How do we reconcile this portion of scripture with our Catholic faith?


Colossians 2:16-23

Freedom From Human Rules
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. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.


Perhaps you should find out what was the Apostle Paul talking about when he wrote that letter.

After all his speech has to have some context.

I would venture without doing any research that the second verse deals with a movement that was started in the east called gnosticims. Read about that to find what was that all about and perhaps you will find the context there,

As for the first verse St Paul time and again reiterates that the works of the Law (The Moses Law) NOT the Commandments after Jesus do not save us.

Jesus abolished “The Law” HE also CONFIRMED the Commandments from GOD.

Hope this helps you :thumbsup:


We are not to dwell on earthly things but turn our actions, thoughts, and prayers to God. We live in the Spirit, not the world.:thumbsup:


Paul is talking here about those who were teaching that Christians must conform to the entire Mosaic law in order to be saved. (circumcision, dietary laws etc…) That’s why he mentions Sabbaths and New Moons, those were Jewish religious days. His point is that Christians are not bound anymore by the Old Law because the Old Law was just a shadow. It’s been fulfilled in Christ.

He’s also trying to correct a certain tendency (which is still around today) to focus on outward signs of holiness, and not real conversion.

That’s what Paul is getting at. He’s NOT saying Christians can never fast or abstain themselves. How do we know? Because in Acts 15, when the apostles and elders (including Paul) all met together to decide whether Christians were bound to observe the whole law, the apostles said no, BUT at the same time they placed other dietary restrictions on Christians. (Abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood.) If it was really true that Christians should never fast or abstain, then this makes no sense.

Jesus gave the Church the power to bind and loose (Mt 18:18) and as a result, the Church has the authority to bind certain disciplines on us (like abstaining from meat) and loose others. (like wearing a veil) This doesn’t contradict Colossians 2 because the Church isn’t saying these disciplines are what save us, only Christ does that.

Now, if we started focusing on those rules to the exclusion of Christ, and became prideful and started thinking we were holy by our own doing, that would be sinful. But the rules themselves aren’t sinful, they are only meant to bring us closer to Christ.

Does that make sense?


I think fasting is a very important part of the Christian life, and I think it is very fitting and proper for fasting to take place at the times traditionally set aside for fasting, but I don’t think the Church has any right to demand it happen at those times under pain of sin.


This is the answer. Robyn is 100% correct.

They were called Judaizers, and they insisted that one had to follow the Laws of Moses and regulations about what not to eat and what not to touch and Jewish festivals.



I’m going to assume you had a ‘slip of the pen’ when you wrote Jesus abolished the law. Because we know that he didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it as stated in Matt 7:17.


Yes. You beat me to the post. Thanks for pointing that out.
Very important.


Thank you for your responses. As a convert from the Protestant side of the church, I find myself stumped sometimes when I read these portions of scripture. Vs 20 for example, if I’ve died with Christ, why do I still give into the “rules”. Maybe my hang up is with the thought that within the RCC, it’s nothing but “rules” and for me it’s a matter of the heart. Maybe the word “rule” is the issue. I should see it as a tool not a rule to come closer to Christ. To me there are so many factors i.e. our personality, disposition, style of spirituality that attracts us whether it be Carmelite, Franciscan, Benedictine and so on. The importance for me is striking a balance so that my heart is open to God and continually being changed into the image and likeness of Christ and yet scripture says I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).


There are the Jewish written laws, purifications and unclean food and Jewish holy days and more, and then there are the God’s written laws, the commandments, especially loving God and neighbor.

Jesus fulfilled God’s written laws perfectly while down grading the man made laws by the Jews. As TimithyH and Robyn said.

May God bless and keep you. May God’s face shine on you. May God be kind to you and give you peace.


Jesus said he came but not to abolish even one jot or tittle of the law (the smallest details) but to fulfill the law.

The latest explanation of the church’s position is contained in a document from the pontifical biblical commission called. The Jewish People and their Scriptures in the Christian Bible, which can be viewed here:

Briefly, some of the teachings of the OT have been superceded, some have been retained, and then there are some altogether new teachings. The document is a “start” of a much larger treatment of this subject.

Obviously, the sacrifice of oxen, goats, sheep, and doves has been dropped, but the new covenant is in Christ’s blood – for example.


Absolutely - this was an excellent response :thumbsup:




DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit