Nature of the Law
by Rod Jackson

All verses are quoted from the NASB, unless stated otherwise, anything in [square brackets] is added by me for clarity. Footnotes will be in {curly brackets}.

"Do not think that I [Jesus] came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished." Matthew 5:17 & 18

So no letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law until all is accomplished. The next 14 verses are from the NIV. Do not worry so much as to what the verses mean, but read each verse and also their associated footnotes.

"and put headbands on them. Then tie sashes on Aaron and his sons. {1} The priesthood is theirs by a lasting ordinance. In this way you shall ordain Aaron and his sons." Exodus 29:9

Footnote - {1} Septuagint on them

"one {2} as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, together with the grain offering. In this way the priest will make atonement before the LORD on behalf of the one to be cleansed." Leviticus 14:31

Footnote - {2} Septuagint and Syriac; Hebrew such as the person can afford, one

"The tribe of Gad will be next. The leader of the people of Gad is Eliasaph son of Deuel. {3}" Numbers 2:14

Footnote - {3} Many manuscripts of the Masoretic Text, Samaritan Pentateuch and Vulgate Reuel

"Give the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to him. {4}" Numbers 3:9

Footnote - {4} Most manuscripts of the Masoretic Text; some manuscripts of the Masoretic Text, Samaritan Pentateuch and Septuagint to me

"The number of all the males a month old or more was 8,600. {5} The Kohathites were responsible for the care of the sanctuary." Numbers 3:28

Footnote - {5} Hebrew; some Septuagint manuscripts 8,300

"I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls {6} of all the sons of Sheth."

Footnote - {6} Samaritan Pentateuch the meaning of the word in the Masoretic Text is uncertain.

"Then he uttered his oracle: `Ah, who can live when God does this?' {7}" Numbers 24:23

Footnote - {7} Masoretic Text; with a different word division of the Hebrew A people will gather from the north .

"through Arodi, {8} the Arodite clan; through Areli, the Arelite clan." Numbers 26:17

Footnote - {8} Samaritan Pentateuch and Syriac Masoretic Text Arod

"The descendants of Issachar by their clans were: through Tola, the Tolaite clan; through Puah, the Puite {9} clan;" Numbers 26:23

Footnote - {9} Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Vulgate and Syriac Masoretic Text through Puvah, the Punite

"through Shupham, {10} the Shuphamite clan; through Hupham, the Huphamite clan."

Footnote - {10} A few manuscripts of the Masoretic Text, Samaritan Pentateuch, Vulgate and Syriac (see also Septuagint most manuscripts of the Masoretic Text) Shephupham

"The descendants of Bela through Ard and Naaman were: through Ard, {11} the Ardite clan; through Naaman, the Naamite clan." Numbers 26:40

Footnote - {11} Samaritan Pentateuch and Vulgate (see also Septuagint Masoretic Text does not have through Ard

"This land extended from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge to Mount Siyon {12} (that is, Hermon)," Deuteronomy 4:48

Footnote - {12} Hebrew; Syriac Sirion

"When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. {13}"

Footnote - {13} Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scrolls (see also Septuagint) sons of God

"Rejoice, O nations, with his people, {14} for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people." Deuteronomy 32:43

Footnote - {14} Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scrolls (see also Septuagint) people, / and let all the angels worship him

How can Jesus claim that no letters will be changed yet we have all these variant manuscripts? Is Jesus a liar? Or has everything been accomplished? Or are we misunderstanding what Jesus is saying?

"You have heard that the ancients were told, `YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and `Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' But I [Jesus] say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ` You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, `You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent." Matthew 5:21-26

Here we see that anyone who says "you fool" shall go to hell. Yet Jesus speaking to the Pharisees said,

"You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold?" Matthew 23:17

This word "fools" is the same greek word in both, Matthew 5:22 and Matthew 23:17. Is Jesus a murderer, guilty of hell?

"Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." 1 John 3:15

So it is the attitude behind the comment, not the literal words themselves. Jesus is correctly describing the pharisees as "fools". But He is not murdering them as murder is unjustified killing. So even if Jesus is slaying them with His words, He is justified. In that same passage describing the Pharisees, Jesus said,

"But they [the Pharisees] do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments." Matthew 23:5

Phylacteries were boxes of scripture that were literally tried around their foreheads like headbands with scripture verses in them. They did this because God told Moses

"These words, which I [God] am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead." Deuteronomy 6:6-8 (cf. Deuteronomy 11:18)

So God did command them to bind them onto their foreheads. However when God instituted the Passover feast He said

"For seven days you [Israelites] shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a [Passover] feast to the LORD. Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and nothing leavened shall be seen among you, nor shall any leaven be seen among you in all your borders You shall tell your son on that day, saying, `It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.' And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt." Exodus 13:6-9

Notice that the passover feast is to be a reminder on their foreheads! This means that it is not literal. One is not supposed to bind the words of God literally on their foreheads (ala Phylacteries). One is to think deeply and remember the words of God and that is how one "binds" it to their foreheads.

"And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six." Revelation 13:16-18

As an aside the number of the beast is not literally stamped on people's foreheads (ala barcodes).

"So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God." Romans 2:26-29

"[God] who also made us [Christians] adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." 2 Corinthians 3:6

So the law is Spiritual in nature.

"But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter." Romans 7:6

"For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin." Romans 7:14

"But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law." Galations 5:8

So the letters of the words of the law are not literally to be remaining, but the spirit of the law will not "pass away". Similarly with Jesus' words. When one hates someone else, this may manifest as one saying "you fool". But it is the spirit of hatred against the other that murders them. And we are to remember God's words, not literally binding them on our heads. But thinking about them and meditating on them.

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