What was nailed to the Cross?

Examining Colossians 2

There has been much confusion on what exactly the verses in Colossians 2 mean. Some believe that they mean the ‘Law of Moses’ was nailed to the cross; others say only the feast were nailed to the cross. Let’s examine the scriptures and see if we can make sense of this verse.

We have to remember when reading scripture context makes all the difference. So to properly understand what message Paul is giving in Colossians 2 lets examine the topic being discussed in chapter 1.

Let’s begin by examining the verse, in Colossians 2, that many use to say God revoked the Law of Moses, or the feast.

“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;”

So from the above scripture we can conclude several things:

  • Something was written against us
  • This writing was contrary to us
  • Christ removed it at the cross
  • Christ nailed this writing to the cross

Let’s examine another verse here.

And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”

 Several questions we should already be asking ourselves are;

  • What was written that was contrary or against us?
  • What did Christ remove in the death of the cross?
  • And probably the most important question is what did he triumph over at the cross?

In order to be able to properly answer these questions lets examine from the context of this chapter, and chapter 1, to understand what message Paul was relaying to the Colossians. We see early on in chapter 1 how Paul admonishes the Colossians (praises them) for their *new* found faith in Jesus Christ. From this information we can conclude that Colossea was a gentile nation, because this was a NEW faith that they were entering into. We can see this also in verse 27 where Paul says, To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: So God made known His glory unto a gentile nation, a nation which practiced heathen worship and idol sacrifice, among other rituals. Colossea was also neighboring many other heathen, gentile nations. They were not formally acquainted with the customs or teaching of the Jews. We will see in a little bit why this matters.

Now that we have a little background on the Colossians, Lets examine the context of chapter 1 to see and properly understand what message Paul was giving in Chapter two. Colossains 1:20-23

And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they are things in earth, or things in heaven.”

“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight:”

Paul is revealing to us what was accomplished in the death of the cross. It says Christ ‘made peace’ on the cross ‘through’ his blood. Which was shed why? Matthew 28:26 tells us, “for the remission (removal, cancellation of debt, charge, and penalty) of sins.” And why was this done? It says “to reconcile (restore) all things unto himself” And what things is he restoring? “Things on earth and things in heaven.” Remember also, Paul is preaching the gospel to a gentile nation, who have only recently accepted Christ, but are still learning.

Verse 22 shows why we are alienated and enemies. It says “by our mind” and by our ‘wicked works’ Paul say’s to the Colossians “YOU were ONCE alienated” So once they did not believe in Christ, but now they do.

Scripture also tells us that our sin’s today is what separates us from God.

Isaiah 59:2

 “But your iniquities have separated you from God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”

So we see clearly that it’s our sin that has separated us from God. Yet, it say’s “Now, (through his death) he hath reconciled (restored) us unto himself. “In the body of the flesh through deathHe has accomplished this work of redemption that he might present us unblameable, and unreprovable. (flawless)

Verse 14 says, “. . . we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Chapter one is telling us that through the blood of Christ we are being forgiven of our sins.

In the prayer Jesus gave to us in Matthew 16:12, sin is expressed as debt. It is a true metaphor because sin un-repented of is a debt owed to God, one that must be discharged by paying a penalty. All have sinned (Romans 3:23), and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). We are all under a peculiar form of indebtedness that we cannot pay ourselves and be granted remission for our sins. However this debt was paid by Christ on the cross. A law was written against us in heaven saying ‘the soul that sinneth it shall surely die.” (Ezekiel 18:20)

Man is controlled by the sinfulness of their minds, and our iniquities separate us from God. This is what chapter 1 is revealing to us.

Romans 8:7

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”

 Christ however died “in the body of flesh” that we may die a spiritual death so that we do not walk anymore in the carnal mind, for the carnal mind is enmity with God. So now that we see in Chapter 1 of Paul’s letter that he was talking about the remission of sins, paid through Christ’s blood on the cross, we can begin to see and understand what Paul was relaying to the Colossians in chapter 2. Let’s examine then verses 10-13.

10 “ye are complete in him

11 “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:”

 12 “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”

 13 “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses ;( debt)”

Our sinful nature that we inherit is our mind and our body, and this is taken off, or removed, through the circumcision of Christ, wherein we are “buried with him through baptism” and rise “with him through faith.” “Being dead in our sins” we walk no longer after the carnal mind. But If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25) “Being quickened together (fitted together/joined) are now forgiven all our trespasses (debt).

So in context here again, Paul is relying to the Colossians the death that they must die to sin in order to receive the gift of the spirit and walk no longer after the flesh.

Galatians 5:16-17

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”

 Verses 14 and 15 bring us back full circle to our earlier questions. Let’s read these verses again, now that we better understand the context of these chapters.

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;”

 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”

So a new question would be this. How has God forgiven us our sins? BY “blotting out the handwriting of ordinances which was against, or contrary to us, taking them out of the way and nailing these sins (our debt paid THROUGH Christ) to the cross.

The next question could be: what is an ‘ordinance?’ Scripture defines it as a law or a decree. And so what law was this then that was removed at the cross? The law of death. “The soul that sinneth shall surely die.” This is what was told to Adam and Eve in the garden, this was what Christ came to remove so that all may be granted remission of sins and entrance into the kingdom of God.

Let’s say for a moment that God did in fact remove the law. How then, and according to what then, would he condemn and judge us? For it is by the law, and according to the book of the law that we are judged.

Galatians 3:10

Cursed (condemned) is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”(notice how this is NEW TESTAMENT telling us to do EVERYTHING written in the book of the law)

Romans 2:12

“For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;”

 

God has in fact given us a promise of something which is written that will be blotted out and removed.

 Isaiah 43:25

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

 Acts 3:19

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;”

 Another question we must ask ourselves is: would God have an entire generation do something that was evil, or against them? Let’s look at Ephesians 2:13-16

 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh BY the blood of Christ.”

 We gained remission BY the blotting out of our sin, THROUGH the blood of Christ, which was shed for many.

For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

Having abolished in his flesh the *enmity*, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;”

And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:”

So Ephesians is again telling us that we were once afar of (separated from) Christ, but are now brought neigh through his blood. And His blood is what broke down the wall of partition between us and him. He abolished in the flesh that enmity, which is the carnal mind, and the law of commandments contained in ordinances (the law of death) and making peace with us. That he might reconcile (restore) us unto God, BY the cross.

So now to answer probably the most important question what did Christ triumph over at the cross? Was is the law, is that what he came to remove? Did Christ triumph over the law as if it were something evil which he gave and had to come now to remove?? Or did he come to remove sin and remove death?

Well to go a little deeper we know that the law brings a curse through ordinances written for every man who does not walk in it. Let’s look at some scriptures.

Galatians 3:13

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us–for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”

So we see here that Christ became that curse, which is written in the law, when he was killed on the cross.

Deuteronomy 11:26

“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse:”

 

Deuteronomy 11:28

And the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known.”

 Joshua 8:34

Then afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the book of the law.”

So in dying our death, Christ removed this curse of the law, being made a curse for us. So he removed this curse, which is death, and triumphed over it. In 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 it says:

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 The grave could not even hold Christ. This is what he gained victory over; this is what he triumphed over at the cross. Can you imagine the sin of the whole world placed upon one mans back, and the grave not even being able to hold him?

So now that we properly understand what is being talked about up until verse 15, let’s examine verse 16, which says:

“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of any holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days:”

This is probably the most controversial scripture there is when it comes to feast or anti feast believers. Let’s see if with our understanding of context we can understand this correctly

This verse is actually quite simple though. It’s understood through two words, which are: “judge you.” Remember how in the beginning of this study we talked about how the Colossians were a gentile nation. They were more than likely, if not defiantly, surrounded by other’s who would judge them for their lifestyle and beliefs. So Paul is writing a letter to the Colossian people telling them to not let anyone judge them. They had probably never kept the Sabbath, the feast, or the new moons and were just entering into the understanding of not eating meat. We can see from the context of Colossians chapter 1-3 that he is speaking to them about the putting away of their old lifestyle and walking forward with a new one.

The next verse says “These are a shadow (foretelling) of things to come” It’s kind of like dropping someone a hint of something much better than these that is yet to come.  Christ already came the first time, and the purpose of these things was not to bring curses but to bring blessings and gifts to his people. If these are blessings on this earth, how much more abundantly has our Father promised to bless us in heaven. Hebrews 8 actually describes this perfectly. Let’s read verses 1-5

“Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;”

 “A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices.”

 “For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:

 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.

 So all these gift are but shadows, or examples, of the heavenly things which are yet to come, something much better.

In the next verses in Colossian, 20 through 23, shows that the people were turning from a worldly form of worship, and following the traditions and commandments of men to following God.

“Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,(commandment’s of men)”

 “(Touch not; taste not; handle not;”

 “Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?”

 “Which things have indeed a shew(appearance) of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.”

 It’s clear in the context that ordinances here are referencing commandments of men. Let’s look at some verses that parallel this verse.

Romans 6:2

“God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”

 Galatians 4:3

“Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:”

In other words, why, if you are living in Christ are you subject to the ordinances of men. (laws of men)

The last argument used in regard to verse 16 is that the term Sabbath Day’s is referencing feast days. This is a false statement.

The term Sabbath day is actually an entirely different word used. The word is Sabbaton and is used in reference to the weekly Sabbaths.

Luke 6:9 uses the same word

“Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”

 Also, why would Paul be redundant in using Sabbath day’s and holydays?

Holyday in Greek is: “Heorte” and means “A feast day, festival” So this is how it would read if that was the case.

“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of any holyday(FEASTDAYS) , or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: (FEASTDAYS)”

He was clearly saying to the Colossians not to let anyone judge them for keeping the feast, the Sabbath (weekly), or new moons, or in respect to how they eat and drink. This was a complete lifestyle change. Paul knew that they would be surrounded by others who would judge and mock them for their faith in Christ. If you keep reading chapter three, you will see how Paul continues to speak to them about putting off the old man, who was crucified with Christ, and living anew through the spirit.

The next study we will do will parallel with this one. Some understand the verses in Hebrews 8 to mean that when Christ came we received a better, or different covenant. We will examine the covenants to see if this is so. I will leave you with this question. Did Christ make a covenant that was not good, a covenant that would fail us? Or did we ruin the first and perhaps the second covenant and is God simply re-establishing the same covenant with us as he did with Abraham? Is there a better covenant, a better promise given to us than was given originally to Adam and Eve?

Hebrews 13:8 says:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

2 thoughts on “What Was Nailed To The Cross Examining Colossians 2

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