Colossians 2:16

Freedom From Human Rules

16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.

Read Colossians 2:16 Using Other Translations

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:
Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.
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 Colossians 2:16 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Colossians 2:16

Let no man therefore judge you
Since they were complete in Christ, had everything in him, were circumcised in him; and particularly since the handwriting of the law was blotted out, and torn to pieces through the nails of the cross of Christ, the apostle's conclusion is, that they should be judged by no man; they should not regard or submit to any man's judgment, as to the observance of the ceremonial law: Christ is the prophet who was to be raised up like unto Moses, and who only, and not Moses, is to be heard; saints are to call no man master upon earth but him; they are not to be the servants of men, nor should suffer any yoke of bondage to be imposed upon them; and should they be suffered and condemned by others, as if they were transgressors of the law, and their state bad, for not observing the rituals of the former dispensation, they should not regard such censures, for the judaizing Christians were very censorious, they were ready to look upon and condemn a man as an immoral man, as in a state of damnation, if he did not keep the law of Moses; but such rigid censures were to be disregarded, "let no man judge", or "condemn you"; and though they could not help or hinder the judgment and condemnation of men, yet they could despise them, and not be uneasy with them, but set light by them, as they ought to do. The Syriac version renders it, (Nwkdwdn) , "let no man trouble you", or make you uneasy, by imposing ceremonies on you: the sense is, that the apostle would not have them submit to the yoke they would lay upon them, nor be terrified by their anathemas against them, for the non-observation of the things that follow:

in meat or in drink;
or on account of not observing the laws and rules about meats and drinks, in the law of Moses; such as related to the difference between clean and unclean creatures, to abstinence in Nazarites from wine and strong drink, and which forbid drinking out of an uncovered vessel, and which was not clean; hence the washing of cups religiously observed by the Pharisees. There was no distinction of meats and drinks before the law, but all sorts of herbs and animals, without limitation, were given to be food for men; by the ceremonial law a difference was made between them, some were allowed, and others were forbidden; which law stood only in meats and drinks, and such like things, but is now abolished; for the kingdom of God, or the Gospel dispensation, does not lie in the observance of such outward things, but in internal ones, in righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; it is not any thing that goes into the man that defiles, nor is anything in its own nature common or unclean, but every creature of God is good, so be it, it be used in moderation and with thankfulness:

or in respect of an holyday;
or feast, such as the feast of the passover, the feast of tabernacles, and the feast of Pentecost; which were three grand festivals, at which all the Jewish males were obliged to appear before the Lord; but were never binding upon the Gentiles, and were what the Christians under the Gospel dispensation had nothing to do with, and even believing Jews were freed from them, as having had their accomplishment in Christ; and therefore were not to be imposed upon them, or they condemned for the neglect of them. The phrase (en merei) , which we render "in respect", has greatly puzzled interpreters; some reading it "in part of a feast"; or holyday; as if the sense was, that no man should judge or condemn them, for not observing some part of a festival, since they were not obliged to observe any at all: others "in the partition", or "division of a feast"; that is, in the several distinct feasts, as they come in their turns: some F3 think the apostle respects the Misna, or oral law of the Jews, in which are several treatises concerning a good day, or an holyday, the beginning of the new year, and the sabbath, which treatises are divided into sections or chapters; and that it is one of these sections or chapters, containing rules about these things, that is here regarded; and then the sense is, let no man judge you or condemn you, for your non-observance of feast days, new moons, and sabbaths, by any part, chapter, or section, of (bwj Mwy) , or by anything out of the treatise "concerning a feast day"; or by any part, chapter, or section, of (hnvh var) , the treatise "concerning the beginning of the year"; or by any part, chapter, or section, of (tbv) , the treatise "concerning the sabbath"; and if these treatises are referred to, it proves the antiquity of the Misna. The Syriac version renders it, (adaed aglwpb) , "in the divisions of the feast": frequent mention is made of (gxh owrp) , "the division", or "half of the feast", in the Jewish writings: thus for instance it is said F4,

``three times in a year they clear the chamber (where the half-shekels were put), (owrpb) , "in the half", or middle of the passover, in the middle of Pentecost, and in the middle of the feast.''

again F5

``there are three times for tithing of beasts, in the middle of the passover, in the middle of Pentecost, and the middle of the feast;''

that is, of tabernacles: and this, the Jewish commentators say F6, was fifteen days before each of these festivals: now whether it was to this, (owrp) , "middle", or "half space", before each and any of these feasts the apostle refers to, may be considered:

or of the new moon;
which the Jews were obliged to observe, by attending religious worship, and offering sacrifices; see ( Numbers 28:11 ) ( 2 Kings 4:23 ) .

Or of the sabbath [days],
or "sabbaths"; meaning the jubilee sabbath, which was one year in fifty; and the sabbath of the land, which was one year in seven; and the seventh day sabbath, and some copies read in the singular number, "or of the sabbath"; which were all peculiar to the Jews, were never binding on the Gentiles, and to which believers in Christ, be they who they will, are by no means obliged; nor ought they to observe them, the one any more than the other; and should they be imposed upon them, they ought to reject them; and should they be judged, censured, and condemned, for so doing, they ought not to mind it. It is the sense of the Jews themselves, that the Gentiles are not obliged to keep their sabbath; no, not the proselyte of the gate, or he that dwelt in any of their cities; for they say F7, that

``it is lawful for a proselyte of the gate to do work on the sabbath day for himself, as for an Israelite on a common feast day; R. Akiba says, as for all Israelite on a feast day; R. Jose says, it is lawful for a proselyte of the gate to do work on the sabbath day for himself, as for an Israelite on a common or week day:''

and this last is the received sense of the nation; nay, they assert that a Gentile that keeps a sabbath is guilty of death F8; (See Gill on Mark 2:27). Yea, they say F9, that

``if a Gentile sabbatizes, or keeps a sabbath, though on any of the days of the week, if he makes or appoints it as a sabbath for himself, he is guilty of the same.''

It is the general sense of that people, that the sabbath was peculiarly given to the children of Israel; and that the Gentiles, strangers, or others, were not punishable for the neglect and breach of it F11; that it is a special and an additional precept, which, with some others, were given them at Marah, over and above the seven commands, which the sons of Noah were only obliged to regard F12; and that the blessing and sanctifying of it were by the manna provided for that day; and that the passage in ( Genesis 2:3 ) ; refers not to the then present time, but (dyteh le) , "to time to come", to the time of the manna F13.


FOOTNOTES:

F3 Vid. Casaubon. Epist. ep. 24.
F4 Misn. Shekalim, c. 3. sect. 1.
F5 Misn. Becorot, c. 9. sect. 5.
F6 Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.
F7 T. Bab. Ceritot, fol. 9. 1. Piske Tosaphot Yebamot. art. 84. Maimon. Hilch. Sabbat, c. 20. sect. 14.
F8 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 58. 2.
F9 Maimon. Hilch. Melachim, c. 10. sect. 9.
F11 T. Bab. Betza, fol. 16. 1. Seder Tephillot, fol. 76. 1. Ed. Amtst.
F12 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 56. 2. Seder Olam Rabba, p. 17. & Zuta, p. 101. Ed. Meyer.
F13 Jarchi & Baal Hatturim in Gen. ii. 3. Pirke Eliezer, c. 18.
California - Do Not Sell My Personal Information  California - CCPA Notice