Nailed to the Cross?

You have heard it is said that “Jesus (Yeshua) nailed the law [Torah] to the cross;” but the Bible says whoever breaks even the least of YHVH’s instructions and teaches others to do with same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.

Will Jesus be least in his Father’s kingdom?


17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:17-20

Yeshua clearly taught that he did not come to abolish the law [Torah] and that anyone who breaks Torah and teaches others to do the same will be least in the kingdom. So, where do we get the doctrine that Jesus nailed the law to the cross?

Mainstream Christianity cites Colossians 2:14 as proof text that Christians do not have to uphold the law. When this verse is read in isolation, their interpretation appears to have merit.


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.
Colossians 2:14

However, as we seek to worship in spirit and truth, we will do good to read scripture in context. I highly recommend studying the entire book of Colossians and understanding the ministry of Paul as well as the history of the Colossians. However, for this study, we will examine verses 6-15. I will use the NIV, because it is a popular translation among Christians.


So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

It is important to know that the early “Christians” did not practice the same faith of Christianity today. The first believers in Yeshua were Jews, just as Yeshua and his disciples were Jewish. They observed the Sabbath and followed Torah, just like Yeshua.

In Colossians, Paul’s audience are primarily gentiles who believed Yeshua was the messiah. The “faith they were taught” (verse 7) had roots in Judaism. Paul encourages them to continue in this faith.


See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

Paul warns the Colossians not to be captivated by hollow and deceptive philosophy that depends on human tradition and the elemental forces of the world. The law (Torah) is from YHVH. It is not based on human traditions. It is not an elemental force of the world.

The Torah is based on the righteousness of the Creator of the universe.

What philosophies is Paul referencing? The Colossian believers were being influenced by two forces. First, some sects of Jews were trying to enforce their man-made traditions upon converted gentiles. Yeshua spoke against similar trappings imposed by the Pharisees and teachers of the law (Mark 7). These man-made laws should not be confused with the instructions of YHVH (Torah).

Second, before their conversion, the gentiles were immersed in pagan religions based on the Greco-Roman philosophies and elemental forces of the world. They worshiped the sun, moon, stars, angels, animals, trees, etc. If the Colossians did not stay rooted in truth, they may be susceptible to morphing a hybrid religion (dare I say “triune”) by intermingling their newfound faith in Yeshua with human traditions and pagan theology. Paul is encouraging them to remain steadfast in Yeshua and not be influenced by these false doctrines.


For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.

By stating that Yeshua is “the head over every power and authority,” Paul’s point is that it is useless to follow lesser ideologies.


11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Paul now refers to circumcision because this was a big issue with gentile converts. Again, I must emphasize that the first believers in Yeshua were Jews. As gentiles were grafted into “the Way,” the question arose regarding circumcision. This matter warrants a post of its own. For now, suffice it to say that gentile circumcision was not mandated during their initial indoctrination (Acts 15).

Because the Colossian gentiles did not experience a physical circumcision, but were baptized into the faith, Paul uses circumcision and baptism as an analogy to emphasize the difference between the physical and the spiritual. Circumcision of the flesh versus circumcision of the heart is not a New Testament concept originated by Paul. Please read Deut. 10:12-1730:6-10Jer. 4:4, 9:25-26.

Nowhere in scripture does “circumcision of the heart” refer to being exempt from the law. Contrarily, when your heart is circumcised you are obedient to YHVH’s commands because you love him (Deut. 10:12-17).


13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,

Paul continues his circumcision and baptism analogy. He states that God [YHVH] made the Colossians alive with Christ and God [YHVH] forgave their 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. 

Verse 14 is a continuation of the sentence that started in verse 13. It is dangerous to read verse 14 in isolation. To understand this passage, we must ask some questions.

Question: Who cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness?

Answer: The same “He” in verse 13 that made you alive with Christ and forgave your sins… YHVH (not Jesus).

Question: What did He (YHVH) cancel?

Answer: The “charge” of legal indebtedness.

Question: What is the “charge”?

Answer: The charge is sin. When you are accused of a crime, charges are brought against you. The charge is not against the law you broke. When the charges are dropped, you are cleared of the charge and you no longer have to pay the debt. The charge and the debt is cancelled, not the law. You are not exempt from keeping the law. The law remains. This is why Yeshua told forgiven sinners to “go and sin no more.”

Question: What is “legal indebtedness”?

Answer: Legal indebtedness is the penalty for sin. And the penalty for sin is death. Read Romans 6 carefully, specifically verses 15-23. Paul encourages the reader to be slaves to obedience which leads to righteousness (and not slaves to sin which leads to death). Obedience to what? Obedience to… ready for it? Obedience to YHVH’s law because you love Him.

Question: What stood against us and condemned us?

Answer: The charge (our sin) stands against us and condemns us. Read Romans 7 carefully. The purpose of the law is to define sin so we know right from wrong. If you understand the law and know the law is good, then your conscious condemns you when you break the law and will cause you to repent. If we do away with the law, then every person can freely commit all kinds of evil because there is no such thing as sin or breaking the law.

Question: Who has taken “it” away and nailed “it” to the cross?

Answer: We are still in verse 14, which is a continuation of verse 13. The subject has not changed. YHVH has taken it away (the penalty for sin) and nailed it (penalty for sin) to the cross. Paul is continuing his thought from verse 13, that YHVH has forgiven our sins.

If we believe the proper interpretation of verse 14 is “Jesus nailed the law (Torah) to the cross,” then verse 15 should disturb us.


15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.[e]

If Paul is teaching that Jesus nailed the law to the cross, then he is making unsettling accusations that Jesus…

  • disarmed God’s power and authority
  • made a public spectacle of God’s commands
  • triumphed over his Father’s law by the cross

To believe Jesus disarmed, made a spectacle of, and triumphed over YHVH is truly disturbing. Not to mention the footnote at the end of the verse which annotates that the word “cross” should not even be in the text.

Verse 15, in context, asserts that the power and authority that was made a public spectacle, are the human traditions and elemental forces of the world mentioned in verse 8. It does not refer to YHVH’s law (Torah).

But what if I’m wrong? What if Paul is saying Jesus nailed YHVH’s law to the cross? If this is the case, then Paul will be least in the kingdom and you must decide whose teaching you will follow, Paul’s or Yeshua’s.


17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:17-20

Many Christian authorities will quote verse 17 and profess Jesus “fulfilled the law” on the cross. They fail to read verse 18 that says even the smallest letter of the law will remain as long as there is a heaven and earth. To their detriment, they also gloss over verses 19 and 20 and preach that God’s law is full of strenuous requirements that are impossible to keep. Yet YHVH says His instructions are within our reach and is in our [circumcised] heart for us to observe (Deut. 30:11-14).

Whose voice will you hearken? 

You have heard it is said that “Jesus [Yeshua] nailed the law [Torah] to the cross.” But Yeshua teaches whoever breaks the least of YHVH’s instructions [Torah] and teaches others to do with same will be called least in the kingdom, and whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great.

Will Jesus be called least or great in his Father’s kingdom?


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Please revisit this blog for a future post dissecting Colossians 2:16-23.