Colossians 2:16 (NIV)

16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.

Can we infer from the context that Paul is talking about "ceremonial" Sabbaths only, thus excluding the "moral" Sabbath (as claimed by sites like this one)?

  • 4
    Your 'inference' goes clean contrary to the actual text. '... festival ... celebration ... sabbath day' are three separate and distinct items. There is no such thing as a 'moral' sabbath. It is invented terminology never found anywhere in scripture. The inference and the terminology make this question a matter of opinion.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 17:33
  • 3
    @NigelJ I'm just presenting the claim, but it is not mine. It's just that I'm currently debating seventh-day sabbatarians on another site, and one of the common claims I come across frequently is that there are two types of sabbaths: moral and ceremonial, and that Colossians 2:16 is allegedly addressing the ceremonial ones only. Check out this site for an example presentation of the position.
    – user38524
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 20:19

3 Answers 3


Do we have graven images in our homes? Do we pray to other gods? Do we use God's holy name in vain? If not, then we should absolutely be keeping the Sabbath God set aside FOR us from creation.
The commandments SUM UP the 2 golden rules Christ gave us... The first 4 show how to love God, and the last 6 show us how to love others. Christ Himself said if you love Me you will keep My commands. Christ kept the Sabbath THROUGH His own death! The apostles and disciples kept the Sabbath after Christ ascended. Nowhere in God's word does it say His holy Sabbath is abolished, in fact the opposite. Paul WAS speaking of ceremonial Sabbaths. The Christians of biblical days understood this. But for some reason we "modern", first world Christians think it's ok to misrepresent or twist the scriptures to suit ourselves. Question... Why do you think the 4th command of keeping the Sabbath is the ONLY one God started with the word REMEMBER? Any guesses? Because He knew we would FORGET. Constantine abolished the Sabbath so he could bring pagans, Greeks and Romans into the fold of his "holy empire". It was the greed and selfishness of man that changed the Sabbath, NOT God! How do we go from saying follow Christ, believe in God and all of His holy word, to eh... We don't have to worry about THAT day, THAT scripture, THAT law written by the very hand of God? Why do we pound it into people that sin is death, EXCEPT this one little sin that we don't think is necessary anymore... How can we be completely true to our great and glorious God if we can't even see the truth about the Sabbath, the day God Himself put aside for us to rest in His wings, renew ourselves THROUGH Him for the upcoming week? The Sabbath is a BLESSING from God! It is the final key that most Christians are missing in their walk with Christ. It brings us to the spiritual realm of God.
I pray as many as possible see God's Sabbath truth. When you start keeping the Sabbath, everything will change for the better in your relationship with God. May God bless you abundantly in your walk with Him! LOVE BOLDLY!

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    Commented Nov 26, 2021 at 19:16

Is Colossians 2:16 addressing “ceremonial” Sabbaths only and excluding the “moral” Sabbath?

In referring to festivals that had been required by God’s Law to ancient Israel, the apostle Paul wrote:

Colossians 2:16-17 NASB

16 Therefore no one is to [a]act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath [b]day— 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

The Christians in Colossae were to let no one judge their standing before God on the basis of observance of festivals of the Mosaic Law. This includes not only "ceremonials" but also " moral" Sabbath.

Paul warns Christians, do not become partners with unbelievers

2 Corinthians 6:14-15 NET

Unequal Partners

14 Do not become partners with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15 And what agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever?

In other words, if Christians want to please God, they should not mix true worship with false. If you want to please God, Jesus said,21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. (Mat 7:21 NASB)


Paul is saying nothing about such things.

Paul is talking to Christians that are living in a community with many Ascetics, Stoics, etc. who condemned Christians for not suffering and depriving themselves as they did.

These other people were acting morally superior and making the Christians feel bad for eating meat, drinking wine, celebrating festivals and sabbaths, and feeling the joy of life.

Paul's advice is to ignore the judgement of others, and accept only the judgement of the body of Christ (the Church).

Parse the scripture like this (KJV, with interpretive supplies removed):

        no man
            judge you
                in meat
             or in drink
             or in respect
                        of an holyday
                     or of the new moon
                     or of the sabbath
                  which are a shadow
                      of things to come
        but the body of Christ

We should not feel bad about being condemned by non-Christians for our Christian practices such as honouring the symbols of God's promises.

— From my answer to exegesis - Keeping the Sabbath and Colossians 2:16 - Christianity Stack Exchange, which contains a much more complete description.

  • 1) Quote: "These other people were acting morally superior and making the Christians feel bad for eating meat, drinking wine, celebrating festivals and sabbaths, and feeling the joy of life." any evidence for this? 2) Do you observe new moons 3) Quote: "The food and drink, festivals, new moons (monthly sabbaths), and (weekly) sabbaths refer to things that the Christian community is expected to practice", any scriptural support for this?
    – user38524
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 18:41
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator, 1) "… the letter was to address the challenges that the Colossian community faced in its context of the syncretistic Gnostic religions that were developing in Asia Minor. [Those churches which claimed an apostolic foundation attached great importance to the maintenance of the teaching which they had originally received. … One form of incipient Gnosticism is the syncretistic angel-cult of nonconformist Jewish foundation and pagan superstructure attacked in the Epistle to the Colossians]" — Colossae - Wikipedia Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 19:11
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator, 2) Yes, I recently saw a new moon somewhere around September 17. Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 19:11
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator, 3) There is circumstantial evidence in scripture (e.g. Gentiles learning about Christianity at sabbath services (Acts 13:42 "the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath")); its authors would take such things for granted, and so not mention them explicitly. Historically there are many cases of Christian groups being persecuted for "judaising". E.g. The Council of Laodicea (Ca AD 365) said: "if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ". Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 19:11
  • 1) The Wikipedia source provided never mentions Colossians Christians made feel bad about their alleged Sabbath keeping by other groups. The words "sabbath", "rest" and "seventh day" do not appear even once in the whole Wikipedia article.
    – user38524
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 20:28

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