Fulfill the Law or Destroy It?
A Friend asked me,
What do the words "destroy" and "fulfil" mean to you?
Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Matthew 5:18 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.
There are prophesies in both the Jewish Law and the Prophets (that is, throughout the Old Testament from beginning to end) that a messiah would come and do two things: bring salvation to the world and to rule the world (physically). When Jesus said he came to fulfill the law, he was talking about fulfilling the prophesies in the law. All the prophesies in the law and prophets about him being a savior have been fulfilled. There are yet the kingship prophesies to be fulfilled.
Jesus said, Matthew 5:18 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. All have not yet been fulfilled, because Jesus has not yet come the second time, which is prophesied in the Old Testament and the New.
When Jesus said, Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill, “destroy” in this case means to “do away with.” He did not do away with the law, but he fulfilled the prophecies in the law.
The Jewish Law (Genesis through Deuteronomy) was given to the Jews, not to the Gentiles. That’s what the apostles decided at the church council in Acts 15. The Gentiles are not expected by God to keep the Old Testament law. Instead, we have another commandment that takes the place of that: John 13, 34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (Hating and murdering Jews is not a good example of “love.”) Jesus further explained in Matthew 22:37-40: Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”.
Many things in the Jewish law pointed to Jesus. The sacrifices pointed to Jesus’ sacrifice. The Passover pointed to Jesus’ crucifixion death, resurrection and salvation. The priesthood pointed to Jesus’ own priesthood (Hebrews 4:14-5:7). The Law was in fact a road map for the Jews to Jesus. Paul called it a “tutor.” Galatians 3:24-25, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” Paul was talking to Gentiles, not Jews, about the Old Testament in that passage.
However, don’t think the Old Testament is not useful to the Gentiles. It is still important today, even to us Gentiles, for the following reasons:
- The New Testament is based on the Old. You cannot understand the New Testament if you don’t know the Old Testament.
- The Old Testament still tells us of things to come that are not in the New Testament.
- The Old Testament is an EXCELLENT source of explaining the way God thinks. You can understand how God thinks about things in your life by understanding the God of the Old Testament.
- The Jews are not done away with. The New Testament simply says that God is going to work with the Gentiles for awhile, and then he will focus on the Jews again. This “awhile,” ended in your lifetime. Jesus said in Luke 21:24, “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” Jerusalem passed to the hands of the Gentiles in AD 70. Then it passed from the hands of the Gentiles back into the hands of the Jews in 1967. Our Gentile times are fulfilled. Now God turns his attention back to the Jews first.
- The Bible, Old and New Testament, explains that God will rule the earth from Jerusalem through the Jews. The Old Testament strongly suggests that the Old Testament laws will be in force in Israel for the Jews during Jesus’ reign.
The Christian church has created many new doctrines that are harmful and even heretical. One of these doctrines is the “Replacement.” In that doctrine, the Gentiles were supposed to “replace” the Jews as God’s chosen people. Because of that doctrine, “Christian” people felt justified in persecuting and even martyring the Jews. God will judge them for that fault, for God said, “for whoever touches you (Jews) touches the apple of his (God’s) eye.” Zechariah 2:7-9. Furthermore, God promised Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Anybody who messes with the Jews, God will mess with him. We’re not going to escape this life without being judged for what we did, especially to the Jews.