COLOSSIANS 2:16: Sabbaths or Sabbath?
By Let Us Reason Ministries
The Sabbatarian argument is That the Sabbath day mentioned in Col. 2:16 is not the weekly Sabbath, but the monthly or feast Sabbaths which are in the law of Moses. Does Col. 2:14-17 say the "Sabbath days were nailed to cross" meaning all of them , or the 7th day specifically or only the feast days (ceremonial according to their view).
Let's systematically go through the language and how the word is used and then look at the phrases in the Old Testament to see if what they claim is true.
Our position is Col.2:16 most definitely refers to 7th Day Shabbat. Col. 2:14-17: "having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, (Sabbaths are in the singular, meaning the Sabbath, it is the same word used for the weekly Sabbath). THINGS WHICH ARE A MERE SHADOW OF THINGS TO COME, but the body (substance belongs to Christ.") is Christ."
These former things were rudimentary forms of religion with no power for the New Testament believer. They can actually cut one off from grace if they make it obligatory. Paul did not want the new covenant believer to become entangled in bondage again by their keeping these as an obligation, as law. He goes on to explain Christ is the "Substance," these things were shadows. We have Christ so these things are not needed for any spiritual growth or development.
Who was nailed to the cross? Christ. Did he fulfill only the ceremonial law of Moses or all of it? All these rules were connected to the law these are not just Moses ordinances. They were nailed to the cross and whatever was nailed there died. Did not Christ say he was the Lord of the Sabbath, is he not the substance to come? There is no distinction for ceremonial laws in scripture, it is an invention, a tradition of man, not a biblical division. One mode of canceling bonds or a debt was by striking a nail through the writing.
These laws contrary to us because they brought death not life. Christ said it is finished, the debt of the law both the law of Moses including the 10 commandments, the penalty of our sins was paid in full by his perfect sacrifice. Col.2:17 they are a shadow of things to come. Christ came, he is the substance, the law was the pattern, Christ the reality. All the law pointed to the person. Like most of the feast days and laws of Moses and the commandments, this day had New Testament types.
Notice Paul states the handwriting of requirements, food or in drink, festival or a new moon or Sabbath. He covers all the aspects of the law.
PROOFS OF SINGULAR USE OF SABBATH
The Plural "Sabbaton" in Col. 2:16 refers to 7th Day Sabbath because almost all the words for Sabbath are the same in these Texts . The weekly 7th Day Sabbath is Plural but in original Greek the context requires a singular translation.
In the Greek Septuagint of the Hebrew OT Exodus 20:8 (LXX) ton sabbaton And on the Sabbath day "of the Sabbaths" Remember the Sabbath day Leviticus 23:37-38, the Sabbaths of the Lord, Matthew 12:12 tois sabbasin "on the Sabbaths" Mark 3:2 tois sabbasin "on the Sabbaths" Luke 13:10 èn tois sabbasin "on the Sabbaths" Acts 16:13 ton sabbaton "of the Sabbaths"
One would have to go against the clear scriptural teaching to say that since "Sabbath" appears in the plural in the Greek text of Matt. 28:1 "Now after the Sabbath" this is the same word in Col.2:16. If this is ceremonial then the Sabbath Jesus kept was also ceremonial.
Luke 4:16 He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, Acts 16:13 and John 5:9 Now it was the Sabbath on that day, John 5:10 It is the Sabbath , John 5:16 on the Sabbath, Mark 2:27 And He said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. (Mt.12:1,5,8,10,11,12,20; Mk.1:21,2:23,24,27,3:2,4; Lk.13:10,14,15)
There are about 60 examples of the same word being consistently used except when the Sabbatarian's comes to Col. 2:16 they reverse it to say they are all singular and Col.2:16 with the same word is not. Why is that ? I don't think I need to answer something so obvious.
SABBATHS or SABBATH
1. sabbaton ^4521^ or sabbata: the latter, the plural form, was transliterated from the Aramaic word, which was mistaken for a plural; hence the singular, sabbaton, was formed from it. The root means "to cease, desist" (Heb., shabath; cf. Arab., sabata, "to intercept, interrupt"); the doubled b has an intensive force, implying a complete cessation or a making to cease, probably the former. The idea is not that of relaxation or refreshment, but cessation from activity.
In the Epistles the only direct mentions are in , "a Sabbath day," RV (which rightly has the singular, see 1st parag., above), where it is listed among things that were "a shadow of the things to come" (i. e., of the age introduced at Pentecost), and in , where the perpetual sabbatismos is appointed for believers (see REST); inferential references are in and . For the first three centuries of the Christian era the first day of the week was never confounded with the "Sabbath"; the confusion of the Jewish and Christian institutions was due to declension from apostolic teaching.
Notes: (1) In and <11>, where the plural is used, the KJV (as the RV) rightly has the singular, "the Sabbath day"; in the KJV has the plural (see above). Where the singular is used the RV omits the word "day," ("on a Sabbath"); <14:3; John 9:14> ("it was the Sabbath on the day when..."). As to the use or omission of the article the omission does not always require the rendering "a Sabbath"; it is absent, e. g., in . (2) In Acts 16:13, "on the Sabbath day," is, lit., "on the day of the Sabbath" (plural). (3) For , see LATE. (4) For "the first day of the week" see ONE, A, (5).
2. prosabbaton ^4315^ signifies "the day before the Sabbath" (pro, "before," and No. 1), ; some mss. have prin, "before," with sabbaton separately).# (from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)
In Ezek.20:12 he says to keep my Sabbaths this is #7676 in the Strong's concordance -shabbath-Sabbath a) sabbath b) a day of atonement c) sabbath year d) week e) produce (in sabbath year) It includes anything that is called a Sabbath.
In the Strongs Sabbath in the Greek NT # 4521 sabbaton (sab'-bat-on);of Hebrew origin ; the Sabbath (i.e. Shabbath), or day of weekly repose from secular avocations (also the observance or institution itself); by extension, a se'nnight, i.e. the interval between two Sabbaths; likewise the plural in all the above applications:
Colossians 2:16,17 "Let no man judge you in ... holy days or Sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come." days #9999 is an inserted word, This word was added by the translators for better readability in the English. There is no actual word in the Greek text. The word may be displayed in italics, or in parentheses or other brackets, to indicate that it is not in the original text. (Thayers & Strongs) so it actually means Sabbath.
Sabbatarian's are quick to judge other Christians who gather on Sunday to worship. They claim we are worshippers of the image of the beast, yet they also say they can worship any day of the week ..so?.... Any day but Sunday. Which means they do not officially allow someone to worship God 7 days a week, only 6. If you don't believe this go tell them your going to church on Sunday and see what happens.
Paul states that it is wrong to judge Christians for not keeping Saturday Col. 2:14-17 the "Sabbath day was nailed to cross" along with all the rest of the law . Nowhere does it state otherwise.
What 7th day Adventists want to keep is only 1 Sabbath day , they don't want to respect them all. God says keep all my Sabbaths. Lev.19:3: "Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and keep My Sabbaths."
Ez.20:12: "And also I gave them My Sabbaths to be a sign..."The weekly Sabbath is plural in: Ex. 31:13,17. Both singular and plural are used for the weekly Sabbath: (Lev. 19:3; 23:38; Isa. 56:2,4) In Colossians 2:16, this is not just "ceremonial Sabbaths" The word "Ton Sabation" or "Sabbath Days" are the same words are translated in Exodus 20:8 in the Greek Septuagint of the Hebrew OT. there is no conflict in this except to Sabbatarian's.
THE HEBRAIC PATTERNS IN SCRIPTURE
Col.2:16: "regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths." Look how careful Paul was in writing this. We see a year, a month, to day progression proving it refers to the 7th Day Sabbath. From Years, to months, to days, that is from week to week, From the wider to the narrower.
How can we know this is what Paul meant. We can look at the same type of progression in the O.T.. 1 Chron. 23:31 Sabbaths and at New Moon festivals and at appointed feasts. (NIV) "Paul familiar with the OT Hebraic pattern used it in the NT. 2 Chron. 2:4 on Sabbaths and New Moons and at the appointed feasts of the LORD our God. (NIV) 2 Chron. 8:13 according to the daily rate, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the Sabbaths, on the New Moons, and the solemn feasts three times in the year--even in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles." (Masoretic text)
2 Chron. 31:3 the Sabbaths, New Moons and appointed feasts as written in the Law of the LORD." (NIV) " Neh. 10:33 "Sabbaths, new moons, set feasts." In both Ezekiel and Hosea we find the pattern reversed. Ezekiel 45:17 feasts, new moons, Sabbaths... " Hosea 2:11 feast days, new moons, Her Sabbaths--"
You see the consistent pattern of the feasts and Sabbath Colossians 2:16 feast days. new moon, Sabbath days or more accurately Sabbath.
Compare this with Gal.4:10 which he uses the opposite pattern," You observe days and months and seasons and years. "But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be know by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? "
You observe days and months and seasons and years." Vs.10 states, "you observe, days (weekly Sabbaths, Holy days) , months (new moons), seasons (the 7 feasts as commanded in the law Lev.23 the three feasts that they were required to go to Jerusalem. ) and years (Years are the Sabbatical years , every 7 and the 50th year of Jubilee). Paul makes a clear distinction between the feasts and days. Here the Judaizers wanted the people to keep the law. One thing led to another, it no longer was circumcision, next it was the Sabbath and feast days. To Paul this was a sign of weakness and immaturity. They are rudimentary forms of religion with no power, they cut one off from grace. Paul did not want the New Testament believer to become entangled in bondage again by their keeping these from obligation to the law. He goes on to say Christ is the "Substance", these things were shadows, grace is superior.
The word Days in Gal.4 translates in Thayers ..2250 hemera- 1) the day, used of the natural day, or the interval between sunrise and sunset, as distinguished from and contrasted with the night a) in the daytime ... 2) used of the civil day, or the space of 24 hours (thus including the night);
Strongs 2250 hemera (hay-mer'-ah);feminine (with 5610 implied) of a derivative of hemai (to sit; akin to the base of 1476) meaning tame, i.e. gentle; day, i.e. (literally) the time space between dawn and dark, or the whole 24 hours (but several days were usually reckoned by the Jews as inclusive of the parts of both extremes); figuratively, a period (always defined more or less clearly by the context): KJV-- age, + alway, (mid-) day (by day, [-ly]), + for ever, judgment, (day) time, while, years.
Col. 2:14 "having wiped out the handwriting" 1. of requirements 2. (ordinances) that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross."
1.Handwriting 5498 cheirographon something hand-written ("chirograph"), i.e. a manuscript (specifically, a legal document or bond [figuratively]): KJV-- handwriting."(Strongs concordance) It was the contract which is the covenant that they needed to obey.Col 2:14
"The hand-writing" (the Decalogue, written by the hand of God) (from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary).
1) a handwriting, what one has written by his own hand 2) a note of hand or writing in which one acknowledges that money has either been deposited with him or lent to him by another, to be returned at the appointed time (Thayer's). While this can mean what Moses wrote down which is their claim of it being exclusively ceremonial other than the 10. One needs to remember that Moses also penned down in his law the 10 commandments along with the others (Deut.5). This of course can also mean what God himself wrote down, since what was the writing against them? Exod. 32:15-16 And Moses turned and went down from the mountain, and the two tablets of the Testimony were in his hand. The tablets were written on both sides; on the one side and on the other they were written..16 Now the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God engraved on the tablets. This was the first installment of the law. Ex.34:29 Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses' hand when he came down from the mountain), Deuteronomy 4:13: "So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone." This is the handwriting that was against them, they had to obey all the law or would receive punishment.
The testimony is the commandments as David says in Ps.119 :1 blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord blessed are those who keep his testimonies," Speaking of keeping the commandments vs.22 "for I have kept your testimonies."Vs.24 "your testimonies are my delight and my counselors."
Deut. 4:13: "So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.Deut.31:26 "Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there as a witness against you;" Moses would refer to the book of the law (covenant) for the simple reason it included the 10.
2.requirements #1378 dogma- 1) doctrine, decree, ordinance a) used of public decrees b) used of the Roman Senate c) used of rulers 2) the rules and requirements of the law of Moses; carrying a suggestion of severity and of threatened judgment 3) used of certain decrees of the apostles relative to right living.(Thayers)
dogma ^1378^ is translated "ordinances" in and . See DECREE.(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)
"the law of commandments contained in ordinances" ; "the bond written in ordinances" = the Mosaic ordinances as expressing the moral law which condemned the sinner, and whose enmity Christ abolished by His death. It is a significant (from International Standard Bible )
Let's go to Ephesians 2:15 which should give more understanding to Col.2 "That which was "abolished in his flesh" was the "law of commandments" contained in the ordinances. Which clearly refers to the law of Moses which according to scripture is all the law (Rom. 7:8-13). Here in Ephesians 2:15 the law of Moses is referred to as "ordinances" which is the same word used in Colossians 2:14. The Context shows that Paul is not discussing just the ceremonial aspects or the penalty of the law, but the whole law, all its directives being nailed to the cross. Did not Jesus keep all the law? If he fulfilled it all as the embodiment of the word, it make sense that when he was nailed to the cross that the 10 were also put on the cross as well as the others. The only thing that came out through the other side of the Cross were the laws that were there before Moses, the moral laws. The laws that are instinctive to mankind that are ingrained in our conscience.
Now what is an ordinance ? (ordinances) #2706 choq- a statute, an ordinance, a limit, something prescribed, due a) a prescribed task b) a prescribed portion c) an action prescribed (for oneself), resolve d) a prescribed due e) a prescribed limit, a boundary f) an enactment, a decree, an ordinance 1) specific decree 2) law in general g) enactment's, statutes 1) conditions 2) enactment's 3) decrees 4) the civil enactment's prescribed by God." All theses describe what God has said in the 10 and outside the 10.
statutes 2706 choq (khoke); from 2710; an enactment; hence, an appointment (of time, space, quantity, labor or usage): KJV-- appointed, bound, commandment, convenient, custom, decree (-d), due, law, measure, X necessary, ordinance (-nary), portion, set time, statute, task.
NEW TESTAMENT Law 3551 nomos-anything established, anything received by usage, a custom, a law, a command: a) used of any law whatsoever 1) a law or rule producing a state approved of God, by the observance of which is approved of God 2) a precept or injunction 3) the rule of action prescribed by reason b) used of the Mosaic law, and referring (according to the context) either to the volume of the law or to its contents c) the Christian religion: the law demanding faith, the moral instruction given by Christ, especially the precept concerning love d) the name of the more important part (the Pentateuch), is put for the entire collection of the sacred books of the Old Testament.
OLD TESTAMENT Law # 8451 towrah (to-raw'); or torah (to-raw'); from 3384; a precept or statute, especially the Decalogue or Pentateuch: KJV-- law. 8451 towrah or torah-law, direction, instruction a) instruction, direction (human or divine) 1) the body of prophetic teaching 2) instruction in the Messianic age 3) the body of priestly direction or instruction 4) the body of legal directives b) law 1) law of the burnt-offering 2) used of special law, codes of law c) custom, manner d) the Deuteronomic or Mosaic Law.
This is the same word for law Paul used of his being a Pharisee Phil. 3:5-6 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." Is Paul only speaking of the ceremonial laws ? I think not.
Col.2:13-14, What was the "certificate of debt consisting of decrees" nailed to the cross? The overall O.T. teaching of the law is the Old Covenant. How was the Old Covenant "against us"? According to Deuteronomy, one of the functions of the Old Covenant law was to act as a "witness" against Israel if they broke it, or sinned. Would this be only the ceremonial as claimed today. Paul over and over uses the law and defines it as the 10 that witnessed against him that he was a sinner. These are the two tablets of the Testimony that show all have sinned falling short of God's perfect standard.
Eph. 2:15: "having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace."
Col. 2:16-17: "Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days, WHICH ARE A SHADOW OF THINGS TO COME, but the body is of Christ."
Did Christ fulfill everything except the 10 commandments and more specifically the Sabbath? He either fulfilled it all or he did not keep the law perfectly. Didn't he say he was the Lord of the Sabbath? This means he is the creator, the Sabbath was a sign, a shadow and He is the Substance. If He fulfilled all the law then all the law was nailed to the cross, not just portions of it. He was the embodiment of the law completely.
An interesting point is made at the end of the Gospel of Mark. Mk.16:1: "the Sabbath was past" in vs.2 the phrase first day " is a numeral." Vs.9 says the phrase "the first day of the week," but this is actually a totally different word, it means "the most important day of the week." Can this day be more important than the Sabbath? Remember this is from the Holy Spirit who is God, not a man or a church tradition; Something to think about.