Matthew 5:17: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” — New King James Version
Matthew 5:17: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to more fully fill up, or MAGNIFY the Law.” — A Plainer, More Literal Translation (not an official translation)
The original Greek word for fulfill is pleroo, Strong’s number 4137, which DOES NOT mean to replace, abolish, substitute, or perform for other Christians. Its FIRST, MAIN, PRIMARY definition means to “make replete, level up, be full, perfect, fully preach, complete, or to fill.” Fulfill means to fill to the full in verse 17, to fill full, or fill fuller. Pleroo means basically “to add to,” or “supplement.” Joseph H. Thayer, famous Bible word expert, includes the following words in his definition of pleroo: “to furnish or supply liberally,” “liberally supplied,” “to render full,” “to fill up to the top,” “so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, fill to the brim,” “to make complete in every particular,” and “to render perfect.”
The same pleroo word was used in Matthew 13:48 in which nets were filled up with fish! Yes, in other verses pleroo is often used to signify the prophetic fulfillment or consummation of a prophesied event. However, no prophesy ever even hinted that the law would be “fulfilled” by Jesus in a way in which Christians would no longer need to obey the law. A law continues to be a law only if that law or rule is supposed to be obeyed. If it no longer needs to be obeyed then the law ceases to exist. That law is destroyed. Context, simple verse structure, and supporting verses elsewhere in the Bible define and limit how pleroo is to be defined. The following verses contain the pleroo word used in a way in which it OBVIOUSLY refers to an INCREASE in number: Matthew 23:32, Luke 2:40, Luke 3:5, John 12:3, 15:11, 16:6, 16:24, Acts 2:2, plus …… (editing, will be completed)
Jesus added to, improved, and magnified the law. For example, in His famous Sermon on the Mount, He added to or refined (improved) the law at least eight times: 1) Matthew 5:22: refining further the law prohibiting murder, merely being angry with someone without a cause or seriously insulting someone is now a very serious sin, 2) 5:28: just looking at a woman lustfully is now equivalent to adultery, 3) 5:32: whoever marries a divorced woman now commits adultery (there may be one exception), 4) 5:34: never swear at all, 5) 5:39-42: if you are slapped on one cheek, let yourself be slapped on the other cheek and do not refuse to loan or give to others if they ask for a loan or help (there are obvious common sense exceptions since some people might argue that Jesus does not expect us to unnecessarily severely injure ourselves or damage or ruin ourselves financially giving to drug addicts, financial predators, etc.), 6) 5:44: instead of hating our enemies, we are now instructed to love, bless, pray for, and do good to our enemies, 7) 6:15: we must now forgive others instead of holding a permanent grudge, and 8) 7:1: do not judge others unless you want to be judged by the same criteria.
The following reputable translations help show that Jesus DID NOT “fulfill” the law in a way that clearly no longer required us to obey the law. He simply made the law better, adding to it, and refined it further. We still need to diligently observe many Mosaic laws.
Matthew 5:17: “You folks should not infer from customary presumption or from established supposition that I came to loosen-down or demolish the Law (or: Torah) or the Prophets. I did not come to loosen-down or demolish, but to the contrary, to fulfill (or: fill up) and make full.” — Jonathan Mitchell New Testament.
Matthew 5:17: “Do not think that I have come to set aside the law and the prophets; I have not come to set them aside, but to bring them to perfection.” — Knox New Testament.
Matthew 5:17: “Do not for a moment suppose that I have come to abrogate the Law or the Prophets: I have not come to abrogate them but to give them their completion.” — Weymouth New Testament. Mainstream Christians misinterpret pleroo to mean that Jesus has discharged Christians from the obligation to continue closely obeying the Mosaic laws. For further study go to ucg.org/bsc/09/spiritoflaw.ht.
God the Father is referring to His Son, Jesus Christ in Isaiah 42:1-4,6,7,19-21. Isaiah 42:21: “Jehovah is delighted for His righteousness’ sake; He WILL MAGNIFY the Law and make it honorable” — Green’s Literal Translation. Isaiah predicted that Jesus would MAGNIFY the law. No Old Testament prophet EVER even remotely hinted that Jesus would remove from each Christian the need to individually continue obeying the law. Other respected translations such as the John Nelson Darby Translation, A Conservative Version, English Jubilee 2000, New Heart English Bible, World English Bible, English Revised Version, American Standard Version with Strong’s, Updated King James Version, American King James Version, KJV Pure Cambridge Edition, Rotherham Emphasized Bible, Julia Smith Translation, Noah Webster’s KJV revision, Geneva Bible, Bishop’s Bible, Coverdale’s Translation, American Standard Version, Leeser Old Testament, Young’s Literal Translation, Concordant Literal Version, and the Interlinear Hebrew Old Testament also use the word “magnify” in Isaiah 42:21.
Remember that you can confidently assume that God is not deliberately lying to you in any verse because He told us that He does not lie. Hebrews 6:18: “……it is impossible for God to lie ……” 1 Corinthians 14:33: “For God is not the author of confusion.” Therefore we can confidently assume that the original Greek in the New Testament is not really self contradictory concerning law keeping. Since God will not lie or try to confuse us then we need to really believe LITERALLY the following 13 verses that plainly tell us that Christians still need to obey the law.
1) 1 John 3:4: “…… SIN IS THE VIOLATION OF THE LAW”
2) Romans 2:13: “For not the hearers of the LAW are just in the sight of God, but the DOERS of the LAW will be justified.”
3) Romans 6:1,2: “…… Shall we continue in SIN that grace may abound? 2 CERTAINLY NOT! How shall we …… live any longer in it?”
Romans 6:1,2: “What shall we say then? Shall we keep on doing WRONG THINGS so that God will be more kind to us? 2 NO, SURELY NOT! We died to our WRONG WAYS and no longer live in them.” (Worldwide English [New Testament])
Romans 6:1,2: “So what do we do? Keep on SINNING so God can keep on forgiving? I SHOULD HOPE NOT! 2 If we’ve left the country where SIN is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? (The Message) The word “SIN” appears in this and other verses, so remember, according to 1 John 3:4 above, it means ONLY one thing, BREAKING either the food, festival, tithing, Saturday rest, or some other OT or NT law or a combination of those laws.
4) Romans 6:15: “…… Shall we SIN because we are not under LAW but under grace? CERTAINLY NOT!”
5) Romans 3:31: “Well then, if we are saved by faith, does this mean that we no longer need to OBEY God’s LAW? JUST THE OPPOSITE! In fact, only when we trust Jesus can we truly OBEY Him.” (The Living Bible)
Romans 3:31: “Are we abolishing Moses’ Teachings by this faith? THAT’S UNTHINKABLE! Rather, we are SUPPORTING Moses’ teachings.” (God’s Word Translation)
6) Romans 6:16: “Do you not know that …… you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of SIN leading to death, or of OBEDIENCE leading to RIGHTEOUSNESS?” 7) Romans 6:18: “And having been set free from SIN, YOU BECAME SLAVES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 8) Romans 6:19: “…… For just as you presented your members as slaves of UNCLEANNESS, and of LAWLESSNESS leading to more lawlessness, SO NOW PRESENT YOUR MEMBERS AS SLAVES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR HOLINESS.” The Greek definition of UNCLEANNESS includes the Levitically “unclean” or forbidden foods. The Greek definition of LAWLESSNESS refers primarily to breaking the Old Testament, Mosaic LAWS. The word “righteousness” in these Roman verses usually refers to the Jewish LAW keeping type of righteousness. So according to the green, capitalized phrase above, Paul clearly commands us to start or to continue obeying the LAW.
9) Matthew 19:17: “….. BUT IF you want to enter into life, KEEP the commandments.” 10) Revelation 22:14: “Blessed are those who DO His commandments, that they may HAVE THE RIGHT to the tree of life ……” Remember, the Ten Commandments contain the one requiring rest on Saturday, not Sunday, which was started by the Catholics.
11) JUDE 1:4: “…… (impious, PROFANE) persons …… PERVERT THE GRACE …… of our God into LAWLESSNESS ……” (The Amplified Bible)
12) Matthew 7:23: “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART from Me, you who practice LAWLESSNESS.” 13) Matthew 13:41,42: “…… His angels …… will gather …… those who practice LAWLESSNESS 42 and will cast them into the FURNACE OF FIRE ……”
Yes, the death of Jesus did wipe away and atone for our sins (violations of the law), BUT IT WAS GENERALLY ONLY FOR OUR PAST, REPEAT, PAST SINS, NOT SINS AFTER REPENTANCE AND BAPTISM!!
ROMANS 3:24,25: “…… GRACE, through …… Jesus: …… 25 in His pity God let the SINS OF EARLIER TIMES GO UNPUNISHED.” (Bible in Basic English) That is why we need to keep on obeying the law after our baptism. New, post baptismal sins, though, when confessed and sincerely repented of, can also be forgiven (1 John 1:9, 2:1,2). Abandoning one’s conversion and baptism, however, or deliberately and consistently sinning may ultimately be judged as unforgiveable according to Hebrews 6:4-6, and 10:26-27.
For additional study please visit http://www.ucg.org/doctrinal-beliefs/did-jesus-do-away-law/.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible,
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Scripture quotations marked (TLB) are taken from The Living Bible copyright ©1971, used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.