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Passage Insight: The Meaning of Fulfill

Watch a short, animated video that explains what Jesus meant when he said he didn't come to abolish the Torah or Prophets but to fulfill them.

Insights Apr 1, 2024


Jon: We've been working through Jesus’ teachings called the Sermon on the Mount, where he says he didn’t come to abolish the Torah or Prophets, but he came to fulfill them.1 And so what is Jesus talking about here?

Tim: The word that he uses is this Greek word pleroo, which means to fill up, like filling up a glass. So why is he describing the Torah and the Prophets as something that needed to be filled up? So “Torah and Prophets” is a shorthand for Jesus’ Bible, the scriptural collection of the Israelites. But he’s not just referring to, like, the laws of the Torah, the laws given to Israel at Mount Sinai. He's referring to the covenant partnership that God called Israel to be his special people, through whom his wisdom and justice and blessing would go out to the nations.2

Jon: What you’d call the storyline of the Torah.

Tim: That's right, the storyline of the Torah and Prophets. And Israel, in that story, failed to live by God’s instructions. And so what God promises in the Prophets themselves, of Jesus’ Bible, was that he would raise up a person and a people who would have the instructions of God, the Torah, written on their hearts.3

Jon: They would be full of the Torah.

Tim: Yes. They would be full of the Torah so that they could actually be the people God called them to be among the nations. Jesus is saying that incomplete story that started but is yet to be finished, that's what I'm bringing to completion here through my teaching. And so that's what it means for Jesus to say, “I'm here to fulfill the Torah and the Prophets.”

1. Matthew 5:17
2. See Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:3-6; Deuteronomy 4:5-8
3. Jeremiah 31:31-34
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