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The Jewish Idioms Abolish and Fulfill

Messianic teacher Kevin Williams investigates the meaning behind “abolish” and “fulfill” in the First Century Jewish context.

Image: Wikimedia Commons


On one of your web pages, you make the claim that the words “abolish” and “fulfill” are Jewish idioms that mean to “misinterpret” and “correctly interpret” the Torah. How do you know these are Jewish idioms that mean that? What are your references?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

B’Shem Yeshua,



From “Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah” by Kevin Williams. Part 5: Matthew 5:13-20, as appearing in Pneuma Review Spring 2002 (Vol 5, No 2). Find the full series here:


Kevin Williams responds:

Shalom Doug:

My reference comes from a book by David Bivin and Roy Blizzard, in their book Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus. Page 114 reads as follows:

“Destroy” and “fulfill” are technical terms used in rabbinic argumentation. When a sage felt that a colleague had misinterpreted a passage of Scripture, he would say, “You are destroying he Law!” Needless to say, in most cases his colleague strongly disagreed. What was “destroying the Law” for one sage, was “fulfilling the Law” (correctly interpreting Scripture) for another.

What we see in Matthew 5:17ff. Is a rabbinic discussion. Someone has accused Jesus of “destroying” the law. Of course, neither Jesus nor his accuser would ever think of literally destroying the Law. Furthermore, it would never enter the accuser’s mind to charge Jesus with intent to abolish part or all of the Mosaic Law. What is being called into question is Jesus’ system of interpretation, the way he interprets Scripture.”

Bivin and Blizzard also paraphrase the passage as:

“Never imagine for a moment,” Jesus says, “That I intend to abrogate the Law by misinterpreting it. My intent is not to waken or negate the law, but by properly interpreting God’s written Word I aim to establish it, that is, make it even more lasting. I would never invalidate the law by effectively removing something from it through misinterpretation. Heaven and earth would sooner disappear than something from the Law”

Hope that helps Doug. God’s peace be upon you,


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Category: Biblical Studies, Spring 2005

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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