Colossians 2:16: Ceremonial law was nailed
Please read Colossians 2:16 for a professional examination of this passage as well as other related verses such as Galatians 4:9-10, Romans 14:5 and Hosea 2:11. Page two of this site also contains Bible Commentaries from expert theologians.
Colossians 2:16 reads “Let no man therefore judge you in meat [offering], or in drink [offering], or in respect of an [feast] holyday, or of the new moon, or of the [ceremonial] sabbath days:” Parentheses are added. Everything in this verse refers to the now obsolete ceremonial law system. The meat and drink spoken of in this verse are meat and drink offerings as described in Leviticus 23:18 and more than 30 other Old Testament verses and further supported by Hebrews 9:10. But most people think of them as referring to food and drink which is not part of the sanctuary system. The King James Bible is needed for verse references as many Bibles translate some of these terms incorrectly.
The holydays were the various ceremonial sabbath days of which many are spoken of in Leviticus 23:3 onwards. The new moon festivals were also part of the ordinances of the ceremonial system. Ezekiel 45:17 sheds excellent light here, “And it shall be the prince's part to give burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and drink offerings, in the feasts [holydays], and in the new moons, and in the sabbaths, in all solemnities of the house of Israel: he shall prepare the sin offering, and the meat offering, and the burnt offering, and the peace offerings, to make reconciliation for the house of Israel.” Compare with Colossians 2:16 and see how this verse refers to the meat and drink offerings, new moons and the various holydays [feasts] that were ceremonial sabbaths and were all part of a sin offering. It was the breaking of the Ten Commandments, which includes the Lord's Sabbath, that required this sacrificial law before the cross.
This is further verified by what Paul said two verses earlier. Colossians 2:14 says, “blotting out the handwriting (has to be Moses handwriting) of ordinances (Mosaic ceremonial law) that was against us, which was contrary to us, and has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross.” When Jesus died on the cross for us and the unseen hand tore the temple curtain from top to bottom, the Ceremonial law was forever nailed to the cross. Colossians 2:17 says, “Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” This is because Passover was a shadow of Jesus' crucifixion and Feast of Weeks was a shadow of Pentecost etc. When these events happened the shadows disappeared.
Colossians 2:16: Commandments or Ceremonial
I always find it good to take Bible scripture in the context of the whole passage of scripture or at least the verses surrounding. It is also good to take the bible as a whole and to study and find other related scripture to get the whole picture. When looking at Colossians 2:16 it is good to take note of the verses before and after.
Some people argue that it was the Ten Commandment law that was nailed to the cross rather than the law of ordinances, sometimes referred to as the ceremonial law as the Strong dictionary translates the word ordinances to ceremonial law. I believe Colossians 2:14-17 to be talking about the ceremonial law. As Colossians 2:14 says “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances.” I have looked at Old Testament scriptures of where the Ten Commandment law was given and where the ceremonial law was given. As you can see the Ten Commandment law was “written with the finger of God.” where the ceremonial law was written in Moses handwriting.
Exodus 31:18 “And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.”
Deuteronomy 31:9 “And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and unto all the elders of Israel.”
When you take Colossians 2:16 in light of the context of the passage you can see that Paul is referring to meat and drink offerings, holydays, the new moon festivals and the Sabbath days of which there where many in the ceremonial law. Leviticus 23:3 onwards is a good example of this. Also this law of ordinances (ceremonial law) was a temporary law “Which are a shadow of things to come” where as the Ten Commandment law is an eternal law that defines what sin is 1 John 3:4 “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” We will be keeping the Ten Commandment law for all eternity as God cannot stand sin and there will be no more sin in heaven. I do not think that the scriptures would contradict each other if these verses were really referring to the Ten Commandment law being nailed the cross it would contradict the very words of Jesus himself in Matthew 5:17-19
Colossians 2:16: The Law of God
The law of God will maintain its exalted character as long as the throne of Jehovah endures. This law is the expression of God’s character. Types, shadows, offerings and sacrifices had no virtue after Christ’s death on the cross; but God’s law was not crucified with Christ. Had it been, Satan would have gained all that he attempted to gain in heaven. For this attempt he was expelled from the heavenly courts. He fell, taking with him the angels he had deceived. And today he is deceiving human beings in regard to the law of God.
God did not make the infinite sacrifice of giving His only begotten son to our world to secure for man the privilege of breaking the Commandments of God in this life and in the future eternal life. This is an infamous lie originated by Satan, which must be made to appear in its false deceitful character. This law that Satan so much desires to have regarded null and void is the great moral standard of righteousness. Any violation of it is an act of transgression against God and will be visited with the penalty of the divine law. To all the inhabitants of the world who make void the law of Jehovah and continue to live in transgression, death must surely come. The handwriting of ordinances described in the Colossians 2:16 passage was cancelled at the cross and not God’s moral law. In Christ the shadow reached its substance and the type its antitype. The new and living way was opened for all when the Lamb of God was offered as a sacrifice. When the veil of the temple was rent it was as if a voice had said to the worshippers, “There is now an end to all sacrifices and offerings.” Matthew 27:51
Colossians 2:16: Ceremonial law was abolished.
In Colossians 2:14-16 Paul says that the handwriting of ordinances was nailed to the cross. While in Ephesians 2:15 Paul says, “Having abolished… the law of commandments contained in ordinances”. Thus we see that it is no longer necessary for us to observe these ceremonial ordinances, or laws, which pointed forward to Jesus’ death on the cross. Once Jesus was crucified they were no longer relevant and so were terminated. For example, the tearing of the temple veil in two (Matthew 27:51) indicated the end of the system of animal sacrifices.
So in Colossians 2:16 Paul writes that we are no longer judged by:
1) Meat and drink, which refers to the meat and drink offerings for Colossians 2:17 tells us that the meat and drink “are a shadow of things to come”, hence the meat and drink Paul refers to pointed forward to the coming of Christ. The Levitical laws on clean and unclean meats did not point to Christ, and in fact predated the ceremonial law. So the laws on clean and unclean meats were not given for ceremonial reasons.
2) Holy day. Have you ever wondered why Christians don’t observe the Passover, the Feasts of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles? It is because they are the holy days in the ceremonial law that Paul tells us Christians no longer need to observe.
3) New moon, or first day of the month, was when a burnt offering was made to God, and is also no longer required to be observed by Christians.
4) Sabbath days. Once again these Sabbath days were a “shadow of things to come”, so they are ceremonial rest days that pointed forward to Christ. They are described in Leviticus 23:24-36, and fall on a different day of the week each year, just as some of our public holidays do. Paul could not be referring to the weekly Sabbath day of the ten commandments given in Exodus 20:8-11 as verse 11 tells us that the weekly Sabbath day was a memorial of God’s creation of the earth, and thus pointed back in time rather than forward to Christ.
Now notice that in Leviticus 23:37 it says, “These are the feasts of the LORD” and then it goes on to say in verse 38 that these feasts, or Sabbaths, are “Beside the Sabbaths of the LORD.” Thus these ceremonial Sabbaths are in addition to the weekly Sabbath of the Ten Commandments. So we see that what was nailed to the cross was the ceremonial law of offering, sacrifices and yearly feasts, or Sabbaths. While the ten commandment law with it’s weekly Sabbath is still in effect.
This is further confirmed in Revelation 12:17 where we are told that the saints of God in the last days “keep the commandments of God”, and in Revelation 14-12 the saints are described as “they that keep the commandments of God”. While in Matthew 19:17 Jesus instructed, “if thou wilt enter into [eternal] life, keep the commandments.” It is important to note that we don’t inherit eternal life because we keep God’s commandments, which is legalism. Rather we keep God’s commandments because that is what God asks us to do, and because we want to do what God asks: 1John 5:2-3 “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”
Finally, those who go to heaven will keep the Sabbath in heaven: Isaiah 66:22-23 “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD ... from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.” Far from being nailed to the cross, the weekly seventh-day Sabbath will continue to be observed after God recreates the earth.
Colossians 2:16: A very misunderstood passage.
This is one of the most misused passages in the entire New Testament. “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us ... nailing it to his cross.” (Verse 14). The law that was “blotted out” and nailed to the cross was not the Ten Commandments. Luke 16:17-18; Romans 7:7,12; James 2:10-12. It was the “handwriting” of the “law” of sacrifices written by “Moses” in “a book” which was a continual witness “against” Israel. Deuteronomy 31:24-26. This law of sacrifices was “against them” because its very existence was a witness that they had broken the Ten Commandments. That's why they needed to offer lambs.
“Therefore,” wrote Paul in Colossians 2:16. “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come.” Verses 16-17. Paul here refers to the Jewish “feasts ... meat offerings ... drink offerings” AND YEARLY “SABBATHS” OF THE CEREMONIAL LAW. Leviticus 23:37,24,32,38. These yearly sabbaths, like the Passover and the Day of Atonement, were “shadows” pointing forward to Jesus Christ. Hebrews 10:1 also affirms that it was the ceremonial law with its yearly sabbaths and “sacrifices” that was a “shadow.”
The Ten Commandments and the Creation Sabbath are NOT A SHADOW pointing forward to Jesus. The seventh day Sabbath POINTS BACK to the creation of the world and the Sabbath remains in the New Testament. Exodus 20:11; Matthew 24:20; Luke 23:56. Paul continued to keep this Sabbath. Acts 16:13.
Steve Wohlberg is Speaker/Director of White Horse Media and hosts the national radio show, World News and the Bible. He is the author of ten books and has been guest on over 400 radio and TV shows. His web site is www.whitehorsemedia.com. 1-800-78-BIBLE.
Colossians 2:16: Not unclean foods or Sabbath.
At first glance it may appear that these texts are talking about clean/unclean meats, drinking and the Seventh Day Sabbath. However if you Look at what the texts are really saying it is clear that it is referring to the ceremonial system of the Jews. All the Items referred to in the text are a part of that system.
- Meat offerings “And when any will offer a meat offering unto the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon” Leviticus 2:1
- Drink offerings “And thou shalt bring for a drink offering half a hin of wine, for an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.” Numbers 15:10
- New Moons “and in the beginnings of your months ye shall offer a burnt offering unto the LORD; two young bullocks, and one ram, seven lambs of the first year without spot;” Numbers 28:11
- Festivals - Leviticus 23 tells of various yearly festivals that the Jews would celebrate.
- Sabbaths - Many of the Jewish feast days were called Sabbaths.
“Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a Day of Atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; ... It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls...” Leviticus 23:27, 32 “...the fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD...on the first day there shall be a sabbath rest; and on the eight day a sabbath rest.” Leviticus 23:34, 39
The Seventh Day Sabbath was part of the moral law, not the ceremonial system and was in place before man sinned. “And God blessed the Seventh day and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” Genesis 2:3
The purpose of the ceremonial law was to point the Jews to the coming Messiah who would save them from their sins. It was a “shadow of things to come” Colossians 2:17. When Jesus died there was no point in continuing those rituals because Jesus was the real Lamb - the Lamb of God. I have done a reasonable amount of study on the ceremonial law and found it really helped link the Old and New Testament. It is a surprisingly refreshing and Christ-centred study.
Colossians 2:16: A new understanding.
Colossians 2:16 states, “Let 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...” Some Christian scholars state that “holyday...new moon...sabbath days” refers to a sequence of yearly, monthly, weekly observances, including the seventh-day Sabbath. A new understanding is emerging among other Biblical scholars, however, based upon the Biblical research of Pastor Ron du Preez, ThD, DMin, upon this passage (see his book, Putting the “Sabbath” to Rest: A Scriptural Study of the Sabbatōn in Colossians 2:16). The structure that the apostle Paul employs in this passage is the chiasm, familiar in Hebrew writing and having an ABA (or ABCBA, etc.) structure. We can affirm now based on solid Biblical research, that this verse refers to ceremonial yearly, monthly, and yearly observances.
The key to this understanding is Hosea 2:11, in which God states of Israel's ceremonial observances, “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.” In Hosea 2:11, the sequence is chiastic, which is typical of Hebrew thought. In Colossians 2:16 Paul, a Hebrew, is making reference to Hosea 2:11 by speaking of yearly feast days, such as Passover, the monthly new moon observances, and the yearly solemn feasts, e.g., the Day of Atonement. These are all part of the ceremonial law which have been nailed to the cross in Colossians 2:14.
Another point that Dr. du Preez brings out is that when the weekly seventh-day Sabbath is spoken of in the Bible, there are linguistic clues that help the reader distinguish between the ceremonial sabbaths and the Seventh-day Sabbath, which is an everlasting covenant instituted at Creation. One of these linguistic clues is that God refers to the Seventh-day weekly Sabbaths as “My Sabbaths," whereas He refers to the ceremonial sabbaths as “her,” “its,” or “your” sabbaths.
A third useful observation is that Colossians 2:14 refers to “the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us,” as being taken out of the way and nailed to the cross. Paul writes of the ceremonial laws as being “contrary to us” as embodied in the handwriting of ordinances in contrast to the moral law which he calls “holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12) and embodied in stone tablets which God inscribed with His own finger. The Ten Commandments are not “contrary to us,” rather they are a hedge of protection surrounding us (see Psalm 119:6), giving us freedom (see James 1:25 and 2:8-12), and bringing us to Jesus Christ (see Galatians 3:24), who supplies the grace and power that we need to keep them, for His honor and glory.
Colossians 2:16: Contributors title goes here.
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Colossians 2:14-17 “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; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. 16 Let 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: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”
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