Keith Hunt - FEASTS of GOD? Restitution of All Things


DOES COLOSSIANS
2:16 abolish the
FEASTS of GOD?

     Many a man down through the ages - some famous, some not
famous and some infamous - have tried reading the Bible, but
ended up rejecting it as coming from an all powerful God. These
individuals were stunned by the Bibles seemingly contradictions.
"This book" they said, "can not possibly be inspired for it
contains dozens of contradictions." And at first glance they
would seem to be right. Some Biblical scholars on seeing this
predicament have written whole books to answer the sceptics
concerning these contradictions. These Biblical scholars knew
that Jesus had said, "The Scripture cannot he broken'."  God did
not contradict Himself in His word.  They knew that for every
seeming contradiction there had to be a logical and harmonious
answer.

     For those outside the "church" to be sceptical of how the
Bible is written is one thing, and we should expect to find this.
But it has never ceased to be of amazement to me when some
Biblical scholars, ministers and lay people also believe, by what
they say and write, that the Bible contradicts itself !  And what
is even worse - they seem to be quite happy with that belief and
make no attempt to untangle their mind.

     One of these seeming contradictions of the Bible concerns
verse 16 of Colossians chapter 2.

     It is said by the apostle Peter that one reason Jesus came
to this earth was to leave "us an example, that you should
follower His steps: Who did not sin" ( 1 Pet. 2: 21, 22 ). The
apostle John wrote, "He that says he abides in Him ought himself
also so to walk, even as He walked" (1 John 2:6).
     Now those verses are quite plain I think - it doesn't take a
degree in a theological school to understand them. All we have to
do is look in the four Gospels and see HOW Jesus lived - what HE
taught, commanded and observed - and follow after Him - walk as
He walked. But here's where the problems start for some. You see
most have thought that Paul was telling the Jews and Gentiles at
Colossae (in chap.2:16) through his letter that those old laws in
the Old Covenant about eating and drinking, the 7th day Sabbath,
the New Month days and the Feasts, were now ABOLISHED (no longer
had to keep them) when one became a Christian.
      Ahhhhhhhh, but didn't Peter say Christ came to set us an
example for us to follow? Jesus kept the "eating and drinking"
laws - He kept the weekly Sabbath - He kept the Feasts of
Leviticus 23. Jesus did not teach these things would no longer
need to be observed after His death. He said nothing
about.........abolishment of the things listed by Paul in verse
16.
     In fact the opposite is the case. Look at what He said in
Mat.5:17-20. He first tells His disciples NOT to think He has
come to abolish the law (first five books) then notice
one of His plain teachings in verse 19, "Whosoever therefore
shall break one of these least commandments, AND shall teach men
so (to break what they think is the least commandments) he shall
be called the least in the Kingdom of heaven (doesn't say he'll
be in the Kingdom), BUT whosoever shall do and teach them, the
same shall be called great in the Kingdom of heaven. FOR..."
notice this, verse 20, "For I say unto you, that except your
righteousness(see Ps.119:172) shall exceed the righteousness of
the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the
Kingdom of heaven." The scribes and Pharisees kept the laws of
Col.2:16 externally at least.

     So to many Paul contradicted Jesus - he taught differently
than Jesus - he changed the teachings of Jesus.  But is that
REALLY SO?

                   PAUL CONTRADICTS HIMSELF?

     Not only do some think that Paul contradicted Jesus but that
Paul contradicted Paul. He tells the Jewish/Gentile church at
Rome (according to many) that they can choose their own days to
keep holy to God, and the Lord will accept them - Rom.14.
Now surely some - even some Gentiles - would have chosen the 7th
day Sabbath and the feast of Pentecost or day of Trumpets, as
would have some Jewish Christians. Paul teaches it would seem to
many here - FREEDOM! Yet, to the Jews and Gentiles at Colossae he
calls them out and instructs them to not let people teach them to
observe the ways of eating and drinking, the weekly Sabbath, new
month days and Feasts. At least many claim Paul is teaching this
to the Colossians.

     With all this seeming to be, contradictory teachings of
Paul, what do we find in the book of Acts on how Paul LIVED and
the FEASTS he observed? Why we fined he kept the 7th day Sabbath
- he kept the Passover (but the NT way as instituted by Christ) -
he kept the feast of Pentecost.
     In fact Paul did nothing that his Jewish Pharisaical enemies
could accuse him in breaking the laws of God,  see Acts chapters
22 through 26.

     Some claim Paul was a Christian Jew and as such it was okay
for him to still keep his Jewish heritage by observing the
Sabbath and Feasts, but the Gentiles did not have to do this, or
they could observe the 1st day of the week and different
festivals other than those found in Leviticus 23.

     With this reasoning, let's ask some questions. A Jew that
accepts Jesus as the Messiah - does he stop keeping the 7th day
and start keeping the 1st day? Does he continue to keep the 7th
day because it is national heritage and also start observing the
1st day as the Christian Sabbath? Or does he not observe either
the 7th or 1st day but can choose another as Romans 14 would
suggest he can do, according to how some interpret this section
of scripture.
     
      Does the Gentile have to keep Sunday as the NT "Lord's day"
? If so - what then is Romans 14 teaching? Does God have the 7th
day for Jews and the 1st day for Gentiles?

     Does God have one set of Feasts for the Jewish Christians
and another set of Feasts for the Gentile Christians? What does a
person do if they are half Jew and half Gentile blood? And how
does Romans 14 apply to all this? Does God have different ways
of salvation for different people?

     It is not the purpose of this article to explain what Paul
is teaching in Romans 14 - I have another article which does that
- all I will say here is that the "days" of Romans 14 have
nothing to do with Sabbaths or Feasts of God as found in the Old
Testament.

     No Paul never contradicted himself either in what he taught
or practiced.

     Now let's get to what Paul was teaching the church in
Colossians chapter 2.

                     THE CONTEXT OF COL.2:16

     Even the mightily inspired apostle Peter had to admit that
some things Paul wrote were "...hard to be understood" and he
went on to say that those who were unlearned AND unstable did
wrest unto their own destruction (2 Pet.3:16). The reason why so
many have trouble with Paul's writings is because they will not
look at the context of verses like Col.2:16 and the context of
Paul's life as recorded in the book of Acts. Too many want
to isolate a statement by Paul from the verses around that
statement and from other words of his in other letters. They read
Paul with what we call "tunnel vision" or with blinders (like
some horses wear over their eyes when racing) over their eyes so
they do not see all Paul wrote.

     First, let's notice the basic spiritual condition that the
people to whom Paul was writing were in. They had faith in Christ
and love for all saints (chap.1 v.4). They had been alienated
from Christ by the way they had lived but were now reconciled
(v.21). Paul took pleasure in their order and steadfastness of
faith in Christ (chap.2:5). They had been baptized (v.11-12). And
their sins had been blotted out (v.13-14).

     Secondly, we need to see the apprehension and fear that Paul
held for them and WHY. Paul wanted them to have full assurance of
understanding(v.2). He was concerned about them being led astray
by men with enticing words (v.4). He wanted them to WALK
in the way of Jesus (we have seen Peter said to do the same -
Jesus kept the Sabbath and Feasts of Lev.23) - see v.6. Paul
warns them about men preaching deceit, wrong philosophies,
teachings of the world, and ideas of men - that were opposed to
Christ's teachings (v.8). He warns them against people who were
entrapped in worshipping the spirit world, teaching observance to
the physical, from man's commandments, and asceticism (v.18-23).
     He warns them about all this, the ways of the unconverted
and deceived religious world of various false dogmas.

     With that background we can now start to understand what
Paul is warning the Colossian church about. Here was a people who
had been taught the gospel, had been shown the way and teachings
of Jesus - they had come to recognize they were sinners in need
of forgiveness - they had accepted Christ as Messiah and Savior -
they had been baptized, had their sins and debt of death removed.
They were now walking after Christ - living as He lived -
practicing things as He practiced them. Then Paul gets word that
sinister evil men were trying to shake and destroy their faith
and walk with Jesus, by enticing them with many traditions,
philosophies, doctrines, commandments of men and asceticism.

     These men are falsely telling them about how they have had
contact with the spirit world. They are preaching to the
Colossians that they have the spiritual truths not Epaphras their
minister. These beguiling men are saying to those who will
listen, that to follow this Christ and walk as He walked is
foolishness, and that they have the correct traditions, customs,
worship and commandments.

     Try to put yourself in the picture. You were a part of a
false pagan or religious society - doing things contrary to the
ways of Christ. Along comes a minister of Jesus and expounds the
saving truth to you - and you see your sins - you see that what
you have been believing and practicing have been the
philosophies, traditions and commandments of MEN. You see you are
a sinner in need of forgiveness - you see Jesus is the savior
- you repent and are baptized - you start to live as He lived,
walk as He walked. Your former friends and philosophical leaders
see they no longer have any influence over you pertaining to your
spiritual life. They do not understand your new faith - they
think what you are now doing is crazy!! Then they make every
effort to entice you back into their world and their man made
concepts and traditions.

      SO IT WAS FOR THE CONVERTS TO CHRIST AT COLOSSAE!

     These converts to Jesus at Colossae had been in sin - but
now are forgiver by the death of Christ on the stake. They now
have repented or their old former way of life, and are now
walking as Jesus walked - they are obeying God's laws concerning
eating and drinking - they are keeping as Jesus kept, the
festivals that God says are "my feasts" (Lev.23:1). Many are now
observing the 7th day Sabbath as God commanded in the fourth of
His 10 commandments (Ex.20). These followers of Jesus now observe
the Jewish calendar and honor the new month days set by that
calendar, together with the yearly Festivals as outlined in the
books of Moses. Then after they start to live this way - the way
Christ lived - along came men trying to criticize, sit in
judgment, and govern them back into their man made, philosophies,
commandments and traditions.

     Paul admonishes the Colossian church, "Let no man therefore
judge you..."

     What does Paul mean by "no man"? Is he saying that their
minister should not guide and govern them into God's way and
truth? Does he mean that he Paul should not lead and guide them
into the truth of Christ? Does the body of Christ - the church -
have no leadership, guidance, or government among itself? Of
course it does! See 1 Cor. 5 and 6:1-8.
      Paul is telling the Colossian Christians that they should
let no man of these ENTICING, BEGUILING, vain, fleshly minded men
of the world govern or sit in judgment over them concerning the
way they now eat and drink, and the festivals they now observe.
No PART of this way of life is to be governed by the outside
people of this world who reject Christ, or who make up their own
rules of religion for their spirit worship of the unseen.

     The Colossians are not to be governed by the fleshly
unconverted minds of men in regards as to "...eating and
drinking(as the Greek is), in regards festivals, new months
or sabbaths." The day to day eating and drinking habits, the
yearly, monthly, and weekly festivals, that God's people follow
should not be influenced, determined or governed by the
philosophies, traditions, doctrines and commandments of men who
would entice them from walking in Christ Jesus.

     Now notice verse 17. Did Paul teach and believe the physical
laws of eating and drinking were "done away"? Did he believe the
Festivals, new month days, the weekly Sabbaths of God were "done
away"? 
     Look at what he says regarding these, "Which ARE" present
tense in the Greek - "Which ARE (not were) a shadow of things to
come..." 
     A shadow leads to the reality! A shadow of a man appearing
around a corner will lead you to the man. 
     So it is with all of God's yearly, monthly and weekly
festivals - they have GREAT MEANING about "things to come."

     The Passover lamb was slain on the 14th of Nisan - Jesus as
the reality of the shadow was slain on the Passover day as the
true Lamb of God. The Passover festival was a shadow of things to
come.
     The feast of Firstfruits(Pentecost) was a shadow of things
to come - the outpouring of God's Holy Spirit came on that
precise day (Acts 2). 
     The feast of Trumpets is a shadow of the coming last trump
when Jesus will return to earth. All the weekly, monthly, and
yearly festivals are a "shadow of things to come." They ARE,
presently, today, continually a constant reminder of the
wonderful plan of God for this earth and the people on it.

     If the Christian world had continued to observe God's
festivals they would not be in confusion today as to what is the
plan of Salvation that the Lord has for mankind.

                 ....BUT THE BODY OF CHRIST?

     This phrase of Paul's has also been misused, abused, and not
understood but by a few. It is claimed that Paul was telling the
Colossians that laws to do with eating and drinking, festivals
and sabbaths were not important - were "done away" - only
accepting Jesus as the Messiah and Savior was now important. Just
"give your heart to the Lord brother," just "come as you are,"
the law is "done away and it's only grace today" is what
many teach that Paul is basically saying here in verse 17. 
     Nothing could be further from the truth!

     In the inspired original Greek that the New Testament was
written in, the little word "is" can not be found - it is not
there. This phrase should read, "but the body of Christ"
and that puts a whole different light on this passage. The word
"but" is a connecting word, and what most miss is WHERE it is
connecting. It is connecting with the thought of verse 16 - the
phrase, "Let no man therefore judge you." Put these two phrases
together and you have Paul's complete thought and statement with
a parenthetical thought inbetween.

     So Paul's complete statement should be, "Let no man
therefore judge you(parenthetical thought)but the body of
Christ." The Greek contained no punctuation whatsoever. Today we
would write verses 16 and 17 like this, "Let no man therefore
judge you(in eating and drinking, or observance of a festival, or
new month, or sabbaths, which  are a shadow of things to come)but
the body of Christ."

     The "body of Christ" are the collective remembers of the
church. This can be seen from the following verses of scripture:
1 Cor.6 15; Rom.12:5; 1 Cor.12:12-27. It is the church of Jesus
Christ through the Holy Spirit and the Ministry that God has
established (Eph.4:11 12) that is to govern and guide the church
as a whole in matters of Christian living and observance of
Festivals, not those outside the church with their various ways
of a so-called spirituality, based upon "the way that seems right
unto man but which ends in death." 

     Certain individuals were endeavoring to get the followers of
Christ at Colossae into observing man made food and drink
commandments (i.e. touch not, taste not, handle not - give up
something during the Lent season. Or, do not eat fish on Friday)
as well as their festive traditions (i.e. pagan Easter, Xmas,
January lst and the Roman-Greek calendar), philosophical
teachings, humanism, bodily flagellation (they still walk on
their blood covered knees while reciting prayers to the altar, in
some parts of the world) and spirit (angel-demon) worship. They
wanted the Christians to give up following the physical and
festival laws of the Hebrew God and reject Jesus as the Savior
from sin. Paul tells the Colossian church to pay no attention to
these fleshly minded men, but to let the body of Christ - the
church - be their light and guardian over the things they were
NOW ALREADY practicing (in the way of eating, drinking, 
festivals and sabbaths) as they walked in Christ.

     Contrary to the popular teaching or Colossians 2:16 this
section of scripture is one of the greatest proofs in the New
Testament that the Jewish and Gentile converts to Christianity
continued to observe not only the physical laws of God, but also
the weekly Sabbath, the new month days(Hebrew calendar as
governed by the Jewish authorities) and the Festivals of the Lord
as outlined in Leviticus 23.

                       .............

Foot note

I've purposely stayed away from getting too technically
scholastic with the Greek in this presentation, while at the same
time bringing out what the Greek means. I do not believe
God's children need a degree in NT Greek to understand what Paul
is teaching in this part of his letter to the Colossae church. It
is really quite plain to see from the whole context. For those
who could desire a somewhat more technical presentation of this
passage I refer you to the scholastic book FROM SABBATH TO SUNDAY
by Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi (4569 Lisa Lane, Berries Springs,
Michigan 49103 USA). Dr. Bacchiocchi has another way to explain
this section of Paul's letter. While I personally do not agree
with his explanation, it does still agree with the truth I have
presented here - namely that the Christians (Jews-Gentile) of the
first century A.D. continued to observe the Sabbath and Feasts of
God as established in the Old Testament.

One of the most technical study articles I've seen to date on
this section of Paul's writings is by Larry Waker. He basically
gives the same explanation as Dr. Bacchiocchi. His articles are
available on computer disk (ASCII text format) for a donation of
$2.50 from: Sharing Disks, c/o John Guffey, 9700 South Anderson
Road, Oklahoma City, OK 73165, USA.

                            ...................

                        Written May 1987

                              by

                          Keith Hunt

All articles and studies by Keith Hunt may be copied, published,
e-mailed, and distributed as led by the Spirit.



 
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