Were people saved in OT according to natural law?

Ignoring what was said in the new testament about natural law. Were good gentiles, good pagans and any other people who were decently good in the Old testament, saved? Let’s say the first born in the Old testament that God killed, were they saved, according to Natural Law. Don’t pull any verses from the new testament, but only the old, doing this captures the customs at the time.

Hope this makes sense :smiley:

I’ve often wondered the same thing myself. It seems that because Christ was not yet born and then died on the cross to save our sins, and that we read in the bible that souls did not go to heaven but rather Abraham’s bosom, awaiting the day when Jesus dies to save our souls, thus the way to please God and not to be condemned to Hell was to obey the law, and this was how one was saved. I could be wrong though, maybe it was to obey the law and also believe in God? But then again, when you read about many of the old testament figures, like Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jacob, each of them did things like murder, adultery, drunkedness, lies, etc. We tend to think since they were God’s chosen prophets, that even though they acted sinfully, they still went to heaven.

Good question though, I’d like to read the responses from those who know.

The Law of the Old convent was binding. And while the Bible gives a few examples of people being “saved” in the OT. Moses, Elijah Etc. As Catholics we believe that Jesus descended to the dead and that is how they were either saved or damned.

I’m not sure what you mean by saved. If you mean that they would enter heaven, according to Catholic belief no one entered heaven until Christ descended to the dead the day after he was crucified–and then he brought the just of the Old Testament into heaven. That is why the Creed says Christ descended to the dead. According to the view the Church has held of this he brought people like Adam, Moses and Abraham into heaven then. This no doubt included the just who were pagans too (like Job).
God gave grace to the just of the Old Testament, but much fuller now through Christ, grace which includes, obviously eternal life. (But I don’t know if this is the sort of thing you are asking.)
Pagans would have been just justified based on the truth they knew, even if this was just from the natural law (though I am not sure what you mean by this). The important thing would be following the right as they know it. Catholicism insists even today that pagans (such as the Hindus) can be saved, even if they know nothing of the Christian faith (believing in baptism by desire.

I sense in the Old Testament and in the New Testament it is like as Jesus said those who received more are more responsible and to those who received less they are less responsible so you could argue those in the OT were not as responsible as those who are now living under the New Covenant.

It is not part of divine revelation to know who outside the /Christian Faith could be saved. Divine revelation tells us how to be saved. By faith in Christ (Old Testament- righteousness).

So we leave it up to Gods mercy and evangelize to spread the gospel.

The Old Testament claims that all who die, both righteous and wicked, goes not to Heaven or Hell, but to a place of darkness, where knowledge, love, and hate is non-existent.

When such souls fell into this strange darkness, they entered a state of hibernation, where they remained immobile and emotionless until Christ’s coming.

The New Testament reveals that the righteous will be separated from the wicked. This implies that those who have died in the New Testament were taken out from the emotionless darkness, then were judged; sent to either Heaven or Hell depending on their status as either righteous or wicked.


The righteous, including those born from the seed of gentiles, were saved, but had to wait until Christ’s coming before they could enjoy Heaven.


Although murder is by nature a morally unacceptable act, there are times where God prefers a human life to perish by another human’s hand.

Murder is necessary when God tells us to do it. He certainly did so during the times of the Old Testament, but he won’t do so any longer, for updated rules exist within the New Testament.

Funny I was reading this chapter last night.

Genesis 9:5 And I shall demand account of your life-blood, too. I shall demand it of every animal, and of man. Of man as regards his fellow-man, I shall demand account for human life.

Demand account for human life.

I understand that people living in countries that never heard of Judaism could hardly be bound by it so I guess that God judges them by their life but I’m no 100% sure.


Those saved during “Old Testament times” were saved by Jesus of Nazareth the Christ.

(Similar to any who are saved today who through no fault of their own do not come to know Christ - if they are saved - if they are to enter into true life - do so still by Jesus Christ.

It was not by “being good” or rather ‘doing thing which have the nature of being good things’ that one enters into a state of justification - but they are signs that the persons are open to the will of God and responding to the natural moral law and above all to graces in their lives.)

Remember that Jesus descended into the dead before the resurrection…the Good Shepherd in search for his sheep…

The question inquires the fate of those who died *before *Christ came, so your answer is not entirely relevant. :tsktsk:

No, all are saved through Christ. Those that died prior to the crucifixion went to the place of the dead. A waiting place. The righteous of God were comforted in a part of Hades called “Abrahams Bosom”

When Christ died he descended to the dead and took the righteous on Abraham’s bosom to heaven and the unrighteousness went to hell.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.