Did not come to destroy but to fulfill

Jesus explains His view of the law very quickly after giving the beatitudes: "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill" (Matthew 5:17).

So immediately we see that Jesus had no intention of destroying the law. He even tells us not to even think such a thing. Far from being antagonistic to the Old Testament Scriptures, He said He had come to fulfill "the Law and the Prophets" and proceeded to confirm their authority. "The Law and the Prophets" was a term commonly used for the Old Testament Scriptures (compare Matthew 7:12).

"The Law" referred to the first five books of the Bible, the books of Moses in which God's laws were written down. "The Prophets"

referred not only to the writings of the biblical prophets, but also to the historical books of what came to be known as the Old Testament.

We have discussed in earlier chapters how Jesus fulfilled "the Prophets." But what did Jesus mean when He spoke of fulfilling the law?

Regrettably, the meaning of "fulfilling the law" has been twisted by many who claim the name of Jesus but don't really understand what He taught. They say that since Jesus said He would fulfill the law, we no longer need to keep it and the law has no further obligation on His followers.

Another view of "fulfilling the law" is that Jesus "filled full" what was lacking in the law—that is, He completed it, partly canceling it and partly adding to it, forming what is sometimes referred to as "Christ's law" or "New Testament teaching." The implication of this view is that the New Testament brought a change in the requirements for salvation and that the laws given in the Old Testament are obsolete. But do either of these views accurately reflect what Jesus meant?

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