Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
This verse follows from the prior section; many, if not most scholars will place it in that section as a conclusion, and they wouldn’t be wrong to do so. However it also marks a topical change, for what follows in 10:5-13 are verses that support the assertion of this verse, so I see it as a beginning and not a concluding point. The larger view of the passage indicates that Paul is building his supporting points into a larger conclusion, which is very persuasive argumentation.
In support of Paul’s statement in verse 4, he offers verses 5-13:
Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Essentially, this paragraph presents a contrast between law/works righteousness and believe/faith righteousness to support the assertion that righteousness is by believe/faith. To put it another way, Paul is making the case that we come to righteousness by trusting in Jesus and not by trusting ourselves. Verse 5 illustrates the utter futility of finding righteousness through law, for living by law can only bring about condemnation. Verses 6-7 make an illusion to Deuteronomy 30:12-13 where Moses was telling the people that the Law was not something they couldn’t grasp or that was so far off they couldn’t understand it; all they needed to do was obey it. Paul makes a similar point about grace, only Paul isn’t talking so much about the knowledge of grace as he is about the possession of it. It is as though he was telling his readers, “look gang, this isn’t difficult, you have this grace right there with you, just grab onto it!”
It is this point that the remaining verses elaborate upon; grace is right there, take hold of it; that’s all you need to be saved. You may recall that we have discussed the fact that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness, and that Paul has made the point that the righteousness that brings salvation to humanity is the righteousness that comes from believing God; this he is again pounding home.
This is troubling for many people, both then and now because it’s too easy; surely salvation must be hard to get: Surely this text must have a hidden agenda!
There is no hidden agenda in the text, for as is usually the case Scripture isn’t that complicated until we decide to complicate it. Grace is not hard to obtain, for God does not want anyone to perish, but to have eternal life, and so He did the work for us through Jesus Christ, so that all we need to do is to make a decision to believe God and profess our faith.
What is so hard about that?