English blog

having come to fulfill the law

06-05-2015 - Posted by Andre Piet


17  “You should not infer that I came to demolish the law or the prophets. I came not to demolish, but to fulfill. 18 For verily, I am saying to you, Till heaven and earth should be passing by, one iota or one serif may by no means be passing by from the law till all should be occurring. -Matthew 5-

In the above passage, taken from the so-called “Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus responds to the suggestion that He has come to demolish the law and the prophets, which together form the Tanakh (our “Old Testament”). The word that here is translated as ‘demolish’, is in other versions rendered ‘destroy’.  ‘Demolish’ or ‘destroy’, in Mat.5:17, stands in contrast to ‘fulfill’. Jesus, most strongly, rejects the suggestion that He came to demolish the law or the prophets. For even the smallest letter (iota) or the least stroke of a pen (serif) in the law, retains its validity as long as heaven and earth will exist. First, everything must have been accomplished. This last part of the sentence (till all should be occurring) indicates that Jesus sees the law as prophecy. Even as the words of the prophets will be fulfilled and come to pass (cp Matt.1:22), even so is this true for every iota and serif of the law. Everything will be occurring! What is striking in Jesus’ statement is that He does not perceive the law, here, as a code of conduct, but as an announcement of things that need to happen; as He would later, also explain to two of His disciples on the way to Emmaus.

26 Must not the Christ be suffering these things, and be entering into His glory?” 27 And, beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, He interprets to them, in all the scriptures, that which concerns Himself. -Luke 24-

All the Scriptures, beginning with Moses, speak of the Christ who was to come (John 5:46). And in Him “all the Scriptures” find their fulfilment. In the sacrificial service, the attributes of the sanctuary, the feasts, the circumcision or whatever ritual. But also in the stories, for instance, of Isaac, Joseph, Moses and so forth. These are not just stories, but pictures of Him who was to come. Many who, today, want to be “under the law”, do not really listen to the law. That is what Paul held against the Galatians.

Tell me, you who want to be under law, are you not hearing the law? -Galatians 4:21-

The Galatians were gentiles (non-Jews; Gal.4:8), who had become believers, entirely apart from “works of the law”(3:1-5). Now they were being bothered by Judaisers (2:14) with exhortations to be circumcised (6:13), to observe days and feasts (4:10), in short, to be “under the law”. But by doing this, says Paul, they precisely demonstrate not to be listening to the law. As “sons of Abraham” (3:7) they had to realize who their mother is: Sara, the free woman, who received a child by promise (4:23) or Hagar (> Sinai; 4:25), the slave woman, who got a child that was conceived through human efforts? The one is not compatible with the other (4:28-31). One who understands the law, knows that it speaks of Christ. You can delight in the law (torah = teaching) without being under it. Indeed, in seeing the fulfillment lies the greatest joy. Compare it with a prophecy. A prophecy has not become worthless once it is fulfilled. On the contrary, from that moment she has proved her value! When, in the future, a new covenant will be made with Israel, they will no longer be burdened by the law (Jer.31:33). The covering will be removed and they will dis-cover that everything in it speaks of the resurrected Christ (2Cor.3:14). From out of Jerusalem, the nations will, visibly, be taught (Jes.2:3) how the whole sacrificial and temple service speaks of LIFE which, by Christ, is brought to light (cp 2Tim.1:10)!