Saturday, July 01, 2006

Sabbaths and Sundays, Common Proof Texts, #7

Today we tackle what is probably the most often used "proof" verse of them all, so it's a bit longer and includes links to other sites with further info.

Claims: Colossians 2:13-15 says that the law has been nailed to the cross, and Colossians 2:16-17 says the Sabbath has been done away with.

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 cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. (vv. 13-15).

There are several different ways to translate,"handwriting of ordinances." The one above is KJV. The NIV translates this as "the written code, with its regulations," and the NASB says, "the certificate of debt." So what does the Greek say? The Greek word is cheirographon. This is the only place in the entire Bible that this word is used, so we must look outside the Bible to find its usage and meaning.

Scholar Samuele Bacchiocchi says, "It's usage in apocalyptic literature indicates the cheirographon is the 'record-book on sins' or a 'certificate of sin-indebtedness' but not the moral or ceremonial law. This view is also supported by the clause 'and this he has removed out of the middle' (2:14). 'The middle' was the position occupied at the center of the court of assembly by the accusing witness. In (this) context...the accusing witness in 'the record book of sins' which God in Christ has erased and moved out of the court" (Bacchiocchi, The Sabbath in the New Testament, pg. 111)

So we see the the NASB is probably the closer translation here. Far from the law being nailed to the cross, it is the record of our sins that has been nailed to the cross, thereby destroying any legal reason for our condemnation! We are truly set free in Christ! "What God destroyed on the Cross was not the legal ground (law) for our entanglement into sin, but the written record of our sins (Bacchiocchi, ibid.).

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: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. (vv. 16-17).

Colossians 2:16 deals with how the Sabbath is celebrated, not if it is to be celebrated. Paul is not doing away with the Sabbath here - he is telling us not to judge each other in how it is kept.

The key here is the phrase "in respect of." The "shadow" referred to in verse 17 has to be something in respect to these other days. What could the shadow be? The most reasonable explanation is the sacrifices that the Sabbath, new moon, and festivals all shared. Those sacrifices were a shadow of Jesus' perfect sacrifice. So the shadow referred to in verse 17 is the sacrifices, not the Sabbath itself.

To quote Ken Burdick (a Seventh Day Baptist pastor), "The idea of Col. 2:16 is: don't let the false teachers talk you into keeping the Jewish ceremonies of the Old Covenant. Don't let them judge you for giving up the dietary laws and the Temple ceremonies (with the burnt offerings Moses commanded for the Sabbath--and for the New Moons and festivals). Reason: 'These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ' (Col. 2:17). The 4th Commandment was never a shadow of Christ's coming. The burnt offerings, however, were a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Christ's body on the cross."

See also the law was nailed to the cross for more information.

See the Seattle church's Sabbath FAQ for a more complete and lucid answer to this question.

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Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, Copyright 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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