Matthew 5:17–20 Commentary

Matthew 5:17–20 Commentary

“Do not suppose that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.”

This means that Yeshua did not come to destroy, abolish, end, conclude, finish, abrogate, nullify or make of no effect, any part of the Hebrew Scriptures, which we know as the Old Testament.

“I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”

Yeshua came to do the precise opposite of destroying: he came to bring it to fullness, and to fulfill prophecy. Many today read the word ’fulfill’ and incorrectly think that it means, “complete the terms so that it no longer needs to be kept because a new era of grace has been ushered in.” But this understanding is absolutely refuted by everything which immediately follows, not to mention what immediately preceded! To entertain this creative interpretation, means for instance, that one believes Yeshua said, in effect, “Do not suppose that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to destroy but to abolish and end.” If he had meant that, then he would not have immediately followed up with several very clear statements about the necessity of keeping every commandment in the Law.

“Because amen I say to you, until the heaven and the earth shall pass away, never ever shall one smallest letter or one tiny serif pass away from the Law.”

Yeshua most emphatically impresses the truth of what he is about to say, when he states, “Because amen I say to you!” There is no doubt or hedging here whatsoever. He is about to say something very clear and unmistakable. First, he gives a time frame for the truth of his statement: until the heaven and the earth shall pass away. This means that what he is about to say will remain true while the heavens (sky) and the earth continue to exist! A quick check out the window suffices to show that they indeed still continue to exist, so what he is about to say is still true in our present time! The truth he states is that not one single part or provision or statement or command within the Hebrew Scriptures will be abolished! Extreme emphasis is placed on this point by stating that not even a single letter of the Hebrew Scriptures, even the smallest, most insignificant letter, nor even the tiniest flourish on the tip of one stroke of a single letter will be taken away! Thus, it is absolutely crystal clear, with no possibility of misinterpretation, that not one single word, command, provision or statement within the Hebrew Scriptures will become null and void, contradicted, or countermanded while our physical universe continues to exist!

“Until everything comes to pass, therefore, whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the Kingdom of the Heavens.”

Yeshua further emphasises the point that no change will occur until the sky and the earth shall pass away, which is until everything has come to pass. Everything has not come to pass yet! So therefore, Yeshua continues, anyone who so much as relaxes—relaxes mind you, not abolishes—even one of the least of the directions given in Torah, and teaches this modified command to others, will be called least in the Kingdom of the Heavens. This is leaving up to the imagination what will happen to those who wilfully actually abolish any single provision of Torah!

“But whoever does and teaches them, this one shall be called great in the Kingdom of the Heavens.”

Keeping and teaching even the smallest, most insignificant Torah Law to others results in being called great in the Kingdom of the Heavens, such is the importance attached to keeping the Law of God!

“Because I am telling you, if your righteousness shall not exceed that of the scribes and of the Pharisees, you shall never ever enter into the Kingdom of the Heavens!”

Everything said previously about keeping every smallest provision of the Law, and not even relaxing a single one of them, was said for this reason: unless our keeping of the Law (which is righteousness) does not exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees (who kept the letter of the Law quite well), then we will never, ever, in any way whatsoever, enter into the Kingdom of the Heavens!

It doesn’t get plainer than that.

The reason we have the Holy Spirit is not to enable us to flout the Law, but to enable us to be fully obedient to it—not only to the letter of the Law, but also to the spirit of it. Being obedient to the letter, like the Pharisees, is required but not enough! We can only fulfill the Law by obeying it through of the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.

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Author: David K. Trudgett

Updated: 2019-03-17 Sun 17:12 UTC+1100

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