Meaning of Matthew 11:12-13 &Luke 16:16; The “Law and the Prophets” done away?
by Peter Salemi
Many false ministers today teach that God’s law is abolished-done away. Here is the TRUTH! It is time the record was set straight!
Some try to prove God’s law is abolished by citing Luke 16:16. Luke quotes Jesus Christ as saying, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” What did Jesus mean? Did He mean that the coming of John the Baptist did away with God’s law? Jesus Himself explains in the very next verse, “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.” (verse 17). What an amazing statement! Have the starry heavens or the planet earth passed away? Are they no longer in existence? Jesus said it would be EASIER for them to perish or be destroyed than for God’s law to pass away or perish!
How clear that God’s holy, immutable law is still in existence! It is in force, today, exacting an irrevocable penalty upon all those who transgress its precepts! Those ministers who teach contrary to God’s law-those who repudiate His commandments, those who teach rebellion-are flying directly in the face of the Almighty God-and will be held accountable! Prophesying of these false ministers, David wrote: “It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made VOID thy law”! (Ps. 119:126.). Obviously by the statement of Jesus in verse 17, that he did not mean the law was done away in verse 16.
But what, then, did Jesus mean when Jesus spoke of the “law and the prophets”? He was referring to the entire Old Testament. The Old Testament scriptures are often called the “Law and the Prophets.” The first FIVE books of the Bible are known as the LAW, written by Moses; the books of Joshua through Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve “minor” prophets comprise the “Prophets;” and the third major section of the Old Testament was known as the “Writings.” Jesus, therefore, meant that the Old Testament scriptures alone were preached from, until the coming of John the Baptist. That was all they had! He said, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached…” The context is preaching the law and the prophets. Notice the same statement in Matthew 11:13, “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” The word here for “prophesied” in the Greek is “propheteuo” (Strong’s #4395). It does mean foretelling future events. But it also means, “speak under inspiration,” (Strong’s). Its Hebrew equivalent is “Naba” (Strong’s #5012), which means, “speak (or sing) by inspiration” (Strong’s). 1 Corinthians 14 proves that it can mean speaking under the influence of the Holy Spirit and not just foretelling future events. Looking at the context of the verses, Jesus spoke of “preaching.” So the Old Testament scriptures were being preached or prophesied until John came on the scene. Then the fulfillments of those scriptures were being preached! This is John preaching the fulfillment of those scriptures as we shall see.
The fulfillment of the Old Testament scriptures had not yet been written what we call the New Testament! The Gospels had not yet been recorded. The New Testament epistles of Paul and the other apostles would not be written for years, therefore, until the coming of John, only the Old Testament scriptures were preached throughout the land of Judah.
But then John came on the scene in Palestine, He preached a new message. He was the forerunner of Jesus Christ, preparing the way before Him, the voice of one crying aloud in the wilderness (Mark 1:2-8). John thundered to the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and all the people of his day, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”! (Matt 3:2).
This was the FIRST time the fulfillment of the prophecies of the gospel of the Kingdom of God had been preached! John was the first one to proclaim it, preparing the way for Christ Himself. But what gospel did Christ preach? “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: Repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). Christ preached the SAME gospel! Jesus told the people of Nazareth, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” (Luke 4:21).
This is why He said, in Luke, that from the time of John the Baptist the gospel or good news of God’s coming Kingdom was proclaimed. This doesn’t mean that the Old Testament is done away, but rather that the prophecies of the Old Testament are soon to be fulfilled! As Jesus said, “the time is fulfilled”! For us today, we are living in the days immediately prior to the second coming of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God upon the earth! (See Isa. 2:1-4; Dan. 7:18-27.) It is up to each one of us to repent, to strive to obey God, to forsake sin, so that we can be among those who “press” into God’s Kingdom! Only those who forsake sin, thoroughly repent of sin, and begin OBEYING God’s holy law will be in the Kingdom of God!
In the parallel verses in Matthew 11, Jesus said, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” (v.12). What does this mean?
Here Jesus is speaking of “this generation.” (v.16) meaning those Jews at that time who were hearing the preaching of the kingdom of God from John and Jesus. They were preaching the coming of the kingdom of God. John was saying the Messiah was coming, the King of Israel. Jesus was also speaking of his kingdom, and that he was the King. This kind of preaching during the Roman occupation stirred up hopes of God setting up his kingdom and establishing his rule on earth. The disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Many of that generation hoped Jesus would do just that.
When John and Jesus were preaching the Kingdom, it “suffereth violence.” How? “the violent take it by force.” Or as it should read, “men of violence take it by force” (biastai harpazousin autēn) (Robertson’s Word Pictures). The preaching of John “had led to a violent and impetuous thronging to gather round Jesus and his disciples” (Hort, Judaistic Christianity, p. 26). This was not John and Jesus’ intention, but the crowds full of excitement about the coming kingdom, wanted to implement it right then and there. Notice what John writes, “When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.” (6:15). The Kingdom of God was not coming in this fashion. Men of violence, Jewish militias and rebels of the Roman empire wanted to take over the Kingdom of Judea by force, and set up Jesus as King. This is what is meant by the Kingdom of God “suffers violence.” Notice what Henry Alford’s Greek New Testament says, “The subject is not the resistance made to the kingdom of heaven, but the difference between a prophesied and a present kingdom of heaven. The fifteenth verse closes this subject, and the complaints of the arbitrary prejudices of ‘this generation’ begin with Matt 11:16. We conclude then that these words imply From the days of John the Baptist until now (i.e. inclusively, from the beginning of his preaching), the kingdom of heaven is pressed into, and violent persons—eager, ardent multitudes—seize on it. Of the truth of this, notwithstanding our Lord’s subsequent reproaches for unbelief, we have abundant proof from the multitudes who followed, and outwent Him, and thronged the doors where He was, and would (John 6:15) take Him by force (the very word ἁρπάζω being used) to make Him a king. But our Lord does not mention this so much to commend the βιασταί, as to shew the undoubted fact that ὁ ἐρχόμενος was come:—that the kingdom of heaven, which before had been the subject of distant prophecy, a closed fortress, a treasure hid, was now undoubtedly upon earth (Luke 17:21 and note), laid open to the entrance of men, spread out that all might take. Thus this verse connects with Matt 11:28, δεῦτε πρός με πάντες, and with Luke 16:16, πᾶς εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται.” (Emphasis his and mine).
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