“Think not that I came to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Thus Jesus spoke, as recorded in Matthew 5:17-18.
Jesus did not come to destroy the law, i.e.. He did not come to set the law aside, break it or dissolve it, without meeting its demands. The law and the prophets foretold of His coming and of things that He would do. All of these things Jesus intended to do—and did. “I am come … to fulfill.” After His death and resurrection, He reminded the disciples: “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me.” (Luke 24:44)
Jesus filled or completed everything assigned to Him to accomplish. He did not ignore the law and prophets, i.e. did not set them aside. When He was born of a virgin and named Jesus, “all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet.” (Matt. 1:22) Herod sought His life, fulfilling the prophecy of Jeremiah. (Matt. 2:17) John the Immerser preceded Him in fulfillment of Scripture. (Matt. 3:2) Jesus’ life and teaching were in fulfillment of all that God had said before of Him. He died, was buried, and arose from the dead the third day, all according to the Scriptures. (1 Cor. 15:3-4) Not one thing written in the law, prophets, or Psalms concerning Him did He fail to do.
In fulfilling the old covenant He was able to establish the new. Of Jesus it is said: “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” (Heb. 10:9; Ps. 40:6-7) In doing God’s will, fulfilling the old covenant, He “took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” (Col. 2:14) Jesus is the author of a new testament, for which He shed His blood. (Matt. 26:28) “For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.” (Heb. 9:16-17)
This, too, (the establishing of a new covenant or testament), is in fulfillment of Scripture. Jesus “is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.” God promised a “new covenant” in Jeremiah 31:31-34 … not according to the covenant that He made with Israel when He led them out of Egypt, the law of Sinai. “In that he saith, A new covenant he hath made the first old.” (Heb. 8:6-13) The first covenant is now old, or abrogated.
We might illustrate the language of Jesus in Matthew 5 by referring to an appointment. We would announce, “I have come not to break the appointment, but to fulfill it.” When the appointment was fulfilled, it would no longer be valid. Even so, Jesus came not to break or fail to keep the appointments that God had made, and in fulfilling them He was able to establish a second covenant “by which will we are sanctified through the offing of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:10)
Jesus did not promise to retain the old law (in contradiction of Scripture, Jer. 31:31-34, et al.) in Matthew 5:17-18; He promised to fulfill it, and in fulling it fully He took it out of the way and has become the mediator of a new covenant by which we become His through His sacrifice. ~ Bible Answers