by Mike Ratliff
17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20 NASB)
Some have used the passage above to teach that Christians must still keep the whole Law, but a careful reading of the passage clearly shows that it is conditional. Did Jesus come to destroy the law or the prophets? No, He came to fulfill them. What does that mean? This speaks of fulfillment in the same sense that prophecy is fulfilled. Our Lord Jesus indicates the He fulfills the Law in all its aspects. He fulfills the moral law by keeping it perfectly. He fulfills the ceremonial law by being the embodiment of everything to which the Law’s types and symbols pointed. Our Lord fulfills the Judicial Law by personifying God’s perfect justice (Matthew 12:18, 20). In any case, the emphasis here is not that all who are true Christians must also perfectly keep the Law. Aren’t you glad? If you doubt that then read the book of Galatians carefully. Actually, our Lord is emphasizing His high view of Scripture and its authority as the inspired Word of God in this passage. Those who reject it as such are those whose righteousness does not exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees and they shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Think of the apostates who are walking into heresy even teaching and embracing heretical doctrines because they have rejected God’s Word as the authoritative, inspired Word of God. Continue reading