Therefore let no one judge you in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival day or a new moon or Sabbaths—things which are a shadow of the things to come; and the substance is of Messiah (Colossians 2:16-17, PME)

Colossians 2:16-17 are loaded verses, which every Messianic person has been quoted, at one point or another, to discourage himself or herself to remember the seventh-day Sabbath/Shabbat, the appointed times of Leviticus 23, and the kosher dietary laws. Today’s Messianic movement widely agrees that these Torah practices contain important pictures of the prophetic work of Yeshua the Messiah, in both His First and Second Comings. The PME reflects this in its rendering of Colossians 2:16-17.

Many are unaware of how a popular version like the NIV renders tōn mellontōn as “of the things that were to come,” implying that there is no more future significance to them in association with the Messiah’s return. Yet, this is a present active participle, “of the coming things” (Brown and Comfort, 702).

A second difficulty lies with how to render ha estin skia tōn mellontōn, to de sōma tou Christou, as this clause is sometimes translated as “but the body is Christ’s” (ASV). A proper rendering will weigh the intended contrast between skia or “shadow,” and whether or not sōma is intended to represent something akin to “substance” (RSV/NRSV/ESV, NASU) or “reality” (NIV, TLV), or something else. While literally meaning “body,” sōma can mean, “substantive reality, the thing itself, the reality in imagery of a body that casts a shadow, in contrast to [skia]” (BDAG, 984), with Colossians 2:17 communicating that the true substance of the Sabbath, appointed times, etc., is found in the Messiah.

The Practical Messianic Edition of the Apostolic Scriptures or PME is a specialty edition of the New Testament, based on the 1901 American Standard Version, incorporating the conclusions defended in Messianic Apologetics’ Practical Messianic commentary series and other publications.