How Did Jesus Fulfill the Law?

We have heard it over and over again. Jesus “fulfilled” the law. But what does that mean? What did Jesus mean, He came to “fulfill” the law?

First of all, let’s look at the scripture from where this term comes:

Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

In order to fully understand this scripture we must:

  1. look at this scripture in the context of the whole scope of scripture, and
  2. understand the original Greek in which it was written

First, let’s look at the whole scope of scripture. God said over and over again that His law is eternal, perpetual, throughout all generations, everlasting, forever. For more details on this, see http://christopherenoch.org/?p=575

Second, the word translated “destroy” here is the Greek word, “καταλύω” which means:

to dissolve, disunite

  1. (what has been joined together), to destroy, demolish

  2. metaph. to overthrow i.e. render vain, deprive of success, bring to naught

    1. to subvert, overthrow

      1. of institutions, forms of government, laws, etc., to deprive of force, annul, abrogate, discard

So then, when Jesus said He came NOT to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, it certainly didn’t mean that He would dissolve it, weaken it, annul it, abrogate it, or discard it. Yet this is what many Christians believe!

Let’s make this perfectly clear. Jesus said that He is not come to dissolve, weaken, annul, abrogate, or discard the law in any way. Think about that for a moment. Aren’t many Christians taught the opposite? Aren’t they taught that Jesus did come to dissolve, annul, abrogate, or discard the law? Jesus clearly taught that this is not the case.

Now that I’ve upset your apple-cart, let’s look at the word, “fulfill”. It is translated from the original Greek word, “πληρόω”, which means:

  1. to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full

    1. to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally

      1. I abound, I am liberally supplied

  2. to render full, i.e. to complete

    1. to fill to the top: so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, fill to the brim

    2. to consummate: a number

      1. to make complete in every particular, to render perfect

      2. to carry through to the end, to accomplish, carry out, (some undertaking)

    3. to carry into effect, bring to realisation, realise

      1. of matters of duty: to perform, execute

      2. of sayings, promises, prophecies, to bring to pass, ratify, accomplish

      3. to fulfil, i.e. to cause God’s will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God’s promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfilment

As you can see, there are a number of different ways you can interpret this word:

The first definition rings true with the rest of scripture, as Jesus’ purpose would be to cause the law to abound, and to liberally supply the law of God to the world. After all, Jesus said the world hates Him because He testified that it’s deeds are evil (John 7:7). There is only one way Jesus could testify that the works of the world are evil – by preaching the law, by which we know good from evil.

Definition 2A cannot apply here, as how can someone fill the law up to the brim. Doesn’t make sense.

Definition 2B may or not not apply, depending on your interpretation of it. If “carrying it through to the end” means that you are making an end of the law, then it cannot be applied, as Jesus made it very clear that His mission is NOT to dissolve it, weaken it, annul it, abrogate it, or discard it in any way. Besides that definition goes against God’s word, saying that His law is “eternal”, in effect forever. See the link above.

But if definition 2B is interpreted as saying that Jesus will live by the law to the end, then that would certainly apply. As we are know Jesus is not a law-breaker. And we know that Jesus would certainly obey the law of His Father as long as He exists!

But definition 3 iii nails it right on the head! Jesus’ mission was to cause God’s will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be!!! <– That is fulfilling the law!

So then, we have a very clear and explicit answer to our question. When Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” what He said was, “Do NOT think that I come to dissolve, weaken, annul, abrogate, or discard the law, but rather I come to cause God’s law to be obeyed as it should be.”

That is exactly what “fulfill” means. No more. No less.

About Christopher Enoch

Born in 1974. Born again in 1992. Since then it has been a wonderful, glorious, and exciting journey with the LORD! Since I got to know Jesus through the person of Holy Spirit, I have never been happier in my life!
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