Please give Lori a warm Word Nerd Wednesday welcome as she shares about what it means to abolish something.
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.
For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
The word translated “abolish” in verse 17 comes from the Greek “kataluo,” literally meaning “to loosen down.” It was most often used in Greek to convey the idea of either tearing something down or invalidating a law.
With that understanding, Jesus is saying He did not come to invalidate the Law, but to fulfill it. Because Jesus honored the Law, fulfilled its prophecies concerning Himself, and kept it perfectly while on earth, He in fact, did not abolish it, but completely fulfilled it in every way. Most importantly, all the sacrificial requirements of the Old Covenant were satisfied at Jesus’ death. In this way, the Divine Design of the Law was perfectly completed in the life and death of Jesus.Jesus, in fact, did not abolish the Law, but completely fulfilled it in every way. #abolish #wordnerdwednesday Click To Tweet
All the Law Fulfilled
Here’s the important thing to note: a part of that design required that Jesus satisfy the sacrificial system laid out in the Law. The purpose of that system was to atone for sin and remove the barrier between an individual and God. Since Jesus took both of those things upon Himself when He was crucified, then those who believe in Him have likewise become one with that sacrifice and have no need to keep the Law for themselves. Because we are “…united with Him in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His.” (Romans 6:5) With Jesus’ death and resurrection, every aspect of the Law was fulfilled, permanently eliminating the need to continue its requirements and sacrifices. When we believe in Christ, we are joined with His death and fulfillment of the Law. With the Law’s requirements fulfilled, it has forever lost its power over our lives.
Does the Law Have a Place in the New Covenant?
Christians have struggled with this idea since the early days of the Church. After all, Jesus did say He wasn’t abolishing the Law, so what relevance does it have for life in the New Covenant? Paul wrote several passages dealing with this topic, most notably Romans chapters 2-6 and the book of Galatians. In both Romans and Galatians, Paul lays the case that the Law was a teacher, demonstrating that it was impossible to keep, and highlighting our need for a Savior. Galatians 3:24-29 states that “…the Law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
The first Church Council at Jerusalem, reported in Acts 15, debated this at length as church leaders grappled with the enormous cultural shift caused by incorporating Gentiles into their previously Jewish fold. One group felt that the Gentiles should be circumcised and be required to keep the Law. Paul, Barnabas, and Peter argued that God was clearly bringing the Gentiles to Himself through faith alone. Considering that, why saddle new Believers with the Law, when the Jewish people themselves had never been able to keep it? In the end, they compromised by asking Gentile converts to respect 4 aspects of the Law: sexual purity, and abstaining from food offered to idols, the meat of strangled animals, blood. Even still, the goal was to bring harmony within the community as two different cultures adapted to one another, not because there was a spiritual requirement to keep the Law for their salvation.
What Abolish Ultimately Means
Because Jesus perfectly fulfilled the Old Covenant, rather than removing it or replacing it, the power of the Law in our lives changed forever. The need to keep the Law is removed because our faith in Jesus and joining with His death and resurrection make us joined with Him in its fulfillment.
The key to understanding this concept comes from knowing that Jesus perfectly fulfilled the Law and we are united with Him in that fulfillment. As a result, the Law is not abolished for Believers either; rather, through us it is perfectly fulfilled because we are joined in the sacrifice of Jesus and His perfect fulfillment of the Law.
In other words, the power of the Law is abolished, while the Law itself remains intact, having been perfectly fulfilled through the death and resurrection of Jesus.The power of the Law is abolished, while the Law itself remains intact, having been perfectly fulfilled through the death and resurrection of Jesus. #wordnerdwednesday #abolish Click To Tweet
Lori Hambrick has been married to her military man for 27 years, and they have three daughters. After 20 years of Army adventures, they are in the midst of transitioning into life as retirees and civilians, having thoroughly enjoyed their final duty station in Germany. Lori enjoys writing, cooking, singing, and coffee in all its various forms. She is developing a blog in fits and starts at www.piecesofthejourney.weebly.com, or you can find her on Facebook under Lori Charlotte Hambrick.