ACTS 15:24: “……. some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, ‘You must be circumcised AND keep the law’—to whom we gave no such commandment—” (NKJV)
The Greek word for “and” is kai, Strong’s number 2532, usually translated as “and.” Kai definitely CAN also be translated in other ways, depending on the context. The conservative, more literal King James Version of the Bible translates kai in other verses in the New Testament as “even” 108 times, “then” 20 times, and “so” 18 times. Kai has also been translated as “so then,” “certainly,” “just,” “now,” “well,” “while,” “for,” “if,” “that,” “therefore,” and “when.” Kai can easily mean “as a CONSEQUENCE or RESULT of an action taken” in which verse 24 could very well mean that circumcision would merely be an act or consequence of keeping the law of Moses, and therefore Mosaic law observance in general was not a separate command. In such a situation keeping the other laws of Moses is not an issue. Verse 24: “……. saying, ‘You must be circumcised so then or certainly or now or well or while or for or if or that or therefore or when or then or even or so keep the law’—to whom we gave no such commandment—” are other very possible translations. “…… to whom we gave no such commandment” would therefore refer ONLY to circumcision, not other laws.
THINK! Paul and Barnabas had a HUGE argument and debate over ONLY ONE SINGLE part of the law, circumcision, in Acts 15. Can you even begin to imagine how great and prolonged the debate would have been if all the other Mosaic laws were disputed, such as those dealing with murder, the Sabbath, tithing, coveting, using the Lord’s name in vain, the Feast of Tabernacles, the law forbidding putting stumbling blocks in front of blind people, removing property landmarks, bribery, incest, and on and on? Kai therefore must have had a meaning other than “and.” The verse 1 Corinthians 7:19: “Circumcision is nothing and un-circumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters,” only one of many, many dozens of other pro-law keeping verses, helps prove that the Apostles did not conclude that the other Mosaic laws were nullified at the time they decided to abolish circumcision. Acts 27:9 records that Paul continued to observe Old Testament laws such as the fasting Day of Atonement, which occurred well after the time they decided to end circumcision. The Apostles concluded that it would be too much of a burden to impose only circumcision, not the general law, on Christians.
COLOSSIANS 2:13,14: “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (New King James Version)
COLOSSIANS 2:13,14: “And (Strong’s 2532) you 5209, dead 3498 being 5607 in 3588 offences 3900 and 2532 in the 3588 uncircumcision 3588 of flesh 4561 your 5216 He 4806 quickened 5656 together with 4862 Him 846, having 5483 forgiven 5666 us 2254 all 3956 the 3588 offences 3900; 14 having blotted out 1813,5660 the 3588 against 2596 us 2257 handwriting 5498 in the 3588 decrees 1378, which 3739 was 2258 adverse 5227 to us 2254, also 2532 it 846 He has taken 142,5758 out of 1537 the 3588 midst 3319, having nailed 4338,5660 it 846 to the 3588 cross 4716″ (Interlinear Greek New Testament)
In the NKJV the original Greek word for “handwriting” in verse 14 is cheirographon, Strong’s number 5498, which refers to something “hand-written” such as a manuscript or document. The noted and highly respected Timothy Friberg, author/editor of Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, does not believe cheirographon refers to the law itself, but rather to transgressions of the law. The Greek word for “requirements” is dogma, Strong’s 1378, which almost always means “opinion” or “judgment.” Dogma is actually a relatively rare word in the Bible appearing only 3 other times (shown in the discussion of Ephesians 2:15 below) in the Bible besides in Colossians 2:14 and Ephesians 2:15. Dogma never clearly refers to the Mosaic laws as a whole. Dogma refers overwhelmingly to something man made. The 1 John 3:4 “gold standard” definition of sin specifies that sin is breaking nomos (the divine law) appearing over 200 times in the NT, not breaking dogma (something man concocted), found in the Bible only 5 times.
The major topic in verse 13 is TRESPASSES in which the word trespasses or sins is used not once but twice. Trespasses are sins, violations of the law. Trespasses are not the law itself. Verse 13 also reveals the context or subject matter of the next verse, verse 14, which involves the record or history of our past sins, our trespasses, NOT THE MOSAIC OR ANY OTHER KIND OF LAWS. The NT never describes the law as something “that is against us.” Quite to the contrary, the law is characterized as “holy, and just and good” according to Romans 7:12. The entire Bible describes the law as a blessing for mankind. Not just a few, but a large number of NT verses describe the law basically as very beneficial and protective. The original Greek word exaleipho, Strong’s 1813, in the English translated phrase “having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us” means to “to wash, or to smear completely …… to wipe away, wipe off, obliterate” according to Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, defining “blot out.” The Bible always uses the Greek word exaleipho in reference to washing away or getting rid of something other than the law, as shown in Acts 3:19, Revelation 3:5, Revelation 7:17, and Revelation 21:4. The law is never “blotted out” or “wiped away” in the NT using the Greek word exaleipho.
From the following 12 different translations of Colossians 2:13,14 you can see that it was our sins, our violations of God’s written laws that created a type of indebtedness, which were “nailed to the cross,” NOT any kind of laws.
“You were once dead because of your failures and your uncircumcised corrupt nature. But God made you alive with Christ when he forgave all our failures. 14 He did this by erasing the charges that were brought against us by the written laws God had established. He took the charges away by nailing them to the cross.” (Names of God Bible)
“You were dead because of the wrong things you had done, and because your lives had not been made clean. But God gave you life with Christ. He forgave you for all the wrong things you did. 14 He wiped out all the things that were written against us in the laws. He took the writing away and nailed it to a cross.” (Worldwide English (New Testament))
“When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive–right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, 14 the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross.” (The Message)
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you[a] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” (New International Version-UK)
“You were once dead because of your failures and your uncircumcized corrupt nature. But God made you alive with Christ when he forgave all our failures. 14 He did this by erasing the charges that were brought against us by the written laws God had established. He took the charges away by nailing them to the cross.” (God’s Word Translation)
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 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.” (Today’s New International Version)
“……. You, who were spiritually dead because of your sins ……. He has forgiven you all your sins: Christ has utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it …… on the cross …… 14 …… you were …… set free from the sins of the flesh …… Christ has utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments …… by nailing it over his own head on the cross.” (J. B. Phillips New Testament)
“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away …… He forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross.” (The New Living Translation)
“You were dead in sins, and your sinful desires were not yet cut away. Then he gave you a share in the very life of Christ, for he forgave all your sins, 14 and blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of his commandments which you had not obeyed. He took this list of sins and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross.” (Living Bible)
“You were dead, because you were sinful …… But God forgave all our sins. 14 God wiped out the charges that were against us for disobeying the Law of Moses. He took them away and nailed them to the cross.” (Contemporary English Version)
“You were dead, because you were sinners ……. he has forgiven us all our sins.14 He has overriden the Law, and canceled every record of the debt that we had to pay; he has done away with it by nailing it to the cross.” (Jerusalem Bible)
“Even when you were dead because of your offenses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with him when he forgave us all of our offenses, 14 having erased the charges that were brought against us, along with their obligations that were hostile to us. He took those charges away when he nailed them to the cross.” (International Standard Version)
So you can see that Colossians 2:13,14 does not clearly, beyond reasonable doubt, prove that the Mosaic laws have been annulled. Some excellent sites for further study include http://www.ucg.org/christian-living/blotted-out-and-nailed-cross/ and http://www.ucg.org/booklet/new-covenant-does-it-abolish-gods-law/peace-and-unity-christ/what-was-wiped-out-jesus-christ/. Another great site is http://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible/law-and-grace/nailed-to-the-cross/.
EPHESIANS 2:14,15: “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.” (NKJV)
Paul apparently describes the very much man made, burdensome Oral Torah as “the law of commandments contained in ordinances.” Context is very important to understand this verse. Verse 14 sets the stage for understanding verse 15. Verse 14: “He ……. has broken down the MIDDLE WALL OF SEPARATION.” The phrase “middle wall” is helpful to understand verse 15 because it identifies and concentrates only on a wall or barrier made by man, not a barrier made by God or His divine laws. The Greek for “middle wall” is mesotoichon, Strong’s 3320, a special, rare word appearing only once in the Bible in Ephesians 2:15. The word mesotoichon was used by the famous Jewish historian Flavius Josephus to refer specifically to a balustrade in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem to keep gentiles from entering the holy section of the temple. That balustrade (the Jews built the barrier because they wanted to build it, not because of any Scripture) was definitely a man made barrier, not a divinely made barrier or wall created by any Scripture. The Greek for “of separation” is phragmos, Strong’s 5418, which means a “fence” or “railing.” In his book Wars of the Jews Josephus used the terms mesotoichon and phragmos for a particular balustrade or barrier in the Jewish temple (Book 5, chapter 5, section 2 and 6). This barrier was built by the Jews to isolate the outer court where the gentiles were, from the inner part of the temple where all gentiles were banned. Written notices in Greek and Latin were posted at the bottom of the steps leading to the inner area, warning gentiles that death would be the penalty for going through the middle wall and entering the inner area of the temple. Two of those notices were found, one in 1871 and the other in 1935. The actual, physical “middle wall” was demolished when the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Romans. Several years before the middle wall was destroyed, though, Paul pointed it out as an appropriate symbol of racial and religious barriers separating people.
In verse 15 the Greek for “law” is nomos, Strong’s 3551, which can refer to man made laws depending on the context since there are more than seven definitions of nomos. “Commandments” in the Greek is entole, Strong’s 1785, which can also refer to rules and laws created by men. The Greek word for “ordinances” is again dogma, Strong’s 1378. This word appears only three other times in the Bible besides Ephesians 2:15 and Colossians 2:14, and dogma refers to MAN CONCOCTED, MAN DEVISED, MAN INVENTED, MAN MADE edicts, opinions, judgments, or decrees (in Colossians 2:14, according to the context of Colossians 2:13, dogma logically refers to the written or somehow recorded record [apparently in heaven] of people’s sins). In the other three times dogma is used, it never clearly refers to the Bible’s written Mosaic laws. In two cases dogma refers to secular regulations devised by a non-Christian Roman ruler, Caesar, not to God’s holy laws:
1) Luke 2:1: “…….there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.” The Greek for decree is dogma.
2) Acts 17:7: “……… these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar saying that there is another king …….” The Greek for decrees is dogma.
3) Acts 16:4: “And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.” Again the Greek for decrees is dogma. The man made decrees in this verse were formulated by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem to primarily inform church members that circumcision was no longer required.
Since “the law of commandments contained in ordinances” is nonspecific, if this verse really did mean that the Mosaic laws have been abolished, then a large number of very good, common sense laws also would have been done away with by Jesus Christ Himself, which is absurd, demonstrating another glittering flaw in mainstreamers’ reasoning that Ephesians 2:15 proves that the written Mosaic laws were annulled. Very good, common sense Mosaic laws not specifically listed in the New Testament that even most pagan societies would not break include laws prohibiting removing property landmarks, prohibiting the mingling of lepers with the general population, forbidding incest, forbidding punishing a son for a crime his father committed, forbidding eating animals like armadillos which often carry leprosy (just handling them before cooking them can give you leprosy), prohibiting being a member of a vandalizing mob, prohibiting bribery, prohibiting bestiality, prohibiting putting stumbling blocks in front of blind people, and on and on. Do you really think that Jesus thought that the law forbidding putting stumbling blocks in front of the blind created “enmity” between Jews and gentiles?
The Jewish Oral Torah laws, most of which have been recorded in writing in the “Mishnah,” conform to the definition of dogma since they are invented by earthly human beings, not God. The Biblically recorded, God commanded laws like those concerning tithing, the festivals, and diet DO NOT conform to the typical definition of dogma.
Besides abolishing in Ephesians 2:15 the man made Jewish decrees requiring the execution of gentiles passing through the middle wall to enter the inner temple, additional Oral Torah laws were rendered by Jesus as inconsequential or unnecessary for salvation such as the following: According to jewishvirtuallibrary.org, before the evening meal during the Saturday Sabbath which begins after Friday sunset, each person in the household should wash their hands by filling a cup with water and then pour the water over the top and bottom of the right hand and then the left hand. Then the hands are wiped dry on a towel.
Apparently it would be wrong, perhaps even sinful, breaking one of the man concocted Oral Torah Laws, if the water was first poured on the left hand.
The Sabbath table should be set with a minimum of two candles
(representing the two laws to remember and observe the
Sabbath), at least two loaves of challah, and a glass of wine. The
challah loaves should be whole, and should be covered with a bread cover, napkin, or towel. Candles must be lit by the woman of the household no later than 18 minutes before the sun sets Friday evening. After lighting the candles, she waves her hands over the candles, welcoming in the new Sabbath day. Then she covers her eyes with her hands, so as to not see the candles before reciting a certain blessing which mentions God’s command to “light the Sabbath candles.” The woman then removes her hands from her eyes, and she looks at the candles, which completes the mitzvah of lighting the candles.
This specific Oral Law ritual of course is not found in the Bible. Lit candles emit smoke which can be hazardous to human lungs, so just breathing such air could be considered sinful in itself and should therefore be avoided according to James 4:17: “Therefore to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” Also, the certain blessing above that the woman is supposed to recite may actually “bear false witness” since there is no official written record or other proof, to my knowledge, in which God commands people to light candles on the Sabbath, even though the Jews claim God did orally command lighting candles. So at least one or two sins could be immediately committed by trying to obey this Jewish, man made, Oral Torah Law on how to properly observe the Saturday Sabbath. You can understand why the Gentiles thought the Oral Laws were sometimes unnecessary and burdensome. These are the man invented laws, the dogma, that sometimes produced friction, resentment, and hostility between the Jews and the Gentiles, described as “enmity” in Ephesians 2:15. The very man made, NOT divinely created “middle wall of separation” in Ephesians 2:14 was especially enmity producing since Gentiles were threatened with death if they crossed this barrier built within the Temple. The sacrificial death and teachings of Jesus removed this enmity since Gentiles as well as Jews can now be allowed to repent and receive salvation. Christian Gentiles are now basically equal to the Jews.
Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26, and Deuteronomy 14:21 contain the words “you shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” The word “kid” refers to a goat. According to thetorah.com/meat-and-milk-origins-in-the-text/ Jews in their Oral Law have therefore concluded that they cannot eat ANY kind of meat cooked with or in ANY kind of milk, and they expect righteous Gentiles to also believe and apply that, even in emergency, life and death circumstances when survival outdoors is involved and where only cow’s milk, for example, is available to cook meat in. The Bible limits this law literally to only goats, however, and not to other kinds of animals. These Exodus verses also seem to be related only to offerings and sacrifices. So you can understand why such a now unnecessary for salvation Oral Law could in some circumstances irritate and vex a Gentile, producing more “enmity” between Jews and Gentiles.
Mainstreamers, when are you going to finally admit that the tithing, food, festival, and Saturday Sabbath nomos laws (not dogma) laws are still in force? Stop fearing what your ill informed family, friends, or associates might try to do to you if you started obeying your Creator. Instead, fear the present and future consequences of sin. The ONLY good thing you can take with you to the grave is your personal history of divinely recorded, Biblical obedience, or the lack of it (Revelation 14:13).
Concluding, there is no reasonable way that Ephesians 2:15 can be used to support the mistaken idea that most of the Mosaic laws have been abolished. Only the man made, burdensome Oral Torah additions were done away with, not the written Old Testament laws in the Bible.
It is the gentiles that need to become slightly “more Jewish” than the Jews slightly “more gentile,” one might say, so that the two become one according to Ephesians 2:11-14, 3:6, John 4:22, Galatians 3:28, and Romans 1:16, 10:12, 11:11,26.
To better understand Ephesians 2:15, a good site for further study is http://www.ucg.org/booklet/new-covenant-does-it-abolish-gods-law/peace-and-unity-christ/. Please also read the middle part of http://www.tomorrowsworld.org/magazines/2001/may-june/principles-bible-study. Another excellent site to visit is http://rcg.org/questions/p154.a.html.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Unless indicated otherwise, all Biblical quotations are from the New King James Version.