The New and Improved Law (part 2)

Ten CommandmentsTwo weeks ago I posted my thoughts about the Law of God titled: The New And Improved Law (part 1). I stated that the Old Covenant laws have been replaced with better laws; a new and better covenant. I mentioned how the laws called the Ten Commandments were a part of the Old Covenant and are today no longer the same or even together. Why? Because an improved version was started by Jesus Christ when He died on the cross.

Although you see the words, commandments and law mentioned in the New Testament portion of the Bible, you will not see these two words “Ten Commandments” together there.
There is a reasonfor this – the New Covenant.

What is this New Covenant all about? How different
is it from the Old Covenant whose laws were given
only to the Israelites?

This is a big topic which has been covered in volumes of
books, yet this is what I want to briefly further discuss.

Jesus and the Old Testament Law 
Jesus said some remarkable words concerning His relationship with the Old Covenant Law. He said …

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.(Matthew 5:17).

Had He said, “Yes, I came so that you do not have to keep the law any more”, He would have been in great trouble because He, Jesus Christ, was still under the law, the Old Covenant law, as a Jew. So were all those who were listening to Him also under the Old Covenant law. He would have easily been misunderstood as advocating the breaking of the law had He said that the law was done away.  But He said He did not come to destroy
the law but to fulfill it. What did Christ mean by “fulfill“?

“Fulfill” In The Greek
Using my Strong’s Bible concordance, the Greek word here for “fulfill” is πλήρης  (Strong’s Concordance number 4137).  Number 4137 is transliterated into English as plēroō.

Using another concordance, Young’s Concordance, the King James Version of the Bible translates  plēroō in the following manner:

fulfil – to make full, to fill up, to fill to the full (51 times)

fill – to render full, to complete (19 times)

be full –  (7 times)

complete – (2 times)

end – (2 times)

It was used miscellaneously in other ways – (9 times).

Fulfillment of Scripture
This Greek word, plēroō, is used often in the Bible as fulfillment of something from the Old Testament such as a prophecy. Here are some examples:

Matthew 1:22-23

Matthew 2:14-15

Matthew 2:16-18

Matthew 2:23

Matthew 3:13-15

Matthew 4:13-16

Matthew 5:17

Please note that all of the verses above are from the book of Matthew. To whom was this gospel written? Why did Matthew write this gospel? Read on !

The Purpose of the Gospel by Matthew
The book of Matthew presents Jesus as the Messiah who fulfilled the promises of the Old Testament found in the Law, the Prophets and the Writings [1].  Matthew wrote the gospel, his testimony, primarily for the Jews. He presented the mission of Jesus as bringing the kingdom of God to mankind through His presence, words and deeds. By the way, Matthew was also known as Levi  (Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:14).

Before I continue, as a comparison, below are prominent words, words that are repeated and emphasized in each of the four gospels:

1)  Gospel of MATTHEW

++ “Fulfilled”

2) Gospel of MARK

++ “Straight way”

3) Gospel of LUKE

++ “Son Of Man”

4) Gospel of JOHN

++ “Believe”

Scratching My Head, Why?
Why would Jesus say He did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it if He was keeping the Old Testament Law already? Doesn’t it sound redundant for Christ to be saying this? In other words, was He really saying, “Even though I am keeping the Ten Commandments already, I have not come to destroy it but to keep it.”?

Was Jesus saying this to show off how perfect He was? Was He telling everyone since He never sinned He was keeping the Ten Commandments perfectly? He never had to go to a priest with a sin offering. Right? How about this, “Ha! I have fulfilled the Law by showing you guys how to fulfill it by never, ever sinning!” Was Jesus saying that?

Fulfilling Prophecies
Let me ask you another question, if a prophecy given before Christ was born has been fulfilled has its purpose been completed? When, for example, Christ fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy that “unto us a child is given….”  Was that prophecy fulfilled, completed, finished when Christ was born? Yes, of course! Does that prophecy continue to be fulfilled? Is that prophecy still in effect? No, Christ fulfilled it. His birth made it come to pass. It was done; no longer to be used.

This prophecy is NOT now continually being fulfilled at Christmas time in which Mary, every year mind you, gives birth to a baby boy Jesus and places Him in a manger.

I am being silly in that last comment, of course. But, I hope you understand that fulfilled prophecy, for the most part those concerning Jesus Christ’s birth, suffering and dying on the cross, are prophecies written in the Bible that were fulfilled once, once and for all. And after they were fulfilled, completed, they no longer are to be applied in the future. They are done, completed, over and done with.

Jots and Tittles
But, Jesus did not say:

“I have not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it, therefore,  after I die and have resurrected from the dead …

…. you can take out your scissors and clip out all passages that pertain to the Ten Commandments.”

…. you can clip out of the Bible all references of laws about purifying yourselves with sin offerings and animal sacrifices.”

… you can clip out of the pages of the Bible all of the statutes and judgments of the law
within it.”

…. you can clip out of the Bible, from the Old Testament Law, from the Torah, anything having to do with keeping the Sabbath day and all the other sabbath holy days such as the Passover, Yom Kippur, and Rosh Hasannah.”

… you can clip out of the Old Covenant Law all requirements of paying tithes to the priesthood for their work in upkeeping the temple and maintaining the storehouse.

… you can clip out of the Old Covenant  portion of the Bible anything requiring the stoning of persons for committing adultery; stoning persons for having perverse, sexual practices; stoning anyone for practicing in the occult.

No, it is still God’s word in the Bible. But Jesus said….

I came not to destroy the law but to fulfill it.

And so Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law, but rather to fulfill it, to bring it to completion by instituting a method that was even better.

Now let’s look at Matthew 5:18

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.” (Matthew 5:18 NKJV)

A jot represents the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet, and a tittle is a tiny hook in the Hebrew language distinguishing one letter from another. Basically a tittle is the smallest stroke in the Hebrew language.

Jesus is making a hyperbole, if you would, in order to drive home the point presented in verse 17 of Matthew that the law, the whole of the Old Covenant was to be preserved until it was fulfilled by Him on the cross.

This point is further developed in His statement, “till heaven and earth pass away.” In other words, the Old Covenant Scriptures were to remain valid until the end of the world if they were not fulfilled. But they were fulfilled. When? Answer: At the cross.

But wait! Do not some of the laws, especially those pertaining to the holy days, point to future events not yet fulfilled such as when Christ returns to earth and sets up His kingdom?

Hmm. Let me stop here and meditate more about this.

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[1] The terms “the Law, the Prophets and the Writings” were used by Jesus Christ AFTER He rose from the dead and was speaking to His disciples when He appeared to them (Luke 24:44 NKJV).

 

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