Thursday, April 22, 2021

Understanding Matthew 5:17-18


Understanding Matthew 5:17-18

Those in the Hebrew Roots Movement will frequently use Matt 5:17-18 as a proof text claiming that the Law of Moses is still in effect and has not yet been set aside. I have yet to find anyone in this movement  that can adequately reconcile Mat 5:18 with Heb 7:12.

Mat 5:18 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.

Heb 7:12 For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.

The usual response is that "until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law" is the final answer, and so we are left with the contradiction because "heaven and earth" are still here. But what those that pick apart verses try to hide is the fact that Mat 5:18 also says "until everything is accomplished".

The argument goes that "until everything is accomplished" means until we reach the eternal state. However the context of the passage is Jesus fulfilling everything in the Law and the Prophets and that is what "everything" is qualifying.

So the passage should be read as neither heaven and earth passing away, nor the law passing away will occur until all is accomplished. Both hang on the finished work of Jesus.

So the question is, did Jesus accomplish everything.

Jesus Himself indicated just that, note vs 56. The context is His impending crucifixion, not the eternal state.

Mat 26:53-56 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? (54) But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" (55) In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, "Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. (56) But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Also note John's record, in vs. 30. Again, the context is His crucifixion and not the eternal state.

Joh 19:28-30 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." (29) A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. (30) When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

From Jesus' perspective, the writings of the prophets has been fulfilled, it is finished, and from Mat 5:18, "everything is accomplished".

To corroborate this, there are a number of teachings, such as:

Rom 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Jesus is the end of the law for righteousness).

Gal 3:19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. (The law was until the Seed had come).

Gal 3:24-25 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. (25) Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. (The law was a guardian until Christ).

Eph 2:14-15 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, (15) by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, (The law with it's commands and regulations are set aside).

Heb 7:18-19 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (19) (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. (The law is set aside).

And so on. All of these passage support the understanding that Mat 5:18 is speaking of everything being accomplished in Jesus, and the law being changed, but not before Jesus accomplished everything.

This is the plain reading of Heb 7:12, that in Jesus, all the law has changed. Mat 5:18 clearly states that not a single jot or tittle, the smallest part of the Law will change until all is accomplished, and Heb 7:12 is the outworking of everything being accomplished, and the change in Heb 7:12 is far greater than jots and tittles.

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