Has the Messiah Abolished the Law of God?
“The Law of God” is very often understood to denote a strict set of rules. In the western gentile mind the law connote negative associations with “dos and don’ts” and law-enforcement. The Law of God is also understood as an external burden the Christians have to bear. But is this what the Hebrew word for “law” means? Actually, the Torah of YHVH is a delight.
The Torah of YHVH vs. the Law
The Hebrew word often translated as “law” is torah, which is derived from the root yarah which means “to point out a direction” as seen in Gen_46:28: and he sent Judah before him unto Joseph to point his face toward Goshen. This verb can also mean to instruct or teach in a sense of pointing out the way one is to go in life.
Another noun derived from this root is moreh, which means a teacher, as a teacher points out the way. Therefore, torah is the teaching of the teacher, or more literally, the way pointed out by the teacher. The verb yarah means also shooting an arrow.
Hence, the Hebrew word torah means a moral “instruction, direction, guidance” of our Creator how to live a righteous (straight) life. Torah is the teaching of our Lord who points out the direction we need to go so that we will not stray from the straight path, thus protecting us from sinning.
The Law of God is not a heavy burden we cannot bear, as many in the Christendom teach. The Lord says that His Torah is light, not heavy (Deu 30:10-14, 1John 5:3), it is delight (Isa 58:13-14), sweeter than honey in our mouths (Psa 119:97-104). The Law of God is the self revelation of the Creator, who He is, what His Name is, what He has done, and what He will do.
We also know that without a good solid foundation in something, everything built on it will be weak and collapse quickly. So, when we say that the Torah of YHVH is the foundation of our faith, it means that Torah is the foundation of understanding the gospel and the message of Yeshua the Messiah. We cannot understand the Apostolic Scriptures unless we first understand the Torah of YHVH, because the Messiah and apostles upheld the Torah and always taught from the Torah.
Misunderstanding of the Sermon on the mount
There is no greater misunderstanding of Messiah’s teachings outside His first address to Israel in Matthew 5, 6 and 7. In His first address (commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount), Yeshua laid down the foundation for entering His Kingdom. Yeshua’s first message drew a thick line in the sand between YHVH’s everlasting Torah and the rules of the religious elite.
Each act performed by Yeshua from that moment on was aimed to break the man-made rules, not to end the Torah. Here, we will try to understand correctly Yeshua’s words spoken in Mat_5:17-20 in the proper language context—from Hebraic perspectives.
In the following pages we will go through these four verses of this sermon rarely read, if read at all, in the Christian churches today.
So, leave your western mentality behind and let us dive into the Hebrew Scripture.
Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets.
I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
The controversial word in this verse is the English word to fulfill. The word to fulfill has been greatly misunderstood taken out of its plain meaning and given new one—that of to cancel, to terminate. However, the simple meaning of to fulfill is to fill something full and by extension, to give substance and meaning to something, not to terminate it. But what is the Greek word behind it? Let us go into the Greek text and try to find any clue. The following is the interlinear translation of the same verse as we read in Mat 5:17 IGrNT+:
μη νομισητε THINK NOT οτι THAT ηλθον I CAME καταλυσαι TO ABOLISH τονTHE νομον LAW η OR τους THE προφητας ουκ PROPHETS: ηλθον I CAME NOT καταλυσαι TO ABOLISH, αλλα BUT πληρωσαι TO FULFIL.
The word πληρόω, plēroō, in the form of πληρωσαι appears in Mat_3:15, Mat_5:17, Rom_15:13, Col_1:25 and in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scripture known as Septuagint: Num_7:88, 1Ch_29:5, 2Ch_13:9, Job_20:23, Psa_20:4-5, Isa_8:8, Isa_13:3, Jer_33:5.
If we examine carefully how this word has been used in the context, can we say that the word “fulfill” in these examples could even be close to end or terminate? The context is light years away from to end. Given that this word πληρωσαι is not only used as to fill and fulfill, but also as dedicate and consecrate, it is safe to say that at Yeshua’s time πληρωσαι by no means could have ever been translated as to end something. For instance, the dedication of the altar in Num_7:88 was not “the end of it” but, on the contrary, its beginning that give a substance to it when it was anointed.
Also, the same Greek word is used in Rom 15:19 with the meaning to preach:
εν IN “THE” δυναμει POWER σημειων OF SIGNS και AND τερατων WONDERS, εν IN “THE” δυναμει POWER πνευματος OF “THE” SPIRIT θεουOF GOD; ωστεSO AS FOR με ME απο FROM ιερουσαλημJERUSALEM, και AND κυκλωIN A CIRCUIT μεχρι τουUNTO ιλλυρικου ILLYRICUM, πεπληρωκεναι TO HAVE FULLY PREACHED το THE ευαγγελιονGLAD TIDINGS του OF THE χριστουCHRIST;
“Our sacred literature does not use obscure language, but describes most things in words clearly indicating their meaning. Therefore it is necessary at all times to delve into the literal meaning of words to achieve complete understanding of what is actually meant.”
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888)
What should we say, “The Gospel was done away with?” No, the Gospel was fully preached as Yeshua, the Law of God in flesh, fully preached Torah to the extend that no one could have an excuse not do Torah. And like Him we can also fully preach Torah as an example of obedience and love for the Creator.
The Hebrew Matthew vs. the Greek Matthew
For centuries Christians have been taught that the Gospel of Matthew along with the other Messianic writings had been written in Greek. However, we can say with certainty that the Hebrew Messiah spoke Hebrew with His Hebrew disciples, and nothing could have been more natural in the first century Judea. And if it so, we may also say that His words had been written in Hebrew, not in Greek?
Below are some of the statements of the Church fathers who cannot be blamed of any pro-Jewish bias. We will also see that the first believers in Yeshua were, as one of the Church fathers will state below, fettered by the Law: circumcision, the Sabbath, and the rest of the Torah. Here are some excerpts of them:
Jerome (340-420 AD):
“Matthew, also called Levi, apostle and aforetimes publican, composed a gospel of Messiah at first published in Judea in Hebrew for the sake of those of the circumcision who believed, but this was afterwards translated into Greek though by what author is uncertain. The Hebrew itself has been preserved until the present day in the library at Caesarea which Pamphilus so diligently gathered. I have also had the opportunity of having the volume described to me by the Nazarenes of Beroea, a city of Syria, who use it. In this it is to be noted that wherever the Evangelist, whether on his own account or in the person of our Lord the Saviour quotes the testimony of the Old Testament he does not follow the authority of the translators of the Septuagint but the Hebrew. Wherefore these two forms exist.”
Papias (Eusebius, H.E. 3.39.16):
“Matthew collected the oracles (ta logia) in the Hebrew language, and each interpreted them as best he could.”
Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 3.1.1:
“Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome and laying the foundations of the church.”
Origen (Eusebius, H.E. 6.25.4):
“As having learnt by tradition concerning the four Gospels, which alone are unquestionable in the Church of God under heaven, that first was written according to Matthew, who was once a tax collector but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, who published it for those who from Judaism came to believe, composed as it was in the Hebrew language.”
Eusebius, H.E. 3.24.6:
“Matthew had first preached to Hebrews, and when he was on the point of going to others he transmitted in writing in his native language the Gospel according to himself, and thus supplied by writing the lack of his own presence to those from whom he was sent.”
Eusebius, Early Church History, Vol. 6, Ch. 25: 4.
“Among the four Gospels, which are the only indisputable ones in the Church of God under heaven, I have learned by tradition that the first was written by Matthew, who was once a publican, but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, and it was prepared for the converts from Judaism, and published in the Hebrew language.
Epiphanius; Panarion 29:
But these sectarians… did not call themselves Christians–but “Nazarenes,” …however they are simply complete Jews. They use not only the New Testament but the Old Testament as well, as the Jews do… they have no different ideas, but confess everything exactly as the law proclaims it and in the Jewish fashion– except for their belief in messiah, if you please! For they acknowledge both the resurrection of the dead and the divine creation of all things, and declare that G-d is one, and that his son is Yeshua the Messiah. They are trained to a nicety in Hebrew. For among them the entire Law, the Prophets, and the… Writings… are read in Hebrew, as they surely are by the Jews. They are different from the Jews, and different from Christians, only in the following. They disagree with Jews because they have come to faith in Messiah; but since they are still fettered by the Law–circumcision, the Sabbath, and the rest— they are not in accord with Christians…. they are nothing but Jews…. They have the Goodnews according to Matthew in its entirety in Hebrew. For it is clear that they still preserve this, in the Hebrew alphabet, as it was originally written.
Since the Church fathers have assured us that the Gospel of Matthew had been written in Hebrew, one may ask the question: Is there a Hebrew text of Matthew?
Yes, there are a few Hebrew manuscripts which have been coming out of darkness into light since the first one aka the Shem Tov Hebrew Matthew had been uncovered in 1980’s by the Christian scholar George Howard. By now, the Karaite Nehemiah Gordon has brought back to life more than twenty Hebrew manuscripts of the Gospel by Matthew.
Did Yeshua destroy the Law of God?
Below is a passage of Mat 5:17 as translated by George Howard in his book “Hebrew Gospel of Matthew.” with the present author’s intervention in the word translated “fulfill” as he sees it would fit into the correct translation.
At that time Yeshua said to His disciples: Do not think that I came to annul Torah but to restore (להשלים) it.
“Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.”
Benjamin Lee Whorf (Hebrew Linguist, 1897-1941)
In this verse, the Hebrew word behind annul means also “to tread, to void” and the word, in which he took the liberty to translate, is the Hebrew word להשלים, l’Hishlim, from the root שלם, shalam, noun—shalom meaning to be entire; to make peace with; to be sound; to make whole or good, restore, make compensation, to make restitution, to restore or make right through action, payment or restoration to a rightful owner as used in Lev_6:4-5 and Isa_57:18. Thus the Messiah simply says that He has come to restore Torah to its completeness and fullness, not to abolish it, nor tread on it, as the Christian theologians has been preaching for centuries.
We should also notice in Howard’s translation the Hebrew idiom: “destroy the Torah” and “fulfill the Torah.” But what exactly do “destroy the Torah” and “fulfill the Torah” mean (from Hebraic perspectives)?
When the rabbis argue on certain aspects of Torah and one of them completely disagrees with the other, he says, “You have destroyed Torah”, meaning “You do not teach correctly Torah.” But when they agree, they say, “You have fulfilled Torah.” In other words from Hebraic school of thought, Yeshua says, “I have not come to misinterpret Torah but to teach it correctly.” In actuality, the Messiah says this in verse 17,
Do not even think, do not let this thought come through your mind,
that I came to destroy or tread on the Torah or the Prophets.
I did not come to teach them falsely but to teach them correctly,
to restore them, to fill them to the full, to give substance to them.
Moreover, if the anti-Torah proponents who teach that Jesus came to annul and liberate us from the Law of God were right, then this would bring us up to an absurd in which the Messiah is telling us that He has not come to annul the Law of God, but to end it. Does that make any sense? And by the way, what part of “Do not think“ some people do not understand?
It will be interesting to see how Rabbi Ya’akov Emden (18th century) understood the words of Yeshua (Yehoshua) when he wrote (Falk, 1985: 21-22):
Not one of our sages spoke out more emphatically concerning the immutability of the Torah [than Yehoshua]…If certain Christians who consider themselves scholars, who believe that they are commanded to abolish the Torah of Mosheh from the seed of Yisra’el, would understand this deep truth [that the Torah is for the Jews, while the Noachite commandments is for Gentiles]…they would not engage in such foolishness…[The termination of Torah-observance by Jews] was never intended by the writers of the Gospels. Quite the opposite, they have written clearly that they intended the contrary…Because of these errant [Christian] scholars [who teach that the Torah was abolished], hatred has increased towards the Jews…
Of course, we cannot agree with him on that part where he stated that the Torah is for the Jews, while the Noachide commandments are for Gentiles but as for the immutability of the Torah and the errant [Christian] scholars, he is soundly correct. YHVH teaches us that there is one Torah for the native Israelites and for the non-native, adopted by the Father, grafted in the olive tree of Israel (read Romans 11) believers (see Exo 12:49, Lev 19:33-34, Num 9:14, Num 15:15-16, Num 19:10, Isa 14:1).
Ironically, the Christians interpret “fulfilled the Law” meaning “ended the Law” as the rabbis interpret “It is not in heaven” in Deu_30:11-12. The rabbis teach in their Talmudic writings this, “Since the Torah is not in heaven therefore it is in our hands and we have the authority to interpret it.”
Likewise, the Christian pastors say, “Since the Law of God is already fulfilled by Christ, we have the authority to interpret it.” And if Yeshua had done away with the Law of God, the Torah of His Father, this, by definition, would imply the absurd that we cannot sin because if there is no law there is no violation of the law.
However, Apostle Yochanan states it very clearly what sin is. He says in 1John 3:4,
“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law, for sin is transgression of the law.” (KJV)
The absurd few can see, the apostasy many have believed
The error of the doctrine and absurd that “Jesus did away with the Law of God”, may be briefly summarized as follows:
- No law = lawlessness
- No lawlessness = no sin
- No sin = no need for forgiveness, nor grace
- No need for forgiveness = no need for the sacrifice of the Messiah.
All the righteous have been heads of academies on earth, and have become disciples of the heavenly academy, and the Messiah visits all these academies and puts his seal on the Torah that comes from the mouths of the teachers.
Zohar Bereishit 1, 4b
Do we see the nonsense? No Law of God, no need of the Messiah?
Other theologians teach that since the Messiah has fulfilled the Law of God, we are released from it, meaning the same thing—no more laws, no more restrictions.
Let us ask this question. If your spouse has fulfilled his/her wedding vows, are you released from yours? Of course not. So, why do some teach “No Need For Yeshua?” We need to realize that the Covenant (commonly knows as The Ten Commandments) is the marriage certificate between the Husband, the Almighty YHVH, and the bride, that is all Israel. And that if He has fulfilled His vow to be faithful in the Covenant, so are we too to be faithful and fulfill our vows. And also, the word “covenant” means contract, agreement; in other words, we have obligations to meet and whichever part in the Covenant breaks it will be found liable and guilty.
The love of YHVH is unconditional, but His Covenant is not; there are clauses in it.
For more insight on this subject, please, refer to the article “Why did Moses Have to Break the Tablets of the Covenant?“
But the worst thing of the erroneous teaching is that the Law of God is “nailed on the cross” and that Yeshua had done away with the Law of God and taught others to do so. If that were true, then:
- the Messiah had failed to fulfill the promise in Deu_18:18-19 that He would have been the awaited prophet of YHVH,
- the Messiah would have been the false prophet in Deu_18:20, and thus,
- the adversary would have the ultimate perversion of the Scripture and of the will of YHVH.
And if that is not bad enough, in Dan_7:25 we are told that the fourth beast in Daniel’s prophecy will intend to change YHVH’s appointed times (feasts) and laws,
“and it speaks words against the Most High,
and it wears out the set-apart ones of the Most High,
and it intends to change appointed times and law,
and they are given into its hand for a time and times and half a time.”
“But the message of YHVH you no longer remember!
For every man’s message is his own word,
for you have changed the Words of the living Elohim,
YHVH of hosts, our God! (Jer 23:36)
For the earth has been defiled under its inhabitants,
because they have transgressed the laws,
changed the law, broken the everlasting covenant. (Isa 24:5)
How could YHVH have told it more simply than that?
Tragically, the Christian Church inadvertently (for the lack of knowledge of the Scripture) does exactly that.
The Church has already replaced His Set-apart appointed times (Leviticus 23), given to His faithful, like Sabbath, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the First Fruits, the Feast of the Weeks, the Day of the Trumpets, the Day of the Atonement, and the Feast of the Tabernacle, all having prophetic pictures of the first and second coming of the Messiah, with pagan holidays like Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Earth Day, and the openly satanic day Halloween.
And the Church teaches that His perfect and everlasting Torah is done away with, thus doing the will of Satan, not of YHVH.
But this is the Greatest News: Yeshua is the Messiah who upheld Torah to the point and told us to do the same, if we love Him. And if Torah is perfect and everlasting as YHVH says, and if the Law of God is sweeter than honey in the mouth as King David says, it cannot be done away with.
Moreover, if something is perfect it cannot be even improved, much less to be terminated.
The heavens and the earth declared the Law of God
For truly, I say to you, till the heaven and the earth pass away,
one yud or one tittle shall by no means pass from the Torah till all be done.
By the way, before we go any further, look through the window to see if the heaven and the earth are still there. If so, let us continue.
What actually our Moreh, Teacher, teaches us is this: yud is the smallest Hebrew letter and the tittle, the stroke of the pen, is what was very well known in 1st century Judaism as “the little horn” of the letter dalet. This “horn” is the only visual difference between the letters dalet and resh whose misreading has caused so many scribal errors in the Greek translations. Or, in other words, Yeshua teaches us thus,
Those who can understand let them understand.
Till the heaven and the earth still exist, the smallest letter yud
and such the smallest stroke of the pen shall
by no means pass from My Torah till all be done.
What is so hard to understand in this simple statement? He has never annulled the Law of God; not part of it, not even one command, not even the smallest stroke of the pen in it, and the obvious proof of this are the heaven and the earth. But if there are still people who doubt His words, He makes the same statement in Luk_16:17,
And it is easier for the heaven and the earth to pass away
than for one tittle of the Torah to fall.
It will be interesting to see what the Sages say about this issue.
In the Talmud, a certain “Nazarene Judge” is cited as having quoted the following phrase from a book called Nwylgnwא , The Good News: I have not come to take away from the Torah of Moshe (Moses) and I have not come to add to the Torah of Moshe. (b. Shabbat 116) thus fulfilling the Torah of YHVH.
See Deu_4:2, Deu_12:32 what YHVH says about adding to or subtracting from His Torah. And also, who could possibly that “Nazarene Judge” have been having quoted from “The Good News?” but the Nazarene Judge Yeshua the Messiah.
Unlike the ancient sages who rightly understood Yeshua’s words in Mat 5:17, C.H. Spurgeon, called by many “one of the greatest preachers of the 19th century,” was confused about the proper role of the Law of God and had this mixed statement to make:
“Now, what has our Lord to do with the law? He has everything to do with it, for he is its end for the noblest object, namely, for righteousness. He is the “end of the law.” What does this mean? I think it signifies three things: first, that Christ is the purpose and object of the law; secondly, that he is the fulfillment of it; and thirdly, that he is the termination of it.” Christ the End of the Law – A Sermon No.1325 Delivered on November 19th, 1876, by C. H. Spurgeon
By blatantly declaring that Yeshua did away with the Law of God, Spurgeon, and all modern evangelical preachers have taken the side of the false accusers, as the other false accusers did to Stephen and Shaul (Paul):
- Stephen was stoned to death because of false accusations of blaspheming the Temple and the Law of God. Read Act_6:8-14
- Shaul was falsely accused of seducing many to worship the Almighty contrary to the Law of God. Act_18:12-13
The Jews (the Pharisees) with one mind rose up against Sha’ul and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, “This one does seduce men to worship Elohim contrary to the Torah.” (Act 18:12-13)
Do we want to be found false accusers on the Judgment Day for falsely accusing Yeshua of having terminated the Law of God?
Who wants to be called by the Messiah “the least?”
Whoever, then, breaks one of the least of these commands, and teaches men so,
shall be called least in the reign of the heavens;
but whoever does and teaches them,
he shall be called great in the reign of the heavens.
Then, Yeshua continues His teaching that those who break, destroy, and teach incorrectly Torah shall be called least in His kingdom, but those who do Torah and teach correctly others to do so shall be called great. We should recall that the doers of Torah not the hearers of Torah shall be declared righteous (see Rom 2:13, Jas 1:22, Jas 1:25-27, Luke 8:21, Mat 7:24). Sadly, many do not even want to hear Torah.
And now, honestly ask yourself the question: If Yeshua had done away with the Law of God, could He be called the least in His own Kingdom?
The least command in the Torah is “Do not destroy a bird’s nest” as it is written in Deu_22:6-7. If Yeshua says that even the least letter in Hebrew, even the least command in Torah is still valid, how much more the rest of the commands stand in heaven forever, like the Fourth Commandment in the Covenant—the Sabbath Commandment.
We need to remember always that the Commandments of the Covenant have been written with the finger of YHVH on stone and no one has the authority to erase them, not even the Messiah, much less a pastor.
Kiss your ticket to heaven Good-bye! The chilling warning.
For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you shall by no means enter into the reign of the heavens.
At the time of Yeshua the Pharisees had already added to the Torah of YHVH numerous man-made rules called takanot and ma’azim (aka the Oral Torah) making the Torah a heavy burden for the common people and of no effect (see Mat_15:3-9, Mar_7:7-13, Joh_7:19, Act_7:53, Rom_2:23-27, Gal_6:13). On the other side of the wall, the Christians have annulled the Law of God and have added their own rules and holidays in violation of the same Law.
Again, the present author will take the liberty to interpret it as he understands it:
I am warning you and do not say I have not warned you, if your walking in the straight path [the literal meaning of “righteousness”] is not better than that of your religious leaders who teach you that I have annulled Torah, even part of it, even one letter of it, kiss your ticket to Heaven Good-bye.
Kiss your ticket to Heaven Good-bye is exactly what the phrase “by no means you shall enter into the reign of the heaven” means. This is the chilling warning of verse 20.
In summary, this is what the Hebrew text of Matthew 5:17-20 says,
At that time Yeshua said to His disciples: Do not think that I came to cease Torah but to restore it. Truly I say to you that until heaven and earth depart not one letter or dot shall be abolished from Torah or the prophets because all will be fulfilled. He who shall transgress one word of these commandments and shall teach others, shall be called a vain person in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever upholds and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. At that time Yeshua said to his disciples: Truly I say to you, if your righteousness is not greater than the Pharisees and the sages, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore, how are we to understand some writings of Shaul (Paul), which are hard for us to understand regarding “the end of the law” and “the end” of the sacrifices? Shaul would be the best person to answer this question, but it is for now suffice to say that he has not taught so; otherwise, it will make him a false teacher as he was accused by the Pharisees of teaching against the Law of God. It will be very interesting to see how he reacted to these false accusations.
Read Acts 21:20-28 and ask yourself these questions: if Shaul taught against the Law of God,
why did he take on the Nazarite vow in Num_6:13-20 that required sacrifices?
why did he participate with four other men?
why did he participate in burnt offerings and sacrifices in the Temple?
why did James and the elders urge him to do this?
why would Paul pay for the four other men’s sacrifice?
why did Paul have to do all these required by Torah commands years after the death and resurrection of Yeshua, if he had taught that the sacrifices had been done away with?
Some teachers have noticed this contradiction in their theology and have come up with “solution” that he, Paul, did make those sacrifices only to appease the Pharisees.
If that were true, he would have been called a hypocrite at least. But the majority of the Christian theologians have wrongly assumed (for the lack of knowledge of Law of God) that Apostle Shaul was anti-Law teacher because they have not know that he had not spoken of abolishment of the Law of God, but of the Oral Torah (the Oral Law) which was regarded by the Pharisees equally to the written Torah of YHVH.
Peter’s warning to those who twist Paul’s teachings
Whether or not we understand some of Shaul’s teachings hard for some to understand, we may want to consider Shimon Kepha’s (commonly known as Peter) warning to the unlearned in the Scripture who twist Paul’s teachings for their own destruction,
So then, beloved ones, looking forward to this, do your utmost to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and reckon the patience of our Master as deliverance, as also our beloved brother Shaul wrote to you, according to the wisdom given to him, as also in all his letters, speaking in them concerning these matters, in which some are hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the other Scriptures. You, then, beloved ones, being forewarned, watch, lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the delusion of the lawless 2Pe_3:14-17
In other words, Shimon Kepha gives us the same chilling warning as His Teacher does,
“If you teach that our beloved brother Shaul teach contrary to the Law of God, because you do not get some of his hard to understand letters, and you have no idea what Torah says because you have never studied it, thus twisting the rest of the Scripture, and if you do not turn away from this false doctrine, you will fall from your salvation and then kiss your ticket to Heaven Good-bye.” (This is what “to their own destruction” means)
These same teachers are spoken of in Mat_7:16-27:
“By their fruits you shall know them. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? So every good tree yields good fruit, but a rotten tree yields wicked fruit. A good tree is unable to yield wicked fruit, and a rotten tree to yield good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, by their fruits you shall know them – Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Master, Master,’ shall enter into the reign of the heavens, but he who is doing the desire of My Father in the heavens. Many shall say to Me in that day, ‘Master, Master, have we not prophesied in Your Name, and cast out demons in Your Name, and done many mighty works in Your Name?’ And then I shall declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me, you who work lawlessness!’ Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does them, shall be like a wise man who built his house on the rock, and the rain came down, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not do them, shall be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand, and the rain came down, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat on that house, and it fell, and great was its fall.”
Do we understand that the Messiah is speaking to believers about believers? Do we hear His words in Mat 5:17 that He has not come to abolish His Father’s Word, the Torah? Do we bring good fruits before the heavenly Father? The Apostle Ya’akov (James) echoes his brother’s words in Jas 2:19-20 that the works according to the Torah are proof that the faith is genuine:
You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe – and shudder!
But do you wish to know, O foolish man, that the faith without the works is dead?
What Ya’akov is telling us is this: if someone were to ask you if you are faithful to your spouse, you would not reply by saying “Yes, I believe in my spouse.” It is clearly not an issue of what you believe in but whether you are faithful to YHVH by your works as Avraham was and that was counted for him as righteousness.
For more understanding of what Ya’akov is teaching, the reader may refer to the article “What is Faith?“
Here is the place to say this: Torah was not given as a safe pass to heaven; to teach so is to abuse the perfect Torah of YHVH. It is a grave error to state that Torah is a vehicle for attaining salvation, and no one teaches so. We know that we do not keep Torah in order to get saved, but we keep the Torah because we are already saved, and we keep the Torah solely out of love for Him. This is the highest expression of love to YHVH.
If you love Him, guard His commands!
Some Christians may ask the question: “Why should we pay such a “disproportional” honor to the Torah?” The simple answer is: because the Almighty YHVH does, as seen in Torah: Exo_13:9, Exo_13:16, Lev_18:5, Num_15:39, Deu_4:9-10, Deu_6:1-9, Deu_11:13-21, etc.; in Psalms: Psa_1:1-6, Psa_18:22, Psa_19:7-11, Psa_37:31, Psa_119:1-176, etc.; in the Prophets: Jos_1:7-8, Jer_31:31-33, Pro_1:8, Ecc_12:13, etc. and because the Messiah has done it as well, as seen in His speech to the multitude.
Yeshua could not have summarized His teaching on Torah better than what He says in Mat 22:36-40 by quoting two of His Father’s commands:
Rabbi, tell us, what is the great command which is in the Torah?
He said to him, “’And you shall love YHVH your God with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your strength.’ This is the first,
the second is like it, ‘And you shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ and upon these two commands all the Torah hang, and the prophets.”
From Shem Tov Hebrew Matthew.
Others may ask the question, “Do I have to keep the Law of God?” The only answer that comes to mind is this: “No, you do not have to; only if you love Him.” Because Yeshua says,
“If you love Me, you shall guard My commands.” (Joh 14:15)
“If you guard My commands, you shall stay in My love,
even as I have guarded My Father’s commands and stay in His love.” (Joh 15:10)
And whose commands the Messiah wants us to guard, His own commands? None other than His Father’s commands—Torah, because Yeshua says in His own words that He has come to do the desire of His Father who has sent Him,
Because I have come down out of the heaven, not to do My own desire,
but the desire of Him who sent Me. (Joh 6:38)
Yeshua’s beloved Apostle reiterates the words of the Master thus (1Jn 2:3-5),
“And by this we know that we know Him, if we guard His commands. The one who says, “I know Him,” and does not guard His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever guards His Word, truly the love of Elohim has been perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
How could Yeshua have said it more simply than this?
“But why do you call Me ‘Master, Master,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luk 6:46)
In conclusion, let us remember this simple rule of thumb as to how to understand the words of Yeshua and the disciples (especially Shaul’s) when we have doubts reading certain hard to understand passages (very often they are due to mistranslations or heavy religious burdens attached to them by the theologians) in the Gospels, Galatians, Hebrews, and Romans.
Always keep in your mind the very words of Yeshua in these four fundamental verses. Used them as a corner stone in your Scripture study and believe them. Misunderstanding of these four verses and even worse—not teaching them, has done so much damage to the faith of Christians.
Many, if not all of them, have believed the lies of the wolves in sheep clothes. Shaul states it very clearly in Act 20:29 that after his death new leaders would rise up in his stead that would draw people to follow themselves and draw them away from Torah.
If you have believed by now in Yeshua’s words in Mat 5:17-20, great, you must believe Him and do what He has commanded you to do, because a good servant is expected to do the will of his master. But if you do not believe Him and still adhere to doctrines of men, and not to the Torah, the teaching of YHVH, in actuality, you call Yeshua the Messiah a liar. For He has told you, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Torah.”
Who wants to be found a liar on the Judgment Day and be ashamed because he has believe the foolishness of men.
Let us do away with the teachings of men, not with the Teaching of YHVH!
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.