Vol. 6, No. 5
~ Page 12 ~
A question has come about Matthew 5:17-19:
Do not think I have come to destroy the law or the prophets. I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill. Indeed, I assure you, until the heaven and earth disappear, neither the smallest letter in the law, nor the smallest part of a letter, shall pass away before all things are fulfilled. Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches them shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does these commandments and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus said that he had come into the world to fulfill "all things written about me in Moses' law and in the prophets and in the psalms" (Luke 24:44). Yes, Christ was "the goal of the law" (Romans 10:4). But after Jesus had "fulfilled" the law, he "took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross" (Colossians 2:14). In his death, Jesus "set aside the law" (Ephesians 2:15). No one today is to be married to Moses, but "be married to another, to the one who was raised from the dead" (Romans 7:4). If one is married to Moses (representing the Old Testament) and to Christ (representing the New Testament) he is guilty of bigamy. A woman married to two husbands at the same time "shall be called an adulteress" (Romans 7:3).
But before Jesus had fulfilled the law and the prophets, he made it clear that the Jews were to live up to every precept in Moses' law, even to "the smallest part of a letter" of that law (Matthew 5:18). If they did not, when the kingdom of heaven (the church, Matthew 16:18-19) arrived on the day of Pentecost, A.D. 30, they would "be called the least in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:19).
Furthermore, obedience to the law of Moses, still in force until Jesus died on the cross, was to be more than a measured tithe of the Jews' "mint, dill, and cummin," though that tithe was required (Matthew 23:23). Full obedience included "the heavier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and faithfulness" (Matthew 23:23). Jesus said that "unless your righteousness is more than that of the scribes and Pharisees" (being particular about small outward acts of obedience and overlooking "the heavier matters"), "you shall in no way enter the kingdom of heaven" (the church, Matthew 5:20; 16:18-19).