OVER seven hundred years prior to Christ's earthly ministry, the ancient Prophet Isaiah, inspired of God, prophesied that the ministry of Jesus Christ was destined to "Magnify the law and make it honorable" (Isa. 42:21). According to Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, magnify is defined as: "extol, laud, cause to be held in greater esteem or respect; increase in significance; intensify." Fitting that definition into the prophetic statement made by Isaiah, the verse would read: "... He will extol, laud, cause to be held in greater esteem, increase in significance, intensify the Law...." The Hebrew word literally means "make great" or "cause to be great." Christ Himself verified and confirmed that this indeed was His purpose, Read it for yourself in Matthew 5:17. He said, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." The Greek scholars acknowledge that the word here translated "fulfill" means not only to do or perform, but to "fill to the full." Actually, the Greek word translated "fulfill" (See PDF for actual Greek words) is an Indo-European cognate of the English words "full" and "plus." In this context, it has the meaning "to bring to full expression," i.e., to bring out its fullest significance and meaning. Some might confuse the word "fulfill" in verse 17 with the same word in verse 18. However, even though the translators of the King James Version used the same English word "fulfill" in both cases, the original text actually has two entirely DIFFERENT words. The word in verse 18 is the infinitive of (See PDF for actual Greek words), which means "to take place" or "to come to pass" in this passage. So the word "fulfill" in verse 17 means to develop to full potentialities, and could easily be substituted by the word "magnify." So contrary to popular belief, He came not to destroy, but to fulfill or MAGNIFY the very Law that He Himself wrote on two tables of stone at Mount Sinai over fourteen centuries previously. As any honest scientist knows, to magnify does not mean to destroy, but to show forth and enlarge an object or thing to the fullest possible extent. Jesus perfectly FULFILLED, lived by and MAGNIFIED God's Law to show us its fullest spiritual application and to set us an example that we should follow in His steps (I Peter 2:21).
Does Love Nullify the Law?
But what about love? Perhaps many of you have thought love does away with the Commandments. The Apostle John, who wrote so much about love, surely would be the one to know. In I John 4:8, John wrote, "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." Again in verse 16, he said, "And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." Obviously then, the Apostle John places a great deal of importance on love. But he didn't say, nor does my other inspired scripture, that love put away, superseded or destroyed the Law. As a matter of fact, the very apostle who talked so much of love, also said, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments..." (I John 5:3), and paraphrased Jesus Christ's saying, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Love then, far from superseding and doing away with the Law — the Ten Commandments — is the very heart and essence of the Law. It is the spirit of the Law. Love is the very tool Christ used to intensify, magnify, and fulfill His Law (Romans 13:10).
The Spirit of the Law
In Old Testament times God only required a physical, mechanical and visible obedience. In other words, obedience in the letter. In New Testament times, God has required much more. He wants us to follow Him to the spiritual limits of His Law. That's what Christ's ministry was to teach and demonstrate. To be sure we understood this new, magnified style of law keeping, Jesus Christ gave some vivid examples. In Matthew 5:21, He said, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time (Old Testament times], Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you [here comes the new, magnified application), That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca [vain fellow], shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." Christ said — magnifying the Law in its spiritual intent — that if you even hate your brother you are a murderer! Does that sound like Christ was doing away with the Law? And John — the "apostle of love" — said the same thing! (I John 3:15.) Whoever hates his brother is guilty of murder. In verses 27 and 28 of the same chapter (Matt. 5), Christ said, 'Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you [here again comes the magnified approach), That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Rather than being done away with, we find the influence of the Law extended to include our intent, thoughts and attitudes! God's. Commandments are magnified in scope and His love is expressed through keeping them in their spirit and intent as well as the letter. And so we see the ancient prophecy of Isaiah fulfilled and the Law indeed magnified and made honorable!