Q: Did Christ End the Law? (Romans 10:4)

A: Was it Paul’s intention to convey that Christ came to end the law and replace it with faith?

Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

After reading this scripture the Christian is often left with the idea that Jesus ended the need to keep the law if we simply believe – or have faith in other words.

There is a conflict that occurs though, when we read seemingly an opposite verse in the same epistle:

Romans 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

The problem with Romans 10:4 occurs in the meaning that is assigned to the word “end.” In this case it is most often defined as “termination” in our minds when it would be more appropriately interpreted as “aim, goal or purpose.” These are legitimate definitions of this word in English, for example:

To what end, he wondered, had the Divine created the stars in heaven to fill a man with feelings of inspiration one day and insignificance the next?” –Amor Towles

It is proper to use the Greek word (telos) for “end” in this way as well. Notice how it is translated here:

1 Timothy 1:5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,

This is a proper use of telos especially when we consider that the aim and goal of the commandments is to show love – towards God and our fellow man. This concept is supported in many places throughout the New Testament (Matthew 22:36-40; Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:13-14).

When we read previous verse (Romans 10:3), we see Paul addressing some that were “seeking to establish their own righteousness” away from God’s. Romans 10:4 is answering this problem by saying that true believers will set the righteousness of Christ as their goal.

Because all of the commandments are righteousness (Psalm 119:172) and Jesus kept the law perfectly without sinning (Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:4), we are to strive to follow His example (1 Peter 2:21; Philippians 2:5) by delightfully doing the holy, just and good law of God (Romans 2:13, 7:12, 22).

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