"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).
The "handwriting of ordinances" described in our text above is the Greek word cheirographon. It was a legal document of the Roman empire that signified an obligation that must be paid. If an individual borrowed money or owed taxes, a document would be drawn up that would formalize his debt. When the debt was paid off, a magistrate would write across this, cheirographon, Tetelestai, or "finished." Similarly if someone were guilty of a crime, this "handwriting of ordinances" would be prepared to document their offense and the sentence. This document would be nailed above the cell for all to read. If one was sold into slavery, his master would hold the cheirographon. Only in the event that a redeemer appeared to buy the slave out of bondage would the document be canceled.
Paul used this familiar term to describe the condemnation of the law hanging over every person. This handwriting of ordinances describes our multiplied failures to live up to the obligations of the law and our just condemnation to eternity apart from God. Yet God ". . . hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (II Corinthians 5:21). Once Jesus had borne the entire judgment for sin and completed the task of our redemption, He requested a drink and made one final proclamation. "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished |Tetelesta|: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost" (John 19:30). Upon proclaiming "Tetelesta" Christ had legally paid our debt and provided us with the choice to accept His payment of our obligation. The cheirographon is nailed to the cross and by faith we become free of its power. DW