I got a note today from a friend with whom I’ve been studying; the question is a good one, so I’m posting it here:
First of all, let’s check Col. 1:24…
“And I rejoice in the sufferings which are for your sakes; and, in my flesh, I fill up the deficiency in the afflictions of the Mashiyach, in behalf of his body which is the assembly.”
Here we see that the Body of Mashiyach IS the assembly – which is the gathering of believers. For more confirmation, see also Col. 1:17.
This helps with the context of 2:16-17 since BOTH chapters are, after all, part of the SAME letter, right?
Ok, we got it: The Assembly is the Body of Mashiyach.
Also take note that in Col 1:21 “you (ex-pagans)…were alienated (not anymore!)… because of your evil deeds…” (their evil works/deeds had alienated them from the Father)
(v. 22) “…to you now He has given peace…that he might establish you in his presence, Set Apart, without blemish and without offense.”
In other words, the ex-pagans of Colosse were alienated from Abba because of their evil works, but now they have received peace by His sacrifice, and Set them Apart, without any offense against Abba.
Now, why is there no offense? Is it because they simply cannot possibly offend Abba any longer, no matter what they do, simply by virtue of his sacrifice?
Or, is there no offense because they have ceased from sinning?
Let’s pause that thought for now, and move into Colossians, Chapter 2 to get to the question at hand.
First, take note that the warning is against “doctrines of men according to the rudiments of the world (Col 2:8 AENT
) and not to be “mislead… by the persuasiveness of words (v4).” This context is firmly established in verse 20: “For if you are dead with the Mashiyach from the rudiments of the world, why are you judged
as if you were living in the world?”
Take note that the phrase “rudiments of the world” is used in both verse 8 and verse 20. They are bookends for the verses in question, numbered 16 and 17. “Judge” also appears in verse 20, which is clearly saying “why do you let worldly people judge you if you are dead to the world thru Messiah?”
So when “judge” also appears in verse 16, as in “Let no one therefore judge you..,” the context indicates the real meaning: “Let no (pagan or worldly person) therefore judge you…” since “therefore” is a conjunction indicating the stream of thought which is being followed.
Let’s break it down into an outline:
(v4) Don’t be mislead by the persuasiveness of words
(v8) Beware of philosophy & vain deception, acc. to doctrines of men & rudiments of the world.
(v13) You WERE dead in your SINS, but you are resurrected with Him.
(v14) The handwriting of your debts & offenses has been killed
(v16) Therefore, let no (pagan, wordly person) judge you about YHWH’s distinctive feasts & diet
(v20) For how can you let the world judge you in these matters now that you’re dead to the world?
(v22) Again, as if it isn’t clear enough, we are talking here about commandments and doctrines of men: Don’t let worldly people judge you according to their doctrines.
(v17) Only the congregation of believers can judge you about Godly things.
What, you didn’t see that in verse 17? Now, that’s because there’s a big problem in Col 2:17. Do you have a King James? The kind where they italicize words which are not actually appearing in the Greek? If you do, you will see that a very crucial tiny word “is” does not appear there. If your Bible does not have the inserted words italicized, then check blueletterbible.com and you can see for yourself that the “is” is just NOT THERE.
So, simply remove the itty bitty “is,” and you get:
(16) “Let no (pagan) therefore judge you… (17) …BUT the Body of Mashiyach.”
“Let no (pagan) therefore judge you… EXCEPT the Body of Mashiyach.”
Insert an “is” in there, however, and you wind up with a non-sequitur. Apostle Paul does not use non-sequiturs.
So now let’s deal with the list of items in verse 16: “…food and drink… the distinctions of festivals and new moons and Shabbats… (AENT
What exactly is this list? Let me demonstrate by explaining, Scripturally, what this list is NOT.
The listing in verse 16 is NOT “philosophy and vain deception (v8),” it is NOT “doctrines of men and rudiments of the world (v8),” it is NOT “sins (v13-14)” which you are now DEAD to, and the list is NOT “commandments of men (v22)” but part of the Commandments of YHWH.
Therefore, don’t let worldly people judge your observance of Heavenly activities, because the world will judge you according to their own doctrines and rudiments.
The only people who should be judging your Heavenly activities is the Body of Messiah. Because these Heavenly activities are foreshadowings of Heaven; thus they are Heavenly activities, not worldly activities.
In other words:
“Why for heaven’s sake would you let worldly people judge your righteous acts?”
Righteous acts such as:
Food and drink (Leviticus 11, Genesis 9:4, John 6:53-54, 1 Cor 11:25-27)
Festivals (Lev 23, Deut. 16),
New Moons (Ps. 81:3. 1 Sam 20:5, 1 Kings 4:23, Isa 66:23)
Shabbats (Lev 23:39, Ex 16:23-29; 20:8-11; 31:14-16; 35:1-3, and Also Lev 23 & Deut 16).
So, coming back to Colossians 1:21-22:
“…you (ex-pagans)…were alienated… because of your evil deeds… to you now He has given peace…that he might establish you in his presence, Set Apart, without blemish and without offense.” (Col 1:21-22 AENT
After examining so much of the context and tone of this epistle, I believe we’d have to say that the pre-believing Colossians were (in the past) alienated because of their evil deeds, but now that Messiah has brought them into peace with YHWH, they will be established in His presence, and “Set Apart, without blemish and without offense” by the very virtue of the fact that they are no longer sinning, i.e. no longer involved in evil works. Instead, now that the penalty for their lawbreaking has been paid, these ex-pagans are now walking in righteousness now that they have learned His ways.
See Colossians 1:9-10:
“Therefore we also, from the day we heard (of it), have not ceased to pray for you; and to ask that you may be filled with a knowledge of the will of Elohim in all wisdom and in all spiritual understanding; (10) That you may walk as is right and may please Elohim with all good works, and may yield fruits, and grow in the knowledge of Elohim.” (Colossians 1:9-10 AENT
The knowledge of the will of Elohim is written in the Torah and the Prophets.
Walking rightly and pleasing Elohim with all good works is found through spiritual understanding of the Torah and the Prophets.
What have I just done? Have I twisted the scripture?
No, I’ve untwisted it. I’ve shown the true meaning which is in accordance with the structure and context of
the whole chapter, even the entire epistle.
Some folks really want Colossians 2:16-17 to be a warning against keeping the Torah. But the only way to get such a warped interpretation would be to ignore the rest of the chapter, and the rest of the epistle. Just pull those two verses fully out of context, add a word here, ignore words there, and you can have a dandy time bending it into your favorite pretzel.
Here’s the kicker:
Apostle Peter warned us against such perversions of Paul’s letters in 2 Peter 3:15-17. He even explained that such twistings lead to the “error of the Torahless.” And we have seen here that this wresting of Colossians 2:16-17 has done exactly that: Lead people into the error of the Torahless.
Thanks for your questions. If you have any more, just let me know, and I’ll give it my best.
And, if you feel it’s time to get a real study Bible that’s not influenced by the likes of Constantine, and you’re ready to check out the Aramaic English New Testament, I’d like to be the one to ship one out to you.
Here’s my link: