Jesus Fulfills the Law (Matthew 5:17-20)

In Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus is talking to a crowd.  Jesus tells them, he did not come to abolish or do away with the law.  Jesus came to fulfill or complete the law.

Jesus also tells the people, “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”  (ESV)

This section ends with Jesus saying, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (ESV)

If Jesus came to fulfill the law and Christians are not under the law, do they have to follow the law?  Also, Jesus said our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.

The scribes and Pharisees were religious leaders and they made a point to live out the law.  They wanted to follow the law to the letter, but they often failed to follow the spirit of the law.

When I read this passage, I think about some of the legalistic churches in my area.  They are concerned with outward appearances and they judge a person’s spirituality based on those outward appearances.  They may talk about the importance of a heart that is holy or righteous; however, it is not what they are truly focusing on and practicing in their lives.

I also think about some of the churches with an anything goes attitude.  They never want to appear judgmental, so they just ignore the importance of righteousness.

I think Jesus wants us to live a holy life and to be an example to the world around us; however, I think Jesus is looking for more than just following a bunch of rules that make us look like good people.  I think Jesus wants our hearts to be pure and that is a harder goal to achieve than just checking off a list of rules.

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5 thoughts on “Jesus Fulfills the Law (Matthew 5:17-20)

  1. Paul says the Law given by Moses to be followed re Covenant. Paul says now that has been replaced by Jesus as Lawgiver replacing Moses and New Covenant is a covenant of faith through redemption through Christ and grace and righteousness. Jesus is greater than Moses as revelation.So I don’t understand what Jesus means fulfill the Law. The Law is no longer to be followed as it is inadequate. . Paul points out that from Abraham to Moses there was no Law and God’s covenant was through faith not the Law just as Jesus is path to redemption through faith just like pre Law with Abraham. Paul says Abraham father of all people not just Jews and therefore the Messiah is not sole property of Jews but for Gentiles too which Jews rejected. Jews also rejected Jesus because they kept the Law as path to redemption and did not believe in afterlife or eternal life.

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      • Law vs New Covenant mostly in Romans, 1,2 Corinthians, Hebrews. Good Samaritan story about Law versus life empathy, compassion, charity and says Samaritan will go to Kingdom before priest follower Law who passed by the injured man. Matter of fact He says faith overrides Law and faith without works mere Law followers will not enter Kingdom.Seems Paul spends 2/3 of books convincing Law and circumcision no longer necessary as part of New Covenant and Gentiles part of it. When Jesus says he comes not to replace but to fulfill is the matter of problem. Perhaps fulfill means establish his legitimacy as Messiah by fulfilling OT prophecy. Paul says Jesus is superior to Moses as He is God, was with God from beginning and sits at right hand of God then and until Second coming so words of Jesus override supremacy of Moses.

        It would take me about 2 hours to list the citations about Paul eliminating Law from the notations and margin notes I have so I won’t list them now. . 2016 was spent hand writing the entire NT. Took about a year , a little each day. I estimate at least 400 or more verses just on no more Law necessary as Law is rule following and NT matter of having a righteous heart in God’s eyes. Seems most of NT spent convincing Jews over preaching Christian faith and history of his travels and meetings with early congregations. What good is rule following with no charitable heart ? What good is rule following if not living charitable life in testimony to Christ and God ? Rule following necessary before Christ but no longer as Christ is now covenant avenue and no longer Law(old covenant). Kind of being at the next level of redemption. The is so much scripture about this doctrine that I do not trouble myself figuring out the intent of Jesus when says he fulfills not replaces. He certainly does replace. Jesus fulfills redemption process as mere follow Law not path to redemption.

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