Colossians 2:16-17

Often times people ask me questions as to why I think the Law (Torah) should be followed today. They will point out a verse or two as to why the Torah is no longer relevant in the church today.

So, I am going to start a series of posting verses that many believe say one thing, but in actuality says something else. If you have a verse or two in mind, let me know.

The first one is Colossians 2:16-17. This seems to be a favorite of many as to why the church or gentiles or New Testament believers do not follow Torah. What some don’t understand is Paul is warning the Colossians to stop listening to the Gnostics. Let’s take a look:

16 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. (NASB)

Reading this one passage with no other context seems to say don’t let others judge you as to what is a Sabbath day or food or drink, etc. In other words, you don’t have to follow them.

Let’s go back to v8 – See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

Paul is warning them not to be taken captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men….. Is the Torah related to philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men? No. The Torah came from G-d. Not men. Therefore, Paul could not be talking about Torah or Judaism at this point. But he could be talking about the Gnostics, we need to read more to be sure.

V11 speaks of being circumcised in the heart (Deut 30:6, Ezekiel 44:9, Jeremiah 4:4) This is not a new and has always been a prerequisite to be in covenant with the Lord.

v14 – having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Many believe the Law was nailed to the cross, but if you read carefully, the debt we owed for sinning against the Torah was nailed to the cross. The debt was hostile to us.

I contend that nothing thus far as been against the Torah or Judasim. I also contend verse 15 needs to be read along with 16-17. Paul is saying don’t let anyone judge you for following these things…15When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.16 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

Since Christ triumphed over them do not let anyone judge you in regard to those things. I also want to point out the word mere is not in the original Greek but inserted by the translators.

v18 – Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,

Self-abasement and worship of angels. Again nothing from Judaism. There is nothing within Torah telling people to self-abase themselves and nothing about worshiping angels. These are practices of the Gnostics.

v20-22 – If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?

Again, principles of this world…do not handle, do not taste, do not touch – all from the commandments and teachings of men. Many believe when it mentions commandments it has to be talking about commandments from that old thing…the Tanakh (what you call Old Testatement). Again, nothing in the Torah tells people to not handle, taste or touch and everything in the Torah is from G-d. This teaching is from the Gnostics.

The last verse v23 – These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

Clearly, Paul shows he cannot be talking about Judaism, the Pharisees, or Torah. The Gnostics were coming in and telling the Colossians that they could not take joy in a festival, Shabbat etc. They must self-abase. Paul was warning do not listen to those teaching from teachings of men. The festivals and Shabbat are a time of joy and lots of celebration.

I hope you see this verse differently now. If you have a questions about this passage let me know.

I hope you will continue to read as I do more of these. Again, if there is a particular verse or passage you want to take a look at please let me know.

Until next time, kadosh, kadosh, kadosh…is HaShem!

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