Were the Ten Commandments abolished?
It grieves me to say that it is commonly taught, without any scriptural authority, that the Ten Commandments were abolished at the cross. Proponents of this belief never stop to realize that, if there is no law, there is no transgression as Paul plainly states in Romans 4:15. This would mean that no one has sinned since Christ’s death, and therefore, we would have no need for a Saviour! God’s law is a gift to mankind, yet humanity thanklessly rejects it. As good and glorious as this law is, human nature is hostile to it. (Romans 8:7) Selfishly, it wants to have everything which God’s way of life brings but it rebelliously resents travelling the road God demands one should take to obtain His blessings. Paul writes in Romans 7:12 that “…the law is holy, and the Commandment holy and just and good.”
Notice how God’s moral law (The Ten Commandments) is a reflection of God’s most beautiful and Holy character. To declare that the God’s moral law is no longer relevant is an insult and attack on God, His Holy character and love. See more detailed chart on the Ten Commandments Compared to God's Character.
|God’s Law equals God’s Character|
|» Romans 16:26: God is Eternal
» Psalm 111:7-8: The law is Eternal
|» Luke 18:19: God is Good
» Romans 7:12: The law is Good
|» John 4:24: God is Spiritual
» Romans 7:14: The law is Spiritual
|» Deuteronomy 32:4: God is Just
» Romans 7:12: The law is Just
|» Psalm 145:17: God is Righteous
» Psalm 119:172: The law is Righteous
|» 1 John 3:3: God is Pure
» Psalms 19:8: The law is Pure
|» Matthew 5:48: God is Perfect
» Psalm 19:7: The law is Perfect
|» I John 4:8: God is Love
» Romans 13:10: The law is Love
|» I John 1:5: God is Light
» Proverbs 6:23: The law is Light
|» Psalms 48:1: God is Great
» Hosea 8:12: The law is Great
|» Deuteronomy 32:4: God is Truth
» Psalm 119:142: The law is Truth
|» Isaiah 5:16: God is Holy
» Romans 7:12: The law is Holy
When God led the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage, He delivered to them in fiery majesty the Ten Commandments. This holy law was spoken by God, written by God, recorded on tables of stone, and is of eternal duration. At the same time another law, of temporary usage, was also delivered to the children of Israel. This law dealt with the ceremonial rites of the Jewish sanctuary service, and concerned itself with a system of religion that passed away at the cross. Large sections of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy describe in detail this temporary ceremonial code. This Law can easily be identified in the Scriptures. It talks about circumcision (a religious Jewish rite), sacrifices, offerings, purifications, ceremonial holy days, and other rites associated with the Hebrew sanctuary service. Let the Bible explain itself and clarify the differences between these two laws. See a more detailed chart on the Ten Commandments and the Ceremonial Law.
|The Moral Law
(The Ten Commandments)
|The Ceremonial Law
(A temporary Jewish law)
|1. Spoken personally by God. Exodus 20:1-22||1. Spoken by Moses. Exodus 24:3|
|2. Written by God's finger. Exodus 31:18
|2. Written by Moses hand. Exodus 24:4
|3. Written on stones. Exodus 31:18||3. Written in a book. Exodus 24:3, 7
|4. Handed by God its writer to Moses.
|4. Handed by Moses its writer to Levites. Deuteronomy 31:25-26|
|5. Deposited by Moses "in the ark." Deuteronomy 10:5||5. Deposited by the Levites by the side of the ark. Deuteronomy 31:26 ARV|
|6. Deals with moral precepts.
|6. Deals with ceremonial ritual matters. (See Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy)|
|7. Reveals sin. Romans 7:7||7. Prescribes offerings for sins. (See Leviticus)|
|8. Breaking of the law is sin. 1 John 3:4||8. No sin in breaking, for now "abolished." Ephesians 2:15. (Where no law is, there is no transgression. Romans 4:15)|
|9. Should "keep the whole law." James 2:10||9. Apostles gave no such commandment to "keep the law." Acts 15:24|
|10. Because we "shall be judged" by this law.
|10. Not to be judged by it. Colossians 2:16. See also what is the law in Galatians.|
|11. The Christian who keeps this law is "blessed in his deed." James 1:25||11. The Christian who keeps this law is not blessed. (See for example, Galatians 5:1-6)|
|12. "The perfect law of liberty." James 1:25
(Cf. James 2:12)
|12. The Christian who keeps this law loses his liberty. Galatians 5:1, 3|
|13. Paul said, "I delight in the law of God."
Romans 7:22 (Cf. verse 7)
|13. Paul called this law a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1; 4:3, 9 (See Acts 15:10)|
|14. Established by faith in Christ.
|14. Abolished by Christ. Ephesians 2:15|
|15. Christ was to "magnify the law and make it honorable." Isaiah 42:21||15. Blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us. Colossians 2:14|
To the unbiased reader of God’s Word, it becomes more than clear that the Ten Commandments are binding upon all men for all time in every place, whereas no man is bound to keep the Ceremonial Law, often referred to as the ordinances that were fulfilled in Christ. The Ceremonial Law with its sacrificial system pointed the people to the coming of Christ. Every time the blood of a beast was shed in the old Jewish temple, it was a dramatic reminder to the onlooker that One would come and die for his sin. Hence, John the Baptist pointed to our Lord and declared the significant words, “Behold the Lamb of God.” When He died on Calvary’s cross the veil of the great temple curtain was torn from top to bottom, to signify that the entire ceremonial system was forever finished. Matthew 27:50-51. No longer do the priests need offer up sacrifices. The One great and perfect Sacrifice was offered that Friday afternoon, when the true Passover Lamb bowed His head and died. When He cried out, “It is finished”, the old Ceremonial Law that pointed the people to His sacrificial death was nailed to the cross. But NOT so with the Ten Commandments. There was nothing temporary about them. They are to last as long as heaven and earth. Matthew 5:17-19
This is how Matthew 5:17-19 reads, “Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to destroy but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, Till the heaven and the earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall in any way pass from the Law until all is fulfilled. Therefore whoever shall relax one of these Commandments, the least, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least [by those] in the kingdom of Heaven. But whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven.”
Jesus certainly did not have any intentions of making any change; in fact, Jesus condemned men who taught that it was acceptable to break God’s law, and commended those who taught the necessity of keeping it. This one passage alone is the absolute proof that the Sabbath was not abolished or the day changed and everything else has to be misunderstandings or intentional excuses to justify why we don’t need to obey one of God’s Commandments. Jesus said, “…Till the heaven and the earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall in any way pass from the Law…”
This is what The People’s New Testament (1891) by B. W. Johnson comments in regards to the meaning of a “Jot” or “Tittle.”
One jot or tittle. Jot means the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, while tittle refers to a simple turn by which one letter is distinguished from another. The expression, “jot or tittle,” was proverbial for the smallest part.
Some say, “To fulfil the law is to bring an end to the Ten Commandments and abolish them.” There is overwhelming evidence that proves this is absolute nonsense, such as this passage would contain more contradictions than we could count. If fulfilling the law ends the law then the law is destroyed, yet Jesus declares in Matthew 5:17 that He did not come to destroy the law. Not only did Jesus not come to destroy the law but He actually came to magnify it. We should not be strangers to this fact as we are given a Messianic prophecy that tells us that Christ would in fact do exactly this. Isaiah 42:21, “The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will Magnify the law, and make it HONOURABLE.” In the remainder of Matthew chapter 5 we see how Jesus has without a doubt magnified the law. We note the following; Matthew 5:19 from not only obeying the law but teaching it also, 5:21-22 from do not kill to not being angry with your brother without cause, 5:27-28 from do not commit adultery to being guilty of adultery if you look at a woman lustfully, 5:31 from divorcing by a letter to any man who divorces his wife except for sexual immorality, causes her or anyone who marries the divorced woman to commit adultery, 5:33-37 from not breaking oaths made to the Lord to do not swear at all, either by heaven or earth or by Jerusalem. And do not swear by your head, let your Yes be Yes, and your No, No, 5:38-42 from an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth to turning the other cheek and if someone sues you for your coat, give them your cloak also, 5:43-45 from love your neighbour and hate your enemy to love your enemies and bless them that curse you and pray for those that are spiteful and use you.
Does this give the impression that Jesus came to destroy the law or that fulfilling the law ends it? What truth seeker could possibly come to that conclusion after reading this passage? If this was so, then all the following things have also ended. Clearly this is NOT possible! These scriptures also use the same Greek word G4137 used in verse 17.
Matthew 3:15 “…it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.”
John 17:13 “…that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”
2 Thessalonians 1:11 “…and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.”
Philippians 2:2 “Fulfil you my joy, that you be likeminded, having the same love…”
John 17:12 “…that the scripture might be fulfilled.”
Colossians 1:25 “…which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God.”
2 Corinthians 10:6 “…having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”
Thayer definition for G4137:
1) to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full.
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 realisation, realise. 2c1) of matters of duty: to perform, execute. 2c2) of sayings, promises, prophecies, to bring to pass, ratify, accomplish. 2c3) to fulfil, 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 fulfilment.
The most relevant part for the word “fulfil” in Matthew 5:17 in the Thayer dictionary is “2C3.” Jesus did not come to destroy the law; He obeyed and carried out the law to the full and magnified it! Jesus never contradicts Himself. If this word “fulfil” meant destroy, Jesus would be saying “I did not come to destroy the law I came to destroy the law!”
So is the law only for the Jews? Does it apply to New Covenant Christians? Notice Acts 7:38-39 five chapters after the start of the New Testament church. This is Moses who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us, whom our fathers would not obey, but rejected. Speaking to the Jews, Stephen, a converted Christian, says that God gave these “living oracles...to us,” Christian and Jew. They are still in effect today as a complete spiritual law, and we Christians and or Jews do not have the authority to choose which ones we want to obey. This event on Mount Sinai was the basis for making the Old Covenant, but what is the basis of the New Covenant? “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Hebrews 8:10 (quoting Jeremiah 31:33).
From all the above proofs, two points are clear.
1. God’s Ten Commandments (not the Nine Commandments and one suggestion) is not a temporary one designed to end or become obsolete at the cross or any other time. God’s moral law can no more change than God’s character can. He is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8.
2. His law is not a special law for one nation only. God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34; Romans 1:16). Neither Gentiles nor Christians are excluded from the laws of God. (e.g., Exodus 12:38, 48-49; Isaiah 56:1-3, 6-7)