Did Jesus do away with the commandments of God? Many turn to the Sermon on the Mount to point to “conclusive proof” that Jesus retired the Ten Commandments en masse by fulfilling our need to keep them by His death. But in fact, far from doing away with the law, the sermon Jesus gave is a confirmation and deepening of the understanding of the intent of God’s holy commandments.
Jesus stated unequivocally in His sermon: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill,” (Matthew 5:17 Matthew 5:17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
American King James Version×). The Greek word pleroo, here translated “fulfill,” means “to make full,” “to fill to the full,” “to make complete in every particular,” “to render perfect” or “to carry through to the end” ( Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 2005, Strong’s number 4137).
Far from destroying or abolishing the law, as some interpret this verse, Jesus said He came to fill the law to the full—to complete and perfect it. This He did by showing the deeper spiritual intent and application of the law.
We see this through the remainder of the chapter, where Jesus proceeded to give a deeper meaning to it, contrasting the understanding of the commandments of those listening to Him with God’s intent by the statements: “You have heard that it was said to those of old …” and “But I say to you that . . .”
He pointed out to those listening that while they had been taught that they should not murder, the real meaning of the Sixth Commandment was that God expects us to value all people and reconcile all of our differences with others in peace, not just refrain from taking another’s life (Matthew 5:21-26 Matthew 5:21-26 21 You have heard that it was said of them of old time, You shall not kill; and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22 But I say to you, That whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has ought against you;
24 Leave there your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
25 Agree with your adversary quickly, whiles you are in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison.
26 Truly I say to you, You shall by no means come out there, till you have paid the uttermost farthing.
American King James Version×). Likewise, it is the lust in our minds that conceives the act of adultery that is sin, not just the act itself (verses 27-32). GN