Posts Tagged ‘Colossians’

Answering questions

I was asked, “How do we explain that we are no longer bound by the Old Testament, or are we?” After I had sent my answer to the querist, I thought I would share it with you as well:

The Old Testament is certainly a good source of study for any who wish to know and follow God. The Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians 10 used the Israelites as an example and explained in verse 6: “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted” (American Standard Version). Many other examples exist in the Old Testament with many of them referenced in the New Testament.

The Old Testament also helps us understand God as the rightful ruler of all men. That certainly is still true today and God establishes his rule in the New Testament as well as the Old.

But there is, as your question suggests, a difference in the application of that rule. In the Old Testament, God used a physical kingdom to display his righteousness and power. We are informed that his work with Israel throughout that time was “a copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5; also 10:1), heavenly things that Jesus has now made open to us (Hebrews 10:19-20; see also 9:11,12,24). In the context of these passages (the last half of Hebrews 7 through Hebrews 10), the Lord shows us how the Mosaic Law given to Israel would be of no use to us who know the priesthood and saving sacrifice of Jesus.

So you’re correct in surmising that the Old Testament is no longer our guide for relating to God. He had even prophesied during the old covenant that a new covenant would be established (Jeremiah 31:31-34). This prophecy is quoted in Hebrews 8:8-12 and other passages in the New Testament also refer to this change.

  • Jesus spoke of fulfilling the law and prophets (Matthew 5:17-18) and that they would only be abolished when all fulfilled.
  • Jesus also spoke of building his church (Matthew 16:16). Even the power of death could not stop him from fulfilling this desire. The church is definitely not part of the Old Testament structure.
  • Paul dealt with those who would reinstate the practice of Old Testament rituals on many occasions: parts of the letters to the Romans and Ephesians, almost all of Galatians and especially Colossians 2:8-23:
  • Paul made certain that the Colossians knew they were not required to practice circumcision, dietary restrictions, or observe feasts, new moons or Sabbath.
  • “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:17).

If the Law of Moses is out, what will we go by? The new covenant established in the blood of Christ. It was promised by God even during the time of the old covenant. We know that we can follow it today by reading those things commanded by Jesus and his apostles.