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Christians love to use Colossians 2:16 as an excuse to observe pagan holidays, but is that what he was telling the Colossians?
Colossians 2:16 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.
In Colossians 2:16, context is key!
Sha’ul (Paul) is telling the Colossians not to allow anyone to judge them for keeping the weekly and annual Sabbaths, according to Leviticus 23.
He was telling them not to allow anyone to judge them for observing the New Moons according to Scripture (Deuteronomy 16:1), and for obeying the commandment to eat lamb for Passover in remembrance of Messiah (Exodus 12:8-9; Luke 22:19; 1st Corinthians 11:24-25).
You see, Paul was addressing the Essenes (who are to this day, into Gnosticism). The Essenes have many unbiblical practices such as ultra-strict ways of observing the Sabbath. To learn more about who these people are, see my other blogs:
The Essenes were also known for not rescuing their animal if it falls into a ditch on the Sabbath days. However, our Messiah corrected that practice, by telling us that keeping the 7th day holy should always be accompanied by saving life and doing good (Mark 3:4 & Luke 6:9).
The Essenes are still (to this day) into worshiping angels, and they do not believe in eating meat.
*Disclaimer: If you are a vegetarian or a vegan for health reasons, this is fine, but it should not be forced upon others as a doctrine leading to holiness, or to earn salvation. However, we are commanded to eat lamb for Passover once per year.
The Essenes also judged the Yahuwdiym (Jews) for drinking wine on Passover, (as our Messiah did to demonstrate his covenant meal). They also judged the Yahuwdiym (Jews) and for eating lamb for Passover, because they are strict Vegetarians.
They believed in keeping a Vegan Passover (which is not biblical). It is just like Cain, who was unwilling to offer up lambs to YaHuWaH, (like his brother Abel). Cain would only offer up vegetables, which was not an acceptable offering.
The Essenes do not believe in observing biblical New Moons (according to Deuteronomy 16:1 2nd Chronicles 23:31; Ezra 3:5; Nehemiah 10:33).
Their New Moons are to this day observed on a Full Moon, rather than at the first sliver.
This is because of a misunderstanding in Psalm 81:3. To learn more about how to observe a biblical New Moon, see my other blog: What Constitutes a Biblical New Moon?
Here is the break-down of what Colossians chapter 2 is telling us:
Colossians 2:16 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:
Colossians 2:17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [is] of Messiah.
*Explanation: The word “IS” is in italics in Colossians 2:17, therefore, it was not there, in the original text. It was added by the English translators.
Paul is saying “Let no man judge you......but the body of Messiah.”
In other words, only those who are obeying our Messiah are allowed to judge you in these matters, not the Essenes.
Colossians 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
*Explanation: The Gnostic Essenes are into worshiping to angels, praying to the dead, and worshiping deceased saints (like Roman Catholicism).
Colossians 2:19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increases with the increase of Elohiym.
*Explanation: Basically, the Essenes are not under the “headship” or authority of Messiah, as they had dismembered themselves from the body of Messiah.
They did not believe in following the Temple ordinances of that day, and they kept to themselves, making up their own rules (which were often against the Laws of Yah).
Colossians 2:20 Wherefore if you be dead with Messiah from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are you subject to ordinances...
*Explanation: Sha’ul (Paul) uses the Greek word for “ordinances,” which is “dogmatizo.” This word means to follow man-made rituals and ordinances, rather than the commandments of Yah.
Colossians 2:21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
Colossians 2:22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
*Explanation: The Gnostic Essenes were practicing “DOCTRINES & COMMANDMENTS OF MEN!”
They were not practicing the commandments of YaHuWaH properly, and even to this day, the Essenes hold to a lot of pagan mixture, man-made rules and regulations.
Sha’ul was explaining the practice of the Essenes when he says “Do not touch, do not handle, do not taste meat or wine” (which are man-made restrictions).
We are allowed to drink wine in small amounts during the Feasts of YaHuWaH, without getting drunk.
Sha’ul also addresses these restrictions in 1st Timothy 4:1-4, calling them “Doctrines of Devils.” The doctrines of the Essenes are very much like Roman Catholicism, which forces abstinence from meat on certain Catholic holidays such as “Good Friday.” Few people realize that this custom originates with the worship of Tammuz (Ezekiel 8:14). To learn more, see these other blogs:
Roman Catholicism (like the Essenes) also enforces abstinence from marriage for nuns and priests, which violates the commandment in Genesis 1:22-28 to “Be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth.”
The Essenes also force abstinence from biblically allowable meat (from clean animals). Paul used the Greek word “broma” in 1st Timothy 4:3, which literally means “Foods allowed under the Mosaic Law.” He is telling us that we are allowed to eat meat from animals that are acceptable as food in Leviticus 11.
Colossians 2:23 Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
*Explanation: The Essenes are like Roman Catholic Monks in Monasteries who believe that they are more holy if they abstain from meat, and flagellate themselves (whip themselves with leather straps).
They deceive themselves into believing that they are displaying humility, but they are actually satisfying their flesh, by appearing to be holy outwardly for a show.
To learn more about Gnosticism and the Essenes, see these other blogs:
Sha’ul (Paul) addresses pagan holidays again in his letter to the Galatians.
Galatiym (Galatians) 4:
8 Howbeit then, when you knew not Elohiym, you did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
9 But now, after that you have known Elohiym, or rather are known of Elohiym, how turn you again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto you desire again to be in bondage?
10 You observe days, and months, and times, and years.
When Sha’ul uses the phrase “weak and beggarly elements,” this is referring to occult practices, such as witchcraft, and worshiping the elements within creation. The elements of the Zodiac and Alchemy or Witchcraft are as follows: fire, earth, metal, water, wood.
Let me paraphrase of what Sha’ul is saying:
“When you did not know the Creator, of heaven and earth, the Almighty Elohiym of Abraham, Yitzchaq (Isaac) & Ya’aqob (Jacob), (and you were pagans), you served other gods by worshipping the created things in nature.
However, now that you know the Elohiym of Yisra’el, why are you turning again to the weak elements of nature, such as holidays patterned after the zodiac signs?
Why do you desire to be in bondage again to paganism? You observe pagan pagan sun-god worshiping holidays patterned after the zodiac signs; you follow your astrological forecast, by observing times and years etc.”
Deuteronomy 18:10-11 forbids us from using the Zodiac signs for fortune-telling purposes, as this is called “An abomination to YaHuWaH.”
To learn more, see my other blog: Is There a Difference Between Astronomy & Astrology?