Context is as much a part of biblical interpretation as is reading the plain meaning. All of us are x-cons in regard to our being convicted of the crime of breaking His Torah, which is what sin is: “He who sins breaks the Torah, for sin IS the breaking of Torah.” 1 John 3:4
Our believing brothers, who LOVE Messiah, have to confront their violation of the Sabbath, and they often return to the vomit of self-righteous religious leaders to do so.
Many people get offended when a believer who keeps the Sabbath simply says they keep the Sabbath. They get very ‘animated’, “NO ONE CAN KEEP ALL THOSE LAWS!” And yesterday, they just said, “I can do all things through Christ…” but today, that verse is only applied to playing sports or earning money! The context is actually better suited to the latter, as Sha’ul was talking about his ability to endure the hardship of poverty, even though he knew what it was like to be wealthy. Going in THAT direction financially was the point; NOT getting rich. “Getting poor”. But it is seldom cited or used for those purposes today, but instead glamorized for the prosperity gospel.
Many today glamorize the scriptures in regard to why they ‘choose‘ NOT to observe His Sabbath.
They insist that the passage in Kolosim [Colossians] 2 concerning new moons and sabbaths was Sha’ul’s denigrating the keeping of them, abrogating them [khodesh and Shabbat] and all the Torah.
“Let no one therefore create a disturbance among you about eating and drinking, or about the distinctions of feast days, the beginning of the khadashim and of Sabbaths. These are shadows of things to come; but HaGuf, it is Mashi’akh. Let no man, by pretense of sincerity, doom you so that you worship Malakhim [messengers, ‘angels’]; for he is bold about the things he has not seen, and foolishly he is proud of his intellectual powers; that very person does not uphold the Head by whom the whole Body is constructed and stands, with the joints and members, and grows through the discipline of Elohim. Therefore, if you have died with Mashi’akh and are apart from the principles of the world, why then should you be doomed as though living in the world? Do not touch; do not taste; do not follow; for these things are customs which are changeable and they are the commandments and doctrines of men. And it appears there is some word of wisdom in these things when presented by the humble person in reverence for Elohim, provided they disregard the things of the flesh, not those things which are honorable, but only those things which satisfy the pleasure of the flesh.”
And, to further establish context, let’s look at the prior passage:
“And you, who once were dead in your sins [sin IS breaking Torah] and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has granted to live with Him, and He has forgiven you all your sins; and by His mitzvot He cancelled the written record of our sins, which stood against us; and He took it [the written record of our sins] out of the way, nailing it [the written record of our sins] to His stake; and by putting off His mortal body, He exposed the powers of evil, and through His nature put them openly to shame.”
To firmly establish context, let’s remember a few things. Sha’ul is writing to Gentiles of the first century. Not one ‘church’ as we know it existed, but the believers met in SYNAGOGUES and homes, ON THE SABBATH. Find ONE place in scripture where a Gentile believer in Yeshua worshipped G-d on Sunday, and you’ve got me. It CANNOT be done. And let me pre-empt you: Acts 20:7 is NOT the ‘first day of the week’. Look closely, if you have a good bible: ‘day’ is in italics, because it is NOT in the greek. It says, ‘at the beginning of the week’. A Jewish man’s beginning of the week is SATURDAY NIGHT. It was the END of Sabbath! AND, Sha’ul had CHOSEN NOT to travel on that day, but to wait to travel the NEXT day. Further, the ‘gathering’ they had was a Havdalah service, saying goodbye to the Sabbath! Lighting ‘lapidot’, celebratory lamps for “Motza’ei Shabbat”. This was a VERY Jewish ‘celebration,’ that happens on the end of Sabbath, and is the ‘beginning of the week’, the ‘first of the week’, its ‘start”.
Second, we MUST consider historical context here. Kolosse was a city that ALREADY had a pagan cult that mixed doctrines of greek philosophy and paganism with Judaism! BEFORE the ‘B’sorah’ [good news of Messiah] arrived there. The new believers there had to contend with forbidden foods [pagans were vegans/vegetarians], worship of the archangel Michael [the Jewish part of their mixed worship], and ‘how to determine the sabbaths and the months’, NOT the keeping of them itself, because they were MIXING the Jewish method of SETTING feasts with the PAGAN method! He wanted them to learn from G-d! And NOT from MAN. THAT is what Sha’ul is addressing in Kolosse with his letter. There were JEWS in Kolosse who were WRONG, before the gospel got there. THAT is what Sha’ul is dealing with! He wanted them to learn from G-d!
“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you and to ask that you might be filled with the knowledge of the will of Elohim in all wisdom and in all spiritual understanding, that you might live a righteous life, please Elohim with all good works, and bring forth good fruits and grow in the knowledge of Elohim…” [Kol 1]
There is only ONE source for the knowledge of Elohim: SCRIPTURE! And Sha’ul certainly would bow to SCRIPTURE and NOT presume to change it. There is also NOT ONE PLACE where Sha’ul can be seen worshipping G-d on sunday, but around 80+ places where he can be seen worshipping Him on Shabbat. He taught SCRIPTURE. And SCRIPTURE never ONCE says to move the Sabbath or profane it, but in fact has MANY mandates NOT to do so. Whom do you follow?
Sha’ul makes this perfectly clear, AFTER he tells them not to be troubled by those who confuse them concerning determining WHEN the Sabbath is. There were those who wanted to follow a LUNAR Sabbath, and not the SEVENTH DAY of the week, which the Temple still kept at the time, and ALL Jews did, including EVERY ‘apostle’ and recorded, biblical believer. There were already those who wanted to MOVE it to the first day of the week, due to their anti-semitism, although no evidence of that is seen in Kolosse. It seems the issue there was merely the PAGAN CULT of Judeo-pagan worship. THEIR customs and traditions were the issues! “Therefore, if you have died with Mashi’akh and are apart from the principles of the world, why then should you be doomed as though living in the world? Do not touch; do not taste; do not follow; for these things are customs which are changeable and they are the commandments and doctrines of men.” Are you REALLY going to tell G-d on Judgement Day that His Sabbath was MANMADE? REALLY?
“And the heaven and the earth were finished, and all the hosts of them. And on the seventh day, Elohim finished His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And Elohim blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it He rested from all His work, which Elohim, in creating, had made.”
Imitating the very CREATOR of the universe is a WORLDLY PRINCIPLE? REALLY? Are you SURE that on Judgment Day you want to hunt THAT dog?
Again, Sha’ul is addressing Kolosse in THEIR ‘traditions’. “Let no one therefore create a disturbance among you about eating and drinking, or about the distinctions of feast days, the beginning of the khadashim [months] and of Sabbaths. These are shadows of things to come; but HaGuf, it is Mashi’akh. Let no man, by pretense of sincerity, doom you so that you worship Malakhim [messengers, ‘angels’]; for he is bold about the things he has not seen, and foolishly he is proud of his intellectual powers…” Pagan cults are vegans, and did not eat or touch meat on FRIDAY [some catholics still do this]. Pagans determine the START of the month between the last crescent and the new one. Pagans do not keep HIS SABBATH; Constantine, a life-long pagan and founder of catholicism, MOVED the Sabbath from SATURDAY, the SEVENTH DAY of the Bible, to the ‘day of sol invictus’, the day of worshipping the in-conquerable sun, the god of Constantine until a week before he died. In mixing pagan faith with Judaism, BEFORE the gospel got to Kolosse, they were arguing over the BEGINNINGS or ‘setting’ the new moon and Sabbath, but they WERE keeping them! “These ARE SHADOWS of things to come!” This is exactly why we teach ALL the ‘set times’, because they are IMAGES of the return of Messiah! They will help people NOT to choose the lying Messiah that is about to deceive even the elect, if they do not have the knowledge of GOD!
Many ‘sincere’ OR ‘pretentious’ men deceive people today! Sincere people who have been deceived by pretentious people perpetuate the lies of the pretentious, who enter into religion in order to control people, placate their conscience, or other reasons. Sincere people are being deceived by sincere people, even though Sha’ul warned us NOT to be deceived by the PRINCIPLES OF THE WORLD, sincere OR pretentious. I can assure you, the Sabbath is STRAIGHT FROM HEAVEN! These pretentious people are PROUD of their intellectual powers, the way they REASON AWAY the PLAIN meaning of scripture, and lead millions into error. Look what Sha’ul told Kolosse: “for these [pagan rites mixed with some truth] things are customs which are changeable and they are the commandments and doctrines of men.” Again, are you telling me the Sabbath came from MAN? Further, the sincere ones turn around and teach the error in sincerity: “And it appears there is some word of wisdom in these things when presented by the humble person in reverence for Elohim…” There are TRUE, sincere, HUMBLE people perpetuating these errors! Misinterpreting scripture because they trusted the person[s] who taught them! Breaking the Sabbath satisfies the flesh. It is difficult to change one’s whole life, and to be so different from the masses, not going to football games on fri night and sat, not going out dancing, taking in the sites of the world, gratifying the sinful nature…it is difficult to ask one’s boss for a day off, knowing the ‘reason’ is not very strong [even though the constitution protects the right to worship on Saturday]. And, it is FAR more difficult to do when so many well-meaning, sincere people perpetuate the custom of MEN [MAN moved the sabbath. HIS sabbath is immovable], and denigrate the ones who want to do it the way G-d Himself did. And SO did Yeshua. And SO did Sha’ul.
These sincere people say things like, “Jesus is my Sabbath”. Well, if you mean, He is my comfort/rest [the idea behind Sabbath] you’d be partly right. It’s sincere. Are you going to say “Jesus is my faithfulness to my wife,” and justify committing adultery? I hope not. But that is the very principle by which many sincere people operate. But, Yeshua Himself KEPT the Sabbath. WWJD? “And He came to Natzrat, where he had been brought up; and He entered the Beit K’nesset [Synagogue] on Yom HaShabbat, as was His custom…” WWPD? Paul followed Mashi’akh: “You, then, should imitate me, even as I also imitate Mashi’akh. Now I praise you, my brethren, that you remember me in all things, and keep the customs as I delivered them to you.” [1 Kor 11:1-2] Sha’ul/Paul, in this message to another gentile congregation, told them that He follows/imitates Messiah Yeshua, and then turns right around and tells them to keep the ‘customs’. This translation came from the Aramaic, but, for the sake of Gentiles, let’s use the greek. “Paradosis” is the word for ‘customs’ here, and that is a greek word that Jews used to speak of the JEWISH LAWS. Sha’ul was a follower of Yeshua, taught the JEWISH CUSTOMS, and KEPT THEM HIMSELF. Again, show me ONE place where HE worshipped G-d on sunday, and I’ll be with you in church on Sunday. It CANNOT BE DONE. Shaul also twice told those of Thessaloniki to follow the Jewish customs as HE TAUGHT THEM.
And no, it is NOT ‘judgmental’ simply to state that scriptures teach us to keep the Sabbath. Where is ‘judgment’ in that? By stating merely a desire to obey the scriptures rather than men, we are ‘judgmental’? Count us judgmental, then: “Then Shimon Kefa with the rest of the Shlikhim answered, saying to them, “We must obey Elohim rather than men.” Perhaps, just perhaps you ‘feel’ judged because it is the very WORD OF ELOHIM speaking! And your soul KNOWS it to be right, and you feel the guilt of breaking HIS WORD? Is that not at all possible? Just so the reader knows, it is not our place to judge, and we do not sit in the seat of the scornful. But, our DELIGHT is in HIS TORAH [Ps 1], and in HIS WILL. The ONLY way to know the will of G-d is through HIS WORD.
Let’s look at the original congregation of Jews, and what they told the Gentile believers, who were being LIED to by FALSE/FAKE ‘believers’: [Acts 15:1-2, Gal 2:4] Ya’akov, Yeshua’s own brother, settled the issue about what to do with Gentiles IN THE SYNAGOGUES [that assemble on Shabbat]:
“The works of Elohim are known from the very beginning. Because of this, I say do not trouble those who turn to Elohim from among the Goyim [gentiles]. But let us send word to them that they abstain from defilement by sacrifices to idols, and from fornication, and from creatures strangled, and from blood. For Moshe [a pseudonym for the Torah], since early generations, has those who declare him in the Beit K’nessets in every city who read him [The Torah of Moshe, Genesis-Deuteronomy] on every Yom Shabbat.” [Acts 15]
Ya’akov [James] laid the ‘burden’ on the Gentiles of about SIX CHAPTERS of the Torah: Lev 18-19 defining many different acts of fornication, Lev 11 and Deut 14 defining foods that should not be eaten [road-kill being one], Lev 17 prohibiting imbibing blood, and several that show us many forms of idolatry, Ex 20 being probably the best citation. This is HARDLY a departure from scripture. Especially when he then references the TORAH and the SYNAGOGUE and SHABBAT! Can you not see that the GENTILES were LEARNING the TORAH in the SYNAGOGUE on SHABBAT!? The ‘burden’ about which Kefa spoke previously was NOT the Torah! The Torah is NOT a burden! The burden is SIN, and in that context, the sin was of Jewish people ADDING TO THE TORAH and teaching MEN’S DOCTRINES INSTEAD of TRUTH! This is the very same thing those who deny Shabbat are doing.
Moving the Sabbath is the very same premise. It obliterates what GOD SAID AND DID, what YESHUA SAID AND DID, and even what beloved Paul SAID AND DID.
MUST you keep the Sabbath, ‘to be saved’? NO!!! And no good Jewish believer in Messiah will EVER say that, or he violates SCRIPTURE. But, the SAVED should follow the SAVIOR. HE said ‘If you love me, you will keep my mitzvot.’ We do what He did and taught out of an expression of LOVE for HIM and to show the TRUE Messiah to this dark world. THAT is the purpose of a believer and all his actions, including keeping the Sabbath.
“Beware, lest any man mislead you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the teaching of men, after the principles of the world, and not after Mashi’akh.” The Sabbath is SO MUCH a principle of Heaven that G-d Himself kept it, and gave the Sabbath to ALL of MANKIND in the very beginning; and we will be observing it with Messiah when He returns to rule on earth! [Ez 46:1-3, Is 66:23] You sure you wanna call it manmade and ignore it now?