Colossians 2:16 – “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.”
Here’s another statement from Paul that is often misinterpreted to be against God’s law when in fact it is a statement in favor of it. Let’s get the context.
In verses 8 and 18-23, the Colossians were being warned not to be captive to some false philosophies that were prevalent in the culture:
- “philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world” (v 8)
- “asceticism and worship of angels” (v 18)
- “regulations– “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” “–according to human precepts and teachings” (v 21)
- “self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body” (v 23)
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)
“Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations– “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)–according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:18-23)
Here’s what they were to do instead.
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
Paul is urging his readers to reject self-made religion and asceticism (denial of all pleasures to earn religious favor) and instead walk in Christ Jesus as they had been taught. Contrary to asceticism, they were to enjoy the food and drink God gave them. Contrary to asceticism, they were not to feel judged for enjoying the Torah-commanded celebrations of new moons, festivals (feast days) and rest on Sabbaths.
“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— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17)