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
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.
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 "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
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
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."
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 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
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
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.
Notes on Matthew 5 Continue