Saturday, October 20, 2007
Paul and the Law (cont'd): Christ is the end of the law
Here's a picture of me at the library in Ephesus where Paul spent some time, no doubt. I visited here in December 2004. This has nothing to do with the class. I just thought I'd share it with you.
We continue our emphasis on Paul and the Law. As you have seen from reading Kim, Gorman and others, this is not an easy issue. There are actually two issues I'd like for you to grapple with this week.
In Romans 10:4 Paul makes the statement that "Christ is the end of the law." In order to understand the context of this statement, please read Romans 9-11. The immediate context can be discerned in Rom 9:33 to Rom 10:17. The question is: what does Paul mean by the phrase "the end of the law"?
There are two (main) ways this question has been answered.
1. Some have taken the word "end" to mean "fini" or THE END. That is, the law is over and done with now that Christ has come. Would this reading reflect the old or new perspective? Be able to explain your reasons. How would this reading square with Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5:17-20? What are the implications for saying that Christ brings the law to an END? And this question is more difficult: is there any evidence that Jews before Paul thought that when the Messiah came, he would END the law or change the law somehow? What kinds of Jewish texts would you appeal to to make this point?
2. Others have taken the word "end" to mean "goal" or "purpose". Would this reading reflect an old or new perspective? Be able to explain your reasons. How would this reading square with Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5:17-20? What are the implications for saying that Christ is the goal or purpose for God giving the law? How would you relate this to Paul's other statements regarding the law.
The semantic field for the Greek work telos translated "end" in most translations is capable of both meanings (both finish and goal).
Now, here's the second question regarding Paul and the Law.
Read Romans 7 (especially 7:14-25). In this passage Paul describes a struggle against the power of sin. Read Gorman and Kim on this and anything else you can get your hands on. Is Paul describing his life or the life of every person? Is Paul describing life in Christ or life outside/before Christ?
On a personal basis, do you have similar struggles? Share this text with someone you know and ask them about their experience.