Fulfilling the Law

Fulfilling the Law

Fulfilling the Law is like filling a prescription. When it is empty you have to fill it up again. Today we love our neighbor as ourselves, and so we fulfill the Law. But tomorrow the prescription for righteousness is empty again. So we are to fulfill the law tomorrow. Therefore, there is no end to fulfilling the Law. No one who fulfills the Law on one day thinks that they will not have to fulfill it on the next.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish but to fulfill. Amen. For I say to you until can pass away the heaven and the earth, not one i stroke or serif can by any means pass from the Torah. Until all these things can be fulfilled, who ever then should break one of the least of these commandments, and so may teach likewise to men, least will be proclaimed in the kingdom of the heavens, but who ever should do and should teach, this one will be proclaimed great in the kingdom of the heavens. For I say to you that unless your righteousness can go beyond that of the scribes and the Pharisees, by no means can you enter into the kingdom of the heavens.

Yeshua’s word is: לְמַלֹּאת lemallot. It means to ‘fill up,’ which is translated into Greek, πληρῶσαι, playrosai. If you fill up the tank on your car, then you expect it to become empty, and have to fill it again. Yeshua said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or Prophets” (Mat. 5:17a). This is the same as saying, ‘do not even suppose’, ‘don’t think for a second.’ The phrase is put in the form of a prohibition, “Μὴ νομίσητε”, ‘do not suppose …’ Paul uses the same form of negation in Gal. 6:7, ‘Do not be deceived’ (Μὴ πλανᾶσθε). Yeshua uses the exact same words in Mat. 10:34, “Do not think (Μὴ νομίσητε) that I came to bring peace on earth.” He is talking about strife between relatives, some who follow him, and some who do not follow him and are at war with those who do. In Hebrew we would say: אַל־תַּחְשְׁבוּ al tachshevu. There is certainly war between Christians over this issue, even war between those who take the name of Christ only, and those who take his name and actually do what he says. (See Mat. 7:21-23).

Yeshua’s words ‘do not think …’ take the form of a commandment. See Deu. 1:21, “You must not fear, and you may not be dismayed” (אַל־תִּירָא וְאַל־תֵּחָת). Certainly, when he says “My commandments” (John 15:10) he means to include ‘do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets.” Messiah’s next words are “I have not come to abolish but to fulfill,” or we could translate “to fill.” In Greek and Hebrew there is no difference between ‘fulfill’ and ‘fill.’ In English there might be a shade of meaning difference between the two words, but not in the original language. And shades of meaning are not due to the word form, but only due to the context in the original language.

What many Christians want, who are constantly in strife with those following Messiah, is that ‘fulfill’ should mean ‘to keep, and then put and end to’ or ‘to keep for us so that we do not have to keep’, and put and end to the need for obedience that way. They suppose that fulfill means that he kept the Law only to put an end to it at the cross. On the contrary, the need for the cross was because he could not put an end to the Law. Yeshua asked if there was any other way when he was about to die (Mat. 26:39). If the Law that required a payment for the penalty of sin could have been abolished, the the Father would have abolished it. He would have said, all is forgiven because I have canceled my Law (and also the prophecies concerning Messiah’s death and resurrection). It was too hard for you, and also My Son does not have to die, because I have canceled the penalty of sin, and there is none to be paid. The Son did ask the Father, ‘if it is possible’ (Mat. 26:39). We know the Father’s answer: Messiah had to die.

Therefore, Yeshua’s commandment, “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law …” (Mat. 5:17) must be followed. And to follow this commandment, we must not and cannot interpret any phrase to contradict it. His words are his commandment. He included it in ‘My commandments” (John 15:10). I, and many others, have shown how to interpret /fulfill/ consistent with upholding the Law. Yet many want to interpret ‘but to fulfill’ to mean ‘until I abolish it,’ and then assume that it is abolished at the cross. But these two ideas are /ad hoc/ assumptions. There is no proof that Messiah meant that. And worse, both ideas absolutely contradict the prohibition to even think that he came to abolish the Law. He said, “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law!” Those assumptions require thinking that he did come to abolish the law.

Most Christians don’t use the contextual statements “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law …” (Mat. 5:17) or Mat. 5:19 “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments … shall be least in the kingdom” to guide their interpretation of Mat. 5:17b and 5:18b: “but to fulfill” and “until all is accomplished.” They ignore the context that would contradict their assumptions, and then proceed to make the assumption any way that these words somehow mean that he intended to abolish the Law and that this happened at the cross. This method of interpretation is called ‘reinterpret what you can, and ignore what you cannot reinterpret.’ It was introduced by Gnostics. The Gnostics were heretics, and their teaching that the Law was abolished was heretical, and still is to this day.

Yeshua came to fulfill the Law. That means he kept it. To keep it then was to fulfill it. But keeping it in the olden days does not fulfill it in the day to come. So there is no end to fulfilling the Law. The command to love the Most High and your neighbor is new every day, and requires fulfillment anew every new day. This explains Mat. 5:17b, “but to fulfill.”

One can present irrefutable logic all day long and the opposition will never listen to it. This is because most of the opposition is not trustingly faithful to Messiah Yeshua, and the few among the untrusting and unfaithful, who are still in good conscience loyal to Messiah tend to be afraid of the unfaithful theologians and Pastors who threaten them, saying ‘Don’t go there; don’t listen to those cultists; you will lose your salvation, or you will prove you are not saved at all.’ But Satan raised up those fearmongers, and he taught them their theology tradition. If one truly knows that Messiah paid the penalty of sin, and accepts his forgiveness, then there is no reason to FEAR those heretics. And since we do not have to fear the heretics, we are released from their slavery, and free to listen to the words of Messiah.

The higher up the false anti-Law teachers go into their theological systems, and in influence, and in insisting that they are in the right, the less and less likely it is that they are saved, and the more likely that they are just tools of Satan. The deeper into their own theological system they get, the more complicated it gets, and the more patches they employ to explain away Scripture, the more circular their reasoning becomes. They do not realize that they are being loyal to the enemy and not to Messiah, because they are not honest with their own thinking, and make no effort to see that it is consistent with Scripture. But Messiah said that many would teach in his name, to whom he would have to say “Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Mat. 7:23).

Let us now return to Mat. 5:18b: ‘until all is accomplished,” which might be better translated, “until when all this can be accomplished.” I think that this phrase introduces vs. 19, “Until all this can come to pass, whoever then abolishes one of the least of these commandments, and likewise teaches others, will be called least in the kingdom of the heavens; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he will be called great in the kingdom of the heavens” (ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται, ὃς ἐὰν οὖν λύσῃ μίαν τῶν ἐντολῶν τούτων τῶν ἐλαχίστων καὶ διδάξῃ οὕτως τοὺς ἀνθρώπους, ἐλάχιστος κληθήσεται ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν· ὃς δ᾽ ἂν ποιήσῃ καὶ διδάξῃ, οὗτος μέγας κληθήσεται ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν.)

What does ‘all’ refer to? Well it can refer to ‘all things,’ in a general absolute sense, in which case it will be seen that ‘all things’ can never come to pass. So Yeshua’s words would be hyperbole for ‘never.’ Or, it could refer to ‘until the heaven and the earth can pass away. I think the context shows this latter answer to be correct. To show this I need to teach you some Greek grammar. First the word πάντα ‘all’ is plural, nominative, neuter. As such it refers to a plural collection that is either neuter, or a combination of masculine and feminine words. In this case it refers to a phrase that is a combination of a masculine and a feminine word, “the heavens and the earth.” ‘Heavens’ is masculine, and ‘earth’ is feminine. It is the same way in the Hebrew which Yeshua would have spoken. The neuter is the catch all that is used for referring to phrases that are composed of a mixture of genders.

So to make clear that ‘all’ points to heaven and earth, I would translate ‘Until all this can come to pass, …” The following verb, γένηται, ‘can happen’, or ‘can come to pass’ is parallel to παρέλθῃ, ‘can pass away.’ We see that the singluar verb παρέλθῃ refers to a compound subject: ‘the heaven and the earth.” Likewise γένηται is a singular verb that refers to the same compound subject: ‘the heavens and the earth.’ The word πάντα ‘all’ is plural because it is referring to the elements of the compound subject. This is the natural sense of the language. Now since, ‘until all this can come to pass’ would be redundant on the end of vs. 18, it should introduce vs. 19, where it functions to emphasize the point of vs. 18 going into vs. 19.

Of course anti-nomians have no wish to pay attention to the details of the Greek here. They have to have ‘until all is accomplished’ on the end of vs. 18, because that is where they want to insert their reinterpretation of Messiah’s words, and to make it mean ‘until he keeps the law for us and abolishes it at the cross.’

Now let us consider what the beginning of vs. 19 should look like in Hebrew: עַד אֶת־כָּל־הָאֵלֶּה יָקוּמוּ, כּל־הַמֵּפִיר אַחַת מִמִּצְוֹת קְטַנּוֹת אֵלֶּה וְהוֹרָה כָזֹאת לַאֲנָשִׁים נִקְלֶה יִקָּרֵא בְּמַלְכוּת הַשָּׁמַיִם. Or possibly: עַד אֵת כָּל הַדְּבָרִים יָקוּמוּ. Similar language linking the validity of Torah to the ordinances of heaven and earth is found in Jer. 33:20-22, 25-26.

The faithful in Messiah, Jew and non-Jew alike, may be assured that Yeshua upheld the Torah in the utmost. He did not even want us to think that he was coming to abolish the law or the prophets. The Law or the prophets establish the reason that Messiah died for our sins. The enduring validity of the Torah is the reason that Messiah died. Yeshua asked the Father for another way. If there had been another way, then the prophecies teaching his death would have been abolished. If the Torah were abolished at the cross, then so also the prophecies would have to be abolished. For it is the Torah which defines what sin and iniquity is. If the definition of sin is abolished, then the need to atone for it is also abolished.

Therefore, the meaning of Messiah’s death, that pivotal moment in history, is that He died because His Law was to remain unaltered (at least) until heaven and earth pass away. Yet, the lawless tell us that he died to end the law. You could not state more clearly two diametrically opposed opposites. One side or the other is thumbing their nose at the Most High. Which side is it?

The lawless, however, still want to justify themselves using their traditions. They want to be righteous in the sight of the Most High without having to be righteous. They want to just believe a few things or do a few rituals (such as baptism), thinking that they are justified in God’s sight. These are like the Pharisees seeking their own justice before God, but it is just tradition. Messiah is the end of such tradition for either justice or righteousness for everyone who faithfully trusts. Messiah is the end of tradition for justification, both Jewish tradition and Church tradition. If you want eternal life, then follow his commandments to be righteous, and then sell everything else you trust in so that you are able to be trustingly faithful to Messiah. Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the justification of the theologians, pastors, and seminiary proffessors, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

If you uphold your part of the covenant to be faithful and trust from the heart, then Messiah will be faithful to His part of the covenant to save us from our sins and bring us into eternal life. This is how we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments (1John 2:2-3).

Now since anti-Torah, or anti-Law people take the name of Messiah, they excuse themselves from the idea of obedience by saying that the Law was only valid until all was fulfilled. We therefore need to look and see if all was fulfilled. The first time that the word is used in the NT we find:

So then this all happened so that could be fulfilled the word of Yahweh through the prophet, saying “Behold, the virgin is pregnant, and bearing a son. Then you will have called his name: Gŏd is with us” (Isa. 7:14; Mat. 1:23).

Now to understand why the whole of the virgin birth prophecy was not fulfilled, please read my essay: The Virgin Birth Prophecy. Only the part about the virgin birth was fulfilled. The part about the house of David calling him Immanuel is not yet fulfilled. The name is not mentioned again in the Scripture after that in the mouth of any person. Messiah was called Yeshua then, not Immanuel. Now it is true that Christians call him Immanuel, but the house of David does not until they see the Son coming (Zech. 12:8-13:1). For it is written about Messiah:

“Then I will have raised up for David a righteous Branch; then he will have ruled as king. Then he will have prospered, then he will have done judgment and righteousness in the earth. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely, and this is His name which they will proclaim: Yahweh our Righteousness” (Jer. 23:5-6).

The Immanuel prophecy reminds us of this prophecy. The intent is that all Israel will understand, know, and address Messiah as the Almighty Son, who is God with us. Has Messiah ruled as king over Israel yet? Only in part. Has Messiah done judgment and righteousness in all the earth? Only in part. Has the messianic age come yet, when all the Jews are saved, and when the house of Israel lives in safefy? By no means! And do they proclaim his name Yahweh our Righteousness? Nothing is further from their hearts. So then were all things fulfilled at the cross. If they were then your faith ends at the cross too without any resurrection in the messianic age.

Luke 18:31-33 is sometimes cited by those who would claim that everything is fulfilled, and therefore the law is passed away. In Matthew 5 Yeshua did not say the condition of fulfillment was all the prophecies pertaining to him. If all things means all things, then it must mean all things, and not just prophecies about him in particular. So taking Luke 18:31 even in the usual sense does not meet the condition they have assumed for abolishment of the Law. They are contradicted in real time logic and also historical facts, and understanding of future prophecy.

Now Yeshua took the twelve aside, and said to them, “Behold, I am going up to Jerusalem, that will be completed all the things having been written through the prophets about the Son of man. For he will be handed over to the nations, and he will be mocked, and he will be mistreated, and he will be spit upon, and having scourged him, they will kill him, and the third day he will rise again” (Luke 18:31-33).

To this we should compare the usual translation, and will be completed all things...about the Son of Man. It is plainly obvious to anyone who understands Scripture that all things pertaining to Messiah have not been completed. The usual translation of Luke 18:31, therefore, represents a difficulty in translation, a problem to solve to communicate the right thing in English. By the laws of logic, it cannot really mean that all things about Messiah were fulfilled. Only fools defy this common sense. It may be admitted that a translational difficulty exists here. It may not be reasonably admited that what the English appears to say is correct.

It may therefore be noted that for fools who claim all things were fulfilled I am not writing my solution to the translational problem. The prerequisite to understanding or considering my solution is that the rules of logic be acknowledged first, namely that Messiah did not fulfill everything written about him. Then only the qualified may judge whether I have restored the text correctly, and the qualified are very few. Indeed those who are going to understand it will need a grammatical education in Hebrew and Greek, and rare indeed are scholars like myself who have both. Skip the next paragraph if you must, but read the one after it.

I have rendered the text that will be completed. The conjunction in Greek (καὶ) represents a waw consecutive in Hebrew since it goes before the verb, and the verb represents an imperfect in Hebrew. In Greek the future passive (τελεσθήσεται) is a subjunctive equivalent under the influence of Hebrew. The conjunction is, in Hebrew a concluding waw to explain intent, so then often simply translated that. This kind of waw consecutive is that of logical sequence. It takes the sense of "x is done, so that y will happen"; the usual translation of a waw consecutive is then. Only in this sense it is explained as so that then.... An example of this Hebrew usage is in Jer. 20:17: who has not killed me in the womb, so that then my mother would be my grave ( אֲשֶׁר לֹא־מוֹתְתַנִי מֵרָחֶם וַתְּהִי־לִי אִמִּי קִבְרִי). The NAS translates just so, “Because he did not kill me before birth, so that my mother would have been my grave.” The LXX leads off καὶ ἐγένετο. Thus the concluding waw is translated καὶ followed by an aorist indicative. But the Hebrew sense is subjunctive, so that would be. Therefore we have to consider that fact that the LXX Greek translation was somewhat sloppy. Subjunctive equivalents really only pertain to the future as used in the NT. This same example is found on page 548 of Waltke and O’Connor: Biblical Hebrew Syntax.

So then, what Messiah is saying is that he is going up to Jerusalem (action X) so that result Y will follow: so that will (or would) be completed all things.... If he does not go, then not only will prophecies concerning his death not be fulfilled, but nothing concerning his glorious kindom in the messianic age would be fulfilled either. He is expressing that his present action is to the intent that all things are fulfilled. Therefore, the English translation, and all things will be fulfilled is incorrect. What is correct is then all things may be fulfilled, or so that or that.

Since not all things in the Torah and Prophets have happened, the argument that it was only valid until everything was fulfilled at the cross is invalid.