It has been said that Christ, in fulfilling the moral law, actually abolished the Ten Commandments. However, let’s take a look at what Jesus actually says in Matthew 5:17–19:
- “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets” (v. 17). Jesus certainly did not do the very thing that He came not to do!
- “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” According to Webster’s Dictionary, “fulfill,” when applied to a law, means “to answer its demands by obedience.” It here means the opposite of “destroy,” as in the following scriptures: “And shall not uncircumcision, which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?” (Romans 2:27) “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). “If ye fulfill the royal law, according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well” (James 2:8).
Thus, those who make this argument would have Christ teach that He came not to destroy the law but to destroy the law. That doesn’t make sense, does it?
- “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law” (Matthew 5:18). Heaven and earth still remain; thus, we can know from Jesus’ own lips that the law was not and has not been abolished.
- “Till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). This passage was originally written in Greek. In the Greek language, words that go together must share certain qualities, such as gender or number. The word “all” is neuter in gender and plural in number. Therefore, it cannot refer directly to “law,” which is masculine in gender and singular in number. “All” refers to all things respecting heaven and earth that are spoken of in the prophets (Old Testament).
The term “fulfilled” in this verse comes from a different Greek word than the word “fulfilled” in the expression, “I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (verse 17). Here in verse 18, this word means “to come into existence, be created, exist by creation” (William Greenfield, A Greek-English Lexicon to the New Testament). This word “fulfilled” is translated as “made” in John 1:3: “All things were made by him” (KJV). So, again, “fulfill” actually means the opposite of “destroy.”
- Now comes Christ’s own conclusion: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least [or, as George Campbell renders it, “shall be of no esteem”] in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19). And to emphasize the poing that the law is not abolished, Christ proceeds to explain certain precepts of the law in question in their most spiritual and comprehensive sense.
This law could not cease when Christ came. Three interesting “tills” or “untils” in the New Testament provides convincing evidence of this truth:
- “The law and the prophets were until John” (Luke 16:16). At the time of John the Baptist, there was a change in the law and the prophets, when he began preaching the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God did not do away with the law and the prophets but added to them. Christ confirmed this in the next verse, making the law firmer than the very pillars of heaven and earth: “And it is easier,” He said, “for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail” (verse 17).
- “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law.”
- “Till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). That is, ; till all those things to be restored are brought into existence by a new creation. This brings us to the new-earth state, in which righteousness shall dwell (2 Peter 3:13; Psalm 119:172; Isaiah 51:6, 7), and the Sabbath shall continue while eternal ages roll (Isaiah 66:22, 23).
This objection suggests the false doctrine that Christ is the minister of sin. Rather, we believe the Scriptures teach that Christ came to conquer Satan and sin. But according to this objection, the great object of God in sending His Son is frustrated, and Satan and sin triumph at last, for Christ grants men full liberty to transgress all the commandments of God!
As we have seen, the argument that Christ abolished the law is refuted by the Savior’s own words in Matthew chapter 5, by Peter’s prophecy in 2 Peter 3, by the testimony of Old Testament writers in Psalm 119 and Isaiah 51, and by the fact that Christ cannot be the minister of sin.