How do the precepts of the Church fit in with Col 2:16

‘‘16Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of a festival day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbaths,’’

1 Corinthians 5:12
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?

Colossians was written to a Gentile audience. In the early Church, there was confusion about whether someone had to first pass through the old Covenant (meaning circumcision) in order to enter into the New covenant. This was the main topic of the proto-Council described in Acts 15.

Paul explained to these gentiles that they had received a “spiritual circumcision” through their Baptism. So, apparently, there was still confusion or rumors about this topic among some gentiles, and Paul uses a lot of ink to clear this up. Paul is explaining that they are not under the Law of Moses by becoming Christian. Therefore, the “precepts” of the old law (or the precepts of pagan religions) did not apply to them.

That does not mean that the Christian Church cannot impose precepts of Her own. Jesus gives the Church this authority:

Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. {Matt 18:18]

“Binding” and “loosing” were rabbinical terms meaning to impose or lift an obligation. Jesus refers to this in Matt 23:4:

They tie up [bind] burdens that are heavy and unbearable and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they refuse to lift a finger to remove [loose] them.

In many translations (such as the KJV) the word “bind” is used instead of “tie up,” and, indeed, the same Greek word (δεδεμένα) is used in both passages.

We see the Church exercising Her authority to bind at the conclusion of the proto-Council of Acts 15, when letters were sent to all of the Churches:

We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. [Acts 15:24-29]

Notice that the Church is teaching in the name of the Holy Spirit. These instructions were not just from them, but from God.

There were more than 600 “precepts” under the Jewish law. The Catholic Church has just five. So the Church has used Her authority to loose FAR more than Her authority to bind.

Who’s passing a Judgment? but as to the bible passage this verse is speaking about what is/was considered clean/unclean meat under Jewish law. Has noting to do with fasting and abstinence of the Church. Also that the feast days of the Jewish law are no longer binding on those in Christ. This verse does not reflect on the precepts of the Church at all.

Why do you believe there to be a conflict!

This is the exact answer.

Much of the New Testament was written to Christians of Gentile descent who were being told by Christians of Jewish descent that they had to obey the laws of the Old Testament or they would not be saved. That is entire reason for the letter to the Romans and the purpose of the first Church council in Acts 15.


I believe the OP sees similarities between this passage and the precepts of the Catholic Church.

*]Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink (the precepts call for days of fasting and abstenance)
*]or in respect of a festival day (the precepts require attendance at Mass on Sundays and days of obligation)
*]or of the new moon (I think this might have been a precept of some pagan faith. Other than calculating the date of Passover/Easter (which is not a precept) the moon has no relevance in Catholic theology, and I’m not aware of any relevance in Jewish theology either.)
*]or of the sabbaths (again, the precepts require attendance - not on the sabbaths, but on Sundays. But I think Paul is actually referring to the MANY rules imposed on the Sabbath, and was not referring to Sabbath worship. However, the precepts also instruct us to refrain from servile labor on Sunday, so Catholics do have at least one Sunday rule.)[/LIST]
So I’m guessing that the OP thinks that Paul’s teaching is contrary to the precepts of the Church.

The precepts of the Church, as we know them, developed over many centuries, with the early foundation sometime in the Fourth Century. From my brief research, it seems the five precepts taught in our modern Catechism were developed in the Sixteenth Century, and have not substantially changed since. Needless to say, this is WAY after the Epistle to the Colossians was written. Paul was clearly not referring to the precepts of the Catholic Church, but to those of the Jewish faith, which he discussed extensively in the context of Col 2:16.

As I pointed out to the OP, just because the Church exercised her authority to abolish (loose) just about every precept of the Law of Moses, that does not mean the Church lacks the authority to impose (bind) precepts of Her own. And, while some of the Jewish precepts were outright silly, others were well grounded, so some similarities are to be expected.

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