July 09, 2013

How did Jesus Fulfill the Law and the Prophets?

This question has come up in my blog comments: "How did Jesus Fulfill the Law and the Prophets?" This question arises from a specific verse in Matthew:

“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 NIV)

What is the context of this passage? It's Jesus' first recorded teaching, as given to his disciples, an introduction to the New Covenant and the New Testament.

In order to more precisely interpret the intended meaning, it's important to look into the original language of the text.

The word translated as "abolish" is from the Greek kataluo, which means “to loosen down" to "overthrow" to "render vain" and to "invalidate". Jesus did not come to invalidate the law or to overthrow it, but to fulfill the laws purposes and requirements.

1. The law has required ultimate, perfect holiness - In the very same teaching in Matthew, Jesus states, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5.48 NIV). The law doesn't say, "It's OK to have idolatry once in a while." or "You can lie and steal sometimes." The law and the ultimate need for holiness are absolute. Galatians 3.10 affirms, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”

Who can claim that they have always followed the first commandment and have never idolized anything or anyone but have worshipped God alone? Scripture states, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (Deuteronomy 6.5) - and we all fall short.

2. Christ alone has fulfilled the law's requirement for moral perfection - The only answer and the only hope for our sinful condition is the atoning crucifixion of Christ. Jesus lived a perfect life without sin. (Hebrews 4.15) And, therefore, he was a worthy sacrifice for our sin: "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2 NIV) Through Christ's atonement, we can be made perfect before the Father in Christ's holiness: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2.8 NIV)

3.  A major purpose of the law was to point us to Christ - "Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith." (Galatians 3.24 KJV). Christ allowed this purpose of the law to be fulfilled by being faithful to his purpose to die as a sacrifice for our sins.

4. Jesus fulfilled prophecies when he fulfilled his atoning purpose on earth - For example, Daniel 9.26: "And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself;" and Isaiah 53: "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; he punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." And Psalm 22: "For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots." (V 16-18.) For more on this subject, see article, "An Open Challenge to Bible Critics" as linked.

5. The New Covenant Supersedes the Old Covenant - Jesus did not "abolish" the Old Testament. Rather, it is now meant to be reevaluated and reinterpreted through the lens of the more relational New Covenant, as Jeremiah prophesied,

"this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it ton their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

In order to understand which laws are meant to be guides today, it is necessary to review both the Old and New Testaments together. For example, with regard to eating shellfish. It was considered non-kosher, verboten in the Old Testament. However, it is quite clear in the New Testament that it is morally acceptable to eat shellfish, as noted in Acts 10.9-16.  Is there any logical reason why God would have forbidden foods in one generation and permitted them in another?

When Israel was a fledgling nation and when the temple sacrifices were in effect, there were a variety of different circumstances. Many of these laws related to hygiene and were offered in God's wisdom as a means to help Israel survive.

In 1953 Dr. David I. Macht of Johns Hopkins, conducted toxicity tests on many different kinds of animals and fish, and concluded that the toxicity of Levitically "unclean" animals was higher than that of the "clean" animals. Another study published 1993 by Anderson and Rice offered the same kinds of results.

Often people will attempt to fit other subjects into the same type of category as shellfish. While it is a cause for much debate, the plain meaning of both Old Testament and New Testament verses outlines that it is considered immoral in all time periods. That's what the text plainly states. In this case, the legal requirements were neither altered nor abolished.

There have been different laws and different consequences at different periods mainly because many of the more ritualistic type laws served a specific purpose for only a specific time period. However, there are some laws that are considered more timeless and universally applicable as guides, such as the Ten Commandments. Unless a person is willing to become a serious student of the Bible, it will be difficult to interpret and apply the moral truth outlined in scripture. The fact that God offered different laws during different time periods does not necessarily imply that there is no objective basis for morality. On the contrary, only if God exists is there a possible objective basis of morality. For more on this, see article, "If God Exists, Then Objective Morality Exists" as linked.

Tags: Did Jesus fulfill prophecy? Did Jesus abolish the law? Compare Old and New Testament laws

13 comments:

  1. Sigh... As always you avoided my main questions... You still fail to provide a proof why some of the concrete laws (like the execution of homosexuals) should not be followed from the OT, but others (like the 10 commandments) should be followed. You also fail to explain why if it was once moral to execute gays, it is no longer so.

    R:What is the context of this passage? It's Jesus' first recorded teaching, as given to his disciples, an introduction to the New Covenant and the New Testament

    And you need to prove he is not speaking about the laws from the OT. If we also take into account, that Jesus was the only prophet at the time who preached new laws, it is logical to assume he was talking about prophets before him and their laws. You also need to prove your versio of supersessionism is the only right one.

    R:Jesus lived a perfect life without sin.

    You need to prove it, not assert this.

    R:The New Covenant Supersedes the Old Covenant - Jesus did not "abolish" the Old Testament. Rather, it is now meant to be reevaluated and reinterpreted through the lens of the more relational New Covenant

    Again... What makes your reinteretention and reinterpretention the right one and not Luther s or Hitler s?

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  2. >You still fail to provide a proof why some of the concrete laws (like the execution of homosexuals) should not be followed from the OT, but others (like the 10 commandments) should be followed.

    - As a new theist nation in the midst of pagan cultures that practiced pedophilia and homosexuality, such a as Canaan, capital punishment was designated by God for many sins that later would not be considered worthy of capital punishment.

    Why did God choose to be so harsh and exacting in the beginning? There is no definitive answer. But it seems that the strict codes may have helped the nation to remain morally pure in the beginning, even as they were surrounded by morally corrupt cultures.

    You presuppose that God is answerable to humans and required to explain every one of his decisions. For one thing, the transcendant wisdom of God is above and beyond our ability to comprehend. Therefore, God has no logical oblligation to try to explain every move and every decision made. Nevertheless, the fact remains clear in scripture that there are different legal requirements in the Old and New Testaments.

    There are certain cases where the NT clearly spells out when something has changed, as in the case of Peter and the shellfish in Acts 10.9-16. Also, both the OT and NT make it clear that homosexuality is regarded as a sin in both time periods and both dispensations. There are ubiquitous websites outlining lists of verses. The following link offers 12 verses on homosexuality:

    http://www.policymic.com/articles/32005/what-does-the-bible-say-about-homosexuality-12-scripture-verses-about-gay-marriage

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    1. Nevertheless, the fact remains clear in scripture that there are different legal requirements in the Old and New Testaments.

      Indeed. However, the arguments reconciling them vary, (and are indeed dismissed by Jews who do not consider Jesus as the Messiah.) Saying they're different, and claiming that this is not a problem, are two different things.

      For one thing, the transcendant wisdom of God is above and beyond our ability to comprehend. Therefore, God has no logical oblligation to try to explain every move and every decision made.

      Which brings us once again to the question of whether any morality incapable of explanation can be considered "objective", or is merely the subjective view of the person with the biggest stick.

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    2. I'm not surprised Imnotanrei questions whether or not there is an objective basis of morality. Thus, with little hesitation, he slanders calling me a liar when there is no objective basis for this, as noted here at the following link:

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2013/02/slander-logic-and-venn-diagrams.html

      Ironically, I have a friend who is gay who says there is no objective basis for right and wrong, yet, his greatest passion is to be an activist for "justice" in the world! Go figure.

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    3. R:I'm not surprised Imnotanrei questions whether or not there is an objective basis of morality.

      Reading disability detected... You cannot derive such thing from imnotandrei s statement.

      Rick, doubting if YOUR morality is objective is not the same as not believing there is no such thing.

      Furthermore, instead of addressing imnotandrei s point, you are going for a red herring. It does not matter if imnotandrei believe or not in an objective morality. The question is how can you prove that your morality is objective and not just the whimsical order from your deity.

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  3. >R:Jesus lived a perfect life without sin.

    >You need to prove it, not assert this.

    - Objections such as this are based on a presupposition that the Bible is not true and needs to be validated and proven. That is a completely different subject and you can offer those comments in the comments at the following post:

    An Open Challenge to Bible Critics

    http://templestream.blogspot.com/2010/01/open-challenge-to-bible-critics.html


    36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

    37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+22%3A36-40&version=NIV

    My proposition here is that the Bible is internally consistent morally in its transition from OT to NT. You do not have to challenge the truth of the Bible in order to attempt to challenge its internal consistency. Are you unable to challenge the internal consistency of the Bible?

    >Again... What makes your reinteretention and reinterpretention the right one

    - Seeing as Luther was an avid student of scripture, I find it highly unlikely that he would have considiered homosexuality moral. As I pointed out, you would have to deny 12 scriptures in order to attempt to support that view.

    BTW, still waiting for just one scrip[ture from the OT or NT that advocates homosexiality as morally valid. Are you having some trouble finding one? But why should my interpretation be considered more valid than others who claim it is morally valid today? I mean, it's only 12 scriptures. Who am I to say that 12 scriptures hold more weight than zero scriptures with regard to a controversial subject? You have a pretty strong case there, I suppose, in today's post modernist (no concern for objective truth) world.

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    1. Ironically, Rick, in the previous thread I cited the Great Commandment as one such text, though I'm well aware that by defining "love" the way you want it to, you can view it as not supporting that. Of course, that gets us down to definitions of "love", and which is to be correct.

      All of this definitional wrangling, BTW, is why people are skeptical of your claims of a discernable "objective morality" coming from the Biblical text -- since people can decipher it many different ways.

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    2. >All of this definitional wrangling, BTW, is why people are skeptical of your claims of a discernable "objective morality" coming from the Biblical text -- since people can decipher it many different ways.

      - I never claimed that objective morality is derived merely from Bible texts. I have always maintained, as William Lane Craig does, that the anchor of objective morality is God's eternal unchanging nature and goodness.

      The objective basis of morality was described in another post:

      If God Exists, Then Objective Morality Exists

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2012/08/if-god-exists-then-objective-morality.html?showComment=1374539169241#c3518371333722084694

      I almost completely forgot, Imnotandrei is a documented slanderer at this blog and not one I wish to waste time attempting to dialogue with:

      Slander, Logic and Venn Diagrams: Adventures in Internet Apologetics

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2013/02/slander-logic-and-venn-diagrams.html

      If there are any secular atheists out there not interested in just wasting time slandering, do post a comment.

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    3. R:I have always maintained, as William Lane Craig does, that the anchor of objective morality is God's eternal unchanging nature and goodness

      Yet you did acknowledge yourself that god has changed his views. Before he instructed to execute homosexuals and now he "tells" us not to. You know about this, but you still preach the same mantra. Therefore, you are a liar, Rick 8)

      R:The objective basis of morality was described in another post

      Yes, thank you for making the same thing as you always do. Offer links to discredited articles you ran away from.

      R:I almost completely forgot, Imnotandrei is a documented slanderer at this blog and not one I wish to waste time attempting to dialogue with

      You are not that popular, Rick. You do not have the luxury to pick and choose your opponent. Not to mention the small mistake that imnotabdrei did does not change the fact that you are a liar, Rick.

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    4. >Yet you did acknowledge yourself that god has changed his views.

      - Anonymous, let me ask you a question:

      If a mother catches her son lying and one day gives him a two hour time out and another day she catches him lying and this time sits him down and tries to lovingly explain why lying is wrong, does the variation in her reaction necessitate that lying is not an objectively immoral act?

      Variations in responses or punishments does not nullify objective grounds for responses or punishments.

      Do you get it? Or, are you going to follow me for 5 articles calling me a "liar" because you don't understand a concept, as we've already seen before:

      Slander, Logic and Venn Diagrams: Adventures in Internet Apologetics

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2013/02/slander-logic-and-venn-diagrams.html

      Remember how you were one of the stars of that post? Actually, I probably shouldn't even be attempting to communicate with you after all your unjustified slander at this blog.

      Delete
  4. R:As a new theist nation in the midst of pagan cultures that practiced pedophilia and homosexuality, such a as Canaan, capital punishment was designated by God for many sins that later would not be considered worthy of capital punishment.

    And you need to prove that homosexuality no longer deserve capital punishment, not just assert this. There is no other earthly punishment prescribed in the Bible.

    R:Why did God choose to be so harsh and exacting in the beginning? There is no definitive answer. But it seems that the strict codes may have helped the nation to remain morally pure in the beginning, even as they were surrounded by morally corrupt cultures.

    So if a person follows the law just because they are afraid of the punishment, that makes them morally pure?

    R:You presuppose that God is answerable to humans and required to explain every one of his decisions. For one thing, the transcendant wisdom of God is above and beyond our ability to comprehend.

    So in other words - you do not know. But somehow you still claim that it was moral to execute homosexuals in the past, but it is no longer so. You have no argument in scripture against people who kill homosexuals. You cannot say that they are doing something immoral.

    Hm.. If God is beyond human understanding, how can you claim to know what God wants from you and others, Rick? You cannot at the same preach Christian teachings and claim you do not understand them. Well... You can, but do not expect that you will be taken seriously.

    R:There are certain cases where the NT clearly spells out when something has changed, as in the case of Peter and the shellfish in Acts 10.9-16

    Again, that is purely your interpretention.

    "He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. Then he heard a voice saying, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.’ The voice said to him again, a second time, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’"

    Some four-footed creatures and birds have descended from heaven. No mention of shellfish. Furthermore, God "has made clean" that food. Which means that usually that kind of food is "dirty". We have no evidence that it was not a once in a lifetime miracle. Hence, there is no proof that kosher foods are irrelevant to our present life.

    R:Objections such as this are based on a presupposition that the Bible is not true and needs to be validated and proven. That is a completely different subject and you can offer those comments in the comments at the following post

    You dropped off that thread, running away from your opponents, and now after more than a year you are trying to present this as proof? After all, you already acknowledged that the bible is not "textually pure", examples of other messihas have been offered and there are at least a dozen of failed prophecies. Though, you do reinterpret them so that they have at least a semblance of fitting in the story.

    R:My proposition here is that the Bible is internally consistent morally in its transition from OT to NT.

    How can you claim it is consistent if you do not understand it? How come it is no longer moral to execute homosexuals? After all, some define their execution as "love" and you have no verses to oppose them.

    R:Seeing as Luther was an avid student of scripture, I find it highly unlikely that he would have considiered homosexuality moral.

    Yet, Luther, using scipture, called for the persecution of Jews, which you find immoral. So what makes your intepretention right and his wrong?

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  5. R:As I pointed out, you would have to deny 12 scriptures in order to attempt to support that view.

    And as I have pointed out in the previous thread, some theologians claim that those 12 quotes are mistranslations and misinterpretentions.

    R:BTW, still waiting for just one scrip[ture from the OT or NT that advocates homosexiality as morally valid. Are you having some trouble finding one?

    Well, you still failed to explain how objectively we can understand which laws from the OT should be followed and which should not. As long as we are not through with that subject, I see no need to waste my breath on another similar one. I have not even looked for those bible quotes.

    However, I did provide you with a link to the position of several bible scholars that deny homosexuality is a sin and claim that all those 12 verses are mistranslations and misinterpretentions.

    R:But why should my interpretation be considered more valid than others who claim it is morally valid today? I mean, it's only 12 scriptures. Who am I to say that 12 scriptures hold more weight than zero scriptures with regard to a controversial subject?

    Hm...Let me think... On one hand we have Rick with no knowledge of Latin, Greek and Aramaic... And on the other several scholars with the knowledge of those languages, who studied several original pieces of the bible and claim that those 12 verses were translated wrongly. Yep, Rick definitely must be right in that situation.

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    1. Lots of type and hype, but still no answer to my question:

      "If a mother catches her son lying and one day gives him a two hour time out and another day she catches him lying and this time sits him down and tries to lovingly explain why lying is wrong, does the variation in her reaction necessitate that lying is not an objectively immoral act?"

      This was in response to this comment of yours:

      "Yet you did acknowledge yourself that god has changed his views. Before he instructed to execute homosexuals and now he "tells" us not to. You know about this, but you still preach the same mantra. Therefore, you are a liar, Rick 8"

      Was my analogy too difficult to understand?

      Delete

You are welcome to post comments but, please, no uncivilized blog abuse. I reserve the right to ignore any comments that are abusive, off-topic, or patently false. I don't have time to waste feeding the trolls.