“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. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-19).
Interpretation of the Bible
Interpretation is solely the responsibility of an individual. Take for example, a child in school, saw and heard the teacher saying that 1+1 = 2. The child can interpret it to be true, or question the teacher’s meaning, and say that he/she had seen someone prove (with mathematical deduction) that 1+1 =1.
Whose interpretation should we follow? Or is there a common sense application to the literal meaning of a word or sentence? For example, I heard that the Law (as my friend Winston said) was destroyed by Jesus (Romans 10:4), and Jesus said he did not come to destroy the law (Mat 5:17). Common sense would let me know that there must be more than one kind of law, and in one sense Jesus is referring to Law A, and in the other sense Paul is referring to Law B (C, D, etc.), or we are mis-interpreting the essence of the passage.
Let’s say Law A is God’s Ten Commandments, and Law B, C, etc. are the Jewish Mosaic Law or ordinances (such as sacrifices, etc.). Here are some examples of both (edited for clarity).
Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to enter into life, obey the commandments.” “Which ones?” the man inquired. Jesus replied, ” ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.” (Taken from the 10 commandments) (Mat 19:16).
Jesus said. “You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.” (NLT Mat 5:31). “You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’”(Mat 5:33). “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’” (Mat 5:38). “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.” (Mat 5:43) These are just examples of some laws that the Jewish people were practicing. There are several laws.
In Romans 10:4-5, Paul said: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth. For Moses described the righteousness which is of the law, that the man which doeth those things shall live by them.” Paul said that Jesus is the end of the law, but Jesus said that he did not come to end the law; therefore, they are referring to different laws. The rich young ruler also asked Jesus “Which Ones?” knowing that there are different laws. Therefore, to inherit eternal life, God’s Ten Commandments are still active to many Christians, and the Jewish Mosaic laws are not.
Before Jesus, practicing the different laws was the measure of righteousness for mankind, but since Jesus, believing in him is the measure of righteousness for mankind: that is, to inherit eternal life. Righteousness is given to us even after the death sentence was pronounced to mankind as a result of Adam’s action of sin. While we are made right with God through Jesus, the practice of God’s laws conform us for entrance into eternal life.
That is why Jesus said to the rich young ruler: ‘do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother’, these are God’s laws taken from the Ten commandments, and are still in practice by many Christians and Jews. But the practice of animal sacrifices and other ceremonial laws were abolished when Jesus was crucified. “When Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split (Mat 27:50-51)”. This according to some interpretation signifies that the temple sacrificial system – law of ordinance was ended.
If interpretation of the Bible is a science which is always questionable, what happens to common sense? If that too cannot be used to understand the literal text, then the trick is to confuse and say that all aspect and methods are questionable, but this argument still rest with the individual responsibility to hear, read, and understand. In summary, until heaven and earth pass away, God’s laws are still binding and are still conforming us, and whoever teaches others not to follow them will be taken into judgment by God. Practice God’s law! I leave you with a quote from Isaiah 8:20. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” No Jesus in them – he who is the light of this world.