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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 5 - Verse 18

Verse 18. Verily. Truly, certainly. A word of strong affirmation.

Till heaven and earth pass. This expression denotes that the law never should be destroyed till it should be all fulfilled. It is the same as saying, everything else may change—the very earth and heaven may pass away—but the law of God shall not be destroyed, till its whole design shall be accomplished.

One jot. The word jot, or yod—'—is the name of the Hebrew letter I, the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet.

One tittle. The Hebrew letters were written with small points or apices, as in the letter Schin—*** or Sin ***— which serve to distinguish one letter from another. To change a small point of one letter, therefore, might vary the meaning of a word, and destroy the sense. Hence the Jews were exceedingly cautious in writing these letters, and considered the smallest change or omission a reason for destroying the whole manuscript when they were transcribing the Old Testament. The expression, "one jot or tittle," became proverbial, and means that the smallest part of the law should not be destroyed.

The laws of the Jews are common!y divided into moral, ceremonial, and judicial. The moral laws are such as grow out of the nature of things, which cannot, therefore, be changed—such as the duty of loving God and his creatures. These cannot be abolished as it can never be made right to hate God, or to hate our fellow-men Of this kind are the ten commandments; and these our Saviour has neither abolished nor superseded. The ceremonial laws are such as are appointed to meet certain states of society, or to regulate the religious rites and ceremonies of a people. These can be changed when circumstances are changed, and yet the moral law be untouched. A general may command his soldiers to appear sometimes in a red coat, and sometimes in blue, or in yellow. This would be a ceremonial law, and might be changed as he pleased. The duty of obeying him, and of being faithful to his country, could not be changed. This is a moral law. A parent might suffer his children to have fifty different dresses at different times, and love them equally in all. The dress is a mere matter of ceremony, and may be changed. The child, in all these garments, is bound to love and obey his father. This is a moral law, and cannot be changed. So the laws of the Jews. Those to regulate mere matters of ceremony, and rites of worship, might be changed. Those requiring love and obedience to God, and love to men, could not be changed, and Christ did not attempt it, Mt 19:19; 22:37-39; Lu 10:27; Ro 13:9.

 

A third species of law was the judicial, or those regulating courts of justice, contained in the Old Testament. These were of the nature of the ceremonial law, and might also be changed at pleasure. The judicial law regulated the courts of justice of the Jews. It was adapted to their own civil society. When the form of the Jewish polity was changed, this was of course no longer binding. The ceremonial law was fulfilled by the coming of Christ: the shadow was lost in the substance, and ceased to be binding. The moral law was confirmed and unchanged.

{o} "one jot or one tittle" Lu 16:17.

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