WFT- teleological

12 October 2014

It's been a while since there has been a Word of the Day that has really caught my attention and connected with Scripture in a meaningful way but September 24th was just such a day.  The Merriam Webster word for that day was teleological.

: exhibiting or relating to design or purpose especially in nature


Along with this definition they provided the following explanation...

Teleological (which comes to us by way of New Latin from the Greek root tele-, telos, meaning "end or purpose") and its close relative teleology both entered English in the 18th century, followed by teleologist in the 19th century. Teleology has the basic meaning of "the study of ends or purposes." A teleologist attempts to understand the purpose of something by looking at its results. A teleological philosopher might argue that we should judge whether an act is good or bad by seeing if it produces a good or bad result, and a teleological explanation of evolutionary changes claims that all such changes occur for a definite purpose.


Did you notice the meaning of the Greek word telos?  It means "end or purpose" as in a goal or objective... not an ending or ceasing.

Did you catch the purpose of a teleologist?  It is to attempt to "understand the purpose of something by looking at its results".


So why is this important and how does it connect with Scripture?  Let's look at Romans 10:4.

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


Most Christians who have a low view of the Law of G-d will point to this passage and boldly proclaim, "See... Christ is the end of the law!  It met its purpose to lead us to Him but now that He has come, the Law is ended... and He is the one who ended it!"

Here is where our Word of the Day comes into play.  The original Greek of Romans 10:4 is this:

τέλος γὰρ νόμου Χριστὸς εἰς δικαιοσύνην παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι

Transliterated into English:

Telos gar nomou Christos eis dikaiosynen panti toi pisteuonti

Telos... there it is at the beginning of this verse.


Did G-d speak this verse through Paul to teach us that His Law has ended?

Not at all.

Now that we have the proper understanding of telos courtesy of Merriam-Webster, we can see that this verse tells us Christ is the purpose of the Law.  His perfect, sinless life is the purpose/goal/objective of the Law.

We can be Biblical teleologists.  We can understand the purpose of the Law by looking at its result: Christ.

Dr. Bill Mounce, author, pastor, preacher, professor of New Testament and Greek studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version (ESV) translation of the Bible, has also created the Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament (MRINT) translation.  His translation of this passage reads

For Christ is the end of the law, so now there is righteousness for everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4 MRINT)


Messiah is the goal of the Law.  So now that the Law has accomplished its goal, there  is righteousness for everyone who believes.

That Law written on tablets of stone cannot accomplish its purpose but that very same Law written on our hearts is the very promise of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-33).


Oh, Heavenly Father, make us more like Messiah Yeshua and write your Law upon our hearts!



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