Statement of Jesus
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)
A few things can be gleamed from this little passage:
(a) The Law will not be abolished – but it stands to be fulfilled
(b) Jesus also did not come to break/annul these commandments
“Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Galatians 3:24-25)
“But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.” (Romans 7:6)
Is Paul saying the Law is fulfilled? Is Paul saying the Law is no longer needed? Questions do abound.
Paul Plays Semantics with the Torah
(1) Gal 3:16 “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.
Gen 12:7 “The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land”
“Paul does not speak of Jesus as inheriting the land nor of the gentile Galatians as about to possess Jerusalem real estate” (Levine pg. 79 – The Misunderstood Jew)
(2) Gal 3:17 “the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise”
“He insists, for example, that of the Gentiles in Galatia agree to circumcision, then it follows they should practice the entire Law…Abraham was circumcised, but the biblical text does not state that he followed Mosaic Law (as Paul also notes in his appeal to the 490 years between Abraham and Moses)” (Levine pg. 80 – The Misunderstood Jew)
(3) Gal 3:24-25 “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor”
“Nothing in the Scriptures of Israel suggest that the Law would pass away. Nor would most Jews have agreed with the idea that the Torah was given because of human transgression (Gal 3:19). Rather, they would have regarded it as a sign of divine love” (Levine pg. 81 – The Misunderstood Jew)
(4) Gal 3:19 “Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made”
“Mediation should not make a difference in theological value; the words of God spoken by the prophets are mediated, but they are no less value than a voice that comes directly from heaven” (Levine pg. 81 – The Misunderstood Jew)
(5) Gal 4:25/26-28/29 “Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother…And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.”
“Thus those who claim physical descent from Abraham and follow Torah are children of Hagar; those who claim spiritual descent and do not follow Torah are children of Sarah. Who knew?” (Levine pg. 81 – The Misunderstood Jew)
Uh yeah…need I say more about Paul and his break from Torah (for the sake of the Gentiles he was addressing).