By: J.C. O’Hair –
READ LUKE 16:16 — GALATIANS 4:4 – MATTHEW 23:1-3 – COLOSSIANS 2:13-16.
Many Christians have been much confused as to the meaning of Christ’s words in Luke 16:16 – The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.”
Some Bible teachers have tried to prove from this verse two errors, which they have taught: first, that the reign of law ceased when John the Baptist began his public ministry and then and there the reign of grace and the kingdom of God, which is the Body of Christ, began.
We learn from Luke 2:39 that, before John the Baptist came out from the wilderness, what was done for the Holy Child Jesus was in accordance with the law of Moses. But after John announced his mission and preached to Israel, we read in Luke 4: 16: “And He (Christ) came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.”
Then, we note, in Christ’s ministry to Israel, the truth of Matthew 8:4 – Matthew 5:24 and 23:1 to 3: “Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” “Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to His disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do, but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.”
From these, and other Scriptures, we get something of the meaning of the words of Christ, in Matthew 5:17, and the words concerning Christ, in Galatians 4:4 – “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, under the law.”
Jesus Christ was made under the law. He and His twelve apostles lived and ministered under the law, while He was on earth as the minister of the circumcision (Romans 15:8). Christ, on earth, did not instruct either saved or unsaved Israelites to abandon the feasts of Jehovah (Leviticus 23) or the sacrifice of animals. The truth of John 4:23 and 24 was not understood until after the beginning of the reign of grace. In Matthew 23:1 to 3 Christ fold His apostles to respect the “law” seat of Moses. In Colossians 2:14 we read when the law was taken out of the way. “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took if out of the way, nailing it to His cross.”
Therefore, when Christ preached the Sermon on the Mount the law had not been blotted out and the Golden Rule is the very essence of the law. (Matthew 7:12); and so is Matthew 6:14 and 15. Concerning the Golden Rule, Christ said, “This is the law.” Matthew 7:12. Note 6:14 and 15: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14 and 15.
Even the messenger whom God sent to Saul of Tarsus, after Calvary, was a devout man according to the law (Acts 22:12). The transition from “under the law” to “under grace” was after Christ died and became the end of the law for righteousness, and even then it was gradual and not sudden. And surely the Body of Christ did not begin in the days of John the Baptist.