Before beginning my brief expositions of what I believe to be some of the most overlooked truths found in the Bible, it should be mentioned that I begin studying the Holy Writ with the understanding that the Messianic Scriptures (also known as the New Testament) do not contradict the Hebrew Scriptures (also known as the Old Testament). Therefore, if it seems that an interpretation of a passage is contradicting something in the Hebrew Scriptures, my interpretation cannot be correct. Jesus Christ (The Word) is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4).
The book of Revelation tells us that Jesus (Yeshua) is the word of God (Revelation 19:13). The Book of Hebrews tells us Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Therefore, the word is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Before addressing the Messiah’s famous words found in Matthew 4:4, we know that Yeshua (Jesus) Hamachiac (Christ/Anointed One) was born of a virgin (Is. 7:14, Matt. 2:23), to bring his people Judah and Israel back together to God (Is. 49:5-6, Ezekiel 37), to save and rule His people-Israel (Matt. 1:21, Matt. 2:6), to magnify God’s law (Is. 42:21), to be our wrath substitute (Is. 53:5), and was to fulfill hundreds of other prophesies. He was not however, prophesied to abolish any of God’s law (Amos 3:7).
Before speaking these words to Satan (The Adversary) as he was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by him (Matt. 4:1) and before he began his public ministry (Matt. 4:17), John the Baptist prepared Yeshua’s way by preaching repentance (Matt. 3:3). Why? Is it not because at the time of Christ’s ministry and for years prior, the people of Judah were enslaved to the traditions of men and the people of Israel were scattered all over for their willful disobedience to God’s law? For there are a plethora of Scriptures that absolutely proclaim this to be truth (Matt. 15:2-9, Mark 7:8, Deut. 4:25-27, Jer. 3:8, Jer. 31:35-37, 2 Kings 24:20).
This is why these famous words that Jesus quoted from were relevant when he spoke them, when written in Deuteronomy 8:3, and even today. The Text means what it says: Man shall not live off of bread alone. But man can only truly live by trusting and obeying every single word of God (to include every single instruction from Genesis to Revelation (the written) and to go a bit further, the personal instructions we receive from the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our lives (Romans 14:23) which of course cannot and does not contradict the Scriptures that have been written (John 16:13, Psalm 119:60). To put it another way: man doesn’t live by food alone, but by all of God’s word alone.
“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 (Mat 5:17-19).
I will explain what this passage means by first explaining what the words fulfill cannot mean and then explain what it must mean. Reason being is that many people have a misunderstanding of what this word actually means and it hinders them from understanding this passage.
Fulfill cannot mean to abrogate. It cannot even have the ability to abrogate. How so? Because Jesus said that he came not to abolish (abrogate) the law, but to fulfill it. If fulfilling the law brings about the abrogating (abolishment) of the law, even some of it, then Jesus was incorrect, he didn’t understand what he came to do, or he contradicted himself.
According to John Macarthur and many other theologians today, by “fulfilling” the law, Jesus abrogated it (see John’s commentary on Hebrews 7:12-14). This would make Matthew 5:17 look like this: Do not think that I came to abolish the law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them in such a way that abolishes some of them (or all of them). This cannot be what fulfill means, because this verse would be a contradiction.
Paul used the word pleroo (the word fulfill in the Greek) in Romans 15:19. By the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God–so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled (pleroo) the ministry of the gospel of Christ.
The Interlinear Greek NT (IgrNT) translates pleroo in Romans 15:19 as fully preached. This translation also makes the most sense in the context of Matt. 5:17-19, as it was after Jesus said he came to fulfill the law that he said, “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.” So fulfill cannot mean do away with, complete in such a way that renders the law and prophets no longer Scripture (2 Tim.3:16) or God’s commandments (Mark 7:8). He taught all believers to obey all of God’s word (Matt. 23:2,Matt. 28:18-20), therefore fully preach is the best translation of the Greek word pleroo in this context. With this being said, the meaning of this passage of Scripture becomes obvious: Jesus didn’t do away with any of God’s law, but instead fully preached it. Therefore, we get to obey all of God’s word (Psalm 119)!
Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person”(Mat 15:1-11). This passage of Scripture is also in the book of Mark 7:1-9,15).
Mark adds: And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:18-23).
First thing first, when you see a parentheses or bracket on a word or a phrase it means that it was not in the original or earlier manuscripts. Secondly, Jesus could not be declaring all animals good for food and thus nullify God’s dietary instructions found in Leviticus 11 (which is still Scripture by the way, thus it is still good for correction according to 2 Tim. 3:16) because he would have been sinning by adding or taking away from God’s word (Deut. 4:2, 1 John 3:4). We know that Jesus obeyed the law of God perfectly. Therefore he could not have been declaring all things clean and he did not. Even if the phrase in the bracket was actually in the original manuscript, this still wouldn’t prove that we can eat whatever we would like now. How so? Because food to the Pharisees, Jesus, and his disciples (all the folks that are in this context) believed food to be was whatever God declared food to be in Leviticus 11. But what about when Jesus said, “Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him?” Jesus was saying that it is someone’s heart that defiles them. That is why Jesus said, For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
So this passage is clear: The Pharisees were breaking God’s law by clinging to their traditions rather than obeying God’s law. Their sinful attitude toward the disciples exposed where their heart was.
A side not: If Jesus made all things clean to eat, then this verse in Isaiah would not make sense, because Yahweh has yet to fulfill this verse and come with fire and with chariots.
For behold, the LORD will come with fire and with His chariots, like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword the LORD will judge all flesh; and the slain of the LORD shall be many. “Those who sanctify themselves and purify themselves, to go to the gardens after an idol in the midst, eating swine’s flesh and the abomination and the mouse, shall be consumed together,” says the LORD. For I know their works and their thoughts. It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory (Is. 66:15-18).
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you–but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long (Mat 23:1-5).
Moses’ seat was where the law was taught. Jesus told his disciples to obey the law of Moses and not the Pharisees, because they broke God’s law by adding to it. This was the heavy burdens Jesus spoke of. They added some 1400 oral laws to 4th commandment (the Sabbath) alone. There are many today that overlook this critical truth. Jesus taught that his disciples were to obey the law (Matt. 5:17-19). He didn’t prepare them for the abolishment of some, but instead told them to obey all of them. Jesus said that it would be easier for heaven and earth to pass away then for one dot of the law to become void (Luke 16:7). So the next time you hear someone tell you that we are not under the law of God, tell them, that is unfortunate, because Jesus taught obedience to it all , and remember he is the same yesterday, today, and forever according to Hebrews 13:8. You could also let them know that the law that we are no longer under when we are following Christ is the law of sin and death that results from breaking God’s law. This must be the case, for if it wasn’t Paul would be a walking contradiction writing in one place that the law of God is holy and in another place that the law of God is a curse, another place the law of God is a curse, and another the law of God is spiritual.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mat 28:18-20).
Jesus made it clear that he did not come to do his will, but the will of the father (John 5:30). The Father’s will is found all over the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Therefore, when Jesus commanded his disciples to teach the nations (gentiles) all that he commanded them, he was telling them to teach them to obey all of God’s word rather than the oral law the Pharisees would teach when they got stepped from Moses’ seat. How so? In Matthew 23:1-3 Jesus instructs his disciples to obey the Pharisees when they sit on Moses’ seat where the law of Moses was taught. Since this is something Christ commanded them, they are to commanded it of the Nations according to Matt. 28:20. Also, the good news according to Peter contained all of God’s word (1 Peter 1:23-25). This changes everything. As an evangelist, I preach Christ and him crucified. The Christ that I preach is the word that became flesh and told us to follow him. He obeyed the law of God and as taught it, and told us to do the same.
It is my hope that this might be used by Yahweh to help you see that God’s word doesn’t contradict itself and it is worthy to be followed. Shalom!