Divine law

Divine law is a subcategory of revelation, in which God tells man what He wants him to do. It was through disobedience to divine law that the Fall of our first parents was brought about, and it was through obedience of their descendants — Noah, Abraham and the other patriarchs — that God prepared the salvation of the human race. The “old law”, or “old covenant”, culminated in the law given to God’s chosen people through Moses. Obedience to the precepts of Mosaic law was rewarded not only with God’s grace but with His temporal favour and protection. 
“Wherefore the law was our pedagogue in Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal 3:24). 
The moral, ceremonial and judicial precepts of the old law were in themselves powerless to redeem the human race from the sin of Adam. The infinite offence of his disobedience to God required a new covenant with the Son of God Himself, contracted “neither by the blood of goats or of calves, but by his own blood” (Heb 9:12). The new law, unlike the old law, is not primarily a question of exterior observances but of an interior law of grace, perpetuated throughout the Christian era through the gospel of Christ and the laws of the Church.


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St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae

1a 2ae, Q. 91, a. 5 “Whether there is but one divine law”
1a 2ae Q. 98, a. 1 “Whether the Old Law was good”
1a 2ae, Q. 100, a. 8: “Whether the precepts of the Decalogue are dispensable”,
1a 2ae, Q. 100, a. 11: “Whether it is right to distinguish other moral precepts of the law besides the decalogue?”
1a 2ae, Q. 108, a. 1: “Whether the New Law ought to prescribe or to forbid any outward works”

St Augustine of Hippo

On the Spirit and the Letter, chapters 28–36 (XVI–XXI)
Cf. extract of St Augustin, Retractions, book II, chapter 37
Against Faustus, book VI

Pope Leo XIII

Tametsi futura, 1900

Pope John Paul II

Veritatis splendor, 1993, § 27
Evangelium vitae, 1995, § 57, 61–62

International Theological Commission

The Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church, 2014, nos. 61-64

About Instructor

Fr Thomas Crean OP

Fr Thomas Crean entered the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) in 1995 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2001. He received a doctorate in theology from the International Theological Institute in Austria. He has worked in parish, student, and hospital ministry and has taught theology and philosophy in Ireland, Austria and the United States. He has published in Augustinianum and New Blackfriars, and is the author of several books, including A Catholic Replies to Professor Dawkins, The Saints and the Mass, and Integralism: A Manual of Political Philosophy (with Alan Fimister). He is a member of the Dialogos Institute and the Albert the Great Center for Scholastic Studies. His book on the procession of the Holy Spirit and the Council of Florence, Florence Became a New Sion, is due to be published shortly by Emmaus Academic.