Someone had emailed and asked:
As I understand your interpretation of Col. 2:16 as meaning that one can avoid being judged in regard to the items listed in the verse by being obedient and, therefore, not coming under Judgment; as you say, no one has any control concerning another person's mind, and therefore, this is not merely concerning what people "think" about you, but refers to actual ecclesiastical judgment for unrepentant sin that would result in excommunication.
But doesn't verse 17 minimize the importance of what it calls "shadows"? That is, that the shadows fade into insignificance when one considers the substance, which has been revealed in NT times. Perhaps the answer is that being less important does not mean that the shadows should be ignored? You are no doubt well aware that the usual interpretation is that the shadows are now almost meaningless, as the scaffolding fades into the distance once the skyscraper is completed.
My reply. Such scaffolding analogies are confused, as are the humanistic concepts that anything in the Word of God is insignificant or almost meaningless— and therefore, so is such an interpretation.
II Timothy 3:16:
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
I guess such "Bible experts" consider over half the Bible to be like the human appendix, which "medical experts" for decades thought was merely an evolutionary useless "left-over part" from monkeyhood; though the ignorance of such "medical experts" is now being exposed as those who have had their appendix removed have 60% greater chance of cancer; so clearly the appendix has some auto-immune system function and is not merely some senseless piece of flesh taking up space and wasting energy.
for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect (complete),
thoroughly furnished unto all good works
—does anything there sound "insignificant or almost meaningless"...?
Such do not rightly divide the Word of Truth and shall be ashamed on the Day of Judgment.
Carnal minds have no business attempting to teach the Word of God.
One might think that anyone who enters a ministerial position has to be "spiritual" au contraire!
The great Reformed Anglican Bishop John Charles Ryle, in his book Christian Leaders of the 18th Century (1885) [432pp., pb., 14.00 + P&H; which I have stocked for a quarter century] revealed that in his day (and for a century earlier) unconverted people entered the profession of the Church even as others did Law and Medicine—because they were (cough, cough) considered respectable professions that did not require hard physical labor and provided a steady paycheck, comfortable lifestyle and retirement. Ryle did not use those exact words, but that is the gist of it.
It should come as no surprise that in our degenerate day, it is even worse—all the while, they pretend to be "spiritual" while leading the flock astray, fleecing the flock, feeding themselves off the flock.
Furthermore, Satan purposely sows tares in among the wheat to corrupt and destroy, lead astray and pervert all institutions from within—the Church especially, especially at a time so close to the Reformation when the True Church was having such a strong influence on society and the government.
So, let us look at the passage of Colossians 2:
16Let 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:
17Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
So called Bible "authorities" do violence to Scripture by assuming what is not in the verse is what the verse means.
They interpret what the verse does not say as what it does.
Where does the passage say that these things "passed away"...?
Furthermore, just because something has a symbolic application does NOT mean that is its ONLY purpose.
Clearly God did not institute the Sabbath after the 6th day of creation merely because it was "symbolic" of something.
Scripture tells us that God hallowed the Sabbath and declared it Holy. He commanded that we rest even as He did—and He did not because He needed to, but to set the example and because He hallowed that specific day forever. Even all work on God's Holy Tabernacle and later Temple was to be halted on the Sabbath. Its violation could result in the death penalty. The weekly Sabbath is tied to the New Moon, the Feasts, the Land Sabbath, and the Jubilee. How ironic that the rebellious-minded who would like to throw off God's Law would still demand the Jubilee to cancel their debts...! They want all liberty without responsibility which does not exist except in their ungodly imagination.
They claim that the Sabbath was "fulfilled" in Christ since He is our "Rest" (and with that spurious declaration they violate Scripture as well as the Law of God)... but those very same preachers don't claim the tithe was "abolished".
Christ is the Bread of Life and the Living Water, yet they still eat food and drink water.
They are quite hypocritical in what they choose and don't choose.
Christ is the Light. Do they have lightbulbs in their house?
He is the Life. Do they stop living?
He is the Way, do they ever use a road map?
When Christ fulfills He does NOT "abolish". Fulfill means "make complete". This does not mean that the previous was "done away with" but perfected; not "cancelled out". Rather, they co-exist in perfection. A man and woman are fulfilled in marriage, yet neither cease to exist or are abolished or are cancelled out; though of course there is a Divinely instituted hierarchy that feminists hate and want to throw off, even as "Christians" (of both of the only two real gender) reject the Law of God and want to throw it off in every other way.
God determined the number of years for Judah's captivity by the number of years that they ignored keeping the Land Sabbath. Quite a rather stiff penalty for a mere "symbol". However, the Sabbath is not a mere symbol, but an actual sign that we are His people—that He commanded that we keep throughout all our generations forever. What about that sounds like it is insignificant, near-meaningless, subject to change, or cancellation? Those who think it insignificant, also think being His people is a matter of insignificance—and that is why they don't stand up when Christ is insulted. Where are the ministers and laypeople, who like David under the vile reproaches of the Amorite-Canaanite-Gittite Goliath, do not arise and with zeal and vehemence declare, "who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?"...!
Only a fool would then think that Colossians is saying that these things are mere symbols that have passed away.
Hhow easily they are swayed from the truth by poorly thought-out, unsubstantiated false notion.
Didn't they ever play Simon Sez?
What part of "not one jot or tittle don't 'Christians' understand?"
Change it a thousands ways, but whatever circumstances, whatever Bible verse, whatever interpretation, whatever respected "Bible Great" says anything that contradicts . . .
"17Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled." (Matthew 5)
. . . then it is a lie! What is so difficult about that to comprehend. Maybe Christians of all ages should practice the kindergarten game "Simon Sez" and then apply it to what GOD SEZ! and then when Satan through his agents and through God's carnal-minded, ignorant "scholars" says, "yea, hath the Lord said...?" they will not be led astray.
Moses (Law) and Elijah (prophets) would not have been transfigured with Christ had they been "insignificant, obsolete, old, musty meaninglessness". They were shown not to have "passed away"...! —neither them nor what they taught / what they represent. Not only were they testimony to God being the God of the living and not the dead, and that "soul sleep" is a spurious false doctrine, but it also represented the Law and Prophets in general having not passed away—not even a jot or tittle—even as Christ said.
Have heaven and earth passed away? Stick your head out the door and window and see if it is still there if you have any doubts! Are you back? Was it still there? What then is the confusion?
Furthermore, those who can think logically will see that this verse does not say, "WHEN heaven and earth pass away THEN ALSO will the LAW OF GOD PASS AWAY". That is again a carnal-minded spurious interpretation and false inference. The implication is—EVEN IF heaven and earth should pass away NOT ONE JOT OR TITTLE shall ever pass away from the Law or the Prophets. The Word of the Lord shall endure / abide forever. Christ Himself said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Words shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:35). Does that not include Matthew 5:17,18...? Is Christ not the Lawgiver? Why are "Christians" so easily led astray? —because they do not know Christ's Voice, and therefore, it is quite possible that they are not His sheep and are the "Christians" who thought that they had done many "wonderful things" in His Name, but will hear, "Depart from Me ye that work iniquity [lawlessness, that is the violation of God's Law] I never knew you".
Such Bible "experts" and laymen who mindlessly follow them as sheep follow anyone with a bucket of grain, foolishly think that the Law of God was nailed to the cross, which is utter unbiblical nonsense. THE JUDGEMENT, the Curse, the Penalty that was against us was nailed to the cross, not the Law itself. The ENTIRE Law of God is Morality. Everything that God commanded, "Thou shalt not" and "This shalt thou do" is a moral issue. If you think otherwise your mind is perverted by the world and needs to be renewed by the Holy Spirit. Morality was not nailed to the cross. The death sentence that was against us for our violation of morality is what was nailed to the cross as a debt paid in full!
The key, I believe, to understanding our passage in Colossians 2 is the proper translation of
17Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
The Greek translated here as "but" can mean, "for, whereas, but, and".
The verb "is" is not in the text; it can be implied or not implied.
The ";" as all other punctuation was added by the translators.
Thus, the verse could quite possibly read,
"which are a shadow of things to come and the Body of Christ".
Which translation does not pit them against each other, but shows the harmony.
Christ does not replace the Sabbath.
Christ is not a day of the week.
If He replaces the Sabbath why not the other 6 days of the week?
What would that even mean?
If He is our Rest, are we no longer obligated to work 6 days as God commanded?
Such notions are nonsense.
Though we cannot know God fully since we are finite and moral and created, the issue is that this "which... are the Body of Christ" refers to "a" (not "the") totality of Christ in regard to what He wants us to know of Him (not a totality of His Being).
God said in I Corinthians 3:17,
"If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."
The food or drink here in Colossians clearly is NOT referring to what God has FORBIDDEN, but refer to OTHER things, such as total abstaining from alcohol or abstaining from all meat as vegetarians oddly do; or it can be referring to meat sacrificed to idols if eating such in the presence of a weaker brother would cause him to stumble.
These Commandments have nothing to do with salvation—NO commandments had ANYTHING to do with salvation. One specific type of Ordinances (which can also be considered Judgments, since they prescribe what a man must do for violating God's Law) dealing with the sacrificing of animals for their life, all of their blood (not just a token contribution, it is not merely a few drops of blood, but life for life!), for TEMPORARY atonement—but not actual salvation. This sacrificial system looked to Christ and served as a temporary stay of execution until Christ gave a full pardon once HE paid the FULL price Himself.
These Commandments are given (and never rescinded) for OBEDIENCE and Christ does not give us license to sin. Such is an abominable thought.
What the entire book of Colossians has to say about the Law must be considered; but lazy-minded, sin-loving "Christians" read one verse, misinterpret it, and then decide, "Well, there it is" and think that they have found the Biblical support for an "all-season license to sin" without even bothering to consult the rest of the Book of Colossians; without bothering to consult the other books that Paul wrote; without bothering to attempt to understand how such a verse fits in harmony with the whole of the Scriptures. They don't want to understand. They want a false prop for their carnality with the deluded notion that it absolves them from any guilt before God on the Day of Judgment. They are content for contradictions to pollute their theology like a thousand fishing snarls entangle their rod & reel, and consider it not only "perfectly acceptable" but even "proper"...! They have no qualms about the violation of the Truth and the pollution of God's Character in the minds of anyone who can actually think as such contradictions then call into question the veracity of God's Faithfulness, Holiness, Perfection, and Immutability. They care about none of that. All that they are concerned with is if their spurious interpretation gives them a flimsy "excuse" to disregard what they don't want to obey so they can go sin as they please.
Furthermore, such Bible "experts" (clergy and lay alike) ignorantly choose the WRONG meaning of shade / shadow.
A shade also provides a cool spot shielded from the heat of the sun. But that is not what shade / shadow means here.
Shadows are continually changing, moving, altering. But that is not what shade / shadow means here.
The Bible "scholars" assume that shadow means something that eventually disappears—but there is no support that that being the meaning here either and in so saying they violate the Word of God!
So what is a shadow?
I Corinthians 13:12 says,
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
The word glass here does not mean glass, but literally means, "looking into", and at that period of history referred to a highly burnished piece of metal used as a mirror (not a glass pane that you look through to what is on the other side). More expensive metal (like silver, as opposed to iron or bronze or copper) and depending on the workmanship quality, would produce a better image. Indeed, poor quality burnishing and darker metal would produce a more dusky reflection, but imperfections in the flat metal could also produce a "fun-house mirror" affect, large or small.
The word translated darkly more properly means, "into obscurity". ... and thus "into a glass darkly" more literally means something like, "looking into profound obscurity".
Though this is not the Greek (or Hebrew) word for shadow / shade—THIS is the meaning of shadow / shade in its interpretation.
A shadow causes less light to be cast upon the image of whatever is in the shadow. Whatever is in the shadow / shade is not brightly illuminated, so you can't make out every single feature that you could see in the full light. For example, reading a book would be harder in heavy shade than in the light. Have you never seen someone reading a book in a house or outside and someone walks behind them and blocks the light and the person stops reading and looks, often with annoyance over the shoulder to see who is blocking the light? Did the book disappear? Is it supposed to? NO. The SHADOW disappears so that which WAS IN the SHADOW can be better seen. These things were not a "shadow" but they were SHADOWY, SHADED, obscurred by the shade. The shade disappears so that the truth can be revealed.
"9For we know in part, and we prophesy [teach] in part. 10But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." (I Corinthians 13)
It is the ignorant, half-baked notions of poor Bible teachers—their childish thinking (or more literally, their mono-syllabic babbling) that will be put away... NOT the Word of God!
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (I Corinthians 13:12)
"Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free."
Thus, we clearly see that the meaning of shade / shadow in prophecy, and here in Colossians 2:17 is NOT a "mirage" that "disappears", but something THROUGH which we see things partially because it casts a haze or a shadow, like a fog even, but we cannot not in full detail. But when the sun comes back out or the fog lifts, it is not the things that shall disappear, but the shadow and fog that obscurred those things.
The Bible at times uses language that "seems" to be saying something else, IF that which is said is not understood in harmony with all of Scripture. Even in English we leave certain words out of sentences to make more brief what we are saying, but that brevity leads to confusion by those who do not understand the situation or conversation. We leave out words like "that" or even use pronouns to the point of confusion. We use improper expressions that do not truly represent what we mean to say. God designed His Word so that those without His Spirit WOULD BE CONFUSED because it is not His Will that they understand. The only true interpretation is a harmonious interpretation free of actual contradiction and it is man's mind that has to be renewed and "re-trained" to look for the harmony, not contradiction. If you are looking for the wrong thing, you are going to find it!
When the shadow is gone, those things that were in the shadow do not "disappear" BUT ARE SEEN IN PERFECTION. Therefore, such things were not "the shadow" but were IN the shadow. They were obscurred, shadowy. That which was obscurring them is what is removed, and they remain in perfection as they always had been, though we could not see them properly.