Did Jesus Abolish the Law?
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus declares to all, “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. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18).
By these words, Jesus Himself confirms His Ten Commandments that He gave in Sinai. And He said that they are obligatory upon His children, and announced that anyone who should think to abolish His law would “in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).
The Moral Law
The context points that Jesus was referring mainly to the moral law and the civil statutes contained in the books of Moses and confirmed by the prophets. In Matthew 5:21–47, Jesus selects certain principles from the Ten Commandments (vs. 21, 27) and from the laws of Moses (vs. 33, 38, 43), and contrasts His interpretation of them with that of the scribes who taught Israel the law (Mark 1:22; 2:6, 16; Luke 5:17). Jesus, the Author of the law, makes clear the true meaning of its principles and how it should be translated in the lives of His followers.
Some wrongly claim that Jesus abolished the law and that by fulfilling the moral law He annulled it. But this is not in harmony with the context of Christ’s statement in Matthew 5. Such a claim rejects the meaning Christ clearly gave. For the Lord doesn’t contradict Himself. By fulfilling the law Christ simply “filled” it “full” of meaning—by giving men an example of perfect obedience to the Word of God, in order that the same law “might be fulfilled in us” (Romans 8:3, 4).
God sent His Son to earth so that people might be enabled to keep the righteous requirements of the law. God did not offer His Son in order to change or abolish His law, or to free men from obedience to it. But fallen people has been unable to obey the law, and the law had no power to help them to obey. But praise God, Christ has come to empower man to obey.
The Bible repeatedly teaches the need for full perfect obedience (Matthew 5:48; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 4:12, 13; 2 Timothy 3:17; Hebrews 6:1; 13:21). God demands perfection of His children (Matthew 5:48). And the perfect life of Christ is God’s guarantee to us that by His grace we too may have perfection of character (Philippians 4:13).
God’s Word Can’t Change
Jesus adds, “till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass.” The law being an expression of the will of God, and the plan of salvation an expression of the mercy of God, will never fail. For “the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40:8). Truth never changes, for its Author is “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).
A change in the moral law is no more possible than a transformation of the character of God, who doesn’t change. God declared, “For I am the Lord, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6). God’s holiness is everlastingly (Numbers 23:19; James 1:17). It is because God does not change that His eternal purpose toward His children will not change. Thus, the principles of the moral law are as everlasting as God is.
God’s “word” will accomplish His good purpose, and “prosper” (Isaiah 55:11). His words represent His will and have great power to make that will possible. They have power to create (Genesis 1:3; Psalms 33:6, 9), to give spiritual life (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4; Revelation 1:3), to judge (Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 19:15), to resurrect (Job 14:14, 15; John 11:43, 44; 1 Thessalonians 4:16), and to heal (Matthew 9:2, 6; Mark 2:5, 9–12; John 5:24; 6:63). There will be no change in the divine principles, to bring them into line with man’s desires.
In His service,