What Does Paul Mean By “Let No Man Therefore Judge You” (Colossians 2:16)

let no man judge you - gossip-1280Let no man therefore judge you

Col 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:

The preceding verse is one strongly used by Christians to say we no longer need to care about eating clean or unclean food. The belief is also that we can now drink anything and have no need to care about the Sabbath.

Primarily though, it is a weapon used against Sabbath observance and consumption of what the Bible calls unclean meat (Leviticus 11). In effect (unfortunately), Colossians 2:16 is used to advocate a “do as thou wilt” (self determined) lifestyle (Deut 12:8).

The irony is, many who have this belief will tell you that you must not drink alcohol. Right away, there is a conflict in interpretation. Don’t care about the Sabbath nor unclean meat, but care about drink (alcohol). That is a conflict.

Today I would like to look at Colossians 2:16 to properly come to an understanding of what Sha’ul (Paul) meant when he said it. To do so we first have to look at the biblical and historic context in which it was written.

 

Biblical Foundation for Explaining Colossians 2:16

To explain Colossians 2:16, we have to lay a foundation on which it will be examined. This foundation is based on  3 biblical principles that never fail to help reveal new testament truth.

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1. Our Conclusion Cannot Contradict Torah (the Law)

Whatever conclusion we arrive at cannot contradict the law. Why?

Mat 5:17 – 18 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Contrary to popular belief, the Messiah did not come to destroy the law, but to magnify it. Prophesying of the Messiah, Yesha’Yahu said:

Isa 42:21 YHWH is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable.

Now the main reason for us wanting to rubbish the law, is the misunderstood teachings of Apostle Sha’ul, whose spiritual brilliance cannot be understood by the carnal mind. Next we will see why Sha’ul is misunderstood by looking at the second foundation on which this study is based.

See: Why Our Belief Is False If It Does Not Have an Old Testament Foundation: Understanding the Bible 2.

 

2. Sha’ul (Paul) Cannot Contradict Torah

If Sha’ul contradicts Torah (the law), then he is a heretic and a liar.

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Isa 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

1 Pe 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of YHWH; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which Elohim giveth: that YHWH in all things may be glorified through Yahushua HaMashiach, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Awmane.

contradiction

Contradiction – CC BY-NC-ND by herbrm

Now Sha’ul himself bore witness that he did not contradict Torah, when he made this statement in his defense:

Act 24:14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:

So Sha’ul does not contradict the law (Torah). If you believe he does contradict Torah, it means you have not yet come to fully understand the writings of Sha’ul. The Bible cannot and does not contradict itself.

 

3. New Testament Belief Must First Have Been Written In the Law and Prophets

Thirdly, the new testament is the fulfillment of the old testament (law and the prophets). If our new testament belief appears to be different, then that difference must first have been heralded by the prophets because:

Amo 3:7 Surely YHWH Elohiym will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

So, for example if the Sabbath is done away with as some allude, it must first have been prophesied in the Tanakh (old testament). If we can now eat unclean meat, it must first have been prophesied that the time will come when we will be allowed to eat unclean meat.

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RelatedLaw Done Away With or Magnified? What Did Paul Really Teach Concerning the Law?

 

Biblical Context of Colossians 2:16

The biblical context of Colossians 2:16 is not very far away and is revealed here in Colossians 2:8:

Col 2:8 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 HaMashiach.

Right away we find 5 clues in these keywords:

  1. Philosophy
  2. Vain deceit
  3. Traditions of Men
  4. Rudiments of the World
  5. Not after the Messiah

Now keeping of the Sabbath, new moons, clean foods (meat), drink are all from the commands of the Father. None of them have their source in philosophy, vanity, traditions of men nor the rudiments (principles) of the world.

Most importantly, none have strayed away from the Messiah. Why? He obeyed them all and we are told:

1 John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

Right away, the context given in Colossians 2:8 alerts us to look further into the Christian interpretation. Something is just not right; so let us dig into the historical context.

 

Historical Context of Colossians 2:16

Sha’ul wrote Colossians 2:16 from prison in Rome some time between 60-61 AD. At that time there were many sects bombarding the assemblies.

CC BY-NC-ND by let5ch

 

Those days Sha’ul set up his assemblies, appointed leaders and moved on. When he left, false teachers came into his assemblies trying to lead the sheep astray.

Colossians 2 gives us several clues as to who these people were.

 

Historical Context Revealed in Colossians 2

Col 2:13 – 15 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

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 stake;

And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Col 2:13-15 is a direct match to Ephesians 2:11-19, which is speaking of Gentiles now being fellowcitizens in the “commonwealth” of Israel; the middle wall of partition being through faith in the Messiah, making (former) Gentiles and Israel now one.

This is important as most Christians view their “salvation” as being separate and apart from that of Israel. Most don’t realize that it is all about Israel and they become a part of Israel through faith in Yahushua HaMashiach (Ephesians 2:11-22, Romans 11).

They become strangers who join themselves to YAHUAH and take hold of his covenant (Isa 56:4-8). In so doing, they are grafted into Israel (Rom 11:17-23).

olive tree

Olive tree (Romans 11)

The Mashiach came for Israel alone (Mat 15:24) and Gentiles join to Israel (Eph 2:11-22) to access the kingdom which can only be entered through the 12 tribes of Israel (Rev 21:12). By the way, this is a great idea for a future post as this is also a grave misunderstanding.

Here is the post: Law Done Away With or Magnified? What Did Paul Really Teach Concerning the Law?

Teaching Christians to be separate and apart from Israel (not the country, but a set apart people) is a false teaching that is one of the backbones of the false Greco-Roman religion called Christianity.

Now we get to our main verse:

Col 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:

Now we already have 5 keywords from Colossians 2:8 that show reference to the commands of men. Now verses 18 to 19 gives us more keywords:

Col 2:18 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,
Col 2:19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of YHWH.

Let us get even more keywords from Colossians 2 and then we will sum them all up in the end:

Col 2:20 – 23 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,

(Touch not; taste not; handle not;

Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men

Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

So now we can tabulate our list that will give us a better understanding of the context of Colossians 2:16:

  1. Philosophy
  2. Vain deceit
  3. Traditions of Men
  4. Rudiments of the World
  5. Not after the Messiah
  6. Voluntary humility
  7. Worshiping of angels
  8. Not holding the head (Messiah)
  9. Touch not taste not, handle not
  10. The commandments and doctrines of men
  11. Will worship and humility
  12. Neglecting of the body

All these keywords tell us that the assembly at Collossae was bombarded by doctrines which were not biblical. They were doctrines of men and traditions of men.

 

Suspected Sects

Bible historians have thrown up several possibly groups as being the culprits. Some believe there was not only one threat, but 2 or more of the following:

  • Gnosticism
  • Essienism
  • Jewish mysticism
  • Greek pagan cults
  • Syncretistic religion

False teachings, mysticism, empty philosophies, legalism, and traditions were plaguing Colossae. They were under siege by false teaches and prideful men seeking sensationalism and mysticism rather than focusing on and abiding in the Messiah.

Gnostic mural

Gnostic mural – CC BY-ND by torbakhopper

 

Let No Man Judge You

Let us look at the meaning of judge as used in Col 2:16.

κρίνω
krinō
kree’-no
Properly to distinguish, that is, decide (mentally or judicially); by implication to try, condemn, punish: – avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think.

judge red card

Let no man therefore judge you was therefore not telling the people of Collossae that they should not follow the commands of the bible, but rather not to follow these false teachers tell you how to keep them!

There is no other way to interpret this without breaking biblical principles, because if Sha’ul was telling them that they should eat unclean meat or they should not keep the Sabbath nor new moons or they can drink anything, he would be going against the law of YHWH. In which case Sha’ul himself would also be a false prophet, because this is how you know a false teacher:

Isa 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

In other words, only agents of Satan (in whom there is no light) will contradict the law and the testimony.

 

Conclusion

Colossians 2:16 is therefore not telling us that we can do whatever we want. Rather it is telling us to not let any false teacher tell us how to keep them, as long as they are kept in the liberty that comes through faith in the Messiah.

The statement in Colossians 2:16 was not about what to keep, but how.

Col 2:16 Let no man therefore judge (condemn, damn, decree, determine, call in question) you  in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

In other words, don’t let anyone come in and add to or subtract from what you have been taught and make you take your eyes off Yahusha.

 

False Teachers, False Doctrines & Legalism

It is plainly seen biblically and historically, that the problem in Colossae was the incursion of several false teachers trying to teach false doctrines of men or to teach a return to legalism of the law (such as physical circumcision – Col 2:11, 13).

false teacher

 

Not According to the Messiah

The teachings were not based on the Messiah. Isn’t this what we see proliferating today? Many new teachings have come up that are not focusing on the Messiah?

Here at Just a Word, we preach abiding in Messiah, which makes us walk in the spirit in obedience to Torah, so we do not walk in legalism to the letter of the law. This is what Sha’ul preached

Gal 5:18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

He specifically stated that our obedience in this covenant is in the spirit and not to the letter (legalism):

Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of YHWH.

 

Sha’ul (Paul) a Liar?

Indeed, Sha’ul could never be contradicting Torah, as he would make himself a liar and therefore a false apostle.

Therefore, what if we believe Colossians 2:16 to mean no more Sabbaths or new moons or we can now drink anything we want (a double shot of whiskey, anyone)? What if we believe we can now eat anything we wish (roasted cockroach or stewed human meat, anyone)?

liar

CC BY-NC-ND by Joe in DC

Believing those things to be so would mean that Sha’ul has taught us heretic doctrines and is a liar, so his books are not holy and therefore not fit to be in the Holy Bible. They would have to be  thrown out.

However Sha’ul showed anyone who believe Colossians 2:16 to mean disobedience to the law as being in error when he made this statement:

Rom 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

 

Walking as the Messiah Walked

Sha’ul has no right to destroy that which is qodesh (holy), neither do you. Indeed, the Bible tells us who the saints (holy ones/elect/chosen) are:

Rev 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of YHWH, and the faith of Yahushua.

walking as Messiah walked

It is therefore not enough to say we believe in Yahusha. We must show we believe by walking as the Messiah walked (1 John 2:6), by keeping the commandments of the Most High.

John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

1 John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

 

Related:
What does Paul mean by The Messiah (Christ) Hath Redeemed Us From The Curse of The Law?
What does Paul mean by the Messiah (Christ) is the end of the law? Romans 10:4

 

Reference:

1. Heresies in the Colossian Church
2. Colossians Background