Is Christ is the end of the Law?
Some Christians believe we need to have a New Testament verse for everything we believe or accept as doctrine. Unfortunately, we will not find a verse in the New Testament for everything we believe about God.
The demand for a verse from the New Testament originates in the belief that the entire OT is done away in Christ. Several passages in the New Testament are used to support such beliefs. In this study, we will examine few such passages, using some simple principles of interpreting the Scriptures. I will present all the facts I have researched so far, and let the readers draw their conclusions.
One of the NT scriptures used to support this belief is Romans 10:4
Rom 10:4 Christ is the end of the law for righteousness
Some believe the term, “Law or the law,” refers to the entire Old Testament and thus conclude that the Old Testament ended in Christ. They, therefore, teach that the Old Testament is not applicable to Christians. They believe Christians live in a new administration called “Grace.” The argument we often hear is that “We are under grace, and not under law”.
My study began with one simple question: If the Old Testament is not applicable to Christians, why then, Paul and other writers of the New Testament quote liberally from the Old Testament in their writings? For example, the book of Romans, which is considered to be a doctrinal epistle by many, contains numerous references to the Old Testament scriptures. For example, “The just shall live faith,” is actually a quote from the Old Testament (Habakkuk 2:4)
In order to accurately understand the passage in Romans chapter 10, we need to examine and establish the meaning of the term, “Law,” first.
The word “Law” is Torah in Hebrew language.
In the strict sense of the word, Torah means instruction designed to teach us the truth about God. So, Torah can mean direction, instruction, teaching, or doctrine.
The English translation, “Law” gives a wrong impression, as law would mean rules and regulations.
The New Testament uses the Greek νόμος (nomos) for the Hebrew Torah
The Greek word, “Nomos,” however, has a variety of uses among which, to be sure, is law, but it is certainly not limited to law.
Many believe the Law or Torah started with Moses. But Torah or instructions did not start with Moses. In the Garden of Eden God taught Adam, he instructed him on a variety of things! Wouldn’t it be, then, accurate to say that the Torah began in the Garden of Eden?
Who taught Cain and Abel about offerings? From the time of Adam till the law was given in written form, there existed teachings or Torah of God. Successive generations knew these teachings.
Rom 10:4 Christ is the end of the law for righteousness
Now let us replace the word “Law” with teaching or instruction.
Christ is the end of teaching or instruction for righteousness. That means the teaching on righteousness ends in Christ. All previous teaching was to lead us to Christ.
Once we begin to use the word teaching or instruction in the place of “Law,” we need to ask ourselves another question! Does this refer to the entire Old Testament, or a specific part of it?
Let us read Jesus’ own comments about the Old Testament. Jesus, our Lord, divided the Old Testament into three sections.
Luke 24:44 (NLT) Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
The Lord was very specific about the term “Law.” He specifically said the ” The Law of Moses”. You will also notice that the Lord divided the Old Testament into three sections. In the index of your bible, you may notice sections like, “history, poetry, major prophets, minor prophets” etc. But the Lord did not divide the Old Testament that way. This just tells us that we need to go by what the Lord said, and not by what the popular teachers or theologians say.
You may also examine the following passages to see how the Lord used the term “Law” in his teachings.
Matthew 5:17, 7:12, 11:13, 22:40; Luke 16:16.
Philip, Luke and Paul were very clear in their usage of the term law as evident in the following passages:
John 1:45; Acts 13:15, 24:14, 28:23.
In most of the above passages, the word “Moses” does not appear, yet from the context we know it is referring to the Law of Moses.
So, “The Law” usually refers to the book of Moses and not the entire Old Testament. Tanakh (Ta-nack) is the more proper term for the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament. This term is an acrostic formed from the Hebrew letters “taw”(t), “nun” (n), and “kaph”(k), which stand for the three main divisions of the Hebrew Bible: The Torah (Law or Instructions), the Nevi’im (Prophets), and the Ketuvim (Writings).
However, the term “The Law” is occasionally used loosely to refer to the whole of the Old Testament, as in John 10:34 cf Psalms 82:6 ; John 15:25 cf Psalms 35:19; 1 Corinthians 14:21cf Isaiah 28:11,12.
If we read every New Testament verse, where the term “The Law” occurs, in the context, we will be able to determine whether it is a reference to the first five books (Pentateuch) or the entire Old Testament.
Since the term Torah means instruction or teaching, in a very real sense the word can be applied to the entire Bible.
Lord Jesus said that he did not come to destroy the law or the prophets. He made that very clear in the following passage
Mat 5:17 (NLT)”Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.
When you read this verse in the context of the discourse beginning in chapter 5, you will realize that the Lord’s purpose was not to abolish or dissolve the Law, rather He raised standard for Christians by asking them to maintain a higher standard of life to glorify the Father.
He came to fulfill what was in the law (teachings or instructions) about him. He further said that everything the prophets had written also would be fulfilled.
Mat 5:18 Heaven and earth may disappear. But I promise you that not even a period or comma will ever disappear from the Law. Everything written in it must happen.
He also said that the law and the prophets prophesied till John the Baptist.
Mat 11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
So the law or the teachings of Moses and the prophets prophesied! What did they prophesy? They prophesied about the coming Messiah and His Kingdom.
Has everything written in the law or the prophets happened? I would say, “No.”
Let us not forget that Jesus did not teach from the New Testament as there was no New Testament at that time. Paul taught from the Old Testament to prove that Jesus was the Messiah! The new revelation Paul received agreed with the Old Testament scriptures and that is one of the reasons the Jews believed in Jesus when Paul preached or taught.