Read the Passage (NRSV)    Find more resources related to this passage  Print

Matthew 5:17-20 – Kingdom Righteousness


The new righteousness of the kingdom does not abolish but fulfills in word and deed God's commands already revealed in the law.


This summary statement of Jesus on the relationship of the righteousness of the kingdom and the commandments of the law is clearly programmatic for Matthew's understanding of Jesus' message and mission. That does not mean it is easy to understand or comprehend. It is important to see where it stands in transition in the Sermon. It comes right after the opening refrains asserting the linking of the kingdom with the promise of God's blessing. It introduces the remainder of the Sermon that will seek to link that promise of blessing to the ways in which that blessing is demonstrated in a wholeness that binds words and deeds together. As such, that righteousness of the kingdom fulfills God's promises of old and also points in eschatological hope for a future that awaits the full coming of the kingdom. Such eschatological righteousness will always come as a new reality that will challenge and threaten the signs of the old order.

Matthew 5:17-20

The Law and the Prophets

17 ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter,* not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore, whoever 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 does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Related Passages