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You Are What You Eat: Colossians 2

Original Publication Date
November 20, 2015
Updated
Oct 4, 2022 4:01 PM
Tags
Food and DietClean and UncleanColossians
Bible References
Colossians 2:8; 14-18
Status
Done
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Table of Contents
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This page was originally part of a post on my Blogger version of the blog on November 20, 2015 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.

Introduction

Paul tells us not to let any man judge us of many things, one of which is meat. People often cite this to defend the position that unclean foods are now clean. As with everything, I suggest reading the verse in context. Reading the whole of Colossians 2 and applying knowledge we receive from the Old Testament, we may see things a bit differently.

Man’s Traditions

Notice that Colossians 2:8 specifically points out that Paul is speaking against man's traditionsβ€”not God's.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Paul goes on to actually give us some instructions concerning these traditions of men:

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;Β 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew 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:Β 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.Β 18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

If you study the Jewish law, you will find that the Pharisees added laws to what Moses listed in Leviticus; one such example is that to this day Kosher law dictates that meat and dairy cannot mix. This stems from God's command not to seethe a kid in it's mother's milk. To seethe is to boil, which means God isn't forbidding man from eating a burger and drinking a milkshake or placing a piece of cheese over turkey in a sandwich. Furthermore we don't get milk from chickens or turkeys and it is unlikely you use goats milk, so the only problem you would really face is boiling beef in it's mother's milk. In essence, the Pharisees overshot this law to protect people from accidentally breaking one of God's commandments, but God's commandments are hard enough to keep without man's extra laws placed on top.

Paul is talking about man's traditions being nailed to the cross. We see Jesus make "a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it" when He corrects the Pharisees doctrine throughout His ministry. Verse 16 takes understanding of the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible) to really understand.

What Was a Shadow of Things to Come?

The holydays, new moon, and sabbath days he speaks of are the feasts that foretold Christ's coming. I am currently writing a post on how the Feast Days connect to Christ, which I will link here as soon as it is completed. All of the other items mentioned in this verse stem from the preparation for Christ's arrival, so are these meats and drink Paul mentions, the sacrifices (which remember, meat sacrifices are actually grain sacrifices and have nothing to do with meat).

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See
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Exodus 23: Feasts
and
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Allegory in the Bible
to learn more about the Feast Days connecting to Messiah!

Or is Paul talking about meats sacrificed to idols? Gentiles converting to the faith would have family members who might sacrifice to a pagan god then offer the convert meat from the sacrifice. Is Paul saying it's ok to eat that meat? Or is Paul telling the Gentiles not to let their pagan friends and family judge them for no longer getting drunk and no longer eating unclean foods?

Or is it as those trying to justify eating unclean food think and Paul is telling Gentiles to continue eating unclean food and ignore judgment?

Preaching to the Gentiles

People often forget that Paul's duty was to preach to the Gentiles, who would have a different set of problems than the Jews. Just as preaching to a child from a Christian family will be different than preaching to a child from an atheist family. Further, if Paul is referring to unclean meant, notice that he said let no man judge you, he doesn't say God won't judge you; which is odd. Whatever he's telling them not to let man judge them for, it must already be established where God stands, and so far God stands against eating unclean meat.

The biggest problem with the idea that Paul is telling the Gentiles they can eat unclean foods, is that it would contradict Isaiah 66:17. Paul is likely telling them not to let the Jews judge them for not upholding traditions such as sacrifices, feasts and the sabbath days of the feasts because they were placeholders for the Messiah, who has now come, rendering these things unnecessary.[1][2][3][4]

References and Footnotes

  1. "Please Explain Colossians 2:14".Β Sabbath Truth. 2010
  2. Levy, Ralph. "Colossians 2:16-17: Does It Abolish the Law of Clean and Unclean Meats?".Β Life Hope & Truth. 2015
  3. United Church of God. "What Did Paul Really Say in Colossians 2:16?".Β Beyond Today. February 2011
  4. United Church of God. "God's Food Laws".Β Beyond Today. January 2011

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