Editorial – Types and Shadows, Part III

In the last editorial, we began looking at Colossians 2:14–17. A minimum of nine lines of evidence was given showing that the law described in this passage of Scripture could not have been the Ten Commandment Law. But it is not enough to begin to understand that this passage is not talking about the Ten Commandments. We want to know what this passage is really saying. Since very large treatises have been written about this passage, it is not possible to be exhaustive, and to conserve space, we will look one by one at a number of details.

  1. It has been recognized by Bible commentators for many years that Paul was attempting to correct certain Gnostic practices, which had crept into the church at Colossae. (Gnostics believed that they had secret knowledge about God, humanity, and the rest of the universe of which the general population was unaware.) Gnosticism was one of the major heresies which troubled the New Testament Church and which the apostles fought against so vehemently that the debate fills large sections of the New Testament. One of the major thrusts of the Gospel of John was to attack Gnostic teachings coming into the church. In 1 Timothy, 1 John, Philippians, Ephesians, and the Book of Revelation, some of the ideas of Gnosticism are again attacked. As with any major heresy, there were several branches or flavors, one of which was antinomianism (the belief that, under the gospel dispensation of grace, the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation).
  2. The Christian is not to let any person judge him in regard to eating and drinking and religious practices. Rather, he is to recognize that he will be judged by God and not by any human court. (See 1 Corinthians 4:3, 4.) In Romans 14, when Paul clearly teaches not to judge others concerning worship days, he states strongly that we will all give an account of ourselves concerning worship days to the Lord. (See Romans 14:4–13.)
  3. In addition to eating and drinking, there are three other religious observances about which the Christian is not to let any person (notice that person is singular, and this word is singular in the Greek text) judge him. These three religious observances are (1) feast, (2) new moon, and (3) sabbaths. Although the word for sabbath is in the plural, this plural word is often used in a singular sense and is often used to refer to the seventh day Sabbath. (For examples of the word sabbath used in the plural with a singular meaning in English, see Mark 1:21; 2:23, 24; Luke 4:16; 13:10; Acts 13:14; 16:13.)
  4. There is a stated reason that the Christian is not to allow any other person (i.e., a Gnostic) to judge him concerning religious observances and that is that, first of all, these religious observances are shadows of coming things. Second, these religious observances had been seized upon by Gnostics as a way to gain control of the church. Theology has been used numberless times to gain control of other people’s minds and finally to control them entirely. There are still people today with the same Gnostic attitude attempting to gain control of the church of God by dictating various practices for believers to follow in regard to eating, drinking, working, dressing, feast days, methods of Sabbath observance, ad nauseum.

To be continued . . .