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Colossians 2:21

ESV “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”
NIV Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!'?
NASB Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!'
CSB "Don't handle, don't taste, don't touch"?
NLT Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!'?
KJV (Touch not; taste not; handle not;

What does Colossians 2:21 mean?

Colossians 2:21 is a perfect example of the importance of context. Chapter and verse divisions were not part of Bible translations until some 1,500 years after Christ. Taken all by itself, this verse actually seems to suggest the opposite of what Paul is saying. In reality, this statement is an example of the false perspective Paul is condemning. He is giving an illustration of the worldly attitude he wants Christians to avoid. In verse 20, Paul spoke of human rules and regulations; this verse gives a generic summary of those rules.

Since Paul mentions "touching" and "handling" separately, "touch" might also be a reference to lighting fires, since the Greek word for "touch" was used to refer to this practice. This may have a connection to spiritual practices, or using certain objects. "Handling" seems to be a specific reference to the Mosaic law. Jewish laws held that physically contacting certain items would render a person ceremonially unclean.

Also, many religious traditions place restrictions on what a person can or cannot eat. The Mosaic law held a variety of dietary laws, yet Paul noted, "Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean" (Romans 14:20). Christians were not bound to the food laws of the Mosaic law or other religious teachings.

In context, the intent of Paul's words is clear. Christians should not feel obligated to follow the rules and regulations of Judaism in order to please God.
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