The Sabbath and Colossians 2:14

And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross (Colossians 2:13, 14).

Some critics of Sabbath observance cite these verses to support their view that Christians are not subject to the Ten Commandments per se because they were nailed to the cross. Their next step is to reason that all but the Fourth Commandment have been restored, in principle, to Christian life through the teachings of Jesus and the apostles.

Verse 13 shows how believers are brought from spiritual death to new life in Christ through the forgiveness of their sins. Verse 14 provides a graphic illustration of that forgiveness. Let's take a closer look at that picture.

Colossians 2:14 focuses not on the law or the Sabbath, but on the forgiveness provided by Jesus Christ through His atoning death on the cross. Far from teaching that the law was made void at Calvary, this verse testifies to the exalted nature of the law by reminding us of the magnitude of the sacrifice required for our salvation.


1 Markus Barth and Helmut Blanke, Colossians, tr. Astrid Beck, The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1994), 328.

2 The Epistles of Paul The Apostle to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, Calvin's Commentaries, trans. T. H. L. Parker (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd,1965), 334.

3 Samuele Bacchiocchi, The Sabbath Under Crossfire (Berrien Springs: Biblical Perspectives, 1998). On page 244 Dr. Bacchiocchi includes this quotation from Douglas R. De Lacey, Professor of New Testament at Cambridge University: “Bacchiocchi lays great stress on the fact that the term nomos [law] is entirely absent from Colossians…he is surely right in his conclusion that this passage cannot be interpreted as stating that the Mosaic law itself was ‘wiped out’ in the death of Christ.”

4 C.D.F. Moule, The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians and to Philemon (London: The Syndics of the Cambridge University Press, 1957), 97.

5 Patrick V. Rogers, Colossians, New Testament Message 15 (Wilmington: Michael Glazier, Inc., 1980), 36.

6 Ralph P. Martin, Colossians and Philemon, New Century Bible (London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1974), 86.

7 Peter T. O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary 44 (Waco: Word Books, 1982), 125.

8 Barth and Blanke, Colossians, 328, 329.

9 Ibid., 330.

10 Samuele Bacchiocchi, From Sabbath to Sunday (Rome: The Pontifical University Press, 1977), 351.

11 The Eerdmans Bible Commentary(Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987), 1147.