John 1:17, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (King James Version, NKJV, NLT..)
What comes to your mind after reading of this verse? Many common readers will have this kind of idea in their mind. ” the Law (Torah) of Moses is missing grace and truth, just full of legalistic regulations and judgments; BUT! HOWEVER, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is full of grace and truth!”
The conjunction the Greek text uses at this place is ” καὶ” it is just “continuation or addition in similar flow of ideas.”
According to Psalm 119:142, “Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
And Your law is truth,” both the Law of Moses and the Gospel of Jesus are TRUTH because they are both the word of God. The Law was given to Moses at Mt. Sinai in the fullness of GRACE ( חֵן ) and God’s being GRACIOUS ( חָנַן ) to him. The word “GRACE (or GRACIOUS) ” is the basis of this conversation between Moses and God, and it appears 7 times!! Therefore in light of this biblical evidence, the Law was also full of GRACE and TRUTH as well as Jesus Christ.
Then what is the difference? The Law was “GIVEN” because it was written on the stone “TABLETS”, but Grace and Truth “CAME” because the “PERSON” of Jesus came and walked in humanity. Therefore, the grace and truth in the Law became the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. John explains, “the Word (Torah) became Flesh (human Jesus)” in John 1:14.
Heb 1:1, 2 “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. (NIV, ESV, RSV…)
In the same way as the “but” affects in John 1:17, here also affects us to misinterpret the Scripture.
Sounds like in these last days, God ceased “speaking” through the Old Testaments but only by his Son, huh? So it causes many people to think the Old Testament is no longer a vessel of God’s speaking, rather the New Testaments is the legitimate or more clearer revelations of God, thus ignore the Old Testaments or abandon or spiritualize the message of the Old Testament to fit it into N.T. theology.
The fact is there is not such a word “but” in Greek text!
That means God has continued and will continue to speak through both the prophets and His Son! See how Jesus viewed this legitimacy of the Law of prophet Moses.
Jesus said, “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Mt 5:18)
In these last days, God will also speak through the smallest letters of the prophets until heaven and earth disappear.