Have you ever read an essay that has just been utterly helpful, and organised your chaotic thoughts into a coherent understanding? This has been my experience today reading Roland Deines “Not the Law but the Messiah: Law and Righteousness in the Gospel of Matthew – An Ongoing Debate” in Built Upon the Rock: Studies in the Gospel of Matthew eds. D. M. Gurtner and J. Nolland (Eerdmans, 2008) pg. 53-84. His discussion proceeds like this:
1.1 Is there a New Consensus?
2.1 Texts in Favour of a Law-Abiding Christian-Jewish Community
2.2 Texts Supporting a New Understanding of Torah in the Kingdom of God
3. The Basic Concepts in the First Gospel as a Framework in which the Law is to be Understood.
4. Matt. 5:17-20 as a Crucial Text for Understanding Matthew's Concept of Torah and Righteousness
4.1 Why Does Jesus Have to Defend Himself Already at the Beginning of His Career? (5:17) 4.2 Matt 5:17: Fulfillment of the Whole Will of God as Jesus' Primary Goal
4.3 Matt 5:18: Iota and Jots/Strokes: A Clue to Legal Details or a Confession-Like Formula for the Ongoing Relevance of the Whole Will of God (Abbreviated in the Term nomos)?
4.4 Matt 5:19: From Christological Fulfillment to Disciples' Obligation
4.5 Matt 5:20: The Implementation of the Eschatological and Exclusive Jesus-Righteousness as the Condition for Entering the Kingdom of God.
Deines ruthlessly unpacks the problems, pointing us to more detailed discussions, while helpfully explaining the decisive issues along the way. This is arguably the best essay I've read on this topic thus far. If this topic interests you, as it should, go read and learn! I won't spoil it and give you his conclusions - where would the fun in that be?
Ok, I'll give you a couple of clues:
matt 17:24-27; 11:11-15 and most importantly 5:3-10!