Since the word “end” can mean purpose or goal, “the end of the commandment” refers to the goal of the commandment. In God’s mind the ten commandments are one (James 2:10,11), so “the commandment” (v.5) refers to all ten. God’s purpose, or goal, in giving the ten commandments was “charity,” a Bible word for love. God’s goal in giving the law was to get men to love Him and their neighbor as themselves.
But don’t change “charity” to love, for love is a feeling, charity is that feeling in action. God’s goal in giving the law wasn’t just to cause you to feel love toward God and men, it was to get you to put that feeling in action by not having others gods before Him or taking His name in vain, and by not lying to your neighbor, stealing from him, killing, etc. (Rom. 13:8-10; Gal. 5:13,14).
Only saved people have “a pure heart” (v.5 cf. Pr.24:3,4; Mt.5:8). The Jews purified their hearts by water baptism (Heb.10:22), but the Gentiles purify their hearts “by faith” without baptism, like Cornelius (Acts 15:8,9). The point is, God’s goal in giving the law wasn’t just to get everyone obeying the ten commandments, it was to get everyone saved and obeying them out of a pure, saved heart.
That doesn’t mean God doesn’t it like it when the unsaved obey the law. We know He does, for He’ll force them to obey it in the kingdom (Rev.19:15; Jer.23:5). The kingdom will begin with all believers, but when most of their children don’t believe the Lord will have to rule amid His “enemies” (Ps.110:2). Everyone will obey the ten commandments in that day, but the unsaved will obey them out of impure hearts.
But we know the law can’t change impure hearts because at the end of the millennium all who obeyed it out of impure hearts rebel against Christ (Rev.20:7-9). And it wasn’t God’s goal to give the Law so men would obey outwardly, just waiting for their chance to rebel! It was to get men saved and obeying the law “out of a pure heart.”
The process always starts when the lost hear the law and learn what sin is (Rom.3:20; 7:7). Once the lost man learns he is a sinner he sees his need to be saved and become someone who can obey the law out of a pure heart.
Similar to all this, the only ones with “a good conscience” (at least in this context) are saved people. The Jews got it by water baptism (Heb.10:22), we get it by faith alone! God also wants us obeying the law out of “faith unfeigned” (v.5). Since “feign” means pretend (ISam.21:13), “unfeigned” faith was genuine faith (IITim.1:5).
The reason Paul was saying all this is because some in Ephesus had “swerved” from the goal of charity and “turned aside” (v.6). Since three times the Bible says that Israel “turned aside” from the law (Ex.32:8; Deut.9:12,16), Paul picked this phrase deliberately to answer those who were charging him with turning aside from the law (Rom.6:15). It was his way of saying, “Yes, I am turning aside from the law, but you’re turning aside from the goal of the law.”
“Vain” (v.6) means empty, and “jangling” is overly loud jingling. We know when some turned to vain jangling they were turning to the law, for Paul goes on to say they desired to be teachers of the law (v.7). They left charity to focus on the thing that was supposed to produce charity. This led to bickering, another meaning of “jangling.”
Paul told Titus to “stop” the vain talkers of the circumcision who were talking about the Law (Tit.1:10,11). The Greek words for “vain jangling” are the same as for “vain talkers” there. Their motive was “filthy lucre.” Satan always makes sure undispensational things are lucrative.
But if the goal of the law is to get men to love God and others, and we’re not under the law, does that mean God doesn’t want us to love God and others in the dispensation of grace? Of course He does! But today it is the goal of a different commandment, the commandment of God that made Paul an apostle (ITim.1:1) and gave him a new mes-sage of grace, not law. The goal of that commandment is to get men saved by grace and loving out of a pure heart.