God’s unchanging word – Part 1
There are many misconceptions about the role of Jesus Christ, especially by religious people. One such misconception is that Jesus came to override the Old Testament scriptures. But nothing could be farther from the truth. He emphatically declared: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets.”
“The law and the prophets” refer to the whole of the Old Testament (Matthew 11:13; 22:36-40; John 1:45; Acts 13:15; 28:23). Our Lord’s authority did not contradict or cancel the authority of the Scriptures. Jesus Christ upheld the permanence of the Scriptures. His message and God’s written Word are inseparable. As God does not change (Malachi 3:6), His Word also does not change.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets.” In its most limited sense, “the law” referred to the Ten Commandments. In a broader sense, it was used to refer to the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses. In a still broader sense, it was used to speak of the entire Old Testament (Romans 13:8-10; James 2:8-11; John 7:19-23; Matthew 5:18; Luke 16:16,17).
The prophets reiterated and reinforced the law. All their warnings, admonitions and predictions were directly or indirectly based on the Mosaic Law. God’s revelation to the prophets was an extension of His law. The foundation of the Old Testament was the law given in the Pentateuch, which the prophets, psalmists, and other inspired writers preached, expounded and applied.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets.” There were thoughts and speculations among the religious leaders and the common people concerning the purpose of Christ’s coming. Did He come to destroy the law? Was His ministry to cancel the moral law and make the nation lawless and ungovernable? No. The moral law is God’s foundational standard for righteous living. Jesus fulfilled the moral law by His perfect righteousness and preached the necessity of repentance and righteousness.
Did He come to destroy the judicial law, which was given to provide unique identity for Israel as a nation? No. He came to fulfil the law, to pay the penalty of the broken law for the whole nation and the whole world. Did He come to destroy the ceremonial law – the law of sacrifices? No. He came to fulfil the law by offering Himself as the final sacrifice, the perfect sacrifice. Having fulfilled the law of the sacrificial system, He brought all the other sacrifices to an end.
Further Reading (King James Version): Matthew 5:17,18; 24:35; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:5,6; Psalm 119:89-91; Revelation 22:18,19.