Good Morning, Siblings!
Today’s readings are Colossians 1-4
We’re zipping through these last chapters at a steady clip!
🌿In this letter Paul focuses on: The preexistence of Messiah, encouraging new believers to remain true to the Way (according to YHWH, not man), avoiding getting caught up in traditions of men and manmade doctrine (both within the faith and in the idol worshiping community around them), and overcoming our own sinful nature by following the example of Messiah.
🌿Col 2:8 shows us again that Paul’s struggle when dealing with new believers was to keep them from being caught up in manmade traditions, which they were prone to do while trying to learn YHWH’s ways. They see people who claim to represent this walk (Pharisees) and feel they should just do everything they do.
The problem is that, while some of what the Pharisees did was rooted obedience to the Father, much of what they did were traditions of man which they held up as if they were doing them in obedience with the Father.
It is the same with our church today. People want to take the shortcut of following Christians instead of following “Christ” and when you go that route, you don’t end up living very Christlike. Why?
There is no substitute for following our Messiah.
and further: There are no cliff notes that will exempt us from reading the Bible.
However, even knowing this ourselves, we must also know that many will still look at us as representatives of YHWH and choose to follow our example rather than doing the research and study to find out for themselves how they are to live. Therefore, knowing that our example could lead people towards living in accordance with YHWH or away from living in accordance with Him, the burden is on us to make sure that we are walking in full accordance with His will, living by His Word and no other. If we walk in traditions, we are responsible for knowing His word and making sure those traditions do not contradict His word or go against His instructions to us.
We are the only Bible some people will read.
🌿If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard Colossians 2:14 misquoted by good hearted and well-meaning people who have never actually read it for themselves I’d take us all to Disney World next month.
The common refrain is “The law was nailed to the cross!” But let’s see what it really says.
13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Col 2:13-14
Read that again. What was nailed to the cross? The debt for our sins. Not the law. Sin is still sin. Think of it this way, we were caught speeding and given a ticket. Yeshua paid the fine for us. We are now free from that debt and that record of sin is erased from our file. Are we now free to speed anytime? No. It is still illegal to speed. However, because our fine was paid, we have a clean slate going forward.
I hear this all the time used as free license to live however we want. “The law was nailed to the cross! “
That isn’t what Paul said.
Our debt owed for breaking the law was nailed to the cross.
Next time someone tells you the law was nailed to the cross, you can actually answer them with “So I can murder you now?” By that reasoning, they should agree with you. I imagine they will backpedal pretty quickly.
Note: I don’t recommend murdering nor breaking any of the other 10 commandments.
🌿Notice that as Paul goes on telling them not to worry about the rules and regulations that he is specifying in Colossians 2:22. These rules he is speaking against are manmade doctrine.
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days…Col 2:16
These verses are often used as “proof” that YHWH’s feasts are to no longer be observed, despite Messiah keeping them and Paul keeping them long after Messiah had ascended – but most important YHWH said they “it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.” Lev 23
Knowing that interpretation contradicts YHWH’s Word, let us look at it from another possible angle. Paul is encouraging new believers. Now we know that they were previously taking part with multiple god worship, in accordance with the custom and culture they lived in.
Suddenly, they stop all of that and begin worshipping only one God. They get a medical issue and friends urge them to go to this temple and offer a sacrifice to Asclepius for healing and they refuse, letting their friends know that they only have one God now. They have a bad harvest and are told they should have made sacrifices to the goddess Demeter and they reiterate that “no, I worship the one true God now.”
And so now they’re already acting very strange in the eyes of their friends, going against their logic, and to top it off they start keeping the feasts that the Jews keep.
So they’re going to get judged, harshly, by those close to them as well as by those not so close to them. They’re going to hear it. A lot of “it”: Reasons why they shouldn’t do that, reasons why they are abandoning their gods, and why this is foolish, etc. And let me tell you, when you come into this way and start obeying the Father and following the example of Messiah, the pressure from those who are not doing so increases exponentially and it doesn’t let up. Therefore, encouragement from those walking this way is very helpful.
If I sound like I’m speaking from personal experience it is because I am.
With that perspective, lets read this passage:
In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 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. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.
20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. Col 2:11-23
Do you remember what was going on with the whole “do not taste, do not touch” thing? The Pharisees had placed additional regulations on meat sold in the marketplace and determined that if it wasn’t slaughtered in a manner they approved of it wasn’t clean. (We’ve already established that only clean animals were considered food so we need not specify what type of meat as it would not have been considered food to begin with were it not what YHWH has deemed food).
So here we have the full story from Paul. Many of us have been taught that Colossians 2:16 says not to let anyone judge you for not keeping the Sabbath and feast days but Paul is actually encouraging folks not to let people judge them FOR keeping the Sabbath and Feast Days. Then he goes on to tell them not to let anyone cheat them of their rewards in walking in accordance with Messiah by adding manmade laws on top of it (don’t touch, etc).
The body of followers of Messiah should not be concerned with judgements made towards us from folks outside of the body of believers or even from within the body of believers when such judgements are not Biblically based. Paul is saying not to let lawless idol worshippers judge us nor Pharisees who hold up their doctrine as if it were commandment. They judge us according to their ways and YHWH’s ways are foreign to them.
That’s just my thoughts on this. Test it. If it doesn’t match up with Scripture, toss it.
🌿Today we hear mention of Laodicea. This was an important town of commerce near Colossae. It is also known as being one of the seven churches of Asia Minor addressed in the book of Revelation but we’ll get to that in a minute.
I want to talk about about Laodicea because a council of Christians met here about 300 years after this letter from Paul was written. Known as the Council of Laodicea, they made some key decrees that changed the course of history within the church and would eventually go on to be used as justification for untold mass slaughter of Jews, open contradiction of YHWH’s Word, and choosing to regard doctrine as more authoritative than Scripture (See Matthew 5:19 again). Even more so, we as a body still observe and hold to some of the decrees put into place by this council today.
Let’s pull out just a few excerpts from the Council of Laodicea’s decrees:
Canon XXIX. CHRISTIANS must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord’s Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ.
Canon XXXVII. IT is not lawful to receive portions sent from the feasts of Jews or heretics, nor to feast together with them.
Canon XXXVIII. IT is not lawful to receive unleavened bread from the Jews, nor to be partakers of their impiety.
This is from the notes in the council: Light hath no communion with darkness. Therefore no Christian should celebrate a feast with heretics or Jews, neither should he receive anything connected with these feasts such as azymes and the like.
They also defined heretics as anyone who rejected their church doctrine. Not the Word of YHWH but the church doctrine, regardless of where it stood in relation to the Word.
According to this council, Christians were actually required to work on the Sabbath, lest they risk honoring it as the Jews do.
They also explicitly forbid idolatry according to their own definition but then put decrees in place that required worship of deceased people whom they decreed worthy.
Revelation references make a whole lot more sense now that we have some context, so let’s read them.
To the Church in Laodicea. “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” Rev 3:15
In case y’all haven’t caught on by now, whenever you see that closing line “He who has an ear, let him hear…” That is a zinger and it can be loosely translated to “Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.”
🌿There are a LOT of websites online where you can read the decrees (canons) of the Council of Laodicea but as you can see there are some key enactments that the church still holds firmly to today. Considering this, the fact that they hold a great deal of anti semitism and the arrogance to usurp YHWH’s word, replacing Holy days and decrees made directly by YHWH with their own decrees is alarming at best. I recommend reading them. Canons 16, 37-38 dealt with how the church viewed the Jews. Canon 29 made it illegal for any Christian to worship on the Sabbath. Canon 59 forbid reading of books of the Bible they did not approve of and so on and so forth.
🌿So yeah I had a rabbit trail within a rabbit trail and all of this took place about 300 years AFTER Paul’s letters but the name came up so it was a good time to talk about a key development in church history. With the knowledge available to us in this age of rapidly growing accessibility (Daniel 12:4) to our own history and YHWH’s word, we really have to look for the influence of events like this and root it out as this influence is not of the Father.
To whom much was given, of him much will be required ~ Messiah, Luke 12:48
🌿Let’s end on a positive note, thanks to brother Paul!
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. -Colossians 3:23
This perspective has taken many jobs I had in the past from drudgery to joy.
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:5-6
GOLDEN. I’m writing this on a sticky note and taping it to my bathroom mirror.
And with that, we have completed another book. Rak Chazak!
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!