IS THE LAW OF THE OLD TESTAMENT,
ABOLISHED? OR FULFILLED?
THE LAW IS FULFILLED IN JESUS
Matthew 5:17-22 (KJV)
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
This is a heavy teaching of Jesus. All of the sermon on the mount is very heavy teaching. Many avoid the passage for that reason, others read it quickly, and assume it is a high standard, and pass on to other simpler, easier to understand passages.
This one deals with the law. The ‘law’ was a dispensation in preparation for the fulfillment in Jesus. Some still try to live by the law, some take parts of it, and want to obey only those parts.
The early church originally recognized that they were part of a ‘new covenant’. Yet, there were some who soon began to incorporate law back into the gospel message.
Acts 15:1-2, 5-14, 19,20
"And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. ... But there rose up a certain sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and the elders came together for to consider this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, Who knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as He did unto us... Why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?... Wherefore my sentence is that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollution of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood."
That particular debate on the need to keep the law of the Old Covenant was settled, but still there were more debates, more division amidst the early church. Some called the ‘Ebionites’ took the original Hebrew gospel written by Matthew and the disciples (called the Logia), and ‘adulterated’ it, to make it sound as though one had to obey the laws to be saved. The adulterated forms of this original gospel are called the Gospel of the Hebrews, and the Gospel of the Ebionites. The Ebionite heretics of the early church age debased the Logia, making their gospel by adding, changing, and omitting portions of the Logia. Epiphanius says that they had the Gospel of Matthew in the most complete form in the Hebrew (Aramaic), and that they had "falsified and mutilated" it.
This group is the one started in the time of Acts 15. Paul wrote to some being tempted to go that same route in doctrine in Galatians. The book of Hebrews is a thematic book written to counter some of these same false doctrines they were accepting
The whole law of God and Moses, including the ten commandments, and all the civil and ceremonial laws based upon the ten commandments, was done away with in Christ on the cross and the new covenant now takes the place of the old one.
This is plainly stated in:
2 Corinthians 3:6-15 (KJV)
6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones (the 10 commandments), was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:
8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.
11 For if that which is done away (the old covenant of the law) was glorious, much more that which remaineth (the new covenant of grace) is glorious.
12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:
13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished (the covenant of the law):
14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.
15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.
It is clear that the old covenant, written in stone, was to be ‘done away’, "abolished’. A new, more glorious covenant was to take its place. The commandments were written stone, and Christ fulfilled the commandments of the Old Testament, and accomplished their purpose.
Notice that there is a great contrast between the old and new covenants in this passage:
the first brought "death", the second brings "life";
the first was "glorious", the second is "much more glorious";
the first brought "condemnation", the second brings "righteousness";
the first was of "the letter", the second is of "the Spirit";
the first was "done away" and "abolished", the second "remaineth";
the first came by "Moses", the second came by Jesus Christ;
the first required a vail to hide the glory because it was "the ministration of death",
the second can be viewed with "open face" for it is "the spirit that giveth life";
and the first brought blindness and bondage, the second brings liberty.
Ephesians 2:15 (KJV)
15 Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
JESUS, IN THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT,
EXPLAINS HOW HE FULFILLED THE LAW
Think not that I am come to destroy
the law, or the prophets:
I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
The word ‘destroy’ is the Greek word ‘katalyo’. Of the seventeen times in the New Testament, it is translated ‘destroy’ nine times. It is from two words, ‘kata’ and ‘luo’, meaning to ‘loosen down’. It means here to bring to completion, throw down, make to halt.
The Lord Jesus, in making the law to halt, rather did what is translated ‘fulfil’ the law. This is the Greek word pleroo (4137) meaning ‘to satisfy, to fulfil, as when a prophecy is fulfilled, completed, it is seen and evident as to what it truly meant.
The Bible shows this ‘fulfilment’ of prophecy truth is what is referred to here, for Paul refers to this in Galatians.
Galatians 3:22-25 (KJV)
22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
The law was a shadow of things to come, just as when you see a ‘shadow’ as you look toward a corner, you know the shadow will be followed by what or who made the shadow, and the reality is to follow. The shadow is no longer needed to know the reality of it, for the fulfilment is evident.
Colossians 2:14-17 (KJV)
14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances (the law) that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross;
15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
THE LAW DID NOT PASS,
IT WAS FULFILLED
For verily I say unto you,
Till heaven and earth pass,
one jot or one tittle
shall in no wise pass from the law,
till all be fulfilled.
The word ‘pass’ is the Greek word: parerchomai (G3928), meaning to pass away, be changed, or pass from one condition to another. They did not pass, or change from one condition to another, till all was fulfilled. Jesus said He came to ‘fulfil’ the law. They never have passed out of existence, but they have been purified, becoming renewed again.
The law is part of the eternal Word of God. They remain forever. They will never pass away in the sense of non-existence. It will always be wrong to murder, to steal, etc. yet, they have passed away in the sense of when one becomes a new creation.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
‘Not one jot or tittle’ refers to the ‘jot’, the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and the ‘tittle’ is the smallest ornament placed upon some Hebrew letters. Like the dot on the alphabet I, this tittle will never pass away, at least not until, all has been fulfilled. We all need to be free from the ‘letter of the law.’ That written law that tells us what to do or not do, and that inner urge to do it, but still knowing our flesh is weak, and bound to fail. That is a heavy burden, it guarantees ‘death’ for we are all ‘sinners’, failures of keeping the law. That was fulfilled, when Jesus took our death on the cross, and the penalty of sin was paid. Jesus came and made it possible for us to take, by grace, the love He gives, and shares. This love of God and love for our fellow man, makes us not need to force ourselves to not kill, we will not want to steal, etc. Rather, the law of love replaces the ‘law’, for it is fulfilled in the redemption of our spirit from the curse of sin.
Every jot and tittle of the whole law or contract at Sinai was fulfilled, ended, and abolished in Christ and "done away" by Him when He made the new covenant, which is far more glorious.
Romans 10:4 (KJV)
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
THE LAWS OF THE NEW COVENANT ARE STILL AS BINDING,
BUT NO LONGER ARE WE TO FORCED TO OBEY LAWS THAT ARE UNNATURAL,
RATHER, WE HAVE A NEW NATURE OF LOVE THAT PRODUCES A DESIRE TO LOVE,
SO OBEDIENCE TO THE LAWS IS EASY.
Whosoever therefore shall break
one of these least commandments,
and shall teach men so,
he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven:
but whosoever shall do and teach them,
the same shall be called great
in the kingdom of heaven.
The laws and commandments of the new covenant are just as binding as those in the old covenant. Our nature is changed, so that we obey, not by force, but by love.
There are over 1,050 commands in the new covenant, plus many others not shown in the form of commands. We are told to ‘love our neighbor’, we are told not only not to kill, but also not to be angry. The laws are not done away, but our nature is changed, so that our love keeps us from hating, killing, stealing, etc.