Christians who maintain that the Mosaic Law is still valid today will invariably quote Matthew Ch.5:17 “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the Prophets, I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.” They use this passage of scripture to end all discussion about the Law. Jesus said it; therefore, it’s right and that’s the end of the matter. And, yet, it clearly is not the end of the matter, and if it were it would have to be one of the most contradictory chapters in the entire Bible.
In my view, Jesus abrogates the Mosaic Law in Matthew chapter five and six on at least seven counts.
After a miracle working session in chapter four of Matthew, Jesus retired to the mountain with His disciples. He taught them about the Kingdom of Heaven, Matthew Ch. 5:3-16 is the ultimate gauge that determines who is Blessed and who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I hear so much debate about Blessing and Cursing, and in almost every case, Matthew chapter five is never quoted. And, yet under the New Covenant this is the only criteria that determines Blessing.
Who is Blessed under the New Covenant according to Matthew Ch.5:3-16?
- The Poor in Spirit (the humble)
- The Needy
- The Helpless
- Those that Mourn
- The Meek
- Those that seek the Righteousness of God
- The Merciful
- The Pure in Heart
- The Peacemakers
- Those who are persecuted for Righteousness sake
- Those who are Reviled
- Those who are spoken against Falsely
- Those who are The Salt of the Earth
- And, those who are The Lights of the World (Only those in Jesus are the Lights of the World, because He is the only Light of the World).
The fulfillment of the Law of God in the hearts and minds of His followers is in the above list. Those who possess those qualities or are suffering for the Kingdom’s sake are those who belong to the Kingdom and therefore are The Blessed.
Now, let’s proceed to Matthew Ch.5:18; “For verily I say unto you till Heaven and Earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law until all be fulfilled.”
The Greek words used here are katalyo for destroy and ginomai for fulfilled. Katalyo means to discard or abrogate and ginomai means to bring to pass or finish. So, which Law is Jesus talking about? Because He no sooner says this when He begins to take down the Mosaic Law, note He doesn’t even call it Moses’s Law, instead choosing to say, “It’s been said of old.” If for instance Jesus meant to keep every ‘jot and tittle’ from the Law, then why would He abrogate it on more than seven counts?
In fact, what Jesus was restoring was the Law of God to its purest form, like it was in the beginning. It’s been a long-held belief of mine that Hammurabi’s Babylonian cruel Laws became incorporated into the Mosaic Code. Jesus restored Mercy, whereas under the Old Covenant Mercy was in short supply. Mercy does not integrate well into “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” revenge law. Which is word for word a Babylonian Law written on stone some 1500 years before Moses. “Love your neighbours” is God’s Law in its purest form, that is whoever is beside you at any given time. “Love your neighbours but hate the Amorites and Moabites” is not God’s Law, that is according to Jesus. Somewhere along the line the message got mixed up, Jesus came to abrogate laws and set the record straight.
Christians, rather than argue about Matthew Ch.5:16-17 let’s just focus on getting Matthew Ch.5:3-16 right.
The “Laws of Old” that Jesus abrogated are:
- The Law of Killing
- The Law of Adultery
- The Law of Oaths and Swearing
- The Law of Revenge
- The Law of Hate
- The Law of Divorce
- The Law of Showing no Mercy
Here are some examples of abrogated laws from the chapter that is supposed to substantiate that the Mosaic Law was not done away with:
The Law of Divorce:
The Mosaic Law:
“It hath been said, whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement” Deuteronomy 24:1
“When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.”
The Abrogated Law:
“But I (Jesus Christ) say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” Matthew 5:31-32.
The Law of Swearing and making Oaths:
The Mosaic Law:
“And Moses spake unto the heads of the tribes concerning the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded.
If a man vows a vow unto the LORD or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.” Numbers 30:1-2.
The Abrogated Law:
“Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:
Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” Matthew Ch 5: 33-37.
The Laws of Revenge:
The Mosaic Law:
“Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake.
And if he smite out his manservant’s tooth, or his maidservant’s tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake.
If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit.” Exodus 21:24-28
The Abrogated Law:
“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”Matthew Ch. 5:39-42.
I have heard people say that the eye for an eye law does not mean an actual eye for an eye but rather monetary compensation, I think Jesus knew that also, because He mentioned those who would sue you and how you should respond to them.
The Laws of Love and Hate:
The Mosaic Law:
Law of Killing and destroying your enemies:
“Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me.” Psalm 18:40
If you think you can hate your enemies and encourage or support others to hate and kill people, you are so wrong.
We cannot or should not endorse the killing of anyone, even our enemies. “Thou shalt NOT kill, period! There is no such thing as pre-meditated murder or accidental murder or revenge killing or self-defence killing in God’s eyes or a differentiation between killing those of your own community or outsiders.
The Old Testament is riddled with scriptures about hating your enemies to the point of destroying them. In the Old Testament, even God ‘hates’, for example, God hates Esau, Really? See my article on, Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated. Another example is destroying the seven perceived enemies of ancient Israel, “Kill the woman and children, ham-string the horses and kill everything that has breath.” And Christians have the audacity to cry foul over the Quran! To my surprise I have met Christians, even Pastors who use such references to justify the killing of Palestinians, even if those Palestinians are Christians. I have to ask myself…” Do these so-called Christians read the New Testament?”
Killing is killing. We cannot take a life; we are not permitted to do so.
The Abrogated Law:
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
Leave there thy gift before the altar and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
Verily I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.”
Then there is Mercy…
SHOW NO MERCY or LOVE MERCY, which one is it?
- “Conquer them; utterly destroy them; make no covenant with them SHOW NO MERCY. Deuteronomy 7:2
- “And what does the LORD require of you? But to do justly, TO LOVE MERCY, And to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
We must go to none other than the New Testament to determine which one is correct. If we stay in the Old Testament, we will never know whether we are supposed to Show Mercy or not Show Mercy.
If you read widely in Ancient Near East literature, it’s hard to miss certain similarities in Laws. Many where simply International Laws and were the same across all ancient civilizations. They were also in existence prior to Moses, which does not necessarily mean they were not God’s Laws, it just means Moses incorporated them into Biblical Laws.
“The ten commandments were followed by a series of other laws, many of which were probably re-enactments of laws or regulations already in force. The law of retaliation, for instance (Exod. xxi. 23-25), is as old as human society; so also is the law that murder should be punished by death (xxi. 12). The law which punished the master for the murder of a slave if he died on the spot, but allowed him to go scot-free if the slave lingered for a day or two (xxi. 20, 21), had its parallel in ancient Babylonia, and the death-penalty exacted from the ox which had gored a man (xxi. 28-32) is a survival from the days when dumb animals and even inanimate objects were regarded as responsible for the injuries they had caused. The regulations in regard to ‘ a field or vineyard,’ or ‘ the standing corn ‘ of a field (xxii. 5, 6), belonged to the land of Goshen or to Canaan, not to the life in the wilderness, and the dedication of the firstborn to God (xxii. 29, 30) was one of the most ancient articles of Semitic faith. (Page 140-141).
Sayce, A. (2004). The Early History of the Hebrews. 1st ed. [Whitefish, Mont.]: Kessinger Publishing.
Jesus came to this earth to restore the Law of God in its purest form.
Therefore, we have no excuses before God. His timing was impeccable as always, arriving at the crucial point when Talmudic (Traditions of the Fathers) had well and truly embedded itself into ancient Israelite culture. That coupled with skewed Mosaic Laws meant that if Jesus did not intervene, the world could’ve quite easily reached a point of no return.
The followers of Jesus knew this, He taught them the differences between the various Laws. Which ones to keep and which ones to discard. Matthew 23:23, Jesus encouraged His followers to keep the weightier aspects of the Law, which were Judgement, Mercy and Faith, the Apostles did likewise. There are other examples of Laws outside of The Laws, if you know what I mean…”It says in YOUR Law or written in THEIR Law” John 8:17; 10:34 and 15:25. Paul mentioned he was well versed in ‘The Law of the Fathers’, a totally different Law. Acts 22:3; 23:29 and 24:6.
The term ‘The Law’ does not necessarily mean the Mosaic Law or any other specific Law. It could mean any set of Laws. As we can see from the scriptures above, there were other Laws in existence when Jesus spoke those words. And, the New Testament clearly draws a distinction between the Laws of God and the Laws of Old which had become part of the Mosaic Law and is still prevalent today in Talmudic Judaism.
It wasn’t just Jesus and His disciples who did all the challenging. They were often challenged themselves by the Scribes and Pharisees for not keeping Talmudic Laws. Mark Ch.7:5-9 is one such example:
Jesus was asked why His disciples did not follow the Traditions of the Fathers. Jesus replied that the Scribes and Pharisees had laid aside the Commandments of God and were teaching the commandments of men as Doctrine.
“And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” Tradition had overtaken the Commandments of God. That’s why we cannot assume that ‘one jot or one tittle’ refers to Mosaic Law, rather as Christians we should only focus on those Laws that were confirmed to us through Jesus Christ and discard the rest.
Scriptures used are from the KJV which is in the public domain.
Cheryl Mason posted 25 May 2019.