Does nomos (Greek for law in Rom 2:14-15) mean the mosaic law or the law of Christ or natural or divine law or something else? I am specifically interested in how to interpret this alongside Matt 5:18 "not one iota or dot will pass from the law until everything is accomplished."
Romans 2:14 - 15
ESV - 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them
Let me start with the Greek of this verse: τέλος γὰρ νόμου Χριστὸς εἰς δικαιοσύνην παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι. The Greek word translated in many versions as “end” is τέλος, telos, which conveys the ideal of goal or destination or purpose. It does not have to be translated as “end,” meaning “cessation” or “termination.” From a theological perspective, the popular view of Rom 10:4 has Paul teaching the end of the Law. However, as we can see from a few other translations, this is not the only view for which we can consider: Indeed, Messianic Jewish author David H. Stern translates this verse as, “For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts.” And, the Tree of Life Version, also a translation put together by a committee of Christians and Messianic Jews, reads, “For Messiah is the goal of the Torah as a means to righteousness for everyone who keeps on trusting.” Additionally, we have The Scriptures Version, a well-known Hebraic Roots translation, which reads, “For Messiah is the goal of the ‘Torah unto righteousness’ to everyone who believes.” However, it is not only Messianic or Hebrew Roots versions that challenge a reading that teaches “end.” Consider the NIV: “Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” Consider the International Standard Version: “For the Messiah is the culmination of the Law as far as righteousness is concerned for everyone who believes.” Consider God’s Word Translation: “Christ is the fulfillment of Moses' Teachings so that everyone who has faith may receive God's approval.” This sounds very much like Yeshua’s (Jesus’) own words in Matt 5:17 “I came to fulfill the Law and the prophets…” Conclusions: With so many different versions to choose from, which ones should help us to decide how to understand the Greek word telos? I am of the persuasion that our theology about the Law as Christians should flow primarily from the words of the Messiah himself: “I did not come to abolish the Law and the prophets…” Yes, Messiah fulfilled the Law and the prophets, but I personally do not believe that “fulfill” can possibly have the same meaning as “abolish,” “terminate,” “put an end to.” What is more, even if I am wrong, and the Law truly has come to an end, it cannot possibly be ALL of the Law that has ended. For indeed, the moral parts of the Law are still binding on believers, right? Murder is still wrong. Adultery is still wrong. Lying is still wrong. Theft is still wrong. Etc. Etc. Paul wrote Rom 10:4 as a knowledgeable Jewish Torah teacher. Paul was a student and follower of Yeshua and thus, Paul's understanding of Law must agree with his Teacher’s understanding of Law. Perhaps this is why Paul could confidently write earlier in Romans 3:31: “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the Law.”