What does”Jesus is the end of the law of righteousness mean”?
In the book of Romans we come across a claim by Paul that Jesus is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes.
Romans 10-4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Many Christians believe this means that Jesus ended the law that was given through Moses. Christians today are therefore not under the law given through Moses.
However there are those who assert that we are still under the law, that this is not what this verse means at all. They claim that what this means is that Jesus ended the penalty of the law.
When taken with the rest of scripture it is very clear that Paul did in fact state that the law given through Moses has ended. The law of the first covenant, the law given through Moses, came to an end through Jesus. You will find many writing showing this on my website. But here we will deal specifically with the verse where Paul clearly and distinctly stated that the law had ended regardless of the claims to the contrary.
So let’s break this down and show what Paul meant.
The word translated as law in this verse is νόμος Nomos which is the word used to refer to the Mosaic law. Romans 10-4 is referring to the Mosaic law.
So we at least know that Paul is referring to the Mosaic law in this verse.
The Greek word translated as end is τέλος Telos which means to end and is translated as such in the KJV. It is actually THIS word that is most often objected to as meaning end as in being the literal end of the law. Those that purport the law will highlight the fact that Telos can also have the meaning the aim or purpose of. It is THIS meaning, that Jesus was the AIM or PURPOSE of the law, that those who say we are under the law today, claim that Paul meant in Romans 10-4.
I have seen it argued that the NKJV translated Telos as purpose in 1 Timothy 1-5
1 Timothy 1-5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,
It being argued that this shows that Telos can mean purpose. It must be noted that while the NKJV does indeed translate Telos as purpose in 1 Timothy 1-5, the NKJV does NOT render Telos as purpose in Romans 10-4. The NKJV translates Telos as end. So while the NKJV translators were aware that Telos can mean purpose and chose to use that translation in 1 Timothy 1-5 they believed that the correct translation in Romans 10-4 was end. Something that seems to not be noted by those that use the NKJV and its rendering of Telos in 1 Timothy 1-5.
End is also the word used in many English bibles before the KJV
Wycliffe Bible 1395
Romans 10-4 For the ende of the lawe is Crist, to riytwisnesse to ech man that bileueth.
Tyndale Bible 1525
Romans 10-4 For Christ is the ende of the lawe to iustifie all that beleve.
Coverdale Bible 1535
Romans 10-4 For Christ is the ende of the lawe, vnto righteousnes for euery one yt beleueth.
The Bishops Bible 1568
Romans 10-4 For Christe is the ende of the lawe, for ryghteousnesse to all that beleue.
The Geneva Bible 1587
Romans 10-4 For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousnes vnto euery one that beleeueth.
So what did Paul really mean by this statement.
It won’t be a surprise to anyone familiar with my writings that I believe Paul meant EXACTLY what the verse states in the KJV. Jesus is the END of the law of righteousness to everyone that believes.
Jesus most certainly is the purpose of the law of this I will not argue.
The law was to guide us to Christ.
The law was to be our schoolmaster, our teacher that would bring us to Christ
Galatians 3-24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
But after Jesus the seed and faith had come we no longer require the schoolmaster. We no longer need the law.
Galatians 3-25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster
We are now meant to be grown. Now we should not not do wrong because it’s against the law, but because we know that it is wrong. Many people often claim that those who say the law is no more are saying that it is OK to steal and murder. This is a straw man seeing that is not what is being said at all. Killing and stealing is hardly loving thy neighbour now is it. Are those that use this argument actually saying that they would go around killing and stealing if it wasn’t against the law…..I highly doubt they are and so there argument is muted by this fact.
The law was milk, for children.
Hebrews 5-12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 Butstrong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
The one still using “milk” is unskilled in the word of righteousness
But Paul, in Romans 10-4 was actually stating that the law given through Moses was ended by Jesus.
Jesus fulfilled the law and so it has passed.
Law advocates will point to Matthew 5 where Jesus claimed that he had NOT come to destroy the law or the prophets but he had come to FULFILL them.
Matthew 5-17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Jesus most certainly did say that he has not come to destroy the law, the Greek word destroy is καταλύω kataluó to destroy, demolish, dissolve, overthrow, annul
Jesus didn’t come to simply get rid of the law, in fact he couldn’t, because as he also stated it would remain until heaven and earth passed, and they have yet to do so, so Jesus could not simply dissolve it, annul it or overthrow it. However he also stated that he came to FULFILL the law which was the other way in which the law could pass.
Matthew 5- 18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
There are 2 Tills in this verse not just one. This is very important to notice.
Now Jesus used 2 different words here translated as fulfill. In verse 17 he uses the Greek πληρόω pléroó which means to fulfill, to make complete.
However in verse 18 Jesus uses the Greek γίνομαι ginomai which means to come to be
Jesus therefore saying that he had not come to destroy the law, simply remove the law, but rather to fulfill, to make complete what was in the law for Jesus, the Messiah, to do and then saying that not one bit of the law would pass until all had been done, until he had fulfilled, completed all that had to be done.
In Luke Jesus is recorded as saying that a prophecy had been fulfilled by him.
Luke 4- 16And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,18The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
The Greek word translated as fulfilled is the Greek πληρόω pléroó just as it was in the first fulfill used in Matthew. Jesus was fulfilling, completing the scriptures.
So Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets by doing what was written in the law and the prophets for the messiah to do…..including dying on the cross.
On the cross just before his death Jesus very clearly proclaimed that it was finished
John 19-28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
John 19-30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.,
The Greek word translated as, accomplished in verse 28 and it is finished in verse 30 is Τελέω teleó, the Verb form of the word that Paul used in Romans 10-4. Jesus had accomplished, finished what he came to do and so the law could pass. The law was not removed by being destroyed but by being fulfilled.
It’s important to ask who was it that was accusing Jesus of abolishing the law in Mathew 5? The answer to this question is nobody. Nobody accused Jesus of abolishing the law.
We must then ask as to WHY Jesus had made the statement that is recorded in Matthew? If nobody was accusing him of doing so what was the purpose of this statement that would actually seem rather out of place and pointless? This is simple to answer. Jesus was making the statement so that when people would look back at these words that he stated they would see that those that were proclaiming the end of the law were not proclaiming that the law had simply ended, been removed through force, through being destroyed or abolished but rather through accomplishment which we can see Jesus proclaimed he had done and he had proclaimed would be the reason that the law had passed.
Jesus, just as Paul stated and correctly rendered so in the KJV, was an END of the law for righteousness for all that believe.