Christ Is the End of the Law

Crucifixion

As the gospel was being preached in the first century, many of the Jews wanted to hold onto the Law of Moses. This was done in two ways. Some rejected the gospel outright, choosing to continue following the old law and refusing to follow Christ (Acts 4:10-11; Romans 9:33-10:4). Others tried to bring the Law of Moses – or parts of it – into the gospel, thus distorting the gospel of Christ (Galatians 1:6-7; 2:4-5). In either case, the result was condemnation (Romans 11:22; Galatians 1:8-9).

Despite the fact that the Jews – in large part – rejected the gospel, Paul’s prayer was that they might be saved (Romans 10:1). But in order to be saved, they needed to understand Christ and His relationship to the Law of Moses.

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).

Jesus came for the purpose of being “the end of the law.” What does this mean? Many of the Jews did not understand this and, as a result, were not saved through the gospel. In this article, we will notice what it means for Christ to be “the end of the law.

How Is Christ the End of the Law?

The Scriptures show us three ways in which Jesus was “the end of the law.” Let us briefly consider each one.

He fulfilled the Law – Rather than disregarding the Law, as many of the Jews believed He was doing, Jesus actually fulfilled the Law. Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18). The Law defined sin (Romans 7:7). Yet Jesus, in fulfilling the Law, was “separated from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26) because He “committed no sin” (1 Peter 2:22).

The Law pointed to Him – Jesus was also “the end of the law” in the sense that the Law was designed to direct people to Him. Paul wrote, “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). The Old Testament as a whole – not just the Law – spoke of Christ. Jesus told His apostles, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44).

He abolished the Law – When Jesus said, “I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” the Law (Matthew 5:17), He did not mean that the Law of Moses would never be abolished. Rather, He said the Law would stand “until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18; cf. Luke 24:44). This pointed to Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins on the cross. When He died, He “canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). This brought about salvation by His grace (Acts 15:11). John wrote, “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Today, salvation is proclaimed by making known “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24; cf. Romans 1:16).

Christ Is Not the End of Law

While Christ is the end of THE law (the Law of Moses), it is important to understand that He is not the end of law. We are no longer under the Law of Moses (Colossians 2:14), but we are under the Law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).

Some believe that by abolishing the Law of Moses, Jesus also abolished any obligation we have to submit to divine law. This is not the case. Paul said we are “not…without the law of God but under the law of Christ” (1 Corinthians 9:21). Obedience is expected of those who would follow the Lord. Notice the following passages:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” (Matthew 28:19-20).

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).

Opening his mouth, Peter said: ‘I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him’” (Acts 10:34-35).

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22).

You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24).

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).

In fact, not only is obedience expected, we cannot be saved without obeying the Lord.

And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9).

The Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

We must obey the Lord if we want to be saved by Him in the end. This does not earn us salvation – it is still a gift through His grace (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8). But we must recognize the great need for us to be obedient to Him.

Conclusion

We are not required by God to keep the old law. Jesus fulfilled and abolished it. Now we must keep His instructions that have been revealed to us in the New Testament. So let us diligently strive to obey the Lord in all that we do.


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Comments

  1. Larry DeVore says

    Good article, Andy. I use Luke 16:16 in connection with Romans 10:4 “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.” John was the last O.T. prophet, now replaced by Jesus the Messiah and the spiritual kingdom of God.

  2. Thanks, Larry. Good point!

  3. Samson Achimi says

    I love the your article and its truths but Its hard finding the new law of christ plainly and directly stated please am a 19 yrs old boy seeking to know about God and salvation means. Does it mean I shouldn’t as well strive to obey the old law?

  4. Samson, thanks for your question. Paul said the Old Law was “written for our instruction” (Romans 15:4), but it is not the law we are under today. I wrote more about the purpose of the Old Testament in this article: The Value of the Old Testament. Hopefully that will help answer your question.