19 Jun 2002

The Passing Away of Jot and Tittle

Submitted by theshovel
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For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Matthew 5:18, KJV

What meaneth the "jot and tittle" A more modern version - the NASB - translates it "the smallest letter or stroke". I mean, we're talking meticulous here. But was Jesus really pushing a technical approach to the things of God Oh, I have no qualms with the fact that he was holding these people to the...

unalterable ... word spoken through angels Hebrews 2:2

...after all, he WAS referring to the LAW.

To suggest that he was validating the 100% accuracy of the soon-to-be completed written revelation of God in order to establish it as the supreme authority in every aspect of life for those he came to set free only underscores a total disregard not only for what he actually said but also for the very freedom he came to bring. Do we not understand the CURSE of unalterable words inscribed in stone or written in ink Or are we really so unaware of the downside of such accuracy One only needs to consider the history of God's people.

The state of affairs in Israel had reached the pinnacle of a self-righteousness based upon a massive system of loopholes specifically designed to get around God's unalterable commands while creating the appearance of a Scriptural godliness. Sounds much the same as the Christian marketplace today, doesn't it If we were to take our religious-colored glasses off while reading this portion of Matthew's account we might realize that Jesus was nailing their collective religious butt to the wall.

Somehow though, we've been taught to completely overlook how all this plays into the why of what he said so that we often buy into the technical approaches of those who hold to the letter and yet disregard the life. I have no doubt that if I had been born in Jerusalem at that time and had been given half a chance I would have been standing right along side those Pharisees scoffing at everything Jesus said. How about you?

To get a fuller picture of the verse in question check out a bit more of the surrounding comments:

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. I tell you the truth, 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. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same 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. 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. Matthew 5:17-20

If you get nothing else out of this passage, don't miss the most obvious contrast: Jesus fulfilled what religious men broke! You see, the religious leaders constantly followed Jesus around examining everything he did or did not do for the express purpose of condemning him. The fact of the matter is that these religious men endorsed a system that abolished or nullified the very same law they accused Jesus of breaking (see Matthew 15:6). Not only that, they twisted what they broke in order to justify themselves so that they appeared as righteous in the eyes of man! In contrast, Jesus - the righteous one - came to justify the unrighteous. For HIS is the righteousness that surpasses that of the Pharisees!

Jesus did not comment on the jot and tittle to establish a precedent, but to expose a religious game!

You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Matthew 23:24

Do we not recognize that THEY, not Jesus, were the ones examining every minute legality - every jot and tittle - in order to get around their own commandment-breaking? But Jesus demanded that the law would NOT justify, but judge them to the same meticulous degree they attempted to get around it. How is it that so many have twisted Jesus' statement regarding the rigidity of the law in order to validate a scriptural legalism that strains at every little pen-stroke Have we not long-since discovered that such intense detail has brought nothing but sin and condemnation?

Yeah, but how does this fit with...

Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law ...?
Matthew 5:18

You know, the last time I looked the heaven and earth were still standing, and even though many have predicted The End of the World it somehow seems to hang on. But what if we're overlooking the most obvious connection - that the law itself is inextricably linked together with the elemental world In other words, the law cannot be disentangled from the basic principles of a world that has an end ... meaning that which finds its life in the world, or the things of the world, cannot get around the fundamental operating principles of that world.

As to the passing of heaven and earth, why would we restrict its meaning according to an elemental viewpoint Do we really think GOD is bound by the logic of a world that exists only because He holds it together Listen, why would we suppose that the passing of the elemental world, as well as every jot and tittle, would be understood any differently than how we learned Christ ... or did we come to know God through all the wisdom of the world No, knowing God comes despite human knowledge - for it cannot touch Him.

Consider the scenario presented by Paul:

Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. Romans 7:1-3

Under law, a man and a woman were joined until separated by death. If one partner died, the other was freed from that specific law. This is ELEMENTAL - and the flesh understands it - for some have even opted for murder to avoid adultery (No one ever said the logic of the flesh was particularly smart). So, according to the law, in order to LEGALLY marry another your spouse has to die first. But this is NOT how we were joined to Christ! Watch how Paul uses the elemental truth of the law as a NEGATIVE comparison to the miraculous life we have in Christ.

Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. Romans 7:4

No, He didn't kill your spouse - He killed YOU. In other words, YOU were removed from the jurisdiction of the elemental world ... and the principles by which it operates!! The heaven and earth, along with the jot and tittle of the law, have passed away because YOU have been taken out of IT, even though IT still stands. It has no power or control over YOU who have been made alive!! In Christ, everything has been accomplished, and this is the word of the cross.

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

You see, it makes no difference what the world around you demands, for it cannot know what the Spirit of God within you reveals. We have been removed from out of the world and yet we still reside here ... but as strangers and aliens!! Even our bodies are dead because of sin - as they are connected to the death of the earthly - but God's Spirit is life to those very members so that life oozes out of us despite the decay of dying bodies.

My friends, in Christ all has been fulfilled, the law has passed away even down to the jot and tittle!! We have been removed from the realm of nitpicking!! What is it that we are looking for as we studiously pore over the writings of the Bible: hints of sin, fear, guilt, shame, condemnation ... what Are we still looking for commands that can be broken Are we still trying to validate our worth by comparing ourselves to its standards. If so, we are only caught up with legal technicalities of an existence done away with! If we truly hear the living witness found in the pages of the Book we will hear testimony to the one and only reality, the one and only LIFE ... CHRIST.


These comments were all transferred over from the original website

Posted: June 18, 2002 by Elaine

Honestly all my life I was taught to read the Bible looking for the what to do and what not to do. Now I read looking for what He did and is doing. Big difference.

Brings a whole new thought pattern to the subject of Jot and Tittle. Hey on second thought brings whole new pattern to the whole Bible. Now instead of a book that brought me so much fear and anxiety, I now find love and so much peace when reading.

Thank you so much for sharing this letter with me. I really enjoyed this. Love

Posted: June 18, 2002 by Phil Gates


I have read almost all of your letters and articles. I have been moved to thought and appreciation. I am very glad people have the internet to spread these ideas. I do not think a book would have the same impact. I think the books have turned into the performance formulas that you refer to and most people have no use for them anymore.

The one thing that I have realized is that not every one in the world comes to these kinds of thoughts.

I have been stuck on your thoughts because so many of them have really been similar to my own. I guess what gets me about all of this is ( How did you get to this point) I know that not everybody arrives at these conclusions.

We are both boomers and maybe thats part of it ???

Our religious upbringing must be some what similar,or the oppressive circumstances are the same,almost.

I see the life sucking monster as very abusive of those that ask to many questions.Like me , and maybe you also. If any thing contributed to my present thoughts it was those years of oppression.

I get the impresion that you have had biblical training( the formal kind). So have I, yet I came to different conclusions than I was supposed to. I got grief for years from the religious people for my different conclusions .

I will say I have gotten to this place a little differently than you have though.

I was put in a place where I had to explore HOPE and all of it's ramifications. (JER 29:11. Then I realized why I have only exsperinced God as a loving Father and not this insecure evil org that so many people tried to convince me He was.

Well I hate to type so I will stop for now. I wish we could talk sometime. Yet I know how that may be imposible. At any rate keep up the good work.

Phil Gates

Posted: June 18, 2002 by Nan

Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. Romans 7:4

As soon as I read this, I saw it for the first time. "you also were made to die to the Law" oh my gosh, the law didn't die, I did. Then I read your paragraph under it, which said what I just thought. Funny how you can look at something for so long and see it one way and then all of a sudden see it completely different. I always thought the law died so I would be free to be joined to another. It does put a different spin on things, I'm not sure what, but a different perspective for sure. :)

Posted: June 18, 2002 by John E

I remember how I was thrilled the first time I saw what you are talking about Jim. The Law would have stood against me forever if it had not been fulfilled but, praise His Name, He fulfilled it so that He could have perfect relationship with me. He fulfilled every jot and tittle so that nothing could condemn me. Now He has taken it out of the way by nailing it to His Cross! But, I must say that thru what you write, the Lord has taken me deeper into the understanding of His grace than I've ever gone. What you have written here explains how that in Jesus, we have transcended the law and the entire world where that law is so helplessly and hopelessly applied. If that's true, then even the most troubled christian can look up and realize eternal hope in spite of how things look on the outside! Thanks Jim!

Posted: Jun-04-05 by guest

The Spirits flowing , eh Jim?

Great scriptural insight.


Posted: Jun-09-05 by guest

I printed that one on paper....THANKS

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