Please help me to understand this apparent contradiction. Jesus said that we must observe every detail of the commandments and precepts of the law of Moses. Jesus said in Matthew 5:19: ” Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly 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.” So why do we Christians not observe every command and precept of the law of Moses like Jesus said? Why did Paul and many first Christians abolish circumcision, dietary laws, the Jewish sabbath, animal sacrifices and many other precepts of the law? Some Christians in the first century rejected the apostle Paul and the Christians who did agree with the council of Jerusalem because they said that Jesus supported every precept of the law of Moses and so Paul and the first council in Jerusalem were in contradiction with the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:19 . Is there a contradiction between the words of Jesus (Matthew 5:19) and the decision of the council of Jerusalem and the teaching of Paul? Thank you for helping me in my christian life.
You state that “Jesus said that we must observe every detail of the commandments and precepts of the law of Moses.” If “we” are observant Jews before the death of Jesus and the opening of the New Covenant and salvation in Jesus, then your statement would be correct. However, you and I are not Jews under the Old Covenant. Jesus was speaking to Jews under the Old Covenant in this scene from Matthew 5. It is true that not a word of the Law of Moses was abolished by Jesus, but instead, as Jesus says in this passage, “I have not come to abolish the Law of the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law of Moses so that we do not have to. Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses in several senses of the word “fulfill.” He fulfilled the law of Moses in that he was the only human being to perfectly obey all aspects of the law at all times. His was the only perfect life. He met all the requirements of the law of Moses so that we do not have to ourselves. He fulfilled the law of Moses in that he took on himself the penalty of the law on those who did not obey it perfectly. As God had said in Leviticus 18:5, “for the person who obeys them [the law] will live by them.” The problem is that no one fully obeyed the law of Moses. Jesus came so that we could live by faith and under grace. He freed us from the obligation of the law. We find this in Colossians 2:13-15 and in Galatians 5:1. The law did not set people free, but Jesus set us free. Like it says in Colossians 2:14, through Jesus we are free of indebtedness or obligation to the law. Later, in Colossians 2:16-17 Paul specifically tells us that we are not to be judged by the things in the law of Moses, such as Sabbaths and New Moons. He tells us that these things, like all of the law of Moses, were a mere shadow of the things we have in Christ. Jesus also fulfilled the law of Moses (back to Matthew 5:19) in that his life and ministry were a fulfillment of the things merely suggested by the shadows in the Old Covenant. In Hebrews 10:1 we are told that the law of Moses was a shadow of the good things that are found in Christ. The Hebrew writer tells us that as of the time he wrote, the Old Covenant was “obsolete and outdated and will soon disappear.” (Hebrews 8:13) I have written a book on this topic titled “From Shadow to Reality” (available at www.ipibooks.com).
Therefore, we Christians are not required to observe the commandments in the Law of Moses. We are not obligated to make sin offerings or guilt offerings. We do not have to kill bulls or goats and offer their blood for our sins. We do not have to see Levitical priests about our skin diseases and we are free to eat all kinds of food (as proved by Mark 7:19). It was not Paul who abolished the requirement of circumcision. It was Jesus whose sacrifice nailed the obligation of law to the cross (Colossians 2:15). It is non merely Paul’s opinion that circumcision is not required (Galatians 3:23-25. 5:11-12 and many other passages in Galatians). It was not Paul who rejected the requirement of dietary obligations, it was God who did, as proved by Acts 10:9-16 and dozens of other passages.
It is true that some Judaizing Christians rejected the decision of the Jerusalem Council, but this was an error. It was those who tried to force the law of Moses on Gentiles who were in opposition to Matthew 5:19, as Jesus said that he fulfilled the requirements of the law of Moses, but they rejected this teaching of Jesus. Jesus said that he fulfilled the law, but these Judaizing Christians did not agree. This is the clear teaching, not just of Paul, but of Jesus, of Peter, of the writer of Hebrews and other New Testament writers.
My answer is, no, there is no contradiction between the things written in the Council of Jerusalem and what Jesus said in Matthew 5:19. This agreement was accepted by Peter and the other apostles, as well as by James, the brother of Jesus. It was those who tried to force non-Jews to obey the Law of Moses who were in error. Like Paul said in Romans 7:13, the purpose of the law of Moses was not so that by following it we could be made righteous, but that “through the commandment, sin might become utterly sinful.” In other words, the law showed us how sinful we are and how desperately we needed another means to come to God, which is through the death of Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins. We are no longer under the Law, and thank Jesus for that.