Here Paul is using the word “law” to denote the Mosaic Law as a system of justification, and not a rule of life. People were trying to use it to gain righteousness and justification (Rom. 10:3), but this was not the end for which it was given (e.g. Rom. 3:19-20). A sense of termination is certainly there. Christ’s work fulfilled and therefore abrogated the Old Covenant, and so the Mosaic covenant of works was abrogated, terminated and ended. That system and the misuse for justification of it has come to an end. Theoretically, I believe one could have received justification by it, if perfectly obeyed and began so, without sin. But given the nature of fallen man and of Original Sin, such was an impossibility for mere men. Though I am not that sure on this point.
Christ is also the fulfillment and goal of the law, meaning, the law was pointing forward to Him and it is in Him that the law finds its fulfillment and goal. He came to fulfill the Law (Matt. 5:17-19; see above for our discussion of this passage) and the law through the types and shadows pointed to Him. Moreover, Paul said earlier that “the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it” (Rom. 3:21). This means that justification by faith alone was attested and taught by the Old Testament. It did not come through the Law, but nonetheless, it was attested and witnessed to by the Law. I believe this to have been done through the sacrificial types and shadows among other things, which pointed toward Christ’s sacrifice. The meaning of telos here therefore is that Christ is both the goal and termination, which is expressed by the English “end.” Most importantly, this verse should not be read as a blank statement, “Christ is the end of the law”, but rather be read as a whole and in its context. Christ is the goal and end of the law as a system of righteousness and a covenant of works for the believer, because He, through His sacrifice which the law pointed to, brings everlasting righteousness to all who believe and thereby abrogates that old and ineffective system, for no sinful man could obtain righteousness by it. For sinful and unredeemed man, all it can do is bring condemnation. But for the one who has been justified it cannot bring condemnation for it has been abrogated as a covenant of works (cf. Rom. 8:1; Gal. 3:10-13). Its function for the believer is as a rule of life, which shows us what God’s will is and what true righteousness looks like. Richard Winston writes:
…Christ does not end the law in any universal sense. He ends the individual pursuit of the law in order to obtain right standing with God. When a sinful human trusts Christ for salvation, Christ ends the law unto righteousness for them.
The law, as viewed to be in the Mosaic Covenant, is abrogated. But we have argued that the moral law, as summarized in the Decalogue is an expression and a reflection of God’s moral character and moreover, its commandments predate Sinai (see above). The moral law of God, which is summarized in the Ten Commandments, is above and independent from the Mosaic Covenant. It was given in written form under the Mosaic Covenant, but as a moral code, it is eternal because it reflects the nature of God and was put on the heart of the first man. In the New Covenant, it is no longer written upon tablets of stone, but upon tablets of flesh (see the discussion upon Jeremiah 31:33 above). In support of the ...