alias wrote at 2010-09-04 17:35:14
please go to this url: http://amazingsigns.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=20&Itemid=
green wrote at 2010-09-29 15:30:33
The sabbath is not done away with any more than the other 10 commandments. But just as adultery is not longer just the act but the heart also, murder is not the act but the heart of hatred also, worship of God is not in Jerusalem at the temple only, but wherever we are, so too has the Sabbath changed, not for one day only but rest in God throughout our lives as Christians. How can I continue to observe one day to the Lord, and what about the other 6? jesus is Lord of the Sabbath in Him I rest daily.
Jonah wrote at 2011-05-13 18:31:37
Sabbath is blessed and sanctified day before the Lord of Creation(Gen 2:1-3) A day declared "holy" for all generations; Only God, not any human being, can declare a ground or mountain or day "holy" - meaning "set apart," a cut above the rest; all the converts were met in Sabbath days; Paul met most of his gentile Christians on Sabbaths; Yeshua goes to Sabbath as "was his custom." He never abolished it as some people claim. Paul never claimed too. You are either for Yeshua all the way or not, because "Sabbath" is the scheduled "wedding day" for all his believers soon...
jesusiscoming wrote at 2011-08-22 05:12:20
read Hebrews 4:4-11 it was always and will be the 7th day, the Lord change not. Nor do the commandments he wrote in stone.
franlex wrote at 2011-09-05 02:47:39
I want to cite the verse in Matthew chapter 5: 17 that says- "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law of the Prophets, I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle by no means pass from the law till is fulfilled." this is Jesus Christ speaking about Him fulfilling the Law and not amending it. He was also prophesied in the book of Isaiah as the One who "will magnify the law" which was fulfilled in His sermon on the mount. He clarify the law in the eyes of the common people who where burdened by the complicated ceremonies administered by the pharisees at His time. About the exactness of observing the Sabbath day, God wants us to follow His commandments in the most specific way He wants us to do, He is a God of Order and not of confusion, He shows this in the time of David when a certain man tried to support the ark of the covenant, the man was instantly struck by a lightning even though the man's motive was clean, as we know only the ordained priest of Israel were allowed to carry and touch the ark of the covenant. God rests on the seventh day of the week, He ordained it as not just any other day, but as a day of rest, and we ought do the same as God.
Isaac wrote at 2012-06-09 12:29:43
This is the wrong answer. The church or anyone else for that matter does not have the power to change the laws of GOD. The sabbath was changed because of persecution of the Jews. The Romans persecuted the Jews and if you were seen worshiping on the sabbath following the LORDS feast ( notice I did not say Jewish Feast) then you were consider a Jew. So you to were treated like the Jews. To keep from that early believers change back to the pagan day of sun worship which is Sunday. Then the Roman church put it in writing at the Council of Trent. The church change it but God never did. If you don't think it is still important then you should read Isaiah 66. God thinks it is important enough that when he set up His Kingdom that we will all be doing it. So why wait for God to correct this mistake and go ahead and start doing it yourself.
Khalil Amin wrote at 2013-06-08 19:44:20
No where in the Bible does it ay Jesus changed His Seventh Day Sabbath from Saturday the Seventh Day to Sunday the first Day of the week. It doesn't say Jesus rose on the first day, it says when Mary and the others went to His grave early on the first day He had already risen. God rested on His seventh day and He commands us to do so as well. 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
Hebrews 4:1-16: Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. 4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4:4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 4:5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 4:6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
4:7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 4:8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
This is a Sabbath discussion and Jesus is telling us if He would have changed it or spoken of another day He would have told His disciples.
Look at Exodus 20:8-12, Jesus planted the same seventh day way over in the heart of His Ten Commandments where it says to remember not to forget or change it. There so many more text that proves the seventhd day Sabbath is for us today as we go through this Christian journey. Wilfully breaking it will land you in the lake of fire. May God open your eyes before it is everlasting to late.
mitch wrote at 2013-12-02 08:16:07
Creation Sabbath and the Sabbath Commandment
A. Gen 2:1-3 and the Sabbath According to the biblical creation narrative the Sabbath originated at the end of creation
week as an expression of the divine will (Gen 2:1-3). It is common among Protestants to argue that Gen 2:1-3 does not contain a commandment addressed to humans but that it simply describes what God did on the seventh day. The argument is that the Sabbath as a commandment was given to the Israelites through the covenant; it is a Jewish law. Here we agree with Dies Domini: "If the first page of the Book of Genesis presents God's 'work' as an example for man, the same is true of God's 'rest.'" That conclusion can be supported on several different grounds.
1.Humans as the Image of God and the Sabbath The creation narrative describes humans as unique intelligent creatures within a world
brought into existence by God. That singularity is located in the fact that they were created in the image of God (1:27). They were to reflect the actions of God, the character of God and to represent Him within the rest of creation. The idea that God rested from His works ascribes to God a human need in order to demonstrate to humans how He planned to supply it for them. The anthropomorphic language clearly points to God's concern for humans who do not only need to work but also to separate a particular time to enjoy deep personal communion with the Creator. The divine action-God's rest-reveals His willingness to join humans in fellowship during the seventh day. It is the Creator, not the creature, who determines the time of rest. Adventist theologian Hans K. LaRondelle stated, "Without the divine communion and fellowship on the seventh day, without man's entering into God's rest on that day, the whole creation would be cut off from its Maker and necessarily have to find its purpose and sense in itself. Then God's rest indeed would rather be the cryptic indication of God's return to the aseity (the absolute self-existence) of the inner glory of His being and existence, leaving man and the world to themselves." He adds, "God's rest then means His ceasing the work of creation in order to be free for the fellowship with man, the object of his love, for the rejoicing and celebration of His completed work together with his son on earth, the
imago Dei, his festive partner."
2.God Blessed the Sabbath In the creation narrative God is described as blessing the seventh day. That probably means, as suggested by the use of the same verb in Exod 20:11, that "through it he [God] mediates the divine blessing to the person who keeps it." The blessing itself is undefined and that has led some to conclude that what defines it is the next verb in the sentence, God "sanctified it." That is to say, the blessing is to be understood in terms of holiness in the sense of separation and election. But the combination of the two verbs found in the text is unique in the Old Testament and unless there are very compelling reasons to consider them to be synonyms it is better to keep them apart as expressing two different actions. If the verb "to bless" (brk) expresses the basic idea of bestowing benefits upon something or someone, then when God blessed the Sabbath He bestowed it with benefits that would be enjoyed by those who will keep it. A day that is not blessed is a day deprived of positive content for human beings (Jer 20:14). The blessing pronounced by God on the seventh day was not for the benefit of God but for those who where present with Him, enjoying communion and fellowship with him, within the fraction of time called seventh day.
3.God Declared Holy the Seventh Day The declaration of the seventh day as holy time is intriguing. The Bible contains rituals for the sanctification of persons, things and places but there is no ritual prescribed for the sanctification of the Sabbath. Only the creation story informs us that its holiness is the result of a divine declaration. Throughout the rest of the Old Testament the holiness of that day is presupposed. For the Old Testament writers as well as for the people of God the creation 4.Sabbath was the same as the seventh day Sabbath mentioned in the commandment. Humans did not declare that day holy but they were responsible to keep it holy, to preserve its holiness, by obeying the commandment. That particular day participates in a unique way of the holiness of God because He rested on it and endowed it with holiness. The holiness of the Sabbath is not described in the text as a provisional status that was to wear out at the end of the day. There is no de-sanctification ritual for the seventh day declared holy by God during creation week. By sanctifying itGod placed it permanently apart for a particular religious use. Since according to the creation narrative Adam and Eve had been created on the sixth day, they experienced the holiness of the seventh day with God. When the Creator made the seventh day holy by separating it from the six workdays He "provided a gift for the whole of mankind for all time. The person who keeps the seventh-day Sabbath holy follows the Exemplar's archetypal pattern (Gen. 2:3) and meets with Him on that day of rest." It is important to emphasize that "the seventh day is the very first thing to be hallowed in Scripture, to acquire that special status that properly belongs to God alone. In this way Genesis emphasizes the sacredness of the Sabbath. Coupled with the threefold reference
to God resting from all his work on that day, these verses give the clearest of hints of how man created in the divine image should conduct himself on the seventh day." B.Exodus 16 and the Sabbath. The first biblical reference to the observance of
the Sabbath commandment is recorded in Exod 16 where instructions are given concerning the observance of the Sabbath in the context of the provision of manna. On Friday the people gathered twice as much as during the other days in order to have enough for the Sabbath (16:22-26). The ease with which the narrative flows and the almost casual way in which the Sabbath is introduced have suggested to a number of scholars that the narrative presupposes the Sabbath institution. When the leaders of the people observed the people gathering a double portion on the sixth day they went to Moses and reported it to him. Moses reminded them that the next day was the Sabbath day (16:22-23). The fundamental issue in the narrative is not that now for the first time the Sabbath was given to Israel but rather how to keep the Sabbath holy in the context of the experience of the manna. In other words, the story deals with a very practical issue related to proper Sabbath observance. Brevard S. Childs commented, that in the story "the existence of the Sabbath is assumed by the writer. But his was a natural question. If the manna fell every day and could not be stored, what happened on the Sabbath? The story answers this question . . . . In the verses which follow Moses explains in detail the nature of the Sabbath and what it entails. It stems from a command of God; it is a day of special rest; it is set apart from the ordinary and dedicated to God. . ." The present canonical form of the text suggests that the only way to explain the existence of the Sabbath during the exodus is by going back to Gen 2:1-3.
C. Exod 20:8-11: The Sabbath Commandment At Sinai the Sabbath commandment was officially entrusted to Israel (Exod 20:8-11; Deut 5:12-15). In Exod 20:8 the people are commanded to "remember the Sabbath day," while Deut 5:12 says, "Observe the Sabbath day." The use of different verbs does not introduce any significant change in the commandment. It is well known that the verb "to
remember" (zkr) is used in legal contexts in the sense of "to keep, to observe" (cf. Ps 103:18). The verb "remember" has not only a retrospective connotation-recalling a past event to commemorate it-but also a prospective one -to keep in mind in order to obey it. In both cases the recalling implies a present significance, which in this case consists in keeping the Sabbath holy. That verb is also important in that it suggests that the Sabbath "commandment is not given to Israel for the first time at Sinai (cf. 16:22ff.), but at Sinai Israel is only exhorted to remember what had been an obligation from the beginning." According to Exod 20:8, the Sabbath commemorates the fact that God is the Creator who rested on the seventh day. It explains the origin of the Sabbath by locating it in the divine rest after creation. Therefore, "keeping the Sabbath holy is an emulation of God's actions at the time of creation." The reason why the Sabbath must be observed is that on that day God rested and that He blessed and sanctified it. Consequently, "Israel could hardly do otherwise." In fact the Sabbath rest is extended to all; "it is not simply something for Israel to keep; even animals and strangers are to honor it. Yet the divine rest is more than a humanitarian gesture or a paradigm for creaturely resting-because God did so, the creatures should. It is a religious act with cosmic implications." The version of the commandment recorder in Deut 5
introduces new ideas that emphasize the purpose and reasons to observe the Sabbath rather than its origin as is the case in Exodus. One of the reasons given for keeping the Sabbath holy is that "the Lord your God commanded you" to do that (5:12). Its origin and normative force is grounded in God's loving will for His people. But more specifically, the Sabbath is to be kept holy in memory of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. This is different from what we found in Exodus where the reason given is "that the Sabbath has been a holy day since creation." According to Deuteronomy, obeying the command accomplishes two purposes: "You will remember the redemptive work of God on your behalf, and you will provide rest for the slaves under your control. So in the case of Exodus, the community is called to remember and to obey out that memory; in the Deuteronomistic form, the community obeys to keep alive the memory of redemption and to bring about the provision of rest from toil for all members of the community." Deuteronomy introduces into the commandment a soteriological dimension that constitutes it into a memorial of redemption. Consequently the theological significance of the Sabbath commandment has been greatly enriched. Now "the fundamental significance of the Sabbath is both to remind us of God's creation (Ex.20:8-11) and to bring to remembrance the freedom from servitude of any form, achieved by God and extended to all human beings (cf. Ex. 23:13)." One should not conclude that in Deuteronomy the Sabbath was instituted because of the Exodus; it is rather that "because of the deliverance from Egypt, Israel is urged to observe the Sabbath . . ." D. Mark 2:27: Jesus and Creation Sabbath. One of the passages in the New Testament that locates the origin of the Sabbath commandment in the creation story is Mark 2:27: "The Sabbath was made [ginomai] for man, and not man for the Sabbath." There are two main details in the text that deserve our attention. First, the term "man." Some have argued that since the text is an aphorism the term "man" does not refer to the Jews or to humanity in general. The passage, it is argued, is not addressing that question or establishing those distinctions. Nevertheless, even if the saying was an aphorism, and that is not certain, it is difficult to deny that the Greek term
anthroposis being used here in a generic way to refer to humans and not to a particular race (e.g. Jews). Second, the verb ginomai
should not be understood as "simply a circumlocution for God's action." Such generalization is too vague and leaves unanswered the question of the specific divine action the biblical writer had in mind. The verb can and should be translated here "was made/created." This is one of the possible usages of the verb in the New Testament and nicely fits the present text. Besides, the
parallelism between "the Sabbath was made for man" and the implicit use of the same verb in the second part of the verse-"man was not [made] for the Sabbath"--strongly suggests that the verb means "was created." The text's starting point is the creation account, the moment when humans were created and the Sabbath was instituted. God's intention was that the Sabbath "be a blessing to man, a day of physical rest, but also a day devoted to spiritual exercises. The Pharisees treated the day as though man were created to serve the Sabbath, rather than the Sabbath meeting the needs of man." In Mark Jesus was restating the true nature and purpose of the Sabbath commandment by taking his readers back to the creation origin of the Sabbath
D. The biblical text places the origin of the Sabbath in God's work during the creation week. His work, followed by rest, anticipated and modeled what was to be the experience of the human race. The Creator in His own activity revealed the interaction of work and rest that will characterize the mode of existence of humans. He did not have to create in six days and then rest on the seventh; but by doing that He was establishing a pattern for His intelligent creatures. It was God who blessed and sanctified the Sabbath endowing it with benefits for those who observe it and setting it apart as a day not only for physical rest but also as a day for communion with the Holy One. The day was intended to be of great benefit for the human race. This was reaffirmed by Jesus at a time when the commandment was overloaded with regulations that made its observance a heavy burden. The original joy of Sabbath observance
was restored by Jesus by pointing to the true nature of the creation Sabbath and its significance in his redemptive work and Messianic authority. The fact that the Sabbath originated during creation week clearly implies that it was instituted for the benefit of the
human race. No particular group or race has control over the blessedness and sanctity of the Sabbath. The sequence of work and rest on the Sabbath established by God at the beginning belongs to the human race. The observance of the
Sabbath by "all flesh," that is to say by humankind, becomes in Isaiah an eschatological expectation that will become a reality in the new heavens and the new earth (Isa 66:23). It is true that at Sinai God entrusted the commandment to the Israelites but He also made it clear to them that its origin was located in the divine rest on the seventh day after His six days of work. In the context of Israel's deliverance from Egypt the theology of the Sabbath was significantly enriched by including in its observance a theology of redemption. The Sabbath became a memorial of God's creation and of His redemptive work on behalf of His people-an act of recreation. The Christological basis for Sabbath observance was already anticipated in the Old Testament when the Sabbath w
as directly associated with God's salvific activity.
III. Perpetuity of the Sabbath Commandment
There are no hints in the Old Testament that the Sabbath commandment, as preserved in the Decalogue, was to be terminated or modified. Yet, Christianity is seriously divided concerning the validity of the Sabbath commandment for Christian believers. Adventists believe that there is no clear evidence in the New Testament to support the idea that biblical Sabbath keeping was changed to Sunday observance. We recognize that the change did take place soon after the apostolic era, but an examination of the New Testament passages dealing with the subject reveals that the Sabbath commandment was observed in the apostolic church.
mitch wrote at 2013-12-02 08:20:59
A .Jewish Christians and Sabbath Observance There seems to be widespread agreement among scholars that the Jewish Christian
communities of the New Testament observed the Sabbath. It is nevertheless necessary for us to summarize the evidence in order to explore its implications.
1.Jesus and the Sabbath
We should begin with Jesus. Luke 4:16 states that Jesus went to Nazareth and "as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read." It is irrelevant whether one takes the phrase "as was his custom" to refer to Jesus' habit of teaching in the synagogue (4:15) or to his practice of going to the synagogue during the Sabbath. The fact remains that the passage is stating, in agreement with the rest of the New Testament, that "Jesus participated in the Sabbath worship," that is to say, he was obedient to the commandment. The gospels demonstrate that Jesus did not anticipate the abrogation or modification of the Sabbath commandment during his ministry or after his resurrection. In fact the saying found in Matt 24:20-"Pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath"-suggests that he expected his disciples to keep the Sabbath long after his resurrection and ascension. "Christians were exhorted to pray that their flight would not have to occur on the Sabbath day out of respect for their observance of that day. They could flee on that day if they had to, but they were to pray that they would not have to in order to keep that day as a day of rest and worship, not a day of travel." The Sabbath controversies between Jesus and the Jews also indicate that he was not setting the Sabbath aside or pointing to the time when it will be transmuted into something else. Studies have shown that before 70 AD one of the most important issues of discussion concerning the Sabbath in Jewish circles was precisely what could be done during the Sabbath. The discussions and disagreements did not have the purpose of questioning the validity of the Sabbath commandment. Jesus addressed the issue in order to liberate the Sabbath from the regulations imposed on it by Jewish traditions. Let us briefly examine the passages describing the controversies recorded in Mark with parallels in Matt and Luke. Mark 2:23-26//Matt 12:1-8//Luke 6:1-5:The disciples were walking through the grain fields on the Sabbath picking the heads of grain and eating when the Pharisees accused them and Jesus of violating the Sabbath. The Torah prohibited harvesting during the Sabbath
(Exod 34:21), but it would be difficult to argue that the disciples were farmers harvesting during the Sabbath. The law allowed plucking ears of grain from a field (Deut 23:26), but this was forbidden by the Jews during the Sabbath. According to the Pharisees Jesus and the disciples had violated the Jewish halakah. In order to justify the behavior of the disciples Jesus refers to two exceptional cases; one related to David and the other to the priests and the temple. Most probably the reference to David was used to show that providing for human need can under certain circumstances override the law. This is supported by the saying in verse 27, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." Matthew adds the experience of the priests who worked in
the temple during the Sabbath (12:5). The point is that if the priests are not guilty of violating the Sabbath, "how much more innocent are the disciples, who are 'serving' Jesus, 'one greater than the temple.'" In fact, Mark states that Jesus is "Lord even of the Sabbath," that is to say, it is he who determines how the Sabbath is to be kept. But there is more to it. The statement "not only affirms the authority of Jesus, the Son of man, to reinterpret Sabbath law, but asserts also that the Sabbath remains God's day. Designed for the welfare of men and women, the proper use of the Sabbath is determined by the Son of man. As a human figure, he
best knows human needs; as a divine figure, he has the authority to say how the Lord's day should be used." Mark 3:1-6//Matt 12:9-14//Luke 6:6-11: The story is about the healing of a man with a withered hand. The discussion is concerning what is lawful or permitted during the Sabbath and its main purpose is to demonstrate that Jesus is indeed Lord over the Sabbath, that is to say that he is the one who determines how the Sabbath should to be kept. In the process the law is not challenged or set aside by him. The Jewish halakah allowed for healing during the Sabbath when life was being threatened. According to Mark Jesus considered "withholding the cure of the man's paralyzed hand, even for a few hours, tantamount to killing him, and performing the cure immediately tantamount to saving his life." Doing good cannot wait for the Sabbath to end because doing good is not incompatible with the Sabbath! His messianic mission was to restore fullness of life to suffering humanity and the Sabbath witnessed to that redemptive activity. Human traditions were not to impose limits to his work on behalf of suffering humanity. Matthew is more explicit in the rejection of halakhic regulations by asking whether a person whose sheep fell into a pit during the Sabbath was not willing to lift it out of the pit (12:11). The point is that humans are more valuable than a sheep and the conclusion he draws from it is that "it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." Obviously Jesus was not rejecting or modifying the commandment but determining how it should be properly kept. John 5:1-18: In the gospel of John we find two important incidents dealing with Sabbath controversies. The first is the healing of the lineman by the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath. When charged with violating the Sabbath Jesus justified his action saying, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working" (5:17).Several comments on that statement are in order. First, it was accepted by the Jews that God's work is not interrupted by the Sabbath, that His role as Judge and Sustainer of the world never stops. Jesus justifies his work of mercy during the Sabbath by identifying it with the work of his Father, thus making a profound Christological statement concerning his relationship with the Father. They are both performing a work of redemption. Second, the fact that God works "until now" shows that God's work of mercy and redemption was never considered by Him to be incompatible with the human observance of the Sabbath commandment. By implication Jesus' work of redemption during the Sabbath is not incompatible with proper Sabbath observance. Hence Jesus was not abolishing the Sabbath. Through his action he was stating that "the Sabbath command does not mean doing nothing (aria), but the doing of the work of God."Third, the debate between Jesus and the Jews on this incident was resumed in 7:19-24, where Jesus explicitly argues that Sabbath observance is compatible with works of mercy and love. He justified his work on the Sabbath by reference to the law of circumcision that in some cases allowed it to be performed during the Sabbath, superseding the commandment. The point is that "if circumcision, involving only one of a man's members, is allowed, how much more the healing of the whole man!" What John is showing is that "Jesus' work of healing on the Sabbath cannot even be regarded as breaking the Law. Jesus is fulfilling God's deepest intentions, recognizable in the Torah itself." John 9: Jesus healed the blind man on the Sabbath by kneading clay with his saliva, placing it on the eyes of the man and sending him to wash it off at the pool of Siloam. Raymond F. Brown lists three reasons why the Jews charged Jesus with not keeping the Sabbath. First, Jesus could have waited until after the Sabbath to heal him; the man's life was not threatened. Second, kneading was forbidden on Sabbath; third, in some cases anointing the eyes on Sabbath was condemned; and finally, one may "not put fasting spittle on the eyes on the Sabbath." This shows that Jesus was breaking the Sabbath only in the eyes of the Jewish leaders, but the implication is that he himself was not violating the Torah; he was performing the works of God (9:3). What John is disputing "is the manner, not the fact, of Jesus' Sabbath observance."
2.Other Jewish Christians Our brief review of the Sabbath controversies in the gospels has demonstrated that at least the Matthean community, formed mainly by Jewish believers, were keeping the Sabbath. There is no indication that would support the view
that according to Mark and John Jesus abolished the Sabbath commandment. Even Luke explicitly states that the women who followed Jesus to the cross saw where he was buried and then "returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment" (Luke23:56). We also read about Paul's practice of going to the synagogue on the Sabbath, which does not simply mean that he went there to make Christian disciples but also because as a Jew he kept the Sabbath (Acts 13:14, 44; 16:13; 17:2; 18:4). It is true that the "freedom claimed by Jesus with respect to the Sabbath constitutes, in all the Gospels, one of the main grievances that the scribes and Pharisees have against him. There is, however, no indication that Jesus had broken or even that he had merely wished to break with the observance of the third commandment of the Decalogue. Nor is there any evidence that he asked or even permitted his disciples to do so. Quite the contrary is the case."
B. Gentile Christians and Sabbath Observance. Did Gentile Christians observe the Sabbath during the time of the apostles? As indicated above scholars are willing to grant that Jewish-Christians kept the Sabbath but that its observance was not required from Gentile converts. The conclusion is primarily based on the silence of the New Testament concerning any such requirement for Gentiles. But the argument from silence is not decisive because it could also be interpreted as suggesting that Sabbath observance by all Christians was taken for granted. It is true that the commandment is not quoted in the New Testament but neither is the commandment against the worship of images explicitly mentioned or cited anywhere in the apostolic writings. Some have found it significant that the apostolic decree recorded in Acts 15:20, 28-29 does not mention the Sabbath as a requirement for Gentile Christians. We should recall that the purpose of the council was not to determine what was to be expected of Gentiles with respect to the Torah, but to regulate their behavior in such a way that it would not be offensive to Jewish Christians. Hardly anything else would have created more friction between Gentile and Jewish believers than the Gentile violation of the sanctity of the Sabbath. There is no evidence in the New Testament to demonstrate that such controversy was going on. We should also recall that at this early period inthe history of the church most of the Gentiles who became Christians were "God fearers" who were seriously attracted to Judaism
and who attended the synagogue and were observing the Sabbath before they became Christians (Acts 16:14; 18:2, 4). In addition many Gentiles who converted to Judaism, proselytes, also became Christians and they obviously were Sabbath keepers (13:43). It is difficult to conceive of the idea that these new Christian converts were taught that Sabbath observance was irrelevant for them without any evidence from the New Testament to support it. There is also evidence indicating that some type of Sabbath observance was practiced among Gentiles who were not attached to Judaism in any way but who were attracted to some of its ideas. On account of the Diaspora the Jews had become very visible throughout the Roman Empire and probably quite influential. The state recognized the importance the Sabbath had for the Jews and exempted them from military service, from appearing in court during the Sabbath, and they were not required to work during the seventh day. Their Sabbath observance became well-known and many non-Jews, under the influence of the Jews, did not work on the Sabbath, perhaps because they thought it was a day of misfortune or for other superstitious reasons. If Gentile Christians were not expected to keep the Sabbath we should be able to find some evidence of it in the New Testament. What we find is the opposite. If we go back to the Sabbath controversies in the Gospels it would not be difficult to realize that the question debated between Jesus and the Jewish leaders was not whether it was necessary to keep the Sabbath but how the Sabbath was to be observed. This is something that we would expect to find in the Gospel of Matthew, written to Jewish-Christians, but it is also found in Mark and Luke whose primary gentile audience is not questioned. We acknowledge that in those
controversies other theological issues are involved and that in some cases the Sabbath is a foil for deeper theological issues like, for instance, the authority of Jesus and his Messianic role. However, the fact that the Gospel writers selected the Sabbath controversies to convey their message also indicates that the topic was very much alive in the communities they were addressing. More significantly, the way they dealt with the subject of the Sabbath presupposes that the communities, Jewish and Gentiles alike, were in need of instruction concerning Sabbath observance. The fundamental issue appears to have been whether they should follow the Jewish traditions, the halakah, or not. The Gospel writers used the ministry and experience of Jesus to instruct them on how to keep the Sabbath as Christians. In the Old Testament God modeled Sabbath observance after His work of creation, now in the New Testament Jesus is presented as the model to be followed in proper Sabbath keeping. A brief look at the Gospel of Luke, written to Gentile Christians, supports our main argument. The word "Sabbath" appears in Luke twenty-one times and eight additional times in Acts. Luke introduces (4:16) and closes Jesus ministry (23:54) with references to the Sabbath and then adds that the women rested on the
Sabbath "according to the commandment" (23:56). Luke describes Jesus and his followers as habitual Sabbath keepers. If we examine the Sabbath controversies in the Gospel it would not be difficult to identify one of the key issues in the discussions. In 6:2 the Pharisees asked Jesus, "Why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?" In the second incident recorded in 6:6-11, Jesus asked the Pharisees, "I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath?" In both cases the concern is proper Sabbath observance and not whether the Sabbath should be kept or not. The same applies to the Sabbath controversies that are unique to Luke. In 13:16 Jesus asked, "Should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?," implying that it was lawful to heal her on the Sabbath. In the final case, recorded in 14:1-6, we find the more traditional question, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?" It is obvious that with respect to the Sabbath the fundamental issue was defining proper Sabbath observance. When Jesus says in Luke 6:5, "The Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath" Luke is saying that he has "the right to authoritatively represent the divine intention for the Sabbath. . . . In this new situation the Son of Man is able to open up the full potential of the Sabbath as God's gift to humankind." The Sabbath is for him a day of liberation from suffering and needs, a channel for loving actions. The references to the Sabbath in the gospels clearly show that the Christian communities were concerned about it. One could argue that perhaps the issue was whether one should or should not observe the Sabbath, or a conflict between the church and the synagogue, but the evidence clearly supports the conviction that the Gospels are instructing Jews and Gentile Christians on how to keep the Sabbath.
C. The New Testament contains irrefutable evidence to the effect that Jesus and his disciples observed the seventh day Sabbath. It is also clear that the Jewish Christian communities also kept the Sabbath during the apostolic period. Such practice should not be explained away arguing that it was the result of a poor understanding of the implications of the gospel of Jesus on the Jewish law. Jesus, according to the Gospels, observed the Sabbath and made it a day in which he brought rest to the sick and to those oppressed by evil powers. He expected his followers to enjoy the benefits of true Sabbath observance. The Sabbath controversies recorded in the Gospels had the fundamental purpose of instructing the Jewish and Gentile communities to which they were sent on proper Sabbath observance. Jesus' attitude and ministry during the holy hours of the Sabbath modeled for them Christian Sabbath keeping and demonstrated that the legalistic approach of the Jewish halakah was not to be followed by his church. There is no indication in the teachings and ministry of Jesus that would support the conviction that he was setting the Sabbath apart as irrelevant for the church or that he was instituting or planning to institute a new day of rest for his church. He did anticipate the end of the temple services and the sacrificial system, what is usually called the ceremonial or ritual law. But the Sabbath law was upheld by him as a permanent revelation of the will of his Father.
IV. Controversial Texts
Are there hints in the New Testament pointing to the possibility that the Sabbath commandment was either fulfilled in Christ, giving Christian believers freedom from the commandment, or that a new Christian day of worship was slowly being introduced in
Christian worship? The debate among Christians on those issues continues without indications of a final resolution. Yet the questions that are raised are of great importance since they deal with the expression of God's will for His church. We will briefly examine the passages usually employed to indicate that during the New Testament era the Sabbath was being set aside by the church.
A. Romans 14:5: A Matter of Conscience Some have used Rom 14:5 to argue that, according to Paul, Sabbath observance was
optional, a matter of personal choice in accordance to one's conscience. That statement has serious implications for the Sabbath commandment in the Christian church. It would suggest that during the time of Paul the commandment was not considered binding on Christians and that a transition from its observance to its rejection was already in process. It would also suggest or imply that the church was being left free to select any particular day for worship. We should examine the passage more carefully.
mitch wrote at 2013-12-02 08:21:47
1.Paul Was Not Describing Biblical Practices Some presuppose that Paul is discussing in our passage Old Testament practices that are now considered by him of little or no value for Christians. That is not the case. Notice that some of the recipients of the letter to the Romans believed that one should abstain from eating meat and drinking wine (14:2, 21). However, the Old
Testament does not require total abstention from animal flesh but only of the flesh of some animals (Lev 11). Neither does the OT consider grape juice improper for ingestion. It was forbidden only to the High Priest and the Nazarite. Paul is discussing food that was considered common (koinůs, the term used in 14:14) and therefore not proper for consumption under certain circumstances. The reference is not to regulations found in the Torah that could or could not be followed based on the conscience of the individual. Paul says that the weak values one day more than another but he does not explicitly state the reason for the distinction. There is not an explicit statement from Paul indicating what was done during that day or whether the day was considered holy. There are no references in the chapter to the holy days of the Old Testament. Whatever it was, the strong valued every day as the same for the purpose or activity that he or she had in mind. Hence, the problem was not the activity but deciding which day was the best day to perform a particular activity. Those to whom he wrote understood clearly what he had in mind, but we should be judicious and not
jump to unsubstantiated conclusions, e.g. that Paulis dealing here with the Sabbath commandment. That is not stated or suggested by the text and the simple mention of the word "days" does not justify that conclusion. The discussion does not seem to be about the Old Testament Torah. 2.Paul Was Not Emphasizing the Days Paul dedicates only two verses to the subject of "days" and about 21 to the issue of food. Had he been discussing the Sabbath he would have had to develop his thought much more because of the potential controversial nature of this subject. This suggests that for Paul selecting one day over another was a personal matter and not an issue he wanted to regulate for the church. Therefore the issue is not keeping the Sabbath or not keeping the Sabbath but the use of days for some other reason or purpose. In fact, there is nothing in the context about "observing/keeping" a day; it simply deals with "preferring/selecting one day to another" for some particular purpose. We should remember that during the New Testament period the Sabbath was a communal day of worship. Was Paul, then, saying that Christians could now come to worship any day they want based on personal preferences? Would not this create serious confusion in the church? If the other apostles selected a particular day for communal worship, would not that be in opposition to Paul's advice in Rom 14? Why select another day if all are of equal significance?
3.Paul Was Not Facing Legalism Paul is addressing a problem in the church based on differences of opinion among the members on matters he did not consider to be a threat to the gospel. Whatever church members were doing, they were not going against God's revealed will; therefore he does not condemn the practices but gives advice on how to accept the differences in Christian love.
The fundamental issue is the unity of the church and the preservation of that unity in spite of diversity of opinion in some unimportant areas. Pal is not attacking false teachers who are promoting legalism among believers. What should we conclude? Different suggestions have been given concerning Paul's reference to "days," none of which have gained general support. That intimates that the text does not contain enough information to allow us clearly to understand the problems addressed by Paul. We can only offer hypothesis, as Kaesemann recognizes. We have shown that it is easier and safer to exclude possibilities (e.g., the Sabbath commandment) than to argue for particular hypothesis. Nevertheless, the reference to "days" in the context of abstention from certain foods suggests days of fasting. This is the conclusion reached by some Adventist and non-Adventist scholars. According to them Paul was probably addressing the practice of days of fasting during which certain foods were considered common and improper for consumption. This would explain the dispute over food. In addition some individuals considered certain days as good days for fasting while others considered all to be of equal value.
B. Col 2:16-17; Gal 3:10: Special Days Colossians 2:16-23 is exegetically one of the most difficult passages to interpret in the New Testament. Part of the problem is the difficulties one faces in understanding the terminology used there and the extent to which Paul is quoting from his opponents. The other problem is defining the type of false teaching that was being promoted among church members. There is no scholarly consensus on those issues. Those who believe that the polemic is aimed mainly at Judaism find in the passage evidence to argue for the irrelevance of the Sabbath commandment for Christians. But recent studies have supported the more traditional conviction that in Colossians we are not dealing with traditional Judaism but with asyncretistic movement in which Jewish elements are present. The Jewish elements are usually found particularly in the phrase "in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day."For our purpose one of the key terms in that sentence is "Sabbath day." Is it referring to the seventh day Sabbath of the Old Testament or is it designating something else? Some Adventists have argued that the reference is not to the commandment because the Sabbath could not be described as "shadow of what is to come" (2:17); it was instituted before sin came into the world. It has been common to argue that the Greek term for Sabbath used here is plural in form (sabbaton) and that it is better to apply it to the ceremonial Sabbaths associated with the Israelite festivals. They could properly be described as shadows pointing to the work of the Messiah. More recently Adventist scholars have concluded that the phrase "festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day" seems to describe a yearly, monthly and weekly sequence making it difficult to retain the more common view. This has led to some other interpretational possibilities based on the context and on the use of the phrase "festival, new moon, Sabbath." For some the term "Sabbath" here is referring to the Jewish halakah, the "teachings of men" mentioned in the context (2:22).Others argue that the list is designating the sacrifices offered during those religious occasions and not to the occasions themselves. The sacrifices were a shadow of the sacrificial death of the Messiah. The reference to the Sabbath is problematic for all interpreters because of the context in which it is found. Although the common tendency is to find in it a reference to the commandment there are still those who, based on the fact that the sequence is yearly, monthly and weekly, consider it possible and probable that the reference is not to the commandment itself but to the week. In other words, the term sabbaton should be translated "week," a usage found elsewhere in the New Testament (e.g. Luke 18:11; Mark 16:9). That possibility "cannot be ruled out completely (in which case the phrase would refer to weekly, monthly, and probably annual festivals)." But even if the term sabbatton designates the seventh day, the Sabbath, as it probably does, we should be extremely careful concerning the significance we attach to that usage. The term is employed in the context of a syncretistic "heresy" and therefore its original biblical significance has been altered. Paul is reacting to syncretistic practices promoted by the false teachers with respect to eating, drinking and festivals. The use of the verb "to judge" in 2:16 is very important for a correct grasping of the meaning of the passage. When Paul says, "no one is to act as your judge in regard to," he is in fact saying, "Let no one determine or regulate your eating, drinking . . ." In other words the false teachers are not requiring submission to those practices but determining the way they should be performed on the basis of their own teachings. Paul correctly designates those regulations as "commandments and teachings of men" (2:22; cf. 2:8).Paul is in fact warning "the Colossians not against the observances of these practices as such, but against 'anyone' (tis) who passes judgment on how to eat, to drink, and to observe sacred times. The judge who passed judgment is not Paul but the Colossian false teachers who imposed 'regulations' (Col 2:20) on how to observe these practices in order to achieve 'rigor of devotion and self-abasement and severity to the body' (Col 2:23)." What Paul is rejecting is not "the teachings of Moses but their perverted use by the Colossian false teachers." He does not have in view "the Jewish observance of these days as an expression of Israel's obedience to God's law and a token of her election. . . What moves him here is the wrong motive involved when the observance of holy festivals is made part of the worship advocated at Colossae in recognition of the 'elements of the universe', the astral powers which direct the course of the stars and regulate the calendar." We can conclude that Paul is simply condemning "not the principle of Sabbath keeping but its perversion" or "superstitious observance." We have already indicated that such type of Sabbath observance may have been quite common outside Jewish circles. Therefore,
based on Col 2:16 one cannot theorize that Paul was promoting or teaching the abolition of the Sabbath commandment. He was rejecting the attempt of the false teachers to impose their views on believers concerning how to observe it. They were misusing the commandment but its misuse does not invalidate the commandment itself. In the case of Gal 4:10 we are also dealing with superstitious observance of days and not with the proper observance of the biblical Sabbath. Scholars have debated whether when Paul
says, "You observe days and months and seasons and years" he was referring to the Jewish calendar of religious days or to pagan practices. Several comments are in order. First, there is no explicit mention of the Sabbath in the text, although one could presume that it is included under the plural "days." But the fact that the plural is used suggests that Paul did not necessarily have in mind the issue of Sabbath keeping. Second, one could argue that since the conflict in Galatians is against some Jewish practices the passage under consideration must be referring to Jewish holy days that would include that Sabbath. But even if that were the case, the observance of the Sabbath is not necessarily being rejected. Paul would, then, be reacting only to religious practices that threatened the integrity and
effectiveness of the gospel of salvation that is exclusively through Christ. It would be difficult to argue that Paul is here rejecting all types of holy days. Finally, the verb paraterein("observe") suggests that we are not dealing here with a whole some observance of Jewish religious days but with superstitious beliefs. The verb paraterein is not the verb used in the LXX or the rest of the
New Testament to refer to the observance, for instance, of the Sabbath. That verb expresses not only the idea of carefully observing the cultic calendar but also the action o f calculating the arrival of the days and the seasons. This verb "seems to have the sense of anxious, scrupulous, well-informed observance in one's own interest, which does not fit the traditional celebration of the Sabbath or other Jewish feasts but does fit regard for point or spans of time which are evaluated positively or negatively from the standpoint of the calendar or astrology. Naturally it is conceivable that Jewish feasts, especially in the Hellenistic sphere, were regarded and celebrated superstitiously."The calendar rejected here is most probably of pagan origin and consequently we should not read into it proper Sabbath observance.