Stephen Carlson wrote:
Iver Larsen wrote:These rules are still even today a shadow of Christ, and this is in my view a general statement that calls for ἐστιν.
This raises another linguistic objection to this reading of Col 2:17. τῶν μελλόντων is plural, which makes it very unlikely as a direct reference to the singular Christ.
I continue to see nothing linguistic in the text to justify a shift in the frame of reference from the present to the past Mosaic time when these rules were established--a shift that necessary to justify reading τῶν μελλόντων as "the things that were to come." The text involves the (writer's) present judging of people (κρινέτω), the present practice of the rules (ἐστιν), and the present body of Christ (σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ).
If one takes σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ to mean the body of Christ, I can see that there is a problem. σῶμα is much broader in meaning than "body", and I think BDAG is correct when they address this verse:
④ substantive reality, the thing itself, the reality in imagery of a body that casts a shadow, in contrast to σκιά (q.v. 3) Col 2:17.
Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.) (984). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Let me repeat the relevant contrastive clauses:
ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων, τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ.
We have talked about δὲ before which indicates a change, often a contrast. Since it occurs glued to τὸ σῶμα, it relates to that word. Here it contrasts two things: "the shadow
of the coming-things" and "the substance/reality
of Christ". Shadow and substance/reality are contrasted, but the topic is "coming-things" which were anticipated in the old covenant, but brought into reality by Christ. In other words, the former things of the Mosaic law are contrasted with the new things of Christ, or the old covenant with the new covenant.
Normally, I would see a present participle as problematic. Why not a perfect participle? However, it appears that the participle μέλλων has become fixed in Hellenistic Greek in its imperfective aspect (present, and possibly an occasional imperfect and a rare future). The present is by far the most common. Aorist is very rare, only used in prose per LSJ and it does not occur in the NT or LXX. Is the aorist participle of this verb still in use in this time period of Greek? I have not seen any mention of a perfect participle for this verb.
LSJ says: IV. part. μέλλων is used quasi-adjectivally, ὁ μ. χρόνος the future time, Pi.O.10(11).7, A.Pr.839, Arist.Top.111b28: Gramm., ὁ μέλλων the future tense, D.T.638.23, A.D.Synt.69.28, etc.; ἡ μ. αὐτοῦ δύναμις his future power, Pl.R.494c; μ. φυλάξσαθαι χρέος Pi.O.7.40; τὸν μ. βλαστόν (καρπόν codd.) Thphr.HP4.115.1: esp. in neut., τὸ μέλλον, τὰ μέλλοντα things to come, the future, Pi.O.2.56, A.Pr.102, Th.1.138, 4.71, Pl.Tht.178e, etc.; opp. to what is simply future (τὸ ἐσόμενον),
Does quasi-adjectively not mean that it has lost its tense and aspect? I suggest the focus in our verse is on relative futurity, rather than futurity from the vantage point of the present time. I think of it as "the things to come" and here specifically "the things that were bound/ordained by God to come" where the context indicates whether these things have actually come or not at the time of writing. I admit that it is the context which forces me to take the intended meaning as "the things that were to come" (as planned and now effected by God).