What Was Really Nailed to the Cross?

It is common among those of my religious background to quote a couple of scriptures together. The first is Galatians 3:19 concerning the adding of law due to sin. The second comes from Colossians 2:14 concerning a handwriting being nailed to the cross. The common phrase is that what was added four hundred and thirty years after the promises was then nailed to the cross. The idea being presented is that what was added, the law, was then nailed to the cross.

I have repeated that statement for years! The truth of the matter though is that Colossians 2:14 is not talking about nailing God’s law to the cross.

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us”.

The key is the Greek behind the phrase “handwriting of ordinances”.


Neuter of a compound of G5495 and G1125; something hand written (“choreograph”), that is, a manuscript (specifically a legal document or bond (figuratively)).

The phrase is a bit hard to see here but could have been translated as the “bond or debt” of ordinances.

The law is not just a set of commandments. It includes statutes that explain what the law means and then also judgments that put some teeth into the laws. Without statutes how would anyone know what was meant by the word murder for instance. Without judgments the laws are little more than suggestions.

Consider the following. Can a police officer pull you over for speeding if there was no speed limit. Can a police officer decide not to write a ticket if he feels the need for some mercy (grace) if there is no law. Can one sin with out a law? So when I read scripture that says we are no longer under the law I consider my past sins and realize that thanks to grace I am no longer under the penalty (death) of the law! That then very much goes along with scripture that says that the law, with it’s penalty, is very much in force over the unrighteous (unsaved).

I am not very big on looking at other translations, but perhaps a few can help with view to the debt or bond above.

Analytical-Literal Version
Col 2:14  having blotted out [or, canceled] the handwritten record of debts in the ordinances against us, which was contrary to us…

Contemporary English
Col 2:14  God wiped out the charges that were against us for disobeying the Law..

English Standard
Col 2:14  by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.

Col 2:14  and, by his mandates, he blotted out the handwriting of our debts, which [handwriting] existed against us

Scripture teaches that it was our sin that caused the need for Christ to die on the cross. Our sin was nailed to the cross.


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