What does Romans 10:4 mean when it says, “Christ is the end of the law?”

Do you know what Romans 10:4 really means? Because of the great misunderstanding of this verse, a lot of Christians missed its real meaning. Join us now as we discover what it means for Christ to be the end of the law.

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Christ is the end of the law. That is what Romans 10:4 says. However, a lot of people believe this verse proves that we don’t have to keep the law.

Is this what Romans 10:4 really mean? Let’s find out.

Examining the Greek word

Romans 10:4 tells us:

“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

To better understand this verse, we need to look into the original Greek word of “end.”

According to Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary, the word end in Romans 10:4 came from the Greek word, “telos,” which means, “to set out for a definite point or goal).”

Now, compare this definition to Thayer’s Greek Definitions where it says telos means “termination, the limit at which a thing ceases to be (always of the end of some act or state, but not of the end of a period of time).” 

Thayer also defines it as “the end to which all things relate, the aim, purpose.”

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words include variations in meaning such as “‘the aim or purpose’ of a thing.”

Looking into these various meanings, telos can mean the “end” or the “aim or goal.”

What does Romans 10:4 mean?

Now, we must ask, which one of these meanings does Paul really intend to use? 

Most Christians would say telos means “the end” and thus, Romans 10:4 tells us that Christ is the end of the law. They conclude that the law ceases from being effective and that all we need is faith.

In short, faith voids the law.

However, this understanding runs contrary to what the Apostle Paul says in the same letter, Romans 3:31:

“Do we then make VOID the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.”

Paul clearly tells us that faith does not negate the law of God. He goes on to say that instead of putting an end to the law, we, as Christians, should establish it!

Obviously, the main purpose of Paul in Romans 10:4 isn’t to end the law, but Christ is the aim of the law.

Notice how telos is properly translated in I Timothy 1:5:

  • New King James Version – Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.
  • New Revised Standard Version – But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith.
  • New American Standard Bible – But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from a sincere faith.
  • New English Translation – But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
  • English Standard Version – The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

That should be enough to tell you that the word telos doesn’t entirely mean the end or put a stop, but rather it can be translated as “goal,” “aim,” and “purpose.”

So, going back to Romans 10:4, this verse can and should be properly translated as:

“For Messiah [Christ] is the goal of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

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What is the true meaning of Romans 10:4?

Because of the wrong interpretation of most Christians, they have missed the magnitude of Paul’s real message in Romans 10:4.

In English, when we say, “end,” it can mean objective or goal. You probably heard of the famous but wrong belief of Sergey Nechayev, the 19th century Russian revolutionary, “The end justifies the means.”

In this expression, we understand that the word “end” here means goal, purpose, or aim. How do we know? Because the main reason why Sergey said this is that he believes that as long as the “end” or goal is morally acceptable, whatever means you use would also be acceptable.

Of course, we know that’s wrong, but the point I’m getting here is that the English word “end” varies in meaning and you need to get the context to know its real intention.

In the same way, Romans 10:4 tells us that Christ is the end of the law. You need to get the context to know its real meaning.

In the earlier verses of Romans 10, we read:

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:1-3).

Paul was saying here that Israel is zealous, but they are doing it with the wrong understanding. For many Jews during the time of Paul, they are trying to earn their salvation by keeping the law of God.

Now, it doesn’t mean it is wrong to keep the law, but their motivation and purpose were wrong. They thought that by themselves, they can earn salvation and gain God’s grace.

That’s why Paul needed to explain to them that they need the sacrifice of Yahshua or Jesus Christ to be cleansed of their sins. By believing and accepting the sacrifice of Yahshua, they can now submit to the “righteousness of God” instead of establishing their “own righteousness.”

When Paul wrote in Romans 10:4 that the Messiah is the goal or aim of the law, Paul was pointing us to Yahshua. He was saying that we must make it a goal or aim to develop the mind and character of our Savior and Master, Yahshua the Messiah!

That’s the deep and important point of Paul here. He was not trying to abolish the law in Romans 10:4, but rather, he was teaching that our goal in keeping the law is to become like Yahshua.

Remember, Yahshua is the living Word of God. He is the perfect representation of how we must keep the law, what our motivation should be in keeping the law, and what the law really teaches.

So, when you follow God’s laws and commandments, bear in mind that we keep them to help us develop Christ’s character, mind, and wisdom.

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