Stephen Carlson, in response (very slightly redacted) to a restatement of Iver's interpretation of this text, wrote:
I agree there's a contrast. But I still do not see any reason given, other than theology, for this particular interpretation of the contrast. And frankly the theological reasoning here does not appear sufficient[ly] thorough, for there are other viable possibilities. For example, τὰ μέλλοντα could refer to future things, say, at the parousia (explicitly in the context at 3:4), without any unusual grammatical moves like a future-in-the-past reading and a plural-for-singular construal for τὰ μέλλοντα.
This forum, of course, is about Greek, not theology, to the extent that it is feasible to keep them separate. In this case, I fear that the grammatical or linguistic argumentation has been exhausted, and I don't see that the topic has been decisively settled on that front.
I have nothing helpful to add, but I will offer a comment.I have followed with some interest the two meandering threads on this enigmatic passage in Colossians 2, hoping for some illumination -- I've never myself been able to make sense of τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ as following upon σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων. Forty-four posts in the two threads without much light at the end of the tunnel! I've been thinking throughout that this thread doesn't belong in the Beginners' Forum but rather in Koine Greek Texts, but now I'm not so sure that's the case, if it's a matter of spinning wheels or theological speculation. I confess that I still don't understand the sequence and, rather than settling upon an unconvincing piece of guesswork, I prefer to put this text into the expansive bin of as-yet-unsolved puzzles.