Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Fulfillment of the Law

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays

 

The origins of Christianity and the original customs thereof come not from pagans. They come from the Holy Bible and ancient Hebrew thought.

Christians did not see the institution of holidays like Christmas (Feast of Nativity) and Easter (Pascha) as a negation of God’s law.  They saw these as traditions instituted by the Apostles (1 Corinthians 11:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6) who were believed to have authority to institute such celebrations (Matthew 16:16-19; 18:17-20).

The early Church, from whom the holidays of Lent, Easter & Christmas come, were not committing apostasy because they didn’t believe in following the law of Moses.  They were following their understanding of the writings of the New Testament and which agrees with Hebrew thought of the time.

Note: the purpose of sharing this information is not to bring forth strife and debate about the law (Titus 3:9) but to attempt to display that early Christians were staying faithful to the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3) not turning aside to “paganism”.

Tit 3:9  But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

Fulfillment of the Law

fulfill law

Rom 10:4  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

The law was designed to lead us to Christ (Hebrews 10:1), revealing our sins (Romans 7:7; 3:19) and condemning us (Romans 7:5-23; 1 Corinthians 15:56) that we might turn to Him by faith and receive His gift of grace unto salvation (Romans 5:20; 7:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:57).  Through faith in Him, we receive His Spirit (Galatians 3:5, 14) to work through us (Philippians 2:13; Ephesians 3:20; Hebrews 13:21) and guide us (John 16:13; 14:26; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13) that we might walk by the Spirit of the law unto life, becoming His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9).  If we walk in the letter of the law by our own power (works of the law) we will die (Galatians 3:10; 2:16).

The law was a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ that we might attain justification through faith (Galatians 3:24).  After faith is come, we are no longer under the schoolmaster (Galatians 3:25).  We are not under the law, we are under grace (Romans 6:14).  Whatsoever things the law says, it says to those who are under the law (Romans 3:19) that the world might become guilty before God (Romans 3:19), realizing our bondage to the elements of the world (Galatians 4:3) and our need for redemption through Jesus (Galatians 4:5) and to be led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:18).

We can only be pleasing to Him, and hear Him say ‘well done good and faithful servant,’ (Matthew 25:21-23) if Christ is living through us, the hope of Glory (Psalm 147:11; 33:18; 1 Peter 1:1, 13; Jude 1:21).  Messiah always did the will of the Father, the things which were pleasing to Him (Luke 3:22; Matthew 12:18; 17:5; John 5:30; 8:29; Psalm 40:7-8).  We are to submit our lives to Him (Romans 6:13) that He might live through us (John 17:21-23), just as the Father lived through Him (John 14:10; 15:1-10; 2 Corinthians 5:19).

If Christ in us is the only way we can please Him, where is the boasting (Romans 3:27)?  Where is the uplifting of self over another?  If we are boasting because of our works, we are making Messiah of none effect and are bringing ourselves into condemnation (Galatians 3:10).  He alone is to be exalted (Isaiah 2:11, 17), we are to bend the knee in the same manner as everyone else (sinner and saint alike) (Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10).  Our knowledge of doctrine and the performance thereof, if gained and performed properly, comes from Him, not by our own strength/righteousness/worthiness (Philippians 2:5-13).

Our only boasting should be that we know Him (Jeremiah 9:23; 1 Corinthians 1:31), yet even that only comes through His grace (Galatians 1:15; John 6:37-44), not our worthiness (Romans 3:23).   We are only made worthy through His work (Colossians 1:22; John 17:19; Acts 26:18), and God working in us to present us blameless and sanctified in His sight (Philippians 2:13; Jude 1:24; Ephesians 5:26-27; Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23).

The letter of the law kills us that we might come to Christ Jesus (the Word made flesh) to receive life.

2Co 3:6  Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

Joh 6:63  It is the Spirit that gives life. The flesh does not profit, nothing! The Words which I speak to you are spirit and are life.

Rom 8:2  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Rom 10:4  For Christ is the end {τέλος ‘telos’} of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

1Ti 1:5  Now the end {τέλος ‘telos’} of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
Mat 5:48  Be ye therefore perfect {τέλειος ‘teleios’}, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect {τέλειος ‘teleios’}.

Heb 7:19  For the law made nothing perfect {τελειόω ‘teleioō’}, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
Heb 7:11  If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

Heb 9:9  Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;

Act 13:39  And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

Rom 3:20  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Rom 3:21  But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

Rom 8:3  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

Gal 2:16  Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Mat 5:18  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Here Jesus is saying that the law will pass away when all is fulfilled
Gal 3:19  Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

Rom 8:3  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
Rom 8:4  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Jesus said that all things have been fulfilled
Joh 19:28  After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished {τελέω ‘teleō’ – fulfilled}, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
Joh 19:29  Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.
Joh 19:30  When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
Eph 2:15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
Eph 2:16  And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
Eph 2:17  And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
Eph 2:18  For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Eph 2:19  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
Eph 2:20  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Eph 2:21  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
Eph 2:22  In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Col 1:20  And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

 

Rom 10:4  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

“For by His advent He Himself fulfilled all things, and does still fulfil in the Church the new covenant foretold by the law, onwards to the consummation [of all things]. To this effect also Paul, His apostle, says in the Epistle to the Romans…” {Irenaeus Against Heresies Book IV}

“He came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but rather to fulfil them…”Thus Christ did not at all rescind the Sabbath: He kept the law thereof, and both in the former case did a work which was beneficial to the life of His disciples, for He indulged them with the relief of food when they were hungry, and in the present instance cured the withered hand; in each case intimating by facts, “I came not to destroy, the law, but to fulfil it,”…This verity of the gospel then stands unimpaired: “I am not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but rather to fulfil them.” {Tertullian Against Marcion Book IV}

“After that, the Lord, “amplifying the Law,” openly adds the prohibition of anger against a brother to that of murder.” {Tertullian On Prayer}

“Unity, moreover, is everything which is once for all. But for Christ was reserved, as in all other points so in this also, the “fulfilling of the law.” {Tertullian On Exhortation to Chastity }

“After the ancient examples of the patriarchs, let us equally pass on to the ancient documents of the legal Scriptures, that we may treat in order of all our canon. And since there are some who sometimes assert that they have nothing to do with the law (which Christ has not dissolved, but fulfilled), sometimes catch at such parts of the law as they choose; plainly do we too assert that the law has deceased in this sense, that its burdens–according to the sentence of the apostles–which not even the fathers were able to sustain, have wholly ceased: such (parts), however. as relate to righteousness not only permanently remain reserved, but even amplified; in order, to be sure, that our righteousness may be able to redound above the righteousness of the scribes and of the Pharisees….Turning now to the law, which is properly ours–that is, to the Gospel.”  {Tertullian On Monogamy}

“And “that the land was fat;” that is, the flesh of our Lord: “fat,” that is, “rich;” for it flows with honey and milk. The parts of the land are marked off for an inheritance and possession to him–that means the doctrine of the Lord. For this is a pleasant rest, as He says Himself: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,” etc. For they who keep the commandments, and do not disclaim the ordinances of the law, enjoy rest both in them and in the doctrine of our Lord; and that is the meaning of “in the midst of the lots.” As the Lord says, “I am not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfil them.” For even our Lord, in the fact that He keeps the commandments, does not destroy the law and the prophets, but fulfils them, as He says in the Gospels. “He set his shoulder to toil, and became a husbandman.” This the apostles did. Having received power from God, and having set themselves to labour, they became husbandmen of the Lord, cultivating the earth–that is, the human race–with the preaching of our Lord.”
{Hippolytus – Exegetical Fragments}

 

And His sending to the scribes and teachers of the existing Scriptures, as to those who knew the true things of the law that then was, is well known. And also that He said, ‘I am not come to destroy the law,’ and yet that He appeared to be destroying it, is the part of one intimating that the things which He destroyed did not belong to the law. And His saying, ‘The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but one jot or one tittle shall not pass from the law,’ intimated that the things which pass away before the heaven and the earth do not belong to the law in reality.

Since, then, while the heaven and the earth still stand, sacrifices have passed away, and kingdoms, and prophecies among those who are born of woman, and such like, as not being ordinances of God; hence therefore He says, ‘Every plant which the heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up.’ Wherefore He, being the true Prophet, said, ‘I am the gate of life; he who enters through me enters into life,’ there being no other teaching able to save. Wherefore also He cried, and said, ‘Come unto me, all who labour,’ that is, who are seeking the truth, and not finding it; and again, ‘My sheep hear my voice;’ and elsewhere, ‘Seek and find,’ since the truth does not lie on the surface.{Clementine Homily III}

The Divine Scriptures Compared to a Net – Origen

“And before our Saviour Jesus Christ this net was not wholly filled; for the net of the law and the prophets had to be completed by Him who says, “Think not that I came to destroy the law and the prophets, I came not to destroy but to fulfil.” And the texture of the net has been completed in the Gospels, and in the words of Christ through the Apostles.  On this account, therefore, “the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea and gathered of every kind.”  And, apart from what has been said, the expression, “gathered from every kind,” may show forth the calling of the Gentiles from every race.  And those who attended to the net which was cast into the sea are Jesus Christ, the master of the net, and “the angels who came and ministered unto Him,” who do not draw up the net from the sea, nor carry it to the shore beyond the sea,—namely, to things beyond this life, unless the net be filled full, that is, unless the “fulness of the Gentiles” has come into it.” {Origen Commentary on Matthew Book X}

How Christ Fulfilled and Ended the Old Testament Regime  – John Piper

“The glory of Jesus Christ shines more clearly when we see him in his proper relation to the Old Testament. He has a magnificent relation to all that was written. It is not surprising that this is the case, because he is called the Word of God incarnate (John 1:14). Would not the Word of God incarnate be the sum and consummation of the Word of God written? Consider these summary statements and the texts that support them.

1. All the Scriptures bear witness to Christ. Moses wrote about Christ.

John 5:39, 46: You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me. . . . If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.

2. All the Scriptures are about Jesus Christ, even where there is no explicit prediction. That is, there is a fullness of implication in all Scriptures that points to Christ and is satisfied only when he has come and done his work. “The meaning of all the Scriptures is unlocked by the death and resurrection of Jesus.” (Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, p. 54)

Luke 24:27: And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

3. Jesus came to fulfill all that was written in the Law and the Prophets. All of it was pointing to him even where it is not explicitly prophetic. He accomplishes what the Law required.

Matthew 5:17-18: Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 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.

4. All the promises of God in the Old Testament are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. That is, when you have Christ, sooner or later you will have both Christ himself and all else that God promised through Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:20: For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

5. The law was kept perfectly by Christ. And all its penalties against God’s sinful people were poured out on Christ. Therefore, the law is now manifestly not the path to righteousness, Christ is. The ultimate goal of the law is that we would look to Christ, not law-keeping, for our righteousness.

Romans 10:4: For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Therefore with the coming of Christ virtually everything has changed:

The blood sacrifices ceased because Christ fulfilled all that they were pointing toward. He was the final, unrepeatable sacrifice for sins. Hebrews 9:12: “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”

The priesthood that stood between worshipper and God has ceased. Hebrews 7:23-24: “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.”

The physical temple has ceased to be the geographic center of worship. Now Christ himself is the center of worship. He is the “place,” the “tent,” and the “temple” where we meet God. Therefore Christianity has not geographic center, no Mecca, no Jerusalem. John 4:21-23: “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. . . . But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.’” John 2:19-21: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. . . . He was speaking about the temple of his body.” Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

The food laws that set Israel apart from the nations have been fulfilled and ended in Christ. Mark 7:18-19: “[Jesus] said to them, ‘Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him . . . (Thus he declared all foods clean).’”
The establishment of civil law on the basis of an ethnically rooted people, who are ruled directly by God, has ceased. The people of God are no longer a unified political body or an ethnic group or a nation-state, but are exiles and sojourners among all ethnic groups and all states. Therefore, God’s will for states is not taken directly from the Old Testament theocratic order, but should now be reestablished from place to place and from time to time by means that correspond to God’s sovereign rule over all peoples, and that correspond to the fact that genuine obedience, rooted as it is in faith in Christ, cannot be coerced by law. The state is therefore grounded in God, but not expressive of God’s immediate rule. Romans 13:1, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” John 18:36: “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting.”

Let us worship the wonder of Christ who unleashed these massive changes in the world.”

For more on the understanding of the early Church in regards to Christ fulfilling the law see  Augustine – Contra Faustum, Book XIX
Following are some pertinent excerpts from Augustine.

“If you allow, in consideration of the authority of the Gospel, that Christ said that He came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them, you should show the same consideration to the authority of the apostle, when he says, “All these things were our examples;” and again of Christ, “He was not yea and nay, but in Him was yea; for all the promises of God are in Him yea;” 2 Corinthians 1:19-20 that is, they are set forth and fulfilled in Him. In this way you will see in the clearest light both what law Christ fulfilled, and how He fulfilled it…It is quite plain, and the New Testament leaves no doubt on the matter, what law and what prophets Christ came not to destroy, but to fulfill.

The law given by Moses is that which by Jesus Christ became grace and truth. John 1:17 The law given by Moses is that of which Christ says, “He wrote of me.” John 5:46 For undoubtedly this is the law which entered that the offense might abound; Romans 5:20…Read what is there said of this law: “The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, wrought death in me by that which is good.” Romans 7:12-13 The entrance of the law made the offense abound, not because the law required what was wrong, but because the proud and self-confident incurred additional guilt as transgressors after their acquaintance with the holy, and just, and good commandments of the law; so that, being thus humbled, they might learn that only by grace through faith could they be freed from subjection to the law as transgressors, and be reconciled to the law as righteous.

So the same apostle says: “For before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which was afterwards revealed. Therefore the law was our schoolmaster in Christ Jesus; but after faith came, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” That is, we are no longer subject to the penalty of the law, because we are set free by grace. Before we received in humility the grace of the Spirit, the letter was only death to us, for it required obedience which we could not render. Thus Paul also says: “The letter kills, but the spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:6 Again, he says: “For if a law had been given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law; but the Scripture has concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” Galatians 3:21-22

And once more: “What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, that by sin He might condemn sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:3-4 Here we see Christ coming not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. As the law brought the proud under the guilt of transgression, increasing their sin by commandments which they could not obey, so the righteousness of the same law is fulfilled by the grace of the Spirit in those who learn from Christ to be meek and lowly in heart; for Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. Moreover, because even for those who are under grace it is difficult in this mortal life perfectly to keep what is written in the law, You shall not covet, Christ, by the sacrifice of His flesh, as our Priest obtains pardon for us. And in this also He fulfills the law; for what we fail in through weakness is supplied by His perfection, who is the Head, while we are His members.

Thus John says: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not; and if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: He is the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 2:1-2

Christ also fulfilled the prophecies, because the promises of God were made good in Him. As the apostle says in the verse quoted above, “The promises of God are in Him yea.” Again, he says: “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” Romans 15:8 Whatever, then, was promised in the prophets, whether expressly or in figure, whether by words or by actions, was fulfilled in Him who came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them.

You do not perceive that if Christians were to continue in the use of acts and observances by which things to come were prefigured, the only meaning would be that the things prefigured had not yet come. Either the thing prefigured has not come, or if it has, the figure becomes superfluous or misleading. Therefore, if Christians do not practise some things enjoined in the Hebrews by the prophets, this, so far from showing, as you think, that Christ did not fulfill the prophets, rather shows that He did. So completely did Christ fulfill what these types prefigured, that it is no longer prefigured. So the Lord Himself says: “The law and the prophets were until John.” Luke 16:16

For the law which shut up transgressors in increased guilt, and to the faith which was afterwards revealed, became grace through Jesus Christ, by whom grace superabounded. Thus the law, which was not fulfilled in the requirement of the letter, was fulfilled in the liberty of grace. In the same way, everything in the law that was prophetic of the Saviour’s advent, whether in words or in typical actions, became truth in Jesus Christ. For “the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” John 1:17

At Christ’s advent the kingdom of God began to be preached; for the law and the prophets were until John: the law, that its transgressors might desire salvation; the prophets, that they might foretell the Saviour. No doubt there have been prophets in the Church since the ascension of Christ. Of these prophets Paul says: “God has set some in the Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers,” and so on. 1 Corinthians 12:28 It is not of these prophets that it was said, “The law and the prophets were until John,” but of those who prophesied the first coming of Christ, which evidently cannot be prophesied now that it has taken place.

Accordingly, when you ask why a Christian is not circumcised if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, my reply is, that a Christian is not circumcised precisely for this reason, that what was prefigured by circumcision is fulfilled in Christ. Circumcision was the type of the removal of our fleshly nature, which was fulfilled in the resurrection of Christ, and which the sacrament of baptism teaches us to look forward to in our own resurrection. The sacrament of the new life is not wholly discontinued, for our resurrection from the dead is still to come; but this sacrament has been improved by the substitution of baptism for circumcision, because now a pattern of the eternal life which is to come is afforded us in the resurrection of Christ, whereas formerly there was nothing of the kind.

So, when you ask why a Christian does not keep the Sabbath, if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, my reply is, that a Christian does not keep the Sabbath precisely because what was prefigured in the Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ. For we have our Sabbath in Him who said, “Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

When you ask why a Christian does not observe the distinction in food as enjoined in the law, if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, I reply, that a Christian does not observe this distinction precisely because what was thus prefigured is now fulfilled in Christ, who admits into His body, which in His saints He has predestined to eternal life, nothing which in human conduct corresponds to the characteristics of the forbidden animals.

When you ask, again, why a Christian does not offer sacrifices to God of the flesh and blood of slain animals, if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, I reply, that it would be improper for a Christian to offer such sacrifices, now that what was thus prefigured has been fulfilled in Christ’s offering of His own body and blood. When you ask why a Christian does not keep the feast of unleavened bread as the Jews did, if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, I reply, that a Christian does not keep this feast precisely because what was thus prefigured is fulfilled in Christ, who leads us to a new life by purging out the leaven of the old life. 1 Corinthians 5:7

When you ask why a Christian does not keep the feast of the paschal lamb, if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, my reply is, that he does not keep it precisely because what was thus prefigured has been fulfilled in the sufferings of Christ, the Lamb without spot.

When you ask why a Christian does not keep the feasts of the new moon appointed in the law, if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, I reply, that he does not keep them precisely because what was thus prefigured is fulfilled in Christ. For the feast of the new moon prefigured the new creature, of which the apostle says: “If therefore there is any new creature in Christ Jesus, the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

When you ask why a Christian does not observe the baptisms for various kinds of uncleanness according to the law, if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, I reply, that he does not observe them precisely because they were figures of things to come, which Christ has fulfilled. For He came to bury us with Himself by baptism into death, that as Christ rose again from the dead, so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4

 

When you ask why Christians do not keep the feast of tabernacles, if the law is not destroyed, but fulfilled by Christ, I reply that believers are God’s tabernacle, in whom, as they are united and built together in love, God condescends to dwell, so that Christians do not keep this feast precisely because what was thus prefigured is now fulfilled by Christ in His Church.

I touch upon these things merely in passing with the utmost brevity, rather than omit them altogether. The subjects, taken separately, have filled many large volumes, written to prove that these observances were typical of Christ. So it appears that all the things in the Old Testament which you think are not observed by Christians because Christ destroyed the law, are in fact not observed because Christ fulfilled the law. The very intention of the observances was to prefigure Christ.

Now that Christ has come, instead of its being strange or absurd that what was done to prefigure His advent should not be done any more, it is perfectly right and reasonable. The typical observances intended to prefigure the coming of Christ would be observed still, had they not been fulfilled by the coming of Christ; so far is it from being the case that our not observing them now is any proof of their not being fulfilled by Christ’s coming. There can be no religious society, whether the religion be true or false, without some sacrament or visible symbol to serve as a bond of union. The importance of these sacraments cannot be overstated, and only scoffers will treat them lightly. For if piety requires them, it must be impiety to neglect them.

It is true, the ungodly may partake in the visible sacraments of godliness, as we read that Simon Magus received holy baptism. Such are they of whom the apostle says that “they have the form of godliness, but deny the power of it.” 2 Timothy 3:5 The power of godliness is the end of the commandment, that is, love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. 1 Timothy 1:5 So the Apostle Peter, speaking of the sacrament of the ark, in which the family of Noah was saved from the deluge, says, “So by a similar figure baptism also saves you.” And lest they should rest content with the visible sacrament, by which they had the form of godliness, and should deny its power in their lives by profligate conduct, he immediately adds, “Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience.” 1 Peter 3:21

Thus the sacraments of the Old Testament, which were celebrated in obedience to the law, were types of Christ who was to come; and when Christ fulfilled them by His advent they were done away, and were done away because they were fulfilled. For Christ came not to destroy, but to fulfill. And now that the righteousness of faith is revealed, and the children of God are called into liberty, and the yoke of bondage which was required for a carnal and stiffnecked people is taken away, other sacraments are instituted, greater in efficacy, more beneficial in their use, easier in performance, and fewer in number.

And if the righteous men of old, who saw in the sacraments of their time the promise of a future revelation of faith, which even then their piety enabled them to discern in the dim light of prophecy, and by which they lived, for the just can live only by faith; Romans 1:17 if, then, these righteous men of old were ready to suffer, as many actually did suffer, all trials and tortures for the sake of those typical sacraments which prefigured things in the future; if we praise the three children and Daniel, because they refused to be defiled by meat from the king’s table, from their regard for the sacrament of their day; if we feel the strongest admiration for the Maccabees, who refused to touch food which Christians lawfully use; 2 Maccabbees vii how much more should a Christian in our day be ready to suffer all things for Christ’s baptism, for Christ’s Eucharist, for Christ’s sacred sign, since these are proofs of the accomplishment of what the former sacraments only pointed forward to in the future!

For what is still promised to the Church, the body of Christ, is both clearly made known, and in the Saviour Himself, the Head of the body, the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, has already been accomplished. Is not the promise of eternal life by resurrection from the dead? This we see fulfilled in the flesh of Him of whom it is said, that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. John 1:14 In former days faith was dim, for the saints and righteous men of those times all believed and hoped for the same things, and all these sacraments and ceremonies pointed to the future; but now we have the revelation of the faith to which the people were shut up under the law; Galatians 3:23 and what is now promised to believers in the judgment is already accomplished in the example of Him who came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them.

It is a question among the students of the sacred Scriptures, whether the faith in Christ before His passion and resurrection, which the righteous men of old learned by revelation or gathered from prophecy, had the same efficacy as faith has now that Christ has suffered and risen; or whether the actual shedding of the blood of the Lamb of God, which was, as He Himself says, for many for the remission of sins, Matthew 26:28 conferred any benefit in the way of purifying or adding to the purity of those who looked forward in faith to the death of Christ, but left the world before it took place; whether, in fact, Christ’s death reached to the dead, so as to effect their liberation. To discuss this question here, or to prove what has been ascertained on the subject, would take too long, besides being foreign from our present purpose.

Meanwhile it is sufficient to prove, in opposition to Faustus’ ignorant cavils, how greatly they mistake who conclude, from the change in signs and sacraments, that there must be a difference in the things which were prefigured in the rites of a prophetic dispensation, and which are declared to be accomplished in the rites of the gospel; or those, on the other hand, who think that as the things are the same, the sacraments which announce their accomplishment should not differ from the sacraments which foretold that accomplishment. For if in language the form of the verb changes in the number of letters and syllables according to the tense, as done signifies the past, and to be done the future, why should not the symbols which declare Christ’s death and resurrection to be accomplished, differ from those which predicted their accomplishment, as we see a difference in the form and sound of the words, past and future, suffered and to suffer, risen and to rise?

For material symbols are nothing else than visible speech, which, though sacred, is changeable and transitory. For while God is eternal, the water of baptism, and all that is material in the sacrament, is transitory: the very word “God,” which must be pronounced in the consecration, is a sound which passes in a moment. The actions and sounds pass away, but their efficacy remains the same, and the spiritual gift thus communicated is eternal.

To say, therefore, that if Christ had not destroyed the law and the prophets, the sacraments of the law and the prophets would continue to be observed in the congregations of the Christian Church, is the same as to say that if Christ had not destroyed the law and the prophets, He would still be predicted as about to be born, to suffer, and to rise again; whereas, in fact, it is proved that He did not destroy, but fulfill those things, because the prophecies of His birth, and passion, and resurrection, which were represented in these ancient sacraments, have ceased, and the sacraments now observed by Christians contain the announcement that He has been born, has suffered, has risen.

He who came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them, by this fulfillment did away with those things which foretold the accomplishment of what is thus shown to be now accomplished. Precisely in the same way, he might substitute for the expressions, “He is to be born, is to suffer, is to rise,” which were in these times appropriate, the expressions, “He has been born, has suffered, has risen,” which are appropriate now that the others are accomplished, and so done away.

Corresponding to this change in words is the change which naturally took place in the substitution of new sacraments instead of those of the Old Testament. In the case of the first Christians, who came to the faith as Jews, it was by degrees that they were brought to change their customs, and to have a clear perception of the truth; and permission was given them by the apostle to preserve their hereditary worship and belief, in which they had been born and brought up; and those who had to do with them were required to make allowance for this reluctance to accept new customs. So the apostle circumcised Timothy, the son of a Jewish mother and a Greek father, when they went among people of this kind; and he himself accommodated his practice to theirs, not hypocritically, but for a wise purpose.

For these practices were harmless in the case of those born and brought up in them, though they were no longer required to prefigure things to come. It would have done more harm to condemn them as hurtful in the case of those to whose time it was intended that they should continue.

Christ, who came to fulfill all these prophecies, found those people trained in their own religion. But in the case of those who had no such training, but were brought to Christ, the corner-stone, from the opposite wall of circumcision, there was no obligation to adopt Jewish customs. If, indeed, like Timothy, they chose to accommodate themselves to the views of those of the circumcision who were still wedded to their old sacraments, they were free to do so. But if they supposed that their hope and salvation depended on these works of the law, they were warned against them as a fatal danger. So the apostle says: “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing;” Galatians 5:2 that is, if they were circumcised, as they were intending to be, in compliance with some corrupt teachers, who told them that without these works of the law they could not be saved.

For when, chiefly through the preaching of the Apostle Paul, the Gentiles were coming to the faith of Christ, as it was proper that they should come, without being burdened with Jewish observances— for those who were grown up were deterred from the faith by fear of ceremonies to which they were not accustomed, especially of circumcision; and if they who had not been trained from their birth to such observances had been made proselytes in the usual way, it would have implied that the coming of Christ still required to be predicted as a future event—when, then, the Gentiles were admitted without these ceremonies, those of the circumcision who believed, not understanding why the Gentiles were not required to adopt their customs, nor why they themselves were still allowed to retain them, began to disturb the Church with carnal contentions, because the Gentiles were admitted into the people of God without being made proselytes in the usual way by circumcision and the other legal observances.

Some also of the converted Gentiles were bent on these ceremonies, from fear of the Jews among whom they lived. Against these Gentiles the Apostle Paul often wrote, and when Peter was carried away by their hypocrisy, he corrected him with a brotherly rebuke. Galatians 2:14 Afterwards, when the apostles met in council, decreed that these works of the law were not obligatory in the case of the Gentiles, Acts 15:6-11 some Christians of the circumcision were displeased, because they failed to understand that these observances were permissible only in those who had been trained in them before the revelation of faith, to bring to a close the prophetic life in those who were engaged in it before the prophecy was fulfilled, lest by a compulsory abandonment it should seem to be condemned rather than closed; while to lay these things on the Gentiles would imply either that they were not instituted to prefigure Christ, or that Christ was still to be prefigured.

The ancient people of God, before Christ came to fulfill the law and the prophets, were required to observe all these things by which Christ was prefigured. It was freedom to those who understood the meaning of the observance, but it was bondage to those who did not. But the people in those latter times who come to believe in Christ as having already come, and suffered, and risen, in the case of those whom this faith found trained to those sacraments, are neither required to observe them, nor prohibited from doing so; while there is a prohibition in the case of those who were not bound by the ties of custom, or by any necessity, to accommodate themselves to the practice of others, so that it might become manifest that these things were instituted to prefigure Christ, and that after His coming they were to cease, because the promises had been fulfilled.

Some believers of the circumcision who did not understand this were displeased with this tolerant arrangement which the Holy Spirit effected through the apostles, and stubbornly insisted on the Gentiles becoming Jews. These are the people of whom Faustus speaks under the name of Symmachians or Nazareans. Their number is now very small, but the sect still continues.

Do not Christians observe the precept of Scripture “Hear, O Israel; the Lord your God is one God;” “You shall not make unto you an image,” and so on? Do make Christians not observe the precept, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain?” Do Christians not observe the Sabbath, even in the sense of a true rest? Do Christians not honor their parents, according to the commandment? Do Christians not abstain from fornication, and murder, and theft, and false witness, from coveting their neighbor’s wife, and from coveting his property,— all of which things are written in the law? These moral precepts are distinct from typical sacraments: the former are fulfilled by the aid of divine grace, the latter by the accomplishment of what they promise. Both are fulfilled in Christ, who has ever been the bestower of this grace, which is also now revealed in Him, and who now makes manifest the accomplishment of what He in former times promised; for “the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” John 1:17

Again, these things which concern the keeping of a good conscience are fulfilled in the faith which works by love; Galatians 5:6 while types of the future pass away when they are accomplished. But even the types are not destroyed, but fulfilled; for Christ, in bringing to light what the types signified, does not prove them vain or illusory.”

For more on this subject and how the early Church interpreted Christ’s fulfillment of the Law see the study Abolished or Fulfilled?

Love fulfills the Law

romans 13.10

If one believes in Christ and is seeking to walk in His Word/Love (according to their understanding) they are walking in obedience although they may be doing so imperfectly (Romans 13:10).

Rom 13:10  Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Those who walk in Christ’s love are fulfilling the law.

Rom 13:8  Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
Rom 13:9  For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Rom 13:10  Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Gal 5:14  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Gal 5:15  But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
Gal 5:16  This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Gal 5:17  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
Gal 5:18  But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
Gal 5:19  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
Gal 5:20  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Gal 5:21  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Gal 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Gal 5:23  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Gal 5:24  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Gal 5:25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Gal 5:26  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Col 2:6  As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
Col 2:7  Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

Rom 8:1  There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Rom 8:2  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
Rom 8:3  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
Rom 8:4  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

1Jn 3:21  Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
1Jn 3:22  And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
1Jn 3:23  And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
1Jn 3:24  And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

pagan-christianity

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays part 1

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays part 2

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Examine Yourself

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Pagan Christianity?

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Alexander Hislop

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Ralph Woodrow

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Pagan Parallels

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Church Fathers & Paganism

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Constantine

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Origins of Christian Holidays

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Easter & Paganism?

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Easter Eggs

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Easter Lily

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Easter Bunny

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Resurrection Celebration

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Christmas & Paganism?

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Christmas Trees

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – The Law & Holidays

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Change in Law

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – The Law of Christ

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – A New Commandment

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – God Changes Times and Seasons

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Binding & Loosing

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Establishing the Law

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