According to Luther, the antinomians were those who regarded the relevance of the law in life as not important. The spokesman of the antinomians was Johannes Agricola.
The first time there was a collision between the Lutherans and the antinomians was in 1527. The reason for this was that Melanchthon had written articles about the function of the law, namely that the law compelled one to penance. The preaching of the law was significant for Melanchthon, in order to understand the Gospel of God’s grace. According to Agricola, the law concerns a Christian no longer. He also claimed that the law belongs to the obsolete body of the rules of the Jews. And he rejected the pedagogic function of the law. For the antinomians, the law had no place in the church.
From 1537 till 1539, there was a new confrontation, now between Agricola and Luther himself. For Agricola, acknowledging sins and devoutness did not come from the law, but from the Gospel. According to Agricola, Luther made a new Moses of Christ. In opposition, Luther argued that the law can not be preached without the Gospel, and that the Gospel cannot be preached without the law.
Luther explained in his work Wider die Antinomer from 1539 the dual use of the law. The political (usus politicus) and the theological (usus theologicus) use. For Luther it was about the theological function of the law that the law causes the consciousness of the sinfulness of man. This aimed to understand the salvation brought by the crucifixion of Christ. Luther did not see a third function of the law – in the life of a Christian -, even though he tended to in his work against the antinomians. However, for Agricola, Christ fulfilled the law and now the law had no meaning anymore for a Christian. However, for Luther, this was an inadmissible identification of the law with the Old Testament and the Gospel with the New Testament.
From 1556 till 1571 there was again a debate about the antinomistic problem. Now it was the question whether the law can be a normative cause in the life of a Christian for the formation of a Christian life or not. The third function of the law – the pedagogical one (usus paedagogicus) – came here into view. This function was rejected by a part of the strict Lutherans. Another part took the third function, which was explained more clearly by Melanchthon than by Luther, over.