DID CHRIST BRING THE LAW TO AN END? This all depends on what “law” you are talking about. If you are referring to the “law of sin and death,” then the answer is “yes,” but if you mean “the law of God,” then the answer is “yes” and “no.” I would argue that the following did come to an end with Christ:
- The time when we did not have Christ as our goal and model of what a Torah-observant man looked like has come to an end.
- The time when the law was an outside motivator to obedience to God has come to an end.
- The time when we did not have the Holy Spirit empowering us to live out the commandments of God has come to an end.
- The time when God was still waiting to fulfill His promise to Abraham when He walked between the pieces has come to an end.
- The time when we did not have an Advocate, Mediator, and High Priest in heaven to intercede and pray for us to help us walk out the commandments of God has come to an end.
But has the Law (Heb. Torah) of God been abolished, destroyed, annulled or done away with and is no longer relevant to our lives as believers? Then the answer is a definite “NO!” What most Christians do not understand is that God’s relationship with His people was not based on the covenant that God made with Israel at Mt. Sinai, so what would be the point of abolishing or destroying it? Did God throw out His plan and program that He had going in the Old Testament to start a whole new program with Christ? No, He didn’t. Those who believe this only demonstrate how much of the Old Testament they really do not understand.
THE ORIGINAL PASSAGE
So let’s go back and begin to unravel this mystery about how to view Romans 10:4. To do this, we need to examine the original passage on which this misunderstanding is based.
For I bear them [Israel] record that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes. (Romans 10:2-4)
I didn’t just want to look at the one verse in question, but I wanted you to see it in context.
THE REAL ISSUE
The issue here is not about the commandments themselves, but on whose standard of righteousness are we using when we keep them? Are we using God’s standard of righteousness or are we following the standard created by Israel, or more specifically, the Pharisees? The problem with traditional Christianity’s interpretation of Sha’ul Paulus’ (Paul’s) writings is that they take him and his writings out of their historical, cultural, and religious contexts, and as a result, they misinterpret what he has to say, particularly when it comes to the law.
“IS CHRIST THE END OF THE LAW?”
The problem in correctly understanding Romans 10:4 is how most people understand the word “end” today. You see most people today understand the word “end” to mean one thing, but the word “end” in 1611 and in the Greek has a different meaning in mind. As a college English instructor for 25 years, I can tell you that the meaning of words do not remain static or stay the same. As the culture changes, so does the meaning and use of words. For example, when I was growing up, “Aids” were people who helped out in the principal’s office, but now when you say that word, the first thing that comes to mind is a horrible disease. Another example is the word “computer.” Prior to WWII, a “computer” was a person who was hired to do mathematical computations, but after WWII, a computer became a machine, like we know it today. It was during WWII when the machine “computer” was created to do what the human “computer” did but at a faster and more accurate rate.
Likewise, the primary meaning of the word “end” has also changed in the past 400 years. In this verse, the word “end” is the English translation of the Greek word telos (Strong’s #5056), which means “to set out for a definite point or goal, or properly the point aimed at as a limit, result, purpose.” However, this word does not mean “to terminate” here. The word “end” is still used to mean a “goal” or “point aimed at,” when we say, “What end did you have in mind?” meaning “what’s your goal or what are you aiming to achieve?” And it is in this sense that the word “end” is to be understood. Finally, this understanding of the word “end” is also supported by The Apologetics Study Bible, which points out in its footnote for this verse that the word “end” also means “goal” (1695).
PLACING IT BACK INTO CONTEXT
But the real test is to place this meaning back into the text and see if it makes sense.
For I bear them [Israel] record that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the goal of the law for righteousness to every one that believes. (Romans 10:2-4)
What is the destination point, the target that God’s law is aiming to achieve within our lives, its goal? Sha’ul Paulus’ (Paul’s) response is “Christ.” He is the living embodiment and example of the Law [Torah]. In other words, if we could take all the commandments of the Law and use them to formulate a man, who would it be? Christ. This understanding of this verse fits with what follows in this passage.
TWO TYPES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
In the next section of verses, Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) goes on to describe two types of righteousness, both of which deal with God’s law.
For Moses describes the righteousness which is of the law, “That the man which does those things shall live by them.” (Romans 10:5)
In this verse, I have placed the quote in bold print. Paul is quoting here a line that is found in five different verses: Leviticus 18:5; Nehemiah 9:29; Ezekiel 20: 11, 13, 21. In all five cases, the phrase is used to contrast God’s expectation that people live their lives guided by His commandments. However, in each case, that was not what they were doing. This is the meaning of this line in its original context.
After making this statement, Paul then begins to make the argument that the standard of righteousness that the Jews are using in their obedience to the law [Torah] is man-made and, therefore, like the above quote, it does not satisfy God’s expectation. But the standard that is of faith is when we walk out our love for God by obeying His Word, including His commandments, with Jesus [Yeshua] as our goal and destination point. And to prove his point, Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 30:12-14. But to show you the context of the Deuteronomy passage, here are verses 10-11:
If you shall hearken unto the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law [Torah], and if you turn unto the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul. For this commandment which I command you this day, it is not hidden [or too difficult for/from] you, neither is it far off.
Clearly here, the context of this passage is the Torah, the commandments of God. It is at this point that Deuteronomy 30:12-14 begin.
|It is not in heaven, that you should say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?||But the righteousness which is of faith speaks on this wise, Say not in your heart, Who shall ascend into heaven” (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)|
In comparing these two verses, we can see that Paul is taking what Moses writes about the Torah and he is applying it to Jesus. Why? Is Paul suggesting that Jesus has replaced the Torah? No, instead, according to archaeologists and the remains of the homes in Israel that belonged to believers, the earliest term for Jesus [Yeshua] is HaTorah, “The Living Torah,” that Jesus [Yeshua] was the living embodiment and expression of all that the Torah was and represented. So what was true of the Written Torah was likewise true of the Living Torah.
|Deuteronomy 30:13||Romans 10:7|
|Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?||Or, who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)|
In this comparison, we see an apparent difference between these two passages. However, as seen from Romans 6, Paul identifies the water (or seas) with death, so for him to interpret Romans 10:7 in this way is consistent with his pattern of interpretation. But again, we can see that he is applying what Moses writes about the Torah to the person of Christ [Messiah].
|Deuteronomy 30:14||Romans 10:8|
|But the word is very nigh unto you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it.||But what says it? The word is nigh you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;|
But it is here that Moses explains why the words of the Torah are not “hidden” or “are not too difficult” for the people to obey. It is because the words are “nigh them, in their mouth, and in their heart.” This is why, I believe, most Christians say they cannot obey the Torah, because the Torah is not “in their hearts” and it is not “in their mouth.” Why the two places? Because as Jesus [Yeshua] taught, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45). When Torah comes out of our mouth, Moses is saying, then it is in the “abundance of their heart.” The problem is that most Christians don’t read and study the Torah, so then how could it come out of their mouth, and therefore, how could they possibly keep it?
Notice that the Torah that is “in their hearts and in their mouth” and that has Jesus [Yeshua] as its goal and target “is the word of faith,” Paul writes, “which we preach.” You see, when the Jews are describing “the righteousness which is of the law [the written and oral Torah],” it misses the purpose and plan of God because the Pharisees (and later rabbis] would take the interpretation of the Scriptures in the direct opposite direction than what God originally intended; however, with Christ [Messiah[ as the goal and destination point of the Torah, then with that view in mind, then believers could obey the commandments in a way that God had originally intended, rather than what was being taught by some of the Pharisees at the time. [Some had some good ideas and interpretations, but not all of them.]
THE REALITY OF GOD’S TWO TORAHS
So just as God’s written Torah [the first five books of the Bible] becomes a reality to us when it is in our hearts and in our mouth, and then, we are able to do it, Paul applies this same concept to the Lord Jesus Christ [Heb. Adon Yeshua HaMoshiakh]. So how do we make Jesus [Yeshua] a reality in our lives? The same way we make Torah a reality in our lives: Him being in our hearts and in our mouth.
That if you shall confess with YOUR MOUTH the Lord Jesus, and shall believe IN YOUR HEART that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with THE HEART man believes unto righteousness; and with THE MOUTH confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10; Emphasis Mine)
Notice that according to these two verses, if all you do is “believe in your heart” that God has raised Jesus [Yeshua] from the dead,” you have righteousness, but not salvation. It is only when we combine the belief of Christ’s [Messiah’s] resurrection with our confession from our mouth that we are saved. And in the combination of these two elements, we begin our life-long walk of salvation with God, a walk that is not complete until we come into His Presence, either at His coming or at death.
May Christ [Messiah], the Living Torah, and the Written Torah of God both comprise the abundance of our hearts and the confession of our mouths to the glory of God, Amen.