Throughout the Bible, there is a contrast between the physical and the spiritual. The apostle Paul wrote that the physical comes first, then the spiritual (I Cor. 15:45 -47). The first man, Adam, came from the earth and was physical. The second Adam, Jesus Christ, came from heaven and is spiritual. Likewise, the Old Covenant was physical and has been superseded by the New Covenant, which is spiritual. God established the Old Covenant with the children of Israel by proclaiming the Ten Commandments from the top of Mount Sinai . The event was so terrifying to the people that they pleaded with Moses to no longer have God speakdirectly to them (Ex. 20:18-19).
Because the children of Israel were fearful of God’s voice and power, Moses stood as mediator between God and the people to bring them God’s spoken words. Moses went to the top of Sinai to meet with God, where he received the statutes, judgments and other laws to deliver to the children of Israel . Moses was considered lawgiver and mediator of the Old Covenant (Ex. 20-24).
Moses’ office as mediator and lawgiver was a physical type of the coming spiritual Lawgiver, Jesus Christ. When the children of Israel were about to enter the Promised Land, God gave this prophecy of the coming Messiah: “And the L ORD said to me, ‘They have spoken well what they have spoken [that they wanted Moses to speak to them, instead of God]. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, one like you [Moses], and will put My words in His mouth. And He shall speak to them all that I shall command Him. And it shall come to pass, whatever man will not hearken to My words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him’ ” (Deut. 18:17 -19).
This prophecy of the coming Messiah reveals that those who reject the words of Christ will be held accountable by God on the day of judgment. During His ministry, Jesus confirmed that He was that Prophet and that His words are the standard by which all will be judged: “But if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects Me and does not receive My words has one who judges him; the word which I have spoken, that shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken from Myself; but the Father, Who sent Me, gave Me commandment Himself, what I should say and what I should speak” (John 12:47 -49).
Obviously, the spiritual office of Jesus far overshadows the physical office of Moses. Christ was God manifested in the flesh—the Lord God of the Old Testament Who had established the Old Covenant with the children of Israel . His death ended the Old Covenant with its “administration of death” and established the New Covenant which offers the gift of eternal life (II Cor. 3:6-11).
Unlike the Old Covenant, which required obedience only to the letter of the Law, the New Covenant is based on obedience to the spiritual intent of the Law. For this reason, Christ came as the spiritual Lawgiver to amplify and magnify the laws of God: “The L ORD is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will magnify the Law and make it glorious” (Isa. 42:21). The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry reveal that God requires obedience to His commandments not only in the letter of the Law, but in the spirit of the Law as well. Throughout His ministry, Jesus taught repentance from sin—which is clearly defined as the transgression of the laws of God (I John 3:4).
In spite of Jesus’ clear teachings which magnify the laws and commandments of God, most professing Christians have been taught that Christ came to abolish the laws of God. Jesus, however, emphatically denounced this idea: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until the heaven and the earth shall pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no way pass from the Law until everything has been fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17-18).
How Did Jesus Fulfill the Law?
To comprehend how Jesus fulfilled the Law, we must first understand the meaning of the word fulfill, translated in Matthew 5:17 from the Greek verb pleeroo. Depending on the context, pleeroo is understood as either 1) fulfill (do, carry out); 2) bring to full expression, i.e., show forth the true spiritual meaning; or 3) fill up, as in “to complete” (Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament).
As our spiritual Lawgiver, Christ fulfilled the Law of God by bringing it to its full expression, thus revealing its complete spiritual meaning and intent. He “filled the Law to the full” by teaching obedience in the spirit of the Law. That is how He magnified the laws and commandments of God and made them honorable.
To fulfill the Law of God by amplifying its meaning and application is the exact opposite of abolishing the Law. If Jesus had come to abolish the laws of God, He would not have magnified and expanded their meaning, making them even more binding.
Jesus taught His disciples the spiritual meaning and application of every one of God’s laws and commandments. For example, He magnified the Sixth Commandment by showing that murder begins in the heart and is rooted in hatred and anger (Matt. 5:21 -22). The spiritual amplification of the Sixth Commandment extends far beyond the letter of the Law, which judges only physical acts of violence. Under the New Covenant, hatred in one’s heart is judged as murder (1 John 3:15 ). This spiritual standard also applies to hatred for an enemy (verses 43-44).
Christ also taught the spiritual meaning and application of the Seventh Commandment. “You have heard that it was said to those in ancient times, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you [as the spiritual Lawgiver], everyone who looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:27 -28). Jesus made the Seventh Commandment far more binding than did the letter of the Law. Thus, every individual is held accountable for his or her adulterous thoughts, even if no physical act is committed.
A thorough study of the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in Matthew 5-7, will show that Jesus revealed the full spiritual meaning of all the commandments of God.
Jesus Brought the Physical Rituals of the Law to Completion : A second meaning of pleeroo—translated “to fulfill” in Matthew 5:17 —is “to complete,” or “bring to completion.” Christ came to bring the entire system of animal sacrifices, temple rituals and laws for the Aaronic priesthood to completion. Through His death, Jesus ended the Old Covenant, which had imposed a system of ritual laws on the children of Israel . In its place, He established the New Covenant, replacing the old requirements of the Law with a higher spiritual application.
The sacrificial laws were brought to completion through the superior sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The sacrifice of Jesus as the “Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” superseded and replaced all the animal sacrifices and other physical rituals and ceremonies that were performed at the Temple of God in Jerusalem . The apostle Paul confirms the consummation of the sacrificial and ritual system through the one perfect sacrifice of Christ (Heb. 10:5-12).
With the death of Jesus Christ on 33 A.D., the priesthood of Aaron and the Levites came to an end as well. Thus, a physical priesthood was no longer required because Christ was serving as High Priest in heaven, making intercession for the saints before God the Father.
Dan 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
Dan 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
Dan 9:26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
Dan 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.