Tag Archives: Paul

What does the Bible say about Suicide?

The topic of Suicide has become a hot topic in the past few weeks after several celebrities went down this path. But what does the Bible have to say about this subject? Even though it is not specifically mentioned as a Sin in Scripture, God’s Law may have the answers we seek.

God’s Law is complex just like any other body of law. Sometimes it may not cover or specify a particular action as Sin, although there maybe similar judgments which can be used to narrow down on a clear answer for this particular action. Now we must understand that, suicide sometimes is not the most black & white of paths that some choose to tread. There maybe a multitude of reasons for someone to consider ending his or her own life; from depression, mental disorders, substance abuse, persecution or torture. The purpose of this study is not to judge any person, but to look at the judgments that God has laid out in His word against such an act. With that being said, let’s proceed.

In the Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament writings we see a few individuals mentioned as having taken their own lives.

Jdg 9:53,54 And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull. Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died. (Although Abimelech was probably going to die, he hastened his death thereby committing suicide)
Jdg 16:28-30 And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life. (Samson avenged himself and also sacrificed himself to destroy the Philistines with his last breath. This may or may not be accounted as suicide)
1Sa 31:3,4 And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers. Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. (Saul commits suicide for fear of torture)
1Sa 31:5 And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him. (Saul’s unnamed Armour Bearer also commits suicide)
2Sa 17:23 And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father. (Ahithophel who had conspired against King David and councelled Absalom, committed suicide in despair for being cast aside)
1Ki 16:18 And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king’s house, and burnt the king’s house over him with fire, and died, (Zimri commits suicide for fear of capture after he murdered Elah & his family)
Mat 27:3-5 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. (Judas was so filled with guilt that he committed suicide)

While nothing really negative is mentioned about any of the above, other than Judas Iscariot; there is no specific mention of Suicide as a sin. In the case of Saul, Samuel prophesies to him from the grave in 1Sam 28:19 saying “tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me”; meaning they will join Samuel in Death. This shows that at natural death or suicide people go to Sheol (The Grave) and what is to come, comes afterwards. (Please read this link for further study on this subject)

Taking a human life
God is very clear that taking a human life is a punishable offence. As per His judgement, the murderer deserves death, as long as it was not an accidental death.

Lev 24:17 “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death.
Exo 21:12-14 “Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death. But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place to which he may flee. But if a man willfully attacks another to kill him by cunning, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die.
Num 35:31 Moreover, you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death, but he shall be put to death.

Your life is not your own
Suicide is essentially the extinguishing of ones own life. And we see proof to the extent that we don’t own our own lives, for God has paid a price for us. Our lives, then are a gift from God.

Eze 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.
1Co 3:17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
1Co 6:19,20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Bought with a price
Being purchased by God is a mirror of the Exodus event where God saved the Firstborn of the Children of Israel, thereby making God the purchaser and owner of their lives.

Num 3:13 for all the firstborn are mine. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both of man and of beast. They shall be mine: I am the LORD.
Lev 25:42 For they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves.
Num 18:15,16 Everything that opens the womb of all flesh, whether man or beast, which they offer to the LORD, shall be yours. Nevertheless, the firstborn of man you shall redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem. And their redemption price (at a month old you shall redeem them) you shall fix at five shekels in silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs.
Isa 43:1 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

In the same way, if we are now bought for a price, thereby not being sole owner of our own lives, this would mean we have no right to extinguish our own lives. It would simply equate to murder as we are taking a life, and especially one which is owned by God.

Act 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
1Co 6:20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1Co 7:23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.
1Pe 1:18,19 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
Rev 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,

People who overcame
We can not complete this study if we do not look at the people who overcame the deepest pits of despair. Their lives can be an example to the one who contemplates suicide and the one who struggles with life without losing hope.

1Ki 19:4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” (Elijah was comforted by God when he felt he could go no further)
Jon 4:3 Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah who was depressed was taught by God on why his perceptions needed to change)
Job 2:9
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” (Job suffered on all fronts to the extent where he was receiving advice to give up)
Psa 116:3
The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. (Many of the psalms speak of the hardships that came on David)
Jer 20:14,18
Cursed be the day on which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed! Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame? (Jeremiah saw the oncoming destruction upon God’s people and was in deep sorrow)
Mat 26:38
Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” (Yeshua went through darkness knowing the trials He was about to go through)
Mar 14:72
And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. (Peter essentially did the same sin as Judas Iscariot – betraying his Master)
2Co 1:8
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. (Paul felt he could not go on with all the persecution that came their way)

The above examples show how we can and must go through trials and tribulations, putting our trust in God. Their are no shortcuts.

Conclusion
Suicide directly effects much more than the individual who walks down that path; rather having ramifications in the lives of friends and family. While I do not seek to judge a person who goes through with suicide, in the above way, a case could be made against suicide, although as I mentioned earlier, there is no direct command against taking ones own life. The above study is not a judgement against a life which is lost, but hopefully an explanation for all of us who could go through dark times in our lives.

The question boils down to whether the person who contemplates suicide believes his or her life belongs to God and whether he or she has willingly given it to His care? If so, you are not taking your own life, but a life which was paid for and bought by God, being under His ownership. In this way, it could be compared to Murder which God has specifically ruled against. So let us put our hopes in Him, and be encouraged that He will never let us go.

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Corinthian Prostitution, Headcoverings and Authority

In the Letter to the Corinthians, Paul speaks of the head covering. As most of Paul’s writings, it is important to look at the Historical evidence and the context behind what he is writing. Knowing the audience and their surroundings will help us get a better understanding of what Paul speaks of. Did Paul confirm that women should wear a head covering? Why was this matter even discussed? Let’s investigate.

1Co 11:1-2 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.

Paul starts by commending the Corinthians on keeping to the traditions set forth by the Apostle. What he is about to speak of, had to be a new instruction as Paul praised them for remembering him “in all things” and keeping everything the way he had instructed.

1Co 11:3-5 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

In the above section, woman(G1135-Goonay) can be better translated as “wife” and man(G435-Anayr) as “husband”, as it is speaking of individuals who are bonded together. Because of this reason, Paul’s instructions are limited to the boundaries of marriage. The hierarchy which Paul provides can be summarized as per the below graphic:

A Husband has authority over a wife, while Christ has authority over both. God as the ultimate authority head, is in the top of the hierarchical structure, having authority over Christ, the Husband and Wife.

Verse 6, where it says “Every man praying or prophesying having his head(G2776-Kefalay) covered(G2596-Katah-on)”, can be better translated as “Every man praying or prophesying having anything on his head”… dishonors his head. In this instance, Paul is obviously speaking of authority as we saw in the previous verse, he said that a Man’s head is Christ. In other words Christ has authority over a man. Now he is saying that if a man has something on his “head” (which is Christ), it dishonors his “head” (which is Christ). Paul is obviously talking of something or someone superseding Christ’s authority over the husband. In relation to the previous verse, and as we will see in the verses up ahead, Paul is simply saying that if a wife usurps authority over a husband it can dishonor the rightful owner of that authority, who is Christ. Were there wives in the Corinthian congregation, which overuled their husbands publicly, leading to discord? Let’s read on.

Paul goes onto explain the exact opposite instance, where the wife uncovers her “head”(who is her husband) bringing dishonor to her “head”(who is her husband). Paul is simply saying if the wife does not recognize the authority of the husband, she brings dishonor to her husband. Paul equates such an act to being a woman who has her head shaved. The shaving of a wives’ head clearly is a picture of dishonor according to Paul. This is corroborated by Historians as there is evidence that women who had little to no hair were considered slaves, adulteresses or prostitutes.

Just so Cyprus too had its Demonassa, a woman gifted in both statesmanship and law-giving. She gave the people of Cyprus the following three laws: a woman guilty of adultery shall have her hair cut off and be a harlot — her daughter became an adulteress, had her hair cut off according to the law, and practised harlotry; Dio Chrysostom Discourse 64, section 2-3

But now that I see this maidservant, bearing a weight of water on her shorn head, let us sit down, and inquire of this slave girl, if we may receive some word about the matter,
Euripides Electra Line 109-110

Corinth was known to be a city run rampant with Prostitution. In Greek “I Corinthianise”(Κορινθι-αστής) was used to mean “I practice prostitution”. The 4th Century BC plays by Philetaerus, Ath.13.559a, and Poliochus, Id.7.313c were named Κορινθι-αστής “whoremonger”. Plato in The Republic 404c also equates “Corinthian girl” to a “Prostitute”.

After Antisthenes’ death he moved to Corinth, since he considered none of the others worth associating with, and there he lived without renting a house or staying with a friend, but camping out in the Craneion. For he observed that large numbers gathered at Corinth on account of the harbours and the hetaerae(“female companions.” The name was applied to a wide class of women, ranging from those whose marriages lacked legal sanction all the way to the lowest harlots), and because the city was situated as it were at the cross-roads of Greece. Dio Chrysostom – Discourses 8, Section 5

And the temple of Aphrodite was so rich that it owned more than a thousand temple slaves, courtesans, whom both men and women had dedicated to the goddess. And therefore it was also on account of these women that the city was crowded with people and grew rich; for instance, the ship captains freely squandered their money, and hence the proverb, “”Not for every man is the voyage to Corinth.””Source unknown Moreover, it is recorded that a certain courtesan said to the woman who reproached her with the charge that she did not like to work or touch wool: “Yet, such as I am, in this short time I have taken down three webs.” That is, “finished three webs.” But there is a word play in καθεῖλον ἱστούς “finished three webs” which cannot be reproduced in English. The words may also mean “lowered three masts,” that is, “debauched three ship captains.” Strabo – Geographika Book VIII Chap 6 Sec 20

Now Comana is a populous city and is a notable emporium for the people from Armenia; and at the times of the “exoduses” of the goddess people assemble there from everywhere, from both the cities and the country, men together with women, to attend the festival. And there are certain others, also, who in accordance with a vow are always residing there, performing sacrifices in honor of the goddess. And the inhabitants live in luxury, and all their property is planted with vines; and there is a multitude of women who make gain from their persons, most of whom are dedicated to the goddess, for in a way the city is a lesser Corinth, for there too, on account of the multitude of courtesans, who were sacred to Aphrodite, outsiders resorted in great numbers and kept holiday. And the merchants and soldiers who went there squandered all their money so that the following proverb arose in reference to them: “
Not for every man is the voyage to Corinth.” Such, then, is my account of Comana.
Strabo – Geographika Book XII Chapter 3 Section 36

He also mentions the following sayings of Gnathaeniŏn, who was the grand-daughter of Gnathaena(Athenian Courtesan): It happened once that a very aged satrap, Full ninety years of are, had come to Athens. And on the feast of Cronus he beheld Gnathaeniŏn with Gnathaena going out From a fair temple sacred to Aphrodite, And noticing her form and grace of motion, He just inquired “How much she asked a night?” Gnathaena, looking on his purple robe, And princely bodyguard, said, “A thousand drachmas.” He, as if smitten with a mortal wound, Said, “I perceive, because of all these soldiers, You look upon me as a captured enemy; But take five minae, and agree with me, And let them get a bed prepared for us.” She, as the satrap seemed a witty man, Received his terms, and said, “Give what you like, – Athenaeus Book 13 Page 581 section 44

Veiling of married women in public was common practice because of this reason. This may have been the reason Paul picked this particular tradition to explain the need for proper use of authority.

When someone inquired why they took their girls into public places unveiled, but their married women veiled, he said, “Because the girls have to find husbands, and the married women have to keep to those who have them!” – Plutarch Moralia 232c

So as we have seen with all of the historical evidences, Paul may have used the Covering/uncovering of the head as a metaphor because it was a common practice in places such as Corinth. With the heavy inclination towards debauchery in Corinth, Wives dressed modestly to show that they were unattainable. In this sense, the head covering acted as a sign of marriage (much like the wearing of a ring in our present time).

1Co 11:6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

As we saw earlier, shaving of the head was a sign of a slave, adulteress or prostitute. A wife who uncovered her head in public, uncovered her husband by showcasing that she could be unmarried. This surely brings dishonor to the husband. In this way, Paul’s metaphor is spot on! He is saying that a woman who does not regard that her husband has authority over her in a Godly marriage, brings shame to herself and her husband, becoming like the Prostitutes, adulteresses and slaves of Corinth.

1Co 11:7-9 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

If we use the same argument in the case of the man, A man who uncovers his head, or disregards Christ’s authority over him, dishonors Christ and in turn dishonors God. Paul mentions here that Man was created in God’s image, while woman was created in Man’s image, relating back again to the hierarchical structure he presented before.

1Co 11:10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

This particular verse confirms the theory set forth in this study, by speaking of wives having power(G1849 – also translated as authority) on their heads. The reason Paul gives is, “because of the angels”. Many see the Angles mentioned here, to be heavenly angels, although the same word (G32 – Angelos) can be used as earthly messengers (see Mat 11:10, Mar 1:2, Luk 7:24,27, 9:52, Heb 2:2, James 2:25). The latter interpretation makes more sense, as and when messengers from other congregations come to the Corinthian congregation, they should see that wives submit to their husbands(Eph 5:22, Col 3:18) and not a show of dishonor towards authority and hierarchy.

1Co 11:11-12 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.

Most of the time when hierarchy and authority is spoken of, people tend to think that the Husband can rule over the wife however he pleases. Paul quickly makes this clarification by showing that the wife and husband are equals before God, but only that the husband is responsible to care and lead the wife, while the wife is supposed to help the husband with their walk towards God.

1Co 11:13-15 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

A wife who prays to God with an uncovered head is a person who does not submit to her husband’s authority. How will a wife who cannot submit to her own earthly husband, ever rightly submit to her heavenly husband? Finally Paul uses a metaphor from nature, showing how women are naturally given long hair as a covering while men are not.

1Co 11:16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

As Paul closes his argument he speaks to “anyone” who may dispute his claims. The word man is not present in this verse, denoting that maybe there are some women who may dispute the Apostles claims that the wife must be under the authority of the husband. Paul closes the argument saying such a practice where the woman disregards the authority of her husband is not seen in any of the congregations, putting an end to the debate.

Conclusion
Corinth which was known for it’s prostitution, led married women to keep their heads veiled and being modest thereby showing that they were unattainable. Among the many problems in the Corinthian Congregation, there seems to be one where some wives were acting out of term bringing dishonor to their husbands and discord to the congregation. Paul used the metaphor of the head covering which was known by all married women, to teach them about authority and the hierarchical system inside the congregation. While there is no law which states a wife or woman must cover their heads, Paul himself is not asking wives to cover their heads in the above passage. Women are free to dress as they please, as long as they are modest. Wives can choose to cover their heads or not, as long as they submit to the authority of their own husbands; and in turn Christ the head of them all.

Also read: Do men have authority over women according to the Scriptures?

What is the Lord’s Day? Sunday, Sabbath or something else?

Many believe that the Lord’s Day is the day which is known by us as “Sunday”. But is this view accurate? Does it align with God’s Word? Can we see any proof in the New Testament writings to verify this notion? Let’s search the Bible for answers.

The phrase “Lord’s Day” is mentioned only once in our Bibles as written down in Revelations by John.

Rev 1:10  I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

Is Sunday “The Lord’s Day”?
Mainline Christianity believe that the current Sunday in our calendars, is the “Lord’s Day”. Reason being that the Resurrection happened on the 1st Day of the Week. And they presume the current Sunday is the “Sabbath” that was mentioned in the Ten Commandments. Most Protestants do not know that the Catholic Church admits that they are the ones who changed worship on the Sabbath Day to Sunday. The Biblical Sabbath is “Saturday” as per our calendars and there is textual proof as well as historical proof to back this up. There is not a single place in the Bible that tells believers that the Sabbath was replaced by Sunday – as a set apart day. Some may turn to Col 2:16 as a proof verse for such an understanding. But further study would bring down that argument as seen in the above link.

Then some would say, but didn’t Christ break the Sabbath? If He broke the Sabbath or any of God’s Commandments, He wouldn’t have been a sinless sacrifice as Sin is the Transgression of the Law(1Jn3:4). What Christ did break was the man-made laws which said “you can’t heal on the sabbath(Mar 3)”, “you can’t carry your bed on the sabbath(Joh 5)”, “you can’t pluck and rub ears of corn and eat on the sabbath(Luk6)”, etc. These were all man-made laws which were called “The Oral Law” or “Traditions of the Fathers/Elders“.

Sunday doesn’t seem to have enough evidence to clearly support it as “The Lord’s Day”. Christ did Resurrect on the 1st Day of the Week which is know as Sunday, but this was a significant day in God’s Calendar – which is called the Day of Firstfruits“. Calling every Sunday the Lord’s Day does not make sense; at least not according to the Bible.

My Holy Day
The only day which is called “My Holy Day”, according to Scripture is the Sabbath. It is a day which is intimately connected to God, but even this does not make a strong enough case for the Sabbath to be the “The Lord’s Day” mentioned in Revelations 1:10.

Isa 58:13  If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

Exo 20:10  But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

Lev 23:3  Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.

Deu 5:14  But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.

The Day of the LORD
Both the Old Testament Scriptures as well as the New Testament writings mention “A Great and Notable Day” known as “The Day of the Lord”. With many instances spanning the major and minor prophets to the words of Peter and Paul, this day refers to the end, when Yeshua(The true name of Jesus) our Lord, returns to judge the world.

Isa 34:8  For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.

Eze 30:3  For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near, a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the heathen.

Joe 2:31  The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

Amo 5:18  Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.

Oba 1:15  For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.

Zep 1:14The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.

Zec 14:1  Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.

Mal 4:5  Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Act 2:20  The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

1Co 1:8  Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1Co 5:5  To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

1Th 5:2  For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

2Pe 3:10  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

Conclusion
“The Lord’s Day” which is mentioned only in Rev 1:10, is most likely referring to the “Day of the Lord” which is mentioned multiple times in the Bible. This was the title used for the End times by all the Prophets and even Peter & Paul. So it makes sense that John is also speaking of the same, as he says that he was “in the spirit” on “The Lord’s Day”. It is most likely that God took John out of his own time and made him travel through to the end times in the spirit. And from this point John starts to explain the revelation that he received of the End times. There is no evidence to substantiate that the Lord’s Day referred to Sunday as many presume, or even the Sabbath – even though God calls it “My Holy Day”. Let us all await “The Lord’s Day” with joy and reverence. Amen!

 

Unclean Foods sanctified by God’s Word and Prayer? Misunderstandings regarding 1Tim 4:1-5

5221226283_721815ebe5_o-528x396Among the many verses which are presented as proof texts to say that “the food laws are no longer in effect”, these words written by Paul to Timothy take center stage. Is Paul saying that everything is sanctified just by our prayers, even if God says some things are in fact not holy according to His Word? We must carefully dissect what Paul is saying, before we jump into conclusions and become someone who abolishes God’s Law.

1Ti 4:1-5 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

The 2 erroneous doctrines addressed here by Paul are:
1. Forbidding to Marry    2. Abstinence from food*

These 2 doctrines are brought forth by people who:
1. Depart from the Faith
2. Turn their minds towards misleading spirits
3. Turn their minds towards teachings which are not from God, but evil/demonic
4. Promulgate erroneous doctrines under false pretenses
5. Have consciences which are rendered unsensitive towards God

Looking at the above 2 erroneous doctrines and the signs of the people who bring them, we can be assured that it goes against God’s Word. In fact Paul equates these 2 erroneous doctrines to “doctrines of devils”. The only way a person could say that the above verses speak of “God’s separation of Clean/Unclean Meats” spoken of in Lev 11 & Deut 14, is to equate God’s Law to doctrines of devils. God’s Law, of which Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) said that not a jot or tittle will pass and that the person who breaks the least of the commands would be the least in His Kingdom(Mat 5:17-19), would suddenly have to be equated to “doctrines of devils”.

*Furthermore, the word translated “meats” in the original Greek Manuscripts of 1Tim 4:3 is not specifically speaking of meat of animals, rather of food in general. (G1033 – βρῶμα – brōma – Thayer’s Greek Lexicon: that which is eaten, food)

While abstaining from foods such as in the case of vegetarianism or living a celibate life does not go against God’s Commands, enforcing such practices on others and teaching it as God’s Word(when there is no mention of such commands in the Scriptures), could be equated to doctrines born from evil. Such practices were known to be part of the doctrine of Gnostic sects in the 2nd Century AD, and the seeds of their teachings may have been prevalent even in Paul’s time.

There is another simple reason Paul could not have been speaking of God’s Food Laws here. In verse 3 Paul says of “meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” Meats which God created to be received with thanksgiving were listed by Him as clean animals mentioned in Lev 11 & Deut 14. Additionally, Paul also speaks of “people who believe and know the truth” in the end of verse 3.

What is Truth? According to the Bible, “Truth” is God’s Word(John 17:17, Psa 119:151).

Verse 5 is a must when reading verse 4. In verse 4 Paul seems to be saying that we can eat everything irrespective of what God said in the Scriptures. But in verse 5 this is clarified – nothing is to be refused as it is sanctified(made holy) by the Word of God and prayer. Now the question is what exactly is sanctified by the Word of God…. If God says “eat this” and “don’t eat this”… surely what He says to eat, is what is sanctified. Whatever He deemed unclean cannot be sanctified by His own Word.

So in conclusion, Paul cannot be talking of people who were adhering to God’s Commands, in the passage in question. These were foreign doctrines which were not from God. Paul, who walked perfectly according to God’s Law (Acts 21:24), would have adhered to God’s dietary instructions – and when he speaks of Food which should be received with thanksgiving, as it is sanctified by God’s Word and Prayer – he could not be speaking of the food that God deemed unclean and unholy.

Related Articles
Food Laws or Fasting? Misunderstandings regarding Romans 14
Can we eat all meats? Food sacrificed to idols and misunderstandings regarding 1Cor 10:25
Did Christ declare all foods clean? Misunderstandings regarding Mark 7:19
Did God tell Peter that he is free to eat unclean animals which He had banned before? Acts 10:1 – 11:18
Was God’s Law blotted out and nailed to the cross? Misunderstandings regarding Col 2:11-17
Gentiles have to obey only 4 Commandments? Misunderstandings regarding Acts 15

The Veil of Moses – Misunderstandings regarding 2 Corinthians 3:12-18

Paul’s words to the Corinthians about the Veil of Moses is commonly understood to be a metaphor for the Old Covenant. The Christians who have this understanding say that this veil which is the Old Covenant was removed through Messiah and the New Covenant. We shall test this theory using Scripture and see whether context and the references from the Old Testament story of Moses putting on a veil over his face, can shine some light on this particular passage.

This study has been broken down into the following sections:
1. 2Cor 3:1-5 and the Context in “being commended”
2. Letter of the Law and Spirit of the Law
3. Old Testament and New Testament
4. Moses and the Veil
5. 2Cor 3:6-11 and the Glory of the Ministries
6. 2Cor 3:12-18 and the Spiritual Vail which covers God’s Glory
7. 2Cor 4:1-6 and the Glory of God in Messiah
8. Conclusion

1. 2Cor 3:1-5 and the Context in “being commended”
In his 2nd Letter to the Corinthians, Paul discusses a variety of subjects, but comes back to one theme, time and time again, where he speaks of not needing earthly commendation. Let’s look at the start of this theme, as it will provide context to the verses in question.

2Co 3:1-5 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;

Paul asks the question whether he needs to commend himself, or whether he needs letters of commendation from the Corinthians. He answers his own question by stating that the best epistles of commendation are in fact the Corinthians themselves and the lives they live in front of others. He says that the Corinthians are not his own epistle but of Christ, which were written through him, and he alludes to the New Covenant in prophecy, saying “written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart”(Jer 31:33, Eze 11:19,20, Eze 36:26,27). The theme of “receiving commendation from God is more glorious than having it of man”, continues throughout the letter as we see below.

2Co 4:2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
2Co 5:12  For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.
2Co 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
2Co 10:18  For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.
2Co 12:11  I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.

It is clear that there was some doubt of Paul’s apostleship among the Corinthians(2Cor 13:3, 11:5,13) that he needed to reaffirm his position and also say that he need not be commended by man to be glorified by God(2Cor 12:11,12). There were some who were saying that the letters Paul wrote were weighty and powerful, but his demeanor and speech were weak(2Cor 10:8-12) thereby questioning his ability to be an Apostle.

2. Letter of the Law and Spirit of the Law
The Law! A subject which is looked at with contempt and disgust, even though it was given by God Himself and praised by many. Under the law, bondage, curse, fallen from grace, nailed to the cross, and many such phrases come to mind when we speak of the Law. But seldom does anyone try to examine and learn about the Law of God, the reason for it’s existence and Paul’s view of it. Instead most of us are used to taking the majority view as the correct path.

What is the Law of God?
The Law of God was given to us to know what sin is(Rom 7:7). The breaking of the Law is Sin(1Jn 3:4). It exists to point us towards what is right and wrong. If we do the right thing according to the Law of God, we are blessed with life – while disobedience to it brings the curse of Death(Deut 30:19). No man is justified/made righteous through the Law of God(Psa 143:2, Gal 3:11) as a person who keeps the whole law, yet break even one, he becomes guilty of all(Jas 2:10). We are not saved by keeping God’s Law, but through the faith we put in God, and the Grace He shows towards us(Rom 4:2-4). But that does not make God’s Law void(Rom 3:31). After we are saved through the Grace of the Father, we need to be obedient to His Law(1Jn 2:4, 3:24). Faith which exists without the practicing of His Word/Law, is dead faith(Jas 2:20).

What is the “Letter of the Law”?
The Letter of the Law, the engraved Commands along with the precepts, statutes and the judgments is what defines Sin. If not for the Law, we would not know what sin is(Rom 7:7). The breaking of God’s Law which is Sin(1Jn 3:4) would lead us to death(Rom 6:16). The Law was not given for people to attain justification/salvation – which was a free gift of God(Eph 2:8). Seeking justification/salvation through the obedience to the Law, would be a certain death sentence, as it would become legalism, as you become one who does not need God, relying on your own self to be deemed righteous – when the true use of the Law was the knowledge of sin(Rom 3:20). If there was no Law, there would not be “sin” as categorised by God. Sin, judgement and death are active because of the Law(Rom 7:9-11). But this does not mean the Law is against Grace, as the Law was never supposed to give Life or justification/righteousness(Gal 3:21).

What is the “Spirit of the Law”?
As explained above, through the Letter of the Law everyone is adjudged a sinner, who should receive the punishment of death. And this is where the Passover sacrifice of Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) comes in(1Cor 5:7). The blood of an unblemished lamb is substituted for your own life(1Pet 1:19), where all who come under the blood of Messiah are seen as dead(Col 3:3) for our offence of breaking the Law of God. The curse OF the Law, which is death (not to be confused with the popular false teaching that God’s law IS a curse – Rom 7:13) is what Christ redeemed us from(Gal 3:13). He did not take on Himself the punishment for sin, so that we can keep sinning (remember that sin is breaking God’s Law). Rather, that we can now be obedient to His Law without the curse which came whenever we broke His Word. We are to go beyond the plain sense of the letter of the Law and seek out the Spirit as well. Not that we discard the plain sense, but that we go beyond the plain sense and set ourselves a higher standard as Messiah taught. For example He set a higher standard for the Law of adultery in Mat 5:27,28. Does this mean he changed the letter of the Law? Did He abolish it? God Forbid. He merely fully taught the Spirit of the Law. This is what he meant when he said “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil”.

3. Old Testament and New Testament
Before we proceed, we must understand what the 2 covenants mentioned in this passage really are. It sounds trivial to define what these covenants are. But the fact is that many of us do not understand what they entitle at all.

What is the Old Testament or Mosaic Covenant?
The Covenant was made with the Children of Israel using Moses as a mediator and ratified with blood(Heb 9:19,20, Exo 24:7,8). The Covenant consists of the Ten Commands(Exo 34:28, Deu 4:13, 2Ch 6:11) which were called the Tables of the Covenant(Deut 9:9, Heb 9:4) and the Book of the Covenant(Exo 24:7, 2Kin 23:2) which had all the statutes, judgements and precepts(Deu 5:24-31)

What is the New Testament/Covenant?
The Covenant was made with the House of Israel & the House of Judah using Messiah as a mediator and ratified with the blood of Yeshua the Messiah(Jer 31:31-33, Heb 8:8-10, Heb 9:15,16). The Covenant entails God’s Law being put inside the people and being written in their hearts(Heb 8:10, Jer 31:33).

According to the above, we see an immediate relationship between the 2 covenants. The Mosaic Covenant was the revealing of God’s Law and the New Covenant was the internalising of it by being written in the heart and put inside. The Mosaic Covenant brought forth the Letter of the Law and the New Covenant showed the Spirit of the Law. The Law is common to both Covenants. The difference being, one was written on tables of stone and the other on tables of the heart as alluded in 2Cor 3:3. The Spirit of God is what helps keep the Spirit of the Law, which is the Law written in the heart and put inside us(Eze 11:19,20, Eze 36:26,27). The Law given through the Mosaic Covenant is an integral part of the New Covenant, as the Law of God is what is internalised and written in the tables of the heart instead of the tables of stone.

2Co 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

When Paul says that the “Letter of the Law” kills, he is speaking of the reason for the Law revealed in the Old Covenant – which is to provide the knowledge of sin, which leads to judgement and death. He contrasts this with the “Spirit of the Law”, much in the same way as he does in Rom 7:6, as this is what the New Testament is – an internalising of the Law of God – an obedience which comes from the heart and from inside, instead of a rigid system of obedience to the letter without love.


4. Moses and the Veil

The event where Moses covered his face with a Veil plays an integral part in this passage, as Paul draws on this part of Scripture to make a parallel. Let us examine the story in Scripture, before we move onto Paul’s explanation.

Exo 34:27-35 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him. And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them. And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai. And Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face. But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel which he was commanded. And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

veilWhen Moses went upto the Mount of Sinai and received the Covenant, he stayed up in the mount for 40 days and 40 nights without food or water. When he returned from God, his face was shining visibly, that everyone including Aaron and the rulers of the congregation were afraid to come near him. God’s glory was somehow transferred visibly to Moses’ face temporarily. And He would cover his face from the people, with a Vail until he went back before God. Whenever he returned with a face which shined forth God’s glory, he would cover it with a vail.

5. 2Cor 3:6-11 and the Glory of the Ministries
Now that we have a basic understanding of the context and the Biblical concepts used by Paul, we will move onto the next part of his writing.

2Co 3:6-11 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

We must understand what Paul is saying in these few verses to get a proper explanation of the main passage in concern. We have already looked at how the context is on being commended for the work he is doing as an Apostle and the questions raised on the validity of his apostleship(2Cor 13:3, 10:8-12, 11:5,13).

Here in verse 6, he continues to explain that God has made them into ministers of the New Covenant. Not of the “Letter of the Law” which condemns us as sinners worthy of death, but ministers of the “Spirit of the Law” which counts us righteous through the Grace of God in obedience of a higher/stricter Law taught by Messiah and internalised by the Spirit. Now in verse 7, Paul moves into a parallelism with the story in Exo 34 by saying that Moses who brought the Law of God to the Children of Israel, was the minister of the Mosaic Covenant which is the “Letter of the Law” which was engraved in stones and condemned us as disobedient sinners. The Glory he speaks of here is regarding the “ministration” and not “The Law” or “The Covenants”. This is a common mistake made by many when reading this passage. In the same way Paul is in the Ministration of the New Covenant, Moses was in the Ministration of the Mosaic Covenant. The Glory which is paralleled is of “The Ministration” and not “The Covenants” or “The Law”. Now calling the “Ministration of the Mosaic Covenant”, the “Ministration of Death” can seem like a negative statement, but as Paul had explained before, the Letter could not save anyone, but put them to death. This was the reason for the existence of the Law – the knowledge of what sin is, and what death is. As Moses was in the ministration of the Mosaic Covenant, which was engraved on stone, his face shone temporarily with the Glory which was from God, that the Children of Israel could not look at the face of Moses. This imparting of Glory on the face of Moses was temporary as we see in Exo 34. Now in verse 9, Paul compares the glory of the Ministry of the Mosaic Covenant, to the Ministry of the New Covenant. He says that the Ministry of the Spirit is more glorious than the Ministry of the Letter. That the Ministry of Righteousness (being seen as one who has paid for sin, and being deemed righteous through the death of Messiah) is more glorious than the Ministry of Condemnation (being labelled as sinners by the Law, deserving of death). Paul goes onto say in verse 10, that if you compare the glory of the Ministry of the New Covenant to the glory of the Ministry of the Mosaic Covenant, the glory of the Ministry of the New Covenant exceeds so much more, that the Ministry of the Mosaic Covenant is almost as if it had no glory at all. (Again please remember that Paul is comparing the “Glory of the ministration”, not the covenants or the Law). In verse 11, he once again reiterates that if the Ministration of the Mosaic Covenant was glorious, in which the Glory of God seen on the Face of Moses, faded away(see end of verse 7), how much more glorious is the ministration of the New Covenant which is in effect today. With this Paul moves onto the passage in concern below.

6. 2Cor 3:12-18 and the Spiritual Vail which covers God’s Glory

2Co 3:12-18 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Paul who thus far compared the glory of the “Ministry” of the Mosaic Covenant and the “Ministry” of the New Covenant, says in verse 12 that they have hope of a greater ministry, that they speak clearly/openly unlike Moses. Moses covered his face with a vail that the Children of Israel could not gaze at what came to be ceased – which is his face that temporarily shone. What he covered with a veil was the “Glory of God” that was temporarily manifest on his face. In verse 14, Paul compares this physical vail that covered the Glory of God that shone forth in Moses’ face to a spiritual vail which blocked the eyes of the Children of Israel from witnessing the fullness of God’s Glory. Paul exclaims that the same spiritual vail or blindness is still blocking their view, that even when they read the Old Covenant they cannot see God’s true Glory because of the spiritual veil which is blocking the light from shining forth. This spiritual vail can only be removed through Christ as per Paul. (It is important to note that the thing that is done away in Christ is not the Old Covenant or The Law, but the spiritual vail which covers their eyes). Paul continues in verse 15 saying, that even in his day, the vail is still upon their hearts when they read the 5 Books of Moses, which can only be removed when their hearts turn to God. In other words the majority of Jews of his day were reading God’s Word without seeing God’s true Glory. This is the difference Paul spoke of earlier, in the Letter of the Law and Spirit of the Law. And that only God’s Spirit will lead people to true liberty. In verse 18, Paul continues to explain that through God’s Spirit, our spiritual vail has been taken away that we look at God’s Glory with an uncovered face (without vail), and are being changed to His glory by looking at a reflection of His Glory (which is Christ, as we see stated in 2Cor4:4,6).

7. 2Cor 4:1-6 and the Glory of God in Messiah
We must continue the reading without stopping here, as Paul has not finished making the point he started making in the start of this chapter. Paul is writing a letter without verses and chapters to the congregation of Corinth. It is important to keep note and continue forward to see what the conclusion of his argument is.

2Co 4:1-6 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

In verse 1 of Chapter 4, Paul comes back to his main argument of seeking commendation, to say that therefore we have a ministry where we showcase God’s Glory, through God’s mercy and without being weary of the obstacles against them. In verse 2, Paul strongly shares that in his ministry they have not being deceitful in handling God’s Word (The Old Testament Scriptures) and that they have not used trickery or been dishonest. He goes onto say that we have been commended to each of the believers’ conscience by the use of the truth of God’s Word and Good News. (We see that Paul is still trying to explain his ministry and the uselessness of being commended by people, when true commendation and glorification comes from God). Verse 3&4 is where Paul explains the vail once again, saying that whoever is blind to the Good News they bring are them that are lost who have been blinded by the god of this world, so that they might not see the glory of the Good News of Christ, which is the Fullness of Glory of God which would shine forth from Christ in the same way that it did from Moses. In Verse 5, Paul yet again speaks how they do not preach/herald themselves but Christ, and themselves only as servants of the congregation and Christ. Paul closes this particular topic in verse 6 by saying that God who created light to come forth from darkness in the beginning of time, has done a similar thing with our own lives. Our hearts which were in darkness have been lit up with knowledge of the Glory of God, which shines forth permanently from the face of Christ, in the same way that the Glory of God shined forth from Moses’ face temporarily towards the Children of Israel.

7.Conclusion
In the congregation of Corinth there seems to be some sort of doubt of Paul’s apostleship (2Cor 13:3, 11:5,13) that made him reaffirm his position and also say that he need not be commended by man to be glorified by God(2Cor 5:12, 10:18, 12:11,12). There were some who were saying that the letters Paul wrote were weighty and powerful, but his demeanor and speech were weak(2Cor 10:8-12) thereby questioning his ability to be an Apostle.

In the chapter in concern, Paul mainly defends his position and Ministry, comparing the glory of the Ministry of the Old Covenant done through Moses to the Ministry of the New Covenant carried out by Paul. The Glory he speaks of here is regarding the “ministration” and not “The Law” or “The Covenants”. This is a common mistake made by many when reading this passage. In the same way Paul is in the Ministration of the New Covenant, Moses was in the Ministration of the Mosaic Covenant. The Glory which is paralleled is “The Ministration” and not “The Covenants” or “The Law”.

Then he moves onto the vail that Moses wore and compares it to a spiritual blindness which keeps some from seeing God’s full Glory. This vail can only be removed by Messiah Yeshua. It is important to note that the thing that is done away in Christ, is not the Old Covenant or The Law, but the spiritual vail or blindness which covers their eyes.

In the beginning of the 4th chapter, Paul concludes by saying that they are being commended to each of the believers conscience by the use of the truth of God’s Word and Good News. We see here that Paul is still trying to explain his ministry and the uselessness of being commended by people, when true commendation and glorification comes from God. He explains that some do not see the glory of the Good News of Christ, which is the Fullness of Glory of God which would shine forth from Christ’s face in the same way that it did from Moses.

Taking all of the above into consideration, we see that this particular passage does not speak of an abolishing of The Law of God or of The Mosaic Covenant. This simply was a case made against opposition made to his ministry, and the blindness of some towards the Glory that comes from God.

What did Christ, His Disciples & Paul consider as “Scripture”?

Sounds like a silly question, doesn’t it? What was considered as Scripture in the 1st century AD? One would say “Obviously the Bible”. But hang on! Did anyone inclusive of Paul, carry our Bible? Did they carry a Bible at all? Did Paul consider his own writings as Scripture? Did he read or ever hold his letters which were written to specific assemblies in different cities, as Scripture? Let’s check what our Bibles say about the matter.

The Bible – A Brief History
Our current Bibles are composed of 2 sections divided as The Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament in our English Translation consist of 39 books, while the new contains 27.

The New Testament containing 27 books/letters which were first put together in 367, by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, and is said to have been accepted by the Synod of Hippo Regius in North Africa in 393AD and again accepted by the Councils of Carthage in 397 and 419. The oldest Manuscripts of the New Testament are preserved in Greek – the main language of the 1st Century, while the original works such as Matthew’s Gospel is said to have been written in Hebrew according to Papias.

While there is no scholarly consensus as to when the Old Testament Canon was fixed, some scholars argue that it was done in the time of the Hasmonean dynasty (140BC – 116BC). The Old Testament” as we call it, was completely written in Hebrew and consisted of three divisions – The Torah (5 Books of Moses i.e. Genesis to Deuteronomy), The Nevi’im (Prophets) & The Ketuvim (Writings/Psalms).

The Old Testament divisions can be seen mentioned in the verses below

Luk 24:27  And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
Luk 24:44  And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
Joh 1:45  Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
Act 26:22,23  Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
Act 28:23  And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

yeshua_scrollThe phrases “Moses”, “Law” or “Law of Moses” in the New Testament, denotes the first 5 Books of the Old Testament which were written by Moses. “Prophets” denotes all the books written by the Prophets such as Jeremiah, Isaiah, Obadiah, Daniel, etc. The Psalms and the rest of the writings together with “Moses” and “Prophets” put together, made up the Old Testament in the 1st Century AD.

1) Law (also known as Moses, Law of Moses or Law) wherever you see these terms referred in the New Testament writing, it means the first 5 Books of the Bible which were written by Moses – Mat 5:17, 7:12, 22:40, Mar 12:26, Luk 2:22, Luk 16:29,31, 24:27,44, Joh 1:45, 5:45, 7:23, Act 6:11, 13:15,39, 15:5, 21:21, 24:14, 26:22, 28:23, 1Cor 9:9, 2Cor 3:15, Heb 10:28, Rom 3:21
2) Prophets which contains all the Major and Minor Prophets – Mat 5:17, 7:12, 22:40, Luk 16:29,31, 24:27,44, Joh 1:45, Act 7:42, 13:15,40, 24:14, 26:22, 28:23, Rom 3:21
3) Psalms (also known as the Writings) which contains the Book of Psalms and the rest of the writings – Luk 20:42, 24:44, Act 1:20

The Format of the Scriptures that were read by Christ, the Disciples & Paul
In our minds whenever we read the New Testament writings, we see everyone opening books and reading from bound books that we are familiar with. But the truth is that there were no bound books at the time. Printing would be introduced 1500 years later. So what was the format of the Scriptures they had? All of the writings were copied on Scrolls made of parchment/Animal skin and rolled and kept. We can see an instance of this in Luke 4:17.

Luk 4:17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened(g380) the book(g975), he found the place where it was written,

scribe1In the above verse “opened” should be translated as “unrolled” according to the Greek word used there (G380 – ἀναπτύσσω – anaptussō – Thayer’s Greek Definition: to unroll). Furthermore, the word used for “book” can mean a scroll as the same word (G975 – βιβλίον – biblion)  is seen again in Rev 6:14 translated as Scroll. These scrolls were copied by hand, with the utmost care and it is said that it would take a scribe a whole year and the skins of a whole herd of sheep to create one copy of the 5 books of Moses.

The Availability of the Scriptures that were read by Christ, the Disciples & Paul
Just as most of us imagine Christ, the disciples and even Paul reading a bound Bible, when in fact they were reading rolled up Scrolls – some imagine that the early Christians carried their own copy of the Scriptures. It is very unlikely that the early believers even owned a copy of the Scriptures, as it was quite costly. Only the Synagogues in each of the cities would have a copy that could be read on the Sabbath day when the people assembled together.  

Christ considered what we call the Old Testament as Scripture
Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) speaks of no other writing other than the books of Moses, Prophets & Writings/Psalms as “Scripture” (Mat 21:42, Mat 22:29, Mat 26:54,56,  Mar 12:10,24, Mar 14:49, Luk 4:21, Joh 5:39, Joh 7:38, Joh 10:35, Joh 13:18, Joh 17:12)

The Gospel writers and the disciples considered what we call the Old Testament as Scripture
Gospel writers Mark, Luke, John, other disciples, James and even Peter refers to the Old Testament as “Scripture” (Mar 15:28, Luk 24:27, Luk 24:32, Luk 24:45, Joh 2:22, Joh 19:24, Joh 19:28, Joh 19:36,37, Joh 20:9, Act 1:16, Act 8:32,35, Act 17:2,11, Act 18:24,28, Jas 2:8, Jas 2:23, Jas 4:5, 1Pet 2:6, 2Pet 1:20, 2Pet 3:16)

Paul considered what we call the Old Testament as Scripture
In so many instances Paul refers to the Old Testament calling it “The Scriptures”. (Rom 1:2, Rom 4:3, Rom 9:17, Rom 10:11, Rom 11:2, Rom 16:26, 1Cor 15:3,4, Gal 3:8,22, Gal 4:30, 1Tim 5:18, 2Tim 3:16). Out of this list, of special concern is a beloved verse which almost every Christian knows by heart.

2Ti 3:15-17 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Paul tells his beloved son Timothy that he has known the Holy Scriptures from the time he was a child. The Holy Scripture mentioned here could only be what we refer as the Old Testament. Paul adds to his words explaining that all of the Scriptures are given by the inspiration of God for teaching, as proof, to correct and to train in righteousness. While most of us read 2Tim 3:16 believing it is speaking of our Bibles when it says “Scripture”, it is clear that Paul is referring to the Scriptures that they had. The Scripture which Timothy was familiar with from the time he was a child. What we refer to as the Old Testament.

Today’s view of the Old Testament and the New Testament
OT NTMany Christians see the Old Testament to have been given only for the Jews/Israel while the New Testament to be given to the Gentile/Christian. While there was no New Testament in the hands of Christ, His disciples or Paul – they would have never imagined of a congregation that believes in Messiah while giving the least bit of attention to the Old Testament – the “Holy Scriptures” in their eyes. The man-made division of “Old Testament” & “New Testament”, has brought only division to the Christian body as a whole. Many denominations have made the True Scripture, an enemy of the Christian. They have turned its oulook into a curse. Something which is “Old” and done away. Only if more Christians would pay attention to what the writers of the New Testament say, in their original context. Today’s Christian is not being built on the foundation of the True Scripture – as most new believers are told to even skip the Old Testament and start with the New. We forget that the Bereans who were called noble, turned to Scripture when it came to checking Paul’s words. If only all of us Christians today, turned to the Scriptures to check whether all of the doctrines taught to us by our pastors, teachers and denominations agreed with Scripture!

Conclusion
While all the proof in the New Testament writings point towards the “Old Testament” being referred to exclusively as Scripture, many Christians today give the “Scriptures” of our Messiah, His Disciples and even Paul, step-motherly treatment. Some are engrossed so much in the New Testament, that they see no reason to read the “Holy Scriptures” as Paul mentioned them. The New Testament is looked upon to provide teaching, proof, correction and training, while the Old Testament is seen as an abolished book today. Paul could not have been referring to His own writings as “Scripture”, as these letters were written to specific individuals and congregations, tackling specific issues distinct to those individuals/congregations. For example, Paul’s letter to the Roman Congregation, was sent to Rome and not Corinth, Colosse, Ephesus, Thessalonica, etc. His letter to Timothy was written specifically to Timothy and no one else.

Furthermore, these individual letters that constitute the New Testament were put together and agreed upon as canonical only in the late 4th Century. The New Testament writings are a necessary part of a Christians life, as it reveals to us about Christ, His disciples and their teachings. But we should not forget that what they considered as “Scripture” was nothing else other than what we call the Old Testament books of Moses, the Prophets & the Psalms. It is time that Christians wake up and give the proper place that “God’s Word” the “Holy Scriptures” deserve!

Was God’s Law blotted out and nailed to the cross? Misunderstandings regarding Col 2:11-17

Paul’s letter to the Colossians contain one, if not the most famous of verses used to prove that God’s Law is done away with Christ’s death. While many Christians quote this passage, not many of us pay proper attention to the words used by Paul – which ultimately leads us to read our own doctrines into the text. Peter was right to warn believers to be careful when reading Paul’s Letters, as many were distorting his words in their day(2 Pet 3:15,16). Nothing much has changed, as the letters and words of this Misunderstood Apostle are still unwittingly distorted by many. Let’s try to put our preconceived ideas and beliefs away so that we can approach the text afresh, and see the true meaning of Paul’s words to the Colossians.

This study is broken down to the following areas
1. Introduction (Col 1:1-2:9)
2. The meaning of Principalities and Powers (Col 1:16, 2:10,15)
3. Circumcision made without hands (Col 2:11)
4. Buried with Him in Baptism (Col 2:12)
5. The meaning of Handwriting of Ordinances (Col 2:14)
6. Let no one judge you (Col 2:16)
7. A shadow of things to come (Col 2:17)
8. Being subject to Ordinances – the commandments and doctrines of men (Col 2:18-23)
9. Conclusion

Abraxas. Egyptian-Roman amulet, 100-400

Abraxas.
Egyptian-Roman amulet, 100-400

1. Introduction
The congregation at Colosse was most probably established and had not even seen Paul face to face(Col 2:1). Paul greets them and thanks God for their faith, telling the Colossians that his prayer is for them to increase in the knowledge and understanding of God. He then thanks God for making them part of His kingdom through Christ. Paul explains that everything in Heaven and on Earth were created through Him, whether it be thrones, dominions, principalities or powers. (This proclamation of authority whether it be in heaven or earth, being under Messiah will be an important thought to consider when we come to the verses in question, as the letter deals with who has authority over the Colossian believers) He goes onto explain that Christ is above all things, being made the head of the body of believers. His blood made peace, reconciling everything to God. Even though the Colossians were aliens before God, when they were doing things contrary to God, Messiah had reconciled them to God through His blood. Paul then explains his ministry to the gentiles of revealing Christ in each and everyone who believes, which was a mystery revealed in their day.

Gnostic Gem Showing the Lion-Faced Deity Laldabaoth (Sophia’s Son). From L’antiquité Expliquée et Représentée en Figures, by Bernard de Montfaucon (Paris: F. Delaulne, 1719)

Gnostic Gem Showing the Lion-Faced Deity Laldabaoth (Sophia’s Son). From L’antiquité Expliquée et Représentée en Figures, by Bernard de Montfaucon (Paris: F. Delaulne, 1719)

In the second chapter Paul once again speaks of the mystery of God, and how wisdom and knowledge is hidden in Him. He asks them to beware of being deceived by persuasive language – in context of Knowledge and wisdom. It is apparent reading the letter thus far, that the Colossians were being persuaded by some party or parties in the realm of wisdom and knowledge. There is a strong probability that these were Gnostics who believed in “Hidden Knowledge” (Gnostikos in Greek meant “Having Knowledge”) – they were known to shun the physical/material world and wanted to embrace the spiritual world. Gnosticism could also be likened unto the “traditions of the elders” which practiced justification through certain works. Gnostics believed that gnosis (knowledge, enlightenment or ‘oneness with God’) may be reached by practicing philanthropy to the point of personal poverty, sexual abstinence and diligently searching for knowledge/wisdom by helping others. Outwardly, it looked like a good way of life, but inwardly it did nothing to help believers, being just man-made ideas. This will be apparent when we reach the end of Chapter 2.

Paul advises them to be rooted and built up in Christ, and be steadfast & established in the faith they had received. In Col 2:8, Paul once again tells them to beware of philosophy, empty delusions which are according to human traditions and principle of the world. And then proclaims once again that all “principality and power” is under him, as the fullness of divinity resides in Him. In other words, their is no higher authority than the savior and lord of our lives, Yeshua the Messiah.

2. Principalities and Powers
At this juncture, before proceeding to verse 11, we must identify the true meaning of “Principalities and Powers”. The usual explanation is that these are spiritual entities which had authority over humans, before Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Let’s test this against the writings. Paul uses this phrasing 3 times in the letter to the Colossians, denoting a certain importance of said phrase to the point he is trying to make.

Col 1:16  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
Col 2:10  And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
Col 2:15  And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Principalities – Strong’s Dictionary – G746 – ar-khay’ – From G756; (properly abstract) a commencement, or (concrete) chief (in various applications of order, time, place or rank): – beginning, corner, (at the, the) first (estate), magistrate, power, principality, principle, rule.

Powers – Strong’s Dictionary – G1849 – ex-oo-see’-ah – From G1832 (in the sense of ability); privilege, that is, (subjectively) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery (concretely magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence: – authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength.

The use of the phrase “Principalities and Powers” in the New Testament 
Luk 12:11  And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates(G746), and powers(G1489), take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
Luk 20:20  And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power(G746) and authority(G1489) of the governor.
1Co 15:24  Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule(G746) and all authority(G1489) and power.
Eph 1:21  Far above all principality(G746), and power(G1489), and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
Eph 3:10  To the intent that now unto the principalities(G746), and powers(G1489)in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities(G746), against powers(G1489), against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Tit 3:1  Put them in mind to be subject to principalities(G746), and powers(G1489), to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,

These two Greek words “Arkhay” & “Exooseeah” are mostly used for rule/authority/governance in an earthly sense, as in magistrates, governors, rulers, etc. In the letter to the Ephesians Paul uses the same words to speak of spiritual rule and authority, but he clearly mentions “high places” or “heavenly places” to explain that he is not speaking of it in an earthly sense. Luk 12 and Titus 3 are clearly speaking of earthly rulers and authorities using the same Greek words. Looking at the above evidence, it is most likely that Paul was speaking of an earthly “Arkhay” & “Exooseeah” in the letter to the Colossians. Colossians 1:16 further explains the fact that he was speaking of earthly rulers and authorities as well as the heavenly.

3. Circumcision made without hands
Returning to the Letter to the Colossians, we see Paul suddenly addressing the topic of circumcision. One of the main concerns in the 1st century was whether gentile believers in the faith should be circumcised or not before they were accepted as believers – in other words, some were saying that Gentile believers needed to be circumcised to be saved. The 15th Chapter of Acts shows the conflict and the resolution created by the Jerusalem Council. Many of Paul’s letters directly tackle this idea of “justification by Works” – in other words “being saved because of becoming circumcised”. And it is the same argument that Paul brings to the Colossians. Just after explaining that Christ is above all so called rulers and authorities, he explains that the Colossians have been circumcised with the circumcision made without hands – The circumcision of the heart – both spoken by Paul(Rom 2:29) and God Himslef(Deut 10:16, 30:6, Jer 4:4) in the Old Testament Scriptures. Circumcision of the heart was repentance and turning from your iniquities towards God.

4. Buried with Him in Baptism
After explaining that they have received “salvation” (putting off the body of sins of the flesh) without physical circumcision, Paul then turns to baptism. Explaining that they have died to the old life in baptism (burial in water) and being resurrected through the faith in God, Paul writes that they were dead in sin and uncircumcision – but have now been forgiven their sins.

It is important to note that the Jewish Rabbinic authorities believe a proselyte(convert to Judaism) must engage in Circumcision and Baptism before they are regarded part of the congregation ([A] Refer discussion by Maimonides on Yevamot 47a-b). This is still considered mandatory and is in practice even today. It is proven through archaeology that there were ritual baths (special places for baptism) even before the time of Christ, so it is safe to say Jewish Proselytes were circumcised and baptized before they were accepted into the community, even in the 1st Century. It should now be apparent to you why Paul discusses Circumcision and Baptism in his letter to the Colossians. These were new converts into the faith, and most definitely, the rulers/authorities wanted them to adhere to the customs/traditions of their day. In the eyes of these “principalities” and “powers” a proselyte was to be physically circumcised and then baptized before they were part of the faith. The Jerusalem Council had announced this was not necessary to become part of the congregation as one is saved only by faith and the grace of God. Circumcision was never a requirement to approach God. In fact it was a commandment for parents, as they are the one who circumcised a child on the 8th day.

Paul explained that the Colossians had been circumcised with a circumcision done without hands, and with baptism to Christ – so that they did not need any further acts to be done in accordance to the principalities and powers of their day.

5. The meaning of Handwriting of Ordinances
As we step into the main verses in question, the context leading to this verse becomes all the more important. Christians are quick to say that the phrase “Handwriting of Ordinances” refers to the “Law of God” or “Law of Moses” or “The Old Testament Scriptures”. Nothing can be further than the truth.

Handwriting – G5498 – khi-rog’-raf-on – Neuter of a compound of G5495 and G1125; something hand written (“chirograph”), that is, a manuscript (specifically a legal document or bond (figuratively)): – handwriting. This word can only be found in Col 2:14

Ordinances – G1378 – dog’-mah – From the base of G1380; a law (civil, ceremonial or ecclesiastical): – decree, ordinance.
Luk 2:1  And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree(G1378) from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
Act 16:4  And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees(G1378) for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.
Act 17:7  Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees(G1378) of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
Eph 2:15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances(G1378); for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

The phrase “handwriting of Ordinances” is only seen in the letter to the Colossians. The word “Ordinances” (Dogmah) is seen 5 times in the New Testament and 3 of those occasions clearly refer to “man-made Decrees”.

Eph 2:15 stands out amongst them, as Paul connected it to the “middle wall of partition” (also known as the soreg). While God had given Commandments and His Law, the word Dogmah stood for man-made Decrees/laws/ordinances. If Paul was indeed speaking of God’s Law & Commandments, he would not have needed to use the word “ordinance”/”decree”(dogmah) in his letter. These “ordinances” which were prescribed by the principalities and powers, were hostile to the worship of God, as they restrained anyone other than “Jews” (as per their definition) from worshiping God. These ordinances made a clear separation between Jew and Gentile, by elevating one above the other, to the extent where gentiles were looked down upon and disassociated, by Jews everywhere (Joh 4:9,27, 7:35, Act 10:28, 11:2,3, Gal 2:12).

Coming back to Col 2:14, we see that which is blotted out and nailed to the cross is “Dogmah” or man-made decrees, and not any parts of the Scriptures. Just as Paul explains in Eph 2:15, these were hostile towards us. He repeats those words to the Colossians by saying that those decrees were against and opposed to believers of God. In the same breadth Paul explains these rulers and people of authority(principalities and powers) who create and subject others to these man-made decrees had been made powerless by Christ, as He alone held authority over all.

6. Let no one judge you
One of the most misunderstood and misused verses in the New Testament, this verse is commonly used as a proof text to say that the Sabbath and feast days that God called “His Feasts” are now discarded after Christ. Let’s look at the verse a little closer.

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:

Paul writes that “therefore”, hinting at the so called rulers & authorities (principalities and powers) who are powerless because of the true person who has authority over all of God’s children; For this reason the Colossians should not let anyone judge/condemn them. They were under a higher authority. But what were these Principalities and powers condemning the Colossians for? This verse can be read in the following ways:

A) Let no man therefore judge you FOR NOT ADHERING TO Food Laws, Holydays, New Moon days and Sabbath days.
B) Let no man therefore judge you FOR ADHERING TO Food Laws, Holydays, New Moon days and Sabbath days.

The majority of Christians understand this verse to be read according to “reading A” in which Paul is asking the Colossians to let no one judge them for not keeping God’s Law. The inverse maybe true as well. As per “reading B”, Paul could also be asking them to not let anyone judge them for adhering to God’s Law.

According to the context, it is clear that these gentile believers were being influenced by the Jewish authorities of their day in the realm of adherence to their man-made laws and authority. Paul had already explained that these “dogmah” ordinances/man-made laws were done away in Christ. It is likely that these “principalities and powers” were judging these new Gentile believers for keeping Food Laws, Holy days, New Moons and Sabbath days without proper adherence to their laws which were made for proselytes. In their eyes, these proselytes were keeping the ways of God before being officially accepted into the fold. They were acting outside their authority, and that was not acceptable.

7. A shadow of things to come
Paul concludes the advice about not letting anyone judge them by saying that the Food Laws, Holy days, New Moons & Sabbaths “are” a shadow of things to come. Note that Paul did not say “were” but “are” indicating they are still a shadow of things to come. The next part of the verse is written “But the body is of Christ”, which can also be translated as “and the body is of Christ”. However it is translated, it is apparent that Paul is saying that the Shadow is cast by a body which is Christ. Meaning that these Laws “are” a shadow of the coming Christ and His Kingdom.

8. Being subject to Ordinances – the commandments and doctrines of men
Paul completes his advise on coming under authority/rule of men and obeying their man made laws/doctrines/commandments by speaking of the Gnostic influence on the Colossians once again. We saw that he had mentioned the pursuit of wisdom at the start of the second chapter possibly indicating influence by Gnostics. Now paul speaks of asceticism (a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from worldly pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals), worship/religion of angels, pride in wisdom and intrusion into the unknown. These were all Gnostic ideas/teachings, making it obvious that one of the main parties trying to influence the Colossian believers were indeed the Gnostics.

Paul reminds them to be firmly connected to Christ, the head of authority, who nourishes all believers in faith. And also to not be in subjection to principles of the world or doctrines/commands of men that say do not touch, taste, handle – which appear to be wise, but is self-made religion and asceticism which neglect the body, but do nothing to stop the indulgences of the flesh. In other words, they seem to be spiritual commands but are man-made ideas which does nothing to bring you closer to God. Some see these verses to be speaking of God’s Law, such as the food laws… but Paul is very clear in saying that these are “commandments and doctrines of men”.

9. Conclusion
The Colossians were a group of new believers who were being influenced and criticized by certain authorities. These “principalities and powers” as Paul put them, were in places of power but had no authority over the Children of God, as Christ was the head of the body. Through His sacrifice, He had put those man-made ordinances/doctrines to shame by triumphing over them. There was no more barrier for Gentiles to approach God in repentance. These proselytes need not be subject to the ways of man anymore. The second influencing factor were the Gnostic thoughts in their day. These ideas rejected the earthly life altogether for Spiritual knowledge and wisdom, in worshiping angels and in asceticism.

The Colossians who were most likely being pushed, bullied and rejected by both Jews who held onto the “Traditions of the elders” and the Gentiles who were peddling Gnostic thought, were being influenced in the middle – to which Paul writes to strengthen them in the Gospel they have heard and to advice them to separate God’s Word from the Word of man. Separate God’s eternal Law from the temporary man-made commands and doctrines. Separate Christ who has full authority over them to the powerless “principalities and powers” of their day.

It is important to dissect Paul’s words carefully, and to always remember that we do not fully know the backgrounds of the assemblies he wrote to, nor the troubles and conflicts they faced. We must understand that Paul adhered and walked according to God’s Law, and that his common rebuke was against justification/salvation through the doing of the Law. When taken in context there is no doubt that Paul was speaking of man-made doctrines being nailed to the cross and being blotted out, and not God’s eternal Law.

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[A]”By three things did Israel enter into the Covenant: by circumcision, and baptism and sacrifice. Circumcision was in Egypt, as it is written: ‘No uncircumcised person shall eat thereof’ (Exodus 12:48). Baptism was in the wilderness, just before giving of the Law, as it is written: ‘Sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes’ (Exodus 19:10). And sacrifice, as it is said: ‘And he sent young men of the children of Israel which offered burnt offerings’ (Exodus 24:5)…When a gentile is willing to enter the covenant…He must be circumcised and be baptized and bring a sacrifice…And at this time when there is no sacrifice, they must be circumcised and be baptized; and when the Temple shall be built, they are to bring a sacrifice…The gentile that is made a proselyte and the slave that is made free, behold he is like a child new born.”