The idea of Yeshua abolishing the Torah stems from one of his sayings at the Sermon on the Mount:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Now mainstream religion has historically taught that Yeshua is teaching here that he didn’t come to abolish the Torah but instead he came to perform the Torah for us… then abolish it.
If something doesn’t seem quite right about that interpretation, you’re not alone.
So let’s take a closer look…
What does “fulfill” mean?
The traditional interpretation of this passage hinges on the translation of the Greek word that is translated to “fulfill”.
In the English language, fulfill can indeed (but not necessarily) mean to perform a duty thereby bringing the obligation to an end.
But the bible was not written in English so we have to look at the original Greek to see what this word actually means.
The Greek word in question is πληρῶσαι (pronounced plerosai) which comes from the root word πληρόω (pronounced pleroo).
Only in 3 other places in the New Testament does the exact word plerosai appear:
May the God of hope fill (plerosai) you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known (plerosai),
In neither of these verses is anything being abolished or done away with. This word is being used to say that something is being made full and fully known.
The 3rd and final verse that this word occurs is the verse where Yeshua is telling John to baptize him:
But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill (plerosai) all righteousness.” Then he consented.
This verse is an especially useful example as the translators chose to translate this instance to “fulfill” just as they did in Matthew 5:17.
And I think everyone would agree that Yeshua wasn’t baptized so that we don’t have to. His baptism served as an example for us, not something that was done in our place and then abolished.
Other variations of the root word pleroo exist in the New Testament as well:
You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full (pleroseis) of gladness with your presence.’
which is his body, the fullness (pleroma) of him who fills (pleroumenou) all in all.
Romans 15:19 (NASB)
in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached (peplerokenai) the gospel of Christ.
And the list goes on. But you get the idea…
It’s clear from the usage of this word in the New Testament that Matthew 5:17 has a completely different meaning than what is being taught by mainstream religion.
It is in no way saying that the Law and prophets are being done away with.
Quite the contrary!
Yeshua is saying that he came to fill up with meaning/make full/make fully known the Torah and the prophets.
Yeshua’s message makes so much more sense now:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fill them up with proper meaning/make them fully known/make them full.“
This understanding changes everything…
How Yeshua filled up with meaning/made fully known/made full the Torah and the Prophets
This understanding that Yeshua came to make the full meaning of the Torah and prophets fully known is likely not something you will hear at your local Baptist church.
But if it’s true, then we would expect to see him not only saying that but also actually doing that in his ministry.
And in fact, we see him doing exactly that…
Yeshua dispelled man-made traditions
Much of Yeshua’s purpose to bring about the full understanding of the law revolved around challenging and dispelling the traditions of the elders that had polluted Elohim’s perfect Torah.
Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.
Nowhere in the Torah are we commanded to wash our hands before eating.
So Yeshua reveals to us (makes fully known) that this tradition that was passed down from the elders is not from Elohim and therefore is not binding upon the people.
I have no doubt that he did this in the presence of the Pharisees intending to stir the pot and spark a debate.
He then used that as an opportunity to call them out for breaking an actual Torah commandment:
” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
In this passage, Yeshua is calling out the scribes and Pharisees for dishonoring their parents (breaking a Torah command) by not providing financial assistance to them when in need. In their tradition, they had decided that any extra money or property that they had should be dedicated to Elohim.
Next, in Matthew 23 he tells the scribes and Pharisees that while they rightly pay tithes (a Torah command) they do not practice justice, mercy, and faithfulness (also Torah commands).
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Yeshua reveals to us (makes fully known) that justice and mercy are weightier commands than tithing. Something that would not have necessarily been understood at that time.
But he makes clear that both Torah commands must in fact be obeyed.
The next example concerns man-made prohibitions on the Sabbath passed down by the elders which the Pharisees were enforcing on the people:
Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’”
Yeshua reveals to us here (makes fully known) that the additional Sabbath restrictions were not the correct understanding of Elohim’s intention for the Sabbath.
Nowhere in the Torah does it say we cannot pick up an object on the Sabbath.
Their creation of this prohibition came from an extreme interpretation of Jeremiah 17:21-22 where it is written that one should not bear a burden.
Yeshua reveals to us that an object like a mat is not considered a burden by Elohim’s standard.
So by dispelling these traditions of men, Yeshua’s mission to bring about the full meaning of the Torah brings us closer to a full understanding of Elohim’s instructions.
But he didn’t stop there…
Yeshua made the Torah and prophets the foundation of his teachings
I think most people assume that Yeshua’s teachings were original to his ministry.
I know that I myself used to believe this until I started studying Torah.
But I should have known better as Yeshua tells us outright:
So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.
So let’s look at some examples:
But he answered, “It is written, a“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
…man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.
But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults.
And these are but a few.
Yeshua filled the prophecies within the Torah and prophets
We also see a variation of pleroo many times in the New Testament when speaking about fulfilling a prophecy.
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled (plerothenai).”
All this took place to fulfill (plerothe) what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled (Plerothe): ‘They hated me without a cause.’
For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled (plerothe): “Not one of his bones will be broken.”
Until Heaven and Earth Pass Away
Moving on to verse 18 we are told that until heaven and earth pass away every detail of the Torah will remain in effect.
But if we stick with the traditional understanding of “fulfill”, we have a contradiction…
It doesn’t take a scholar to see that after Yeshua’s ministry on earth was complete, heaven and earth remained intact.
I think what most people miss about this statement is that it is not just a wise saying or a metaphor.
Heaven and earth passing away is an actual prophetic event that occurs at the end of the 1,000-year millennial reign:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
So we see here that the Torah will still be in effect through the end of the millennial kingdom.
This explains why we see people keeping feasts in the kingdom, Gentiles nonetheless:
Then everyone who survives of all the nations (Gentiles) that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths.
And why we see Gentiles in the millennial reign who are grafted into Israel being described as those who keep the Sabbath:
And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant…
Other passages exist, but you get the point.
Until all is accomplished
Mainstream religion teaches that in verse 18 when Yeshua says “until all is accomplished” he is referring to the point when right before Yeshua died on the cross, he said, “it is finished”.
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
But was in fact everything accomplished? Was his ministry on earth the only promise made to us?
The answer is a resounding NO…
There are still so many important events prophesied in the Torah and the Prophets that have yet to be accomplished:
And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.
The resurrection of the dead
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Many additional promises were made in the book of Revelation as well:
And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
And finally, The Great White Throne Judgment
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Then immediately in the next verse which begins a new chapter we see heaven and earth passing away:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
And just a few verses after that we read that at that point on that day directly after heaven and earth have passed away only then will EVERYTHING truly be accomplished:
And he said to me, “IT IS DONE! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.
This is the point when time ends and eternity begins.
So Yeshua is teaching that the Torah will remain in effect until quite literally the end of time.
So much insight is gained into God’s plan with the proper understanding of Yeshua’s teachings.
But it’s these types of things that were hidden from those who believed themselves God’s representatives on earth…
The scribes and Pharisees, who were well-studied and could probably recite the entire Torah from heart.
But just as these things were hidden from mainstream religion in Yeshua’s time, so too are these things still hidden from mainstream religion today.
For it is written:
In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”