Colossians 2:14 - What was Nailed to the Cross?
"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)
This verse is often used to try to show that part (or all) of God's Old Testament law was done away with at the cross. However, Paul used the wrong Greek word if that was his intended meaning.
The word ordinances (or decrees) in Col. 2:14 is translated from the Greek word dogmasin, a form of the Greek word dogma (Strongs # G1378).
God's laws, ordinances, instructions, and commandments are mentioned many, many times in the the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint) that was used by Greek-speaking people of Paul's day. But how many times does the Septuagint use the word dogma (or any of its forms) when referring to God's laws or instructions? Never. Every occurrence of dogma in the Old Testament refers to man-made decrees or rulings. Usually it's the decrees of pagan rulers.
Was Paul ignorant of the Greek Scriptures? If Paul was referring to God's law, he could have easily used one of the same Greek words that is frequently used in the Greek Old Testament to refer to God's law such as nomos, entole, krima, dikaioma, or rhema. But Paul didn't use any of those words. Instead Paul used dogma, a word that was never used in the Greek Old Testament to refer to any of God's laws or instructions.
If we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture as we should, Col 2:14 would be interpreted to say that it was some man-made handwritten document that was nailed to the cross. We can confirm this in the story of Christ's death as recorded in the New Testament Gospels. There we find that a man-made handwritten document actually was nailed to the cross. It was the placard written in three languages that stated the "crime" of which Jesus was accused and that was placed on the cross by Pilate's order.
That kind of placard is what Paul was evidently referring to in Col 2:14 -- the personal placard listing my crimes that belongs above my head on my cross at my own execution. Jesus took that placard of mine and put it on his cross. Jesus paid the penalty for the crimes listed on my placard. I have been redeemed. Justice has been served and the law has been satisfied (not abolished). Jesus took your placard too.
In the lists below you can read all the occurrences of dogma in the Greek Old Testament and the Greek New Testament. Or you can look them up yourself using the free E-sword Bible study software from www.e-sword.net . You'll need the KJV+ version that comes with the main software and the free add-on version of the Greek Old Testament (w/ Strong's and Westcott-Hort Greek New Testament). Use the KJV+ tab to confirm that ordinances in Col. 2:14 is translated from dogma (Strongs # G1378). Then search for "G1378" (without the quotation marks) in the LXX+WH+ tab. The search results will display all the verses containing dogma in Greek. You can accept the search results then use the KJV tab to read the verses in English. (Press the F3 key or click the Search Next button to move to the next verse containing dogma.)
In the New Testament as well, the word dogma refers to man-made rulings. It's only in Col. 2:14 and Eph. 2:15 that dogma has been traditionally misinterpreted as if Paul was ignorant of the Greek Old Testament. In Eph. 2:15 dogma would refer to the man-made rulings of the Jewish sages that kept Jews separated from the Gentiles who feared God, a category of laws not found in the Old Testament.
-- Ron Ammundsen
All the Old Testament verses that contain the word dogma in the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint):|
Daniel 2:13 So the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they looked for Daniel and his friends to kill them. (NASB)
All the New Testament verses that contain the word dogma in the Greek New Testament:|
Luke 2:1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. (NASB)