Apart from Christ Himself, and Pilate’s inscription (John 19:19, 20) — both of which have been nailed to the cross — most Christians believe that there is another invisible thing that has also been “nailed to the cross.” This is due to the apostle Paul’s statement in Colossians 2:14. To this day, there is great controversy as to what Paul was really referring to.

Many Christians believe that the Ten Commandments were definitely included in that which was “nailed to the cross.” That is why it is popularly taught that we do not need to keep any of those commandments anymore — and that as Christians, we are now freed from such obedience, provided we just believe in God.

Is this true? What does the Bible really say about this belief? It is time we determined the true answer to this question based on correct biblical facts.

[This present article is a sequel to an earlier one titled, What Was Really “Finished”? published on this website. For a more comprehensive understanding, please read that article, too.]

Plain FACTS

Let us start with plain facts. Everyone who has carefully and honestly studied the Bible knows that there was never any statement from Christ — even to His last breath — nor any statement from any of the original apostles in all their writings, stating that the Ten Commandments were “abolished.” Likewise, when properly understood in the right context, none of the apostle Paul’s writings ever contradicted Christ’s teachings nor his fellow apostles’ statements concerning the Ten Commandments.

Why did this negative teaching against the Ten Commandments develop?

Since it was prophesied that there will be those who will “turn the grace of God into sensuality [ESV], or license for immorality [NIV]” (Jude 1:4) — in their desperate efforts to find even just a single verse to somewhat provide a reason for abolishing the Ten Commandments (which stands opposed to their carnal intents) — they found an ally in Paul’s statement in Colossians 2:14. But does this verse really say that the Ten Commandments have been abolished and nailed to the cross?

Very important background information

Influenced by such widespread pronouncements, and perhaps out of ignorance and deception, many Christians either sincerely use or simply parrot the phrase “nailed to the cross” when referring to God’s laws in general and the Ten Commandments in particular. But independent, unbiased, and intelligent thinking with closer analysis will reveal the following additional FACTS:

  1. The much-maligned Law of Moses was actually dictated or inspired by God Himself. In effect, do we now accuse God of having used Moses, or claim we could have been wiser than God in inspiring what He already dictated to be written? As a warning, before God, it is very dangerous and deadly for anyone to share the same negative attitude as those who criticized and rebelled against Moses (Numbers 16:3; 16:28-35).
  2. Here’s an even more shocking truth! Did you know that the much-disdained Ten Commandments were actually “written by the finger of God? (Exodus 31:18; 34:1; Deuteronomy 4:13; 9:10)? Remember, the words in the Ten Commandments were not the ideas of Moses, but came from the great wisdom of the God of Israel Himself!
  3. Plus, here’s an additional shocking truth and perhaps new revelation to most Christians. Did you know that the God of Israel (YHWH Elohim) in the Old Testament (who also wrote those Ten Commandments with His own finger on solid stone) was the very Being Who eventually became the Jesus Christ (Yahshua Messiah) in the New Testament? Shocking? As a starter, in writing a brief history about Israel’s journey out of Egypt, Paul stated that the spiritual Rock that followed them was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4). [For more Biblical PROOFS that the God of the Old Testament was the very same Being who eventually became Jesus Christ, please read Appendix 1 at the end of this article.]

Immediate and serious implications:

  1. Would the same supremely wise God who Himself wrote with His own finger the Ten Commandments be also the very one who would foolishly and arbitrarily turn around and abolish His very own written code of laws by “nailing it to the cross”? Yet that very absurd and illogical belief is what many theologians and preachers surprisingly teach!
  2. Would it do any human society any good to abolish the Ten Commandments as a universal code of conduct? Try to imagine a society without laws. Wherein anyone can murder. Where anyone can steal. Where no one’s word can be trusted because everyone can simply tell a lie. Without going further in enumerating all the points in the Ten Commandments (not to mention all the other wise instructions in the writings of Moses), I believe you can begin to see the wisdom of God. He gave us such a code of conduct for our own good. No wonder, every society of every nation on earth today have laws that parallel those listed in the Bible. So, under what righteous and noble reason will theologians and preachers abolish that which is good, just, and right?
  3. Here’s the height of irony. Since all human governments (some even ruled by godless or atheistic authorities) strongly apply in principle God’s laws with fines or death penalty for violations, why would Christians (claiming to be followers of God among all people) be at the forefront of declaring God’s laws and commandments worthy of being rejected and abolished? The only reason is that Satan (who hates God and His laws) has truly deceived the whole world, including most of Christianity (Revelation 12:9).

What was really nailed to the cross?

Considering the above-stated facts, plus common sense and logic, reason now simply dictates that it cannot be the Ten Commandments. So, what was really “nailed to the cross”?

Let’s closely analyze the biblical text. It reads:

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

Practical principles in correct biblical interpretation

  1. Verses in the Bible (when properly understood) never contradict each other because they were inspired by a perfectly intelligent and consistent God. Christ Himself testified to this consistent principle (John 10:35b).
  2. Study the context (and we already determined it cannot be referring to the Ten Commandments).
  3. Carefully consider what was said, and what was not said.
  4. Who wrote such and what is the conviction of the writer on the subject under discussion?

What were the exact words under dispute?

… handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us…

What did it definitely NOT say (but widely assumed it did say)?

It did NOT say: the Ten Commandments or the Laws of Moses.

What is the conviction of the apostle Paul (who wrote the phrase under dispute) concerning God’s laws and commandments?

Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
~Romans 3:31

Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
~Romans 7:12, KJV

For we know that the law is spiritual: but [in contrast] I am carnal, sold under sin.
~Romans 7:14

Therefore, whatever it is that has been “nailed to the cross,” it cannot be the laws and commandments of God, because Paul said, they are established, holy, just, good, and spiritual. Rather, the verse mentions something that is “against us” and “contrary to us.”

What was the original wording in the Greek text?

Handwriting of ordinances” was translated from “cheirographon tois dogmasin,” which can mean “handwritten note of debt.”

[For a Technical Description of the Key Words used here, please read Appendix 2 at the end of this article.]

Translations which help clarify the meaning of Colossians 2:14:

By canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
~ESV (English Standard Version)

Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
~NAU (New American Standard Bible)

He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross.
~NLT (New Living Translation)

What is this record of debt which was against us and contrary to us?

The same epistle writer, the apostle Paul, wrote something parallel to this concept:

For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
~Romans 6:23

NOTE: “Wages” is something we “earn” for doing something. In the case of sinning, we “earn” the death penalty, which is definitely against us and which is contrary to us. However, Christ took this death penalty upon Himself when He died in our behalf.

The apostle Peter (quoting from Isaiah) also wrote more directly on this matter:

Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed.
~1 Peter 2:24

The prophet Isaiah prophesied what the Messiah will do for us upon His death:

Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.
~Isaiah 53:4

The apostle Matthew also quoted from the prophet Isaiah about Christ:

… that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities And bore our sicknesses.
~Matthew 8:17

To confirm these facts, the apostle Paul explained:

For He [God] made Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
~2 Corinthians 5:21, NKJV

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
~2 Corinthians 5:21, NLT

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law [which is death], having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”)…
~Galatians 3:13

God’s laws and commandments were never nailed to the cross!

From all those previous verses, we can clearly see that what Christ took upon Himself during His crucifixion were our sins, including our sicknesses and infirmities, but NEVER did any of those verses say, allude, or include any of the laws and commandments of God.

The last surviving original apostle, John — writing very late in the first century (after all that should have been “done away” and “abolished” should have been put into effect) — wrote the same unchanging message of truth he heard from Christ from the beginning.

Notice also that, to the very end, God’s people will always be described as commandment keepers.

Notice Christ’s reply to the rich young ruler on how to have eternal life:

So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.
~Matthew 19:17

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
~1 John 2:3,4

Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
~1 John 3:24

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.
~1 John 5:2

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
~1 John 5:3

This is contrary to those who claim the commandments are “a yoke of bondage.”

And the dragon [Satan] was enraged with the woman [God’s Church], and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
~Revelation 12:17

God’s true Church is identified as a commandment-keeping people.

Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
~Revelation 14:12

God’s true church are commandment-keepers.

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.
~Revelation 22:14

Those who enter the Paradise of God are all commandment-keepers.

Conclusion

What was “nailed to the cross” were not the laws or the Ten Commandments of God as commonly but falsely assumed. Rather, Christ took upon Himself the penalty of death for all of our sins, including our sicknesses and infirmities, when He voluntarily died on our behalf.

Concerning God’s commandments, King Solomon (the wisest man who ever lived), made this most important concluding statement for all mankind when he said:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all [or “the whole duty of man” NIV]
~Ecclesiastes 12:13, NKJV

In this article, we have again witnessed another one of Satan’s effective deceptions upon Christianity (not just upon the non-Christian world). Truly, he has blinded, twisted, and misrepresented the truths of God for a lie. (John 8:44b; Revelation 12:9).

Please watch out for many more upcoming, truthful articles on this website.

Appendix 1

Here are some biblical proofs that the God of the Old Testament was the very same Being who later appeared as Jesus Christ in the New Testament:

[Christ said] No one has seen God [the Father] at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared [now revealed] Him.
~John 1:18

[Christ said] And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form.
~John 5:37

NOTE: If no one (whether Abraham, Moses, or any of the patriarchs or prophets) has seen God the Father at any time, then the Old Testament God (YHWH) they saw was none other than the One who later became the Christ. These are just two of very many verses saying almost the same thing.

For there is one God [the Father] and one Mediator [the Christ] between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus…
~1 Timothy 2:5

NOTE: This verse tells us that the Father, since the Old Testament time period, has appointed His Son (the Christ) to be the Mediator between Him and all mankind. This system will prevail until Christ has conquered the last enemy (death and mortality) at which time the Father will finally dwell with men (Revelation 21:3-4) and will be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:25-28).

(This is a big and long topic to discuss. I plan to write a separate and more detailed article here on BiblicalTruths.com next time. Watch out for it.)

Appendix 2

Technical Definition of Key Words:

Handwriting = G5498  cheirographon {khi-rog’-raf-on}

Meaning:  1) a handwriting, what one has written by his own hand 2) 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 the appointed time

(BibleWorks computer software, version 5)

Ordinances = G1378  dogma {dog’-mah}

Meaning:  1) doctrine, decree, ordinance 1a) of public decrees 1b) of the Roman Senate 1c) of rulers 2) the rules and requirements of the law of Moses; carrying a suggestion of severity and of threatened judgment 3) of certain decrees of the apostles relative to right living

(BibleWorks computer software, version 5)

Ordinances = G1378  dogma [DECREE, Noun and Verb]

Transliterated in English, primarily denoted “an opinion or judgment” (from dokeo, to be of opinion”), hence, an “opinion expressed with authority, a doctrine, ordinance, decree”; “decree” Luke 2:1; Acts 16:4; 17:7; in the sense of ordinances, Eph. 2:15; Col. 2:14. See ORDINANCE. [Note: Krino, “to determine,” is translated “hath decreed” in 1 Cor.7:37, KJV; RV, “hath determined.”]

(Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, page 153)