Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross | Colossians 2:14 (KJV)
The mainstream theological system teaches that this verse indicates the ‘Law of God given through Moses’ was nailed to the cross of Jesus, thereby making ‘the Law of Moses’ null and void, and no longer applicable to anyone.
So, where does this idea come from that claims, ‘the Law of God given through Moses’ was nailed to the cross?
It comes from the belief that Paul’s reference of “the handwriting of ordinances” somehow means ‘the Law of Moses’; even though the words ‘Law’ and ‘Moses’ are not in the verse.
In fact, did you know that the word ‘Law’, or ‘nomos‘ in the Greek, is never used in the entire letter to the Colossians? Neither is the word ‘Moses’. Not one verse in ‘Colossians’ has either the word ‘Law’ or ‘Moses’ in it…
When studying the Word of God you can’t take just the back-half of a sentence, ignore the context of the first half of the sentence, and then ‘add’ words that aren’t even in that sentence, reading into it a preconceived idea or doctrine… that is called Eisegesis.
The apostle Paul did not write a ‘half-sentence-note’ to the Colossians. He wrote a lengthy correspondence that did not have verse or chapter breaks; it was a free-flowing letter.
Let’s begin, for the sake of context, by taking a look at the ‘front half’ of the sentence in question.
What does the text say?
Colossians 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
Colossians 2:13 states that ‘we were dead in our trespasses/sins’. Paul said it is ‘our’ trespasses/sins that caused ‘our’ death. The core evidence or proof of our being dead was our trespasses, however through the Messiah those trespasses/sins have been forgiven.
Then in verse 14, ‘which is the same sentence’, Paul repeated this thought process by using metaphor and analogy to show how the EVIDENCE against us, our trespasses/sins, were forgiven.
What does the text say?
1813Blotting-out the 5498handwriting of 1378ordinances that was 2596against us, which was 5227contrary to us, and 142took it out of the 3319way(middle), 4338nailing it to his cross | Colossians 2:14 (KJV)
Metaphor and analogy; Paul loved to use them… what is a ‘Metaphor‘ and what is an ‘Analogy‘? Here is what Webster says ~
Metaphor: a short similitude; a similitude reduced to a single word; or a word expressing similitude without the signs of comparison.
Analogy: an agreement or likeness between things in some circumstances or effects, when the things are otherwise entirely different.
In verse 13 Paul told us about how we were dead because of our sins/trespasses, but have now been forgiven and made alive with Messiah. Then in verse 14, which, ‘again’, is the back half of ‘the same sentence’, Paul gave an analogy of ‘how’ our sins/trespasses, were forgiven.
That analogy starts with the English words “blotting out” ~
‘Blotting-out’ in the original Greek is Strong’s G1813, ἐξαλείψας/exaleipsas. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states this to mean: 1.) to anoint or wash in every part; 2.) to wipe off, wipe away; to obliterate, erase, wipe out, blot out.
Tûach is used 11 times in the Old Testament and means: to spread, overlay, plaster, cover over, coat, besmear.
Mâchâh is used in the Old Testament 36 times and means: to wipe out, to blot out.
Mâchâh is most notably used in Psalm 51, David’s prayer of repentance and of seeking forgiveness for his sins:
Psalms 51:1 according to your abundant mercy 4229blot out my transgressions
Psalms 51:9 Hide your face from my sins, and 4229blot out all my iniquities.
Did you notice how ‘mâchâh’ is translated as “blot out” in English just like in Colossians 2:14, and it’s also in reference to the “blotting out” of trespasses/iniquities/sins, just like Colossians 2:13-14…
This is a common Hebraic idiom that’s used in the Scriptures to describe the ‘forgiving of sins/trespasses’. The apostle Paul, the most highly educated Scriptural scholar of his day, was most certainly aware of this popular phrase, which is why he most likely used it in reference to the ‘forgiving of sins’ in Colossians 2:13.
In the original Greek, the next four words after exaleipsas/blotting-out are “τὸ καθ’ ἡμῶν χειρόγραφον” or “to kath’ hēmōn cheirographon”, that is, “the against us handwriting”. We’ll be looking into the Greek definiton of “handwriting” in a moment, but first καθ…
καθ’ is Strong’s G2596, which is translated as “against”, and is defined as ‘down, against, or according to’; a preposition denoting motion or diffusion or direction from the higher to the lower. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states: Metaphorically, it means – against, opposed to; (properly, down upon); [from the Hebrew עַל • (ál) Super– : above; more than; larger than]; equivalent to with regard to, of.
So, that which was “blotted-out” was “the against/opposed us handwriting“. The English words ‘against‘ and ‘opposed‘ as per Webster states: In opposition; noting enmity or disapprobation. And ‘disapprobation‘ is a critical word to understand the meaning of “against“. Webster defines ‘disapprobation’ as: A disapproving; dislike; the act of the mind which condemns what is supposed to be wrong, whether the act is expressed or not.
This alone is substantial evidence that it was not ‘the Law’, but our sins/trespasses, which were ‘the-against-us-handwriting‘. If you will take the time to look up any verse from Genesis through Deuteronomy, you will find ‘zero‘ references that the Law of Moses is ‘disapproving’, or ‘wrong’ or an ‘enemy/enmity’ to the people. We conclusively find the exact opposite of that incorrect notion.
What does the text say ~
Deuteronomy 4:6,8 Keep them (the Commandments) and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’… And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?
- Paul knew this to be true in his Present Tense:
- “an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth” | Romans 2:20
- for not the hearers of the law [are] righteous before God, but the doers of the law shall be declared righteous | Romans 2:13
- “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” | Romans 7:12
- “All Scripture” is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness | 2 Timothy 3:16
- (“All Scripture” is the “Law, Prophets and the Writings; the New Testament did not exist when Paul wrote this letter)
- For whatever was written in former days was written for our “instruction”, that through endurance and through the encouragement of “the Scriptures“ we might have hope | Romans 15:4
- (Again, the “former-days-writings” were “the Scriptures”, the Law, the Prophets and the Writings, which are for our “Instructions”; “Instructions” in Hebrew is “Torah”; i.e. the Law)
Deuteronomy 6:24-25 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good ‘always’, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.
Deuteronomy 10:12 And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good
Deuteronomy 30:11,14 “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off… But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.
This is where it starts to get VERY interesting…
The Greek word χειρόγραφον is used only one time in the entire Bible.
This verse is the ‘one and ONLY time’ it’s ever used in the New Testament, and it is NEVER used in the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint).
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states ‘χειρόγραφον’ to mean: a handwriting; what one has written with his own hand. Specifically, a note of hand, or writing in which one acknowledges that money has either been deposited with him or lent to him by another, to be returned at an appointed time; a debt or bond.
Now, in extra-Biblical literature, χειρόγραφον/cheirographon is used numerous times. It is almost exclusively used in a courtroom setting as the written document listing the ‘evidence’ and ‘crimes’ of the defendant, or it’s used in reference to ‘debt’ owed by a debtor (concurring with the Thayer’s lexicon).
This, I believe, is why some English versions translate χειρόγραφον as “certificate of debt” instead of “handwriting”.
Next in verse 14, and Most Critical, comes the Greek word G1378, δόγμασιν/dogmasin. This is translated most commonly into English as “decrees” or “ordinances”.
Each derivative of dokeó, such as ‘dogmasin’, stresses “the subjective mental estimate or opinion about a matter”; such as an edict, a judgement, an opinion or a public decree.
This Greek word is where we get the English word ‘dogma’. Webster’s Dictionary concurs on this definition of the word ‘dogma’: DOGMA, noun [Gr., to think; Latin ] A settled opinion; a principle, maxim or tenet; a doctrinal notion, particularly in matters of faith and philosophy; as the dogmas of the church; the dogmas of Plato.
The Greek word ‘1378dogmasin’ is used only 5 times in the New Testament; the other four verses are as follows:
In those days a 1378decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. | Luke 2:1
As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the 1378decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. | Acts 16:4
and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the 1378decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus. | Acts 17:7
having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in 1378ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace | Ephesians 2:15
So, we have 2 decrees/decisions of Caesar, a decision/opinion of the apostles and elders, an ordinance that was enmity and abolished in the flesh of Jesus, and the verse we are currently studying.
The verse in Luke and the two in Acts are obviously decrees of men; I submit the other two are as well, and if you will be patient, I will let the Scriptures prove it.
In my study of the Ephesians 2:15 usage of δόγμασιν/dogmasin, I showed how this is in reference to the list of man-made-commandments, the fences around the Law, that the Post-Babylonian Israelite leaders imposed upon the people. Those man-made-laws stated that it was illegal for Israelites to associate with the nations/gentiles; those ‘laws’ are found nowhere in the Law of Moses, in fact, Moses stated just the opposite. Those decrees/dogmasin that were abolished in the flesh of the Messiah in Ephesians 2:15 were decrees of men, as I let the Scriptures prove in the study, ‘Was the Law of Moses Abolished in the Flesh of Jesus?’.
Four of the five usages of δόγμασιν/dogmasin in the New Testament thus far are ‘decrees, thoughts and opinions’ of men.
Everyone agrees that the ‘Luke’ and ‘Acts’ usages refer to decrees/ordinances of men, because the verses actually state ‘men’ made the ‘decrees/δόγμασιν’.
However, the mainstream theological system claims δόγμασιν/dogmasin in Ephesians 2:15 and Colossians 2:14 refer to the decrees/Laws of ‘God’ given through Moses…
Is there precedent for this claim? Is there any evidence historically that the Law of Moses is referred to or called δόγμασιν/dogmasin?
Why don’t we use good hermeneutics and let Scripture interpret Scripture, and take a look at the Old Testament usage of this Greek word δόγμασιν/dogmasin. The Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, lists twelve usages of the word ‘1378dogmasin’, and all twelve are found in the Book of Daniel: chapter 2:3, 3:10, 12, 29, 4:6, 6:8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 26.
‘Dogmasin’ is NOT used in any other Book of the Old Testament, and it is never used in reference to the Law/Instructions of Almighty God, never! It’s only used in reference to the decrees, opinions, and declarations of men.
So, are we really to believe that the apostle Paul, the eminent Scriptural scholar of his day, did not know this? If Paul is claiming the “dogmasin” of Colossians 2 is the Law of God, and it is ‘the certificate of debt that was nailed to the cross’, then we have to conclude Paul had absolutely no knowledge of the Scriptures, Greek or Hebrew.
Let’s use logic, and not stand on the emotional ties to the unsubstantiated teachings of the mainstream denominational system. Let’s think for ourselves, test the doctrines of men and examine the Scriptures; be a Berean! Please click this link and read, ‘Examining the Scriptures | Acts 17’.
Let’s start ‘the examining‘ process by asking ourselves the most basic question: ‘in reality, what was nailed to the cross?’
Jesus was nailed to the cross; I don’t think anyone who has ever picked up a Bible will disagree with that fact.
In Colossians 2:13-14 Paul described in ‘metaphor’ how our trespasses, our sins, are forgiven.
What does the text say?
Colossians 2:13-14 And you who were dead in your 3900trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our 3900trespasses, blotting-out the handwriting the ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.
The apostle Paul is stating in this sentence that in the body of the Messiah, the documented evidence of our “trespasses/sins” were nailed the cross, and not the Law of God.
The Greek word for ‘trespasses‘ both times in verse 13 is Strong’s G3900, παραπτώμασιν/paraptōmasin (Dative Case) and then παραπτώματα/ paraptōmata (Accusative Case).
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states this word to mean: a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness; a sin, misdeed, trespass.
The other Greek word that is used throughout the Scriptures for sin is Strong’s G266, ἁμαρτία/ hamartia.
In fact, Paul used these two Greek words synonymously in Romans 5:20 ~
What do the Prophets, Disciples and Apostles proclaim about this subject ~
Isaiah 53:6 the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all
- In the Septuagint, the word ‘iniquity’ is G266 αμαρτιαις/hamartia; sin
Isaiah 53:11 and he shall bear their iniquities
- In the Septuagint, the word ‘iniquities’ is G266 αμαρτιαις/hamartia; sin
Isaiah 53:12 yet he bore the sin of many
- In the Septuagint, the word ‘sin’ is G266 αμαρτιαις/hamartia; sin
1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree ♦◊♦◊♦
- In the Greek, the word ‘sins’ is G266 αμαρτιαις/hamartia; sin
Hebrews 9:28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many
- In the Greek, the word ‘sins’ is G266 αμαρτιαις/hamartia; sin
The entire chapter of Romans 6 proclaims this theme, but more specifically, verse 6 ~
Romans 6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
- In Romans 6:6 the Greek word for ‘sin’ is G266 αμαρτιαις/hamartia; sin.
- Do you see where Paul used the analogy of ‘our old self’, and equated it with the ‘body of sin’? He reaffirms Colossians 2:13-14 by stating here in Romans 6:6 that our sins were crucified/nailed to the cross with Jesus. Paul and Peter agree 1,000%, and that is exactly why Peter said ‘Jesus bore our sins in his body on the tree‘, 1 Peter 2:24 above.
Jesus bore our sins on the cross, not the Law! That is what Paul told us in Colossians 2:13,14 and in Romans 6:6. Our trespasses/sins were nailed to the cross in the body of Jesus.
Paul also described this in Galatians 5:19-21 ~
Galatians 5:19-21 19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
- Works of the flesh parallel verses: Galatians 5:19 1 Cor. 3:3; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5; James 3:14, 15; [Matt. 15:18-20]
The works of the flesh are the sinful desires of our self-sovereign hearts, our trespasses against the will of God; and these works disqualify us from claiming our inheritance to the Eternal Kingdom. Please click this link and read the study, ‘Salvation vs. Eternal Life | Romans 2:7’.
Those fleshly–works–of–sin are what was nailed to the cross, as Paul declared just three verses later in Galatians 5:24 ~
Galatians 5:24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
This is exactly what Paul stated in Romans 6:6 above; our old-man, our works-of-the-flesh, our sins were crucified with Christ. Every ‘Reference Bible’ links these verses together, but mainstream theologians don’t make the connection when it comes Colossians 2; their fathers and teachers handed down the delusion that the Law was nailed the cross.
For a complete study on how our flesh is enemies with God please read, ‘Why is the Flesh Enmity with God’.
One last time, what is the subject matter, the CONTEXT of the Colossians 2:13,14 sentence?
It’s our ‘Trespasses’!
Those sins/trespasses caused our death, but then Paul stated that in the Messiah we can be made alive, and our sins forgiven. This is the topic of discussion.
Now, with all that we have now learned about the context of the whole sentence and the Greek words cheirographon and dogmasin, a more accurate understanding of the verse in question would be ~
Colossians 2:13-14 And you who were dead in your 3900trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our 3900trespasses, blotting-out the [certificate of debt, the judgements/public decrees] that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.
The ‘handwritten document [certificate of debt] listing ordinances [the judgements] that was against us’, was our “rap-sheet”. That documented list of our 3900trespasses is what was ‘blotted-out/forgiven’. Our “sins”, our “old-self” is what was crucified with Christ and our “rap-sheet” was nailed to the cross.
‘He bore our sins on the tree in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin, no longer slaves to lawlessness but slaves to righteousness’, Romans 6:6,19.
Choose this day whom you will serve…
Through “faith” in the powerful work of God-in-the-flesh, Jesus the Messiah, by His blood we are redeemed and saved/delivered from sins dominion over us.
What did Paul say about the Law and its relationship to our “faith”? He said ~
Romans 3:31 Do we then make void/abolish the law through “faith”? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish/uphold the law
- For a complete study of Romans 3:31, please click this link and read, ‘Paul Commands Us to Uphold the Law‘.
The apostle Paul is never quoted saying that the Law is nailed/crucified with Christ; in fact he is quoted as saying the exact opposite. The apostle Paul said, post-resurrection, we are to uphold, establish the Law of Moses, and he stated this because he himself lived his life observing the Law, post-resurrection ~
Acts 21:24 Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law. | James speaking to Paul
- For a complete study of Acts 21:24, please click this link and read, ‘You Yourself Also Live in Observance of the Law’.
What did the Messiah say about the Law of Moses?
Matthew 5:18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law
Luke 16:17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void
- heaven and earth are still here; check outside to verify…
And what about John?
1 John 3:4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
1 John 5:2-3 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
If these verses are not true then the Jesus, Paul and John are all liars and hypocrites.
- For further study of Paul’s teachings, as well as the original Greek, see the ‘Links’ at the top of this page or blog posts at the bottom. Be like the Bereans, and test Paul’s doctrines to the “Scriptures”; look up for yourself more than 60 of the “forever verses” listed below. Please ‘share’ this study. Thank you for your time!