Matthew 5:17

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Puritan Board Freshman
Gents, I am sure there has been plenty of discussion on this passage, However , I am going to a new covenant theology group and last night this passage was brought up and defended by a NCT guy in the group. He explained that when Jesus says " come to Fulfill" he means a completion and then in the following verses gives "new" law. There was alot said in the group last night but the thing that stuck out was when I did some of my own studying on the passage, it seems that the same kind of phrase is used when Jesus is Fulfilling prophecy in chp 4 of Matthew and also in matt 5:17. Is this true?

Also, How do I properly understand this passage?


Puritan Board Freshman
Ah, yes, Matt. 5:17. A few years ago I was curious if people were using this verse correctly so I went looking for similar phrases in the New Testament. I found something interesting by reading all of the verses in the list below. Matt. 5:17 is the only place were the New Testament was not exactly specific on what is was that Jesus fulfilled.

Christ - Fulfilled That Which Was Spoken By The Prophet

KJV said:
Matt. 1:22,23 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Matt. 2:14,15 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

Matt. 2:16-18 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping [for] her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Matt. 2:23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

Matt. 4:12-16 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, [by] the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

Matt. 8:16,17 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with [his] word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare [our] sicknesses.

Matt. 12:15-21 But when Jesus knew [it], he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; And charged them that they should not make him known: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.

Matt. 13:34,35 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

Matt. 21:1-5 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose [them], and bring [them] unto me. And if any [man] say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

Matt. 26:53-56 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

Matt. 27:3-10 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What [is that] to us? see thou [to that]. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.

Matt. 27:35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Mark 14:48,49 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and [with] staves to take me? I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled.

Mark 15:25-28 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.

Luke 4:16-21 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave [it] again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Luke 24:44-48 And he said unto them, These [are] the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and [in] the prophets, and [in] the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.

John 12:37-41 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with [their] eyes, nor understand with [their] heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.

John 13:18-21 I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am [he]. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.

John 15:22-25 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But [this cometh to pass], that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

John 17:12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

John 18:7-9 Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am [he]: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.

John 18:31,32 Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.

John 19:23,24 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also [his] coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.

John 19:32-37 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw [it] bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

Acts 1:15-18 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) Men [and] brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.

Acts 3:17,18 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did [it], as [did] also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.

Acts 13:26-30 Men [and] brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled [them] in condemning [him]. And though they found no cause of death [in him], yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took [him] down from the tree, and laid [him] in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead:

Christ - All Things Accomplished

KJV said:
Luke 18:31-34 Then he took [unto him] the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge [him], and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.

Luke 22:37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.

John 19:28-30 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put [it] upon hyssop, and put [it] to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

Act 13:26-30 Men [and] brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled [them] in condemning [him]. And though they found no cause of death [in him], yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took [him] down from the tree, and laid [him] in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead:

And the verse in question.

KJV said:
Matt. 5:17,18 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

There are a few verses which say love is the fulfilling of the law. But the summary of the verses in this post is:

  • Matt: 5:17 - Jesus fulfilled the law
  • everywhere else - Jesus fulfilled what was written about Him in the law, the prophets, and the Psalms


Puritan Board Freshman
Romans 10:4--"For Christ is the end [telos] of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."

He is the telos of the law, not the destroyer of it (Rom. 3:31).


Puritan Board Freshman
So if Christ is the telos of the law, then how should we view the law as believers ? Also, what about the sabbath? Aren't we relaxing the law when we worship on Sunday instead of saturday? (These are all questions that I have encountered in the group but don't know how to answer )


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Christ obeyed God's law, perfectly. He did this for the believer's sake, who could not fulfill the law's demands though required to do so. We could not do what we were bidden; we could not refrain from what we were prohibited; we could not pay our penalty. Christ does all that, including paying our penalty, and gives it all away. This is, perhaps, the chief way Jesus Christ fulfills and is the focal-point of God's law.

He came to fulfill the Scriptures (Law and Prophets is a description of OT revelation) in every way they could be fulfilled. They were "about" him, as the Promised One; so he fulfilled all prophecy; and he kept God's law, even in its most exacting and minute expression as taught under Moses. This would include universal moral law, and particular positive law that happened to be given to Israel alone. Moses gave out an especially rigorous and exacting form of divine law as a key element of biblical pedagogy.

It's important to note that God's moral law exists before Moses' legislation, and the same law is embedded in Moses' revelation, and the same moral law is present after Israel's national purposes are complete and the NT age is upon us. Moral law was and is always God's standard for love--man's toward God and toward his fellow man. Jesus changes none of the essence of that which is summarized in the Ten Commandments. Cain was a murderer, and he was such without any experience of Sinai. Stealing didn't become a sin at Sinai. Nor idolatry, adultery, sabbath-breaking, covetousness--none of them became sin at first in the Wilderness.

Jesus fulfillment of our duties to remove our condemnation doesn't end our duties! The fact we do not fear eternal consequences for failure should not make us indifferent to God's express will for creaturely behavior. Christ the "telos," means Christ the GOAL of the law, and that it's Mosaic presentation was aimed at his entrance and eventual performance as the One True Israelite.

Now, the book of Hebrews, and Jesus' own teaching found in the Gospels, and the book of Acts, explain how Christ fulfilled the ceremonies and rituals of Israel's religion; and how separation-law and dietary restriction are no more. Meanwhile, God's moral standards are all over the NT! They do not change in essence from one age to another. It is true that God has "fine-tuned" moral expression for man over time, to keep it in harmony with nature as created order. But that admission is a far cry from the claim that the moral law has been fundamentally altered in any way from the dawn of time.

As for the Sabbath, it is instituted in Gen.2--a long time before Sinai. It is observed by Israel before they get to Sinai, Ex.14. Ex.20:10 is proof that "Sabbath" and "seventh day" are distinct concepts which are united for divine purpose. What is the purpose for a Sabbath? It is to provide rest for man from his ordinary labor, so that he can... go fishing? No, so that he is free to worship God, the highest kind of personal fulfillment man can know (even if he refuses to appreciate it; it was still appointed for him and not he for it).

God sets the day he wants man to set aside. That's not man's decision. Jesus is God. Jesus clearly showed the disciples by and after his Resurrection that he chose to have special meeting with them on the first day of the week, the day he rose from the dead. The day he completed Redemption. The OT Sabbath was a commemoration of both Creation (Ex.20:11) and Redemption (Dt.5:15). Now, Redemptive commemoration has definitely superseded Creation's, inasmuch as Christ has appointed a new day of the week. We are celebrating Re-Creation (not recreation) and New Birth on Sunday.

A post like this is not going to give you all the "answers" to the people who reject the idea that morals are fixed by God, and are universal and invariant--i.e. lawlike. You are probably not dealing with people who are inclined to think in binary terms: law and gospel, covenants of works and grace, as permanent aspects of life in the world. Non-reformed types tend to think the Bible-part that pertains to them starts in Matthew or in Acts. NC-theology people talk as if people who are Spirit-led just "know" what's the loving thing to do. Right-living is hardly purposeful and intentional at all in this mindset; it just happens as one listens and adjusts to the Spirit.

I'm all for recognizing that God (not I) is responsible for sanctification. But having an allergy to the law's proper functions is no way to grow in grace.
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