“Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” Colossians 2:21
The words here have no connecting particles. They are sent out in rapid-fire succession in order to show the urgency of the commands by those who would forbid another person from doing what they believe is wrong to do.
However, the first word translated as “touch,” and the last word translated as “handle,” should be switched. It should read, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch.” Both words are very close in meaning, but the last phrase means a less deliberate touch than the first. What is happening is the person doing the warning is making a climax of prohibitions. In essence, they are saying, “Don’t handle such a thing! No, don’t taste such a thing! And don’t EVEN TOUCH such a thing!”
This is referring to the Judaizers who would warn against something like eating pork, a meat considered unclean according to the Law of Moses. Here comes such a person into this group of Gentiles who have been sanctified by the blood of Christ which was shed in fulfillment of the law. And what do they do? They urgently reapply the precepts of that obsolete law to the lives of these already purified souls. “Hey, what are you doing? That’s bacon! That bacon comes from an unclean animal! Don’t handle such a thing! No, don’t taste such a thing! And don’t EVEN TOUCH such a thing.” Bam! Bam! Bam! They fire off their legalistic warnings.
But Paul tells them otherwise, and he will explain it more fully in his words to come. Not to leave the verse hanging though, if you smell that delightful waft of bacon, feel free to pick it up, snack on it, and enjoy it. It cannot make you any less saved, and it cannot defile you in any way. The law is fulfilled in Christ and it is finished. It is nailed to the cross. Thank God for the freedom we have in Him!
And as a side note, this set of prohibitions doesn’t just apply to the dislikes of the Jews, but of anyone who would come to you and say the same about any other tradition or teaching of man. As Paul says in Romans 14:14 –
“I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.”
Life application: If there is a food you find nummy, then nom nom away. You are free from guilt, even if you are not free from some type of stomach troubles because of how much you eat.
Lord God, the freedom which is found in Christ is so wonderful. For those in Him, there are no restrictions on the things we eat or the days we worship. We live in Him in Spirit and in truth, and have been freed from the constraints of the law. Those things are nailed to His cross where we died with Him. Now let us live to You through Him. Praise to You, O God, for our marvelous Lord Jesus. Amen.