Seventh-Day Adventists/Sabbath Questions


Is the Sabbath in the Old testament different from that of the New Testament?

I have read from you past discussions that you stated that the Sabbath of the Old testament by Moses is different from that of the New testament.

Are you implying that the Sabbath commandment of the Old testament was a commandment by Moses?

i believe that the God of the Old testament is one and the same God of the new testament. whatever commandment He had given will never change for God is immutable.

Thank you for asking this very perceptive Sabbath question.  It is a critical and fundamental point that few have considered.  

However, it sounds like you are an SDA that thinks there is no difference between the 4th Commandment and the NC Sabbath for the Church.  If so, you and the SDA’s are in for a great shock.

Consider these points:

1) There are TWO doctrines of the weekly 7th day Sabbath in the Old Testament.  

A) One for most of the people (the 4th Commandment), and

B) Another for the Levitical Priests.  

It is a serious theological mistake to think there is only one doctrine of the Sabbath in both Covenants.  False assumptions lead to incorrect conclusions.

2) Only one of these TWO Old Covenant Sabbath doctrines morphed into the NC Sabbath. It was the Priestly version, not the law based 4th Commandment, as the SDA’s teach.

3) Jesus teaches an active, priestly-based, guilt-free, 7th day Sabbath in the Gospels for all to see.  He never rested on the Sabbath or taught that anyone should follow the 4th Commandment, which he routinely broke.  Jesus does not follow, defend, or promote the 4th Commandment as the SDA’s teach.  Shocking, but true.

4) Christians are not under the 4th Commandment law at any point, as the Galatian debate makes clear.  Jesus created an active and free 7th day Gospel Sabbath for the Church.  It is not like the 4th Commandment whatsoever.  While it is the same 7th day, based on the same Creation Story, it is a very different doctrine, which the legalistic Jews hated.

Gal. 3:24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.

Gal. 3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

5) The Laodicean church must repent for their many false views of the NC Sabbath, or be condemned. (See Rev 3: 14, the genuine Pre-Advent Judgment of the last Church, which is the Laodicean Message).

6) Jesus’ active, priestly view of the 7th day Sabbath is the sign of the genuine Christ and the Good Shepherd brand. This famous parable is part of a long Sabbath debate between Jesus and the Jews. (See John 9,10)  Those that follow Christ for Eternal Life will embrace the Gospel Sabbath of Christ.  

7) Eternal Life is for those that “see clearly” what Jesus teaches; they will understand the genuine Gospel Sabbath, which features the active, 7th day instruction of Christ.  The Sabbath doctrine separates those who are following the genuine Christ from those who are not.

John 9:39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”

Jesus teaches that those who refute his doctrine of the 7th day Sabbath are spiritually blind.  And guess what?  Those Jews that refused Jesus’ Gospel Sabbath were doing so in order to defend the 4th Commandment.  They value the OC law over the NC Gospel and the new priesthood of Christ.  The SDA’s have done the same thing!

John 9:40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?”

John 9:41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

John 10:1  “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.

John 10:2 “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep.

The SDA’s, like the Jews they emulate, teach an OC, legalistic Sabbath.  They do not realize that they are not under OC law, much less under the 4th Commandment, where working on the Sabbath was punished by death.  Nor do they comprehend the genuine 7th day, priestly-based Sabbath of Christ.  They are spiritually blind, unable to tell the difference between the Good Shepherd or common thieves and robbers.

Question: Is the Sabbath in the Old Testament different from that of the New Testament?

Answer:  Yes. Yes. Yes.  Not only is the OC Sabbath different from the NC Sabbath, there are TWO very different weekly doctrines of the Sabbath contained in Judaism.  Before one can understand the genuine Gospel Sabbath of the NC, these different OC doctrines must be clearly understood.

Two Different OC Sabbath Doctrines

The Sabbath of the 4th Commandment was the primary doctrine for most Jews.  But not all.  The Levites were not bound by the 4th commandment.  They were allowed to work on the 7th day without sin or guilt.  Here was a special Sabbath doctrine ONLY for the Priests.

So there are TWO very different OC doctrines of the weekly 7th day Sabbath.  Jesus discards one of these doctrines, the 4th Commandment, while promoting the priestly Sabbath for the church, and all mankind.

Mark 2:27 Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

Which Sabbath is Jesus promoting in this passage?  The 4th Commandment?  


He is speaking about the active, working, priestly Sabbath that will now represent the Gospel.  Moses is associated with the 4th commandment law that leads to fear, guilt, and condemnation.  The SDA’s have the wrong Sabbath doctrine, for which they must repent.  

The NC Sabbath of Christ

In the NC, Jesus does NOT teach, defend, or follow the 4th Commandment.  Rather, he teaches a Priestly based, active Sabbath.  Why?  Because all that believe in the Gospel, male or female, are priests of God.  Those in the NC are to follow Jesus’ priestly doctrine of the Sabbath, which is an active 7th day as opposed to the uncomfortable rest of the 4th Commandment.  

Matt. 12:5 “Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent?

Heb. 7:12 For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.

Rev. 1:6   He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father — to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

The SDA’s, as well as everyone else, must repent of their false views of the Law and the Gospel.  There is not one church or denomination that teaches the correct NC Sabbath of Christ, including the arrogant SDA’s.  They were getting close, but then they fell into gross legalism and embraced the non-priestly Sabbath of Moses, the 4th Commandment.  Huge mistake.  Fatal, if not corrected.  

John 12:48 “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.

Luke 6:46  “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

Luke 6:40 “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.

Let everyone understand:  The NC Sabbath is NOT, NOT, NOT, the 4th Commandment.  (Nor is it Sunday or the Every Day Sabbath)  While this seems shocking and heretical to SDA’s, it is nonetheless 100% true.  Jesus does not teach the OC resting Sabbath of the OC Jews.

Question:  I have read from your past discussions that you stated that the Sabbath of the Old Testament by Moses is different from that of the New Testament.

Answer:  Yes, the OC Sabbath is very different from the NC Sabbath.  

While both are on the same day, the 7th, and both are anchored to the Genesis creation story, one is focused on rest and the other works.  

The OC promotes a forced rest under penalty of death, as well as subordination to a separate and superior priesthood.  The NC Sabbath of Christ promotes good works, as well as a new and all-inclusive priesthood, which also comes with personal freedom from guilt, OC law, and sin.

There are over 20 verses in the Bible where the “law of Moses” is used.   This term includes the 10 Commandments. The “Sabbath of Moses” also means the 4th Commandment.  When Jesus claims to be the Lord of the Sabbath, he is not talking about the 4th Commandment, only his active, NC, guilt free Sabbath.

1Kings 2:3 “Keep the charge of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn,

Luke 24:44  Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

Moses Sabbath demanded complete rest from all activity and work on the 7th day.  No fires could be started, nor food prepared, etc., under pain of death.  In fact, one man was put to death because he broke the Sabbath by gathering firewood.  Such was the primary OC Sabbath law of God, administered by Moses.

Ex. 31:15   For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the LORD; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death.

Ex. 35:2   “For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy day, a sabbath of complete rest to the LORD; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.

Ex. 35:3 “You shall not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on the sabbath day.”

Lev. 23:3  ‘For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the LORD in all your dwellings.

Num. 15:32  Now while the sons of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering wood on the sabbath day.

Num. 15:33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation;

Num. 15:34 and they put him in custody because it had not been declared what should be done to him.

Num. 15:35 Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.”

Num. 15:36 So all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

By contrast, read what Jesus teaches about his Gospel Sabbath.  Does he threaten people with death if they work, cook, or light fires on the Sabbath?  Does Jesus teach that the 7th day is for complete “rest”?

No. No. No. And No.

Christ teaches an active Sabbath for the church where there is no sin or guilt for working on the 7th day.  The NC Sabbath is not for rest.

This is why Jesus heals people on the 7th day, and then tells them to walk around town with their bedroll to show everyone what has taken place.  This is why Jesus keeps promoting his active, working Sabbath that he learned from his Father, God.  

John 5:8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.”

John 5:9 Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk.   Now it was the Sabbath on that day.

John 5:10 So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.”

John 5:11 But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk.’”

Jesus’ NC Sabbath doctrine is based on the superiority of Christ over the Law of Moses; combined with the priesthood of all believers, which was also totally rejected by the Jews.  

To reject what Jesus teaches about the Sabbath in the 1st century, (and even today), is to reject the Gospel.  This is what the Jews did, and so too the entire church today.  Every denomination has a false Gospel and thus a false Sabbath doctrine and a false, worthless Christ.

John 5:15 The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

John 5:16 For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.

John 5:17 But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”

John 5:18 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

John 9:16 Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And there was a division among them.

Jesus NC Sabbath doctrine caused great “division” among the Jews.  They were very confused and conflicted.  

Moses, an OC figure, teaches a resting, non-working, Sabbath of the 4th Commandment; associated with guilt, sin, and condemnation, even death;  

Jesus, who claims to be from God, teaches a priestly based, working, guilt free, doctrine of the 7th day.  One that reflects Gospel freedom from the Law (both moral and ceremonial); resulting in Eternal Life, through the Lord of the Sabbath.

John 8:36 “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

The Gospels are full of Jesus Sabbath instruction.  Christ debates the Jews over the Sabbath constantly, making them furious in the process.  There is no excuse today for anyone to be confused about what Moses and Christ teach about the Sabbath.  They are not the same doctrine.

Matt. 12:8 “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Why were the Jews so angry with Christ?  Because he was repudiating the 4th Commandment given to Moses by God and introducing a new model of the priesthood, Temple, and Law.  Those Jews in power wanted nothing to do with such strange ideas.  The Jews loved the OC, they had no desire for the NC, which is why they killed Christ and tried to destroy the infant church.

Let everyone understand:  Jesus teaches an active, working, priestly-based doctrine of the 7th day Sabbath.  The opposite of what Moses and the Jews teach under OC law.  The opposite of what the SDA’s teach today.

John 9:28 They reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses.

John 9:29 “We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from.”

Today, the SDA’s are following the OC Sabbath of Moses.  They do not understand, much less embrace, the active, guilt free, 7th day Gospel Sabbath of Christ.  Like the blind Jews, they have never imagined an active, 7th day Sabbath doctrine, much less a priesthood where everyone, even women, are equal.  Which proves that they don’t know how to read the Bible or the Gospels, much less follow Christ as they pretend.  

John 14:24 “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.

John 10:27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;

To know Christ is to understand what he teaches about the Sabbath.  Proving that few have any real knowledge of the Gospel.  Sad.

Question: Are you implying that the Sabbath commandment of the Old Testament was a commandment by Moses?

Answer:  No.  The 4th Commandment was written by God and given to Moses.  God is the author of both OC Sabbath doctrines (non-priestly and priestly).  In fact, before Moses had the first Sabbath breaker punished to death, he consulted with God.  

Num. 15:32  Now while the sons of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering wood on the sabbath day.

Num. 15:33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation;

Num. 15:34 and they put him in custody because it had not been declared what should be done to him.

Num. 15:35 Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.”

Num. 15:36 So all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

However, there is another weekly doctrine of the Sabbath for the Levites that had to run the Temple system.  While the 4th Commandment gets most of the attention from the church, the priestly, active doctrine of the Sabbath should not be overlooked or ignored.  It too came from the mind of God.  

Moreover, it is very important because this is the theological basis that Christ uses to establish his NC doctrine of the 7th day Sabbath.

Question: I believe that the God of the Old Testament is one and the same God of the New Testament. Whatever commandment He had given will never change for God is immutable.

Answer:  God created the OC as a temporary paradigm; to be replaced with the NC.  So not only does God change, he builds change into his cosmic and theological plans.  

Luke 5:36 And He was also telling them a parable: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old.

Luke 5:37 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined.

Luke 5:38 “But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.

Luke 22:20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.

While the 1st century world knew all about OC Judaism, no one knew anything about this NEW religion about Jesus.  It was “new.”  Which is why Paul was invited to give a speech in Athens to explain.

Acts 17:17 So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.

Acts 17:18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,” — because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.

Acts 17:19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming?

Acts 17:20 “For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.”

Acts 17:21 (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)

While the God of the OT is the same as the NT; This God is all about change.  It was his master plan to create a NEW Gospel religion in the 1st century.  There had never been a religion based on the resurrection of an executed Jewish criminal.  It was so new and far out that the crowd sneered and laughed Paul off the stage.

Acts 17:32  Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.”

Acts 17:33 So Paul went out of their midst.

With such a fact pattern how can anyone pretend that the NC teachings of Christ are the same as the OC teachings of Moses?

This outrageous idea that the OC is the same as the NC is poison.  It is very dangerous and wrong.  While the SDA’s think they are being slick by claiming to teach a “balanced” Gospel that includes both Justification and sanctification, they are making fools of themselves, because this is not how the Protestant Gospel is defined.  They are very confused and wrong about many things, including and especially the Sabbath.

Heb. 8:13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.  

This means the 4th Commandment is obsolete.  Which is why Christ promoted something better in its place.

There is a reason why the Bible is divided into two major sections.  One for the Old Testament and the other for the New.  They are not the same.  Nor are they to be blended together as if they are equal.  One is old and represents death, while the other represents forward progress in Christ, the new high priest of God who gives Eternal Life for free.

2Cor. 3:5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,

2Cor. 3:6 who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

2Cor. 3:7  But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was,

2Cor. 3:8 how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?

2Cor. 3:9 For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.

2Cor. 3:10 For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it.

2Cor. 3:11 For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.

While God is the same in both Covenants, and so too the creation story, God made a dramatic shift, through Christ, from the OC to the NC.  This change in the law, Sabbath, temple, and priesthood was God’s plan all along.  Too bad the Jews misunderstood.

John 1:17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

Col. 1:25  Of this church  I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God,

Col. 1:26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints,

To understand the difference between the New and Old Covenants is the most difficult and confusing part of church history and theology.  Misunderstand these differences, and it will be impossible to understand the Gospel correctly, including and especially the doctrine of the Sabbath.  (Which the SDA’s, and all others, have very wrong.)

Law & Gospel

At some point, the Laodicean church, meaning all denominations, is going to choose between a number of false views of the Sabbath; or the one and only Gospel Sabbath of Christ.  At this point, there is not one denomination that embraces the genuine NC Sabbath, least of all the SDA’s.  Pitiful.

See also:

The Reformed 7th day Sabbath

SDA Sabbath Vs. Gospel Sabbath


The Adventist were very correct to stand up and oppose the popular Sunday Sabbath.  They were also correct to teach that only the 7th day could be the NC Sabbath.  Moreover, their position that the NC Sabbath would play a role in the final Gospel proclamation in Rev 18 is also correct.

But here is where Adventism has gone wrong.  They embraced the WRONG doctrine of the 7th day Sabbath.  They followed the OC version instead of the Gospel Sabbath,( which is based on the priestly model instead of the 4th Commandment).  They have embraced the OC Sabbath of Jesus enemies, even as they are clueless about the active, NC Sabbath of Christ.

There is a 7th day Gospel Sabbath for the church.  However, it is not the 4th Commandment, but something very different.  When the church fully understands the Gospel, they will also understand the genuine, 7th day Gospel Sabbath of Christ.

I suggest that everyone take off their traditional blinders and go directly to Christ in the Gospels to learn the correct, radical, and surprisingly free doctrine of the Sabbath.  Start with Mark, the oldest Gospel and see how early the Sabbath debates start.  

Mark 2:27 Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

Mark 2:28 “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Mark 3:1  He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered.

Mark 3:2 They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him.

Read and study the many scores of Gospel verses that contain Jesus specific, NC, Sabbath teaching and follow what he teaches.  Do not take the position of the faithless Jews against Christ and defend the 4th Commandment.  To do so is to repudiate Christ, the Good Shepherd.

Let all listen to Christ, the Lord of the NC, 7th day Sabbath.

Mark 4:23 “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Tom Norris, for New Covenant Adventism

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I can answer most any question about church history and theology, starting from 1818 when William Miller articulated the 1st Angels Message that became the foundation of the Adventist Movement. While this first prophetic message terminated in the spring of 1844, it was followed by what Adventists refer to as the 2nd Angels Message, which dates from the spring of 1844 until the great disappointment of October 22, 1844. By 1847, the 3rd Angels Message had been developed and this Sabbatarian theology represents the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Moreover, I can explain the historical and theological development of the SDA denomination from its beginning and on through the great Battle Creek schism that forced the SDA's to retreat to Takoma Park. Here the 20th century church recovered from their internal battles that had erupted at the 1888 General Conference in Minneapolis over the definition of the law and the Gospel. Fearing another repeat of this disaster, President Daniels, determined to hide this debate. However, this policy led to more conflict, especially over the role and authority of Ellen White, a unique and accomplished religious writer that had remarkable spiritual gifts. However, by the decade of the 1970`s, the church once again erupted into debate. The hierarchy settled the turmoil in 1980 with the trial of Dr. Desmond Ford at Glacier View. Here Dr. Ford was exiled because he supposedly disagreed with Ellen White over the Fundamentals. But this controversial action resulted in another major schism that is still in progress today.


Tom Norris was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist in Takoma Park, Md. He attended SDA grade and High schools, moving on to study Adventist theology at Columbia Union College. He also spent significant time conducting independent research in the General Conference Archives and the Ellen G. White Estate. Over the years he has also interviewed a number of prominent Adventist scholars, theologians, and Pastors ranging from the late Arthur White to the exiled Dr. Desmond Ford. In addition, he has amassed a large private library, which includes numerous rare books and manuscripts about Adventist theology and history. He is presently the online editor of Adventist Reform, and can be found at Adventist for Tomorrow answering questions online about SDA theology and history as well as promoting Adventist Reform.

Tom Norris attended SDA grade and High schools, moving on to study Adventist theology at Columbia Union College. He also spent significant time conducting independent research in the General Conference Archives and the Ellen G. White Estate.

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