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Fulfillment of the Law

Updated on June 28, 2016

What is the Law?

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” Matt 5:17 (KJV).

Quite often in my Christian walk, I have been asked the question, “How do you reconcile the vengeful God of the Old Testament with the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament, this duality does not make sense and means the bible cannot be true.” I have always referred to Matthew 5:17 as an explanation, but until recently did not fully understand what it actually means. I look at the world today, and the teachings of churches like Westboro Baptist who seem to believe it is their holy mission to be God’s vengeful hand on earth. They believe they are doing His work because He is the same God today as He was in the Old Testament. I mean, God doesn’t change, so this must be true then right?

What exactly did Jesus mean when he said he came to fulfill the law not destroy it? When you read the New Testament it would seem like this is exactly what he came to do. He destroyed the Pharisees ideas and beliefs about God and the law, right? He ate with sinners, surrounded himself with prostitutes and thieves all at the same time condemning the very people who were viewed as the most holy at this time. The Pharisees kept the law, to extremes, if Jesus was coming to fulfill it would He not surround Himself with likeminded people?

We know He did not. We know He in fact chided and chastised them for trying to keep the law. To understand why, we need to look at what the law was and was not. The law was not a set of rules designed only to punish and make life difficult for God’s chosen. It was intended to be a guide book on how to live a life in harmony with each other. It was intended to teach us how to respect and love one another. If you read all of them, I have and admit it is tedious but worth it, you begin to see this common theme. Things like, if you borrow someone’s goat and it dies, you will replace the goat and more. I mean, this seems only right since it was entrusted to your care right? Even the well-known top ten, adultery, murder, lies and so on. Six out of the first ten commandments deal with society while the rest deal with your relationship with God. One could argue keeping the Sabbath was more for your own mental health, but that is for another time.

One of the biggest things we need to understand, is why did we need a set of laws like this? Most of this is common sense, we know what good and evil look like and good people know how to choose good right? This is where God’s sacrifice, Jesus’ death comes into play. As established in the beginning, Adam and Eve sinned, essentially dirtying our vessels to the point where God could not abide. As a result, we were left to our own devices. One only has to look at what we know about society prior to this sacrifice. It was wild, human sacrifices, murder and adultery being the norm, and people simply accepted it as life. There was no one who questioned this, including the victims themselves. One would argue this shows how we evolved, but I think it is a bit deeper than this. The Holy Spirit is what we consider our conscience. From the very beginning God said he would write the law on our hearts. This happened the day He died and redeemed us to God, allowing Him to send the Holy Spirit (conscience) into everyone. So we walk around today, born with this conscience that gives us this idea of doing the right thing, that our ancestors did not have. Imagine walking through life with no conscience, nothing telling you right from wrong? How would you know? This is exactly how our ancestors lived, and why God delivered the law, to help His people understand right from wrong.

The Mission

Why the quick and dirty brief overview of the law? Well let’s follow it to the conclusion. Jesus said He came to fulfill the law; how did He do this? By doing the exact same things the Pharisees and other religious leaders killed Him for. His mission was to teach us, to show us the law was intended to help us learn how to love God and one another. At the point in time when Jesus came, the Law had become something of a religious status symbol. The more you kept the law, the more holy you were and the better you were than everyone else. This meant people would go to extremes to ensure they did not break any laws, just so they could maintain their status. One only has to look at one of the most popular parables, the Good Samaritan to see this in action. The two holy men, passed by someone in dire need because maintaining their status, maintaining their holiness was more important than helping someone. What they did not realize is by not helping this man, they were actually being worse than a Samaritan, who the Jews at the time hated, who regardless of beliefs stopped and went above and beyond to help this man.

So, one of Jesus’ main missions as we established, was to teach us the heart of the law, the intent behind it. He died so that it may be written on our hearts. So why are we not living in a Utopia now? Just like two thousand years ago, we have taken to using God’s word to elevate ourselves over people and to make ourselves feel important. There are churches now teaching the same ideology as the Pharisees did all those years ago. Christians are flocking to these teachings because it tickles their fancy. They are joining movements and churches like Westboro Baptist because what they teach makes them feel important. It is self-centered ideology. We separate ourselves as holy, and guess what it is not always as extreme as picketing a funeral.


People who call themselves Christians today set themselves apart in many diverse and little ways. We huddle in groups and only associate with other Christians. We are very vocal about things like homosexuality and abortion but seem ok with things like lying. We have established a religion where instead of viewing all sin the same, we pick and choose which ones are simply horrible and get vocal about them. The way we tell people God loves them, is by first telling them what a horrible person they are. This is not fulfilling the law, instead we are using the law as a rod.

Jesus came, fulfilled the law and then left to return at a later time unknown to us. We are supposed to be using this time to show we can choose to do the right thing, and live the heart of the law without it being forced. Meaning, God is not sitting up in Heaven, waiting for someone to mess up and then spanking them. We have reached adulthood, and much like the eighteen-year-old who goes out into the world, God is letting us go and show Him we can apply the lessons He has taught us. If God is not sitting up in heaven doling out punishment and judgement, why do we? Is the heart of the law a spanking board, or is it to love and understand each other? Is it to mourn with those who mourn, or to picket and punish them even further? We live in a time, where we all know what is right and what is wrong, and while we may view what someone does as breaking the law we are not God’s police. It is not our job to enforce the law, but to live the intent and show everyone love and compassion no matter where they are at. To love each other with the same intensity as we love God Himself.

What do you think? Leave your comments and discuss below.


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    • profile image


      2 years ago from those of the Ecclesia

      You may find it interesting to know that the New Commandment regarding love spoke by Jesus Christ in John 13:34 was giving to His disciples within a day and a half or so of Jesus death on the cross. You will sees this if you continue to read through chapters 14 to 19 of John. Jesus death marked on the cross marked the beginning of the New Covenant (Testament). So we have here a New Covenant regarding "love" immedately followed by a New Covenant. Just like the Old 10 Commandments was immedately followed by the Old Covenant.

      The point is how important love is in the New Covenant.To love others as Jesus loved us. It's a KINGDOM standard. I believe there is much to this New Commandment Jesus gave than most people realize. Jesus is not asking us to love others as He did, He gave a commandment to love others as He did. If we can love are fellow man as Jesus loves us, that is also how much we can love God and His Son too.

      Have a good day and God bless.

    • TheDoctorWho profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      That's the point, maybe it wasn't clear. Adultery, murder you would not do those things to people you love correct? Because it does not say the word love in it does not mean it is not talking about loving your neighbor. In the bible, when Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment he said, "To love the Lord they God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul...... The second is like unto it, to love your neighbor as you love yourself". That was a summary of the ten commandments. The point being, what affect to God does it serve whether you cheat on your spouse or not? Those are there as guidelines on how we are supposed to treat each other.

      And you are absolutely right, Jesus did follow the 10 commandments, and all the other six hundred laws in the bible. That is my point, and that was His point.

      And finally no, I cannot say I have loved everyone the way Jesus loves me, but I certainly try to every day. I at the very least try to treat everyone the way I want to be treated, and with the same understanding, forgiveness and love shown to me. That is my point with this article, and what His point was when He came and died. Not to condemn. By the same measure we judge others, we will be judged. I don't know about you, but I am FAR from perfect and I would want a measure of grace and mercy. If I can not show this to others, how can I expect God to show it to me?

    • profile image


      2 years ago from those of the Ecclesia

      Isn't a bit odd that NO WHERE in the 10 COMMANDMENTS does it state that we are to LOVE anyone or anything. The commandments to love are both the two great commandments which are serprate from the 10 Commandment. Then you fail to mention the new commandment about love that Jesus had spoken about in John 13:34 (NKJV) which states: 34 A NEW COMMANDMENT I give to you; that you love one another AS I HAVE LOVE YOU, that you also love one another.

      I wonder why no one ever mentions this one.

      Jesus did follow the 10 Commandments, but love is nowhere mentioned within the 10 Commandments.

      Isn't odd how Jesus give us a a COMMANDMENT to LOVE one another AS HE LOVED US, but no one seems to teach that one.

      Have you ever loved anyone the way Jesus loves you. Hummmm.


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