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 the Law.” — A Plainer, More Literal 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, 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 by 3-16-16)

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

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.

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

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