Ephesians 2:15

Summary:

Ephesians 2:15 seems to indicate that the Law of Moses was abolished. Since this verse is in many respects similar to Colossians 2:14, many take that as confirmation that Colossians 2:14 also declares the Law of Moses to be abolished. However, two different things are declared abolished by the two verses to achieve two different goals.

Discussion

This verse seems to confirm that Colossians 2:14 is talking about the Law of Moses.  It states that “the Law of commandments contained in ordinances” was abolished “in His flesh” to break down “the dividing wall” between Jew and Gentile.  In this verse the “Law of commandments contained in ordinances” probably refers to the Law of Moses.

This verse is in many respects similar to Colossians 2:14:

  • In both verses something was abolished.
  • In both verses that thing was hostile to us. (“against us … hostile to us” (Col. 2:14) – “the enmity” (Eph. 2:15)
  • In both that thing was abolished by the death of Christ. The “abolishing in His flesh” in Ephesians is equivalent to the “canceled out … He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” in Colossians.

 

  • Both verses use the word “dogma”. The Greek word translated “ordinances” in Ephesians is exactly the same as the word translated “decrees” (NASB) in Colossians 2:14.
  • The “contained in” in Ephesians may be compared to the “consisting of” in Colossians. Actually, in both instances these works were added by the translators. The “consisting of” in the NASB has not been added, but it is an interpretation of a Greek word (tois) with a rather uncertain meaning in the context.

It is admitted here that Ephesians 2:15 and the New Testament elsewhere teach that the Law of Moses has been cancelled.  However, there is a marked difference in what was destroyed:

In Ephesians “the Law of commandments” was abolished, which probably refers to the Law of Moses.

In Colossians “the record of the debt we owed” (CEB), was cancelled.

There is also a marked difference in what was achieved by that destruction:

In Ephesians the purpose was to break down “the dividing wall” between Jew and Gentile and make “the two into one new man”.

There is no indication in Colossians of this motif.  In Colossians the purpose, according to the context, was to make Christians “complete” (2:10) by removing their guilt (2:13).

Both these goals have been achieved through Christ’s death, but since two different things are declared abolished by the two verses to achieve two different goals, it would not be reasonable to assume that Colossians teaches that the Law of Moses has been cancelled simply because Ephesians teaches that.

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