Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Colossians 2:14)
Paul tells the Jesus believers at Colosse that God made them alive together with King Jesus the Messiah, “having forgiven you all trespasses,” or as the UNT (The Unvarnished New Testament) puts it, “freely letting us off for all our transgressions.” The Greek words for “trespass” and “forgiven” are both interesting.But there is more to it. Having forgiven all trespasses, yes, but also, “having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us.” The use of the word “handwriting” in this context has a technical meaning, commonly referring to a legal document, a bond, a certificate of indebtedness. The debt we owed was great and the document against us was against us, “hostile to us” (LEB).
Paul is being metaphorical here, of course, but he does have something in mind with the writ of “requirements.” The Greek word is dogma and, in the New Testament, was used of decrees and ordinances. The ESV translates it as “legal demands.” The Good News Bible calls it “binding rules.” What Paul is talking about is the Law of Moses. The Law itself is holy and right and good (Romans 7:12). But for those who violated it — which is everyone — it held condemnation.
But look at what God has done in Jesus the Messiah. He not only wiped out the debt note, He wiped out the ordinance along with it! He cancelled it, erased it, washed it all out. “He obliterated the arrest warrant with our names on it that had been in force against us, with all its dogmas” (UNT).
How did He wipe it all out? He nailed it. To the cross. In the body of Jesus. Jesus took it all off of us and put it on Himself. “Hauled it right out of the way and nailed it to the cross” (UNT).
Now it no longer stands against us. It no longer has a voice to condemn us. We are dead to it (Romans 7:4) and it is dead to us. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans 8:1-2).
The Focus of Our Faith
Paul’s Letters to the Jesus Believers at Colosse
Bite-Size Studies Through Colossians
by Jeff Doles
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