Matthew 5 – Jesus Came to Fulfill the Law

MATT 5:17-20


MATT 5:17 – Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

[Think not that I am come to destroy] – Jesus “abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances” (Eph 2:15).  Jesus made “a better covenant” (Heb 8:6); “a new covenant, he hath made the first old…” it “vanished away” (Heb 8:13).

[the law] – The law that was given to Moses (John 1:17).

[the prophets] – The commandments & prophesies that God gave the prophets to record in their books.

[fulfil] – G4137 = fulfill, fill, be full, complete, end.

How did Jesus fulfill the law? – He kept the law, never broke its commandments and therefore was sinless (Heb 4:15 & Heb 9:28), urged others to keep it (Matt 8:4) fulfilling its ceremonial rules like circumcision (Luke 1:59), taking the Passover in Jerusalem every year (Luke 2:41), etc.  Being sinless is what qualified Him to be an offering without spot (Heb 9:14).

How did Jesus fulfill the prophets? – He completed all of their predictions, as in Matt 1:22, 2:15, 4:14.



MATT 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.  {Similar to Luke 16:17}

[heaven and earth pass] – Jesus said heaven and earth would pass away (Matt 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 16:17, & Luke 21:33). John saw a new sky and new earth because the fist sky and earth had passed away (Rev 21:1).  Does that mean that the earth will blow up or be destroyed?  No.  “The earth remains forever” (Ecc 1:4).  It will be renewed, like after Noah’s flood.  God said to Noah, “neither shall there anymore be a flood to destroy the earth” (Gen 9:11), though the earth wasn’t truly destroyed in the flood, therefore the earth won’t be truly destroyed in the revelation “end times” either.

[one jot or one tittle] – The smallest mark in writing, such as a comma, period, or apostrophe.

[till all be fulfilled] – Jesus said “it is fulfilled/finished” in John 19:30, but “all” includes all prophesies.



MATT 5:19 – Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

[these least commandments] – The greatest commandments are to Love God and love the people around you (Matt 22:36-40).  So what are the least commandments?  Jesus didn’t specify… But whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10).

[and shall teach men so] – “Whoever breaks the commandments, but teaches people to obey them” is a reference to the Pharisees, as you can see in the next verse, who “say, and do not” (Matt 23:3).  Teaching people to do right while the teacher did wrong was and is a common problem (Rom 2:21-23).

[the least in the kingdom of heaven] – John the Baptist was called the least in the kingdom (Matt 11:11).  This is different than John though, this is talking about people who disobey the commandments, because Satan works in the “sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:2), and they will be thrown into “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41), unlike John.  The Pharisees are an example of “the least” for teaching to do but not doing themselves.  They were on the road to Hell (Matt 23:33).  Therefore “called the least in the kingdom” should be understood as, “called the worst BY the kingdom”.  The scribes and Pharisees were not “IN” the kingdom as seen in the next verse; neither are “the least”.



MATT 5:20 – For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.


[your righteousness] – Our righteousness is like filthy rags (Isa 64:6), but it doesn’t mean we can’t become righteous.  Faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness (Rom 4:9), but faith doesn’t only mean that you know one way is right; it means know what is right and you do it.  Only then is faith counted to you for righteousness.  Faith without works is dead (James 2:20).  “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified (MADE RIGHTEOUS), and not by faith only” (James 2:24).

[the scribes and Pharisees] – Referred to in the previous verse of breaking the commandments but teaching others not to break them (Matt 23:3).  They didn’t just have “faith without good works”, but faith with evil works.  They “see the speck in their brother’s eye but not the log in their own” (Matt 7:3-5).  They were false prophets who could be known by their evil fruit or actions (Matt 7:15-21).

The crowd listening to Jesus must have been shocked, because they typically respected these religious leaders and imagined them to be more righteous than anyone.  However, Jesus explains in the rest of this sermon how they aren’t really righteous, but only do things that make them seem righteous.

[enter into the kingdom of heaven] – Doesn’t mean, “They won’t go to heaven when they die”.  God’s kingdom comes to earth (Matt 6:10); it was on earth when Jesus preached (Matt 4:7), and when His disciples preached (Luke 9:2).  It is on earth when Christians preach too.  Why would a person think they’ll be with God after physical death when they weren’t with God throughout their life?

Kent Owen

Author: Kent Owen

After college I lived in China for 5 years, working as an English teacher and foreign marketing manager. Now i'm an insurance salesman, but my real passion is Christ and learning the bible.

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment