Christ Fulfills the Law

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:17-20.

Summary
The whole of God’s Word, in the smallest detail, will endure after the destruction of the heavens and the earth as we know them. God’s law is our guide to entering the kingdom of heaven. The righteousness of mere religious (external) observance, like that of the scribes and Pharisees, cannot give entry to it.

Analysis
“Law or the Prophets” (v.17) — A way of referring to the whole Old Testament.

“not come to destroy” — In fulfilling the law, Jesus does not alter, replace, or nullify the former commands; rather, He establishes their true intent and purpose in His teaching and accomplishes them in His obedient life. The Law, as well as the Prophets, points forward to Christ.

“unless your righteousness exceeds”(v.20) — Jesus did not criticize the Pharisees for their strict observance of the law but for their emphasis on outward conformity to it without a proper inner attitude (ch. 23). By focusing on externals they avoided the real intent of the law and so obscured its real demands. The Qumran texts refer to the Pharisees as “seekers after smooth things” because they accommodated and compromised the law to fit the realities of life. Such accommodation removed awareness of the need for grace and dependence on God. In the following verses, Jesus restores the true nature of God’s law as demanding total and radical holiness. Jesus demands a deeper obedience, not disregard of God’s commands.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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