,” “law” and “one another.”[1] In Galatians 5:13-14, Paul explains that believers through love should serve one another, and then he cites Leviticus 19:18 which explains that the whole law is fulfilled in the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Love is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Law. This is what Paul has in mind when he writes in Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” For Paul, the “law of Christ” is another way of describing the law of love which is enunciated in Galatians 5:13-14. The law of Christ is the law of love. With this view, the “law of Christ” includes the moral norms of the Old Testament Law, focusing particularly on the command to love one’s neighbor. Love is at the center of the law of Christ, and Paul argues, throughout the section, that it can only be fulfilled by the power of the Holy Spirit.    


[1]Gal 5:14  πεπλήρωται, peplērōtai, “fulfilled”  5:14 νόμος, nomos, “law” 5:13 ἀλλήλοις, allēlois “one another” Gal 6:2 ἀναπληρώσετε, anaplērōsete, “will fulfill;” ἀλλήλων, allēlōn, “one another’s;” νόμον, nomon, “law”