Today’s reading: Col 2
In today’s reading, Paul comes back to a question that consistently arose during the early church. The issue was whether Gentile converts were first obligated under the Jewish law. Each new Catholic community faced this question anew as they interacted with the Jewish communities around them. In today’s reading, Paul flat out tells the Colossians that the obligations of the Jewish law are canceled for Christians.
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, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. Colossians 2:13-16
Breaking down this passage is pretty straightforward. The uncircumcised are gentiles. The “legal demands” are those imposed by the Mosaic Law. Those have been canceled and set aside by nailing them to the cross. The result is that Jewish practices of food (what you can and can’t eat), holidays and the weekly Sabbath no longer apply to Christians. This is the most direct statement in Scripture that the Saturday Sabbath no longer applies to Christians. This issue often comes up in discussions with Christians who read the Old Testament, see the straightforward statement on the Sabbath and then insist on Saturday worship. They often try to limit or negate the meaning of the above passage by complex analysis to suggest it is referring to “high Sabbaths” and not the weekly Sabbath. However, if you read Exodus and Deuteronomy you learn that the purpose of the Sabbath is not human rest but to recognize the glory of God’s creation and the freeing of Israel from the slavery of Egypt. With the resurrection, Jesus begets a new creation and frees us from a greater slavery, the slavery of sin. Thus, to truly keep the Sabbath we must do so in a manner that honors these new truths brought about through Christ. That is only done by worship on the day of resurrection, Sunday.
Tomorrow: Col 3