Jesus Fulfilled The Law (Now It’s Obsolete)

Jesus Fulfilled The Law (Now It’s Obsolete) May 2, 2019

There seems to be some confusion among American Christians about whether or not we’re still under the Old Covenant or the Ten Commandments. [We’re not].

See, the Ten Commandments were a sign from God of the Covenant He made between Moses and his people.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel. Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.” (Exodus 34:27-28)

So, these Ten Commandments were a sign of this Covenant God made with Moses and with Israel – not with the entire world.

Here’s something else we know about that Old Covenant – It’s obsolete.

Why do I say the Old Covenant is “obsolete”?

Because in Hebrews 8:13 we read:

“By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.”

Wait, wait, wait a minute. That can’t be right. Didn’t Jesus promise that heaven and earth would pass away before the Law and the Prophets did?

Well, sorta. But let’s take a look to be sure:

Jesus said: “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. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. ( Matthew 5:17-18)

So, yes, Jesus does say that “until heaven and earth disappear” the Law will stand. But, please notice two other things:

First: There are two qualifiers here. One is that the Law will not disappear “until Heaven and Earth disappear”, and the second qualifier is that the Law will not disappear “until everything is accomplished.

Second: That Jesus starts this whole conversation by telling us that his entire purpose and mission is to do this one thing: “I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them [the Law and the Prophets].”

Are you following this? See, first Jesus assures us that His mission is to fulfill or to accomplish the Law, and then He tells us that the Law will not disappear “until everything is accomplished.”

So, I have to ask you, was everything accomplished? Did Jesus fulfill the Law and the Prophets as he told us he had come to do?

 

I’ll let Jesus tell you:

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30)

BTW: The Greek word Jesus used here for “finished” is literally the same word Jesus used earlier: “accomplished”.

So here, on the cross, Jesus declares that He has accomplished His mission to “fulfill the Law”, just as He set out to do.

If that’s not enough, let’s look at what Jesus prayed to the Father before the cross where he confirmed:

“I have glorified You on earth by accomplishing the work You gave Me to do” [John 17:4]

What was that work that the Father gave Jesus to do? Well, according to Jesus, one of those things was to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.

So, now that Jesus has accomplished this, the Law has now disappeared.

 

The Apostle Paul put it this way:

“For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace.” (Eph. 2:15)

Elsewhere Paul also affirms for us that “Christ is the end of the law.”  (Rom. 10:4).

Paul also explains for us the differences between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant – not once but twice, in no uncertain terms.

The first time, in 2 Corinthians, Paul contrasts the Old and the New Covenant saying:

“Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, [that’s the Old Covenant] came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, [the Old was “fading”] will not the ministry of the Spirit [that’s the New Covenant] be even more glorious?”

“If the ministry that condemns men [the Old] is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! [that’s the New] For what was glorious [the Old] has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away [the Old] came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! [the New] – (2 Corinthians 3:7-11)

So, Paul tells us the following about the Old Covenant:

  • It brought death
  • Its glory was fading
  • It condemns men
  • It was glorious (past tense)
  • It now has no glory
  • It is fading away

The New Covenant, in contrast :

  • Is More glorious than the Old Covenant
  • Brings righteousness
  • Has a glory that is surpassing
  • Is everlasting

As if that were not enough, Paul does it again in Galatians:

“The women (Hagar and Sarah) represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.” (Galatians 4:24-26)

“But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.” (Gal.4: 30-31)

Here Paul says this about the Old Covenant:

The Old Covenant:

  • Is from Mount Sinai (where the 10 Commandments were given)
  • Bears children who are slaves
  • Corresponds to the earthly Jerusalem
  • Is in slavery with her children
  • Should be cast out of our presence
  • Will not share in the inheritance of Christ
  • Is not our Mother

And Paul says this the New Covenant:

  • Bears children who are free
  • Is of the heavenly  New Jerusalem, not the physical city
  • Is our true Mother
  • Shares in the inheritance of Christ

And…just in case you think these are isolated statements, Paul also says:

“We are not under the law” (Rom. 6:14; Gal. 5:18).

“We are dead to the law” (Rom. 7:4).

“We are delivered from the law” (Rom. 7:6).

Therefore, those who are in Christ are not under the Ten Commandments but under the “Law of Christ” as Paul says:

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

So, to recap: Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. The Law is now obsolete, vanishing and has faded away.

We are now under the Law of Christ – which is the law of love for God and one another.

“I give you a new command. Love one another. You must love one another, just as I have loved you. If you love one another, everyone will know you are my disciples.” – Jesus (John 13:34-35)

Christians are not held to any standard in the Old Covenant, and certainly not to the Ten Commandments.

So, what is our ethical standard now? It’s Christ. Not the Law. Not the Ten Commandments. Christ.

Therefore, can we please stop telling people that God’s standard for morality is the Ten Commandments? Can we please stop telling people that God sees them as liars, adulterers, blasphemers, etc.? Can we please stop holding people to a standard of the Law of Moses that has been fulfilled and is now obsolete for the last 2,000 years?

Can we instead become Ambassadors of Christ [not of Moses] and start preaching the Good News of Christ’s Kingdom that “God was, in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, and not counting their sins against them.”? [2 Cor. 5:19]

This is the ministry we have been given. The Law brings death. The Spirit brings life.

**

Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho, awaiting their next adventure.

His new book “Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” with a Foreword by Greg Boyd.

Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • RossM

    Yeah. Nah. If we love one another, then we will give people who work for us at least one day off every week. If we love one another, we will show respect for our parents. If we love one another, we will not murder another person. If we love one another, we will not have sex with another person’s spouse. If we love one another, we will not steal from another person. If we love one another, we will not perjure another person. If we love one another, we will not be envious of another person or their family members or their property. Furthermore, if we love one another we will not upset an animal lover by boiling a calf in its mother’s milk. If we love one another we will not cheat customers by mixing other cheaper fibres into expensive woollen garments. And so on. The commandments, nearly all 613 of them, remain in terms of what a Christian does or does not do as we go through life, but the *focus* has changed from abstention to positive love, and all the loopholes are gone. The old rules are still good guidelines for our behaviour in specific circumstances, as Jesus said in Mathew 22:37-40.

  • Armed Citizen

    very incorrect article on many levels!
    kinda makes me sigh that so many violations of Scripture have happened here, Keith!

    let’s look at His Ten –
    1 – sorry, i can’t honor the One True God – it’s now obsolete.
    2 – yes, i certainly will bow to idols – since this too is now ok to do.
    3 – i’d love to use His name in vain!! – since we can now.

    4 – the real reason so many people look for loopholes in His loving and perfect Ten Commands is this Holy Command with His seal in It.

    5 – time to disrespect mom and dad – since this no longer applies!
    6 – murder and hate are now OK!!
    7 – going to sleep with my beautiful neighbor – since it’s now permitted by God!
    8 – i will be stealing this evening, it’s the Christian thing to do.
    9 – lying is now not only fun – it’s legal!
    10 – coveting is only 1/2 the fun – see Command 8!

    using Paul to pretend that His law is no longer kept by Christians isn’t understanding Paul.

    2 Peter 3:15-16 ~ ‘…as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.’

    was a fun page to comment on Keith – thanks!

  • Protestants have always taken the position that Jesus fulfilled all Torah law and that has changed. But since God’s character never changes, and moral principles issue from his character, the moral laws still reveal God’s mind.

    I might add that only in the Torah and nowhere in the NT did God reveal his preferred form of government. The Israel he created had no state no human exec no legislators no taxes no police and no standing army. It had only judges and 613 laws from God. Since that was the only government God ever established shouldn’t we take it more seriously?

  • KontraDiction

    Wow lots of law-lovers here. Seems to me that 613 was too many (and only for Orthodox Jews, if I understand correctly). Even 12 proved difficult. So didn’t Jesus boil it down to 2?

    It’s not as if these two create endless contradictions, or tell you murder, adultery etc are ok now.

    Why cling to ancient, culture-bound eye-for-and-eye rigidity when there’s a more perfect formulation, driven by love and grace, that even a child can understand?

  • Armed Citizen

    are Ten too many Sir?

  • Armed Citizen

    i see 1-4 as ways that we should our Creator love
    and
    5-10 as ways we are to show our neighbor love.

  • KontraDiction

    Hey Armed, LOL apparently I can’t count this morning, I totally meant ten! Thanks 🙂

  • Armed Citizen

    happens to us all Sir =)
    have a great day and beautiful Sabbath!

  • R/R 2016

    Keith: “Can we please stop telling people that God sees them as liars, adulterers, blasphemers, etc.?”

    Also Keith: “Can we instead become Ambassadors of Christ [not of Moses] and start preaching the Good News of Christ’s Kingdom…”

    Paul: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9-11 NASB).

    Kingdom theology is not divorced from Christian morality. Paul, despite his statements about the Christian relationship to The Law, had no problem calling a spade a spade. Other NT authors made similar statements regarding who is in and who is out (c.f. Rev 22:15).

  • MorningDew Reynolds

    If the Torah [the blueprint of our Creator’s Character] is “obsolete” and “gone”, THEN SO IS OUR CREATOR GOD!!!
    Apparently HERE, YHWH has been killed off, and replaced by a son that YHWH did NOT begat.
    An “anti-Heavenly Father”, AND an “anti-Christ” message is what is being PREACHED HERE!

  • Charlie Rivers

    So…God isn’t Love and He’s just a rigid series of rules we are supposed to follow and He can’t wait for us to step out of line and inflict His misery on us??? Personally I’d rather believe God is a loving merciful being who doesn’t hold our Sins against us because to suggest He’s just an angry vengeful being seems like slander to me…Isn’t His mercy the reason The Gospel is good news??? You are more than welcome to disagree with me but I’d rather believe in a loving God that accepts us and offers forgiveness bc there’s no way I can live up to The Law (after all if perfection and salvation could be achieved through righteous acts or good works then Christ
    dying for our Sins is irrelevant)…

  • AWRM

    This is out of my pay grade… but I’m not convinced anybody really understands all the nuances. I certainly don’t.

    As I read the first chapters of Deuteronomy, I get the impression that God (through Moses) is telling us how he despises any hints of oppression. As I read it, God wants believers to set up a kingdom on Earth that is like heaven – as per the Lord’s prayer. God wants us to set up a society that is kind, just and… a lot more egalitarian than most American Christians would have us believe. (No interest, no private property, automatic loan forgiveness, celebration of festivals shoulder to shoulder with the poor as opposed to a cold and distant kind of charity…) .

    This is inspiring for me. It’s all a very NT, Jesus-Paul-James-John kind of message. I’m with RossM who points out that the 10 Commandments are good stuff. I think every one of them force us to attack the motivations and methods that enable people to oppress others. What’s the point of scheming and deceiving if you can’t enjoy hoarding more than your fair share of things… no fancy cars, no big houses, no multitudes of hotties to bang,… It’s a message that I don’t want to toss out completely.

    The more picayune rules are pretty well inexplicable. I appreciate the various efforts but none of the explanations wash with me.

    So, I guess I concur with RossM. If you love God and your neighbour, you are on your way to building a society of believers that will get us closer to Zion… and you’ll align yourself to the statutes that are well summarized by the 10 Commandments as well as the many egalitarian references that exist in the OT. These same kinds of messages run thick in the NT so it’s all a discussion about angels on the head of a needle. It’s just that I think there’s great value in the overarching themes that are reflected in the rules laid out in the OT and I wonder if we’re losing a lot by discarding it all. It is useful to refer to the 10 commandments to see how far off course our present day society of believers are… It could be argued that we are continually, brazenly and even boastfully breaking all 10. They serve as a standard that may (one distant day) cause us to reassess the sincerity of our faith.

    Then again, we can always look at the 9 Fruits of the Spirit… so are we venturing into a futile discussion? Argh! I just get a lot of value out of the OT ways that frankly surprises me… and I am hesitant to diminish its relevance.

  • pen44

    As Jesus said, in Matthew 22:35-40, and Mark 12:28-34, in the Summary of the Law, we are to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we follow the Summary, we are following the 10 Commandments!! Jesus made it very, very clear!!

    Armed Citizen, I agree with you…as Jesus does in His Great Commandment, the Summary of the Law!

  • pen44

    Please read Matthew 22:35-40 and Mark 12:28-34! Seems like Jesus is boiling it down to 2 great Commandments. He made it quite clear who “your neighbor” is with the Good Samaritan story. The readings are sometimes referred to as Jesus’ Greatest Commandment….as He said, “Do this!!!”…

  • The opposite of the law is lawlessness. That is where we appear to be as a nation. If you can preach love and accept abortion at the same time (which progressives do) you have serious block understanding Jesus.

  • Armed Citizen

    ‘So….God isn’t Love…’

    would He be more loving if He invited us to rape, murder and steal from others?
    see 1 John 5:2-3 – His Commands aren’t burdensome, Charlie.

    tell me Sir – do you believe that correcting your children should allow them to continuously do the same (walking in the street for example) – or do you believe that correcting them should bring a difference in their lives?

    i don’t mind disagreement, Sir – as the Bible encourages us to discuss and compare our beliefs with fellow brothers and sisters. so don’t be discouraged, but please tell me where we are in disagreement.

    thanks!

  • KontraDiction

    Maybe the opposite of law is mercy, the same way the opposite of fear is love.

  • Paul had some advice on many subjects concerning Grace which because of his intellectual prowess and writing style many try to twist. But he also said.:

    1 Corinthians 2:6-9
    (6) However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. (7) But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, (8) which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (9) But as it is written:
    “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
    Nor have entered into the heart of man
    The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

    God Bless…

  • KontraDiction

    Thanks for your reply, but I’m at a bit of a loss. Could you maybe rephrase it for me? I want to understand. Thank you.

  • Thanks.
    I assume you are talking about Grace: Jesus Fulfilled The Law (Now It’s Obsolete)

    It’s not as complicated as it’s made out to be. Let’s just use Catholicism and Protestantism for example. Catholicism believes in keeping the ten commandments; Protestantism does not. They say the Law has been done away with and the commandments have been nailed to the cross.

    To be specific Catholicism believes it is a sin to steal and you must not do that. Protestantism says it is not right to steal but no big deal because our sins are forgiven then, now and later by the sacrifice of Jesus. In fact they criticize that commandment and all commandments as “works” which are not required for salvation.

    Catholicism retorts that Grace produces Faith and that Faith will result in the person keeping the commandments and that this obedience through Faith is necessary and not works.

    Who is right? This argument started with Martin Luther and has been going on for over 500 years now with no end in sight. I agree with the Catholics. God has given us His Laws and Statues and Commands and we are to obey His voice. It takes time and study to understand this and eventually it becomes your way of life. Yes you sill disobey but you can ask for forgiveness and move forward.

    I hope that answered some of your question.

  • KontraDiction

    Yes, thank you, that is much clearer. I’ve never heard Protestants say you don’t have to follow the ten commandments, or that they aren’t sins anymore. I mean, who would tell you it’s OK to murder? That’s ridiculous.

    My understanding is that Protestants hold that you cannot earn Grace with good works, it is purely a gift. You don’t need to frenzy yourself about doing enough good to avoid hell (which is a selfish reason to do good anyway). Now you can do good because your heart is filled with love, and it spills over into all your interactions with your fellow beloved humans.

    Sin is still sin. Evil doesn’t become OK just because it’s forgiven. It’s just a difference view of what justice should look like: restorative vs punitive. Grace forgives and restores – this is salvation, you’ve been saved from your previous fallen state, punishment just continues the cycle of violence.

    I’d rather learn to love others as myself, than learn hundreds of ancient laws and follow them out of fear.

  • Thank you. I had never heard someone say that either until I started looking at the progressive websites. Notice the title of this blog for example.
    If sin is still sin how do we know what sin is if not from the bible?

  • KontraDiction

    I’d be interested to see which websites these are, if you have any examples.

    The “law” referenced in the title refers to the ancient Jewish laws of purity and sacrifice. Don’t eat this, don’t wear that, kill this many of that animal at the altar to pay for your sins. We don’t need to follow that code anymore, and thankfully so.

    Jesus gave us a very simple (but not easy!) standard: love God with all you are, and love your neighbor as yourself. Violating either of these is sin. Does that work for you?

  • I found many of these types on Benjamin Corey’s blog on Patheos. You would have to read some of them. Corey seems to be missing at the moment.

    The Law includes those but also the Commandments which I believe we do need to follow. While I agree that love can “conquer all” I also believe that we need instructions to follow as
    “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9.

    I don’t know if you have ever heard this but the Great Commandment is simply a gross summary of the commandments: the first four tell us how to love God and the last six tell us how to love our neighbor.

    Sin is simply transgression of the Law, Commands and Statues of God. If you don’t have them
    in your heart it is hard to be obedient.

  • Devil’s Advocate

    Keith says that ‘The Greek word Jesus used here for “finished” is literally the same word Jesus used earlier: “accomplished”.’ But the word “finished” is teleo and the word “accomplished” is ginomai in Greek per Blue Letter Bible. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily disprove his point.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    I’d be happy to see Christians cease with the nonsense of putting up ten of many many commandments in public buildings. It’s just silly since Christians pick and choose what they want to pay attention to in the OT. But I think your bible does have JC saying that all of the commandments are still in force.

    This is the verse that many go to about this issue: Matthew 5

    “7 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks 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. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – NSRV

    Now in this, abolish means: to end the observance or effect of (something, such as a law) : to completely do away with (something) (merriam webster) And then we have “fulfill”. Many Christians want this to mean ” to bring to an end” but it also means “to put into effect” And it makes no sense to have JC saying “Do not think that I have come to completely do away with the law or the prophets; I have come not to completely do away with but to bring to an end.” It makes far more sense to say “Do not think that I have come to completely do away with the law or the prophets; I have come not to completely do away with but to put into effect (the law).”

    Now, just ignore all of this nonsense and just be humane people. No god needed, especially a god that treats women as property and advocates killing those who don’t agree with it.