Paul’s View of the Law in Romans 10:4-5 -- By: Thomas R. Schreiner

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 55:1 (Spring 1993)
Article: Paul’s View of the Law in Romans 10:4-5
Author: Thomas R. Schreiner

Paul’s View of the Law in Romans 10:4-5

Thomas R. Schreiner

I. Introduction

Two difficult verses for understanding Paul’s view of the law are Rom 10:4–5. Rom 10:4, for example, has often been used to posit an absolute discontinuity between law and gospel since Paul says here that “Christ is the end [τέλος] of the law.” Others, however, claim that to read such discontinuity into the verse is unwarranted, and they argue that Paul is asserting that “Christ is the goal of the law.” In this latter view, faith in Christ is the goal to which the law points, and there is a fundamental harmony between the gospel and the OT law. Although Rom 10:5 has not been as significant in the history of interpretation as Rom 10:4, the meaning of this verse has been the subject of increasing debate in recent years. Since these two verses are important for determining Paul’s stance toward the OT law, it is my goal to examine various interpretations of Rom 10:4–5 and to defend the interpretation which is the most credible.

II. Christ is the End of the Law: Rom 10:4

The interpretation of τέλος γὰρ νόμου Χριστός is a well-known battleground in Pauline studies,1 and we cannot in this article examine in sufficient detail a verse which has been of such controversy. Nevertheless, various interpretations of the verse will be described and critiqued,2 and I will attempt to defend my own view.

1. The Law Is Abolished

One of the dominant views in NT scholarship, especially in Lutheran circles, is that Christ is the end of the law in the sense that the OT law is now abolished for the

believer.3 Christians are no longer under the law (cf. Rom 6:14–15; Gal 5:18), and thus the Mosaic law is not binding for the believer. Even the moral law of the OT is abolished since the whole law has passed away (cf. Gal 5:3), and no distinctions between various parts of the law can be supported either from Jewish literature or Paul.

This interpretation is difficult to tackle in a brief space because it introduces the thorny issue of how the Testaments rela...

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