Seventh-Day Adventists/Fulfillment of the Law in Matthew 5
QUESTION: Dear Sal,
Thanks for your previous answer. I have a new question though, it's a pretty tough question and I wonder whether you can share your insights concerning this matter.
In Matthew 5 we read:
17“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. 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
I know Jesus fulfilled the law and replaced the Old Covenant with the New Covenant. However I am wondering what is the exact time that ALL the Law and the Prophets were fulfilled?
In John 19 we read:
28Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
So these verses seem to confirm the idea that everything was finished at the cross and thus the Law and the Prophets were no longer in place.
However in Luke 24 we read not all things had been fulfilled yet at the cross:
44He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
45Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
These discrepancies got me thinking. I believe there is a difference between "fulfilling the Law and the Prophets" and "accomplishing everything.
It seems that at least fulfilling the Prophets continued even after the cross and that only the fulfillment of the Law was accomplished at the cross. This is enough though to replace the Old Covenant with the New Covenant.
I know these are minor details but I really do wish to know whether all things were fulfilled at the cross.
ANSWER: Dear Brother Roger:
The question of when exactly did the Old Covenant end is of minor importance. The important thing is that it did come to an end. “By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear” (Hebrews 8:13 NIV). The ending of the Old Covenant was necessary for the New Covenant to be fully accepted.
In Matthew 5:17-18 Jesus is speaking of the Old Covenant when he says, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (v. 17 NASB). Jesus was assuring the Jews that he was not saying that the Old Covenant was wrong, but that he was fulfilling what it actually said. “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” (v. 18 NASB). The entire Old Covenant Law is no longer in effect so we know that he has accomplished all that the Law and the Prophets said relating to our salvation.
I believe that the best way to see this question is to see the end of the Old Covenant as a process. The Bible says the Old Covenant was from 430 years after the promise to Abraham until the promised descendant came, that is Christ (see Galatians 3:17-19). Here the coming of Christ was seen as the beginning of the end for the Old Covenant. When Jesus died on the cross the Old Covenant was nailed to it which cancelled that covenant (see Colossians 2:14). However, it was not until the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple that the Old Covenant priesthood & sacrifices came to an end (even though those sacrifices were useless). So we have a process beginning with Christ and culminating in the destruction of the earthly temple.
God Bless You,
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thanks Sal, I understand now that the replacemant of the old covenant was a process that finally took place with the destruction of Jerusalem at 70 AD.
However I DO think it is logical to conclude that perhaps there IS a difference between "fulfilling the Law and the Prophets" and "accomplishing everything" in the context of Matthew 5. Most translations now use "till everything shall be accomplished" rather than "till everything shall be fulfilled". These are just details but I do believe they are significant because of the fact that some people might sugggest that because not everything in the law and the prophets was fulfilled yet at the cross people might argue from that perspective that there are also other prophecies in the Old Testament that haven't been fulfilled yet and thus the Law according to such people still stand.
Do you think that within the context of Matthew 5 there is a difference between "fulfilling the Law and the Prophets" and "accomplishing everything"?
Dear Brother Roger:
I believe that in Matthew 5:17-18 fulfill & accomplish are 2 ways of saying the same thing. Jesus came to fulfill all that the Law and the Prophets spoke of him concerning our salvation. Jesus assured the Jews that the Old Covenant was still in effect and would remain so until he accomplished all things necessary for our salvation. Here is the Amplified Bible version of Matthew 5:17-18.
“Do not think that I have come to do away with or undo the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to do away with or undo but to complete and fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until the sky and earth pass away and perish, not one smallest letter nor one little hook [identifying certain Hebrew letters] will pass from the Law until all things [it foreshadows] are accomplished.”
I hope this answer clarifies my position on this matter.