Matthew 5:17-20 framing 21-48

Status
Not open for further replies.

RobertPGH1981

Puritan Board Sophomore
Matthew 5:17-20 typically is used to frame the interpretation of 21-48 in light of fulfillment. Fulfillment as in revealing the laws original intent and satisfying those demands. It is an argument typically used to drive a Moral continuity between Jesus' claims and the Old Testament Mosaic Law. Douglas Moo a New Covenant Theologian makes the claim that sounds fairly convincing to me below. To Moo the statements Jesus makes are new law given not found in the Old Testament. Jesus is not only revealing the laws original intent in some examples, but in others he is ordering a new law.

I was wondering if there actually was a reply to his observations below.

"No exegesis of the lex talionis would lead to the conclusion that one is not to resist one who is evil (5:38–39); loving the neighbor in Lev 19:18 means to love the fellow-Israelite, not, as Jesus demands, to love the enemy (5:43–47); nor does the OT demand to keep one’s oaths lead naturally to the conclusion that one is to refrain from oaths (whether applied universally or more narrowly) (5:33–37)."
.......
"But the fact remains that Jesus’ own demands go considerably beyond any fair exegesis of at least most of the actual texts he quotes; nor do most of his demands find support anywhere in the OT. The “I say to you” emphasizes a new and startling focus on the authority of this Jesus of Nazareth, an authority that goes far beyond a restatement of the OT law."


Moo, D. J. (1988). The Law of Moses or the Law of Christ. In J. S. Feinberg (Ed.), Continuity and discontinuity: perspectives on the relationship between the Old and New Testaments : essays in honor of S. Lewis Johnson, Jr. (p. 205). Westchester, IL: Crossway Books.
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I do not know if anyone has replied to these observations but I have some thoughts:

Jesus teaching should be held up in the light of the Old Testament law (vs. 17) but also in the darkness of the oral traditions of the scribes and Pharisees (vs. 20). The problem was not that Moses was being taught, but that the sayings of the leaders were overshadowing what Moses said. Hence the repeated phrase "ye have heard it was said" not merely "it is written" (compare, for example, Jesus' quoting of Deuteronomy three times in reply to Satan in chapter 4).

Observe that there is no verse (that I am aware of) in the Old Testament that says “hate thine enemy” (vs. 43). Perhaps Psalm 139:21-22 comes the closest but even there the enemy is not David’s but God’s and hate is parallel to being grieved for the sin of the blasphemer, not the annoyance of a political overlord (Romans) or mixed people group (Samaritans). It could be argued, in fact, that in Exodus 23:4,5 Israel was commanded to show/do love towards their enemy by bringing their ox or donkey back to them & in Deuteronomy 23:7 they were not to abhor the Edomite or Egyptian, despite them lately having attacked them.

Besides, this interpretation rests on the example of God himself (vs. 45). And are there not many times in the Old Testament, even under theocracy, where God shows mercy in and outside the borders of Israel (Ahab 1 Kings 21:27-29 & Jonah 3&4)?

The lex talionis is in force in Jesus and the apostles teaching but in a different way because we are now dealing with a new situation: Israel as a unique, theocratic nation will not be revived. Hence, "judge not, that ye be not judged" (Matthew 7:1 N.B. strictly applied in vs. 2) & "for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7) takes the same law and applies it to how God will judge us in this life and in the next.

Indeed, believing Jews and disciples of Jesus have little recourse to the OT law of justice which cannot be (entirely) applied while under Roman occupation due to the inability of their highest courts to act without Roman approval. As the teaching of Jesus was to spread outside the narrow confines of Judea, believers will need to live in such a way that is not provoking to their neighbours. The lex talionis did not refrain the Israelite from showing mercy as Jesus himself notes (Matthew 23:23). But since God's people are now more of a light bearing people to the world than their brothers under tutelage, they have a stronger obligation to bear the assaults of the enemy, particularly as Jesus himself would for their sins.

The statement “resist not evil (or evil people)” (vs. 39) is instructive since, taken in isolation, it could be used to teach that we should always give in to sin or evil people, especially when others compel us to do it. But obviously we are to resist evil in the sense of refusing to participate in sin (see Ephesians 6:13 “withstand” there the same verb is used as here cf. James 4:7). Much like oath taking or swearing, Jesus speaks emphatically about the manner in which our actions should be framed in a way to cause the least amount of offense, or to (literally) go the extra mile.

With oath taking, or swearing, Jesus is replying to the superstitious (cf. Matthew 23:16ff.) and/or oath breaking Pharisaical tendency to refer to anything other than God himself in order to avoid the results of their oaths (much as they use Corban to avoid the implications of the fifth commandment Mark 7:11 cf. Matthew 15:3-9). Notice that 5:33 says "perform unto the Lord thine oaths" but none of the examples that follow refer to God himself but something associated with God (heaven, earth, Jerusalem etc.) or not at all (their own head). Regarding the latter, we cannot change the colour of our hair, so swearing by our head makes no sense and binds us to nothing immutable, for the purpose of an oath is to require of us some action or purpose: hence the Pharisee wanted the honour of men without seeking the honour of God.

Indeed, it is difficult, if not impossible, for Jesus to be saying that swearing simpliciter is evil (vs. 37) when he said he came to fufill, not destroy the law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17) and would essentially undermine one of the positive applications of the third commandment. This much is clear from the approved examples that are contained in the New Testament. as Paul (Romans 9:1) & an angel Revelation 10:5-6 (as well as Hebrews 6:16). Notice that even saying "Amen" would be beyond Moo's interpretation of Matthew 5:37 and yet is found at the end of the Lord's Prayer, Jesus final words on earth (28:20) and dozens of times in the epistles.
 
Last edited:

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I will add that if Moo wanted to provide an example that Jesus made an alteration of the Mosaic law he would have been better off referring to Matthew 19:7-8.
 
Last edited:

RobertPGH1981

Puritan Board Sophomore
@Poimen you are the first reply. The topic is a difficult one so I didn't expect many replies on this post. :candle:

I think you have some good points. For example,

Observe that there is no verse (that I am aware of) in the Old Testament that says “hate thine enemy” (vs. 43). Perhaps Psalm 139:21-22 comes the closest but even there the enemy is not David’s but God’s and hate is parallel to being grieved for the sin of the blasphemer, not the annoyance of a political overlord (Romans) or mixed people group (Samaritans).

I think in reply to this line of argumentation would be solid. I really had a hard time navigating his claim but think that even though the Israelites may not have come to the conclusion to love an enemy; the law is still rooted in God's nature. Its the natural law that one needs to consider as image bearers. To love ones Neighbor is restrictive if you only thought within the confines of Israel, because they were also called to love the sojourner (Duet 10:19). A sojourner could have been a Philistine or a Babylonian who would have been enemies of Israel. Neighbor in the sphere of Israel would have to be considered instead of neighbor in ones community. This narrow reading is similar to what the Pharisees did to perform outward conformity but didn't take the law to its inward conclusions. The Mosaic Covenant contains the precepts of what we would consider moral law / natural law.

Indeed, it is difficult, if not impossible, for Jesus to be saying that swearing simpliciter is evil (vs. 37) when he said he came to fufill, not destroy the law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17) and would essentially undermine one of the positive applications of the third commandment.

This does seem to indicate that the law would be abolished. I think he would appeal to dying with Christ which would be dying to the law. Death releases from the Mosaic Covenant in the same way death releases us from marriage. I know that is how dispensationalists get around this topic of abolish. Its not abolished because death releases them for the covenant.

One thing that isn't mentioned directly above is Moo's conclusion is that the decalogue would be part of the Mosaic Covenant. Therefore, the decalogue would have to be reconsidered through the lens of the New Testament. I thought of in response was to approach the decalogue as being placed in the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark is not only found in the OT but also mentioned in Revelation (Rev 11:9).
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
@Poimen This does seem to indicate that the law would be abolished. I think he would appeal to dying with Christ which would be dying to the law. Death releases from the Mosaic Covenant in the same way death releases us from marriage. I know that is how dispensationalists get around this topic of abolish. Its not abolished because death releases them for the covenant.

One thing that isn't mentioned directly above is Moo's conclusion is that the decalogue would be part of the Mosaic Covenant. Therefore, the decalogue would have to be reconsidered through the lens of the New Testament.
I agree that the Decalogue should be reconsidered through the lens of all of God's revelation. But Paul says that he establishes the law (Romans 3:31) and that it is spiritual, holy and good (Romans 7).

Consider that if Christ was judged by the law as a malefactor and we too as guilty are now righteous since he bore away our sins, it follows that the law is the standard by which all sin is judged as sin i.e. sin is lawlessness 1 John 3:4. If the Gentile is not under the Mosaic covenant but judged by the law of his own heart & conscience (Romans 2), it stands to reason that, in essence, the Jew and Gentile possessed the same moral, law code (written or otherwise). Hence, as you point out, the Ten Commandments are really indicative of the law of nature - some of which (the fourth and seventh commandments) are clearly displayed in the account of creation itself.

Being dead to the law or no longer under the law has to do with being under its curse or penalties. The law was powerless to save (Romans 8:3) for the weakness of the flesh and hence it must be banished as means of eternal righteousness forever. So of course we are free from the law in that sense, but not in the sense of continued moral obligation to its precepts. Since the law can no longer condemn us in Christ, it cannot harm us either to obey it for his sake.

In short, I think many of these arguments simply fail to consider Jesus and Paul's teaching in light of the whole of their sayings/writings and the rest of scripture.
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
Matthew 5:17-20 typically is used to frame the interpretation of 21-48 in light of fulfillment. Fulfillment as in revealing the laws original intent and satisfying those demands. It is an argument typically used to drive a Moral continuity between Jesus' claims and the Old Testament Mosaic Law. Douglas Moo a New Covenant Theologian makes the claim that sounds fairly convincing to me below. To Moo the statements Jesus makes are new law given not found in the Old Testament. Jesus is not only revealing the laws original intent in some examples, but in others he is ordering a new law.

I was wondering if there actually was a reply to his observations below.

"No exegesis of the lex talionis would lead to the conclusion that one is not to resist one who is evil (5:38–39); loving the neighbor in Lev 19:18 means to love the fellow-Israelite, not, as Jesus demands, to love the enemy (5:43–47); nor does the OT demand to keep one’s oaths lead naturally to the conclusion that one is to refrain from oaths (whether applied universally or more narrowly) (5:33–37)."
.......
"But the fact remains that Jesus’ own demands go considerably beyond any fair exegesis of at least most of the actual texts he quotes; nor do most of his demands find support anywhere in the OT. The “I say to you” emphasizes a new and startling focus on the authority of this Jesus of Nazareth, an authority that goes far beyond a restatement of the OT law."


Moo, D. J. (1988). The Law of Moses or the Law of Christ. In J. S. Feinberg (Ed.), Continuity and discontinuity: perspectives on the relationship between the Old and New Testaments : essays in honor of S. Lewis Johnson, Jr. (p. 205). Westchester, IL: Crossway Books.
I wouldn't say Moo claims it's a new law, only "a new focus on the authority of Jesus."

The moral law doth forever bind all.

Is it even possible to have a "new" moral law?
 

RobertPGH1981

Puritan Board Sophomore
Is it even possible to have a "new" moral law?

I think that is the problem with the view because the approach to the Mosaic Covenant fulfillment indicates a newness of the law. The 3rd use of the Law observes value from the Old Covenant law's precepts since they're rooted in the moral law. Luther didn't have a 3rd use but bundled Calvins third use into the first use of the law. NCT, which is considered a modified Lutheran view, doesn't view categorical distinctions between the law since they claim all laws are moral to the Israelites in the Old Testament. I just find their perspective confusing because they say its fulfilled as in passing away then they apply it again because its repeated in the New Testament. Anything repeated is accepted and anything not repeated is rejected. They causes a sharper divide but ultimately speaking about 95% of the law is still intact. They do disagree on the sabbath being binding. Here is what he says in his conclusion:

No commandment, even those of the Decalogue, is binding simply because it is part of the Mosaic Law. In saying this, I am running smack up against a cherished and widely taught tradition. The singling out of the Decalogue as basic and eternal “moral law,” to be distinguished from the ceremonial and civil law and thereby to be seen as an eternally valid ethical authority, has a long and respected history. Even within this tradition, however, there has been considerable discussion about what to do with the sabbath command which, at least for the great majority of those who have advocated this approach, has not been applied or obeyed in the form in which it was first given (e.g., as requiring rest on the seventh day). A further difficulty was the question of how to determine what was “moral” law and what was not. But the basic difficulty, of course, is that the NT does not approach the matter this way. The whole law, every “jot and tittle,” is fulfilled in Christ and can only be understood and applied in light of that fulfillment. In actual ethical practice, very little is lost. For the NT clearly takes up all the Decalogue, except the sabbath, as part of “Christ’s law” and thereby as authoritative for believers. But considerable difference in theological construct is involved, and the difference in approach is therefore not at all insignificant.

Moo, D. J. (1988). The Law of Moses or the Law of Christ. In J. S. Feinberg (Ed.), Continuity and discontinuity: perspectives on the relationship between the Old and New Testaments : essays in honor of S. Lewis Johnson, Jr. (pp. 217–218). Westchester, IL: Crossway Books.
 

hLuke

Puritan Board Freshman
A controversial position (maybe), would be to view Jesus as the Law incarnate. In the beginning was the Word...and the Word (Perfect Wisdom of God and Law of God), became flesh and dwelt among us..."

I base this off:

Pro 8.22-31

Christ is Lord of the sabbath so He is the Law in His own essence.

Then the law of God is perfected in Christ's body, and His Spirit dwelling within us means we are under His law of grace we are in Christ's Life and free from the law of sin and death.
And therefore, God incarnate is 'an authority that goes far beyond a restatement of the OT law," to which the author refers.

I hope that doesn't sound heretical.
 

RobertPGH1981

Puritan Board Sophomore
A controversial position (maybe), would be to view Jesus as the Law incarnate. In the beginning was the Word...and the Word (Perfect Wisdom of God and Law of God), became flesh and dwelt among us..."

Many recognize that Moral Law is law found in creation and part of God's nature. Christ is the END of the Law in Romans 10:4 which uses the word TELOS in Greek. Some interpret this to mean Goal and some interpret this to mean termination. You also have to consider what Paul meant by law again.

The Ceremonial and Judicial aspects of the law were satisfied in Christ as well. Types and Shadows always pointed to Christ as Substance so I guess it makes sense. I would have to think about it more.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top