The Law - Abolished or Fulfilled

By David Embury

Mt 5:17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

Eph 2:14-15 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace.

The "wall of enmity" that Christ abolished in his flesh was not the Law per sé, but Israel's oath and verbal commitment or bond to keep the Law, in every respect – all the ordinances:

Ex 24:3-8 So Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, "All the words which the LORD has said we will do." And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, "All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient." And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, "This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words." cf. Deut 27:14-26

Israel's word was her bond, and this oath became Israel's millstone. This is an important point to remember – Jesus did not ABOLISH the Law but rather he FULFILLED it, i.e., he was the end and consummation of it – particularly so for those that believed [Rom 10:4]. What Jesus ABOLISHED through his own faithful obedience was ISRAEL'S PLEDGE to keep it, something they could never do. Failure to see this has led to all manner of confusion i.e., did Jesus fulfill the Law? Or did Jesus abolish the Law? It was the pledge that held Israel bound that was duly cancelled in Christ, thus making those who realised it in faith likewise dead to the Law [Rom 7:4]; having died in Christ to the old age – the Mosaic world.

Rom 7:6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

Again, the bond that bound was Israel's blight. The principle of law observance was do, and live [Josh 1:7-8 et al]. Israel's affirmative vow to "it" became for her the Law's curse – yet in Christ there came freedom from it, for:

Gal 3:13a Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law…

Law observance had become a point of exclusion to Gentiles and a Pharisaic religious ladder against which lesser Israelites would-could not seek or even hope to climb. Yet on Christ the 'Ladder of God' [Jn 1:51] would the law find fulfillment and humanity the presence of God – through His people [2Cor 1:20b].