Messiah’s famous words about Torah declare, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (Mat 5:17 NASB)  This verse has been explained countless times in church sermons, academic lectures, and scholarly commentaries. What can I possibly add to this ancient conversation? There are many angles from which to approach this topic but I will focus on one, by asking a simple question: How, exactly, and in which way, did Jesus “fulfill” the Torah in Matthew’s gospel?

It is common for modern followers of Jesus to imagine that there is some sort of a celestial checklist that the Messiah had to complete. Many modern Jews think this way as well. Indeed, Matthew uses the Greek verb πληρόω (plerao), “fulfill,” in what looks like a “list” of messianic prophecies. According to Matthew 1-2, Yeshua was born was to fulfill Isaiah 7:14 – “a virgin shall conceive…” (Matt 1:22-23); the Bethlehem birth was to fulfill Micah 5:2: “and you, Bethlehem…” (Matt 2:5-6); Yeshua’s presence in Egypt was to fulfill Hos 11:1: “out of Egypt I called my son” (Matt 2:15); Herod slaughtered children to fulfill Jer. 31:15: “a voice was heard in Ramah…” (Matt 2:17-18); Jesus went to live in Nazareth to fulfill: “he will be called a Nazarene”(Matt 2:23). A common notion that this list of prophetic passages awaited future “fulfillments” to be checked off the list may be quite far from what Matthew actually meant to convey. All of his Scripture citations are recollections of past, rather than “predictions” of the future.

According to Matthew, Yeshua repeats, relives, and reenacts Israel’s experiences described in Scripture. Like Israel, Yeshua came out of Egypt, wandered the wilderness, and was tempted. He went through the waters of the Jordan River to enter a new stage of life. What happened to Israel happened to Yeshua. The Aramaic equivalent of Greek πληρόω (plerao) is קִיֵּם (qiyem), which means “to establish,” “to uphold,” or “to stand upright.” Likewise, קְיָים (qiyam) and קְיָימָא (qiyama) mean something firm — like a law, vow, or covenant. In Hebrew קִיֵּם (qiyem) is “to fulfil” or “to perform” (Ps 119:28) but also “raise up” and “build up” (Isa 44:26; 58:12; 61:4) and “validate” or “confirm” (Ruth 4:7; Est 9:29).

This is the way in which Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets: the Messiah’s life mirrored all these events in Israel’s long journey as a people. Everything Yeshua did, established, confirmed, and validated is how God led his people through the pages of history.

BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

90 COMMENTS

  1. If I sumerise correctly Jesus came to fulfill as one man the history of Israel up to that point then get crusified. Which mean then Israel became crusified over centuries, to be resurrected as Jesus was. As reference between day and thousand years, could it mean that Israel will be fully resurrected or restored in the next thousand years?
    God bless.
  2. Thank you for your article – very informative, as always. I consider myself a Messianic Jew, but my biggest problem with messianic Judaism is the trend toward judaizing people into whatever level of Torah-keeping they like with argumentative, hard-hearted legalism that I see in so many of its congregations today. The (partial) quote about Christ not coming to abolish the law is ever barked with gleeful victory into the faces of anyone trapped into listening. IF Messiah did, indeed, fulfill the law, however, why are they still trying so hard to do it FOR Him?
    • I understand, Remi. Sorry to hear of your experiences. Insecure people desperately wish to make everyone resemble themselves. That happens everywhere. When people understand that their identity is first and foremost in Hashem then they understand that mitzvot are merely ways to imitate our Father. And each child seeks to connect to parents in their own way. We are different like that.

      + More answers (5)
  3. Jesus' life led up to his death and his cry 'it is finished and remains finished' completes that which the Torah could not do - bring sinners into the presence of a holy God.
    • You are assuming that that was the goal and the purpose of Torah, Graham. I would guess you simply misunderstand the purpose of Torah, so your conclusion cannot be correct since it is built on a flawed premise. My car does not mow my lawn but it does not mean I am done with it and it's useless. :) Hope you see my point.

      + More answers (1)
    • The phrase "it is finished" is translated from the Greek "teleō," which is primarily a legal term. It is used when a contract or an obligation is completed, or a purchase price met. Yeshua paid our price for sin and transgression. But His Torah still brings us closer to Himself.
  4. Interesting but I feel it reads a bit lobsided. Our Lord I'm sure youll agree came to seek and to save sinners (Jews and Gentiles alike) andwe are clearly told HEB 1 that God spoke in times past in diverse manners (Sacrifices etc) Saving work of Messiah as you state. If we are to enter His kingdom we must trust completely in His perfect sacrifice alone for salvation. Thank you Prof Pinchas.
  5. Matthew pointed to Jesus as the Jewish Messiah! Matthew's( Chapter 10) Mindset was Jesus instructions "Not to go to Gentiles, Nor Samaritans"! Chapter 15 Declares That Jesus Rejected a Syrophenician (Gentile) Woman's plea for help for her daughter until "Faith Wedged Her In"! Jesus response was "I Am sent To The Lost Sheep of The House of Israel!"Not Gentiles! If Matthew was the Gospel To The Jew written in Hebrew as has been determined, Why would Matthew Include in Chapter 28, Jesus Supposedly Giving Instructions "To Go Baptize Gentiles"! Jews would have rejected!Not In Original Matthew! Kelly
    • You ask a complicated question Kelly, that deserves an answer much more detailed that I can give here. Yeshua's mission was to Israel (true!) but Abrahamic blessing that stands behind the very notion of Israel as a people is to ultimately be a blessing to all the families of the world (Gen 12). Not to the exclusion of Israel, of course, as some have settled but for a much broader blessing than just a few million people.

      + More answers (2)
    • Hello Charles. Jesus came to the Jews first then to the Greek (Gentiles). He went and taught among them all as exemplified when He walked in Capernaum, Chorzin, Bethsaida AND do not forget He went to the other side of the sea, to the Gadarenes. He exemplified what He wanted us to do as followers. He was warning the disciples to protect them at that point. They were still "baby Christians", they were still new to the teachings of Jesus. They were still drinking milk and not the solid food yet. He was protecting them and the good news. Finally when He was resurrected, He told them, giving them the great commission. Now you're ready. Go and do likewise! AMEN.
  6. I seems this explanation avoids the point of the Law and of the Prophets. They all pointed to Christ and in the case of the prophets called men back to a right relationship with their God by faith, the great essential of the Abrahamic covenant and of any true relationship with God. When Jesus fulfilled the law he left nothing else to be done. One sacrifice, the way to God opened and paid. We must understand where we came from but not to the point of obfuscating truth plainly laid out and n Scripture
    • Dear Rodney, you misunderstood what I was trying to say. Perhaps you read into my words something beyond what I am saying. It's OK. Let's keep walking by faith together.

      + More answers (2)
    • I read the article as taking a glorious arial view of the entire histopry of Israel and in no way avoiding any point of Law, prophets, the Levitical system or any other aspect of Messiah's mission.
  7. Wow you have answered a question that has been on my heart and no one seems to be able to answer. I have always wondered what the Israelites were chosen for. As it is stated God has no favourites. I have always thought it was to demonstrate the Fathers love and bring man back to the Father. And yes that is exactly what Jesus fulfilled.
    • I am glad you are able to see this, Dan. Jews are not any better or more loved than God's other children. That is not what "chosen" means. We just have a unique and different role to play in this world. :) It is his plan and we are merely a part of it.
  8. Granted that you are looking at this scripture from a different perspective albeit, very narrow. The word 'fulfill' in isolation is empty and may result in Scriptures being diluted. The sentence is self- explanatory. I have not come to abolish.... but to fulfill it. The matter about wanderings whilst relevant to the life of Christ and history of Israel is outside the context in which the verse was written. A look 5 Scriptures before Matth 5:17 brings out the true import ie godliness, faith, service and audacity required of Christians.
    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Stories of Jewish Christ: Among the Rabbis or . You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!
  9. So when a Jewish person says that Isaiah 53 is about the Jewish people and not about Messiah, instead of arguing it has to be about Messian, one could point out Moshiach Yeshua actually parallels, or even is Israel. Nu?
    • In my opinion Is 53 is both (without excluding the other), about Yeshua and about Israel. Messiah is inseparable from Israel and their lives are parallel on purpose all through God's revelation.

      + More answers (5)
Load more comments

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your name here
Words left: 50
Please enter your comment!