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Sabbath in the Bible
Colossians 2:14

"...having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. 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." Colossians 2:14-17

Key Thought: "
No part of the moral law—no one of the Ten Commandments could be spoken of as ‘a shadow of good things to come.’ These commandments are, from the nature of moral law, of perpetual and universal application.” Albert Barnes

The Meaning of Colossians 2:14-17

Assertion: Paul specifically declares, in Colossians 2:14-17, that the Sabbath is abolished. The passage reads as follows: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”

Evaluating the Assertion: There are two laws, one moral, the other ceremonial, only the latter that was abolished by Christ. In Colossians 2:14-17, Paul is speaking of the ceremonial law. The ceremonial law had certain annual Sabbaths. Hence we may properly conclude that Paul, in the passage before us, is not even referring to the seventh day Sabbath. If Paul here was referring to the weekly Sabbath of the Ten Commandments, then the only conclusion to reach would be that in the Christian Era there is no weekly holy day of rest. And does Christendom, in general, believe that? No. The sternly enforced Sunday laws of the different Christian lands in  the generations past, provide militant, embarrassing, even shameful, proof that the general belief is that a weekly holy day is proper, right, and Scriptural. And in many instances Sunday advocates have employed as first proof in defense of that belief, the fact that the Ten Commandments commands a weekly holy day. The very fact that they have read “first day of the week” into the command only proves the more eloquently that they believe that the obligation to keep a weekly holy day must be found in the fourth command of the Ten Commandments. The Sabbath objector, unless he claims he has just discovered the true meaning of Paul’s words that eluded all his Sunday keeping forebears, must charge those forebears with rank hypocrisy and of flying in the face of Scripture, Paul says, “Let no man therefore judge you . . . in respect of an holy day, . . . or of the Sabbath days.” But Sunday laws judge men in respect of a holy day, a Sabbath day, and with a vengeance. NO, Christendom in general has never believed that Paul’s declaration wiped out every distinction in days and that in the Christian Era a person may, with complete spiritual immunity, refrain from considering any day holy. True, some theologians, as certain Bible commentaries reveal, have thought they found in Paul’s words the justification for turning their back on the seventh day Sabbath, but they have always hastened to add that in the Christian Era we have a new Sabbath. But that is playing fast and loose with Paul’s words. He does not even intimate that a new holy day is to be substituted. He speaks only of the abolition of certain holy days. Hence, honest reasoning demands that if we are obligated to keep a holy day in the Christian Era, that obligation must be found in a law that is above and beyond the range of Paul’s declaration. And that law is the Ten Commandments, which Paul did not have under discussion in this passage in Colossians. That Paul was not discussing the Sabbath of the Ten Commandments is freely admitted by some of the best of Bible commentators, and with their comments we close this discussion:

Says the Methodist, Adam Clarke, in comment on Colossians 2:16: “There is no intimation here that the Sabbath was done away, or that its moral use was superseded, by the introduction of Christianity.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, in their comment on this text, note first that the annual Sabbaths “have come to an end with the Jewish services to which they belonged.” Then they add immediately:

“The weekly Sabbath rests on a more permanent foundation, having been instituted in Paradise to commemorate the completion of creation in six days.”


Albert Barnes, eminent Presbyterian Bible commentator, observes: “There is no evidence from this passage [Col. 2:16] that he [Paul] would teach that there was no obligation to observe any holy time, for there is not the slightest reason to believe that he meant to teach that one of the ten commandments had ceased to be binding on mankind. . . . He had his eye on the great number of days which were observed by the Hebrews as festivals, as a part of their ceremonial and typical law, and not to the moral law, or the Ten Commandments. No part of the moral law—no one of the Ten Commandments could be spoken of as ‘a shadow of good things to come.’ These commandments are, from the nature of moral law, of perpetual and universal application.”

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