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Matthew 5:19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Doesn't it mean we as Christians have to keep the law?

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  • This question was closed for asking essentially the same thing. May 23 at 17:17
  • Note that Christ's approach to what it means to keep the Law differed substantially from that of the Pharisees.
    – Lucian
    May 24 at 4:03
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Jesus came to teach what came before not to invent a new law, he never stated that the old / previous laws should not be followed. Paul invents new laws. There is too much that can be added so I will leave it as brief as possible while making the point.

Teaching of the Law - far from an exhaustive list

Matthew 5:17-19 - 17 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. 19Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 28:20 - 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Genesis 17:10-12 - 10 This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12 And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, including a slave who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants.

John 7:19-22 - “Did Moses not give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why are you seeking to kill Me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill You?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all are astonished. 22 For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and even on a Sabbath you circumcise a man.

James 2:20-24 - 20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

JAMES 2:26 Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works

James 2:8-11 - If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbour as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favouritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

Revelation 2:14-16 - 14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Revelation 2:20 - 20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.

Acts 21:21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs.

Acts 21:25-26 - 25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.” 26 The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.

Luke 16:17 It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.

Deuteronomy 13:5 - 5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.

Paul – far from an exhaustive list

Eph 2:8-10 - For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life

Romans 10:9-12 - 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

Romans 3:28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

Galatians 3:19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator.

2 Corinthians 3:14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.

Romans 4:5 "To the man who does not work, but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness".

Gal. 5:4 "You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace".

Romans 7:6 “But now we are released from the Law.. we serve not under the old written code but under the new life of the Spirit”.

Gal. 2:16 - A man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

2 Timothy 1:11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.

Yet Jesus says:

only 1 teacher - Matthew 23:8–12 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Matthew 23:15 - 15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

Follow Jesus not Paul

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This is an old "chestnut" - see appendix 1 below. The moral law has always existed (see appendix 2 below) and Jesus made it abundantly clear that He was NOT abandoning the moral law as stated in Matt 5:17-19

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. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

The NT also frequently quotes the Torah with still binding commandments and laws; for example: Eph 6:2, 3 quotes Deut 5:16, Ex 20:12; James 2:11 quotes Ex 20:13; Rom 13:9  Ex 20:13-15, 17; Rom 7:7 quotes Ex 20:17; Acts 23:5 quotes Ex 22:28; Heb 9:20 quotes Ex 24:8; 1 Peter 1:16 quotes Lev 19:2; Matt 22:39, James 2:8, Gal 5:14 quotes Lev 19:18; 2 Tim 2:19 quotes Num 16:5; Matt 19:18, 19 quotes Deut 5:16-20; Mark 12:32 quotes Deut 6:4; 2 Cor 13:1 quotes Deut 19:15; Matt 5:31, 19:7 quotes Deut 24:1; 1 Cor 9:9 quotes Deut 25:4; Rom 12:19 quotes Deut 32:35; Heb 10:30 quotes Deut 32:35, 36; Acts 15:29 quotes food sacrificed, no blood, no strangled animal meat, no fornication, etc. This is far from an exhaustive list.

Jesus death and resurrection certainly means that all the ceremonial aspects of the Torah, designed to teach about the eternal salvation of Jesus are no longer relevant as He fulfilled them - and that is the point as pointed out by Acts 4:12 -

Salvation exists in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

  • Rom 3:20 - Therefore no one will be justified in His sight by works of the law. For the law merely brings awareness of sin.

Expanding on this, Paul later says:

  • Rom 7:11, 12 - For sin, seizing its opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good.

  • Eph 2:8-10 - For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life.

APPENDIX 1. - What others have thought of the Torah

Interestingly, various faith confessions have loosely divided the Torah into different sets of requirements or Moral law, Ceremonial law and Civil law as follows:

  • Thomas Aquinas discussed the tripartite law, moral, ceremonial, and judicial, in his “Summa Theologica”, section entitled "Treatise on the Law" and more specifically in questions 99-105.
  • Luther appears to believe in a bipartite Law, when in The Bondage of the Will, he referred to "the civil or moral law”. (Luther Bondage CXLVI)
  • Calvin, in book 2 of Institutes of the Christian Religion (2.7, 2.8.31), presented a bipartite view when he discussed the law, its moral and ceremonial aspects. However, later, in book 4 of the Institutes (4.20.14), when he discussed civil government, he presented a tripartite law when he stated: "the well-known division which distributes the whole law of God, as promulgated by Moses, into the moral, the ceremonial, and the judicial law.”
  • The Westminster Confession (1646) set out a tripartite law

APPENDIX 2 - The Moral Law before Sinai

The following (far from exhaustive) list shows that people knew of the ten commandments well before the formal giving at Mt Sinai. Indeed, we have the very general comment –

  • Gen 26:5, because Abraham listened to My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.

Commandment #1 – Worship only YHWH:

  • Gen 22:5, 24:26, 48, 52 all describe worship of the true God of heaven, YHWH.
  • Gen 35:1-4 – Jacob instructs his whole household to eliminate all foreign gods

Commandment #2 – Idolatry prohibited

  • Gen 31:32-35 – Jacob clearly understood that idolatry was forbidden.
  • Gen 35:1-4 – Jacob instructs his whole household to eliminate all foreign gods

Commandment #3 –Cursing and taking the name of the LORD in vain prohibited

  • Job 1:5 – When these celebrations ended—sometimes after several days—Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular practice.

Commandment #4 – Sabbath worship

  • Gen 2:1-3 – Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. And by the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on that day He rested from all His work. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because on that day He rested from all the work of creation that He had accomplished.
  • Gen 16 also records the incident with manna and that collecting manna on the seventh-day Sabbath was forbidden

Commandment #5 – Respect for parents, elders and authority

  • Gen 28:6, 7 tells of the story of Jacob following his mother’s advice. Respect for parents is built into the very fabric of the patriarchal stories in Genesis.

Commandment #6 – Sanctity of Human life

  • Gen 4:8-12, 15 records Cain’s punishment for the sin of murder
  • Gen 9:5, 6 records that murder was prohibited under the ancient Noahide covenant

Commandment #7 – Adultery prohibited

  • Gen 12:10-20, 20:1-17, 26:6-11 all record “adultery narratives” in which the patriarch is (correctly) chided for almost tricking a pagan king into committing adultery
  • Gen 19 records the appalling events involving attempted pack-rape of the two angels
  • Gen 39:7-9 – Joseph calls Potiphar’s wife proposal “a great evil and sin against God”.
  • Gen 49:4 – Reuben is scalded for his sin of incest
  • Gen 34 – the story of Dinah records a heinous incident involving her defilement (plus murder and lying)

Commandment #8 – Stealing prohibited and respect for property

  • Gen 30:33 – Laban and Jacob discuss the problem of stealing of wages and property
  • Gen 31:32-35 – Laban is angry about the sin of stealing the household gods

Commandment #9 – Lying prohibited; insistence of honesty and integrity

  • Gen 4 – the story of Cain being punished, among other things for not being honest with Abel and God in his statements
  • Gen 12:10-20, 20:1-17, 26:6-11 all record “adultery narratives” in which the patriarch is (correctly) chided for lying to a pagan king about their marital status
  • In the story of Jacob, he is pejoratively called Jacob = “deceiver”, Gen 27:36.

Commandment #10 – Coveting prohibited

  • Gen 3:6 – the woman is tricked by the serpent using the sin of covetousness
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Let's see the context of Matthew 5:

17 “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. 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

The point is not that we should follow the Law to the letter as we see in John 8:

4 [They] said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Did Jesus set aside this adultery law?

No.

Did Jesus teach others to set aside this law?

No.

Did Jesus teach us to follow the letter of the law?

No. It is illegal to stone people to death in most countries today.

According to Matthew 5:19 aren't we supposed to keep the law?

We are supposed to keep the law in the sense that they teach us the consequences of sins but Jesus had fulfilled the law.

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  • We are supposed to keep the law in the sense that they teach [it teaches?] us the consequences of sins but Jesus had fulfilled the law. What is this supposed to mean? That Jesus has fulfilled the law for us all, "the just for the unjust", and therefore we are not bound by any law? Not even against murder, incest, adultery, false testimony? May 24 at 21:16
  • why is this closed as 'duplicate' when the 'duplicate' question has been closed as being 'off-topic' ? Aug 25 at 9:46

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