Adventist teaching: Yes
Biblical teaching: No
Colossians 2:16 is arguably one of the most problematic verses for Seventh-Day Adventist theology because of the Greek grammar. Adventists tends to want to stick with the King James’s rendering because they think it better supports their interpretation—which is that the sabbaths in view are only the ceremonial sabbaths. They try and point two verses prior to Colossians 2:14 for this support (also the King James rendering) where the phrase “handwriting of ordinances” is used which they claim refers to Moses’ handwriting down of the ceremonial sabbaths in a book of parchment. This is erroneous as we have documented in detail here.
Nevertheless, the claim is that the word being plural, “sabbaths,” and the phrase “handwriting of ordinances” prove that this is referring only to the ceremonial sabbaths, not the weekly seventh-day Sabbath.
When looking at Exodus 20 and Colossians 2:16 in regards to the Greek grammar, this is incorrect.
The Greek form of Sabbath in Exodus 20:8
Μνησθητι την ἡμέραν τῶν σαββάτων ἀγιαζειν αὐτην. (Exodus 20:8)
Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. (Exodus 20:8)
This is the weekly seventh-day sabbath.
The Greek form of Sabbath in Colossians 2:16
Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath [σαββάτων] (Colossians 2:16).
The Greek grammar is identical. It is arbitrary to translate one as the weekly sabbath and the other as only ceremonial.
Dr. Philip Kayser, in his book Sunday as the First Day Sabbath, explains how in the Old Covenant, while the seventh-day Sabbath was a reminder of man’s inability, it was also a gracious promise of what Christ would do. It symbolized that what is impossible for those in the First Adam (fallen humanity—Romans 5:12), the Second Adam accomplishes. Because Jesus is both God and man, He can satisfy the demands of the law perfectly. Christ kept all the demands of the previous covenants and was also punished for “the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15). By His redemption He made a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17-19; Romans 8:19-25) and entered His rest (Hebrews 4:10). This paralleled God in the original creation who did a mighty work, accomplished that work, and entered His rest on the seventh-day. So too Jesus did a mighty act of redeeming the creation that fell, accomplishing that work, and entered His mediatorial rest for His people, but on the first day.
He again gave us the pledge of the first day Sabbath which held out the promise of our consummation state as we labor for Christ’s kingdom and seek to “subdue all things” (Hebrews 2:5-8). Since we are sinners, this would also be an impossible request, so Christ not only enters His rest as God, but as our representative Second Adam He labors to subdue all things to Himself on our behalf (Hebrews 1:13; 2:8-18). But before we can subdue the world to King Jesus, we must first rest ourselves in His finished work of redemption (Hebrews 4:11).
Because the seventh-day Sabbath pointed Christ, it is an insult to His grace to continue to celebrate a seventh-day Sabbath as if He has not come. Colossians 2:11-17 tells us that to continue to observe Jewish days (all of which pointed forward to Jesus) is to submit to bondage and frustration in the same way that religious observance of circumcision does. Circumcision was a blessing in the Old Covenant because it pointed to Jesus, but once Jesus has come, to get circumcised insults Christ’s finished work. In the same way, Paul says to not let anyone judge you with respect to new moon or sabbath, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17).
Christians are not to let anyone pass judgment on them for not observing Jewish holy days—including the seventh-day Sabbath. There is a new sabbath for the people of God (Hebrews 4:8-10) which memorializes, not the old creation that fell and needed redeemed, but the New Creation inaugurated by Jesus Christ accomplishing the redemption of it on the First Day.