CG7 & COGwriter on Colossians 2:16-17

The Weekly Sabbath Begins Sunset on Fridays

The April/May 2008 edition of CG7’s Bible Advocate has the following question and answer:

Q. Doesn’t Colossians 2:16, 17 speak against Sabbath observance?

A. These verses read: “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” If this puzzling text opposes the weekly rest day for Christians, it is the only one of sixty Sabbath references in the New Testament to give a negative witness to the seventh-day rest of creation and of Christ.

A closer look, however, shows that this text is not against Sabbaths any more than it is against food, drink, or festivals. No day is the problem here but the misuse of days for un-Christian purposes.

Exploring the background of this epistle, we learn that the first century church in Colosse was troubled by teachings that later became known as Gnosticism, a heresy that troubled the church in the first centuries after Christ. Gnosticism borrowed from Judaism, paganism, and Christian doctrine, combining them into an amalgam in which the person and work of Jesus were no longer central.

A reading of Colossians 2 suggests that the false teachers (early Gnostics) taught a philosophical form of faith (v. 8) that mixed worship of angels (v. 18), ascetic practices of the body (vv. 20-23), and Jewish holy days, with the weekly Sabbath (v. 16). Some of Jesus was surely sprinkled in for good measure, but the resulting spiritual soup was actually a toxic mixture of man-made religion upon which repeated warnings are pronounced: “Let no one cheat [judge] you . . .” (vv. 8, 16, 18).

Speaking positively, Paul urges that Christ be preeminent in all things (vv. 2, 3, 6, 9, 10ff, 17; also 1:13ff). These verses are the heart of the apostle’s argument in this chapter. With our Lord at the church’s head and reigning in our hearts, the weekly Sabbath and every other proper teaching can assume their rightful place.

Taken in context, then, the message of Colossians 2:16, 17 is that the church must not elevate anything above the Lord Jesus Christ: not angels, not dietary practice or other forms of self-denial, not Hebrew festivals, and not even the weekly Sabbath. All are subordinate to Him who lived, died, and rose again for our eternal redemption. — Elder Calvin Burrell

And that is basically correct.

However, there is one main point that I would like to emphasize.

And that is that the reason that most who profess Christ do not know the truth about this is because nearly all translators have intentionally mistranslated these verses, thus most have been misled into thinking this verse is opposed to the Sabbath and the Holy Days (it also enjoins the Holy Days as much as the Sabbath, but CG7 is not a big fan of those, which may be why that point was not expounded upon in the article).

So, let’s examine one slight mistranslation of 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 (Col 2:16-17,KJV).

The above translation is close, however, it added a word that is not in the original Greek.

The word added is “is”. Truly literal translations leave it out as it is not in there. Notice the Strong’s words for verse 17:

3739. 2076 4639… 3588……. 3195 ………..3588.. 1161. 4983 9999 3588 5547
Which are a shadow of …things to come; …….the.. but.. body ….is…. of… Christ.
(Interlinear Transliterated Bible. Copyright (c) 1994 by Biblesoft).

It should be noted that 9999 means that there was no word in the biblical text. It should also be noted that #3588 is most often translated as “the”.

Because the same three Strong’s words (#4983, 3588, & 5547) are used four other times in the New Testament and in those times the KJV translates it as “the body of Christ” (Romans 7:4; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:12)–as does the NKJV.

Therefore, if all the translators were simply consistent with themselves, they would have translated Colossians 2:16-17 to state:

16 Therefore let no man judge you in eating and drinking or in respect of a festival or of an observance of the new moon or of a sabbath; 17 for those things are a shadow of the things to come, but the body of Christ.

Or in other word, do not let those outside the body of Christ (the church, Colossians 1:18) judge you regarding holy days, but only the church itself. Colossians 2:16-17 is not saying that the holy days are done away. It is poor exegesis (biblical interpretation) to rely on a mistranslation to claim that the holy days are done away with.

It is sad, but most in the Protestant world have misunderstood Colossians 2:16-17 because translators who know better MISTRANSLATED it.

The truth, of course, is that the seventh-day Sabbath and the biblical holy days were not done away with in the New Testament. And, they were observed by Jesus, His original disciples, early Christians, and still are today by those of us in the Living Church of God.

Several articles of possibly related interest, for those who wish to see more of the truth, may include:

The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church?
Is God Unreasonable? Some have suggested that if God requires Sabbath-keeping He is unreasonable. Is that true?
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
There are Many COGs: Why Support the Living Church of God? This is an article for those who wish to easily sort out the different COGs. It really should be a MUST READ for current and former WCG members or any interested in supporting the faithful church. It also explains a lot of what the COGs are all about.
Church of God, Seventh Day: History and Teachings Nearly all COG’s I am aware of trace their history through this group. Whaid Rose is the president of the largest CG7 group (Denver). Do you know much about them?
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

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