To get the proper context, let’s read, Romans 10:1-4, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

Paul the Apostle, who was a Jew, had such love and concern for his natural people. He expresses how that his desire and prayer is that that might be saved. He stated earlier in this epistle, “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” (Romans 9:3). Paul’s love and concern for the Jews was so great that he would literally give up his salvation if they would come to Christ. (Of course, it is impossible to trade your salvation for the salvation of another, but Paul is expressing how great his desire was for the salvation of his people.)

In verse 2, Paul commends the Jews for their zeal for the Lord, but it was not founded on knowledge. You may recall that before Paul (then Saul) was saved, he also had great zeal for God. Speaking of himself, he says in Philippians 3:5-6, “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” In his zealous ignorance, he considered persecuting the church as service to the Lord.

In verse 3, Paul addresses the ignorance of the Jews. They were “ignorant of God’s righteousness.” Israel was not innocent in their ignorance. They had heard of God’s way of righteousness. Paul goes on to say in Romans 10:18, “But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.” Yet, willfully they remained ignorant of God’s plan of justifying sinful and guilty men. In their ignorance, they tried to establish their own righteousness. By trying to keep the Law, they sought to establish a ground of justification before God; thus making good their claims to eternal life by their own merits. This stands in complete opposition to the justification by grace, or to God’s plan.

Romans 10:4 states clearly, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” When Christ died, He bore the curse of the Law for Israel. They, and they alone, were under the Law. Galatians 3:13 teaches us that, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” The Law, being broken, doesn’t ask for future good behavior on the part of the one who broke the Law. It calls for his death. Now Christ having died, all the claims of the Law against Israel which had been placed under the law were completely met and ended. So that even Jews could now believe, and say, “I am dead to the Law!” The Law CANNOT justify guilty men. That was never its intent. We read in Galatians 3:24, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Righteousness, or justification, comes only through faith, not the ignorant keeping of the Law. (300.6)