Colossians 2:16-17 (NKJV) So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

This particular version says "food". The KJV says "meat". The Greek word is brōsis; which means food, eating, meat. We must be careful not to employ a twenty-first American grammar to a first-century text. Unless the text specifically indicates meat, as in the muscle portion of an animal that is consumed by humans, meat is actually the word used for food in the first century. This is also seen in passages as Act 2:46.

Acts 2:46 (KJV) And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

It's the reasoning of the first-century grammar that the NKJV employs the word "food" and other translations, as in the NLT, employs the words "in what you eat".

No matter the translation, when one looks at the context of what is being said, a question comes to mind: "What does eating unclean meat have to do with a shadow of things to come; which is Christ"? That's what verse 17 is saying. All these things, "WHICH were a shadow of things to come" The "substance" of those shadows "is Christ".

The fact is, the abstaining from dirty meats had absolutely nothing to do with the shadow of things to come and Christ.

The other question that comes to mind is "Where are there any passages, in the Old Testament, that talks about unclean drink"? If this statement is talking about unclean meat then it must be talking unclean drink also but there is no such thing as an unclean drink.

When we pull this passage from its context, the churches who now have brewery's can use the same passage to support their drinking anything they want.

So, what is the context of this statement? In order to get the context we must back up to verse 11:

Colossians 2:11-12 (NKJV) In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

Like most of the churches by which we have Paul's letters, Paul is addressing Jews professing to be Christian who are condemning gentiles for not keeping with Jewish ceremonial rituals; typically circumcision. In fact, this happened so much, in the churches Paul established, that Paul got so frustrated that he said he wished the knife would slip and they would cut it all the way off (Gal 5:12).

The meats and drinks, days, moons, and sabbaths are part of the ceremonial law. Paul was talking about the ceremonial law, not what manner of meat we may eat; thus he nearly quoted the passage from Ezekiel 45:17

Ezekiel 45:17 (NKJV) Then it shall be the prince's part to give burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings, AT THE FEASTS, the New Moons, the Sabbaths, and at all the appointed seasons of the house of Israel. He shall prepare the sin offering, the grain offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offerings TO MAKE ATONEMENT for the house of Israel."

At one time, this was the process required for atonement; yet now we have Christ. These were a shadow of things which were to come; these were the essence of who is Christ.

Part 4 - Every Creature is Good