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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.

Has Jesus fulfilled Moses' dietary laws? If yes, what is the difference between before he fulfilled it and after?

Related question:

What does it mean for Jesus to fulfill the law? This question does not address specificaclly about dietary laws.

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  • Did you want a documented list of Jesus' meals from [Mark, Matthew, Luke, John], categorizing each verse as : kosher or non-kosher? Sep 24 at 14:13
  • Sure. Thanks :)
    – Tony Chan
    Sep 24 at 14:16
  • Why would this answer be different from the previous answer. It is the same.
    – Dottard
    Sep 24 at 21:57
  • Does there have to be a "difference between before he fulfilled it and after"? He may have amplified and given spiritual meaning to many laws (e.g. hate vs. murder, lust vs. adultery), but I don't know of anything requiring making the dietary laws any stricter. Sep 25 at 1:10
  • He very much fulfilled the dietary laws if one sees them as a sign from Israel to the pagan world that their gods and lifestyle were unclean. He offered spiritual healing and clean-ness to all nations, healing many who were not ‘kosher’ and offering living water to them. This reaches an explicit terminus in the story of Acts 10, where the command to Peter to eat unclean food is sandwiched between the account of his visiting a Gentile and sharing the gospel with him. I’m sure you know all this already but perhaps you’ll find a word or two to relay to your congregation who ask these Q’s! 😌🏆 Sep 25 at 6:08
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I don't think one can give a definite answer. However, observe:

The most convincing evidence Jesus kept the dietary laws is Peter had kept the dietary laws to this point.

Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. (Acts 10:13–16, ESV)

Technically, the following are not the dietary laws.

They accused Jesus' disciples, but not Jesus.

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” (Matt. 12:1–2, ESV)

He touched an unclean leper.

When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. 2 And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (Matt. 8:1–3, ESV)

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Fulfill the law does not only mean "comply with" the law, but includes the notion of completion. Of bringing something to its logical and ultimate conclusion.

Here are the meanings from BDAG:

  1. to make full, fill (full)

  2. to complete a period of time, fill (up), complete

  3. to bring to completion that which was already begun, complete, finish

  4. to bring to a designed end, fulfill a prophecy, an obligation, a promise, a law, a request, a purpose, a desire, a hope, a duty, a fate, a destiny, etc.


Thus until Christ, the law was missing something, and he completed it. What was the law missing? The Law is God's word, but Christ is the word made flesh, that is, Christ is also the torah made flesh, and in him, the law as written text is not only obeyed, but realized -- turned into a real, living embodiment.

In this way, we can see the law as a type of architectural building plan for a temple, and then Christ is that temple living in the world.

Or we can think of the law as a series of requirements and Christ is the perfect life that lives out these requirements.

Or we can think of the law as a prophecy and Christ fulfilling the prophecy. Thus the law was created for Christ to fulfill it - it is the set of standards that God requires. Published ahead of time so all of creation would recognize Christ as the only one who fully met these standards to his core.

This is why we have the hard sayings of the sermon on the mount, that lusting after a woman is the same as committing adultery with her (Matt. 5.27-28). E.g. that the law must be kept in the heart (Proverbs 3.1). E.g. the requirements of law are not superficial, but penetrate all the way to the heart. Obviously no one can meet these requirements except for Christ. Many can live a life without committing adultery in the flesh, but no one except Christ can keep the law also in his heart, to the very core of his being. Many can abstain from outwardly laboring on the Sabbath, but Christ is the only one who rested perfectly in his heart. Many can avoid killing, but Christ had no hate in his heart, etc. Thus Christ did not only meet the superficial form of the law as understood by man, but the true form of the law as seen by God, who looks at the heart (1 Sam 16.7).

So it is foolish for us to try to keep the law with our own superficial obedience, which is like filthy rags in comparison to Christ's obedience. Our hearts are deceitful (Jer 16.7) and so at best we can only meet the superficial outward requirements of the law, we cannot embody the law. Therefore our attempts to live out the law leave it unfulfilled.

For us, if we are honest and recognize that the law must penetrate to the heart as well as to the outward form, then we see in it our disobedience and thus our death. Thus to us, the law signifies our death, but for Christ, it is a testimony that he has met the standards prophecied in the law to his very core. Then we fulfill the law vicariously, by the death of the flesh which frees us from the law, and Christ's new life within us that fulfills it.


[1] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 828). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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