Daily Word

Longevity of the Law | Matthew 5:18-20 NASB

17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:18-20 (NASB)

Law and Prophets

We discussed this yesterday. The Law and the Prophets, we showed, are the Old Testament (OT). Verse 17 is included again to keep the context for verses 18 – 20. Here, Jesus highlights the foundational importance of the OT. 

I say to you

When Jesus says, “Truly I say to you”, He’s asserting His authority; He is saying that He is God. Who can know the future except God? It was like the OT prophets saying, “Thus says the Lord”, who had supernaturally revealed His word to them. 

Longevity of the Law

With this authority, Jesus declares that the law will stand the test of time. It lasted to His time and to now; it will last until the end of time as we understand time. There are some letters of the Hebrew alphabet that are quite small. “The tittle is a small mark in a Hebrew letter, somewhat like the crossing of a “t”…The difference between bet (ב) and kaf (כ) is a tittle.” (enduringword.com) It shows us how highly God values not just the meaning but the words themselves. It is perfect in the original.

He’s also giving us some clues to the future which He will elaborate on later. There will be an end to this earth and heaven. When sin has been abolished and all who rejected God are separate from Him for eternity in Hell, then there is no more need for the law for we will all be holy and sinless.

Uphold the law

The law should be taught…properly. And not one command should be intentionally rejected. Teachers are held to a high standard. James 3:1 ESV tells us, “we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” Those who fail in this are in jeopardy of losing benefits in the kingdom of heaven – probably both now and the future (as clarified in the next verse). Those who uphold all the law will receive these benefits.

Scribe and Pharisee example

Then in verse 20 He gives us the example of the religious leaders. At this point, we don’t know much about them but soon we’ll know more – especially of their hypocrisy. They set themselves up as magnificent examples of upholding the law, but they were fakes, deceiving even themselves. “Though the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was impressive to human observation, it could not prevail before God (Isaiah 64:6).” (enduringword.com)


  • Are you prepared for that time when heaven and earth pass away? How about when you pass away? Will you be separated from God due to your sin or will you repent and believe in Christ? To learn more about salvation click here
  • Do we have a high view of Scripture? We must be careful. Do we, by our actions, annul the law and, directly (or indirectly) teach others to do the same? How about the Sabbath? We are not and cannot be saved by obeying the 10 commandments but God gave them for a purpose. Click here to read a short article by John Piper regarding Chrisians and the commandments.
Bristlecone pine oldest living thing. Image from nps.gov *

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