Permanence (Matthew 5:18)

Photo by Rohit Tandon on Unsplash

In Matthew 5:18, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, 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.” 

Here in Canada, our federal government typically sits and debates changes to our laws for over 120 days every year. Many of the new changes are subtle and go largely unnoticed by all except the subsets of our society that they are specifically crafted to apply toward. A few will impact everyone. Other changes are actually repeals of laws previous governments enacted, because the law of Canada is in a near-constant state of flux. 

That is because the culture of the country is constantly changing and because the government of our country is made up of people, for the people. This is the case in every nation that practices democracy. Point of fact, the laws constantly change when and where a nation practices any form of government – for every form of human government is limited by the human lifespan and impacted by external change. Simply put, because the culture keeps changing as the population and rulers age and new generations come up, the law must keep changing to keep up with the times.

But this is not the case with God’s government. His government is firm, for He is unchangeable and all powerful. His government is forever, for He is eternal. His Law is therefore also unchangeable and eternal. It cannot be repealed or modified until His purposes are accomplished. That is what Jesus is saying in Matthew 5:18. He said that God’s law is eternal truth. Scripture can always be trusted, unlike human laws and ideas that come and go with the times. Jesus said that that Scripture will outlast every human law, even both heaven and earth! What God has said, God has said. His Word – which created the entire universe we exist in – is more powerful than anything we could assemble out of the created world. It therefore outlasts everything, even matter itself. 

Moreover, Jesus said that not even the smallest of the characters used in Scripture is irrelevant. That is because the addition or subtraction of a single character can change the overall implication of a passage, so every character is important. For instance, if God wrote, “The Word was with God and the Word was God,” than that’s what God wrote, and that’s what it means. Not “the Word was with God and the Word was a God,” as some cults try to phrase it. Perhaps that is what Jesus had in mind when He said that the dots that change the pronunciation of the characters – the least strokes of a pen – have eternal value!

One could say that:

By faith in Scripture we gain salvation.

By the truth of Scripture we live rightly, and so gain righteousness.

By the permanence of Scripture we stand on solid footing and so gain confidence. 

By the relevance of Scripture one can make appropriate decisions and so gain wisdom.

By the minutia of Scripture one can study and so gain understanding and knowledge of His way and Kingdom. 


Let the scriptural text make its own point and sell itself. And we can trust Scripture to make its own point because the Spirit is already working in people before they even come to the text.

Palmer Earl


Meditate on Romans 10:17, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Praise God for His infallible Word!

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