SDA Sabbath School Lessons
Thursday August 1, 1996

(Matt. 5:17-19)

If God had intended the Ten Commandments to apply only to Israel before the cross, and not to Christians, we would expect to find some indication of this in the teachings of Jesus. Christians come to Jesus for salvation and for direction in how they should live.

What did Jesus teach about the continuing significance of the Ten Commandments? Matt. 5:17-19.

Jesus did not come to abolish the law of God, but to fill it full of meaning. The word fulfil (Matt. 5:17) translates the Greek word that means "to make full," "fill," "complete...... bring to an end." Because the word has a variety of possible meanings, the antinomians (no-law exponents' have assumed that Jesus was teaching that He came to bring the law to an end. Thus they would have Matthew 5:17 read: "I have not come to abolish them but to bring them to an end." The contradiction is glaring.

Jesus' subsequent explanation clarifies His meaning. He came to fill the law full of significance. "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" (Matt. 5:18, NIV). A person who breaks a commandment and teaches others to do so will be rejected by God (verse 19). Why? Because our righteousness is to surpass the legalistic conformity of the scribes and Pharisees (verse 20).

Did Jesus weaken the Ten Commandments by giving them a spiritual interpretation?

Were His interpretations more or less strict than those given traditionally? Matt. 5:21-30.

The law that Jesus came to fill with meaning (Matt. 5:17) is the law He cites in verses 21-28. Sinful anger breaks the sixth commandment. Lustful thoughts break the seventh commandment. Obeying the spirit of the law does not involve destroying the letter of the law. Obedience in spirit goes beyond a mere literalistic attempt to obey the letter.

When Jesus summarized the two tables of the law as teaching love to God and love to humanity, He did not imply that love destroys the law (Matt. 22:37-40). "Love is the fulfilling of the law" (Rom. 13:10) in the sense that love enables conformity to the true spirit of the law.

What part does love play in your Sabbath observance?