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#4.25 FEASTS, NEW MOONS, AND SABBATHS Colossians 2:16

This bible study uses a Greek Unicode font and is printable.

Greek Word Study on 4521 σάββατον sabbaton Sabbath.
Hebrew Word Study on 7676 שַׁבָּת shabbat Sabbath.
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Greek - Colossians 2:14-17 - English
ἐξαλείψας τὸ καθ᾽ ἡμῶν χειρόγραφον τοῖς δόγμασιν ὃ ἦν ὑπεναντίον ἡμῖν καὶ αὐτὸ ἦρκεν ἐκ τοῦ μέσου προσηλώσας αὐτὸ τῷ σταυρῷ 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
ἀπεκδυσάμενος τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς ἐξουσίας ἐδειγμάτισεν ἐν παῤῥησίᾳ θριαμβεύσας αὐτοὺς ἐν αὐτῷ 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
μὴ οὖν τις ὑμᾶς κρινέτω ἐν βρώσει ἢ ἐν πόσει ἢ ἐν μέρει ἑορτῆς ἢ νουμηνίας ἢ σαββάτων 16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast, or of a new moon, or of the Sabbath days:
ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ χριστοῦ 17 Which are a shadow of the things to come; and the body of Christ.

Note 1: This scripture is used by some to say that when Jesus died on the cross he nailed the ordinances, such as keeping the Sabbath day, to the cross, so that we do not have to keep it any more. The key verse in this scripture is verse 16, where 5 things are mentioned: meat, drink, a holyday, a new moon, and a Sabbath. We have already examined the words meat and drink and shown them to be concerned with offerings that were made under the law. Now let us examine the other three things mentioned, "a feast, a new moon, and a Sabbath." The word translated "feast" (Gr. ἑορτῆς, Gtr. heortēs) is the genitive singular of "heortē", a word which occurs 27 times in the New Testament, and is translated "feast" (26x), and "holyday" (1x) in the KJV. It means "feast". To understand what Paul was writing about here, we must again go back into the Old Testament and find where these three words, "feast, new moon, and Sabbath", occur together.

(1 Chronicles 23:31) "And to offer all burnt sacrifices to the LORD in the Sabbaths, in the new moons, and on the set feasts, by number, according to the order commanded to them, continually before the LORD:"
(2 Chronicles 2:4) "Behold, I build an house to the name of the LORD my God, ... 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."
(2 Chronicles 31:3) "He appointed also ... 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."
(Nehemiah 10:33) "For the showbread, 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."
(Ezekiel 46:4-6) "And the burnt offering that the prince shall offer to the LORD in the Sabbath day shall be six lambs without blemish, and a ram without blemish.
And the meat offering shall be an ephah for a ram, and the meat offering for the lambs as he shall be able to give, and an hin of oil to an ephah.
And in the day of the new moon it shall be a young bullock without blemish, and six lambs, and a ram: they shall be without blemish."

Just as the words "meat" and "drink" were referring to sacrifice offerings made on certain days, even so, looking at the above scriptures, it becomes obvious that the words "feast", "new moon", and "Sabbath" always come together when referring to offerings made on those days. In fact there is one scripture where all five things, meat, drink, feast, new moon, and Sabbath are all mentioned together:

(Ezekiel 45:17) "And it shall be the prince's part to give burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and drink offerings, in the feasts, and in the new moons, and in the Sabbaths, in all solemnities of the house of Israel:"

Look at the order of these underlined words. They are in exactly the same order as Paul quoted them, making it obvious that this was exactly what Paul was referring to. In fact all of these offerings on each day are listed out for us to read:

(Numbers 28:1-8) Daily meat and drink.
(Numbers 28:9-10) Sabbath day.
(Numbers 28:11-18) New moon.
(Numbers 28:17-25) The feast of Unleavened Bread.
(Numbers 28: 26-31) The feast of Weeks (or First-fruits).
(Numbers 29:1-6) The feast of Trumpets.
(Numbers 29:7-11) The day of Atonement.
(Numbers 29:12-40) The feast of Tabernacles.

Paul knew these scriptures, and he was referring to these offerings in Colossians 2:16, but as is habitual with New Testament Greek, he missed out a word: "offerings". This would not confuse the readers in those days, because the Old Testament was their bible, and they would know to look there to see what Paul was writing about, but it has allowed many to misinterpret what Paul was saying here. So let us look now at a literal translation:

(Colossians 2:16) "Therefore, do not let anyone judge you in food or in drink offerings, or offerings in respect of a feast, or of a new moon, or of Sabbaths."

Note 2: So what "handwriting of ordinances" did Jesus blot out, "nailing it to his cross;" (Colossians 2:14)? We might argue that it couldn't refer to the ten commandments, because they were initially written by "the finger of God" (Exodus 31:18), not mans hand, and therefore they endure for ever (Psalm 89:34; Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35; 1 Peter 1:25). However, they were also written by Moses in the book of the law, so other scriptures will help to clarify:

(Ephesians 2:15) "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances;"

The "law of commandments" referred to here is called a "law of carnal commandment" (Hebrews 7:16), and the "ordinances" referred to are called "carnal ordinances":

(Hebrews 9:10) "Which stood only in meats and drinks, and various washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation."

They are the ordinances to do with these sacrifices, some of which were man made:

(Nehemiah 10:32-33) "Also we made ordinances for us, to charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God;
For the showbread, 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."

They had made ordinances to cover the cost of these sacrifices.
None of these offerings (or their ordinances) were necessary any more, "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins." (Hebrews 10:4). Jesus fulfilled them all, and he was the real offering:

(Isaiah 53:10) "you shall make his soul an offering for sin,"
(Ephesians 5:2) "Christ also ... has given himself for us an offering and sacrifice to God",
(Hebrews 10:10) "we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
(Hebrews 10:12) "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever,"
(Hebrews 10:14) "For by one offering he has perfected for ever those who are sanctified."

This is in total agreement with the next verse in Colossians:

(Colossians 2:17) "Which are a shadow of things to come, and the body of Christ."

These sacrifices were all a shadow or type of the physical body of Jesus Christ, which was the true and only acceptable offering for sin, and which made all the sacrifices under the law obsolete:

(Hebrews 10:10) "we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

So let us summarise what we have said. When Jesus died on the cross he fulfilled all the Old Testament offerings and sacrifices for sin. His physical body, and his Soul (or life) were the ultimate sacrifice which was acceptable to God. Since then, none of the Old Testament sacrifices or offerings under the law, or the ordinances that go with them, are necessary any more. They were only a type or shadow of the body of Jesus Christ. This is what Paul is saying in this scripture (Colossians 2:14-17), and he is saying nothing at all about the Sabbath day itself being done away with, only the physical sacrifices which were being made on that day. The law written on stone or paper was the Old Covenant, which has been done away with, and what has replaced it is the New Covenant, with God's laws written in the heart of the believer (Hebrews 8:10; 10:16). The carnal interpretation has gone and been replaced by the spiritual, because "the law is spiritual" (Romans 7:14). However, as Jesus said, "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no way pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." (Matthew 5:18), we cannot write off the Ten Commandments without contradicting Jesus.
Nowhere in the New Testament, after the death of Jesus, was Paul, or any other Christian, ever accused of breaking the Sabbath day, or teaching others to do so. This bible study gives scriptural proof that the Sabbath day was not removed in Colossians 2:16.

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