“Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect to a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath [days]; which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ.” Colossians 2:16,17
The claim that this passage is not referring to the weekly sabbath is seen in its full weakness when one refers back to the phraseology of the covenant from which Paul is deriving his lesson. He spoke in Colossians 2:16 of three observances of the law:
- Holy days.
- The New Moon
- The sabbath [that the word ‘day’ in verse 16 is additional to the manuscript is acknowledged.]
Now, with this in mind, let us refer to a few passages of the Old Testament.
“And to offer all burnt sacrifices unto the LORD in the sabbaths, in the new moons, and on the set feasts, by number, according to the order commanded unto them, continually before the LORD:” 1 Chronicles 23:31
“Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.” Isaiah 1:13
“For the shewbread, and for the continual meat offering, and for the continual burnt offering, of the sabbaths, of the new moons, for the set feasts, and for the holy things, and for the sin offerings to make an atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God.” Nehemiah 10:33
“He appointed also the king’s portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, to wit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts, as it is written in the law of the LORD.” 2 Chronicles 31:3
“Behold, I build an house to the name of the LORD my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts of the LORD our God. This is an ordinance for ever to Israel.” 2 Chronicles 2:4
Note in this last quotation that the sabbath, the new moons, and the solemn feasts are being referred to as “of the LORD our God”, and that the same writer, a few chapters later (2 Chronicles 8:13), refers exactly the same ordinances to the hand of Moses. There is no two-tier law recognised here – the law that Moses gave the people, was the law of God, for all of it was given to Moses by God himself.
Ceremonial and Moral Law.
In contrast to the artificial distinction that ‘seventh-day’ sects draw between the so-called ‘ceremonial laws’ and the so-called ‘moral laws’, the Old Testament writers made no such distinction, in attributing the same feasts interchangeably to the supposedly different sectors of the law. The terms ‘ceremonial law’ and ‘moral law’ are not found anywhere at all in the Bible, whether Old Testament or New Testament. The terms only exist in the minds of those who insist on their distinction. And that distinction did not exist in the mind of any Bible writer.
Is it believable that the writer to the Hebrews, who obviously was well versed in the Law (as is so evident in his writing), in mentioning these three factors of the law of the LORD (Holy days, the New Moon and the Sabbath), did not have these Old Testament passages in mind? The passage of 2 Chronicles 31:3 clearly links the three factors with the very subject that Paul is discussing, namely, the Law of the LORD. There can be no other conclusion than to accept that Paul had the Jewish weekly sabbath in mind. And so, quite clearly, no one in Christ can be judged by the sabbath day.
Why? Because as he said, they “are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ.” Colossians 2:17
The apostle Paul remarked to those in Galatia, “It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.” Galatians 3:19
Two points are stressed by Paul. The first is that the law was added after transgressions had occurred (so that it could not have been given to Adam and Eve at the time some would imply from Genesis 2:2,3). The second point is that the promise being referred to was the promise made to Abraham (v16), and the promise itself is provided in such passages as Genesis 12:2,3; 15:4,5; 17:4-8 etc. The seed referred to was unquestionably Jesus Christ, and therefore the law was to carry forward until he came. And surely he did come, if the Bible record is to be believed. And in coming as he did, Jesus fulfilled the role expected of him.
“Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” Psalm 40:6 (LXX); Hebrews 10:9
That is exactly what Jesus did. That is why he came. He came to provide the release from a law that represented bondage.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not untangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1
Any sabbath believer should be prepared to consider these things.
- 1. The first Sabbath
- 2. Covernant with Israel, Resting, A New Experience
- 3. The Covernant, Correct Context, Was the Sabbath Shifted?
- 4. Why Change the Day, A Fading Law
- 5. Holy Days, Cermonial and Moral Law
- 6. Keeping the Sabbath, Giving up the Law
- 7. A Pedegogue, Fulfilment of the Law
- 8. Freedom in Christ, Paul and the Sabbath, Sunday as the Sabbath?