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What was Nailed to the Cross?

The Debt of Our Sins were Nailed to the Cross

Colossians 2:14 CSB
He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.

In Colossians 2:14, when Paul speaks of Jesus erasing the 'certificate of debt', he is referring to the spiritual debt of death that humanity incurred because of our sin. The term 'certificate of debt', translated from the original Greek word 'cheirographon', is a legal term. It's akin to a written record, or legally binding document, of our transgressions and the consequent penalty we owe, which is death according to Romans 6:23: 'For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.'

This 'certificate of debt' is not primarily about the ceremonial laws, but rather it encapsulates the entirety of our sin problem and its dire consequence. As Romans 3:23 states, 'For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,' highlighting our universal guilt.

Paul is not focusing on the intricate details of the ceremonial laws we might have violated, but on the larger issue of sin's consequence, which is death, and how Jesus dealt with it. By 'nailing it to the cross', Jesus took upon himself the penalty of our sins. As stated in 2 Corinthians 5:21, 'God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.'

Thus, the 'certificate of debt' that was 'against us and opposed to us', which Jesus 'has taken it away by nailing it to the cross', refers to the legal indictment - the complete record of our sins and their resulting death penalty. This act signifies that Jesus has graciously and decisively dealt with our sin problem and its consequential death sentence through His sacrifice on the cross.

1 Peter 2:24 CSB
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

2 Corinthians 5:21 CSB
He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Romans 5:8 CSB
But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

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

John 1:29 CSB
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

1 John 2:2 CSB
He himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.

Hebrews 9:28 CSB
So also Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Questions that Challenge Your Current Understanding

  1. What other interpretations have you heard regarding what was nailed to the cross, and how do they compare to the concept that our sins were the debt addressed?

  2. How would the significance of Jesus' death and resurrection change if it wasn't our sins that were nailed to the cross?

  3. If our sins weren't the debt that was nailed to the cross, then how do other interpretations address the problem of sin and the need for salvation?