The Law of Moses & God's Law | Matthew 5:17-20

**Please be sure to read all around this passage so that you are getting it in context; and as always, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to the understanding that He would have you see. Passage: Matthew 5:17-20


This small passage, these few sentences, is the subject of so much theological debate that it can drive one crazy with the different interpretations. Lets have a brief look at what the beliefs were in Jesus' time...

Jewish teachers said that one “abolished” the law by disobeying it (cf. Deu_27:26), because one thereby rejected its authority. Such highhanded rebellion against the law — as opposed to particular sins — warranted social and spiritual expulsion from the Jewish community. The charge of openly persuading others that the law was no longer in force would be even worse. Jesus opposed not the law but an illegitimate interpretation of it that stressed regulations more than character. IVP Bible Background Commentary

The law was very important to Jewish teachers (Pharisees & Sadducee's) and was also very important to Jesus. Whenever Jesus starts a statement with "Don't misunderstand..." you can be fairly sure that what follows will be Him clarifying something that he has already said, is going to be saying soon, or a general misunderstanding in Jewish society. We should pay special attention to this because He doesn't want us to get it wrong or to misunderstand.

One important thing to note is that there are two different "laws" being discussed here.

  1. The Law of Moses & the writing of the prophets (Mat 5:17)
  2. The Law of God (Mat 5:18)

Jesus makes it pretty clear that he did not come to abolish (do away with) the Law of Moses, but to fulfill it. It will do us good to find out what the Law of Moses is. Check this site for a pretty good description of the difference between The Law of Moses and the Law of God.

After reading these references it becomes pretty clear that the idea that Jesus "nailed God's Law to the cross" is a misunderstanding of what Jesus actually accomplished. Without straying too far from the original passage lets just look at what he is saying in the context of what we had read before this passage.

Prior, Jesus had given the beatitudes...His definition of what a commandment keeper (member of the kingdom of God) will look like. This is someone who follows the law of God in their heart...i.e...humble, meek, pure, merciful, justice seeking, etc. Jesus is starting to bring out what it means to be a keeper of the law. He wants us to understand the principle, the heart changing attitude that the law supplies. (Paul expounds on this greatly, but we will wait till we get to him to go that deep) It is not by following the letter of the law, because you would have to do that perfectly for the law to save you, but by understanding what God's Law reveals to us we can become changed by Jesus. This does not do away with the Law but shows us that it is in the heart that the law belongs....not on a stone tablet.

THIS IS PROFOUND! THIS IS IMPORTANT! The final goal, the final resting place of God's Law is revealed in this verse. Jeremiah 31:33 It was always intended that we live with the Law of God in our hearts. Study the law...what does it say to you. Study what Jesus said about the law...and decide for yourself, is it important? Do you want it to dwell in your heart?


Dear Lord,

Thank you for your Law. Thank you that we can have it there as a mirror showing us how much we need You in our lives. I know Lord that some day we will live in heaven with you and that the law will be living inside of us, complete and untainted. Lord, give me the power I need to make that real in my life now. Change my heart Lord. Bring me step-by-step closer to You and Your ways. Forgive my sins and cleanse me...make a good dwelling place for the Holy Spirit.

Lord, please be with the prayer requests on the page. Heal and help them all Lord. Bring them all home to You.

Thank you for all that you supply. You are the Great Provider and I give all glory to you for everything that I have. Help me to always appreciate and be satisfied with what you give. Help me to not feel covetousness or greed.

Lord, if I may be used by You I ask that You show me and guide me into service. Be with my family and my friends and my church...keep them all safe. Amen.