Luke 16:16

The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

Matthew 11:13

For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

Comparing with:

Acts 21

8 And having gone forth on the next day, we came to Caesarea, and having entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, being of the seven, we stayed with him.
9 And with this man there were four daughters, virgins prophesying.
10 And remaining many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.
11 And having come to us and having taken Paul’s belt, having bound his feet and hands, he said, “Thus the Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews in Jerusalem will bind the man whose belt this is, and will deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’”

In reading Luke 16:16 and Matthew 11:13, the inference is that the prophets and the law are operative up to and including John the prophet. So how is it that in Christianity we still find a reference to the office of a prophet in the gospels, whereas the same saying 'overtook' the laws?

2 Answers 2


What Jesus is pointing out here is a transition in the message being proclaimed. The law and the prophets all pointed to a day when the people would be saved by their Messiah. So what Jesus is saying is that starting with John that time is now. And going forward the message won't be one day we'll be saved, but rather you can be saved today by believing the Good News.

  • Thanks for your input. It's all true that salvation has come isn't a question anymore, well among Christians. Also, ''So what Jesus is saying is that starting with John that time is now'', is where I lost you as in how it's related to there being no 'law and prophets' after John, unless you are implying that none was 'saved' in the old dispensation, until after the laws and the prophets get to be in the past. If words mean anything, it has come true for the laws, but the 'prophets' have eluded them, unless we got this wrong, as was the habit, John 6:52
    – Witness
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 15:36

The word translated as "until" in both passages is ἕως (heōs), which does not necessarily mean up to some point and never again. The same confusion sometimes arises over Matthew 1:25

Matthew 1:24–25 (RSV)

When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until (ἕως) she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.

John Chrysostom, writing (in Greek) in the 4th century, explains how the word ἕως:

He hath here used the word “till,” not that thou shouldest suspect that afterwards he did know her, but to inform thee that before the birth the Virgin was wholly untouched by man. But why then, it may be said, hath he used the word, “till”? Because it is usual in Scripture often to do this, and to use this expression without reference to limited times. For so with respect to the ark likewise, it is said, “The raven returned not till the earth was dried up [Genesis 8:7]. And yet it did not return even after that time. And when discoursing also of God, the Scripture saith, From age until age Thou art [Psalm 89:2 LXX], not as fixing limits in this case. And again when it is preaching the Gospel beforehand, and saying, In his days shall righteousness flourish, and abundance of peace, till the moon be taken away [Psalm 71:7 LXX], it doth not set a limit to this fair part of creation. So then here likewise.

Homily V on the Gospel According to St. Matthew

The verse you cite clearly demonstrates that the gift of prophesy persisted after John the Baptist. Paul also refers several times to prophesy existing in the Church at his time (e.g. Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:20). Paul even attributed the gift of prophesy to himself (1 Corinthians 13:2).

There is even a prophesy that prophesy will continue, recalled by the Apostles on the occasion of Pentecost (Acts 2:16):

Joel 2:28 (RSV)

And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.

  • Neatly broken down. Thanks. But what do we do with Luke 16 and Matthew 11? Because the meaning of 'till' read from your source even compounds the situation, such that the 'law and prophets' could still be now. My view is that by 'law& prophets' He meant offices in the old dispensation as unique in duties as also the law was distinct in its function as a guide. Because its only prophets that had a constant presence of the spirit of the Most High (Num 11:29), with everyone dependent upon them to hear from above, but by the time ofJoel/ Messiah, this mode of instruction is defunct
    – Witness
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 16:12
  • Yes, I see your point. Perhaps my answer was a little off target. Let me think on it a little ...
    – user22553
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 16:18

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