Tuesday, April 3, 2007


Greek Word Pronunciation: ex-ah-LAY-foh
Strong's Number: 1813
Goodrich/Kohlenberger Number: 1981
Key Verse: “... having canceled out the certificate of debt …” -- Colossians 2:14

Exaleipho is a compound verb of ek (“out”) and aleipho (“to wipe”). Thus, its literal meaning is “to wipe off completely, to obliterate, to smear, to cover.” It is found in the Septuagint in Isaiah 43:25; Psalm 51:1; Jeremiah 18:23; Exodus 32:32; and Deuteronomy 9:14, with reference to blotting out people’s names or sins. In 2 Chronicles 29:4, it is used of overlaying walls with gold, and Leviticus 14:42-48, it refers to replastering a house. The background of this word lays with the fact that ancient documents were written on either papyrus or animal skins. Ancient ink was only able to lay on the surface of the paper and did not adhere to the paper the way modern ink does. Therefore, scribes could take a sponge and wipe the writing out to reuse the paper.

In the New Testament, this verb appears only 5 times. The reference in Revelation 7:17 and 21:4 is to God and Christ, that they will “wipe away every tear” from the saints’ eyes. Revelation 3:5 says that God “will not erase” the believer’s name from the Book of life. The Book is a heavenly registry of those who accepted salvation in Christ. This “erasing” or “blotting out” alludes to Exodus 32:32 where God says He will blot out sinners, but not faithful ones like Moses, from His Book. Christ will make sure the believer’s name and works are not erased. Acts 3:19 says that “your sins may be wiped away.” The expression “to blot out sins” occurs in Isaiah 43:25 and Psalm 51:1, and is taken from the practice of creditors charging their debtors, and when the debt is paid, cancelling it, or wholly removing the record. It is in this way that God forgives sins.

In the key verse, COLOSSIANS 2:14, “having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us …,” the certificate was a handwritten certificate of debt by which a debtor acknowledged his indebtedness. Paul compares the new life we enjoy in Christ and the forgiveness of our sins with God’s act in Christ to wiping ink off the parchment, making our forgiveness complete. The binding word of Mosaic Law and the guilt that the law brings are both canceled in Christ. God banished the record of our sins so completely that not a trace remains.

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