Home » Advanced Search » Colossians 2:17

Colossians 2:17

Colossians 2:17
View Download and Print Options



Colossians 2:17, “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the body that casts it belongs to Christ.”

The translation I typically read from renders the last part of this verse, “…the *substance* belongs to Christ.” And that is accurate, it gets the point across. But while looking at this verse in Greek the other day I noticed that Paul actually says “…but the *body* is of Christ.” That little difference helped me freshly see the analogy of the Old Covenant as the shadow of Christ.

The analogy of a shadow cast from a body is very helpful….consider your own shadow. It represents you, it mimics you, if someone could not see you but could only see your shadow, they would get a sense of what you were like, how you were moving etc….However, a shadow is also two dimensional, flat, and necessarily distorted by the surface upon which it is cast. It is a good indicator, but it is not the “real thing.”

Similarly, Paul says that the Mosaic Covenant and the observances of the Law were like a shadow cast backward into time by the body of the incarnate Son of God. By them you could get an idea of what He is like, you could see something of His form and ways….but it was a necessarily “two dimensional” image of Him….the true image, the substance, the BODY by which that shadow was cast and from which it derived its shape—comes in Jesus Christ.

And specifically, the body that casts the shadow of the Old Covenant, the body in which we now truly know our God, is the body of the crucified Jesus who is risen….it is the body that bears the wounds of our damnation now transfigured into heralds of His love…it is the body from whose face the Holy Spirit shines the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God,” (2 Cor.4:6), the radiance of the Father’s splendor (Heb.1:3) by which all of reality is being and will be illuminated (Hab.2:14, Rev.21:23).

Yes, the light that casts the shadow of the OT backwards in time from Christ’s slain and risen body is the light of the Spirit of God revealing the glory of God in the face of the incarnate Son of God.