Colossians 2:16-17

11 August 2009

The Psalm team was recently asked about Colossians 2:16-17 after the following comment was shared with one of the authors:

Regarding Col 2:16, some hold that Paul was merely teaching that believers have a choice as to which day of the week they observe the Sabbath, while others believe Paul meant that our liberty extends to the choice of whether to observe a Sabbath at all.  Under either interpretation, however, the Christian is not be bound to a Saturday observance.

Here is our response:

This passage of Colossians is often taught erroneously within traditional Christianity as license to sin and violate G-d's Sabbath day, food laws, and other commandments.  That is not Paul's point!  While many translations reveal the bias of the translators by inserting the word "mere" into the passage,  Young's Literal Translation is more direct (and literal!) in its translation of these verses.  Let's examine the passage:

Let no one, then, judge you in eating or in drinking, or in respect of a feast, or of a new moon, or of sabbaths, which are a shadow of the coming things, and the body is of the Christ.  (Colossians 2:16-17 YLT)

Paul isn't speaking against the commandments of the Law in this passage he is speaking against the teachings of men (verse 22) and specifically the teachings of the Gnostics.  Rather than Paul telling the believers "oh, don't worry about it... just do whatever feels right", he is actually offering them encouragement in walk in the footsteps of the Messiah.  This is the Messiah who kept the food laws, kept the feasts, the new moon festivals, and the Sabbath.  As His followers began to imitate Him they were getting flack for "being Jewish".  Paul is offering them encouragement to keep on going in the face of such ridicule.

Paul says the food laws, feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths are a shadow of the coming things... not a shadow of past things.  When Messiah returns to rule and reign He will still be the Torah observant Jew He was when He walked the earth in the first Century.  He is, after all, the greatest in the kingdom (Matthew 5:19) and He is the same G-d who gave the Law at Sinai.

Traditional Christianity teaches that the weekly Sabbath is a picture of the millennial kingdom and our rest in the Messiah: 6,000 years of human history topped by the 1,000 year reign of Christ.

Is that 1,000 year reign optional???


Do we have the "liberty" to opt out of the millenial kingdom???


Neither are the commandments of our Lord optional.  We definitely have a choice, true.  We can walk in obedience (1 John 2:3-4) or we can walk in disobedience (Titus 1:16).  G-d forbid we should ever walk in disobedience and teach others to do the same!

To Him be the glory and the honor forever.  Amen.

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