Thursday, June 02, 2011

End of the Law

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

4 τέλος γὰρ νόμου Χριστὸς εἰς δικαιοσύνην παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι.

Paul is continuing his address to the Jews as he explains the importance of Christ. A quick look at commentaries shows that translating and understanding this verse has had some debate over the years. The word  τέλος has a sense of "end" but it can also have a sense of "fulfillment." Apparently few see it that way today, though Barth did. If we see it as "end," what does that mean? It means that this speaks to Matthew 5:18 where Jesus says, For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 

So if Christ is the end of the Law then it would seem that there is some tension with Matthew 5:18. Heaven and earth have not passed away, so clearly something has happened apart from that. I think that we get our answer from the phrase εἰς δικαιοσύνην. I'm not sure why that is translated "for righteousness" rather than "into righteousness," and I don't have time to mine the whole entry in BDAG right now.

The point is that in Christ's active obedience He fulfilled the requirements of the Law. As you read through the Pentateuch you see a lot of rules that people had to follow to atone for sin. Yet we know that the Law was unable to truly save. In contrast, Jesus is able to truly save. He lived a perfect life of obedience to fulfill the Law. so as we read the Pentateuch we see all of the requirements of the Law fulfilled in Christ. 

This seems so simple, doesn't it? Fundamentally, it really is. Believe in Him and His righteousness will be credited to you by God. However, believing in Him will also change your life forever. This is not a matter of punching a ticket to heaven, but giving your life to Him. I am here to tell you that I would not have it any other way.

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