Someone had emailed and asked:
Hello, Robert: 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 your 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.
“16All 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.” (II Timothy 3)
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 it is being found that 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, like a whithered dead branch on a tree.
inspired by God
for DOCTRINE (which is what true religion, true Christianity is defined by)
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”...? ALL Scripture.
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. As the great Reformed, Calvinist, Anglican Bishop Dr. Charles Ryle in his Christian Leaders of the 18th Century (1885) [432pp., pb., 14.00 + P&H] explained even in his day, the Church (of England) was proliferated unconverted priests and bishops who entered it as any other “respectable” profession (like Medicine and Law); it 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. However, it seems that many (then as now) enter it because they have no skill in any other area, can’t think too well, and have not qualms about prostituting their soul hawking an emotional quackery rather than actually expounding the Word of God (which to them, is a story book). One might think that anyone who enters a ministerial position has to be “spiritual. Au contraire!
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—away from God—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 families and 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 [Biblically mandated] Holyday, or of the New Moon [the monthly Sabbath, the first of each New (fully dark) moon], or of the Sabbath Days:
17Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”
First of all, the only way that you have control over whether or not someone judges you or not is if you don’t violate the Law! This passage does not mean that you are free to eat unclean meat or drink blood or violate the Holy days / Feasts, New Moons, or weekly Sabbaths.
So called Bible “authorities” do violence to Scripture by assuming what is NOT in the verse is what the verse means.
They spuriously teach that what the verse does NOT say is what it does say.
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 meaning.
Clearly God did not institute the Sabbath after the 6th Day of creation merely because it was “symbolic” of something. That is having the cart before the horse. The symbolism is possible BECAUSE of the primary meaning.
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 rest because He needed to, but to set the example for us and because He hallowed that specific Day (not any day that man chooses out of convenience or tradition)—forever. Even all work on God’s Holy Tabernacle and later Temple was to be halted on the Sabbath. The violation of the Sabbath 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...! (even as greedy, carnal preachers claim God abolished the Law—but not the tithe!). 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). Well, if Christ is their Rest, why do they still go to bed at night or take an afternoon nap, or “relax” and watch the ball game or their favorite tv show or movie? Self is their god; which they project onto the True God (but He is not fooled).
Christ is the Bread of Life and the Living Water, yet they still eat food and drink water. Fancy that!
They are quite hypocritical in what they choose and don’t choose to apply Christ’s fulfillment to. That which is flesh is flesh and that which is spirit is spirit. Those who confuse the two commit folly. Furthermore, a spiritual lesson does not cancel out the primary meaning.
Christ is the Light of the world and Christians are children of light of the Father of Lights. 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” but made one—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 genders) reject the Law of God and want to throw it off in every other way, except when it is beneficial for them (they want all the blessing, but no responsibility).
God determined the number of years (70) for the House of Judah’s captivity by the number of years that they ignored keeping the Land Sabbath (490). 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 declared to be HOLY (a mere symbol is not holy) and He commanded that we keep it 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 listening to 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.
How easily they are swayed from the truth by poorly thought-out, unsubstantiated false notions.
Didn’t they ever play “Simon Sez” as children?
What part of “not one jot or tittle” don’t ‘Christians’ understand? What part of “the Law that He commanded to a thousand generations” don’t they understand? Its only been about 184 since Adam: Do the math. Furthermore, 1,000 generations does not mean that it is cancelled after that. That is a false inference.
Change the parameters to apply to a thousand different circumstances, but whatever the situation, whatever Bible verse, whatever interpretation, no matter which 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 carnal-minded, ignorant “Christian” “scholars” say, “yea, hath the Lord said...?”, then they will not be led astray if they focus on that one simple truth. Also, it is a false inference that the Law will pass once all has been fulfilled. That is not what the verse says. Similar, Christ says, “Lo I am with you alway, even to the end of the age” — but that does NOT mean that after the end of the age He will abandon us. Christians need to study logic and read with comprehension what is written; not let their confused misunderstanding lead them astray.
Moses (Law) and Elijah (prophets) would not have been transfigured with Christ had they been “insignificant, obsolete, old, musty meaninglessness and Old Testament clutter”. They were shown NOT to have “passed away”...! —neither they 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. The fact that it was not merely the Law, but also the Prophets is additional testimony concerning WHO God’s people are and to whom the Promises (including Christ) applied... just in case anyone would ever become confused in that matter (as 99.9% are—despite the New Testament passages like Hebrews 8:8 and Romans 9:5,6). God doesn’t change. He doesnt’ change His Mind. He doesn’t change Morality. He doesn’t change His Plan.
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? Repent—and bring forth fruit (obedience) meet [proper] for repentance.
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, logic-devoid, 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. THAT IS OUR HOPE. “I am Yahweh and I change not: therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed [in Judgment]”—because He promised to forgive if we actually repent and obey (and thus repentance and obedience are inseperable from God’s Law). 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? Did Christ not quote the Law of God frequently? Those words shall not pass away! 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 works” 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 JUDGMENT, 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 by Christ Himself! If the Law was to be abolished, the penalty would have been abolished, and thus Christ would not have needed to die: for where there is no law there is no imputation of guilt.
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. The Bible was divided into chapters by Stephen Langton (in 1228). The Old Testament was divided into verses by R. Nathan (in 1448); the New Testament was divided into verses by Robert Stephanus (in 1551); the Geneva Bible (of 1560) was first Bible printed with these divisions, none of which were in any of the ancient Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Syriac, or other manuscripts
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. These things, which are a “sneak preview” are the Body of Christ, they each, in their own way, represent the Body of Christ, and therefore, are certainly not to “pass away” (again, “Simon Sez” — “not one jot or tittle shall pass from the Law”).
Christ does not replace the Sabbath.
Christ is not a day of the week. What about that is hard to understand?
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 and stupidity and are the hallmark of non-doctrinal, anti-intellectual, carnal, possibly unconverted “Christianity”.
The true meaning of the passage could also be:
“which are a shadow of things to come—FOR the Body is of Christ”.
The Body of Christ is Holy and is not to be defiled and is not to violate what God commanded and trample under foot the Lord of Glory, crucify Him again, and treat the Blood of the Covenant as an unholy thing and do despite [to exercise violence, to, abuse, treat shamefully] unto the Spirit of Grace (and God’s Grace is not a “lawless” Grace; if it were, Christ would not have had to die to satisfy the penalty of the Law for us).
Though we cannot know God fully since we are finite and mortal and created beings, the issue is that this phrase “which... are the Body of Christ” refers to “a” totality of Christ in regard to what He wants us to know of Him (NOT the 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 passage of Colossians that we are examining is NOT saying that you can violate God’s Law and eat and drink whatever you want; it is saying let no one judge you, which means DON’T VIOLATE God’s Law. When I Peter 4:15 says, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters” do mindless Christians really think that this is exhorting people to commit the perfect crime so that they “get away with it” and don’t suffer Judgment...? OF COURSE NOT. How can you not suffer Judgment as a murder...? —by not murdering anyone! How then can you control whether or not people judge you concerning food or drink or Sabbaths...? —by obeying what God commanded. Sinful Christians choose the very worst interpretation (even anti-intellectual) if it enables them to keep their favorite sins.
[Even if this passage were like other passages that say it is okay to eat whatever is set before you (which it is not), again, such verses clearly do NOT refer to eating what God has FORBIDDEN, but refer to OTHER things. God will not tell you that you can violate what He has forbidden (“Simon Sez”). Such passages refer to Lawful meat. The issue is not one of eating that which God declared to be an ABOMINATION that DEFILES US; such verses refer to totally abstaining from alcohol or abstaining from all meat as vegetarians oddly do; but most often it refers to eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols and then sold in the marketplace; and that one should not eat such in the presence of a weaker brother if it would cause him to stumble. Idols are imaginary. They can’t eat the meat, that’s why it has to be sold. They are nothing to us. But, if a new believer had recently come out of that pagan religion and had daily offered meat to idols, you can see how that might offend him or cause him to stumble. The same applies to drinking alcohol in front of someone who is an alcoholic; or eating hot fudge brownie sundae in front of someone who is obese. For more info, see my booklet, So, You Call Yourself a Christian..., 76pp., 5.50 + P&H, which shows that Peter’s vision had NOTHING to do with abolishing the dietary laws; and which explains most every other New Testament passage that the “Bible experts” interpret to mean the very opposite of what Scripture actually says.]
However, understand, these Commandments (food, drink, Sabbaths) have NOTHING to do with salvation—NO Commandments EVER 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) dealt with the sacrificing of animals to offer their life, all of their blood (not just a token contribution, it is not merely a few drops of blood, but life for life!) in exchange for the life of the child of God for TEMPORARY atonement—but not actual salvation. This sacrificial system looked to Christ and the sacrifices served as a temporary stay of execution until Christ gave a full pardon once HE paid the FULL price Himself, for the sins of all of the elect of His people, past, present, and future.
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—with the understanding that it will NEVER contradict the rest of Scripture, and certainly won’t “abolish” what God declared to be to 1,000 generations and forever. If ever ANY verse seems to contradict other Scripture IT IS A MISREADING and the reader is CONFUSED.
[See my foundational book, Does God Repent...? — Can God Change His Mind...?, 506pp., pb., 25.00 + P&H. God’s Law, God’s Word is an extension of His Mind. God is Immutable. So is His Word. So is Morality (established by His Immutable Law).]
But lazy-minded, sin-loving “Christians” read one verse, misinterpret it—THROW OUT dozens of other verses in favor of the one they like—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 “ever learning but never able to come to the Knowledge of the Truth” and by their corrupt tradition make the Word of God of none effect / void. They are content for contradictions to pollute their theology like a thousand fishing snarls might entangle a fishing rod & reel—and they 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: since 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 any Commandment that they don’t want to obey, so that they can go and sin as they please.
Furthermore, such Bible “experts” (clergy and lay alike) ignorantly choose the WRONG meaning of shade / shadow.
Shade or a shadow (which constitutes shade) provides a cool spot shielded from the heat of the sun (even as a lamp shade blocks the bright glare of the light bulb). But that is not what shade / shadow means here.
Shadows are also 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 for 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 translated as 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 see what is on the other side). More expensive metal (like silver, as opposed to iron or bronze or copper) and depending on the workmanship and 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” effect, large or small.
The word translated as 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 discern—especially from a distance—every single detail and feature that you could see if it were in the full light. Even 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 the reader 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 and fully understood—NOT “pass away”.
“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! It is not the prophecy or its fulfillment that shall be “done away”—BUT OUR IGNORANCE and POOR UNDERSTANDING of it!
“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.” (John 8:32)
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 (or the ripple effect of heat on the surface of the ground causing a mirage, distorting the image of whatever is on the other side of it) so that we cannot see it in full detail; and thus, we do not properly understand it. But that which exists will not be abolished—the fog will be lifted! the distorting mirage will be removed! When the sun comes back out it is NOT the things that you are looking at 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. Sometimes this is due to the ignorance of the translators (who looked through a glass darkly, not understanding what they were translating—of which there is no shame, for even the prophets did not always understand what they saw and that which God told them to write down). Even in English we leave certain words out of sentences to make what we are saying more brief, but that brevity leads to confusion by those who do not understand the situation or conversation or the English language. We leave out words like “that” or even use a preponderance of pronouns to the point of confusion. We also use improper expressions and even slang 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!
The Scriptures are also a case of “the whole is more than the mere sum of its parts” and also that “you cannot understand the whole until you understand the individual parts and you cannot understand the individual parts until you understand the whole”. This understanding is governed by understanding the rules of “Simon Sez”—that God is Immutable and will not contradict Himself.
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.