We all know what a shadow is: a 2-D outline caused by an object blocking light. Or a certain state of being, formed within the shaded outline, such as “the shadow of his wings” (positive); or “the shadow of death” (negative).
When Paul compares the OT system to the excellence of Christ, several times he uses the word shadow; it’s not a coincidence:
A shadow is a 2-D (two dimensional) outline of a 3-D object. A shadow has no detail, no depth, and no permanence. It’s merely a temporary outline. Paul wrote succinctly:
“…Which [OT ordinances] are a shadow of things to come; but the body
is of Christ” (Col 2:17).
It’s a perfect word to describe the law vis-a-vis Christ. Those Old Testament things were but a shadow, a 2-D outline; but He brings the body, the fullness of dimension and detail.
After likening the law of sacrifices to a shadow (Hebrews 10:1), and commenting that it had no permanence, thereby requiring repetition of the offerings (“…year by year continually…”), he shows the solution: “…but a body hast thou prepared me” (10:6).
A shadow lacks detail and a 'z' dimension (volume); a body has both.
Notice too, a shadow is lacking in the dimension of time – it has no sure future, no permanence; but a body does (specifically the sacrifice of Christ):
“by the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (10:10). Notice the word for ever is connected with a body, not with a shadow (10:12, 14).
This is a simple word study; but, how interesting this Bible is! The words used (such as shadow) are the exact and perfect tools for our understanding.