This study is based on Matthew 5:17-18, “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.”
1. When Jesus says “think not,” what is he trying to imply and what was the mindset of the hearers?
- He is telling us to not even let it enter into our minds that Jesus has changed his law or the prophets.
- There must have been people there thinking that the law and the prophets have been changed. That is even happening in our day today. You will see that later.
- He didn’t come to destroy but to fulfil. Some people think that that word fulfil refers to Jesus coming to complete it and thus don’t need the law and the prophets anymore. They think he came to finish it.
- However, the word “but” is a contrast. It is contrasting the fact that Jesus didn’t come to destroy. Quite the opposite, He came to fill it up, to fully preach it.
- So Jesus is stating there clearly that we shouldn’t even THINK that Jesus is destroying the law and prophets.
2. What is the one word that is repeating throughout the Bible texts?
- The word “law” or similar to that in verse 19 is “commandments”.
- So this study is focused on that.
3. When Jesus refers to the law and the prophets, what is He really referring to?
- Matthew 11:12-13
12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
- In verse 13 when the Bible says that all the prophets and the law prophesied until John, who is this John? It is John the Baptist as we know from the previous verse.
- Who is John the Baptist? When did he live? It was right there during the time of Jesus. He was probably even still alive when Jesus was speaking these words.
- So all the prophets and the law prophesied until the appearance of Jesus.
- That means from Genesis until John the Baptist, that is what the prophets and the law is referring to.
- We know this as what? The Old Testament!
- Let’s go to another text, John 1:45
Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
- When Philip looks for Nathanael he tells him that he has found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write!
- Moses in the law. What does that mean? Well we know that Moses is in the Old Testament. He wrote the first 5 books of the Old Testament – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.
- And the prophets is referring to the rest of the Old Testament because the New Testament was not even written yet. It would be written decades later.
- But when Philip says “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth” what is he trying to imply?
- We have found the Messiah!
- John 1:29
Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.
- When Nathanael met him, he declared he had found the Son of God. The Messiah!
- So from the Old Testament, without the New Testament, we can understand who the Messiah is!
- So when Jesus don’t even think that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets, what will be the problem if we have that sort of thinking?
- We will never know who the Messiah is.
- We will not understand that Jesus is our Saviour and Messiah!
4. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Jesus say He did not come to destroy but to fulfil. How did Jesus fulfil the law and the prophets?
- Matthew 1:21-23
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
- Even in His birth, Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets. He fulfilled a prophecy from the Old Testament.
- Where do you find this prophecy in the Old Testament? Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
- All these prophecies in the Old Testament pointed to the coming of a Messiah which have all been fulfilled in the man Jesus Christ! To get rid of the Old Testament is to get rid of Jesus altogether.
- Matthew 2:23
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
- The place that where He would be raised and come from was also prophesied in the Old Testament.
- Matthew 8:17
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
- Matthew 13:34-35
34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: 35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.
- Matthew 27:35
And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
- Even the little details about His clothing at His crucifixion was prophesied.
- Luke 24:44
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
- Every single prophecy had to be fulfilled from the Old Testament about Jesus if He was to be the Messiah.
- This is why the Old Testament is so important. We cannot even understand the New Testament without the Old Testament. It is an impossibility.
- For example in the book of Revelation, it talks about characters such as Balaam, Balak, Jezebel. These characters are only found in the Old Testament. You cannot understand them if we only have the New Testament.
- The book of Jude talks about Cain, Balaam and Korah. And you cannot understand any of these characters without the Old Testament.
- You know there are some pocket Bibles that have been put together that only have the Psalms and New Testament bound together. It is not enough of the Bible to be able to understand it. To have a perfect picture of the Messiah we need both the Old Testament and New Testament.
5. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.What does Matthew 5:18 say about the change of the law?
- Not even a jot or a tittle will be changed till everything is fulfilled.
- What is a jot? It is the dotting of the i or the j. In Greek it is the smallest letter of the whole Greek alphabet.
- How about a tittle? It is the crossing of the t. The stroke that goes across. It is not the letter t, but simply the crossing of it.
- So Jesus is saying that the law will not even be changed to the smallest of degree.
6. According to Matthew 5:18, when will everything be fulfilled?
- Everything will be fulfilled when heaven and earth passes away.
- When will heaven and earth pass away?
- 2 Peter 3:10
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
- We’re not sure what the heaven passing away with a great noise is. But has the elements melted with fervent heat yet? No. This is still in the future.
- When will it take place? When the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night.
- 2 Peter 3:10
- That means that the law is still relevant today!
7. When is the day of the Lord? When will Jesus come as a thief?
- Isaiah 13:9
Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
- Is the land desolate yet? Have the sinners been destroyed out of the land yet? No.
- So that means the law is still relevant!
- Joel 2:31
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.
- The day of the Lord is connected to 2 events – the sun turning into darkness and the moon into blood. When will that happen? Let’s go to the next text.
- Revelation 6:12-14
12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; 13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
- You see here the same events as in Joel – the sun became black like sackcloth of hair, the moon became as blood.
- When does this event take place? You see in verse 14 – the heaven departs as a scroll? Theologians all agree what event this is talking about. This is the second coming!
- So until the second coming, the law and the prophets will not change.
- Maybe at that point Jesus will toss the Old Testament and the New Testament into a fire because we will have Jesus standing right there before us! I don’t know. But we won’t need a book to understand the Messiah anymore because we will see Him in the flesh, face to face.
- Luke 12:39-40
39 And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. 40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
- The day of the Lord is compared to Jesus coming as a thief. That event in verse 40 is the coming of Jesus for a second time.
- Jesus is not coming secretly but is coming at a time when people are not watching and not ready.
8. When will heaven and earth totally pass away?
- Revelation 21:1-2
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. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
- Heaven and earth passes away at the third coming of Jesus to the earth. That is when He creates a new heaven and a new earth.
- So the second coming is only a partial fulfilment of the heaven’s and earth passing away.
- So the law and the prophets will exist even until this point.
9. What is our role in Christ’s fulfilment of the law today?
- Galatians 5:14
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
- What is the motivation behind wanting to keep the law? How do we fulfil the law today? It is love.
- Love is that which drives us to do what we do as Christian’s.
- Romans 13:10
Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
- John 14:15
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
- If we have the love of God abiding in our hearts, we will keep the commandments.
- Every word of God will become precious to us.
So where do we start today in understanding the word of God? We must begin in the Old Testament. And we can be even be more specific. Let’s begin with the law of God, the 10 commandments. There is a reason why Jesus worded it this way – the law and the prophets. He highlights the law of God for a reason.
We can find Jesus in the 10 commandments for it is His character. We can find love there. And it is through love only that we can fulfil the high calling that God is calling us to today.