The fact that Paul's letters present both negative critique of the law and positive appropriation of the law is a longstanding puzzle. If believers in Christ are not under the law, how can Paul use the law to regulate Christian conduct? Paul's use of the law for moral teaching is not evidence of inconsistency, nor does it indicate that his abrogation of the law is only partial. Instead, the key to understanding Paul's use of the law for ethics is hermeneutical. When it comes to Christian conduct, rather than reading the law as law, Paul reads it as wisdom for living. Paving the way for Paul's wisdom hermeneutic with respect to the law is the wisdom character of the law itself, the wisdom character of Paul's moral teaching in general, and Paul's own claim that he reads the law in the capacity of wisdom. The case studies of idolatry and murder supply examples of Paul reading the law as wisdom.

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