Atlanta Freethought Examiner, Vince Albanov writes that the Essenes and Christianity are denominations of Judaism. He is correct that the Essenes, of the Qumram community were a sect of Judaism. They were focused on apocalyptic teachings. However, his assertion that Christianity is a denomination or sect of Judaism lacks credibility. See Pork-eating Christians http://www.examiner.com/article/pork-eating-christians
Before addressing the proof text found in Matthew 5:17-19, the following texts offer their own refutation of the premise. If Paul thought that Christianity was a sect of Judaism why would he exert so much of his pre-Christian effort to destroy it? Wouldn't that be a demonstration of the principle taught by Jesus? "Every kingdom divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? (Matt. 12:25, 26)
Thus, if Christianity is a sect of Judaism, meaning a mere extension as a part of a whole, then to cast out or destroy Christianity means Paul was fighting against his own interests. After converting to Christianity, he had many encounters with Judaism, death threats and was beaten to within a fraction of his life. He said, "And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision (Judaism) why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased." (Gal. 5:11)
Stephen so delineated between Christianity and Judaism that he was stoned to death before concluding his sermon.(Acts 7) The Judaizers understood the following from Christianity which they perceived seriously threatened Judaism:
"For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us". (Acts 6:14)
Jesus taught he would destroy the temple so completely that not one stone would be left upon another, Matt. 24:1-3. His priesthood represented a complete change of the Law, (Heb. 7:12-14). Christ's priesthood, patterned after Melchizedek, versus that of the Levites which was patterned after Aaron was beyond all contradiction better, Heb. 7:1-7.
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 'For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore brakes one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven'.
Albanov cited the above text as proof of the perpetuity of Judaism. It is true that Jesus did not come to "destroy" the Law. He would not set it aside. It had to be fulfilled. It was easier for heaven and earth to pass than for one tittle of the law to fail. (Lk. 16:17) The passing of heaven and earth equals the fulfillment of the law.
Jew and Gentile Christians Prior to A.D. 70 Destruction of the Temple
The words spoken concerning those who were to do and teach the Law was addressed to the followers of Judaism. Paul, a faithful Jew purified himself according to the customs of Moses to demonstrate he walked orderly and kept the law, Acts 21:24-26. It is critical to note that in that same context the apostles were clear that such law could not be bound on Gentiles.
"But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality." (Acts 21:25)
Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, 'You must be circumcised and keep the law --to whom we gave no such commandment. (Acts 15:24)
Thus, what was bound on Jewish Christians was not bound on Gentile Christians.The latter were never obligated to keep the law as Christians.The Jerusalem conference in Acts 15 settled the matter that they were not to place the "yoke of bondage" (the law and particularly circumcision) on the Gentiles. Following this Peter makes an incredible statement. He says, we [Jews] believe we shall be saved even as the Gentiles, i.e. without or apart from the law.
The forbidding of Gentile Christians to be circumcised also demonstrated the clear separation of Judaism and Christianity. For a Jew, failure to be circumcised meant they were "cut off" from the covenant people.
And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant. (Gen. 17:14)
For a Gentile Christian, to practice circumcision according to the Law meant they were "cut off" from Christ.
Indeed, I Paul say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace." (Gal. 5:2-4)
Paul didn't write this for the Jewish Christians because like himself, they were already circumcised. He wrote it for the Gentile believers.
Jewish Christians Kept The Law For a Limited Time
Jewish Christians kept the law until the temple was destroyed. Follow its destruction they were no longer required to keep it. That was the passing of heaven and earth, (Matt. 24:34-35). They were only required to keep the law until it was fulfilled, i.e. until heaven and earth passed.
The passing of heaven and earth occurred in A.D. 70. That was the time the temple and city was destroyed, when God fulfilled all things written (Lk. 21:20-22) and changed the customs delivered to Moses. He took away their place and nation as a covenant people. The Jewish Christians only kept the law for a time during the transition until the metamorphosis from Judaism was complete. (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18; Heb. 8:13)
Gentile Christians were never obligated to keep the law and in fact were forbidden to do so. God used the Gentiles to teach Israel they would and were saved apart from the Law through faith in Christ, Acts 15:9-11.