The Shadow and the Substance
Colossians 2:16-17
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:…

"Therefore" marks the connection. The handwriting is destroyed, Christians are free; why then go back to the elements of bondage.


1. Eating and drinking have reference to the dietetic injunctions of Mosaism. These had a strong hold of the Jewish mind (Acts 10:9-16). The distinctions of days point collectively to the periodical feasts and sacred seasons. And the idea was that all this was essential to salvation, and so obligatory on Gentile Christians.

2. Against this notion Paul asserts the great principle of Christian liberty. Such things ought never to be a criterion of piety. Yet how strong is the tendency to-day to forbid certain kinds of food at certain seasons, and to insist on saints' days. The doctrine here is that one kind of food is as lawful, and one day as sacred, as another. All these distinctions have passed away, and are no longer binding. That we are at liberty to observe certain days, such as those on which we commemorate the great redemptive facts, e.g., Christmas, Easter, etc., there can be no doubt, but they are not obligatory (Romans 14:6).

3. The great practical question is that which relates to the Sabbath. The seventh day was long kept along with the first; but this was condemned as Judaizing by the Council of Laodicea ( A.D. 364). The apostle declares that a Christian's true piety is not to be judged by his regard of the Jewish Sabbath any more than to the other festivals. That was a shadow of the Lord's day. That a seventh portion of our time should be specially given to God is based on considerations as old as creation; but the foundation and character of the Lord's day are altogether changed from those of the Jewish Sabbath. Its true principle is allegiance to a living Saviour whose resurrection on that day it commemorates, as laying the foundation of a new spiritual creation. The Saviour's appearances on that day subsequent to His resurrection, and the usage of the apostles, hallow the first day of the week, and make it with a Divine fitness and beauty the Christian's day of rest.

II. THE ARGUMENT. The coming Saviour as the Sun of Righteousness, in the establishment of the Jewish economy, flung a shadow of His approaching advent and dispensation down on the descendants of Abraham, that they might walk in it, and conserve the worship and truth of God. As a shadow it was —

1. Predicted and foretold that something grander was coming.

2. It was prefigurative. A shadow is s likeness, however faint, and the truths embodied in Christ were dimly typified in Judaism.

3. But as a shadow is evanescent, it was made to vanish away when that which was perfect had come. Then it answered its purpose and disappeared. The reality was reached in the Son of God.

(J. Spence, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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:

WEB: Let no one therefore judge you in eating, or in drinking, or with respect to a feast day or a new moon or a Sabbath day,

The Rights of Liberty
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