From: Bob Stevens (
Date: Wed Nov 25 1998 - 12:20:07 EST

From: (Ben Crick)
Date: Wed, 25 Nov 98 01:04:16
X-Message-Number: 28

On Tue 24 Nov 98 (10:25:13),
> I am a timid new user and a relative neophyte
in the language. My
> question relates to the use of CEIROGRAYON in
Colossians 2:14. Some
> sources state categorically that this refers
to the Mosaic Law.
> Others indicate that it suggests some sort of
bond signed by the hand
> of a debtor. The context seems to support the
former, but I have the
> unpleasant sensation that I am missing

 Dear Bob

 You are evidently familiar with the discussion
in Lightfoot's /Colossians
 and Philemon/. The problem seems to me to be the
 One might expect the genitive here, the
"handwriting of the ordinances
 against us"; but the GEGRAMMENON implicit in
CEIROGRAFON attracts the
 dative (of agent?).

 CEIROGRAFON indicates an autograph; a signature
on a bond or a promissory
 note; or the signature on a receipt to a bill.
This agrees with Philemon

 But it appears that the "autograph" is not
Christ's underwritten signature,
 but the handwritten teachings of the Mosaic Law,
which are "against us":
 compare the Decalogue, engraved by the finger of
God (Deuteronomy 9:10).
 Alternatively, the reference may be to the title
which Pontius Pilate wrote
 on the cross (which had been prepared for
Barabbas); the handwriting hO
 GEGRAFA GEGRAFA was Pilate's statement of the
capital offence of Christ:
 hO BASILEUS TWN IOUDAIWN (treason against Rome).
This "crime" of Jesus was
 expunged by the shedding of his blood as he died
upon the cross, PROSHLWSAS

 Early Greek commentators agreed that TOIS
 Ephesians 2:15) refers to the doctrines of the
Gospel as the /means by
 which/ (instrumental dative) the release from
the bond was achieved. But
 the syntax is against this view. Jerome
translates /delens quod adversum
 nos erat chirografum decretis quod erat
contrarium nobis et ipsum tulit de
 medio adfigens illud cruci, etc/. /Chirografum/
is a Greek loan-word
 transcribed into Latin, and used as a legal term
for any written contract
 or bond in Roman law; not just the autographed
signature on it. So the
 Mosaic Law gets my vote, FWIW. It was the Mosaic
Law that defined sin and
 disclosed offences (Romans 7:7-11); and it was
the death penalty for our
 offences, thus disclosed, which Christ expunged
with his blood on the Cross.

 Just my $0.02


 Revd Ben Crick, BA CF
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD 


Thank you for your insights! Thanks also for your gentle correction of my misspelling of CEIROGRAFON. I was not familiar with the sources you cited, but your synopsis was enlightening. I wonder also whether Romans 2:14-15 might be significant here. The Colossians' tacit acknowledgement of the principles in the Mosaic law served as their bond of indebtedness.

As a layman with limited exposure to Greek scholarship, I cannot tell you how excited I am to have access to this forum! I love studying the NT Greek, but have so many questions. This is an awesome resource!

Bob Stevens

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