Therefore, We Must Obey the Law Seriously, as Interpreted by Jesus—the God-Authorized Interpreter of the Law

Jesus said, “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19). Verse 19 flows from v. 18. Because of the enduring authority of the OT, therefore, whoever breaks the least of these commands shall be called least in the Kingdom of God. The word, “relaxes,” or “breaks” (NKJV) from, luo, is an interesting word. It means, “repeal, annul, abolish.” (Gingrich) “Therefore, whoever repeals, annuls, or abolishes the least of these commands.”

Jesus did not come to annul God’s will in the Law. We should not also annul God’s will in the Law, even the least of it. Some pastors today say that we should only agree on the essentials of God’s Word; but we may disagree on the non-essentials. Listen! All of God’s Word is essential; nothing is non-essential. It is true that there are lighter matters of God’s Word, and weightier matters of God’s Word. We are not to neglect the weightier matters, while following the lighter matters of God’s Word. But every truth of God’s Word is essential for godliness, ministry, and the glory of God.

We should treat God’s will in the Law as very important and essential. But we should only follow the Law as interpreted by Jesus—the God-authorized interpreter of the Law.

The adjective, “least” (elasson), means, “used as the comparative of micros (small); smaller; of quality inferior (JN 2.10); of number less, fewer . . . of position inferior, subordinate (HE 7.7).” (Friberg) “Whoever annuls the smallest of these commands, and teaches others to do the same will be called smallest in the Kingdom.”

It is important to note that Jesus said, “least,” not “lost.” A truly saved person will not lose his salvation. But if he annuls God’s Word, he will be called least in the kingdom. A true citizen of the kingdom will not be kicked out of the kingdom. But if he relaxes God’s Word, he will be called least in the kingdom. He will not lose his kingdom citizenship, but he will be the least citizen in the kingdom.

What are “these commandments”?  In the context, “these commandments” must refer to the commandments that Jesus is interpreting in Matt. 5:21-48.

“Whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” Do you teach the Word of God? Be careful that you do not annul the least of God’s Word. Be careful that you do not take lightly the Word of God. That is why I’d like everyone to sit down and listen well and study hard the Word of God in small groups, Sunday School, and during preaching. Take God’s Word seriously. You should spend time praying and studying the Word of God.

You can know if a speaker has not prayed and studied the Word of God. Just listen to him on Sunday morning. If his sermon lacks biblical substance, he has not studied the Word of God. We should learn how to read and interpret God’s Word correctly. We interpret according to the literal meaning of the word, according to the context, according to the historical setting of the text, and according to the theology of the writer. Then we teach it to others accordingly. It is a very heavy responsibility to teach the Word of God.

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