Matthew: The Fulfilment of the Law
Matthew: The Fulfilment of the Law
This session looks at how Jesus came to cleanse, renew, and fulfil the law.
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Bible Passages

Matthew 5:17–20

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For 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. 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 practises and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For 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.”

Matthew 5:43–45, 48

“You have heard that it was said, ’Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous… Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Matthew 8:10–12

“Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Matthew 9:13 (Hosea 6:6, quoted again in Matthew 12:7)

“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Matthew 12:6

“I tell you that something greater than the temple is here.”

Matthew 13:17

“For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what
you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”


Matthew’s approach doesn’t pull its punches. His Gospel speaks very directly into his own Jewish faith tradition (see Matthew 23). He criticizes severely the legalism and hypocrisy that have grown like invasive weeds in the vineyard of God’s people. At the same time, the point is clearly made that Jesus did not come to trash or sweep away the faith history of Israel. He came to cleanse, renew, and fulfil it. The cleansing fire of the Spirit of Jesus is for purification to allow and foster healthy new growth in a plant left too long to ramble out of control, with parts dying and diseased.



O God of Israel, how faithfully you have pruned and tended the vineyard that is your people. We open our lives also to your wisdom and care. Where you see unfruitfulness, sickness or withered branches, prune our lives that we may live again. Where you see our spirits hungry and dry and neglected, water us with your grace, feed us on your living Word, nurture us into new life. Train us, good Lord, and feed us, so that we may flourish and prove fruitful, and so bring glory to your name. We ask it for the sake of Jesus, your Son and our Lord; Amen.