Christ the end of the law?

(The follwing article is adapted from the site Adventist Defense League with the permission of the author Edwin M. Cotto. You can click here to see the original article. All verses quoted below are from the New World Translation)

With all the “defense” one does in regards to the law of God, there are at times those verses that on the surface, if not studied well, seem to say that the law is abolished. Romans 10:4 is one of those verses. Let’s read it:

Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the Law, so that everyone exercising faith may have righteousness.

Some of our critics use these words to suggest that Christ has abolished the law, and that therefore, under grace, we don’t need to keep the law. To these critics I would like to show some of Paul’s words, from this same book, in regards to what he says of the law.

My verse is:

Romans 3:31 Do we, then, abolish law by means of our faith? Never may that happen! On the contrary, we establish law.

What does the word “end” mean?

The word “end” in Romans 10:4 is the greek word “telos” which, according to both Strong’s and Thayer’s greek definitions, can mean “goal, result or purpose.” At times, this words can also mean “termination,” but given the surrounding context we just addressed, this is hardly the case here. In fact, most of the times this word is used in the New Testament, it is implying some type of goal or purpose. For example, notice how Peter uses this word in his first epistle:

1 Peter 1:9 As YOU receive the end of YOUR faith, the salvation of YOUR souls.

Of course, Peter is not telling us that faith will come to an end when a believer is “saved,” for “everything that is not out of faith is sin.” –Romans 14:23. Obviously then, it is the purpose/goal of faith… to save souls.

Now whenever this word is used to literally mean “to end” or “terminate,” it always speaks about the end of the present condition. For example, our present world is said to one day come to an end:

Matthew 24:14 And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end (telos) will come.

Yet, the bible also says that the earth will endure forever:

Ecclesiastes 1:4 A generation is going, and a generation is coming; but the earth is standing even to time indefinite.

So how about the earth? Will it end, or is it the present wicked condition of the earth that will end?

You know the answer.

The goal of the law

Let us read down the context:

Romans 10:1-2 Brothers, the goodwill of my heart and my supplication to God for them are, indeed, for their salvation. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God; but not according to accurate knowledge

Note carefully that Israel, who was given the 'commandments of righteousness' (Psalm 119:172), have a zeal for God but not according to accurate knowledge.” Why not according to accurate knowledge? The answer is found in the next verse:

Romans 10:3 for, because of not knowing the righteousness of God but seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.

Note that the Jews were trying to establish their own righteousness. It is in this verse where Paul’s concern is revealed. Throughout the beginning of his letter to the Romans, he establishes the fact that it is by grace, through “faith” that we are to be justified. Paul here asserts that salvation is not earned by works, and anyone who thinks to establish their own righteousness by works is walking "not according to accurate knowledge” –verse 2.

With the context considered, and with the word “end” understood, we may now proceed with “handling the word of the truth aright” (2 Timothy 2:15):

Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end (telos – goal, purpose) of the Law, so that everyone exercising faith may have righteousness.

Since Israel could not gain righteousness by their works of the law, what then is the goal of the law? Verse 4 gave us the answer, the goal of the law was Christ. But for what? The verse continues...

“… have righteousness…”

Paul is not stating that the law is abolished; on the contrary, he is saying that "Christ is the goal of the law FOR righteousness." The law’s purpose was to bring about righteousness. Jesus is righteousness, therefore it brought about him. We can’t become righteous by keeping the law, but we can become righteous by believing in Christ, who will in turn manifest his righteousness through “our body” -2 Corinthians 4:10-11. Since the law is righteousness and Christ is that righteousness alive, if he abides in us, his life of righteousness will show, and we will be found with HIS nature… a nature that obeys every one of God’s commandments. Truly then, can we be called… “the children of God” (1 John 3:1-2), for…

1 John 3:9 Everyone who has been born from God does not carry on sin (break the law –verse 4); because His [reproductive] seed (the seed is Christ –Gal. 3:16) remains in such one, and he cannot practice sin, because he has been born from God.