Christian Religious Studies JSSCE

Jesus christ improves upon the law

Text: Matthew 5:21-48


21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

Jesus said that He did not come to condemn the law but to fulfill it. He did not perform the duty of condemning the obnoxious laws but also improved the good ones. He cited examples with the following laws: murder, adultery, swearing, retaliation and the love of enemies.

In the commandment against murder, it is stated; “thou shall not kill”. Jesus went as far as tracing the reason why people kill. He maintained that killing is subject to anger. He made it clear that when we control anger in our lives, we will not quarrel which usually leads to injury and killing as well. Precisely, He said that people should control their anger.

Again the law on Adultery says; “thou shall not commit adultery”. The punishment for such was simply to stone the person to death. But Jesus said that even the way men look at women was equal to committing adultery. So according to Jesus, it is the sinful way by which men look at women that leads to committing adultery.

Moreover, the Jewish law on swearing says,” you shall not swear falsely” the essence of swearing is to show that one is telling nothing but the truth. But Jesus added that people should try as much as possible to be honest in all that they think, say or do. That would help them to avoid swearing entirely.

Furthermore, the Jewish law on retaliation says, “an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”. The reason according to them was for peace to reign but Jesus said the best thing was not to retaliate at all. People should not pay back evil to their fellow human beings.

Finally, the Jewish law on the love of enemy says; “you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy”. The reason for making this law was to keep people among the people, which, in actual sense of it was not. Jesus advised people to keep peace with their enemies instead of hating them.

Jesus Christ teaches that love is the supreme law.

Jesus said that the greatest commandment is love. So he asked his disciples to love one another and regard love as the new commandment. This was because the whole nature of God is love.

In first Corinthians chapter thirteen verse four to eight; St Paul wrote about some of the qualities of love. He said; “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude; love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, love never ends”.

The qualities of love are as follows

  • Love is patient
  • It is kind
  • It is humble and
  • It is faithful


  1. Even Jesus was subject to the law, therefore we must follow suit.
  2. We must learn to teach children to follow the law in our society.
  3. Civil and religious taxes are among our duties and obligation and must be paid.
  4. We must learn to improve and update good laws in our society.
  5. We must learn to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

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