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Colossians 2:16-17: The Sabbath Day Fulfilled in Christ

Col 2:16:

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: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. (Col 2:16-17).

Question: Does Colossians 2:16-17 refer to the Saturday Sabbath as a type which NT churches are not commanded to keep? Yes, because:

1.) The context of the verse itself supports this.  The previous reference to the fulfillment and nailing to the cross of all the Law, the forgiveness of “all tresspasses” (v. 13) and nailing them all to the cross (certainly including trespasses against the ten commandments!) and this verse’s contrast of “holy day” and “sabbath days” supports it.  The following context supports it as well.

2.) The Greek word sabbaton, or “sabbath,” is never used in the NT to refer to ceremonial sabbath days.  The word is used 62 times. This would show that here it refers to the Saturday Sabbath.

All 62 sabbaton verses in the Bible:

Mt 12:1* At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day <4521> through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.

TR en ekeinw tw kairw eporeuyh o ihsouv toiv sabbasin dia twn sporimwn oi de mayhtai autou epeinasan kai hrxanto tillein stacuav kai esyiein

Mt 12:2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day <4521>.

TR oi de farisaioi idontev eipon autw idou oi mayhtai sou poiousin o ouk exestin poiein en sabbatw

Mt 12:5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days <4521> the priests in the temple profane the sabbath <4521>, and are blameless?

TR h ouk anegnwte en tw nomw oti toiv sabbasin oi iereiv en tw ierw to sabbaton bebhlousin kai anaitioi eisin

Mt 12:8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day <4521>.

TR kuriov gar estin kai tou sabbatou o uiov tou anyrwpou

Mt 12:10* And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days <4521>? that they might accuse him.

TR kai idou anyrwpov hn thn ceira ecwn xhran kai ephrwthsan auton legontev ei exestin toiv sabbasin yerapeuein ina kathgorhswsin autou

Mt 12:11* And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day <4521>, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?

TR o de eipen autoiv tiv estai ex umwn anyrwpov ov exei probaton en kai ean empesh touto toiv sabbasin eiv boyunon ouci krathsei auto kai egerei

Mt 12:12* How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days <4521>.

TR posw oun diaferei anyrwpov probatou wste exestin toiv sabbasin kalwv poiein

Mt 24:20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day <4521>:

TR proseucesye de ina mh genhtai h fugh umwn ceimwnov mhde en sabbatw

Mt 28:1* In the end of the sabbath <4521>, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week <4521>, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

TR oqe de sabbatwn th epifwskoush eiv mian sabbatwn hlyen maria h magdalhnh kai h allh maria yewrhsai ton tafon

Mr 1:21* And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day <4521> he entered into the synagogue, and taught.

TR kai eisporeuontai eiv kapernaoum kai euyewv toiv sabbasin eiselywn eiv thn sunagwghn edidasken

Mr 2:23* And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day <4521>; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.

TR kai egeneto paraporeuesyai auton en toiv sabbasin dia twn sporimwn kai hrxanto oi mayhtai autou odon poiein tillontev touv stacuav

Mr 2:24* And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day <4521> that which is not lawful?

TR kai oi farisaioi elegon autw ide ti poiousin en toiv sabbasin o ouk exestin

Mr 2:27* And he said unto them, The sabbath <4521> was made for man, and not man for the sabbath <4521>:

TR kai elegen autoiv to sabbaton dia ton anyrwpon egeneto ouc o anyrwpov dia to sabbaton

Mr 2:28* Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath <4521>.

TR wste kuriov estin o uiov tou anyrwpou kai tou sabbatou

Mr 3:2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day <4521>; that they might accuse him.

TR kai parethroun auton ei toiv sabbasin yerapeusei auton ina kathgorhswsin autou

Mr 3:4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days <4521>, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.

TR kai legei autoiv exestin toiv sabbasin agayopoihsai h kakopoihsai quchn swsai h apokteinai oi de esiwpwn

Mr 6:2* And when the sabbath day <4521> was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?

TR kai genomenou sabbatou hrxato en th sunagwgh didaskein kai polloi akouontev exeplhssonto legontev poyen toutw tauta kai tiv h sofia h doyeisa autw oti kai dunameiv toiautai dia twn ceirwn autou ginontai

Mr 16:1* And when the sabbath <4521> was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

TR kai diagenomenou tou sabbatou maria h magdalhnh kai maria h tou iakwbou kai salwmh hgorasan arwmata ina elyousai aleiqwsin auton

Mr 16:2* And very early in the morning the first day of the week <4521>, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

TR kai lian prwi thv miav sabbatwn ercontai epi to mnhmeion anateilantov tou hliou

Mr 16:9* Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week <4521>, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

TR anastav de prwi prwth sabbatou efanh prwton maria th magdalhnh af hv ekbeblhkei epta daimonia

Lu 4:16* And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath <4521> day, and stood up for to read.

TR kai hlyen eiv thn nazaret ou hn teyrammenov kai eishlyen kata to eiwyov autw en th hmera twn sabbatwn eiv thn sunagwghn kai anesth anagnwnai

Lu 4:31* And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days <4521>.

TR kai kathlyen eiv kapernaoum polin thv galilaiav kai hn didaskwn autouv en toiv sabbasin

Lu 6:1* And it came to pass on the second sabbath <4521> after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.

TR egeneto de en sabbatw deuteroprwtw diaporeuesyai auton dia twn sporimwn kai etillon oi mayhtai autou touv stacuav kai hsyion qwcontev taiv cersin

Lu 6:2 And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days <4521>?

TR tinev de twn farisaiwn eipon autoiv ti poieite o ouk exestin poiein en toiv sabbasin

Lu 6:5 And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath <4521>.

TR kai elegen autoiv oti kuriov estin o uiov tou anyrwpou kai tou sabbatou

Lu 6:6 And it came to pass also on another sabbath <4521>, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered.

TR egeneto de kai en eterw sabbatw eiselyein auton eiv thn sunagwghn kai didaskein kai hn ekei anyrwpov kai h ceir autou h dexia hn xhra

Lu 6:7 And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day <4521>; that they might find an accusation against him.

TR parethroun de auton oi grammateiv kai oi farisaioi ei en tw sabbatw yerapeusei ina eurwsin kathgorian autou

Lu 6:9 Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days <4521> to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?

TR eipen oun o ihsouv prov autouv eperwthsw umav ti exestin toiv sabbasin agayopoihsai h kakopoihsai quchn swsai h apolesai

Lu 13:10* And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath <4521>.

TR hn de didaskwn en mia twn sunagwgwn en toiv sabbasin

Lu 13:14* And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath <4521> day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath <4521> day.

TR apokriyeiv de o arcisunagwgov aganaktwn oti tw sabbatw eyerapeusen o ihsouv elegen tw oclw ex hmerai eisin en aiv dei ergazesyai en tautaiv oun ercomenoi yerapeuesye kai mh th hmera tou sabbatou

Lu 13:15* The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath <4521> loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?

TR apekriyh oun autw o kuriov kai eipen upokrita ekastov umwn tw sabbatw ou luei ton boun autou h ton onon apo thv fatnhv kai apagagwn potizei

Lu 13:16* And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath <4521> day?

TR tauthn de yugatera abraam ousan hn edhsen o satanav idou deka kai oktw eth ouk edei luyhnai apo tou desmou toutou th hmera tou sabbatou

Lu 14:1 And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath <4521> day, that they watched him.

TR kai egeneto en tw elyein auton eiv oikon tinov twn arcontwn twn farisaiwn sabbatw fagein arton kai autoi hsan parathroumenoi auton

Lu 14:3 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day <4521>?

TR kai apokriyeiv o ihsouv eipen prov touv nomikouv kai farisaiouv legwn ei exestin tw sabbatw yerapeuein

Lu 14:5* And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath <4521> day?

TR kai apokriyeiv prov autouv eipen tinov umwn onov h bouv eiv frear empeseitai kai ouk euyewv anaspasei auton en th hmera tou sabbatou

Lu 18:12* I fast twice in the week <4521>, I give tithes of all that I possess.

TR nhsteuw div tou sabbatou apodekatw panta osa ktwmai

Lu 23:54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath <4521> drew on.

TR kai hmera hn paraskeuh kai sabbaton epefwsken

Lu 23:56* And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day <4521> according to the commandment.

TR upostreqasai de htoimasan arwmata kai mura kai to men sabbaton hsucasan kata thn entolhn

Lu 24:1* Now upon the first day of the week <4521>, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

TR th de mia twn sabbatwn oryrou bayeov hlyon epi to mnhma ferousai a htoimasan arwmata kai tinev sun autaiv

Joh 5:9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath <4521>.

TR kai euyewv egeneto ugihv o anyrwpov kai hren ton krabbaton autou kai periepatei hn de sabbaton en ekeinh th hmera

Joh 5:10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day <4521>: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.

TR elegon oun oi ioudaioi tw teyerapeumenw sabbaton estin ouk exestin soi arai ton krabbaton

Joh 5:16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day <4521>.

TR kai dia touto ediwkon ton ihsoun oi ioudaioi kai ezhtoun auton apokteinai oti tauta epoiei en sabbatw

Joh 5:18* Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath <4521>, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

TR dia touto oun mallon ezhtoun auton oi ioudaioi apokteinai oti ou monon eluen to sabbaton alla kai patera idion elegen ton yeon ison eauton poiwn tw yew

Joh 7:22* Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day <4521> circumcise a man.

TR dia touto mwshv dedwken umin thn peritomhn ouc oti ek tou mwsewv estin all ek twn paterwn kai en sabbatw peritemnete anyrwpon

Joh 7:23 If a man on the sabbath day <4521> receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day <4521>?

TR ei peritomhn lambanei anyrwpov en sabbatw ina mh luyh o nomov mwsewv emoi colate oti olon anyrwpon ugih epoihsa en sabbatw

Joh 9:14 And it was the sabbath day <4521> when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.

TR hn de sabbaton ote ton phlon epoihsen o ihsouv kai anewxen autou touv ofyalmouv

Joh 9:16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day <4521>. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

TR elegon oun ek twn farisaiwn tinev outov o anyrwpov ouk estin para tou yeou oti to sabbaton ou threi alloi elegon pwv dunatai anyrwpov amartwlov toiauta shmeia poiein kai scisma hn en autoiv

Joh 19:31* The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day <4521>, (for that sabbath day <4521> was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

TR oi oun ioudaioi ina mh meinh epi tou staurou ta swmata en tw sabbatw epei paraskeuh hn hn gar megalh h hmera ekeinou tou sabbatou hrwthsan ton pilaton ina kateagwsin autwn ta skelh kai arywsin

Joh 20:1* The first day of the week <4521> cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

TR th de mia twn sabbatwn maria h magdalhnh ercetai prwi skotiav eti oushv eiv to mnhmeion kai blepei ton liyon hrmenon ek tou mnhmeiou

Joh 20:19* Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week <4521>, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

TR oushv oun oqiav th hmera ekeinh th mia twn sabbatwn kai twn yurwn kekleismenwn opou hsan oi mayhtai sunhgmenoi dia ton fobon twn ioudaiwn hlyen o ihsouv kai esth eiv to meson kai legei autoiv eirhnh umin

Ac 1:12* Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath <4521> day’s journey.

TR tote upestreqan eiv ierousalhm apo orouv tou kaloumenou elaiwnov o estin egguv ierousalhm sabbatou econ odon

Ac 13:14* But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath <4521> day, and sat down.

TR autoi de dielyontev apo thv perghv paregenonto eiv antioceian thv pisidiav kai eiselyontev eiv thn sunagwghn th hmera twn sabbatwn ekayisan

Ac 13:27* For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day <4521>, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.

TR oi gar katoikountev en ierousalhm kai oi arcontev autwn touton agnohsantev kai tav fwnav twn profhtwn tav kata pan sabbaton anaginwskomenav krinantev eplhrwsan

Ac 13:42* And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath <4521>.

TR exiontwn de ek thv sunagwghv twn ioudaiwn parekaloun ta eynh eiv to metaxu sabbaton lalhyhnai autoiv ta rhmata tauta

Ac 13:44* And the next sabbath day <4521> came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.

TR tw de ercomenw sabbatw scedon pasa h poliv sunhcyh akousai ton logon tou yeou

Ac 15:21* For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day <4521>.

TR mwshv gar ek genewn arcaiwn kata polin touv khrussontav auton ecei en taiv sunagwgaiv kata pan sabbaton anaginwskomenov

Ac 16:13* And on the sabbath <4521> we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.

TR th te hmera twn sabbatwn exhlyomen exw thv polewv para potamon ou enomizeto proseuch einai kai kayisantev elaloumen taiv sunelyousaiv gunaixin

Ac 17:2* And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath <4521> days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,

TR kata de to eiwyov tw paulw eishlyen prov autouv kai epi sabbata tria dielegeto autoiv apo twn grafwn

Ac 18:4* And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath <4521>, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

TR dielegeto de en th sunagwgh kata pan sabbaton epeiyen te ioudaiouv kai ellhnav

Ac 20:7* And upon the first day of the week <4521>, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

TR en de th mia twn sabbatwn sunhgmenwn twn mayhtwn tou klasai arton o paulov dielegeto autoiv mellwn exienai th epaurion pareteinen te ton logon mecri mesonuktiou

1Co 16:2* Upon the first day of the week <4521> let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

TR kata mian sabbatwn ekastov umwn par eautw tiyetw yhsaurizwn o ti an euodwtai ina mh otan elyw tote logiai ginwntai

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 <4521> days:

TR mh oun tiv umav krinetw en brwsei h en posei h en merei eorthv h noumhniav h sabbatwn

3.) Every time this phraseology of holyday, new moon, and sabbath appears in the OT, the “sabbath” referred to is the Saturday Sabbath.

Verses that have the same order:

Ezek. 45:17 And it shall be the prince’s part to give burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and drink offerings, in the feasts, and in the new moons, and in the sabbaths, in all solemnities of the house of Israel: he shall prepare the sin offering, and the meat offering, and the burnt offering, and the peace offerings, to make reconciliation for the house of Israel.

2Chr. 2:4 Behold, I build an house to the name of the LORD my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts of the LORD our God. This is an ordinance for ever to Israel.

2Chr. 8:13 Even after a certain rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles.

2Chr. 31:3 He appointed also the king’s portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, to wit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts, as it is written in the law of the LORD.

Verses that have all three elements:

Is. 1:13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.

the new moons.

Hos. 2:11 I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.

Neh. 10:33 For the shewbread, and for the continual meat offering, and for the continual burnt offering, of the sabbaths, of the new moons, for the set feasts, and for the holy things, and for the sin offerings to make an atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God.

1Chr. 23:31 And to offer all burnt sacrifices unto the LORD in the sabbaths, in the new moons, and on the set feasts, by number, according to the order commanded unto them, continually before the LORD:

Verses that connect sabbath and new moon (“solemn feast” and “sabbath” verses are all already listed):

2Kings 4:23 And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? it is neither new moon, nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well

Is. 66:23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.

Ezek. 46:1 Thus saith the Lord GOD; The gate of the inner court that looketh toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the sabbath it shall be opened, and in the day of the new moon it shall be opened.

Ezek. 46:3 Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the door of this gate before the LORD in the sabbaths and in the new moons.

Amos 8:5 Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?

4.) The order of “holyday,” “new moon,” “sabbath” is a progression from the abolition of the yearly (“holyday”), monthly (“new moon”), and weekly (“sabbath”) Jewish festivals.  Therefore the “sabbath” days do not refer to anything other than the weekly sabbath.  Nor can the fact that the plural form of the word “sabbath” be used to prove a reference to merely special ceremonial sabbaths.  The Greek of Exodus 20:8-10—the giving of the fourth commandment itself—utilizes the plural also found in Colossians 2:16.  Leviticus 24:8; Numbers 15:32; Luke 4:16; Acts 13:14 do as well, but reference is made to the Saturday sabbath, not to anything else.

Conclusion:

Colossians 2:16-17 indicates that the Saturday Sabbath has been abolished, as a shadow of things to come, fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ.

More Resources on Seventh-day or Saturday Sabbath-keeping and Seventh-Day Adventism

More Resources on Ecclesiology: The Doctrine of the Church