The title for this week’s lesson comes from Romans 10:4-Christ is the end of the law (NKJV). Many who have been preconditioned to think negatively about the law automatically interpret the text to mean, Christ made the law obsolete. However, this reading goes against the many references in the book of Romans and other parts of the New Testament that discuss the continued relevance of the law.
Read Romans 9:30-10:4. How is Paul explaining here how salvation is by faith and not by the law?
As with the rest of the epistle to the Romans, Paul’s purpose in these verses is to demonstrate the true source of righteousness. The law is an indicator of righteousness, but it is powerless to make people righteous. Hence, Paul portrays a paradox: the nations (Gentiles) who did not even strive for righteousness have obtained it, while Israel, who strove to keep the righteous law, did not obtain it. Paul is not excluding Jews from righteousness; neither is he saying that every non-Jew is righteous. He is simply saying that the law does not bring righteousness to a sinner, whether Jew or Gentile.
Many Jews were sincere in their desire for righteousness, but their quest was futile (Rom. 10:2). They were zealous about serving God but wanted to do so on their own terms. They had taken an object of God’s revelation (the law) and confused it with the Source of their salvation. As good as the law is, it’s not good enough to save anyone. In fact, rather than making a person righteous, the law highlights the individual’s sinfulness; it amplifies the need for righteousness. That’s why Paul describes Christ as the end of the law. He is not the end in the sense of terminating the law, but in the sense of being the goal of the law, the One to whom the law points. The law leads a person to Christ as the repentant sinner looks to Him for salvation. The law reminds all Christians that Christ is our righteousness (Rom. 10:4).
People who take the law seriously are always in danger of legalism, of seeking to establish
their own righteousness. As we seek to obey God’s law, how can we be careful not to fall into what can be a very subtle trap?