The End of the Law

Romans 10:1-4 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of 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. 

‘That they might be saved’ Paul knew that God was still willing to forgive if they would only repent.

‘Zeal of God, but not according to knowledge’ – zealous but stubbornly ignorant (10:2-3).

‘Have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God’ – this shows their rebellion to the end.

‘For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes’ – the law ends in Christ who fulfilled it by being the real sacrifice of which the law sacrifices were merely typical (Eph. 2:14-15; Col. 2:14-17; Heb. 8:5; 10:1). The law was our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ and was added because of transgression until Christ should come (Gal. 3:19-25; Rom. 5:20; Heb. 9:10). It cannot save, but condemns, making the sinner realize his need of salvation. Christ is the end of the law of sacrifices, types, rituals, and outward religion which foreshadowed Him and the spiritual realities of the New Testament

The Law of commandments were abolished as we see from the Greek word katargeo that means to make of no effect (3:3; 4:14; Gal. 3:17; 5:4); come and bring to naught (1Cor. 1:28; 2:6); done away (1Cor. 13:10; 2Cor. 3:7, 3:11, 14); fail (1Cor. 13:8); cease (Gal. 6:11); vanish away (1Cor. 13:8); make void (3:31); cumber (Luke 13:7); deliver (7:6); loose (7:2); put away (1Cor. 13:11); put down (1Cor. 15:24); destroy (6:6; 1Cor. 6:13; 15:26; 2Thess. 2:8; Heb. 2:14); and abolish (2Cor. 3:13; Eph. 2:15; 2Tim. 1:10).

It is clear from these passages that whatever is abolished is completely null and void. What is it here (Eph. 2:14-15) that is abolished? It is the law of commandments in decrees, or the law of dogmatic commandments. The word for ordinances is dogma translated “decree” (Luke 2:1; Acts 16:4; 17:7) and “ordinance” (Eph. 2:15; Col. 2:14). The law was made to expose sin (3:19-20; 7:13; Gal. 3:19-25) and to keep the Jews a distinct people until Christ came. After that it was no longer needed.

From Colossians 2:14-15, we see that the handwriting of ordinances was blotted out because it was against them and contrary to them; and it was taken out of the way by nailing it to Christ’s cross where He spoiled the principalities and powers (satan and his emissaries). Here it means satan and his forces were stripped of their power to condemn and kill the race. The law was blotted out and they had no further claim to hold man in sin and bondage, as they did by means of the law.

In Newness of Spirit

Romans 7:6-8 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shall not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. 

‘But now we are delivered from the law’ – in Christ we are delivered from the law which condemned us for sins but made no provision for pardon and gave no power to obey it.

‘That being dead wherein we were held’ we were dead in sins while under the law and held helpless to free ourselves from its bondage and death.

‘Oldness of the letter’ – we see that the law merely typifies the gospel, and can only be fulfilled by the gospel. We serve God now, not in the old literal sense of forms and rituals, but in the true spiritual meaning.

 ‘What shall we say then? Is the law sin?’ The law itself is not sinful in demanding me to live right. The law only makes known what sin really is (3:20; 4:15; 7:7; 1Jn. 3:4).

‘Thou shall not covet’ quoted here and in Romans 13:9 from Exodus 20:17.

‘Sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence’ Sin is here pictured as a self-acting spirit which at one time controlled Paul and worked in him all manner of concupiscence or sinful lusts. It used the coming of the commandment as an occasion to assert its control over his life not letting him obey the law. Sin was not active before the law came for it had no reason to assert its power until then. But as soon as the commandment came forbidding certain things, sin came to life and by its lusts made him break the law so that he would have to pay the death penalty (7:8-9). ‘Concupiscence’ [Greek epithumia] means any strong or vehement desire. It is used of good desires a few times, but mainly of evil and depraved lusts. It is translated “desire” (Luke 2:15; Php. 1:23; 1Thess. 2:17); “concupiscence” (7:8; Col. 3:5; 1Thess. 4:5); and “lust” 31 times (1:24; John 8:44; Eph. 2:3; etc.).