Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
We find here two notes of warning - "Let no man judge you;" "Let no man rob you." Two dangers need to be guarded against.
I. THE INFLUENCE OF UNJUST JUDGMENTS. The apostle has here in view the practical error of Judaizing ritualists. They had received from Moses regulations respecting meats and drinks and feasts, which they endeavoured to enforce on Gentile converts as necessary to salvation (Acts 15:1). If they did not always proceed to this extreme, they treated others as negligent of most important means of grace. They thus brought a strong pressure to bear on the consciences of new converts who had received no such instructions from apostles or other Christian teachers who had "begotten them through the gospel." It was no easy thing to resist such pressure exerted by men with all the sacred traditions of Judaism behind them; just as it must have been hard work for the early Reformers to resist the influence of the hostile opinions of all the leaders and Fathers of the Christian world. (Illustrate from the case of Cranmer.) Thus the Colossian converts were in danger of yielding to the censorious judgments of these teachers and conforming to their requirements. In so doing they might grasp at shadows which belonged to Moses and lose the substance which was Christ's. Neither the twelve apostles nor Paul made light of Mosaic ordinances (Acts 16:3; Acts 18:18; Acts 21:26) or sacred seasons (Acts 16:13; Acts 18:21; Acts 20:16; Acts 24:11). But St. Paul earnestly protests against the yoke of bondage being imposed on Gentile converts. We too must beware of yielding to similar pressure from ritualizing Christians. So long as we endeavour to observe all things which Christ has commanded, we must be prepared to brave the judgments of those who would impose on our consciences observances and expedients which are not of Divine authority; e.g. the enforcing on the conscience of the observance of Good Friday, or of early communion, evening communion being denounced; the forbidding of marriage during Lent or Advent. There is peril in regarding any human appointments as taking rank with Divine ordinances: "I am afraid of you" (Galatians 4:10, 11). There is positive sin in enforcing them on the consciences of others (Romans 14:1-6, 13).
II. THE LOSS OF OUR EXPECTED PRIZE. (Vers. 18, 19.) This danger arose from the theological errors of the advocates of a rudimentary Gnosticism. This heresy was more serious than the other, as we infer from the fact that to lose our expected prize is a far greater calamity than to endure the condemnation of narrow-minded brethren. By yielding to the temptation, even through the influence of false opinions, of robbing Christ of his glory as sole Mediator, we may ourselves be robbed of our prize, our "crown." False doctrines may be fatal when they have their roots in moral causes and bring forth "wild grapes." The element of error here chiefly condemned is the worship of angelic mediators. It had four sources.
(1) A spurious humility, as though we could not venture to have access to God except through the mediation of inferior beings.
(2) A vain pretence to know more than is revealed respecting the world of spirits ("Dwelling in the things which he hath seen," i.e. his assumed visions).
(3) Spiritual pride (which is a frequent source of heresy even in Christian men; 1 Corinthians 8:1).
(4) An imperfect knowledge of or trust to Christ ("not holding the Head," etc.) This analysis of error applies, to a large extent, to the modern errors of the intercession and worship of angels, saints, and the Virgin Mary. They arise from:
(1) Spurious humility; as though a child should appeal to his father through a domestic servant, when his elder brother was appointed as his tutor and counsellor (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 1:14).
(2) Pretended knowledge; for whatever speculations we may indulge as to the employments of "the dead in Christ," we know nothing to authorize us to appeal to them as intercessors.
(3) Spiritual pride, which shows itself in declining to be satisfied or even in setting aside "the things which are revealed" respecting worship and mediation (1 John 2:2; Revelation 19:10, etc.), and exalting our own imaginations or the unsupported assertions of fellow sinners to the level of the true sayings of God (Revelation 2:14, 15, 20). In some respects Romanists and spiritualists are victims of similar delusions.
(4) A failure in "holding fast the Head," etc. Unhappy men! "If thou knewest the gift of God!" God is better to you than your servile fears or false humility would suggest. We have an Advocate, even Christ (John 14:6; Ephesians 2:18). We need no advocate with him. "I can speak more safely and cheerfully to my Jesus than to any of the holy spirits of God" (Augustine). The angels have not my nature, and I need no redeemed sinners as intercessors, since I have the Sinless One (Hebrews 7:25, 26). To admit any one to share with Jesus Christ the glory of the work of mediation is (to say the least) to "hold the Head," not "fast," but in a manner that is both lax and perilous. If we are "holding fast the Head," we must acknowledge him as the Image of God, in whom "dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," as the Author and the End of all creation, as the Lord of the world and the supreme Ruler of his Church, as the great Reconciler between God and man by the blood of his cross, and as the believer's only Hope cf glory. It is from him alone that his members receive spiritual supplies, are knit together and grow. False teachers, who would divert our faith or affections from him, may rob us of our reward. (Illustration: Racers diverted from the straight course toward the umpire at the goal, or persuaded to neglect one of the laws of the game (Galatians 5:7; Philippians 3:12-14; 2 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 12:1, 2).) To us the exhortations come home (Ephesians 4:14-16; Hebrews 3:12-14; Romans 3:11). - E.S.P.
Parallel VersesKJV: Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: