Messiah Fulfilled the Torah
In several passages the Book of Mormon mentions that the Messiah “fulfilled” the law, for example when Yeshua addresses the Nephites he says:
4 Behold, I say unto you that the law is fulfilled that was given unto Moses.
5 Behold, I am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel; therefore, the law in me is fulfilled, for I have come to fulfil the law; therefore it hath an end.
6 Behold, I do not destroy the prophets, for as many as have not been fulfilled in me, verily I say unto you, shall all be fulfilled.
(3Nephi 15:4-6 (7:5-7 RLDS))
In my last article I covered the phrase “therefore it has an end’ showing that phrase does not refer to a “termination” of the Torah, bit to the idea that the Messiah is the “goal” of the Torah. In this article I want to deal with the concept that Messiah “fulfilled” the Torah.
In trying to understand this passage, everything hinges on the meaning of the words "destroy" and "fulfill". What does Yeshua mean by "destroy the Law" and "fulfill the Law"?
In their groundbreaking book Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus, David Bivin and Roy Blizzard jr. address this issue in reference to the parallel passage in Matthew 5:17. They write:
"Destroy" and "fulfill" are technical terms used in rabbinic argumentation. When a rabbi felt that his colleague had misinterpreted a passage of Scripture, he would say, "You are destroying the Law!" Needless to say, in most cases his colleague strongly disagreed. What was "destroying the Law" for one rabbi, was "fulfilling the Law" (correctly
interpreting Scripture) for another.
(Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus; David Bivin and Roy Blizzard, 1984 P. 154)
In reviewing this book by Bivin and Blizzard, Book of Mormon apologist Myra L. Treat wrote:
“In Understanding The Difficult Words of Jesus, Mr. Bivin and Dr. Blizzard examine the origin of the Synoptic Gospels…. The authors devote the book to providing persuasive evidence for a Hebrew origin of these books…. Many of the things Jesus said were actually Hebrew idioms. This makes sense, because he was speaking to a Jewish audience and wanted to communicate in terms they could readily understand. Because these Hebrew idioms have been translated for their word value and not their idiomatic value, their exact meaning has been lost. The inaccurate interpretation of some of these passages has caused theological errors to be made…. For Book of Mormon believers, this book has additional importance…. This is exactly the case with the Book of Mormon. Its authors were Hebrews… and because they were Hebrew, the idiomatic expressions of the Book of Mormon are Hebrew. “
(Recent Book of Mormon Developments Vol. 2; Articles from the Zarahemla Record; Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus; A Book Review; 1992; by Mya L. Treat pp. 47-48)
And in a follow up article, her husband and fellow Book of Mormon apologist Ray Treat wrote:
“God saves the best until last. This especially includes the knowledge that the Book of Mormon is an ancient Hebrew book. We now realize that God created the ancient Hebrew people, including their laws, customs, language, beliefs, etc. as a gigantic audio-visual aid to teach us about the gospel. Non-Restoration Christians are also learning this. Their increasing interest in the Hebrew nature of both the Old and New Testament is without a doubt a necessary prelude to their recognition of the Hebrew nature—and consequently, the divinity—of the Book of Mormon.
This explosion of new information about the Hebrew nature of the Book of Mormon is God’s call to action to all those who consider themselves Book of Mormon believers.”
(Recent Book of Mormon Developments Vol. 2; Articles from the Zarahemla Record; 1992; The Significance of Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus; By Raymond C. Treat pp. 49-50)
In this case Bivin and Blizzerd’s book sheds meaning on the Book of Mormon itself. Joseph Smith himself reinforces this understanding. Joseph Smith understood "fulfilled the Torah" to mean that Messiah "magnified" the Torah and made it "honorable" and not that he abolished it:
Christ Himself fulfilled all righteousness in becoming obedient to the law which he had given to Moses on the mount, and thereby magnified it and made it honorable, instead of destroying it.
(Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951], 5: 261.)