Part 3: Changes in the Law
In the previous paper titled “Keeping the Law”, we established that “the Law and the prophets were until John”. Since the time of John the Baptist onward, we have Jesus teaching that there has been a change. The best way to explain the change that has happened is to listen to how Jesus described it. The change is illustrated when Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time” contrasted with “But I say unto you”. Six times Jesus compares what He is teaching to what is taught in the Decalogue and the Law of Moses. There are those teaching that Jesus changed nothing but rather expanded or expounded upon precepts that were in the Law. Some places it would seem that is true; for example where Jesus equates that anger without a cause against your brother is tantamount to murder (Matthew 5:21-22). And where Jesus declares that lusting in your heart is equal to the act of adultery (Matthew 5:27-28)
But, it is evident that Jesus is not expanding or expounding upon the Law because we can look at certain points and see the dichotomy:
Matthew 5:33-34 33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:
The Law of Moses taught that we could “swear” or take an oath (Leviticus 5:4, Numbers 5:19-22, Numbers 30:2).
And now Jesus clearly states that we are to “swear not at all”. The reason is that unlike God, we do not have the absolute authority or power to carry it out:
Matthew 5:36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black
Only God should swear or take an oath because He alone is able to carry it out. Therefore, Jesus commands us to “swear not at all”. This is not a suggestion but a command. And this is not the only place in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus disannuls the Law of Moses.
In Matthew 5:38 the Mosaic Law is quoted by Jesus:
Exodus 21:24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
But then Jesus says:
Matthew 5:39-42 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
The Law allowed for retribution but now Jesus teaches that will no longer be permitted.
How can these contrasts be described as expansions or expounding of the Law when it is clearly a countermanding of what was written in the Law of Moses?
HRM teachers declare that the Law has not changed and we are under the Law because Jesus said this:
Matthew 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
These teachers claim that because all is not fulfilled (the passing of heaven and earth and the establishment of the new heavens and new earth) that nothing can be changed in the Law. But, the reference to “all be fulfilled” in this verse is in reference to Jesus coming and fulfilling all things that were written concerning Him:
Matthew 3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
Luke 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
It is evident that “all things” is fulfilled in as much as the Law of Moses has been changed. This is understood in the points made earlier regarding swearing and taking of oaths under the Law of Moses, as well as with no longer being allowed to exact retribution as was previously allowed under the Law.
And the apostle Paul clearly understood the precept of annulling the Law, when describing how what was “written and engraven in stones” (the letter), which is the ministration of death (2Cor. 3:7) and the ministration of condemnation (2Cor. 3:9) was superseded by the ministration of the spirit (2Cor. 3:8) and the ministration of righteousness (2Cor.3:9). In order to describe this annulling, he used the Greek word “katargeo”:
2673 katargeo from 2596 and 691; to be (render) entirely idle (useless), literally or figuratively:--abolish, cease, cumber, deliver, destroy, do away, become (make) of no (none, without) effect, fail, loose, bring (come) to nought, put away (down), vanish away, make void.
Here are the two verses in which this word is used:
2Corinthians 3:11 For if that which is done away (katargeo) was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.
2Corinthians 3:13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished (katargeo):
The use of this word “katargeo” leaves no room for misunderstanding what the apostle meant by it.
Do not these changes plainly defined by Jesus when He said, “ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time” juxtaposed with “but I say unto you” not qualify as “a jot and a tittle”?
Let’s look at more points that clearly show that the Law has been changed.