olossians 2:16-17 is one of the passages most commonly used todocument the claim that the Sabbath and Holy Days are not required to bekept in the new covenant. The conclusion is that the "judging" refers toJudaizers trying to put pressure on the Colossians to keep these days, whichPaul allegedly says should not be kept because they are only a shadow of the spiritual reality — Jesus Christ.Many have had to deal with this argument in defense of the belief that theSabbath and Holy Days must still be kept. Does this passage say that theColossians are being pressured by Judaizers to keep the Holy Days, or thatthey were being judged for keeping the Sabbath and Holy Days? Thetranslators’ addition of the word "is" after "body" has a great bearing ondetermining the meaning of the verse.Let’s take a fresh look at these verses to see what they actually mean.Proper exegesis is necessary to clarify the meaning of this controversialpassage. If we carefully examine the verses in question on the basis of grammatical points and historical facts, we can eliminate errors of interpretation and clearly understand what Paul meant.
Importance of Gnosticism
By way of historical background, it is widely known that the heresy knownas the "Colossian heresy" was not just Judaizing but Gnosticism. Manyhave assumed that both elements were present due to the references tocircumcision, Sabbath, and Holy Days. In a sense that is true, sinceGnosticism was not a separate religion, but a religious concept that couldbe combined with an established religion with the promise of "improving"it. It was a sort of spiritual "hamburger helper" in the sense that it was a