I touched on this in another thread,but decided to make a new post so I could expound on the topic for discussion.
I believe everyone would agree that Christ came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. The reason is because that's what He said He came to do.
Matt5:17 “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.
1.What are the Law and the Prophets? The Law is the books of Moses, the Prophets is everything else.
Acts28:23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them,testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
Acts24:14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call asect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets,
Paul read from the Law and the Prophets.
Acts13:15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.”
2.The Law and the Prophets prophesied about Christ.
Luke24:44 Thenhe said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
We know how the Prophets prophesied about Christ, so I will not list any to shorten the amount of reading. How did the Law prophesy about Christ? Here are a few of many examples.
The sacrificial system that Moses instituted predicted His death.
He was born during the feast of Tabernacles, died at passover.
Day of Atonement. (Leviticus 16) prophesied about Christ. (EDIT: edited for two possible interpretations to Leviticus 16 as made known by Eccl12:13 in post #4)
3. When Christ came, He fulfilled the Law and the Prophets because that's what He said He came to do. Christ also gave us other criteria that had to be met when the Law and the Prophets were fulfilled.
The first criteria- Jerusalem and the Temple had to be destroyed before all of the Law and the Prophets were fulfilled.
Luke21:5 And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said,
Luke21:6 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
Luke21:20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.
Luke21:21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those whoare inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it,
Luke21:22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.
“All that is written” in what? The Law and the Prophets.The second criteria- The “heavens and earth” had to pass away before the Law and the Prophets were fulfilled.
Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in 70AD just like Christ, the Law, and the Prophets said it would be.
Matt 5:18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota,not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
If the “heavens and earth” have not yet passed away, then Christ has not yet fulfilled the Law and the Prophets.
Christ said His mission was to fulfill the Law and the Prophets but the physical universe is still here. The earth and the universe have not passed away. Did Christ not fulfill the Law and the Prophets? Did Christ lie about what He came to do? Was He mistaken? Was it harder than He thought it would be and He has to fulfill it all later?
Throughout the Old Testament "heaven and earth" were synonymous with the old law, the old system, the old government. He didn't mean the literal earth and universe.Isaiah isn't speaking of the creation of the universe here. The old law, the old system, Israel's government was established and Zion was made His people.
Isa51:16 And I have put my words in your mouth and covered you in the shadow of my hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, ‘You are my people.’”
Deut4:26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will soon utterly perish from the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess. You will not live long in it, but will be utterly destroyed.
Was He calling the literal universe to witness against them? No, the old law would be the witness against them.
Deut31:26 “Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against you.
Isa51:6Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.
Isaiah isn't speaking of the destruction of the universe. He is prophesying that the old law, the old government was going to pass away and they who dwell in it will die, but His salvation is forever.
Heb8:13In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
It was obsolete and ready to vanish away in the mid-60's AD when Hebrews was written. It vanished completely a few years later in 70AD with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.
Deut30:19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life,that you and your offspring may live,
Did the physical laws of the universe witness against them? No, the old law/government would be the witness.
The third criteria- Heaven and earth (the old law, system, government) had to pass away before the generation Christ was speaking to would pass away.
Matt 24:34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
Matt24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
4. It was all fully accomplished by 70AD when all of Christs' criteria were met.
Old Jerusalem was destroyed and replaced by New Jerusalem.
The old temple was destroyed and was replaced by the new Temple, Christ.
The old government was destroyed and replaced by Christs' government.
The old heavens and earth passed away and was replaced with the new heavens and earth.
And it all happened within that generation.
Eusebius explains it well,
EUSEBIUS Bishop of Caesarea (c. 265 - 340) Extract from the 'Theophania' :
"All authorities concur in the declaration that "when all these things should have been done" "The End" should come : that "the mystery of God should be finished as he had declared to His servants the prophets" : it should be completed : time should now be no more : the End of all things (so foretold) should be at hand, and be fully brought to pass : in these days should be fulfilled all that had been spoken of Christ (and of His church) by the prophets : or, in other words, when the gospel should have been preached in all the world for a testimony to all nations, and the power of the Holy People be scattered (abroad), then should the End come, then should all these things be finished. I need now only say, all these things have been done : the old and elementary system passed away with a great noise; all these predicted empires have actually fallen, and the new kingdom, the new heaven and earth, the new Jerusalem--all of which were to descend from God, to be formed by His power, have been realised on earth ; all these things have been done in the sight of all the nations ; God's holy arm has been made bare in their sight: His judgments have prevailed, and they remain for an everlasting testimony to the whole world. His kingdom has come, as it was foretold it should, and His will has, so far, been done; His purposes have been finished; and, from that day to the extreme end of time, it will be the duty, as indeed it will be the great privilege of the Church, to gather into its bosom the Jew, the Greek, the Scythian, the Barbarian, bond and free; and to do this as the Apostles did in their days--in obedience, faith and hope.'