Colossians 2:16 - Was the Sabbath Nailed to the Cross?
This verse has to be one of the most abused and misunderstood verses in relation to the law of God. Some apply it to all of the Ten Commandments, and others just to the fourth Commandment the Sabbath. And yet others say this passage is saying we still have to keep the feast days associated with the sacrificial law. But in fact this passage is saying the exact opposite in that it was these feast days that were nailed to the cross. Read Colossians 2:16 Feasts and Holydays or Colossians 2:16 and Holydays for more.
Many Christians today demean the sacrifice of Christ by choosing to nail everything to the cross they do not want to obey. But to establish what was really nailed to the cross, just ask yourself these simple questions. What was the penalty for sin? What was required to make atonement for sin before the cross that pointed forward to the sacrifice of Christ? And do we still have to take an animal sacrifice to the temple priest when we sin or did Christ end these sacrifices by taking their place and hence nailing them to the cross? Thus the only thing nailed to the cross was the law of sacrifices that Christ replaced when He died for our sins. This law had meat and drink [offerings], holydays [feast days], new moons and sabbath days [Passover Sabbath and six others] exactly as described in Colossians 2:16.
Why would anyone who truly loves Christ think that His death was a license to continue in the very sin that nailed Him to the cross in the first place. It grieves me deeply that there is no shortage of deceived Christians and even some that mock those who love God enough to obey His Law and teach otherwise.
Note also that most modern Bibles have wrongly translated meat and drink [offerings] to being able to eat unclean food and drinks. But the first serious issue with this misunderstanding is that there is no such thing as unclean drinks in the Bible and Jesus did not die for the food we eat. He died to pay the penalty for our sin.
When some see the word Sabbaths in Colossians 2:16, they instantly assume it is the Lord's Sabbath, which is one of the Ten Commandments. But how do they come to this conclusion when there were also seven Sabbaths that were instituted because of sin, such as Passover to state an obvious one? Also, the word Sabbaths or Sabbath days is plural in the Greek, which also means it is referring to something that had more than one Sabbath, which the ordinances did have and what Paul was referring to as seen in Colossians 2:14.
The fourth Commandment, being the Lord's Sabbath, is one of a kind and is not a sacrificial law and hence is not part of the ordinances. Luke 1:6 is just one easy way to demonstrate that the Ten Commandments and the ordinances are two separate things.
As stated earlier, Paul informs us in Colossians 2:14 what he is referring to in verse 16. Colossians 2:14 “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” The ordinances were the sacrificial part of the Mosaic Law that ended with Christ as He became our final perfect sacrifice. So what did these ordinances or sacrificial law require?
Paul explains in Colossians 2:16 “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink [offerings], or in respect of an holyday [feast], or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” Parentheses are added.
So Paul informs us that the ordinances had “meat and drink offerings,” “holy feast days,” “monthly new moon festivals” and the “yearly sacrificial Sabbaths.” Remember that the word Sabbaths in verse 16 is plural and means that more than one Sabbath is being referred to as the ordinances did have seven Sabbaths that were because of sin as stated earlier.
Verse 17 says that these feast days were shadows (type) as they were a shadow of some future event that they pointed forward to (antitype). Type and antitype will always match precisely. This is why Passover and Passover Sabbath ended at the cross as Jesus became our Passover Lamb and so Passover being the shadow vanished at the cross. The Lord's Sabbath existed before sin and so cannot be a shadow of anything.
Now carefully compare Galatians 4:10 and Colossians 2:16 and see also Adam Clarke and Albert Barnes Commentaries. Read was the Sabbath abolished or Colossians 2:16 Sabbath or ceremonial law for a detailed exegesis on this passage that shows the Sabbath was not nailed to the cross.