The Good News of the Law: “Getting” the Law, So That the Law Gets Into You (Matthew 5:17–20)


The Good News of the Law: “Getting” the Law, So That the Law Gets Into You

What is the purpose of the Law? How are we supposed to apply Moses’ commands to our lives? How does Jesus read the Old Testament? Is there any good news for Christians in Law of Moses?

These questions and more have been raised by Christians for centuries. And one of the most challenging passages on the relationship of the Old Testament to the New is Matthew 5:17–20. This Sunday we considered these words of Jesus and how he helps us to read the Bible and apply the Law to our lives.

You can find the sermon audio online. Discussion questions and additional resources are also available below.

Matthew 5:17–20

“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. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Discussion Questions

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is the Law of Moses for the Christian? How does the Law relate to Christians today?
  2. When you hear the word “law” what comes to mind? How does that “gut reaction” inform your reading of the Bible? Or, how has the Bible informed your understanding of the Law?
  3. How does Jesus teach us to read the Law? In the Bible how does the Law relate to the Prophets? How did the Prophets read the Law?
  4. Jesus does not repeat “the Prophets” in v. 18. Why does that matter? If “Law and Prophets” is shorthand for all the Old Testament, what does it mean that the Law will not change “until all is accomplished”?
  5. Why does it matter that Law is understand in the context of God’s covenant relationship with Israel? How might a “covenantal” reading of the Law help us explain a passage like Psalm 119?
  6. How did Jesus’ life / death / resurrection impact the Law? What examples of change do you see caused by Jesus’ ministry? (Hint: read Hebrews)
  7. What does Jesus mean by a greater righteousness (in v. 20)? Is this a higher standard of righteousness, or one that comes with power?
  8. Read Deuteronomy 30:1–10. What is promised in this verse? Where is this fulfilled? See Ezekiel 36:26–27 and John 3:1–8 and Titus 2:11–14.
  9. What other questions do you have about the Law and Jesus words?

Additional Resources

Works on the Law

Books on the Sermon on the Mount

Soli Deo Gloria, ds