top of page

“I did not come to abolish but to fulfill" - Only The Owner of the Torah Could Make This Statement.

Updated: Mar 16

We read in Matthew 5:17-19 Do not think that I have come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

What exactly do these scriptures mean? Many Christian commentators would agree that it means that the Torah (law) has been abolished. A more thorough understanding of the Hebrew language, culture, and Messianic expectations of the first century would in fact give us a different understanding of what Yeshua meant by these statements.

Ancient Jewish writings attest to the fact that when the Torah is interpreted by a teacher in a way that it causes people to disobey the commands of Yah, then the person doing the teaching has caused the Torah to be abolished. However, when someone interprets the Torah correctly they cause their listeners to be able to keep the Torah of Yah correctly, then that person is said to have fulfilled Torah.

Hence, from a Hebraic background, to fulfill Torah meant to “fill it up”, "give further authority", or to teach/interpret it in such a way that listeners would correctly understand how to keep and live out the commandments, statutes, and judgments of Yah.

Notice that Yeshua stated in verse 17 that He did not come to “abolish” or “destroy” Torah. This means that He did not come to misinterpret Torah; like other teachers of Torah had done. In fact, He claimed to have the only correct understanding of His Father's Torah by His words and actions.

According to Rabbi Itzhak Shapira in his book, The Return of the Kosher Pig, Yeshua here is declaring Himself to be Ba'al Torah - the owner of Torah. The ancient sages taught that the Messiah would bring a new reality to Torah. Rabbi Shapira goes on to prove that many of the sages understood that Messiah would bring a spiritual renewal to the Torah. Messiah would be given the full authority from heaven to redefine the Torah. The Messiah would break through normative Judaism, from within, to redefine proper halacha (the way to walk out Torah). They understood that only the Messiah would have the authority to redefine the proper meaning of Torah and how it should be properly practiced. They believed that the Messiah would give to the world the correct explanation and deeper meaning of the Torah (law), and that the Messiah's Torah would be superior, and like a "new Torah". Yeshua will indeed give a renewed Torah, as the reigning high priest, king, and judge over all the earth. He will be the one to straighten the paths of Israel and all the nations! As Isaiah and Micah tell us -Torah will go forth... and all nations will walk in it (Isaiah 2:2-3; Micah 4:1-2).

Yeshua is declaring that He is indeed the Ba'al Torah - the owner of the Torah and He has the authority, given Him by His Father, to correctly interpret or redefine Torah (law). No mere human can do this. This is why many of the ancient sages believed that when Messiah came that he would be rejected by many. The leaders of His day often questioned Him: "by what authority" do you do these things?

Rabbi Shapira goes a step further in his book by declaring that no mortal man had the authority to claim ownership of the Torah. Only God Himself owns Torah. By making statements like the one above, and many others, Yeshua undeniably claims divinity- to be one with the Father. Shapira quotes ancient sages, who indeed, make reference to a divine Messiah.

He was the Word of God made flesh. He kept the Torah of His Father perfectly. In John 15:10 Yeshua states that He has kept His Father's commandments, and states that we are to keep His commands. His commandments and the Fathers' commandments are one and the same.

Yeshua did not have a problem with His Fathers' commandments, statutes or judgments, what He had a problem with were the man-made traditions and doctrines of man. In Deuteronomy 4:2 we are commanded not to add to or take away from the Words of Yah. In the New Testament, we find Yeshua stating that they had taken the traditions of man and made them doctrines of God (For a start please see Matthew 15:3, 6; Mark 7:5,7,8,9,13). This is what had “abolished” the Torah of Yah. Yeshua came to renew it and to correctly explain and interpret the law (Torah).

Oftentimes, we are very quick to judge the first century Jewish leaders when they came against Yeshua. However, they were caught up in their traditions just as we have been. Every Christian denomination has their own traditions and doctrines. We must be careful to obey what God commands, not what man commands.

Yeshua did not come to them as an outsider rendering condemnation. Instead, He came to them from within, as one of their own. He sought to correct their misunderstandings and mistranslations. There is a big difference between an outsider and an insider. An insider is one who is trying to bring a renewal to His people.

For additional insight, please see the article - Jot or Tittle - linked below.

It is my hope that this will help you in your study of God's Word.



Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus, by David Bivin and Roy Blizzard. Arcadia, CA: Makor Publishing, 1983.

Jesus The Jewish Theologian, by Brad H. Young. Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI:2011

The Return of the Kosher Pig; pages 138-165; by Rabbi Itzhak Shapira. Published by Lederer Books; Copyright 2013 Itzhak Shapira

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page