Meme Crushing by Request #2: Law and Prophets
For JoeUnseen’s second request, he wants to know how long the law and Prophets last.
In Matthew 5:17, 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.”
In Luke 16:16, Jesus said, “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.”
Forever? Or until John the Baptist? Let’s look at the context of each passage to find out.
Read the entire passage in Luke 16:
The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.” (vv. 14-17)
Now read the entire passage in Matthew 5:
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. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes 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. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (vv 17-20)
Neither of these actually abolishes the Law; they simply state the difficulty of doing so. The Law is forever (Ps 119:89-90; Is 40:8).
The only hope, therefore, is to fulfill the Law (Mt 5:17). Turn to the apostle Paul:
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Rom 8:3-4)
Put another way, “… Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom 10:4). Paul felt he had every reason to rely on the Law for salvation (Phil 3:4b-6), but he wrote to the Philippians that Christ is his salvation:
… whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Phil 3:7-11)
Christ ends the Law only in the sense that he has fulfilled its requirements on behalf of those who believe. So, like the woman caught in adultery, we may also “… go, and from now on sin no more” (Jn 8:11; see also Prv 28:13; Ez 18:30-32; Rom 2:4, 5:20-21; Eph 4:1; Phil 1:27; 1 Tim 1:15-16).