Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross;
And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
What is the handwriting of ordinances that was against us? The previous verse says that, upon our acceptance of Him, He has forgiven us all our trespasses. That is, He has erased our sin through His shed blood, nailing the list of our offenses to His cross.
The word handwriting here is seen in two different ways. Some see it as a legal document, a list of all the ways we have offended Him. It is the charges against a prisoner, or a confession made by him and recorded by a scribe. It could also be seen as a banking term, a debt record of all our offenses, balanced and removed by His nailing it to His cross.
Remember the sign that was nailed to the cross above Jesus’ head? It stated His “crime.” He claimed to be the King of the Jews, the Messiah. We are identified with Jesus in His death on the cross (Romans 6:3-8). The list of offenses, or charges against us, could also be seen as being nailed to His cross, and canceled through His death and resurrection.
When we could not balance our own books, He did it for us. No one else could have done so. Only the perfect, sinless Lamb of God could eliminate the record of our guilt before God.
Having destroyed principalities and powers: The word principalities here is descriptive of the rebellious angels that have been, by Jesus’ sacrifice, disarmed against believers. They no longer have the weapons to use against us that they can use against unbelievers.
The powers are the earthly authorities that put Jesus on the cross: Rome, and Judaism. They tried to humiliate Him. They tortured Him, and ultimately raised Him up on a cross of shame for everyone to see.
I’ve seen paintings that portray demons celebrating His suffering, gleefully rejoicing in His “defeat.” What they didn’t understand was that His death was NOT a defeat, but a part of God’s plan for the salvation of sinners. He brought them all to shame when He rose from the tomb, victorious over sin and death.
I Corinthians 2:8 says, “Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.” If they had understood, both the earthly powers and the spiritual powers, that they were condemning themselves in their unbelief, they would not have done it. They would not have crucified the Lord of Glory!