This phase “but Jesus fulfilled the law”… is a very popular phrase among Christians, particularly among those in the evangelical world. The part that gets blurry to me is their understanding of the phase. The basis of their supposition is cemented in Matthew 5:17. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”
So what is this law, and, what does this word fulfil actually mean. Then we have to see this concept within the text [context] actually get accomplished physically by Christ [character] in the Scriptures. With this can we verify the words of Paul, “For all the promises of God in him are yes and Amen” in the second letter to the Corinthians.
Its all about that base, bout that base, bout that base…. avoid trouble…
What we are looking for here is, the context of the message, or on what thesis, is the verse based. In my own experience, the preacher would string together a theme based on the words presented. They would take a word like “grace” and cross reference it with the use of topical index or a chain-reference based search on the reoccurrence of a translated word. Notice I stated it is a translated word and not an original word.
This is the very reason for the use of a concordance. To unlock the context.
For example, in the Hebrew there are two words to describe light: (lamp, illumination)
Owr = The natural agent that makes things visible. [brings the matter to light]
Bahir = Area of something that is brighter or paler than it surroundings.
Also, there are the variants to light; when one is describing weight, it is the word Kal. Kal is the basis for the word ‘calories’, and then there is the Matzit, which is a flame (fiery tail).
With this in mind we can see the importance of translation as it can bring a very different meaning to the Scriptures.
In Genesis 1:3 we see God, on the first ‘day’, creating the “light”,[Owr] yet it isn’t until ‘day’ four that He creates the Sun [Matzit] and the moon, both to give “light” [Bahir] upon the earth.
The word in Genesis 1:3 is the word Owr; Lets read the sentence with the ‘owr’ translation.
‘And God said, Let there be the natural agent that makes things visible: and there was the natural agent that makes things visible.’ So here the natural agent, or the light IS Jesus Christ!
Now, for clarification of context, lets investigate the other meanings:
Bahir: And God said, Let there be something that is brighter than it surroundings. : and there was something that is brighter than it surroundings. (I could see this used as a matter of comparing intelligence maybe, Jesus is much brighter than us.)
Matzit: And God said, Let there be a flame : and there was a flame.
Kal: And God said, Let there be something less heavy: and there was something less heavy. (making this a new prayer in my own weight management struggle!)
I believe what God is trying to tell us here is found in within that first definition. We can see in verse two of Genesis that the created world had nothing, the nothing needed to fulfil a purpose. So God makes this His first action, he creates something that has purpose. This agrees with the other scriptures perfectly.
- John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
- John 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
- Hebrews 1:2-4 [God] Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
- John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
It is here we discover the only definition that could vaguely resemble the creation of the sun would be the Matzit, which we just noted, was not until day four. This example becomes more and more obvious the longer you study the scripture. In the case we are about to investigate… I encourage much more dedication to the topic. There is much to be learned…
Two small words with big implications….
Going directly to the source, the concordance of Hebrew and Greek words, the definition of the term ‘law’ is as follows: [and remember this is the Greek]
nom’-os ; from a primary νέμω némō (to parcel out, especially food or grazing to animals); law (through the idea of prescriptive usage), genitive case (regulation), specially, (of Moses (including the volume); also of the Gospel), or figuratively (a principle):—law.
- law or rule producing a state approved of God.
2. of the Mosaic law, and referring, acc. to the context. either to the volume of the law or to its contents
3. the Christian religion: the law demanding faith, the moral instruction given by Christ, esp. the precept concerning love
4. the name of the more important part (the Pentateuch), is put for the entire collection of the sacred books of the OT.
As Jesus was speaking to the crowds, the words of the Book of Matthew were just some scribbles on a page tucked away in a believers luggage. Probably a burlap bag full of smelly clothes. There was nothing “contemporary”, or “new”, to use as a study guide, you had to take notes and listen with intent.
The prophets and the gospel writers alike pointed people to salvation through grace, by faith, with the Scriptures as their guide. This theology does not sound any different than that which is proclaimed by the modern day evangelicals. Yet… it is not what they teach. They teach a separation of “law” and faith without contextual base.
They teach that the word fulfil means to bring to an end. Let us see if that is in-fact true or not.
The Greek term fulfil is defined as: πληρόω plēróō, play-ro’-o; from G4134; to make replete, i.e. (literally) to cram (a net), level up, or (figuratively) to furnish, execute (an office), fully preach (or coincide with a prediction), perfect, supply.
Not one of these terms listed means putting anything to an end. Each and every one of these definitions show purpose and content. Examine now the depth of what Jesus is saying to the people. First text listed is the way we read it in the English translations:
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Matthew 5:17
Now read it with the context….. based on the definitions of the original words…..
Think not that I am come to overthrow the more important part, the Mosaic law (the Pentateuch), this is the law that demands faith. I am not here to overthrow, what I am here to do is execute (an office), fully preach (or coincide with a prediction), perfect, supply everything you need to know.
Doesn’t that make Paul’s words in Philippians 4:13 much more meaningful? “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” That word strengtheneth means to enable, empower, to be made stronger. Because Jesus has taught me the way to live, from the Scriptures, I have a much better outlook on my walk with God. That is what Paul is saying. AND it stands in perfect harmony with one another theologically. Jesus is here to preach the context while living the character of that same context.
Luke 24:44 “And he [Jesus] 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.
So what did he fulfil?
First, in the utmost and basic form of teaching, Jesus would have taught from the Seat of Moses in the synagogue. The Bible says exactly that, in Matthew 4:23: And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
Again in Mark 6:2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue:
Again in Luke 13:10 And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.
Jesus would have given the people the context of the law from the synagogue while living the character of the law right in front of their eyes. Look at the depth of this exchange in Mark 10…
Mark 10:17-24King James Version
“And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!”
God is looking for those individuals that are “all-in”. It is why he tells the doubter Thomas that it will be greater with those that have faith that is solely reliant on trust. I ask myself everyday do I trust God enough to do ________. Am I relying upon Him more than me, or money, or my wife, or that new car, etc? Do I study, teach, and defend the Word?
The scripture in Mark 10 shows the man confronting Jesus knew the context of the law but not the character of the law. This is what Jesus came to example, supply and fully teach outside the synagogue.
One of the things that was most likely an unintended consequence of growing up in the church of today was a duality of character displayed. I watched (an education by observation) as my friends and family behaved one way at church, and differently, the rest of the week. Personally that is where I struggle the most, in that, I am always at odds within myself. It is too easy to fall back into old habits. Anyone else?
As we can see from the previous example Jesus most certainly lived a life according to the Ten Commandments. The concept of Jesus living the Ten Commandments is a generally accepted principle among the evangelical organizations, this is their position, despite their attempts to distance themselves from the “Torah” or Old Testament/Pentateuch.
Q: So how in the world did he physically manifest all 613 Torah commands?
Generic A: It would have been impossible for anyone but God himself to do such a thing.
This is the point where the evangelical throws up his arms and says “why even try?” They do not wait long enough to hear the matter out, they simply quit, because the preacher says its impossible.
There are “laws”, or instructions, specifically around the health and hygiene of a woman. Fulfilling that is physically impossible even for Jesus, thus he was ‘free from the law’.That being a Law of Cleanliness. Likewise, there are instructions for farmers, and for persons that employed indentured servants/slaves, none of these would have applied to the Carpenter from Nazareth.
In the coming weeks I plan to detail a variety of the “laws” Jesus lived out in his physical being. The Law of the Kinsman Redeemer, the Law of the Divorced Woman, the ceremonial Law of the High Priest, the Sacrificial Law and the Law of Adoption to name a few.
In wrapping up this post I want to identify one of the lesser recognized “laws”; The Law of Conflict. Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
אֵיבָה ʼêybâh, ay-baw’; from H340; hostility:—emnity, hatred.
H340: אָיַב ʼâyab, aw-yab’; a primitive root; to hate (as one of an opposite tribe or party); hence to be hostile:—be an enemy.
God has officially declared a war between the children of God and the children of Satan which we see lived out prophetically in Revelation. Where do we see this portrayed in the life of the Messiah? All we have to do is follow the scripture.
In chapter four of Genesis we get the story of Cain and Able to show us the very character of the law. Cain had full knowledge [context] of the instructions, the text states, yet Cain had no regard for the instructions. Then in chapter five we get the genealogy of man as a pretext, with the display of defiance by Tubal Cain, for the events that will unfold in chapter six. This is the preparation for war.
So the seed, offspring, or resulting followers of Satan, begins in heaven with their separation from God. Genesis 6:1-2 says clearly these angels did things against the law of God. “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” This appears to be the big no-no. Their second issue is their resulting “seed” or offspring. The scripture goes on to call them giants.
Genesis 6:4 “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”
The beauty of the Hebrew language its use of duality. God is constantly doing this to aid in our understanding of the dual concepts of context and character. Look at the definition of giant.
נְפִיל nᵉphîyl, nef-eel’; or נְפִל nᵉphil; from H5307; properly, a feller, i.e. a bully or tyrant:—giant.
H5307 – נָפַל nâphal, naw-fal’; a primitive root; to fall, to throw down, to fall out, waste away, make inferior.
This corresponds to the thoughts of first century believers as Jude writes: “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation” Jude knew.
These are the Annukim, or the sons of Anak, described for us in Numbers 13, Deuteronomy 1, Joshua 15, Judges1, in the encounters of Og of Bashan, as well as, the infamous Goliath. These sons of Anak become the tyrants, rulers or teachers of the inhabitants of the cities they built. They used their size, strength and the “crafts” they were taught from the fallen angels to establish the pagan/cult/false religions found all over the world.
In 1 Samuel we read of the encounter with David and Goliath and subsequent death befalling the tyrant giant. This avowed enemy of God taunted the believers openly and God used the weak things of this world, a shepherd boy, to make foolish the strong. (I think Paul writes about that)
David then takes the head of the fallen warrior to Jerusalem and buries it in a hill outside the city. They name that hill the Hill of the Skull and it stood as a symbol of Gods protection for his people. It is here, on this mountain called Golgotha, that our Savior takes on the physical fulfillment of Genesis 3:15.
John 19:17 “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:”
As he is lifted to the execution stake, head pointed towards the heavens, they drop the stake into the hole in the ground directly above the buried skull, his heels bruised from the nails. Christ receives the the bruise of the life of flesh, as he dies and then resurrects unto perfection, and the tyrant reign of Satan is made temporary, just like a bruise. This is the turning point in the cosmic war.
Makes Ephesians 6:12 stand out all the more…..
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood,[human flaws] but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world,[tyrants] against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
This is how the law is fulfilled…
You have an interesting interpretation of what the “fulfillment” of the Law means…have you considered the possibility that the Greek word might better be translated “fully preach” as it has commonly been translated in Romans 15:19 where Paul “fully preaches” the gospel of Christ?
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Yes Paul says it Romans 3:31 too … Paul as an imitator of Christ lives the context and the character of the law as well
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He fulfilled Isiah 53