Jesus did not change the law

Jesus prefaced His contrast of the scribes' and Pharisees' narrow interpretation of the law with its true spiritual intent using the words, "You have heard that it was said .. . But I say to you .. ." (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28).

Some erroneously think Jesus' intention was to contrast His own teaching with that of Moses and thereby declare Himself as the true authority. They assume that Jesus was either opposed to the Mosaic law or modifying it in some way.

But it's hard to imagine that Jesus, just after delivering the most solemn and emphatic proclamation of the permanence of the law and emphasizing His own high regard for it, would now undermine the authority of the law by other pronouncements. Jesus wasn't inconsistent; He honored and upheld the law in all His statements.

In this passage He is not pitting Himself against the Mosaic law, nor is He claiming a superior spirituality. What He was doing was refitting the wrong interpretations perpetuated by the scribes and Pharisees. This is why He declared that one's righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus was restoring, in the minds of His listeners, the Mosaic precepts to their original place, purity and power. (For a better understanding of these laws, request or download your free copy of the booklet The Ten Commandments.)

It should also be obvious that because the same God is the Author of Old and New Covenant alike, there can be no vital conflict between them, and that the fundamental laws of morality underlying both must be and are in full accord. God tells us in Malachi 3:6, "I am the Lord, I do not change . .."

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