In Romans 10:4 Romans 10:4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.
American King James Version×, Paul’s words are translated: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Regrettably, most translators render the Greek word telos simply as “end” instead of giving Paul’s intended meaning of that word in this context. Reasoning incorrectly that faith makes the law void, they have adopted an illogical assumption that Paul plainly rejected in Romans 3:31 Romans 3:31Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yes, we establish the law.
American King James Version×. This passage reads: “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.”
To discover the proper translation of a word that can be used in more than one way, its context has to be understood correctly before any effort is made to determine the right nuance of meaning that the author intended. Here is a simple example. One might ask a college student, “To what end are you attending college?” The word “end” in that context would refer to the “objective” or “goal” the student has in mind. Receiving a degree would be only the “end result” of his college years of learning, not the end to his ability or desire to learn.
The Greek word telos, translated “end” in Romans 10:4 Romans 10:4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.
American King James Version×, can convey variations in meaning, including “ ‘the aim or purpose’ of a thing” ( Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, “End, Ending”). This is very clear in the New King James Version’s rendering of 1 Timothy 1:5 1 Timothy 1:5Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
American King James Version×, where telos is properly translated as purpose in the clause “the purpose of the commandment is love.” In this same verse the NRSV translates telos as “aim” and the NIV renders it as “goal.”
Paul uses telos in Romans 10:4 Romans 10:4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.
American King James Version×to convey that the objective or goal of the law—the “aim or purpose” of it—is to point us to the mind and character of Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:19 Galatians 4:19My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
American King James Version×; Philippians 2:5 Philippians 2:5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
American King James Version×).
Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, is a perfect replica of what God’s law teaches. Pointing us to His character and work is the aim” of the law. Rendering of telos as “end” in Romans 10:4 Romans 10:4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.
American King James Version× distorts Paul’s intended meaning—something Peter forcefully warns us not to do (2 Peter 3:15-16 2 Peter 3:15-16 15 And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given to him has written to you; 16 As also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.
American King James Version×).