Summary: Why would we place our faith and trust in the human elements of this world if we had Christ as our Savior? Paul asks the same question of the Colossian believers!
Colossians 2:16-23 [NLT]
January 16, 2013
Oak Park Baptist Church – Wed Bible Study Series
Colossians Bible Study
Paul’s continues his teaching against the heresy:
So far we have seen how Paul has greatly encouraged the fellowship in Colossae AND has given a great picture of just who Jesus was and is…
In ch2 we find Paul encouraging these believers to NOT listen to the heresy being taught in their midst, but to cling to Christ and Christ alone!
In v8 Paul had used the analogy of being taken captive like a prisoner of war by their teaching… for them to NOT allow this to happen!
And his reasoning was because they were IN Christ, they could avoid being taken captive but they must remain faithful to Him and focus on Him.
In the 2nd part of ch2 we find Paul beginning to flesh out more teaching against this heresy… again we find Paul using the word “therefore” here in ch2… first in v6 and now in v16…
The ‘therefore’ is there to reveal a transition or to emphasize a previous point. Before v16 Paul had stressed that because these believers were IN Christ that they should not be taken in by these false teachings… and they should not allow them to influence their Christian walk!
Here in the final part of this chapter, Paul deals with the possible things these believers were having to face from these teachers… things such as telling them what they could or could NOT do…
THEN Paul gives advice on how to ignore the demands of these teachers and then Paul begins to explain why they CAN ignore them… in v21-23 Paul lays out how it can be accomplished!
So let’s jump back into our study and start by reading Col 2:16-19
Here Paul lists 2 separate areas where these believers were possibly being attacked. The first area of attack was actually 2 fold… it was an attack on these believers for their NOT observing the strict dietary laws and NOT observing the traditional Jewish Holy Days and traditional celebrations!
Let’s look at v16-17
16So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. 17For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.
Now we know that Paul battled against legalism his entire ministry. Paul had been a Pharisee and understood the ritualistic regimen that Judaism placed upon those who were strict followers.
Certain foods could not be eaten and there were several ‘holy days’ that must be observed by the faithful PLUS several festivals or celebrations that must be observed.
These new believers had heard Paul preach about being free in Christ and no longer being slaves to the Law, so they had set aside the ritual of Judaism for the freedom of worship in a local body of believers… a worship that was NOT as ritualistic or ceremonial… a worship that many viewed as NOT spiritual enough.
In this situation these believers were being told that if they did NOT observe the dietary laws… or if they did not celebrate the High Holy days or festivals then they were NOT truly a believer!
These false teachers were ADDING the dietary laws to Christ… I can only presume that their motive here was personal holiness. But their view of personal holiness was about keeping a set of rules…
But notice what Paul says about those dietary laws AND the observance of those High Holy days… Paul says in v17: “…these rules are but a shadow of the reality yet to come, and that reality is Christ!”
What Paul is speaking about here is that IN CHRIST we have ALL we need. Our reality as believers is fully wrapped up ‘in Christ’ and we need NO other vehicle to bring us into holiness.
We are not ‘holy’ because of our actions, we are holy because Christ died for us and has set us aside for His kingdom, through our acceptance of Him as Savior!
What Paul is saying here is that there are no personal rituals or corporate rituals that are required to be IN CHRIST! To be IN CHRIST and to be saved meant receiving Christ as Savior… NOTHING more!
Now Paul did say on other occasions that it was ok for the believer to partake in the dietary laws and the religious holy days and festivals! The danger for the believer was placing a salvific nature to those events! Those things cannot and will NEVER save us NOR give us redemption!
Today we can apply this to our lives in a very practical way. Today many people equate salvation and being a Christian with perfect church attendance, generous giving, and a life that is free from any stain…