Jesus completes the law
Matthew 5:17-20
Because God’s kingdom requires righteousness, Jesus fulfills the law.
#kingdomofgod
#law
#Jesus
Published November 17th, 2020; Updated November 17th, 2020
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Main point summary
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Key for highlighting
Markup
Notes about cross-references
Observations and questions
Acknowledgements
notes
Main point summary
Jesus: I haven’t start a radically new movement and do away with scripture because, due to the fact that entry into God’s kingdom requires righteousness (as defined by scripture), I have come to complete the commands of scripture, which are so important that how you treat them determines your standing in eternity.
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editing
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Matthew 5:17-20
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p “Do not think that I have come to abolish q the Law or the Prophets;
[Although what I am teaching you in this sermon is counter to the wisdom of this age,] you shouldn’t misunderstand me and think that I am discarding scripture and starting a radically new movement;
I have not come to abolish them
You shouldn’t think this because I haven’t come to do away with scripture,
but r to fulfill them.
but rather I have come as the capstone of what scripture points towards and to bring out the complete meaning of scripture.
negativepositive
ideaexplanation
For truly, I say to you,
[I have not come to do so because ] — here comes something very important —
s until heaven and earth pass away,
until the world comes to an end,
not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law
definitely not even the smallest part of the law, the part that seems very minor, will become obselete
temporal
until all is accomplished.
until everything pointed to in scripture becomes a complete reality.
ground
t Therefore whoever relaxes u one of the least of these commandments
[ Because God’s commands in the law, which I bring complete meaning to, are not obselete], if someone discards even the most minor of these commands
and teaches others to do the same
and teach others do likewise,
progression
will be called least v in the kingdom of heaven,
then this person will have little significance in God’s kingdom (the perfect place where everyone submits to God),
conditional
but whoever does them
On the other hand , if someone obeys the complete meaning of these commands
and teaches them
and teaches others to obey in the same way
will be called great v in the kingdom of heaven.
then they will have much significance in my kingdom.
alternative
inference
For I tell you,
The reason I came to fulfill these important eternity-defining commands is that — hear this hard saying —
unless your righteousness exceeds w that of the scribes and Pharisees,
if your your good works and obedience to God is not better than that of the Pharisees,
you x will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
then you won’t even be able to be part of God’s kingdom. (That is, you need a different kind of obedience altogether.)
I have come not to do away with scripture but as the capstone of scripture.
Every part of the scripture will remain until I (Jesus) fulfill it.
If you obey and teach the completed meaning of scripture’s commands, you will have great significant in God’s kingdom.
The reason that I came to fulfill the eternal-status-defining commands of scripture is that righteousness, as scripture defines it, is required for you to be part of God’s kingdom.
The smallest part of the law will never pass away.
How you treat the completed meaning of the commands of scripture will effect your eternal state.
discourse
Key for highlighting
Colors represent similarity within the passage Underline represents comparison or contrast within the passage Dashed represents similarity with other passages Zigzag represents contrast with other passages Outline represents something notable or something that stands out
Markup
Matthew 5:17-20
Christ Came to Fulfill the Law 17 p “Do not think that I have come to abolish q the Law or the Prophets ; I have not come to abolish them but r to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, s until heaven and earth pass away , not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 t Therefore whoever relaxes u one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least v in the kingdom of heaven , but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great v in the kingdom of heaven . 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds w that of the scribes and Pharisees, you x will never enter the kingdom of heaven .
Romans 3:31
31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law .
Matthew 7:12
The Golden Rule 12 “So e whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is f the Law and the Prophets .
Romans 10:4
4 For e Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. 1
Romans 13:8
Fulfilling the Law Through Love 8 w Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for x the one who loves another has fulfilled the law .
Galatians 3:24
24 So then, r the law was our s guardian until Christ came, t in order that we might be justified by faith.
Luke 16:17
17 But c it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.
Matthew 24:35
35 e Heaven and earth will pass away , but f my words will not pass away.
Galatians 3:10
The Righteous Shall Live by Faith 10 For all who rely on works of the law are m under a curse; for it is written, n “Cursed be everyone who does not o abide by all things written in the Book of the Law , and do them.”
James 2:10
10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point k has become accountable for all of it.
Matthew 11:11
11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Matthew 18:1-4
Who Is the Greatest? 18 1 t At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven ?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you u turn and v become like children, you w will never enter the kingdom of heaven . 4 x Whoever humbles himself like this child is the w greatest in the kingdom of heaven .
Matthew 20:20-28
A Mother’s Request 20 w Then x the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and y kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine z are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left , a in your kingdom .” 22 Jesus answered, b “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able c to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, d “You will drink e my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, f but it is for those for whom it has been g prepared by my Father.” 24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, h “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles i lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 j It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 1 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 1 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but k to serve, and l to give his life as a ransom for m many.”
Luke 12:47-48
47 t And that servant who u knew his master’s will but v did not get ready u or act according to his will, will receive a w severe beating . 48 x But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, y will receive a light beating . z Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
Romans 10:3
3 For , being ignorant of d the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness .
Philippians 3:9
9 and be found in him, not having f a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but g that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—
John 3:5
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born q of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God .
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Notes about cross-references
Verse 17 Romans 3:31 The law is not overthrown/abolished. Matthew 7:12 Jesus still talks about the greatest commandment and a summary of the Law and the Prophets Christians are not made righteousness by the law (Rom 13:8); the law was temporary (Gal 3:24). Verse 19 Even though our good works are built upon the free grace we have in Jesus Christ, our works still matter ( 1 Cor 3:10-15 ). Christians don’t rely on the law for our righteous because doing so requires keeping the whole law and we are unable to do so (Gal 3:10 , James 2:10) Matthew and Luke both record Jesus referring to different levels of reward/status in the kingdom (Matthew 18:1-4, Matthew 20:20-28) as well as different levels of discipline (Luke 12:47-48). Verse 20 We need to be righteous ( verse 20 ), but we can’t do it own our own ( Rom 10:3 , Phil 3:9 ).
Observations and questions
Observations There is a change in the pronouns uses as the object of his instructions: from verse 17 (an implied personal pronoun) to verse 18 (a personal pronoun) to verse 19 (an impersonal pronoun) to verse 20 (a personal pronoun) Questions Does “the Law or the Prophets” mean God’s word in its entirety? What does “until all is accomplished” mean? In verse 18 is Jesus saying that the Law and Prophets (scripture) will last forever? Or does it only last until the world comes to and end? What does “fulfill” mean in verse 17? What does it mean to be called least in kingdom of heaven? Does it mean that we have little status? That we will have a poor reputation?
Acknowledgements
I found Andy Hubert’s Arc of this same passage ( https://biblearc.com/author/Andy_Hubert/Kingdom_Righteousness/ ) and, after coming my arc with his, ended up with a very similar arc. I also found Don Carson’s commentary (Expositor’s Bible Commentary series) helpful at several points.
Comments
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.