Sha’ul was telling the Colossians not to be seduced by false doctrines that promote the worship of angels (putting an angel at the top of your Christmas tree?); Having statues and graven images of angels decorating your house, etc. If Paul were here today, he would use Colossians 2:20-23, as a premise to rebuke the Christian Churches by saying the same thing to them that he said to the Colossians of his day. Let me paraphrase:
“If you are dead to these former pagan customs why as though you are back in the world subject to these man made customs again? You are fasting and weeping for Tammuz (Ezekiel 8:14) for 40 days (called Lent today in Catholicism). You are giving up meat on Fridays (for the Queen of Heaven) during Lent, and all of these man made customs which are patterned after the doctrines and commandments of men. These customs appear to be pious and show a false humility because they make you neglect your body, but they only serve to satisfy the flesh because you make yourself believe that you did something holy.”
As you can see, the Gnosticism of Paul’s day within the Essene Jewish Sect is no different than the beliefs of modern day Christianity. Both have “gnostic” and pagan influences that have crept in. They either feign piety by pretending to deny the flesh. Or they go to the other extreme by taking liberties with the flesh which leads to lasciviousness, licentiousness, gluttony, sexual immorality and drunkenness.
Since so many Christians use passages like Colossians 2 and Galatians 4, in order to justify disobeying the commandments of YaHuWaH regarding his holy feast days and Sabbaths, it is imperative that we find out just exactly what was “blotted out” in Colossians 2:14 and which covenant “genders to bondage” in Galatians 4.
The Apostle Sha’ul (Paul) was telling the Galatians and the Colossians not to allow any man to judge them because they were now keeping the holy feast days of YaHuWaH, which are prophetic shadow pictures of good things to come.
Sha’ul was actually admonishing them not to go back under the “elements” (zodiac signs after which pagan holidays are patterned). He was telling them not to be led by the “rudiments of this world” (nature worship, decorating trees for Nimrod).
Many of these Essenes had picked up pagan customs during the Babylonian captivity and they incorporated it into their worship as seen in the 8th Chapter of Ezekiel. The Essenes were deeply into Babylonian Mysticism called Kabbalah just like the Christian Church today has a mixture of Babylonian Mysticism which they adopted from the Roman Catholic Church. Now we can read Colossians 2:16-22 again with the proper historical background and understand which customs were “holy” (set apart) to our Creator, and which ones were extra-biblical and deemed as “the doctrines and commandments of men.”
Colossians 2:16 says: Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
While the above verse is often used out of context to justify keeping pagan days, we can see that it is saying just the opposite. Sha’ul (Paul) was telling the new converts not to be influenced by the Essenes or the Gnostics who were judging them for wanting to keep the Feasts of YaHuWaH from Leviticus 23.
Since the temple was destroyed in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D., there is no need to offer up animal sacrifices when keeping the Feast Days of YaHuWaH. We are now doing them as a “memorial” under the new administration of Melchizedek. Every believer in YaHuW’shuwa Messiah is now under a royal priesthood and so we do not celebrate these feasts in the way that they were formerly kept when there was a temple standing in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). Instead of doing animal sacrifices, we are to offer up our own lives to YaHuWaH as a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). When our Messiah returns, he will perform animal sacrifices under the order of Melchizedek along with the Levites during the Millennium. He will do these animal sacrifices as a “memorial” of his himself as the “lamb slain since the foundations of the world” (Revelation 13:8, Ezekiel 40-48). But for now, we offer up a spiritual sacrifice (ourselves).
We are now led by the Holy Spirit in how we keep these holy days as he teaches us how to keep them according to Torah. So you see Sha’ul (Paul) was in no way condoning pagan days, because YaHuWaH never called them holy to begin with.
Sha’ul was telling these Colossians not to let any man judge them for wanting to keep the holy days and “Sabbaths” that our creator asks us to keep as a “sign” between us and him forever (Exodus 31:13, Ezekiel 20:12-20). He was telling them not to let any man judge them for eating biblically clean foods rather than unclean foods which defile our body. Our body is called “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1st Corinthians 6:19). And our creator does not want us to eat things that are going to give us parasites and worms. Now let us move on to another verse that can easily be misconstrued if one does not know the context:
Colossians 2:14 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;
What was blotted out? The word ordinance here is “dogma” in Greek which means “a man-made decree. “What caused these man-made decrees to come into existence? It was the sinful nature of man-pride. Because of pride, the Jewish Sandhedrin invented a decree that prevented the other “lost sheep” of Yisra’el (the ten northern tribes) from coming near to the temple of YaHuWaH thereby giving them a chance to hear the Torah, repent and be restored back to the covenant. The Essenes were much stricter with their observance of the Sabbath than were the Pharisees & Saducees. These man-made ordinances were “against us” because they were added decrees not commanded by our creator in the first place. YaHuW’shuwa nailed these “ordinances” (man-made traditions) inspired by the sinful nature to the tree. This is why our Messiah warned us to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees” (Matthew 16:12, Mark 8:15, Luke 12:1). We are commanded not to “add” nor “subtract” from the Torah.
Debariym (Deuteronomy) 4:2 You shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that you may keep the commandments of YHWH your Elohiym which I command you.
Debariym (Deuteronomy) 12:32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: you shall not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
Let us continue in Colossians 2 with a more accurate frame of reference based on the historical background that I just presented. What was Sha’ul (Paul) really talking about?
15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
16 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:
17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body (is) of Christ.
*Note: “….But the Body is of Christ?” This phrase makes no sense and it does not fit into the context of what is being written. When reading this in the King James Version, we will see that the word “is” is italicized and this means that the word was not there in the original text! So how should it read? “……but the body of Christ…”
What does he mean here? He is telling these Colossians (who were former pagans) not to allow any pagan to judge them for wanting to keep holy days, and not to allow these pagans to judge them for sighting the new moons, and for honoring the Sabbath Days according to the scriptures. The Gnostics & Essenes were trying to enforce man-made rules and regulations to the scriptural commandments on how to observe Sabbath and Feast days. Paul was telling these Colossians that the only people who were qualified to judge them in these matters are “THE BODY OF MESSIAH…”
This is why he concluded with this phrase “but the body of Christ (Messiah).”
In 1st Corinthians 5:12 the Apostle Sha’ul (Paul) tells us that we are supposed to judge those “inside” the body of Messiah, but we are not supposed to judge those outside the body of Messiah.