Matthew 5:18 - How are we not still bound by the Mosaic Law?


#1

NABRE Matthew 5:

18 Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.
19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus seems unambiguously to say that until His Second Coming – when heaven and earth pass away – His disciples are obligated to follow the Mosaic Law, i.e. that the Seventh-Day Adventists are correct in observing the Sabbath, etc. What else could he mean by that phrase? If you mean to point to Jesus’ Passion, how did heaven and earth “pass away” at Jesus’ Crucifixion/Resurrection, especially since they’re still here and, as a matter of history, apparently didn’t go anywhere?

How does NABRE Acts 15 not contradict this?

10 Why, then, are you now putting God to the test by placing on the shoulders of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?
28 ‘It is the decision of the holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,
29 namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’

What value is there in reading the Gospels if Jesus doesn’t mean what He says and the reader must disregard the text in favor of what the Church says?


#2

The Knox Translation of Matthew 5 has Jesus saying something very different:

18 Believe me, heaven and earth must disappear sooner than one jot, one flourish should disappear from the law; it must all be accomplished. 19 Whoever, then, sets aside one of these commandments, though it were the least, and teaches men to do the like, will be of least account in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches others to keep them will be accounted in the kingdom of heaven as the greatest.

If correct, this would answer my earlier question and instead raise a new one: Why would the United States’ bishops give us such a poor, misleading translation – and make it the official one?

But the Douay-Rheims translation of Matthew 5 agrees with the NABRE, so that the Knox Translation is the odd one out:

[18] For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. [19] He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.


#3

Well. In reality the Mosaic Law IS still in effect.

Jesus did not abolish the 10 commandments, He actually expanded our understanding of them. God gave the Israelites the tables with 10 commandments.

A lot of dietary and purity laws came later.

When Christianity exploded on the gentile world there was the question; Should the new Christians fully adopt the totality of Judaism customs and practices (Including circumcision)?

Or was it enough for them to accept the core values and tenets of Jesus teachings.

The apostles guided by the Holy Spirit decided on the latter option.

After all Jesus Himself taught the Apostles that the dietary and the purity laws were NOT part of the CORE teachings from GOD. They only left some regulations about meat and purity. But in reality it has a lot more to do with what purpose, was that meat used for. If it was a sacrifice to a pagan god then it was forbidden for a Christian to partake of it. Which makes total sense, after all not doing so, would bring scandal to the other Christians.
Sorry but the 7day adventists got it really wrong!:rolleyes:

Who do you trust more the Church founded by Jesus, with 2 millennia of history and Tradition or a man…erm :shrug: actually a woman made tradition less than 200 years old?


#4

Context, context, context. :wink:

He was speaking to a Jewish audience. For Jews, the Mosaic Law given them is still in effect (as JerryZ mentions). But, for Gentiles, parts of the Law (dietary laws, etc) have been relaxed. And, for us all, Jesus gave commandments that supercede the Mosaic Law, purifying and completing it.

What value is there in reading the Gospels if Jesus doesn’t mean what He says and the reader must disregard the text in favor of what the Church says?

The Word of God is Jesus’ word! His word does not contradict itself! If the Acts of the Apostles were simply a stand-alone book – something that we would use as a source of history – then you could make the claim you’re making (that is, that there’s a conflict that requires us to ‘disregard’ a text). However, since it’s part of the canon of Scripture, we can’t throw one piece out in favor of another; rather, we have to find the understanding that shows the truth of both passages.


#5

***For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” *(Galatians 5:14)

-Tim-


#6

In my opinion, they know many US catholics wont stick to any religion if its too inconvenient to them, or in anyway prevents them from partaking in normal/ popular secular activities, and/or one that has too many rules, or rules that they dont want to follow, so they look for justification to do whatever they want, yet still be able to call themselves catholics.


#7

10 Why, then, are you now putting God to the test by placing on the shoulders of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?
28 ‘It is the decision of the holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,
29 namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’

These are the four laws from the Book of Leviticus which Gentiles had to follow in order to be allowed to live among Jews in Israel.

Gentile Christians in Antioch were told to follow these same rules to appease the Hebrew Christians who still wanted to follow the law of Moses.

The decision was brilliant. “Judaizers” saw this as a continuation of the Law of Moses while Gentile Christians were spared circumcision.

-Tim-


#8

[quote=ethereality]NABRE Matthew 5:18
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.
[/quote]

I’m not sure I’m understanding what you’re saying here. How do you perceive these two as saying something at odds with each other?

If correct, this would answer my earlier question

How so? What are you seeing here that answers your question?

and instead raise a new one: Why would the United States’ bishops give us such a poor, misleading translation – and make it the official one?

Again, I’m not seeing it. What’s in the NAB that looks ‘poor [and] misleading’ to you?


#9

The grammar changes the meaning of the sentence. The Knox translation says the law must be accomplished and uses the language of heaven and earth passing away as an impossibility to emphasize how the law likewise won’t disappear until it’s accomplished. The NABRE translation makes the law passing away dependent on the heaven and earth passing away, a radically different meaning. So the Knox translation is consonant with Jesus fulfilling the law with his Passion and Resurrection; the NABRE translation implies the law is still binding – e.g. all Christian men must be circumcised, observe the Sabbath (Saturday rest), etc. – until His Second Coming (when heaven and earth pass away).


#10

Ahh, but the law WAS accomplished! Christ death and resurrection accomplished the law.

No one could be redeemed by the law! St. Paul is very clear on this.

But Jesus redeemed Jews and Gentiles and HIS law which is no different from GOD’s law will never pass.


#11

This was the essence of the Law a generation before Jesus, as Hillel the Elder said essentially the same thing: “That which is hateful unto you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. Now go and study.” Of course, Rabbi Hillel’s wise sayings were compiled about 200 years after his lifetime, and there is even some dispute whether it was he or Rabbi Joshua who uttered this particular remark about the Law. Moreover, the fact it is in the negative rather than the positive form, as are the words of Jesus, has raised further commentary regarding its meaning. Nonetheless, it raises questions for Jews, as well as Christians, concerning how the details of the Torah relate to one’s daily life.


#12

Not exactly. The Law was intended only for redemption in one’s earthly life as a form of sanctification or holiness given to the Jewish people by G-d. Redemption meant teaching all of humanity how to live a moral life according to the Law’s commandments. OTOH, the afterlife, while acknowledged by Judaism for the most part, was not of much concern in either ancient or modern teaching. That is, there would be no Torah study in heaven, so it is best to gather knowledge and practice its commandments in the here and now.


#13

The Nazarene Jews, who are still in existence and think of themselves primarily as Jews, accept Jesus as the Messiah but not G-d. It is they, however, who follow the words of Jesus that you cite, and believe that He came to intensify the study of the Law in a more detailed and profound way, rather than fulfill it by His death and resurrection.

The vast majority of Jews disagree with the Nazarenes and instead believe that the Law in its entirety applies only to the Jewish people, not to Christians. The latter, though, are bound by the Seven Laws of Noah, as are all of humanity.


#14

This is right-we’re still bound to fulfill the law, but the right way-by the Spirit, not by the letter. And this means to fulfill it by love. Jesus, Himself, would often not fulfill it by the letter, picking grain on the Sabbath, preventing the woman caught in adultery from being stoned. There’s no essential difference between the following two statements, the first from Jesus, the second from St Paul:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matt 22:37-40

**Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. **Rom 13:8


#15

You are bound to fulfill the Law by means of love in action, not merely by abstract love, as I am sure you are aware. (Christianity, as Judaism, has many types of love.) Jews, as well, are required to fulfill the Law by the spirit, not merely by the letter. In fact, a literal interpretation of the Written Law is generally incomplete and must be supplemented by Talmudic rabbinical commentaries, as well as Kabbala mysticism at times.

The often-cited example of Jesus’ picking grain on the Sabbath is really problematic since there is no law against doing so by hand without tools, only against gathering the grain. So in fact, Jesus did not break the Law by working on the Sabbath. Further, the word Sabbath itself in this passage is ambiguous: does it refer to the Day of Rest or to the grain harvest of Sabbaths, that is, the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot)? The stoning of the adulteress also raises some issues, namely, whether there were in fact two reliable eyewitnesses to the crime? If not, there cannot be any punishment according to the Law.


#16

The love which fulfills the Law in Christianity is known as a “theological virtue”-a supernatural gift that elevates us beyond our natural, often selfish, tendencies. And, yes, this love acts, by its nature.

So do you think Jesus would’ve probably wanted her stoned otherwise? I mean, He didn’t ask, ‘How many witnesses were there?’ He actually proceeded as if the charges were true-but were irrelevant to Him, since her accusers-all of humanity, really-were revealed to be no better, and He refused to condemn but wanted rather to forgive her, which He did, actually telling her that her sins had been forgiven, as if He had the power to do so.


#17

Probably not. His was an act of love and mercy. But my point is that love and mercy are already built into the Law since they are intertwined with justice, that is, one element is a part of the other. Likewise, one cannot and should not separate the spirit of the Law from the letter of the Law. In fact, the Law states that its commandments are not to be fulfilled without love and sincerity. Some of the Pharisees (not all), who no doubt did not understand the Law as well as Jesus, did not behave according to the spirit or the letter of the Law. Unfortunately, there are still people like this today, who believe that strict adherence to the Law in a ritualistic manner is all that is necessary to practice and fulfill its commandments.


#18

When you look at the original Greek, and consider what it’s saying, you’re gonna regret even bringing up the notion of ‘grammar’… :wink:

The Knox translation says the law must be accomplished and uses the language of heaven and earth passing away as an impossibility to emphasize how the law likewise won’t disappear until it’s accomplished. The NABRE translation makes the law passing away dependent on the heaven and earth passing away, a radically different meaning.

No, really they’re not doing that. At the very least, I can see where they’re not attempting to do that; however, the Greek grammar requires some care to unpack…

So the Knox translation is consonant with Jesus fulfilling the law with his Passion and Resurrection; the NABRE translation implies the law is still binding – e.g. all Christian men must be circumcised, observe the Sabbath (Saturday rest), etc. – until His Second Coming (when heaven and earth pass away).

Actually, the NAB does a better job conveying the meaning of the original text.

In Greek, we have ἕως ἂν / παρέλθῃ / ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ … ἕως ἂν πάντα / γένηται (until / might pass away / heaven and earth … until / all / should be manifested).

Here, we have a particular use of ‘until’ with a particle (i.e., ‘ἕως’ with ‘ἂν’) in the presence of a verb in the subjunctive mood (παρέλθῃ). We get the vibe of a future perfect verb (at some point in the future, this thing will have happened), but there’s more to it than that; we also have another construction in the Greek that appears in this verse: μὴ παρέλθῃ (‘shall not pass away’). This construction – the negation of an aorist verb in the subjunctive mood – has a particular meaning. It expresses negation, but in a very strong way: it says that there’s not even the possibility of this thing happening – it’s not even a question of ‘might it happen?’ or ‘might it not happen?’, but rather, the strong assertion that ‘it is not even a possibility that it might happen.’

So, the grammar here says something particular: there’s not even the possibility that the law might be annulled in the future until all will have been fulfilled and the end of time will have arrived. (Exegetically, we have recognize that Jesus must be thinking about Jews, not all people, or else there is an internal inconsistency with Acts.)

So, with respect to your analysis of the translations, the NAB is more consistent with the original Greek, whereas your interpretation of the Knox translation is less consistent with what the original Greek is trying to express. It’s not that the passing of the law is “dependent upon the end of time”, or even that the “law must be accomplished”; it’s “ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται” – “until all might be manifested”. In other words, while we’re still in this age, the law will not pass away – there will still be those who [must] observe the law.

Hope this helps…!


#19

Well, your explanation just makes me think that I shouldn’t bother trying to know what the Bible says. :confused: (I don’t have the time to learn Greek; it seems too dependent on past historical context …)

I suppose this is one reason Jesus established a Church (so we don’t have to know what the Bible says), but it doesn’t put the Bible in a good light, as an esoteric tome.


#20

Well, I don’t think it implies “I shouldn’t bother trying to understand the Bible”. Maybe it implies “I shouldn’t attempt personal interpretation of comparative Scriptural translations,” but that’s a whole 'nother discipline. :shrug:

I don’t have the time to learn Greek; it seems too dependent on past historical context …)

Which is why many folks just stick to the translations into their native language. And, of course, why we all rely on those scholars who have made it their life’s work to study ancient languages and Scriptural manuscripts.

I suppose this is one reason Jesus established a Church (so we don’t have to know what the Bible says)

By that, if you mean, “so that we don’t have to discover on our own what the Bible says,” I agree: that’s pretty far beyond our competencies. On the other hand, I’m hoping you don’t mean “let the Church worry about understanding the Bible; I don’t need to try to understand it.”

, but it doesn’t put the Bible in a good light, as an esoteric tome.

This probably begs us to take a closer look at your statement. Implicit in your assertion is the claim that the Bible is written plainly and is easily interpreted and understood. Am I misunderstanding what you’re saying here? That is, that the Bible is in a good light in your eyes only if it’s easy for an individual to interpret for himself what it says.

That’s not something that Catholics would claim – after all, in order to develop a reasonable interpretation of the Bible, one must understand the cultural and historical contexts of a span of thousands of years in the Near East, as well as their linguistic idioms, and the nuances of their religions. Once we understand these contexts, only then can we turn to the words of the Bible, and the protection of the Spirit to prevent the Church from erroneously interpreting it! (And yet, that’s what Reformation theology claims – that we don’t need the Church in order to have authentic, doctrinal Scriptural interpretation, and that we can each do it ourselves!)

So… I would say that we can look at the Bible in a good light! It’s not that it’s ‘esoteric’, such that only a small number of people can understand it; rather, as long as it’s interpreted well, by the experts in the Church, we can all understand it. Big difference there, don’t you think?


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