Is St. Paul contradicting Christ here?


#1

Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” (Matt 5:17)

But Paul says, “He abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two…” (Eph 2:15)

I don’t understand this. What is Paul talking about?


#2

By fulfilling the OT covenant, he removed the need for the Levitical Law. So Jesus did not end the law by abolishing it, but instead ended it by fulfilling the covenant. Like a marriage, that a covenant between two persons that can only be dissolved by one party’s death, the marriage of the OT between the Jews and God was ended by Jesus’ death on the cross, and then Jesus offered a new covenant with them to replace the old. The old was no longer required.

Hope that helps.


#3

So are you saying that Jesus abolished the law after fulfilling it? Coz abolishing means putting an end to.


#4

Abenassi is not saying Jesus abolished the law. Jesus fullfilled the laws therefore there is no need for them anymore. Fulfilling is NOT abolishing.


#5

True that.


#6

He is talking about the unity between the Gentiles and the Jews. Before Christ the Jews followed the law and the Gentiles did not. The Jews were called by God. Christ calls all men to Himself. Since the law was specifically oriented toward the Jews it must be abrogated.


#7

I do feel Abenassi is saying that Christ abolished the law, coz Abenassi said that Christ ended the law by fulfilling it. In other words Christ put an end to the law by fulfilling it (if I’m interpreting Abenassi correctly). Therefore, Christ abolished the law by fulfulling it, because “abolish” means to “put an end to”.

Paul clearly states that "He (Christ) has abolished the law…"
whereas Christ said, “I have come not to abolish, but to fulfill.”

So now, how do I interpret this? I’m still not satisfied with the answers that I’ve got so far.

Give me a “yes” or “no”. Did Christ abolish the law? (St. Paul said he did).

If yes, how and when? If no, then what is St. Paul talking about?


#8

I think it is abolished through Christ’s whole mission; it is abolished through His incarnation, death, ressurection, and ascension. Christ ascended so that He could send the Holy Spirit. Christ called the apostles to go to every nation and to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit[Matt.28]. The question at hand is basically a question of whether the gentiles must submit to the law or not. The answer is no according to Paul. The law was given to the Jews and not to the gentiles. Like Moses gave the law, Christ (the New Moses) gave the law of Grace. This new law (Grace) of Christ is a call to all men. We all (gentile and Jew) stand at the base of the mountain like those Jews stood at the base of the mountain when Moses recieved the law[Exodus19-24].

Christ did fulfill the law. And we do as well because as Christ tells us to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves is to fulfill the law. Christ, unlike us, lived a sinless life. He lived His life in complete submission to the will of God. He lived and died for us in accord with the will of God. He followed the law and did what it required.

In the upper room Christ gives us His body and we are integrated into His body through the reception of the Eucharist. We recieve communion with the divine nature of Christ and consequently the law is utterly irrelevant.


#9

From Dictionary.com/
Fulfill:

  1. to carry out, or bring to realization, as a prophecy or promise.
  2. to perform or do, as duty; obey or follow, as commands.
  3. to satisfy (requirements, obligations, etc.): a book that fulfills a long-felt need.
  4. to bring to an end; finish or complete, as a period of time: He felt that life was over when one had fulfilled his threescore years and ten.
  5. to develop the full potential of (usually used reflexively): She realized that she could never fulfill herself in such work.

Note the fourth definition. There is a spectrum served by the same word. I suggest that you go back and read both verses in context, and you will see that they do not exist in a vacuum. Each message had a specific audience and reason. If you read both Christ and Paul in the context of whom they were addressing and why, you will see there is no conflict.

Christ’s peace.


#10

I’m still not satisfied with the answers I have received. No one has given me a definite “yes” or “no”.

If it is abolised then what did Christ mean by “I have not come to abolish.”


#11

Let’s see the Ephesians 2 passage in context:

Therefore, remember that at one time you, Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by those called “the circumcision”, which is done in the flesh by human hands, were at that time without Christ, alienated from the community of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ.

For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it.

He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.

Paul uses the verb “katargēsas” which means:

To be (render) entirely idle (useless), literally or figuratively:–abolish, cease, cumber, deliver, destroy, do away, become (make) of no (none, without) effect, fail, loose, bring (come) to nought, put away (down), vanish away, make void.

In Matthew 5, Jesus used the Greek word ‘plerōsai’, which means:

…Execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction), accomplish, (be) complete, end, expire, fill (up), fulfill.

So Jesus ‘finished’ and ‘ended’ the Law, not by destroying (katalusai, which means ‘to loosen down’, ‘to demolish’, ‘destroy’) but by ‘fulfilling’ it.


#12

Thank you. I think I understand it better now.


#13

It may help to think of the law in convenantal rather than legal terms. Scott Hahn in particular is quite good at explaining this.

Our relationship with God is a covenantal one. In the case of the Jews, that relationship was “You keep the law, and you will be my chosen people.” This proved extremely difficult, as all the sin and failure in Scripture attests. God sent Christ to uphold our end of the bargain, while also opening the covenant to the rest of humanity on improved terms. He did this not because we deserved it, but because He loves us.

As Jesus told the rich man, he wasn’t coming to destroy the law. The old covenant was a good one, and a valid one. Christ’s mediation on our behalf on the Cross fulfilled it’s terms and engendered the new covenant—Christianity.


#14

Hi there. I should change my Handle. You can call me Andre if you wish.

I think the answers you have received here are really good! But simply I’d put it this way to make it easier to understand in layman’s terms.

Say you have a contract between two people. Now a covenant is like a contract but its not the exact same, but we can use this as an illustration.

Say the terms of the contract are that the contract will be fulfilled when X party does A, B, and C.

There are two ways for this contract to be ended. One is to rip it up and not do A, B, and C. The other is to do A, B, and C.

Christ accomplished A, B, and C through the church. A, B and C in this case fulfill the covenant made with Abraham. A, B, C in this case we the covenant made with Abraham, where are A. Land, B. Countless descendants, and C. Worldwide blessing. A and B had already been fulfilled. However the Israelites at the time of Christ had seemingly been hopelessly split. Only two tribes remained intact: Judah and Benjamin. The other ten tribes had been scattered in the first exile and now were vehemently hated by the Jews, and are often referred to as the Samaritans. In addition, there were all these other people in the world who were not part of the chosen people, e.g. the gentiles.
The church spread the new covenant to all the people on earth, not just the Israelites. Hence, worldwide blessing fulfilled.

Now there is another way to get out of a contract - that is for one party to die. So when Jesus died on the cross, being God, he in effect found a way to escape from the “contract”. In fact, this is is significant because a covenant is more than a contract - a covenant can only be ended upon the death of one of the parties involved; otherwise it must be sustained forever. It can not be fulfilled in the same way as a contract; there is no output of a covenant that completes the parties’ requirements.

So not only was the covenant ended, it was fulfilled. It was not abolished, although the effect is the same - that God no longer required the covenant be held by the people’s adherence to the Levitical Law.

Peace in Christ.

Andre


#15

Here is a great link I found that might make things clearer.

scborromeo.org/papers/covenant.PDF


#16

OK! No! Scripture does not contradict itself. If it seems to, you are missing the context in which the the scripture was written. Read the entire chapters in which your two quotes come from - better the whole book or letter. Ask a priest for proper interpretation, as private interpretation, prohibited by scripture (2 Peter 1:19-20), leads to confusion.

Christ’s peace!


#17

The two never contradict each other in scripture.


#18

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