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Matthew 5:17-18 (NASB):

17 “Do not presume that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter shall pass from the Law, until all is accomplished!

When will all be accomplished? Or did that already happen?

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  • The first thought that comes to mind is that of final divine retribution for unpardoned criminals, that slipped through the net. An interesting detail, by the way, is the absence of the word “prophets” in the second part of the passage. – Constantthin Mar 21 at 2:23
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This is how I see the parallelism in Matthew 5:18:

For truly I say to you, 
    until heaven and earth                                     pass away, 
        not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter shall    pass from the Law, 
    until all is accomplished!

The second until reinforces the first one. When heaven and earth pass away, then all is accomplished.

Revelation 21:

1 Then I saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. ...
4‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Right now, many people are still living under the Law. When the new heaven and new earth come, the Law is completely accomplished. Done, it will no longer have any effect.

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  • Upvoted +1 although it would be a better answer if you including we are saved by grace through faith (the apostle Pauls writings are crucial in the context of this question). People think Paul's writings are the opposite of the law, that is simply untrue. – Adam Mar 20 at 20:53
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When will all be accomplished? Matthew 5:18

The purpose of the Law was accomplished with the coming of Christ:

Scriptures that prove we are not now under the Law?

Galatians 3:24-25 NASB

24 Therefore the Law has become our [a]guardian to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a [b]guardian.

Galatians 3:13 NASB

13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a [a]tree”—

Galatians 5:18 NASB

> 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

Ephesians 2:15 NASB

15 [a]by abolishing [b]in His flesh the hostility, which is the Law composed of commandments expressed in ordinances, so that in Himself He might [c]make the two one new person, in this way establishing peace;

Hebrews 7:18-19 NASB

18 For, on the one hand, there is the nullification of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the Law made nothing perfect); on the other hand, there is the introduction of a better hope, through which we come near to God.

Colossians 2:14 NASB

14 having canceled the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Conclusion.

The Law covenant with Moses the mediator was replaced by the new covenant when Jesus was resurrected on the Nisan 16th and forty days later He ascended to heaven. Ten days later on the day of the Pentecost, Jesus poured out on his disciples "the promised holy spirit" (Acts 1:3-9) that he received from the Father.

Acts 2:33 NASB

33 Therefore, [a]since He has been exalted at the right hand of God, and has received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, He has poured out this which you both see and hear.

It is on this day that the Law Covenant was fulfilled (accomplished) and the new covenant with Jesus the mediator. was inaugurated with the blood sacrifice of Christ.

Hebrews 8:5-6 NET

5 The place where they serve is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary, just as Moses was warned by God as he was about to complete the tabernacle. For he says, “See that you make everything according to the design shown to you on the mountain. 6 Bu now Jesus has obtained a superior ministry, since[g] the covenant that he mediates is also better and is enacted on better promises.

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The text itself reveals when "everything" will be fulfilled - when heaven and earth pass away. (Some things will be filfilled before then but that is not the subject of this question.)

Heaven and earth passing away is described in several places. But before noting these let us remind ourselves that even when heaven and earth pass away, Jesus words will not. Matt 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33, 16:17.

When will heaven and earth pass away?

  • 2 Peter 3:10 - But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
  • Rev 21:1 - Then I saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
  • Rev 6:12-14 - And when I saw the Lamb open the sixth seal, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black like sackcloth of goat hair, and the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth like unripe figs dropping from a tree shaken by a great wind. The sky receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved from its place.

Despite these tumultuous events, Jesus words will never pass away.

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  • What is your take on the other answers that say that everything was fulfilled at the cross, or that everything was fulfilled in AD 70? – Spirit Realm Investigator Mar 21 at 0:13
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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator - such interpretations make a show of Christian piety by making everything "Christo-centric" which sound appealing until one realizes that (a) Jesus did not come in the clouds of heaven (he went); (b) heaven and earth have not passed away; (c0 not every eye has seen Him, etc. – Dottard Mar 21 at 0:28
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator I wanted to clarify that I'm not suggesting everything was fulfilled at the cross, but rather the Law of Moses was. I have amended my post to highlight this. – Hold To The Rod Mar 21 at 1:04
  • @Dottard perhaps you were responding to a post other than mine, but I'm not sure I follow how a, b, and c connect to the fulfillment of the Law of Moses, which is the concern raised in the passage. a,b, and c haven't happened yet, but the Law of Moses has been fulfilled. – Hold To The Rod Mar 21 at 1:04
  • @HoldToTheRod - they do not - that is simply some comments about the different views about eschatology – Dottard Mar 21 at 1:21
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The context here is the Law of Moses, not the end of the world.


The negative argument

I do not believe the passage is telling us anything about the timing or circumstances of the end of the world.

The phrase "until heaven and earth pass away" is the language of covenant or contract. Most contracts include a "Force Majeure" clause indicating that, if certain extreme events occur, you are excused from the obligations of the contract (see here).

For example, most insurance policies don't cover damage caused by war; most commercial contracts provide excusal in case of natural disasters.

The Greek word here rendered "until" is ἕως, which carries meanings including: "until, as far as, up to, as much as" (see here).

Jesus is indicating that there is no "Force Majeure" clause to His words. No matter what--as much as the heavens and the earth being destroyed could happen--yet He will make good on His words.

That Jesus saw His words in this sense is found in Matthew 24:35:

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

That's a pretty solid "no matter what"; you won't find any legal document giving that strong a guarantee.

Similar concepts are expressed in Isaiah 49:14-16 & Joshua 21:45


The positive argument

The question is not when will the heavens and the earth pass away--this is nowhere to be found in the context of this passage--the question is about the Law of Moses. People are concerned that Jesus is destroying the Law and Jesus is responding.

Note that the Law of Moses is frequently referred to at the time as "The Law"--e.g. see Hebrews 7:11, Hebrews 9:19, Galatians 2:15-16. This is not a discussion of all laws, this is a discussion of the Law given to Moses.

When was the Law of Moses fulfilled?

The Law of Moses was fulfilled by Jesus' sacrifice, not in AD 70 or at the end of the world.

Passion narratives

There may be an allusion to this in the passion account of John:

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:30)

But either way the allusion is unmistakable in the passion account of Matthew:

And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom (Matthew 27:51)

The significance of the rending of the veil is brought home in Hebrews 9:

And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; (verse 3)

...

But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: (verse 7)

...

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; (verse 11)

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (verse 12)

Jesus parted the veil and redeemed the human family, an act for which the prior actions of the high priest were a symbol.


The testament put into effect by Jesus' sacrifice

That this is a reference to Jesus' death is made explicit a few verses later:

15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.


Conclusion

It certainly took the people at the time a while to understand that the ordinances of the Law of Moses were fulfilled (hence documents like Galatians, Romans, Hebrews), but the Law of Moses was fulfilled by Jesus' death.

Important clarification--I'm not arguing that everything was fulfilled/complete/finished at the time of Jesus' atoning sacrifice, but that specifically the Law of Moses was fulfilled. That context is critical--He is responding to concerns about the Law of Moses.

Jesus did not destroy or violate the Law, He complied with and completed the Law and fulfilled the covenant made with Israel--bringing a new covenant in its place.

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  • Re Note 2, how do you understand "until heaven and earth pass away" here? – One God the Father Mar 20 at 19:15
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    @AnthonyBurg I have added a section to my post to discuss your question – Hold To The Rod Mar 21 at 0:58
  • @Adam I have added a section to my post to discuss your concern. I recognize you may not agree with my argument, but I hope you will find that it is not my intent to ignore any portion of the passage. – Hold To The Rod Mar 21 at 0:59
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    Very interesting way of looking at things. Very unfortunate that this answer is getting down-voted to Hades though. It's not a view that makes most people happy it seems. – Spirit Realm Investigator Mar 21 at 2:33
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    @SpiritRealmInvestigator nice reference! Who knew the fulfillment of the Law of Moses could be almost as controversial today as it was then?! As for unpopularity, at least it comes with good company...*for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you*...=) – Hold To The Rod Mar 21 at 2:48
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Taking a fulfilled eschatological view, I would say this has already happened. It happened in A.D. 70. This dove-tails nicely with the straightforward reading of Matthew 16:28.

"Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." (Berean Study Bible)

and 24-25, that what Jesus was talking about would happen within 'a generation'. 24:34

"Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away."

All was fulfilled by the time of the destruction of the temple, which happened within a generation (< 40 years) and before all the people Jesus was talking to had tasted death.

For a detailed development of this view, you can see Not a Jot or a Tittle ... Until all is Fulfilled, for example.

According to this view, the purpose of the Law and Prophets has already been fulfilled.

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The Law lost its hold at the cross.

COL 2:14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

The Law is now powerless. The Law was Satan’s most powerful weapon. He used it to continuously ‘accuse The brethren’.

REV 12:10 [snip] for the accuser of our brothers [snip]

The Law held the Jews in captivity. Jesus has set them free from it. This is one reason (of many) that he came. But they rejected that freedom and sought to remain ‘under Law’. The Apostle Paul repeatedly encouraged them to put it aside. Anyone who picks up the Law stands, or positions themselves to be condemned by it.

However I need to add that although I have just outlined that the Law has been fully fulfilled, this by no means means I am saying it has been abolished. The Law has always been - and always will be. It did not ‘start’ at Sinai. What happened at Sinai was ‘man’ specifically the Jews, were put ‘under’ it. And Jesus took man out from under it.

(This view may provoke some traditional doctrine.)

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  • Dave i suggest you read up on "the patience of the Saints" in Revelation (it appears twice). They most definitely are those who "keep the law" (10 commandments) and also "have the faith/testimony of Jesus". All need both! Finally, read book of Galations, Peter preached to the circumcised (Jews), Paul to the uncircumcised (gentiles). The difference was not one preached law and the other grace...both were taught together to all recipients. – Adam Mar 20 at 20:56
  • @Adam What? Paul calls the Law the ministry of death! (2 Cor 3:7). So you say he preached that? This ‘Law’ that had a man Picking up Sticks Stoned to Death. Had 3000 killed for complaining. Had Moses barred from entering Canaan. This Law has no [zero] room for Grace, nor Mercy. This Law bound the Jews, and blinded them from recognising their Messiah. Sheeze! As I said .... This view may provoke some traditional doctrine. I expected downvotes! – Dave Mar 20 at 22:08
  • @Dave...do you not understand how this works? The law is a set of guidelines that we are to follow. As in the case of any law (including those used in our societies today) we are condemed by said laws. God has always said, "for the waves of sin is death"! The law is our way of knowing what sin is, but the law does not save us (it has never saved us...even in Old Testament times). What saves us is the blood of the Lamb. It is through our faith in Jesus (Almighty God) as our saviour that Grace is extended to us and we are redeemed from the wages of sin (death). – Adam Mar 21 at 6:50
  • @Adam - People knew what ‘sin’ was before the the 10 commandments. They didn’t need the tablets to know what ‘sin’ was. The Law was put onto tablets to judge ‘sin’! And as soon as they started judging ‘sin’ - people died! Pre-Law they complained - and got what they wanted [water]. Post Law, exactly the same offence - they were killed for complaining! .... Adam, let’s leave this here. No doubt we’ll ‘meet’ again on some other topic – Dave Mar 21 at 17:16
  • Dave that is simply misinterpreted. The reason why God took the Israelites into the desert was to UNLEARN everything the previous 400 years or so had taught them about Egyptian lifestyle. The 10 commandments were given because the Israelite view of sin had become corrupted with that of Egyptian ways. So without 10 commandments, one does not know sin. Judgement is not the law, it is the consequence/punishment for breaking the law! – Adam Mar 22 at 6:28
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A partial answer to this question may be found here: The 666 Deception

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    Can you summarize the content of the link and maybe include specific quotes so that the answer is self-contained? If the linked site gets taken down for any reason (a frequent occurrence), the answer as it stands right now will become pretty much useless. – Spirit Realm Investigator Mar 21 at 1:00
  • That video would have to be the most useless example of referencing i have seen. What an aboslute load of utter nonesense...COVID 19 = Mark of the Beast is simply unbiblical. As point and example, quite a number of very decent and truly committed christians have died from COVID 19! – Adam Mar 21 at 6:56

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