He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross.Looking throughout the rest of the book, it's never made explicit what this "certificate of debt" means. Most of us in the church have assumed that it's a reference to the Law of Moses.
However, Cecil Hook makes a strong case that it does not refer to the Law of Moses. His article raises several interesting points which make it a recommended read.
If the Covenant of Law was destroyed by Jesus' death, how could it still have been only "ready to vanish away" thirty years later as "the day" of the coming of the Lord drew near (Heb. 8:13; 10:25)?and
Was mankind "law-less" during the seven weeks after the Cross until Pentecost?Hook summarizes his understanding thusly:
These Gentiles had not been under the Covenant of Law, but each had a list of violations of God's universal law on their record. It was this legal bond or "rap sheet" that was nailed to the cross. Our sin, not law, was nailed to the cross symbolically, with Jesus in his atoning sacrifice.He goes on to say:
The New Easy To Read New Testament renders this passage simply, "We owed a debt because we broke God's laws. That debt listed all the rules we failed to follow. But God forgave us of that debt. God took away that debt and nailed it to the cross."Hook continues:
It may be surprising to some to learn that, instead of the law dying, it was the sinner who died . ... Not only is our list of infractions (bond) nailed to the cross, but the believer was nailed to the cross also symbolically being crucified with Christ.He continues to explain clearly and simply that there was a forty year period between the cross and the "parousia, the coming of the Lord at the consummation of the covenant of law with Israel," and that during this transitional period the "Judean disciples continued to keep the law (Acts 21:17-26)". It was about the time of the destruction of the Temple that the Law of Moses finally ceased to be relevant for God's people, although the process had begun much earlier with the crucifixion of He who fulfilled, but did not abolish, that Law.
Go read the article; it's good stuff.