Jesus Upholds the Enduring Authority of the Old Testament

Jesus said, “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” (Matt. 5:18). An “iota” or “jot” (NKJV) (iota) is the “smallest letter of the Greek alphabet, corresponding to yod, the smallest in the Aramaic alphabet.” (Gingrich) The “dot” or “tittle” (NKJV) or “stroke of a letter” (NRSV) (keraia), is the “hook as part of a letter, serif, lit. ‘horn.’” (Gingrich) The stroke looks like a comma. Jesus uses the double negative, ou me—literally, “no, not.” It literally reads, “not one iota and not one horn.” Jesus is saying in v. 18, “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one smallest letter, not one little stroke of a letter, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”  

What is Jesus telling us here? Jesus is telling us that the OT is enduring. The validity of the OT is enduring. The authority of the OT is enduring. This enduring authority of the OT applies to the smallest letter. This enduring validity of the OT applies to the smallest stroke of a letter.

This means that God’s Word is true and reliable. Every letter and every stroke in God’s Word are true and reliable. The Bible is inspired, inerrant, and infallible. The Bible is inspired—it comes from God. The Bible is inerrant—it is free from error in all its statements. The Bible is infallible—it is completely trustworthy. Hence, to reject the teachings of the Bible is to reject Jesus. For Jesus taught the enduring authority of the Bible.

This validity of the OT extends “until heaven and earth pass away.” This authority of the OT extends only “until all is accomplished.” I agree with some scholars who say that the first “until” clause is the same in meaning to the second “until” clause. Thus, the first clause, “until heaven and earth pass away,” is the same in meaning to the second clause, “until all is accomplished.” Heaven and earth shall pass away when all is accomplished.

This means that the authority of the Law is eschatological—till heaven and earth shall pass away, till all is accomplished. This means that the Law is valid only up to that time when God’s purposes are accomplished here on earth through Christ. Until that time has come, not one smallest letter, and not one smallest stroke of a letter shall pass away from the Law.

God’s Word may be authoritative in your life on Sunday morning. But do you allow God’s Word to rule you from Monday to Saturday? That is a good question for all of us.

Psalm 1:1-3 says,

Blessed is the man

Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,

    Nor stands in the path of sinners,

    Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,

    And in His law he meditates day and night.

3 He shall be like a tree

    Planted by the rivers of water,

    That brings forth its fruit in its season,

    Whose leaf also shall not wither;

And whatever he does shall prosper.

 

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