Matt. 5:17, 18


            Matt. 5:17 "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."


            In the Old Testament, the law consisted of the first 22 books of the Old Testament.  The prophets consist of the first 17 books of the Old Testament.  The first 5 books of the New Testament is generally considered to be the fulfillment of the prophets.  The last 22 books of the New Testament is called the letters.


            Jesus said that he came not to destroy the law or the prophets.  Some have thought that when Jesus established the New Covenant of worship, that he destroyed the law and the prophets, but this simply is not true.  Jesus first fulfilled the law and the prophets and then he established the New Covenant of worship. 


            Jesus came to fulfill all that was written in the law and the prophets concerning the keeping of the law and the fulfillment of the all the prophecies concerning himself and his work, and the establishment of the New Covenant of worship.  In keeping the law, He kept the Ten Commandments, and all other laws given in the Old Testament.  Furthermore, he fulfilled all the prophets. 


            He didn't just fulfill the letter of the law, but he also fulfilled the spirit of the law.  Moreover, he didn't just fulfill tokenly the prophets, but he fulfilled them in the totality.  Jot refers to the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and is the smallest of the Hebrew letters.  Tittle refers to the least ornamental particle of the Hebrew letters.  Thus, Jesus was saying that he came to fulfill the law and the prophets to the very least letter and the smallest particle of the letter.  In other words, he came to fulfill it to the fullest of detail possible.


            Furthermore, Jesus equated his fulfilling of the law and the prophets unto its fullest detail with the passing of heaven and earth.  The term "heaven and earth" is sometimes used to denote the law kingdom under the old law covenant as set forth in Rev. 21:1 "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea."  Thus, the passing of the Old Law Covenant and the establishing of the New Covenant of Grace would not take place until the law and the prophets were completely and totally fulfilled.  With the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and his ascension back to heaven, he completed the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.


Matt. 5:19, 20


            Matt. 5:19 "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."


            In verses 17 and 18 there was the promise from our Lord of a total and complete fulfillment of the law and the prophets.  Verse 19 turns our attention to our own condition under the law.  The Lord said to break even the least of the commandments and to teach men so would render us to be called the very least in the kingdom of heaven.  Gal. 3:10 tells us: "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."  The law cannot make us righteous.  Under examination, we find ourselves as being guilty of the law and therefore under the curse of the law. 


            The Pharisees and the scribes taught that through the keeping of the law a person could become righteous before God.  The Pharisee who went to the temple to pray said thus: Luke 18:11 "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess."  The Pharisee judged himself as being good through his own works. 

            The truth is that God views our self-righteousness as filthy rags:  Is. 64:6 "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."  Thus, the righteousness of the Pharisees and the scribes was a filthy rags self-righteousness and God did not view this as righteousness at all.


            There is a righteousness that far exceeds this works system of self-righteousness.  It is the imputed righteousness that comes to us through the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  Please notice the following verses of scripture:


                        1.  Gal. 3:13 "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."

                        2.  2 Cor. 5:21 "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

                        3.  Rom. 10:3 "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."


Christ became sin for us on the cross and suffered God's wrathful judgment for our sins and, consequently, has imputed his righteousness unto us.  This imputed righteousness far exceeds the law system self-righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.


            Only those who believe in the fact that they are righteous through the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ can enter God's true church kingdom of heaven here on earth.  Those who hold themselves to be righteous through their own efforts or works cannot be a part of the true church of Jesus Christ.


            Therefore, being a disciple of Jesus Christ who believes in the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, what should be our response to the commandments of God?  The answer is that we should strive to keep and teach them to the honor and glory of God. 

Matt. 5:21, 22 

            Matt. 5:21 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."

            There is the outward letter of the law, and then there is the inward spirit of the law.  The inward spirit of the law has a deeper cut than the outward letter of the law.  In the outward letter of the law, to unlawfully take another man's life was considered murder and made one a transgressor of the law.  In the inward spirit of the law, to be angry with your brother without a cause is the moral equivalent of murder in the eyes of God.  The word "danger" comes from the Greek "enochos" and means in danger of, guilty of, or subject to.  To kill or to be angry with your brother without a cause does not mean that you might be judged, but rather it means that your actions subject you to God's judgment.  According to the scriptures, "every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward."  Therefore, the act of murder or the act of anger without cause, renders you as being guilty of the law and renders the necessity of a just recompense of reward for that transgression. 

            Similarly, to call your brother Raca, a term of utter vilification, under the law brought you before the judgment of the council (Sanhedrin council) of the Jews.  However, the Lord has a higher standard in that he pronounced that to say to your brother "Thou fool" (a term less than utter vilification) rightfully subjects you to the judgment of "hell fire."  God's judgment is stricter and more severe than the judgment of men.

            Now all of this teaches us the greatness and wonders of God's grace toward his people that he chose before the foundation of the world.  Without God's grace, we would all be utterly condemned, not only by the transgression of Adam, but also for our own outward transgressions, and also for our inward thoughts and transgressions.  There would be no hope for us without the grace of God.  It is only through the sacrificial atonement of Christ and the subsequent imputed righteousness of Christ through the grace of God that we are delivered from the "lake of fire" judgment of God.



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