By Kelly McDonald, Jr.
“1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:1-4, NKJV).
Common Argument: Some have used these verses to say that the law has been terminated or ended.
Think it Through: How could one statement from Paul negate the rest of the Old Testament? This sets a dangerous precedent of allowing people to change the rest of the Bible and claim it is part of having faith.
Short Answer: Christ’s obedient life is the goal of the law. In other words, our faith in God will lead us to live like Christ, who obeyed the law (see also Romans 3:31).
Longer Answer: The Greek word for “end” is teleos, and in this context it means “the purpose at which something is directed, or a tax.”
How can we cross-reference this meaning? One thing to keep in mind when we study the Bible is that every verse has a context. The meaning of this verse can be ascertained by previous statements by Paul in the letter to the Romans and also by the Words of Jesus.
Earlier in the same letter, Paul wrote “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law” (Romans 3:31). The Greek word translated as nullify is katargoumen, and it means “to render idle, unemployed, inactivate, inoperative – to deprive of force, influence or power… to cause a person or thing to have no further efficiency or terminate”. So, our faith in Christ does not weaken the influence of the Law. It does not terminate the law’s effectiveness. Instead, the law is upheld or established by our faith. It is made more firm.
In Romans 3:31, Paul established a foundation of understanding for us to properly interpret Romans 10:1-4. From the context of the same letter, we can see that the proper interpretation of Romans 10:4 is that Christ is the goal or purpose of the Law.
In the article on Matthew 5:17-20 (click here to read that), Jesus said that he did not come to destroy, terminate, or loosen the law. He can to fulfill it or fill its meaning to the full. When Jesus came, the meaning of the Law became magnified. Whatever interpretation of Romans 10:4 we arrive at, it cannot mean loose, destroy, or terminate because it would contradict Christ’s words as well as Paul.
When we live by faith, the goal of the law is Christ. It cannot end it as Christ also obeyed it. For instance, Christ obeyed the Sabbath and declared Himself Lord of this day (Mark 2:27-28). This means that the purpose of the Sabbath is Christ, who honored it throughout His life.
Kelly is the President of the BSA www.biblesabbath.org
References used: Thayer’s Concordance