Colossians 2:14 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Colossians 2:14, NIV: "having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross."

Colossians 2:14, ESV: "by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross."

Colossians 2:14, KJV: "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, NASB: "having canceled 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."

Colossians 2:14, NLT: "He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it 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."

What does Colossians 2:14 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This verse continues the thought begun in verse 13, explaining how the Colossian believers had been forgiven. Though the Colossians were once dead in sin, and uncircumcised, now they are alive and "spiritually circumcised" in Christ. In this verse, Paul makes special emphasis on several aspects of the forgiveness we have in Jesus.

First, Jesus cancelled the record of our debt, in the same way a legal pardon cancels the penalty for that crime. In the day and time Paul wrote this, a person could be arrested or enslaved to pay off financial debts. They could also be enslaved as punishment for committing a crime. The image Paul's original readers would have gotten is a person's financial debt being erased along with the legal consequences. A believer no longer lived under the threat of punishment or enslavement to sin.

Second, Jesus "set aside" our sins as believers. This is a separate action from the legal or financial metaphor. Declaring someone "pardoned" does not necessarily mean they are "welcomed." However, according to Paul, those who put their faith in Christ have their sins removed from His sight. The failures of a saved believer are no longer a barrier between them and God. God's forgiveness not only means freedom from the eternal punishment of sin, it means we can have a living relationship with God, now.

Third, for the believer in Christ, the death of Jesus on the cross is sufficient payment for all sins. Paul uses a graphic metaphor here, of sin itself being crucified. In that era, crucifixion was not merely a brutal form of execution, it was a sign of absolute rejection. There were many other ways to execute people at that time, but crucifixion carried a sense of shame and disowning. So, when God crucifies sin, He is not merely killing it, He is completely and utterly ignoring it and cutting it off.

This thought is further emphasized in verse 15, where Paul says that Christ's victory over sin is a mark of "open shame" for the spiritual powers which oppose us.