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 . 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)

Daniel 3:10  "You, O king, have made a decree that every man who hears the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe and all kinds of music, is to fall down and worship the golden image.  (NASB)

Daniel 3:12  There are certain Jews whom thou has appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Sedrach, Misach, and Abdenago, who have not obeyed thy decree, O king: they serve not thy gods, and worship not the golden image which thou hast set up.  (Brenton translation of the Septuagint)

Daniel 3:29  "Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way."  (NASB)

Daniel 4:6  "So I gave orders to bring into my presence all the wise men of Babylon, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream.  (NASB)

Daniel 6:8  "Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked."  (NASB)

Daniel 6:9  Then king Darius commanded the decree to be written. (Brenton translation of the Septuagint)

Daniel 6:10  Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously.  (NASB)

Daniel 6:12  Then they approached and spoke before the king about the king's injunction, "Did you not sign an injunction that any man who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, is to be cast into the lions' den?" The king replied, "The statement is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked."  (NASB)

Daniel 6:13  Then they answered and spoke before the king, "Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the injunction which you signed, but keeps making his petition three times a day."  (NASB)

Daniel 6:15  Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, "Recognize, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or statute which the king establishes may be changed."  (NASB)

Daniel 6:26  "I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; For He is the living God and enduring forever, And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, And His dominion will be forever.  (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)

Acts 16:4  Now while they were passing through the cities, they were delivering the decrees which had been decided upon by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem, for them to observe.  (NASB)

Acts 17:7  and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus."  (NASB)

Ephesians 2:15  by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,  (NASB)

Colossians 2:14  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.  (NASB)

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