Colossians 2:16-23

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.
17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind.
19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules:
21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”?
22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings.
23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Colossians 2:16-23 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO COLOSSIANS 2

In this chapter the apostle expresses his great concern for the Colossians, and others he had never seen; exhorts them to constancy in the faith of Christ; warns them of false teachers, and their tenets; takes notice of various blessings and privileges they had by Christ, and cautions against several superstitions and corruptions, which were obtaining among the churches of Christ: in Col 2:1 the apostle declares the conflict he had for the persons he writes to, and for others, though they had never seen him, which he was desirous they might be acquainted with; partly for the comfort of their hearts, their cement in love, and the improvement of their knowledge of divine things, the treasures of which are in Christ, Col 2:2,3, and partly that they might not be deceived by the enticing words of the false teachers, Col 2:4, and should his absence and distance from them be objected to his professed concern and affection for them, he answers, that notwithstanding that, he was present with them in spirit, and had a discerning of their faith and order, and the steadfastness thereof, with pleasure, Col 2:5, wherefore he exhorts them to perseverance in the faith of Christ, and to an abounding: in it, Col 2:6,7, and to take heed of being hurt by the vain philosophy and traditions of the Jews, but to keep close to Christ, and the truths of his Gospel, seeing all fulness is in him, and they were full in him, who is over all, and superior to all, and therefore had no need to have recourse unto, and hearken to any other, Col 2:9,10, nor did they need any Jewish ordinances, particularly circumcision, since they were partakers of another and better circumcision in Christ; and besides, were buried in baptism with him; and even though they had been dead in sin, and in their fleshly uncircumcision, yet they were alive, quickened with Christ, and had the forgiveness of all their sins for his sake; who had freed them from the ceremonial law, and had rid them of all their former lords and masters, and had brought them into the liberty of the Gospel, Col 2:11-15, wherefore he concludes, by way of exhortation and advice, first with respect to Jewish ceremonies, not to suffer them to be imposed upon them, or to regard the censures of men for the non-observance of them, since these were but shadows, of which Christ is the substance, Col 2:16,17, and next with respect to the worship of angels, under a notion of humility, some were for introducing; who are described as bold intruders, vain, proud, and conceited persons, and as not holding the head Christ, to whom the body the church is joined, and by whom it is nourished and increased, Col 2:18,19, and seeing now they that are Christ's are dead with him to the ceremonial law, and that dead to them, the apostle argues that they should not be subject to the ordinances, commands, and doctrines of men; some of which he instances in, as if they were still under the rudiments of the world; and the rather, since these things had no true wisdom in them, only a show of it, and were no other than will worship and superstition, and lay in a negligence of the body, and were dishonourable and unsatisfying, Col 2:20-23.

Colossians 2:16-23 In-Context

14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
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.
17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind.
19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules:
21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”?
22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings.
23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Cross References 17

  • 1. Romans 14:3,4
  • 2. Mark 7:19; Romans 14:17
  • 3. Leviticus 23:2; Romans 14:5
  • 4. 1 Chronicles 23:31
  • 5. Mark 2:27,28; Galatians 4:10
  • 6. Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 10:1
  • 7. ver 23
  • 8. 1 Corinthians 9:24; Philippians 3:14
  • 9. S Ephesians 1:22
  • 10. S 1 Corinthians 12:27
  • 11. Ephesians 4:16
  • 12. S Romans 6:6
  • 13. ver 8; Galatians 4:3,9
  • 14. ver 14,16
  • 15. 1 Corinthians 6:13
  • 16. Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:9; Titus 1:14
  • 17. ver 18
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