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Colossians 2:16 So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink

Posted by adventbiblestudy on June 23, 2012


Colossians 2:16 So 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.

What does this verse mean? Paul has a very structured way of writing. He was an intellectual who would not make a statement without providing the answer. If Paul was that way, how much more the Holy Spirit who influenced his writing?

The best way to understand a single verse is to analyze it within the chapter before looking for proof texts in other books of the Bible. This is to ensure the proper context is followed. Taking a single verse and looking for proof texts outside of the chapter and book it is found is nothing more than a doctrinal study in which you are relying on your wisdom to prove a preconceived idea. We don’t want to do that, we want to understand this verse within the proper context of the chapter and book it is written.

The first step is to look for words from the subject texts that are the same, similar, and related used in the same chapter. The word CONDEMN immediately brings us to one text.

Colossians 2:18 Don’t let anyone CONDEMN you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud,

We see the warning goes beyond food, drink, holy days, and Sabbaths. The next step is to locate texts with words similar to condemn.

Colossians 2:8 Don’t let anyone CAPTURE you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.

When we consider Paul’s introduction in the scriptures, when he was known as Saul, we can understand the connection. Saul had a direct relationship between condemn and capture. His job was to capture and condemn Christians. He justified his actions because he had condemned them before capturing them. They are one of the same.

Capturing people with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world is the same as condemning them.

Now that we understand Paul is referring to human thinking, we can look at lessons from other scripture which deal with HUMAN thinking to find the spiritual meaning behind the text. This may bring to mind lessons like the Pharisees questioning the disciples eating grain on the Sabbath, straining out a gnat, washing cups, and a host of others. All have one theme in common. Each went beyond God’s simple Word, placing unnecessary burdens on people. It can get into quite a detailed and long study to see why they placed their own rules and regulations on God’s law. This is what Paul is warning about. We would also have to study to find what lessons God placed within His laws. Take for instance clean and unclean food. Does the Bible mention anything about being condemned for eating unclean food, or are dietary laws a guide based on health issues? The Sabbath, is it a law God demands His people to follow, or is it a matter pointing to spiritual health? I suppose you would have to know the difference between old covenant and new covenant worship to understand that. The early church learned and followed the new covenant form of worship where people met on the Sabbath in churches, most often homes, some times temples, and shared what they learned about Christ, and their personal ministries. They praised God. Now look at the situation they were in. The world just experienced Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection. The true meaning of hundreds of scripture was now open to them through the Spirit. As they studied scripture throughout the week the Spirit guided them to new truths they could not hold in. They had to share. I can imagine how they could not wait to meet on Sabbath to share what they had learned and hear what others had learned. How many people do you know today who have a perfect understanding of the entire Bible, life and sacrifice of Christ? This is the new covenant worship given to Christ’s followers. Why don’t we honor this form of worship today? This week someone told me they had no reason to study because they knew all the church doctrines. There is a world of difference between knowing Jesus and church doctrines. But this is the form of worship followed by the world today. Meet once a week to listen to a priest teach doctrine. How does this differ from old testament worship? Why do people think they have progressed past new testament worship and are ready and willing go back to the old covenant form of worship?

The old covenant form of worship consisted of priests offering the sacrifice and teaching God’s laws. It did not involve participation from the congregation. Jesus put away this form of worship on the cross and replaced it with the new form of worship He promised would be given to them by the Holy Ghost. It seems the world has rejected the new covenant worship of meeting and sharing on Sabbath and replaced it with their own form of old covenant worship. They placed their own set of rules and regulations on worship not found in scripture, just like the religious leaders who killed Jesus placed on the law and their form of worship. Jesus warned this would happen. This is why He taught His disciples to put away the traditions and doctrines of the world and listen to the Holy Spirit.

Looking back at the last proof text we see Paul closes it with, “rather than from Christ.” When we look at the study text, verse 16 and the proof text the word condemn takes us to in verse 18, we find this text in between:

Colossians 2:17 For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.

This leads us to the key word used through out the chapter, Christ. We can follow verses with Christ in them to see if they will provide an answer.

Colossians 2:2 I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.
Colossians 2:5 For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong.
Colossians 2:6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.
Colossians 2:8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.
Colossians 2:9 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.
Colossians 2:10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
Colossians 2:11 When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision–the cutting away of your sinful nature.
Colossians 2:12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.
Colossians 2:13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.
Colossians 2:17 For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.
Colossians 2:19 and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.
Colossians 2:20 You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as,

When there are a number of texts we can look at the main theme in each text. This will show us the rhythm of the chapter.

knit together by strong ties of love
understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself
your faith in Christ is strong
accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord
Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.
Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body
complete through your union with Christ
When you came to Christ
you were buried with Christ
God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.
Christ himself is that reality.
they are not connected to Christ
You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world.

It is easy to see when one verse is separated from a chapter and studied with the intend of using it to prove doctrine, the message contained within the chapter is lost. It all comes back to the same simple lesson taught in this chapter.

People have always wanted to place their own interpretations on God’s Word. These verses prove that.

Colossians 2:8 Don’t let anyone CAPTURE you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.
Colossians 2:18 Don’t let anyone CONDEMN you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud,
Colossians 2:16 So 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.

Paul warns the world has placed its own philosophies and high-sounding nonsense on what you should eat, drink, how and when you should worship. In reality, they are placing themselves in the position of the Holy Spirit.

Why do they do that? This chapter does not dwell on what people do wrong, but points to the solution. You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world.

You can either have a personal relationship with the powers of this world and their pride by following their rules and regulations, or the personal relationship directly with God through His Son Jesus.

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