Matthew 5:17 – Abolish and Fulfill in Greek

Yeshua never spoke Greek, nor did his disciples or the people who lived in Israel during his day.  However, I’ve decided to share the GREEK version of Matthew 5:17 for those who believe that the law was done away with based on their English translations from Greek.  

Matthew 5:17 “Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete.” (CJB)

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (NIV)

Matthew 5:17“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (NKJV)

Above are three different English translations of the same verse where Jesus/Yeshua says that he did not come to ‘abolish’ the Torah and the Prophets, but to ‘fulfill.’   This verse is often cited when anti-nomians (anti-law, anti-Torah in Greek) believers argue with those who have chosen to obey the Torah out of love for God and what He did for them through Yeshua’s death and resurrection.  The conundrum within this verse that is always proliferated by anti-nomians  is that ‘abolish’ and ‘fulfill’ are the same word and mean the same thing.  This is not true and such a rendering of two (even three) different Greek words has brought the Body of Christ to a place of abounding lawlessness and a loss of blessing.  

Rabbis

In a Rabbinical context, of which Yeshua was a Jewish Rabbi with disciples, abolish and fulfill have a different meaning than even the English translations of the words.  To abolish a command meant to wrongly interpret, but to fulfill the command meant to rightly interpret.  Yeshua was just saying that he came to rightly interpret the Torah as centuries of manmade traditions and rules  had abolished it.  He never claimed in this verse that in his fulfillment of the Torah, it would end or be abolished as some suggest.  ‘Abolish’ and ‘fulfill’ cannot and do not mean the same thing in Hebrew, English or Greek.

In a recent discussion, someone decided to do a Greek word study on ‘abolish’ and ‘fulfill’ in order to disprove the idea that believers should obey the Torah, i.e. the commandments of God.  I will share what was posted relevant to the discussion:

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“This is the Greek word translated ‘destroy’ twice in Mat 5:17 (also Mat. 26:61, Mark 14:58, Acts 6:14, Romans 14:20)

kataluō

Thayer Definition of Destroy (Part of Speech: Verb):

1) to dissolve, disunite

     1a) (what has been joined together), to destroy, demolish

     1b) metaphorically to overthrow, i.e. render vain, deprive of success, bring to naught

     1b1) to subvert, overthrow

           1b1a) of institutions, forms of government, laws, etc., to deprive of force, annul,          abrogate, discard

Acts 6:14 “There they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking against this holy place and against the Torah; for we have heard him say that Yeshua from Natzeret will destroy this place and will change the customs Moshe handed down to us.”  (My note: the witnesses were FALSE who accused Paul of teaching against Torah and Yeshua who taught he would destroy and change the customs of Moshe.  So, it would seem that anyone who believes that Yeshua changed the customs Moshe gave to Israel or that Paul teaches against Torah is a FALSE WITNESS to the Scriptures.)

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This is the Greek word translated ‘fulfill’ in Mat 5:17 (also in Mat. 3:15, Phil. 2:2, Colossians 1:25, Colossians 4:17, 2 Thessalonians 1:11).

plēroō

Thayer Definition of Fulfill (Part of Speech, Verb):

1) to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full

     1a) to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally

          1a1) I abound, I am liberally supplied

2) to render full, i.e. to complete

     2a) to fill to the top: so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, fill to the brim

     2b) to consummate: a number

          2b1) to make complete in every particular, to render perfect

          2b2) to carry through to the end, to accomplish, carry out, (some undertaking)

      2c) to carry into effect, bring to realization, realize

          2c1) of matters of duty: to perform, execute

          2c2) of sayings, promises, prophecies, to bring to pass, ratify, accomplish

          2c3) to fulfill, i.e. to cause God’s will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God’s promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfillment

[My Note: I really loved the definition of consummate for ‘fulfill’ as the whole shadow of Messiah and His Bride involves a marriage betrothal (the last Passover of Messiah) and would then include a consummation with or after the Wedding Feast of the Lamb,  future fulfillment of Yom Teruah.   This consummation has not yet occurred, just has there is no new heavens or earth at this time.)

Colossians 4:17 “And tell Archippus, “See that you complete the task you were given in the Lord.” (Note: a task needed to be completed according to the Greek.)

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This is the Greek word translated ‘fulfilled’ in Mat 5:18 (also in Mat. 24:34, Luke 21:32.)

Please note this is a different Greek word. Jesus finished it, completed it on the cross. This previous statement was the gentleman’s commentary on this word.  

γίνομαι – ginomai

Thayer Definition of Fulfilled (Part of Speech: Verb):

1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being

2) to become, i.e. to come to pass, happen

     2a) of events

3) to arise, appear in history, come upon the stage

     3a) of men appearing in public

4) to be made, finished

     4a) of miracles, to be performed, wrought

5) to become, be made

Matthew 24:34 “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”  (My note: fulfilled is ‘have happened’ which means ‘to be concluded’. 

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Using the Greek definitions supplied by Thayer for Matthew 5:17, it would translate something like this:

“I did not come to (kataluo) overthrow, render vain, subvert or anul the Torah, but to cause it to (pleroo) abound, consummate, render perfect, and to cause God’s will to be obeyed as it should be; and on the cross, (ginomai) this will all come to pass, happen, be performed and begin to be received.”

As per the Greek definitions of the words ‘abolish’ and fulfill’, it is pretty obvious that Yeshua was not removing the ‘law’ or Torah from the life of the believer, but making the way for it to be received –  in our hearts and minds.   He had come to fulfill the new covenant prophecy of Jeremiah 31 (Hebrews 8:10).   It is important to note that in Jeremiah 31, the English word translated ‘law’ is the Hebrew Torah.  Thus, the ‘law’ that is put into the minds and hearts of those spoken to in Hebrews is the Torah. 

Jeremiah 31:31-34 ““Here, the days are coming,” says Adonai, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Isra’el and with the house of Y’hudah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers …. “For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Isra’el after those days,” says Adonai: “I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people….”

“For this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Isra’el after those days,’ says Adonai: ‘I will put my Torah in their minds and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Hebrews 8:10).

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Yeshua (English  from Greek, Jesus) was a Jewish Rabbi.  He celebrated the Passover seder with his disciples before he was crucified.  It was during that meal, that last seder,  that Luke recorded, “… He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20)

The new covenant would be instituted with the shedding of Yeshua’s  blood on the cross.  The promises found in Jeremiah 31:31 and Hebrews 8:6 would finally begin to be ‘fulfilled’ (ginomai) through Yeshua’s death on the cross. The Torah would begin to be put within God’s people; it would be written on their hearts and He would cause them to obey it, teaching them everything they needed to know.  The Torah would not be brought to a completion that ‘annuled’ (kataluo) it, but rather to the completion that it would be obeyed as intended (pleroo) and the miracle of  the new covenant with the new circumcised heart would be fulfilled by the Hand of God (ginomi). 

I would like to thank Rusty (and Thayer’s Dictionary) for showing me that even in the Greek language, Yeshua meant what he said.  He did not come to abolish the Torah and the prophets but to fulfill them. He came to show us how to live them out rightly and not abolish them with our misunderstanding and preconceived notions.  Until heaven and earth pass away, the Torah stands eternal just as our God stands eternal, our salvation in Messiah stands eternal, and there is an eternal life to come.

©2014 jsixrock with Rusty and Thayer’s Dictionary

I pray that what you read today will bring you closer to Yeshua and enrich your walk of faith.

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