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Colossians 2:16-17

Against Legalism

16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath [days]: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [is] of Christ.

In the previous section of this chapter (2:8-15), Paul had expounded on the positive aspects of the works of Christ. The Savior has triumphed over all principalities and powers, setting His people free from their sins and the Law that empowered evil. Now, Paul turns to the subject of false doctrines and encourages the Colossian saints to resist anyone who was attempting to teach them.

The first sentence opens with the prohibition, "Let no man judge you..." To judge someone is to find them guilty of an offense. Christians are not answerable to men, but to Christ alone. If they allow themselves to feel any sense of guilt because of the legalistic doctrines of false teachers, they will be surrendering the liberty from those things that Christ has given them.

There are five specific areas in which they are to remain free from any guilt. The first is in that of meats. Certain meats were prohibited in the ceremonial Law of Moses (See Leviticus 11:2-47; 17:10-15). There were obviously certain Judaizers in the Colossian church who were attempting to impose those laws on the new Christians, many of whom were Gentiles, not Jews.

The second area is that of drink. This could refer to the requirement for "abstinence in Nazarites from wine and strong drink, and which forbid drinking out of an uncovered vessel, and which was not clean; hence the washing of cups, &c. religiously observed by the Pharisees." (John Gill's Commentary)

They should not allow themselves to be judged for keeping or not keeping any holydays. There were seven annual holydays (or Sabbaths) established in the Law (See Leviticus 23:1-44). It is almost certain that the Greek culture in which the church existed also had many pagan so-called "holydays" for which the Christians there were pressured to observe.

The Law also required the observance of the new moon of each month with special sacrifices (See Numbers 10:10; 28:11-14)

In addition to the seven annual holydays, the Law established a Jubilee sabbath that occurred every 50 years, a seven year sabbath and the weekly sabbath.

The Christian is free from all aspects of the Law and should not allow himself to be judged or made to feel guilty for not observing any of them. "And he (Jesus) said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath." (Mark 2:27) And Jesus also said, "For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day." (Matthew 12:8)

All of the Mosaic Laws merely reflected the shadow of things that were to come. They were a dim outline of the heavenly reality and pointed men to Christ and His future reign. The body, i.e. the church, is of Christ. He is the head of it and the only one who can judge it. Christ has set the body free from the condemnation of the Law.

Before The Throne:

Perhaps one of the most difficult things for Christians to move past is their feelings of guilt. Those who would control us are experts at making us feel guilty whereas Christ has set us free. Give God the praise for that today and ask Him to remove any feelings of guilt that might still be plaguing you. This does not, however, give us license to sin. Pray that God will lead you down the path of righteousness for His name's sake.

For Further Study:

** judge. Rom 14:3, 10, 13; 1Cor 10:28-31; Gal 2:12-13; Jas 4:11; ** in meat, Lev 11:2-47; Lev 17:10-15; Deut 14:3-21; Ezek 4:14; Matt 15:11; Acts 11:3-18; Acts 15:20; Rom 14:2, 6, 14-17, 20-21; 1Cor 8:7-13; 1Tim 4:3-5; Heb 9:10; Heb 13:9; ** of an. Lev 23:1-44; Num 28:1-29; Deut 16:1-17; Neh 8:9; Neh 10:31; Ps 42:4; Rom 14:5-6; ** the new. Num 10:10; Num 28:11, 14; 1Sam 20:5, 18; 2Kgs 4:23; 1Chr 23:31; Neh 10:33; Ps 81:3; Isa 1:13; Ezek 45:17; Ezek 46:1-3; Amos 8:5; Gal 4:10; ** or of the sabbath. Lev 16:31; Lev 23:3, 24, 32, 39;

(v.17) ** a shadow. John 1:17; Heb 8:5; Heb 9:9; Heb 10:1; ** the body. Matt 11:28-29; Heb 4:1-11;


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