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The Meaning of “To Fulfill”
In my previous post I addressed the meaning of “to abolish” in Matthew 5:17. Now I interpret the meaning of “to fulfill” in 5:17 with a view to understanding what Jesus meant when He said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (emphases mine throughout).
What Jesus meant by “to fulfill” has been the subject of much debate with several differing views offered. At first, I considered discussing the various views and then presenting my particular understanding all in one post. But that is far too much for one entry. So my purpose here is to positively present the view I think is accurate.
Pleroō in the New Testament
The Greek term for “to fulfill” in Matthew 5:17 is plērōsai, coming from the verb, pleroō. A form of pleroō occurs 90 times in the New Testament. There are several ways the word is used (list is not exhaustive):
- To fill up
- To fill to the full or top
- To complete or accomplish
- To carry through to the end
- To make complete or perfect
- To show a correspondence with heightening
- To realize or bring something to realization
Because the term is used 90 times, sometimes in differing contexts, the interpreter must determine which sense of pleroō is the precise meaning in any given example.