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Thread: When is the Law "fulfilled", Matthew 5: 17-19?

  1. #1

    When is the Law "fulfilled", Matthew 5: 17-19?

    Christ Came to Fulfill the Law
    5:17“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (ESV)

    I understand this is a Theonomy text, what does "Until the [Law] is accomplished? What time is this referring to?

    The destruction of the Temple? The Second Advent or some other time?
    Erick Bohndorf, Risen Savior, Lutheran
    http://qayaqtraveler.blogspot.com/

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    Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward. Ecclesiastes

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    I have never seen it as a Theonomy text, I would say that it is clearly referring to the moral law. The time when "all is accomplished" would in my mind be the second coming.
    Mike
    Free Church of Scotland
    England

    "Surely, we wish to be orthodox, but we must first learn what real orthodoxy is. Surely, we wish to be progressive, but we must first have a basis to progress from."

  3. #3
    I understand it to mean Christ Himself is the fulfillment of the law. By living the absolutely perfect life in complete accordance with every aspect of the law, He fulfilled it to perfection. So, the Law was fulfilled, or is fulfilled, in Christ. Every type or shadow in the Old Testament was perfectly brought to ultimate fruition in Him. The "until heavens and earth pass away" bit is to emphasize the eternal infallbility of the Law...
    Mason
    Member, Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) - though transferring soon to a church in FL
    Destin, FL

    "Come now, and let us reason together," says the Lord, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool." - Isaiah 1:18

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    Quote Originally Posted by ColdSilverMoon View Post
    I understand it to mean Christ Himself is the fulfillment of the law. By living the absolutely perfect life in complete accordance with every aspect of the law, He fulfilled it to perfection. So, the Law was fulfilled, or is fulfilled, in Christ. Every type or shadow in the Old Testament was perfectly brought to ultimate fruition in Him. The "until heavens and earth pass away" bit is to emphasize the eternal infallbility of the Law...
    So you believe that the moral law is no longer in force following the death of Jesus?
    Mike
    Free Church of Scotland
    England

    "Surely, we wish to be orthodox, but we must first learn what real orthodoxy is. Surely, we wish to be progressive, but we must first have a basis to progress from."

  5. #5
    I think I remember someone saying Bahnson quoted this as a verse to back up theonomy and that was because Christ had not come to "abolish" the Law. That is why I was wondering what, "Until Heaven and earth pass away," and "accomplished" meant to theonomists.

    It does look like it is saying Christ fulfilled the Law and if he did how much of the Law are we responsible to follow? and if this is the case I was wondering what the theonomic answer to this was?
    Erick Bohndorf, Risen Savior, Lutheran
    http://qayaqtraveler.blogspot.com/

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pr...90&ref=profile
    Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward. Ecclesiastes

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by shackleton View Post
    I think I remember someone saying Bahnson quoted this as a verse to back up theonomy and that was because Christ had not come to "abolish" the Law. That is why I was wondering what, "Until Heaven and earth pass away," and "accomplished" meant to theonomists.
    Although Bahnsen denied that these verses were the only text that supported the Theonomic thesis, he did recognize it was "... such an explicit and important text and has often been made the center of discussion, [that Theonomy in Christian Ethics] gives it detailed discussion." (Greg Bahnsen, "Response to Wayne G. Strickland" in William van Gemeren ed. The Law, the Gospel and the Modern Christian. pp.297,298)

    To Bahnsen "until heaven and earth pass away" and "until everything is accopmplished" refer to the same event, namely the end of the church age (cf. Theonomy in Christian Ethics 3rd. ed. pp. 77-87).

    Quote Originally Posted by shackleton View Post
    It does look like it is saying Christ fulfilled the Law and if he did how much of the Law are we responsible to follow? and if this is the case I was wondering what the theonomic answer to this was?
    First Bahnsen says Christ "confirmed" rather than "fulfilled" the law. He he believes that he provided “…sufficient and necessary grounds for the translation of pleroosai as ‘confirm’ over against the other alternatives” which include "fulfill". (Bahnsen, Theonomy, p. 74.) From the rest of Bahnsen's exegesis of the passage he arrives at the conclusion "In all of its minute detail, (every jot and tittle) the law of God down to its least significant provision should be reckoned to have an abiding validity- until and unless the Lawgiver reveals otherwise." (Greg Bahnsen, "The Theonomic Position" in God and Politics, Four Views on the Reformation of Civil Government ed. Gary Scott Smith, Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co. 1989, pp. 40, 41.)
    In Christ's love and service,

    Mr. Tim Cunningham,
    Diploma in Christian Studies, Regent College, Vancouver
    Author: How Firm a Foundation? An Exegetical and Historical Critique of the "Ethical Perspective of [Christian] Reconstructionism"
    Presented in Theonomy in Christian Ethics
    , Wipf & Stock, 2012.
    Bachelor of Music, (Trombone Performance), University of Toronto
    Member, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, BC
    ------------
    "I once sat in darkness, and waited for the moon to rise.
    I once sat in darkness, and waited for the sun to shine.
    I once sat in darkness, when all the light I'd waited for was gone.
    Then Jesus came, and now the only true light, ever, shines in me."
    – John Deacon -

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    Like Clockwork.
    Rev. Benjamin P. Glaser, M. Div, ARP
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    ‎‎""The Christian religion is the religion of sinners, of such as have sinned, and in whom sin in some measure still dwells. The Christian life is a life of continued repentance, humiliation for and mortification of sin, of continual faith in, thankfulness for, and love to the Redeemer, and hopeful joyful expectation of a day of glorious redemption, in which the believer shall be fully and finally acquitted, and sin abolished for ever."
    -- Matthew Henry on 1 John 1:9


    Blogging at: Mountains and Magnolias and The Confessional ARP

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Hippo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ColdSilverMoon View Post
    I understand it to mean Christ Himself is the fulfillment of the law. By living the absolutely perfect life in complete accordance with every aspect of the law, He fulfilled it to perfection. So, the Law was fulfilled, or is fulfilled, in Christ. Every type or shadow in the Old Testament was perfectly brought to ultimate fruition in Him. The "until heavens and earth pass away" bit is to emphasize the eternal infallbility of the Law...
    So you believe that the moral law is no longer in force following the death of Jesus?
    Of course I don't believe that! For one thing, Jesus is resurrected and is no longer dead. In Romans Paul says that Christ is no longer dead but "the life that He lives He lives to God." (Romans 6:10). So Christ is still the living, ultimate fulfillment of the Law. And as Paul continues in verse 11, "Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." So the moral law is most definitely in force, as it always will be.

    Also, as He says in Matthew 5:17, He did not come to destory the Law and Prophets, but to fulfill them. Part of fulfilling them means illuminating the full moral ramifications of the Law.
    Mason
    Member, Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) - though transferring soon to a church in FL
    Destin, FL

    "Come now, and let us reason together," says the Lord, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool." - Isaiah 1:18

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by shackleton View Post
    Christ Came to Fulfill the Law
    5:17“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (ESV)

    I understand this is a Theonomy text, what does "Until the [Law] is accomplished? What time is this referring to?

    The destruction of the Temple? The Second Advent or some other time?
    In these verses it is not possible to restrict Christ's definition of "the Law or the Prophets" to the moral law alone for at least three reasons. The Old Covenant people did not so subdivide the law: so such a concept could not have been in his hearers' minds, (Bahnsen in fact provides a long series of citations from Jewish non-canonical writers to show that they held to the Law's eternity; the statements also show that this extended its least details: cf. TICE pp. 77-9). Given the ethical foundationalism of the Decalogue, none of its details can be described as "least". Christ's calling the disciples "the light of the world in vv. 14-16 transfers to the disciples a description that Scripture famously attributes to the Law as a whole in Ps. 119:105,130. (BTW, Christ's applying the light metaphor to the disciples rather than the Law, is what prompted his enemies' to think that he was out to destroy the Law.) Finally in v. 18 Christ extends the prohibition of change in the law down to its least letter and stroke.

    The words "until everything is accomplished" refer to the institution of the new covenant at the cross. For it was there that Christ "fulfilled" the law and the prophets in the sense of completing their "time in office" That "pleroo" the word used here and normally translated "fulfilled" did, on occasion mean "complete a time limited condition" is certain since it is used in this sense (translating "mala" Heb "fulfill) in the Septuagint translations of Gen. 25:24, 29:21.

    When Christ fulfills "the law or the prophets" he supersedes every stipulation of the Old Covenant by instituting the New Covenant at the cross. In doing so, he does not abolish the moral law with the ceremonials nor cause it to expire with the judicials and that for two reasons. First, the moral law was originally given to Adam in the garden and has been written upon all human hearts since that day. While it has been abolished as stipulations of the Sinai covenant now no longer in force, it still binds Jews due to their preexisting obligation to it as written non thier hearts, which God has not abolished. Second, an examination of the NT reveals that all the decalogue was carried over into the New Covenant as its fundamental moral axioms: for all ten commands are explicitly or implicitly stated as required.

    On the other hand there is no clear example Scripture where the Hebrew mala or the Greek pleroo "fulfill" ever took the sense of confirm. (2 Kings 1:14 is not really a good example to the contrary since the context makes it clear that Nathan intended to self-conscously "complete" Bathsheba's account by adding to her account a couple of additional names of those not on Adonijah's guest list.

    Athough Bahnsen provides a list of other possible examples from both testments where the word pleroo might mean "confirm" in each example he fails to prove his case since other known translations of pleroo are an equal or better fit.
    In Christ's love and service,

    Mr. Tim Cunningham,
    Diploma in Christian Studies, Regent College, Vancouver
    Author: How Firm a Foundation? An Exegetical and Historical Critique of the "Ethical Perspective of [Christian] Reconstructionism"
    Presented in Theonomy in Christian Ethics
    , Wipf & Stock, 2012.
    Bachelor of Music, (Trombone Performance), University of Toronto
    Member, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, BC
    ------------
    "I once sat in darkness, and waited for the moon to rise.
    I once sat in darkness, and waited for the sun to shine.
    I once sat in darkness, when all the light I'd waited for was gone.
    Then Jesus came, and now the only true light, ever, shines in me."
    – John Deacon -

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hippo View Post
    I have never seen it as a Theonomy text, I would say that it is clearly referring to the moral law. The time when "all is accomplished" would in my mind be the second coming.
    with your second sentence, but to me this makes it a pro-Theonomy text, as every "jot and tittle" cannot refer to the Ten Words of the Decalogue alone. However, this verse on its own does not prove Theonomy, as other passages in the NT may well have set aside the penology of the Older Testament.
    Daniel
    Attending a confessional Anglican congregation, but a Covenanter Presbyterian by conviction
    Northern Ireland
    "May that happy period soon arrive when the unclouded glory of divine revelation will shine from pole to pole; when men every where will see eye to eye, in all things that are connected with divine glory, and with their own eternal felicity." William Stavely (Irish Covenanter), An appeal to light (1796), pp 143-4

  11. #11
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    One should be careful not to read into the text the later apostolic solution regarding the application of the law to Gentile believers. Our Lord was speaking to Jews, for whom possessing and obeying "The Law and the Prophets" was a necessary marker of covenant relationship. The intent of the passage is to show Jesus' fidelity to this covenant marker as a revelation of God. The word "fulfil" was specifically used for the reason that it has a range of meanings depending on context. It allows for the "filling out" of what the law requires, as is found in the rest of Matthew 5; as well as an eschaological fulfilment in the person and work of Jesus, as is indicated in many of the fulfilment sayings in the rest of Matthew's Gospel. One point is clear -- Jesus did not come to release disciples from the obligation to the law. This should be the starting point of interpretation; and any understanding of fulfilment of the law which undermines this basic starting-point must be regarded as contrary to authorial intent.
    Yours sincerely,
    Rev. Matthew Winzer
    Australian Free Church,
    Victoria, Australia

    "Illum oportet crescere me autem minui."

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by armourbearer View Post
    One should be careful not to read into the text the later apostolic solution regarding the application of the law to Gentile believers. Our Lord was speaking to Jews, for whom possessing and obeying "The Law and the Prophets" was a necessary marker of covenant relationship. The intent of the passage is to show Jesus' fidelity to this covenant marker as a revelation of God. The word "fulfil" was specifically used for the reason that it has a range of meanings depending on context. It allows for the "filling out" of what the law requires, as is found in the rest of Matthew 5; as well as an eschaological fulfilment in the person and work of Jesus, as is indicated in many of the fulfilment sayings in the rest of Matthew's Gospel. One point is clear -- Jesus did not come to release disciples from the obligation to the law. This should be the starting point of interpretation; and any understanding of fulfilment of the law which undermines this basic starting-point must be regarded as contrary to authorial intent.
    Does Paul have this in mind when he later wrote Romans?

    Rom 13:8-10 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
    Jesus Christ not only fulfilled the Law in His own person, but, through His redeeming blood has made it possible for His people to keep His commandments.


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  13. #13
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    That's true on one level. But at the level where the Law as a covenant marker has been fulfilled by Christ, the apostles teach that Christ is the "end" or "goal" of the law for righteousness. We need to keep distinct the product as explained by the apostles and the process as depicted in Jesus; and also be careful not to separate them as if the one has no bearing on the other.

    Quote Originally Posted by KMK View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by armourbearer View Post
    One should be careful not to read into the text the later apostolic solution regarding the application of the law to Gentile believers. Our Lord was speaking to Jews, for whom possessing and obeying "The Law and the Prophets" was a necessary marker of covenant relationship. The intent of the passage is to show Jesus' fidelity to this covenant marker as a revelation of God. The word "fulfil" was specifically used for the reason that it has a range of meanings depending on context. It allows for the "filling out" of what the law requires, as is found in the rest of Matthew 5; as well as an eschaological fulfilment in the person and work of Jesus, as is indicated in many of the fulfilment sayings in the rest of Matthew's Gospel. One point is clear -- Jesus did not come to release disciples from the obligation to the law. This should be the starting point of interpretation; and any understanding of fulfilment of the law which undermines this basic starting-point must be regarded as contrary to authorial intent.
    Does Paul have this in mind when he later wrote Romans?

    Rom 13:8-10 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
    Jesus Christ not only fulfilled the Law in His own person, but, through His redeeming blood has made it possible for His people to keep His commandments.
    Yours sincerely,
    Rev. Matthew Winzer
    Australian Free Church,
    Victoria, Australia

    "Illum oportet crescere me autem minui."

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