Christians are adamant about the idea that "fulfill" meant "Jesus has fulfilled the law and therefore, it has been abolished." Unfortunately, this is a huge misconception as we outlined in our website’s article about this issue. Below is the gist of the article:
Someone recently sent us the following:
The clear meaning Jesus had was that He was come to not destroy the law, but to be the fulfillment of the law. Once the law is fulfilled, there is no longer any need for it. If I make a bargain with you, and I fulfill the bargain, the bargain is completed; you cannot continue to demand I continue in a bargain or a contract which has been fulfilled. So the law: the Old Testament covenant was not the law of Moses, but the covenant between YHWH and Abraham - the law was given because of the transgression of the people, and it was also clearly given to Israel, and those who would sojourn among them. In fact, we never see in scripture anywhere that the demands of the Law were given to anyone else but Israel and those sojourning with them.
Matthew 5: 17. Do not think that I have come to loosen the Torah or the Prophets. I have not come to loosen but to fulfill them through proper interpretation. (AENT)
Footnotes in the AENT on the above passage cite:
Y'shua at no time "loosened" either Torah or the Prophets! The prophetic Word YHWH gave to His prophets cannot be loosed or annulled, and neither can the Torah of YHWH. These are two witnesses that stand as One. The Word of YHWH is both Torah (instruction in righteousness) and Prophecy declaring, foretelling and revealing the Will of YHWH to each generation. See Deuteronomy 4:2; 13:1.
"Fulfill" means to carry out or to bring to realization, to perform or do, as in a person's duty; or to obey or follow the Commandments, as in satisfying the Commandments by obeying them (Isaiah 42:21 "YHWH is well pleased for His righteousness' sake; He will magnify Torah, and make him (it) honorable.")....
AENT goes into further detail:
The word "fulfill" is derived from the Aramaic D'MALA, Hebrew MALEY, or the Greek PLEROO. It means to fill full, accomplish, carry out or to bring to realization, to perform or do, as in a person's duty; or to obey or follow the Commandments, as in satisfying the Commandments by obeying them.
The Hebrew cognate MALEY is found 240 places in Tanakh, for example; Genesis 1:22 "fill (MALEY) the waters in the seas"; Genesis 1:28 "replenish (MALEY) the earth"; Genesis 29:27 "Fulfill (MALEY) her week"; Exodus 28:2 "I have filled (MALEY) with the Spirit". Isaiah 42:21 reads, "YHWH is well pleased for His righteousness' sake; He will magnify Torah, and make him (it) honorable."
Isaiah 42 reveals the finished work of Mashiyach. We have full prophetic assurance that Mashiyach would never annul Torah; rather he magnified Torah and wrote Torah upon the hearts and imaginations of his people (Jeremiah 31:33). Y'shua carried out (fulfilled) all "ben Yoseph" (suffering servant) prophecies required by HaMashiyach.
He performed or fulfilled prophecies, just as he performed (fulfilled) Torah which was his duty and obligation as HaMashiyach; otherwise he would not have qualified as HaMashiyach.
D'MALA is found 52 times in the New Testament. Matthew 1:22 states, "that it might be fulfilled what was said by Master YHWH through the prophet". Paul uses D'MALA in Romans 15:19 when he says he "fulfilled (D'MALA) the announcement of the Mashiyach." The last thing Y'shua said on the torture stake was: “HA (behold) MESHALAM” (it is finished), Yochanan 19:30, "meshalam" could well be translated as fulfilled, accomplished or perfected.
"Fulfill" occurs in the following: Matthew: 1:22; 2:15, 17, 23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:14, 35; 17:11; 21:4; 26:54, 56; 27:9. Mark: 13:4; 14:49; 15:28. Luke: 1:20, 23; 2:6, 22; 4:21; 9:31, 51; 12:50; 18:31; 21:22, 24; 22:16, 37; 24:44. Yochanan: 12:38; 13:18; 15:25; 17:12; 18:9,32; 19:24, 28, 36. Acts: 1:16; 2:1; 3:18; 13:27,29; 15:15, 24:27. Romans: 8:4; 15:19. 2 Timothy: 4:17. Ya'akov: 2:23. Revelation: 17:17.
Fulfilling the Torah
Matthew 5:17 Do not think I have come to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I tell you I have not come to destroy (ashrea--arva) but to fulfill (amala--alma).
It is an absolute impossibility for "destroying" and "fulfilling" Torah to be or to mean the same thing! Here the text is putting them in opposition to one another; so if it isn't A but it is B, then B cannot be the same thing as A. As basic as this is, mainstream Christianity has levied a false assertion that "fulfilling the Torah" means that it is no longer necessary, i.e. destroyed!
The Aramaic word used for "fulfill" is amala, derived from the root mela, which means "to complete". This completion is not one that results in destruction, but better understanding of the promises made. Let's examine a few verses:
Luke 1:4 "So that you might know the d'amla (complete--almad) truth about the things you have been taught."
Yochanan 1:14 "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, as of the only begotten from the Father d'amla (complete--almad) in grace and truth."
Yochanan 17:8 "The words which You have given me I have given them, and they received them, and understood d'amla (completely--almad) that I came forth from You, and they believed that You did send me."
This last verse clarifies the point in the strongest possible terms. This is where Y'shua clearly teaches that "fulfilling/completing" commands does not cast those commands aside; but rather, shows that they have been interpreted properly, as these citations from the Tanakh also prove:
1 Kings 2:27 "So Solomon dismissed Abiathar from being priest to YHWH, in order to fulfill (male--alm) the word of YHWH, which He had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh."
2 Chronicles 36:21 "To fulfill (male--alm) the word of YHWH by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept Sabbath until seventy years were complete."
Psalm 20:4 May he grant you your hearts desire and fulfill (male--alm) all your counsel!
Here is the exact word that Y'shua used, but for a slight dialectical difference in accent and, as the reader can see, nowhere in any context does the command pass away! Instead, the opposite is shown, since it is the power and validity of the command which forces its hearer to first interpret it properly and then carry it out exactly as intended. There are also half a dozen other words in Hebrew that carry the same meaning, and in all of their cases the "fulfillment" of a command coincides with its proper interpretation (Leviticus 22:21, Numbers 15:8, Ezra 1:1, Nehemiah 5:13, Psalm 76:11, 145:19).
"Fulfill" also means to have proper understanding of a scriptural passage, such as recognizing a precise fulfillment of prophecy. Therefore, when Y'shua says, "This word is fulfilled in your hearing," he means that He is the goal or object of that prophecy and has now arrived on the scene to do his mission as specified according to prophecy.
Now, if the "fulfillment" has not happened yet, as is the case when Y'shua says, "All that is written in the Torah and Prophets must be fulfilled," then it means, quite obviously "kept", "vouchsafed" or "adhered to" - the exact opposite of passing away! That is also why he says, "He who keeps (fulfills) my words shall not taste death"!