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Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4
I want to take a moment to extend a warm welcome to those who are visiting us for the first time. Whether you're just curious, or if you’re searching for a place to study your Bible verse-by-verse on-line I’m delighted that you’re here.
I also want to give a “shout-out” to all the regulars who faithfully return week after week; month after month. Some of you have been with me for years and I wish to take the time to acknowledge you and your commitment and then encourage you to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, if I may borrow from our Apostle Paul’s race analogy.
Please turn in your Bible to Romans, chapter 10.
In Romans 9:30 Paul began to point out the failure of national Israel in relation to their salvation, in contrast to the Gentiles, who were being saved because they believed Paul’s gospel (Romans 2:16). However, not only did the nation of Israel fail to obtain the righteousness that is by faith they totally missed the true nature of the law as defined by God’s covenant with Israel, i.e. a personal relationship with Him and with one another. Jesus said this was the “greatest commandment: “AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:28-31)
We begin our study of Romans 10 today and I want you to remember throughout this chapter Paul’s teaching shifts from Israel’s past to how God is dealing with national Israel in this present dispensation – the Church Age.
I have repeatedly used the word “dispensation” in the last few lessons with only a brief explanation and I don’t want to assume everyone understands what Paul means by it. So I’m going to take a couple of minutes to go over this topic with you now. You’ll need the KJV or the Wycliffe Bible translations to locate this word. The modern translations have removed it. (I Corinthians 9:17; Ephesians 1:10, 3:2, 3:9; Colossians 1:25)
Second - there are three classes of people in Scripture: The Jew, the Gentile, and the Church of God.
Third - there are divisions in the Bible called “dispensations” so studying the Word of Truth, rightly divided, has to do with distinguishing between those divisions and different time periods. The entire Bible is written for us; for our learning, etc. (Romans 15:4), but the entire Bible is not written directly to the church (gentiles), so check your mail in other words.
The “but now” period we currently live in is called the dispensation of the grace of God, or the Body of Christ program. It began with the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). Saul was later called Paul, and appointed the Apostle to the gentiles by Jesus Christ. The ascended, glorified Jesus Christ, from his place in heaven (Psalms 110:1), revealed the mystery that had been kept secret in the mind of God since before the foundations of the earth (Deuteronomy 29:29; Ephesians 1). This is why Paul’s letters from Romans to Philemon have been called, “the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery” (Romans 16:25-26).
One of the main differences between the “but now” period and the two other periods; “time past” and “ages to come,” is that God today isn’t recognizing one nation above any other nation. In this age God is dealing with mankind as a whole; individually, not nationally. During His Kingdom Program; in “time past” and then in “ages to come” the focus was and will be again on His chosen Nation; Israel. At that time future there will once again be a distinction between Jew and Gentile; the Church of God will no longer be on earth having met the Lord Jesus Christ in the air at the rapture event (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
I pray you find this information useful as you continue your study of God’s Word.
Let’s read some Scripture together.
1: Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.
2: For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.
3: For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.
4: For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
5: For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness (Leviticus 18:5; Romans 2:19-20).
As I read through these 5 verses there’s one statement that stands out from all the rest and that is: For Christ is the end (telos) of the law (nomos) (v4).
Verse 4 has been labeled a “difficult passage” by some, and there is some disagreement as to the meaning of the words “end” and “law.”
The first principle of proper Bible understanding is to take the passage at face value or just as it reads. Look first for the literal meaning. Then, if it’s a difficult verse, read all the verses surrounding it. Read what comes before it and after it. Read the entire chapter if necessary, often this will reveal the true meaning. Remember, every Bible verse must be in harmony with the rest of the Bible – a Bible verse will never disagree with another in God’s Word. Let Scripture interpret Scripture. It’s a good idea to know who the writer of the passage is, who they are writing to, and why. This will help you understand it properly. And always remember Paul wrote his letters to Believers in the Greek language. When they were translated into English some of their meaning, or what Paul meant to say, was lost in translation. Therefore, it’s necessary to return to the original language to pick up on these meanings and nuances.
For Christ is the end (telos) of the law (nomos) for righteousness to everyone who believes.
The Greek word for “end” is telos and it can be translated into English in several ways depending on how the writer uses it. For example telos can mean “termination point,” which would convey the message that Christ’s coming has brought some law (nomos) to an end. Some people cite Bible passages from Mark 3:26; Luke 1:33; and Hebrews 7:3 where this same word refers to something coming to an end. Telos can also be rendered “goal” or “purpose” and Bible verses such as 1 Timothy 1:5; Romans 6:21-22; and James 5:11 clearly indicate this.
The meaning of the word law (nomos) in this verse has confused some too, so it seems. Was Paul speaking of the law given at Mt. Sinai, to the Pentateuch, or is he referring to the entire revelation of God’s will in the Old Testament?
To understand how Romans 10:4 fits with the rest of Paul’s letter to the Romans and with his theology in general you’ll need to go back and review Romans 9:30-33:
What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why ? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, "BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED."
In this paragraph, Paul uses vocabulary from athletic events. The Greek words for “followed,” “attained,” “stumbled,” and “be ashamed” are all words associated with foot races. The word for “attained” is a form of the Greek verb Katalambano (pronounced: kat-al-am-ban’-o), which Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 9:24. Here to “follow” is to run hard for a prize, to “attain” is to experience the thrill of victory, and to “be ashamed” is to feel the agony of defeat. The word telos (end) could be a part of Paul’s analogy because it’s a word commonly used at the finish line of a race.
The prize achieved by the Gentiles in this race analogy is “righteousness” (Dikaiosune in the Greek). Paul uses the word about thirty times in the book of Romans where he writes about it in connection to God’s fairness in including Gentiles (Romans 1:16-17, 3:21-31), righteousness is announced in the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16-17), it has been proclaimed in the law and the prophets (Romans 3:5-6, 21), and the coming of Jesus Christ and His ministry on earth are central to it (Romans 3:24-26, 10:12).
When Paul says the Gentile Believers have “attained righteousness,'' he means that they have received salvation by God's grace, which is granted impartially to both Jews and Gentiles through Jesus Christ (Romans 2:9-11). On the other hand, Paul says that the Jews had been pursuing a different goal---the "law of righteousness''- but had not reached it.
In those days, many Jews took nationalistic pride in their status as children of Abraham and protectors of God's Torah. They greatly valued the "works of the law''- those things which set them apart from other nations, like circumcision, the dietary laws, their Sabbath and temple worship. But in doing so, Paul is saying, they had made God's word an end in itself and failed to see that God’s word (the entire Old Testament) actually pointed to Jesus Christ (their Messiah) and the Gospel of the Kingdom.
In Paul's race analogy, Israel had stumbled but has not permanently fallen (Romans 11:11, 25-26) and has been overtaken because they pursued the wrong goal. In their pride in the way Torah distinguished them from other nations, the Israelites had not recognized Jesus, the living Torah, waiting at the finish line with salvation (the prize) for them and all other nations.
When we carefully examine the verses leading up to Romans 10:4, we can see that the main subject of discussion is not the current status of an OT legal code (nomos – law). Paul does not fault his people for their devotion to God’s Law; in fact, he compliments their "zeal for God'' (Romans 10:2). However, Paul says that their zeal was "not in accordance with knowledge.'' The Jews had faithfully looked to God to see what they should be doing all their lives, but most had not understood what God was doing as outlined in the Scriptures.
In Romans 10:4, Paul summarizes what Israel had missed: Christ, with His saving grace for all believers, was the culmination, purpose, (telos) and goal of the law (nomos).
Jesus Christ didn’t terminate the Law! He is the very purpose for the Law! The Law was holy and perfect; the Israelites – not so much. Therefore, Jesus Christ is the “goal” at which the Torah (Law) aims for he offers the Torah’s righteousness to everyone who believes in Him. The Law helps transform us to be like Him as we strive to adhere to it: “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:50)
In Paul’s explanation of God’s dealing with His people in Romans 9:30-31 and 10:5-10 the meaning of the word “end” (telos) would appear to be that, when an Israelite believed on Jesus Christ for his salvation he was as completely through with the Law for righteousness as if it had never been given. for you are not under law but grace (Romans 6:14b).
The very second a lost person believes Paul’s gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) they’re baptized by (not with) the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ. Jesus Christ died for ALL our sins and this resolved the sin issue ONCE and FOR ALL; God the Father’s sin debt had been paid (Romans 6:10; 1 Peter 3:18).
To believe God’s good news is to be reconciled in your “mind” and not God’s (2 Corinthians 5:20; Colossians 1:21). It’s a SON issue today; not a SIN issue. The issue isn’t forgiveness of sin the issue is believing in Jesus Christ’s finished work of the cross; what He accomplished on your behalf and mine, in order for us to be identified with Christ Himself, having His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9; Colossians 2:10-15).
The nation of Israel believed they had righteousness in and of themselves, and that they were meriting a righteous standing before God by law-keeping. That’s not why God gave that nation the law! The law was added to show them who they were: sinners
Perfect righteousness is the only righteousness God can recognize, and He had to provide it for them. This was accomplished through His Son, Jesus Christ. All Israel had to do was simply recognize that, change their mind, and take Him at His word.
We know they didn’t.
(To be continued)
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