Under the Law, In the Law

My essay on “Law and the Christian” in Protestant Social Teaching was originally titled “Under, With, and In: The Christian and the Law.” I discussed it a bit here. Obviously, the original title was a riff on Lutheran sacramentology, but I borrowed the main idea vis-à-vis the law from the treatment of the third use of the law in Article 6 of the Epitome the Formula of Concord.

I was gratified to find St. Augustine adopting a very similar framework in his exposition of the first Psalm. On verse 2, he says this:

Sed in lege Domini fuit voluntas eius, et in lege eius meditabitur die ac nocte. Iusto non est lex posita, ut dicit Apostolus; sed aliud est esse in lege, aliud sub lege: qui est in lege, secundum legem agit; qui est sub lege, secundum legem agitur. Ille ergo liber est, iste servus. Deinde aliud est lex quae scribitur, et imponitur servienti; aliud lex quae mente conspicitur, ab eo qui non indiget litteris.

But his will has been set on the law of the Lord, and on his law he will meditate day and night. The law has not been put in place for the righteous man, as the apostle says.[1] But it is one thing to be in the law, another thing to be under the law. He who is in the law leads his life according to the law; he who is under the law is led[2] according to the law. The former is a free man, the latter a slave. Next, the law that is written is one thing, and it is imposed upon one who is in slavery; the law that is perceived by the mind by one who does not need the letter is another thing.

The translation is my own.


1 1 Tim. 1:9.
2 I.e., as by a pedagogue.


Related Articles


Other Articles by

Join our Community
Subscribe to receive access to our members-only articles as well as 4 annual print publications.
Share This