[B-Greek] Questions about Col 2:16+17
Heiko.Evermann at gmx.de
Tue Jul 22 14:34:45 EDT 2003
I have several questions about Col 2:16+17.
This text is frequently understood in this way:
By his death at the cross, Jesus has abolished the feasts, new moon
festivals and Sabbaths.
When digging into the Greek of this verse, I noticed some strange things.
1) what does the relative pronoun hA in V 17 ("which are a shadow") refer to
(feast) hEORTES is femimine singular
(new moon) NEOMHNIAS is feminine singular
(sabbaths) SABBATWN is neuter plural
Te relative pronoun hA is neuter plural. So does this only refer to
are hEORTES and NEOMHNIAS and SABBATWN referred to collectively?
I know that in French, one male and one hundred females make a male plural.
How is the rule in Greek for a collection of two female singulars and a
neuter plural? And if there is such a rule
for classical Greek, will it be followed in NT Greek, or does NT Greek
not care for such details?
2) When I had a look at "hA ESTIN SKIA TWN MELLONTWN" I noticed that
MELLONTWN is a
present tense participle. So is Paul is saying that these feasts (or
only the sabbaths,
see question #1) are (at least at the time of writing) a shadow of
still ARE to come?
Is this significant in the Greek? Could it be that Paul is not referring
to Jesus who fulfilled
these things (in the past), but to the world to come (after Jesus
returns). In this case this verse
might not mean that these feasts and the Sabbath were abolished, but are
shadows of the world to come.
I looked up several verses in the NT containing the verb MELLO and they
referred to things that were (at least at the time the text referred to
) to come.
I found none that talked about things that had come, at least not when
it was used in the present tense.
What is the correct interpretation of the tenses here? Is Paul generally
using the tenses
3) I was wondering about the clause TO DE SWMA TOU CRISTOU. This
sentence is incomplete. It is frequently
understood as "but the fulfillment is in Christ". Does this fit to the
A) Usually SWMA means the body, in this case SWMA TOU CRISTOU would be
the body in which Christ walked here on
earth. This would not make sense here.
B) Several times in the NT, the church is called body of Christ. For
this alternative I have found a proposed reading
of Col 2:16-17 in the Internet:
"Consequently, let no one judge you in eating or in drinking, or in the
particulars of a festival or a new
moon or sabbaths (which are a shadow of things to come) but the body of
Christ". Here the phrase is understood this way:
the false teachers in Colossae (ascectis, followers of teaching of men)
objected to divinly ordinated feasting,
which the Christians in colossae celebrated. Unbelievers, according to
Paul, have no say in this. Only the church
has the God-given authority to decide over feasts.
Do You think that this is a valid rendering of the Greek? (Even if it
might not be the preferred one?)
C) fulfillment in Christ (This is the usual understanding): Is there any
precedent in NT Greek or elsewhere to translate
SWMA as fulfillment? Or is this translation driven by the meaning of the
passage that is currently expected
by the translators, but not covered by the Greek?
D) or could it be understood as "but (your) body is of Christ" i.e.
"belongs to Christ", meaning:
"Your body does already belong to Christ, because You believe in him,
and ascetic exercises (see verse 22) will not
Which of these readings would be covered by the Greek text?
Thanks a lot for Your help,
(E-mail: Heiko.Evermann at gmx.de)
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