Fulness of the Law (video)

I’d guess that almost no one knows how the early Christians dealt with Matthew 5:17: “I did not come to abolish the Law, but to bring it to fullness.”

The evangelical interpretation of that passage relies on a faulty translation of the verse that makes Paul’s use of the Law (1 Cor. 9) puzzling. The early Christians had a completely different one:

Note: Somewhere along the line, this explanation of the Law and how Jesus brought it to fullness was forgotten, apparently by everyone. (I’d better check on Orthodox doctrine; they keep surprising me in the things they’ve retained.)

There’s another topic that has been forgotten. There’s been a move lately to find and restore “the Gospel of the Kingdom.” No one has done a better job of that than Matthew Bryan in Forgotten Gospel, due to be released February 2. Matthew even traces the history of how we forgot Jesus’ central message, the Kingdom of God.

You can even get a sample chapter by signing up for our publishing newsletter. Just follow the link above.

About paulfpavao

I am a church historian and pastor, but I do occasionally play APBA baseball for fun.
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11 Responses to Fulness of the Law (video)

  1. Anna says:

    What IS the Evangelical interpretation of that passage, anyhow?

    • paulfpavao says:

      The primary evangelical interpretation is that Jesus fulfilled the Law by obeying it perfectly. Some might even say that he fulfilled it by being the perfect sacrifice. Either way, their “fulfillment” produces exactly the same effect as abolishing it. It’s just gone, of no effect or authority to the Christian.

      Of course, that makes Jesus statement two verses later (v. 19) nonsensical. He said whoever teaches someone to ignore even the least of the Law’s commands will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.

      • Anna says:

        Ah, well, in fairness, the paragraphs in the Catholic Catechism prior to the ones I quoted do take that same position—that Jesus fulfilled the Law by satisfying it perfectly. Maybe consider this another “both/and” interpretation… Jesus fulfilled the Law by satisfying it, and also fulfilled it by showing us its ultimate divine interpretation.

        • paulfpavao says:

          It is the Scripture that says that the King (Christ) is the end of the law for righteousness. Paul says that the “handwriting of ordinances that was against us” was nailed to the cross and taken out of the way. Hebrews 8 even uses the term “vanishing.” I guess I missed the fact I was being very one-sided in my video. I was busy working on how the law was “not abolished” and “brought to fullness,” not how we are no longer under the Law. In this case, I still agree with the Catholic Catechism.

        • Restless Pilgrim says:

          mmm…yes. I’ve heard some theologians describing what Jesus did as bursting the categories of the Old Testament Law, which I think communicates something of both of these realities.

  2. Anna says:

    Well, they don’t use the word “expands”, but the Catholic Catechism sounds somewhat similar, with its take on perfecting the law and interpreting the dietary law in a pedagogical way…

    “In Jesus, the same Word of God that had resounded on Mount Sinai to give the written Law to Moses, made itself heard anew on the Mount of the Beatitudes. Jesus did not abolish the Law but fulfilled it by giving its ultimate interpretation in a divine way: “You have heard that it was said to the men of old. . . But I say to you. . .” With this same divine authority, he disavowed certain human traditions of the Pharisees that were “making void the word of God”.
    Going even further, Jesus perfects the dietary law, so important in Jewish daily life, by revealing its pedagogical meaning through a divine interpretation”. [Link]

    • paulfpavao says:

      “Jesus did not abolish the Law but fulfilled it by giving its ultimate interpretation in a divine way.”

      Okay, I guess it’s only the Protestants who’ve forgotten. Thank you.

    • Restless Pilgrim says:

      I was tied up this weekend, but bookmarked this post when I saw it so I could come back and comment. Well done for getting there first Anna 🙂

      Also, Paul, for what it’s worth the Eastern Orthodox/Catholic would present something very similar, albeit in slightly different language.

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