Question: What was your motive for writing the Study on Colossians 2:14?
I wrote the Colossians 2:14 paper about five years ago. I was motivated by the same topics that this forum is about.
I believe that we in Adventism have unconsciously inherited some antinomian tendencies— negative beliefs and attitudes about the Law of Moses. I have heard evangelists call upon Matthew 5:17-18 to support certain doctrines but then undermine the plain meaning of the text by arguing that it really means just the ten commandments. Colossians 2:14 is a favorite text used to set aside the law. Unfortunately, there is a tendency in Adventism to accept— and support— the general anti-law argument built on Colossians 2:14 but then try to limit the damage by restricting what it applies to. We help torch the building and then attempt to save one room; we try to pull the ten commandments out of the fire we had a part in building. By accepting the anti-law logic, we are making it harder to defend our doctrines. It may be that a complete rejection of all antinomianism is a more defensible position— and, fortunately, there are plenty of internal reasons to reject an anti-law interpretation of Colossians 2:14.
I have come to understand that the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 was interpreting the Torah (Law of Moses) using the rules for the stranger and applying them to Gentiles in community with Jewish believers. There are different rules in the Torah for priests, Levites and the other tribes; the rules for men are different than the rules for women. Similarly, some rules apply exclusively to the people of Israel and others also apply to the stranger.
There are a number of behaviors that are prohibited in the Torah where the stranger is included in the rule. The stranger is allowed to participate in many of the religious services. One of the most important commandments— the Sabbath commandment— makes specific mention of the stranger. Isaiah 56 paints a picture of foreign inclusion in the religious life of Israel.
“Do not let the foreigner joined to the LORD say, “The LORD will surely separate me from his people... And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Isaiah 56:3, 6–7 NRSV)
Paul was probably thinking of “their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted” from Isaiah 56 when he wrote Romans 15:16.
“Nevertheless on some points I have written to you rather boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:15–16 NRSV)
My understanding of Paul was that he was attempting to integrate the Gentiles into the community of Jewish followers of Jesus by building on the patterns in the Hebrew Scriptures that were established for the stranger. I don't think he was trying to create a new religion distinct from those Scriptures.
This Torah-affirming perspective doesn't overturn our core doctrines or religious practices— we can continue with our religious way of life mostly as it is currently practiced. But, it helps us to discard anti-torah beliefs and attitudes that are critical and negative toward a Jewish way of life.
Here are some other topics on this forum that are related to this topic.
Study on Acts 15
What is a Gentle?
Paul: Unapologetically Pharisee, Passionately Peacemaking
Paul in the Temple
What are the Law and Prophets?
Dr. Eli-Lizorkin-Eyzenberg: One Torah, Different Laws