This week in the Book of Mormon we’ll review chapters 11 to 14 of 3 Nephi and continue with our theme of Sanctification. Last week, we reviewed the Doctrine of Messiah(Christ) and saw that it is the gate to sanctification or the overcoming of personal sin. This week we’ll evaluate the next stage of Sanctification or being Born of the Spirit. What we see in this second stage of Sanctification is the living of the Law/Commandments and receiving a fullness of the Law/Covenants through the Spirit. What we’ll see in this week’s review is a correct interpretation of the word “fulfill” at 3 Nephi 12:17 and Matt 5:17 to get a better understanding about how Yeshua fulfilled the Law. Then we’ll consider how the word “fulfill” is used elsewhere to mean something a little different.
We begin our discussion with reviewing the process of transformation, sin and sanctification. As we saw in last week’s post, our process of transformation and sin looked like this -
And our Doctrine of Sanctification looks like this. But this week we'll evaluate chapter 12 on the Law and Commandments under being Born of the Spirit -
Destroy and Fulfill
Yeshua said in the Sermon on the Mount –
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Christianity has taken the rest of the New Testament and built a doctrine around the idea that Yeshua brought an end to the Law and now we have a new law under the Messiah(Christ). So essentially, the Law has been destroyed or abolished, which Yeshua said he was not doing.
The key to understanding 3 Nephi 12:17 and Matt 5:17 is how should the word “fulfill” to be interpreted so that the entire verse is true. It almost seems that this scripture is setting out a paradox.
Plerosai means to Make Full
The first place to look for a correct interpretation of 3 Nephi 12:17 and Matt 5:17 is to evaluate the Greek word that conveyed the original meaning. That Greek word at Matt 5:17 is “plerosai” or “pleres”. When we go to the Strong’s Concordance, we see that plerosai’s primary meaning is “to make full”. Furthermore, the cognate word “pleroo” means “to fill to individual capacity”.
So a better interpretation of the word fulfill at 3 Nephi 12:17 and Matt 5:17 would look like this -
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to make full, make complete and make perfect.
This interpretation preserves the idea that Yeshua did not destory or abolish the Law, but He brought a fullness to the Law making it complete and perfect.
"This interpretation preserves the idea that Yeshua did not destory or abolish the Law, but He brought a fullness to the Law making it complete and perfect."
A simply graphical representation of this concept can be illustrated as follows.
How did Yeshua Make the Law Full
So if Yeshua didn’t “do away with the Law” how did he make it full and render it complete and perfect?
Yeshua lived the Law
The first thing we can learn from this interpretation of the word “fulfill” is that Yeshua must have lived the Law during His mortality to the degree possible under Roman rule. He would have observed a seventh-day Sabbath, the Biblical Holy Days, the dietary laws, the Sabbatical laws, etc. etc. etc. But to make the Law full, complete and perfect, we can integrate the following aspects of His life and teachings in with the Law.
Pure Thoughts, Motive, Attitudes and Desires
One of the strongest themes that we see in the teaches of Yeshua is that He emphasized having pure thoughts, motives, attitudes and desires, which would have added an aspect fullness to the Law, which would have included bearing one another's burdens. We see that with the Beatitudes, in the rest of the Sermon on the Mount and in the rest of the Gospels.
Another way Yeshua made the Law full is that He restored the Melchizedek Priesthood - Hebrews 7. So that fathers of families were not only kings to their families as portraited in the Threshold/Passover Covenant but now they are also priests to their families as they make an oath and a covenant to obtain the Melchizedek Priesthood. And pledge to be pure, teach the law, answer for the transgressions of his family and administer the ordinances of sanctification.
A second aspect that we see in the Melchizedek Priesthood is the concept of proxy-salvation. Proxy-Salvation is when perfected men suffer unjustly for others and obtains for others God’s blessings and protection.
Another way of making something full is with the application of the number seven, which indicates a condition of fullness, completion and perfection. We can easily identify four covenants in the Scriptures. However, these covenants can be expanded to include seven as revealed through the Spirit.
COVENANTS IN THE SCRIPTURES
FULLNESS THROUGH SEVEN COVENANTS
Enochic (sealing power)
All Things in Common
Another concept that can be achieved through the Messiah and the Law is material equality.
Fulfilling All Righteousness
Another aspect of the concept of “fulfilling” is used in connection with Yeshua being baptized. The scriptures indicate that He was baptized to “fulfill all righteousness” - Matt 3:15. Well, this concept is also true with the Law. Since the Law defines sin, Yeshua would have had to live the Law perfectly to not only fulfill all righteousness, but to demonstrate His ability to overcome personal sin, and to show us the way to become like Him.
Our last concept of the use of fulfill is that Yeshua fulfilled prophecy that He was the promised Redeemer of all Humanity, which we see quoted throughout the Gospels.
We'll expand this discussion when we get to chapter 15.