Wednesday, 28 September 2011

A shocking message

Paul amazingly, shockingly and radically announced that he (a Jew!) was convinced as a Christian (in Christ) that “nothing is unclean of itself, unless you think it is unclean” (Rom. 14:14). “All things [talking of food] are clean” (v. 20). Paul has obviously reversed the laws of Leviticus 11 ...

As a holy apostle speaking for the Messiah who commissioned him on the Damascus Road, Paul is authorized to explain the Torah of the Messiah, which is not just a repeat of Moses. The Law which was added 430 years later (Gal. 3:17) through Moses was a temporary guide and thus it may be truly said that “Jesus abolished the law of commandments in decrees” (Eph. 2:15). This part of the Torah in the letter was the dividing wall which kept Jews at arm’s length from [the] “unclean” [nations] ... But in the new body of the Church ... issues of calendar and foods are not to be issues of concern. The “weak” were urged by Paul to move forward to maturity, to follow Paul who was not weak (see Rom. 14:1-5). And the strong were to wait patiently till we all come to a point of unity. This will happen when Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians and especially 2 Corinthians 3 are taken in fully and not tailored to fit a preconception.

At present a historical falsehood prevails in some quarters by which a new celebration on the 8th day, the resurrection day (not a transferred Sabbath), is said to have originated with Constantine! On the contrary, it is well known that meeting on the 8th day was current among Christians long before the days of Constantine. Just read the earlier “church fathers” for this information. Constantine merely legislated in favor of what had long been the Christian custom — to celebrate the New Covenant event of the Sunday resurrection of Jesus. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 speaks of “every Sunday,” and Luke clearly did not think that the church met on the Sabbath when he expressly says that the Christians met “on the first day of the week” (Acts 20:7). He has in mind the resurrection on that day (Luke 24:21).

The Sabbath of the fourth commandment must not be taken in isolation but in connection with the single shadow trio of observances, so listed not less than 12 times in the Hebrew Bible. In Paul’s mind too the “feasts, new moons and Sabbath day” are a unit not to be split up. The history of [Christianity] ... is littered with attempts to forget Colossians 2:16-17 and to make of the weekly Sabbath something much greater than the new moons. This is to suppress those 12 “trio texts” in the OT and the mind of Jesus-in-Paul in Colossians 2:16-17. In effect: “Let no one tell you to abandon the reality of Christ for the shadow which is now superseded.” The shadow in question is the trio of “annual feasts, new moons and weekly Sabbath” (the plural in the Greek is found often in the Bible and for technical language reasons refers to the single Saturday Sabbath, as for example in Ex. 20:8 in the LXX).

In Colossians 2:16-17 Paul is certainly not talking about physical sacrifices offered on those days! One could not anyway offer a sacrifice in Colosse. It had to be done in Jerusalem. The shadow for Paul is the Jewish calendar ...

(An excerpt from 'Focus on the Kingdom', November, 2010, by Anthony Buzzard).

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