All or Nothing: Christ's Fulfillment of the Law

The Hebrew Roots Movement is gaining popularity and deceiving genuine believers. We need to be aware of the way this movement misuses Scripture. #HebrewRootsMovement #OldTestamentLawKeeping #Bible

It's important for Christ-followers to understand the Hebrew Roots Movement because it is a growing movement in the modern church and it's taking some genuine Christians captive to its false teaching.

People involved in this movement include genuine believers who misunderstand the purpose of the Old Testament law as well as false teachers and false Christians. And the beliefs in the movement vary as well. Some in the movement would say you are not saved if you are not obeying Old Testament laws. Others would simply say you are deceived.

But all in the HRM believe Christians should follow Old Testament dietary, Sabbath, and festival laws. 

Let me state upfront: there is nothing wrong with a person observing Old Testament laws, but it's wrong to claim that such observance is God's desire for New Testament Christians.

Whether HRM teachers do so intentionally or naively, they use a method that is typical for all false teachings: creating doctrine by taking verses out of context and ignoring the full counsel of Scripture.

Two Key Verses Misused by the HRM

1. Romans 3:31: "Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law." 

Context: Romans 3-4 explains that we are no longer under Old Testament laws; and verse 3:31 emphasizes the important purpose of the law: to show us we can't measure up through law-keeping. Our faith doesn't nullify the purpose of the law. It confirms it.

Please read both chapters in full to understand 3:31 in context. And note verses like those below that summarize the full context meaning of these chapters:

Romans 3:20: "No one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin."

Romans 4:13: "It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith."

2. Matthew 5:19 is another verse the HRM considers key. 

The Hebrew Roots Movement is gaining popularity and deceiving genuine believers. We need to be aware of the way this movement misuses Scripture. #HebrewRootsMovement #OldTestamentLawKeeping #Bible
Matthew 5:17-20"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. 18 For truly I tell you, 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. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."

Verse-by-verse explanation:

Verse 17 explains that Christ has come to fulfill the Law (Mosaic law: nomosand the Prophets (Old Testament prophecies). When Christ spoke these words, this had not yet been completely fulfilled.

Verse 18 explains that the Old Testament law will not disappear until it is fully accomplished, and Christ did this soon after He spoke these words.

Before Christ’s atoning sacrifice, we were still "under the law." His death and resurrection accomplished all that the Old Testament law demanded. His death made us “clean,” something that could never be accomplished by law-keeping. 

In verse 19 the Greek word changes from the Law (nomos) to the commands (entolé). This is significant. Using both words in this passage clearly shows us that Jesus was switching from the Mosaic law (fulfilled) to the moral commands (permanent). 

In verse 20 Jesus refers to the righteousness of the Pharisees who were meticulous in their observance of the Old Testament ceremonial, dietary, and sacrificial laws. He says that kind of righteousness won’t get us into heaven. Obeying external laws will not satisfy God. The remainder of the chapter is an explanation that true godliness is revealed in moral actions. Diet and ceremonies are not mentioned.

Let me use this analogy to explain verses 17-19:

Suppose you wrecked your father’s car and you owed quite a bit of money for a car repair. You were trying to pay for it, but it was obvious you'd never be able to do it on your own.

After your father let you struggle for a few weeks (to prove your inability to pay), he came to you and said, “I paid the bill in full, every last penny of it. And I am keeping that bill as a reminder of your inability to pay it and a reminder of my love that motivated me to pay it for you. Now, because I have paid this bill for you, I expect you to drive safely, show respect for my property, and behave maturely.” 

However, your HRM friend says, “Your dad still has the bill, and that means he expects you to pay it. So you better keep trying to save money for it.”

The "Whole Counsel of Scripture" Regarding Old Testament Laws

False teachings are built on several verses taken out of context, as those above. And they ignore other clear passages on the subject. I invite you to read the whole chapters where the passages below are found. You will see that they accurately represent the context.

Galatians 2:19-21: "For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die."

Galatians 3:2-3: "Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?"

Galatians 3:12-13: "This way of faith is very different from the way of law, which says, 'It is through obeying the law that a person has life.' But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.' "

Below, Paul clearly explains that he no longer follows the Jewish laws. Instead, he obeys the commands of Christ (i.e. New Testament commands). Several times during his ministry, he followed some Old Testament laws in order to have opportunities to share the Gospel with the Jews, but he explains why below.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23"Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." 

The HRM has fantastically complex explanations for the passages above which are not based on the context, nor the original Greek, nor the whole counsel of Scripture. Beware of any explanation of Scripture that requires multiple layers of explanation to make it fit a particular doctrine.

The passage below talks about the futility of observing festivals/Sabbath and dietary laws, the very laws which the HRM insists Christians should follow:

Colossians 2:16-17:  "So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality."

Dietary Laws

The Hebrew Roots Movement is gaining popularity and deceiving genuine believers. We need to be aware of the way this movement misuses Scripture. #HebrewRootsMovement #OldTestamentLawKeeping #Bible
The passages below speak specifically about the end of dietary laws. HRM teachers claim that Acts 10 has nothing to do with dietary laws but strictly deals with Peter's acceptance of Gentiles. It's true that the overall message was acceptance of the Gentiles, but the specific aspect God used to illustrate that point was dietary laws which kept Jews from eating with Gentiles. If God still considered some foods "unclean" and forbidden, why did He tell Peter exactly the opposite three times? To believe this HRM explanation, you have to believe God says things He doesn't really mean.

Acts 10:9-16"About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, 'Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.'  
   'Surely not, Lord!' Peter replied. 'I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.'
   The voice spoke to him a second time, 'Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.'
   This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven."

Discussing food sacrificed to idols, Paul makes a blanket statement about food which confirms that dietary laws are no longer applicable for Christians. The context of this passage is not dietary laws, but Paul's bold statement certainly refutes the belief that any food is unclean, whether sacrificed to idols or prohibited by Old Testament laws.

1 Corinthians 8:8: "Food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do."

Compare this verse to the words of the Old Testament dietary laws, and you will see that the HRM have ignored the New Covenant changes brought by Christ:

Leviticus 11:41:43"Every creature that moves along the ground is to be regarded as unclean; it is not to be eaten. You are not to eat any creature that moves along the ground, whether it moves on its belly or walks on all fours or on many feet; it is unclean. Do not defile yourselves by any of these creatures. Do not make yourselves unclean by means of them or be made unclean by them." 

God has made it clear that we are no longer made clean or unclean by foods we eat. The HRM must deny clear, straightforward New Testament verses in order to support the claim that we are still under Old Testament dietary laws.

Dietary laws were an especially strong area of resistance in Peter's life. Read Galatians 2:11-21 where Paul rebuked Peter for reverting back to the law and not eating with Gentiles. 

In the verses below Jesus explains why dietary laws are not pertinent to New Testament believers. Let's "listen and understand" what He is saying.

Matthew 15:10-11"Jesus called the crowd to him and said, 'Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.' " 

Mark 7:18-19: " 'Are you so dull?' he asked. 'Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.' (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)"

Note: The words underlined in parenthesis are Scripture, translated from the original Greek.

All or nothing

James talks about the hopelessness of external law-keeping:

James 2:10"For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it."

Old Testament laws include dietary, cleansing, sacrificial, ceremonial, and civil laws for the nation of Israel. Under the Old Covenant ("under the law"), people became unclean by foods they ate, things they touched, and by normal body functions (Leviticus 15:19-33). Some of these laws improved sanitation and health conditions during the ancient times, but some were strictly symbolic of our human unworthiness before God. 

It's interesting that the HRM chooses which Old Testament laws to observe. They obey dietary laws but not cleansing laws, yet both had the same purpose: keeping a man "clean" enough to be in God's presence.

When Christ came, He became our righteousness. We became “clean” in Him. External laws were fulfilled completely in Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27).

So why does the HRM choose to believe that sacrificial and cleansing laws were fulfilled in Christ, but dietary and ceremonial laws were not? There is no sound reason for this double standard. Either Christ fulfilled all of them or none of them. 

The Hebrew Roots Movement is gaining popularity and deceiving genuine believers. We need to be aware of the way this movement misuses Scripture. #HebrewRootsMovement #OldTestamentLawKeeping #Bible
Other pertinent 1-minute devotions about this subject
Does God Hate Shrimp?
Did Jesus Really Say That?  
Christ's Complete Fulfillment of the Law  
Laws, Commands, and Errors  
Understanding the Laws and Commands (Bible Study)  
Which Old Testament Laws? 

Some additional resources:
A Pivotal Issue: a video examining the false premise of Jewish law-keeping. This is part of a multi-part series.
What is the 119 Ministry?  
What is the Hebrew Roots Movement? 
What is the Sacred Name Movement?  
Dangers of the Hebrews Roots Movement  
Are Followers of Jesus Under the Law? 

Bible Love Notes


  1. I've been introduced to this and am doing deep research of this and am quite confused to tell truth. What about definition of word antinomianism, my dictionary. States that Paul may have been accused of this Roman 3.8 and6.1,15 I appreciate your insight and would like your input thank you blessings. I'm searching also for first scripture. Is it hebrew or Greek. Kim cooper 204 walnut st. Arcadia. Oh 44804

    1. Antinomians believe that since we're saved by grace, it doesn’t matter if we obey God’s moral laws.

      Jesus rebuked this belief: "If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). He was not telling them to obey Old Testament laws. He was telling them to obey New Testament commands. This is explained above when I talk about the Greek word for the Law (nomos) and the word for New Testament moral commands (entolé). In John 14:15, entolé is used.

      Paul was not antinomiam. He actually rebuked this belief: "We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:1-2).

      Christ did not abolish the law. He fulfilled it completely and took us out from under its control (Matthew 5:17-20; Romans 6:14). No one can be made right by obeying the law (Galatians 3:11).

      Grace now empowers us to obey the New Testament commands, becoming more like Christ, devoting ourselves to purity, love and good works (Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:12-13; Titus 1:1; Hebrews 13).

      You asked about the languages: The original manuscripts of the Old Testament are written in Hebrew (and Aramaic in a few places). The original manuscripts of the New Testament are written in Greek.