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Fulfilling the Law

It is known that the Lord fulfilled the Law. But what is meant by the Lord fulfilling the Law?

By "the Law" in its narrowest sense is meant the Ten Commandments. In a broader sense, by "the Law" is meant the five books of Moses, as when it is said concerning Mary's purification, "Purification according to the Law of Moses." (Luke 2:22.)

"Moses and the Prophets" are often spoken of, as when it is said of the Lord: "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself." (Luke 24:27.)

In the broadest sense, the whole of the Word of the Lord is the Law. In general, by the Lord fulfilling the Law is understood either that He fulfilled all the prophecies concerning Himself, particularly the prophecy concerning His crucifixion, or that He obeyed the moral Law, in particular the Ten Commandments, and thus that He was without sin. Yet far more than this is involved in His fulfilling the Law.

But before continuing, it may be noted that orthodox Protestants think that man cannot fulfill the Law, and that the fulfilling of the Law is not the means of salvation, because it is not possible for man to fulfill the Law. They base this idea on the statement of Paul, "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." (Romans 3:28.)

By "the Law" here is meant the ceremonial law, not the Ten Commandments, as is evident from the two preceding chapters, where we read:

Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity . . . who knowing the judgment of God, that they who commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them . . .

But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. . . . But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds. (Romans 1:29,32; 2:2,5,6)

The question that was disturbing the Apostles at the time was the question of circumcision and the eating of meat, such as pork, which was forbidden in the Mosaic Law. It was these laws that were abrogated for Christians, and not the Ten Commandments.

It is acknowledged by Christians that the Lord's life is an example that we should follow, a model. Why, then, if the Lord fulfilled the Law, must not man fulfill the Law? There are many who obey the Law of the Ten Commandments for the sake of their own reputation, even though they have no faith; that is, they go to church to worship God, they honor father and mother, they do not kill, steal, commit adultery, or bear false witness. Now if those who have no faith can do this for the sake of themselves and their reputation, why is it not possible for those who have faith to do this for the sake of God?

But, as we have said, there is much more involved in the Lord's fulfilling the Law than just keeping the Commandments. We read:

Think not that I am come to destroy . . . but to fulfill. 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. (Matthew 5:17,18)

And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. (Luke 16:17)

A jot, or yoth, was the smallest of Hebrew letters, and a tittle was the little horn on the Hebrew letter.

Compare this with what the Lord said: "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24:27.)

Taking the above quotations together, it can be seen that every jot and tittle of Moses and the Prophets treats of the Lord, and there was not a jot or tittle that He did not fulfill. But it may be asked, How can this be?

The Bible or Word of God

There are many now who would agree that we must not be literalists, that we must seek the spirit of the Word of God or Bible, and not remain in the mere letter, as was said by Paul:

Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. (II Corinthians 3:6)

We should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. (Romans 7:6)

Circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter. (Romans 2:29)

But if we regard the spirit and have no regard for the letter, what have we? Those who seek only for the spirit

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