Vol. 16 No 42 – October 15, 2017
The 4th Commandment, Ex 20:8-11, Deut 5:12-15.
New Testament Usage of Sabbath: (continued).
In Summary, the Sabbath in relation to Jesus’ activities includes:
- His healing and resultant opposition, Mat 12:9-13; Luke 13:10-17; 14:1-5; John 5:1-17; 7:22-23; 9:14-16.
- His teaching, Mark 1:21; Luke 4:31.
- His synagogue attendance, Luke 4:16.
- His death and burial, Mark 15:42-47 (cf. 16:1); John 19:31.
- His resurrection, Mat 28:1.
These all reflect in somewhat of a progression, what Jesus did for the Nation of Israel, and for us all. Five is the number of “Grace” in the Scriptures. And He performed 7 healings, (the number of “Spiritual Perfection” in the Bible), on the Sabbath, Mark 1:21-27, 29-31; 3:1-6 (and Mat 12:8-14); Luke 13:10-17; 14:1-6; John 5:1-9; 9:1-14.
In these depictions, we see Christ foreshadowing the coming of the Church Age when the Law, including the Sabbath, would not be a requirement to be fulfilled. We see that during His time, the Sabbath was to be kept because they were still under the Age of Israel, the Age of the Law. They were still under the Mosaic Law.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ time emphasized the prohibitive aspect of the Sabbath and added further restrictions to it from their rabbinical tradition, Mat 12:2-7; Mark 3:2. In contrast, Jesus emphasized:
- That “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” Mark 2:27.
- That He was “Lord even of the Sabbath,” Mark 2:28.
- That the Sabbath offered opportunity “to do good” and “to save a life,” as well as to rest, Mark 3:4.
With the judicial termination of the Mosaic legal system at the Cross, Col 2:14, Sabbath observance is not required of Christians, Col 2:16, and the notion of a “Christian Sabbath” is foreign to NT directions to the Church.
As we have noted, the observance of the Sabbath is an ordinance given to the nation of Israel, but not the Church for the Church Age. In fact, prophecy anticipated the termination of Sabbath observance for a time, Hosea 2:11; 3:4-5.
Hosea 2:11, “I will also put an end to all her gaiety, Her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths and all her festal assemblies.”
Hosea 3:4-5, “For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or household idols. 5Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days.” Cf. Mat 24:20; Isa 66:23; Ezek 45:17; 46:1-12.
With the judicial termination of the Mosaic legal system at the Cross, Col 2:14, Sabbath observance is not required of Christians, Col 2:16, and the notion of a “Christian Sabbath” is foreign to NT directions to the Church.
Some say that the Bible nowhere tells the Church to stop observing the Sabbath and meet on Sunday. But the Bible also nowhere prescribes which books should be in the Bible and which should not. That is an argument from silence, which is not a valid argument. Likewise, the NT nowhere commands the Church to keep the Sabbath, as it does the other 9 of the 10 Commandments.
Yet, the NT does say we are no longer under the Law, Rom 7:1-6. Therefore, if not stated to keep it, (as the other 9 Commandments are commanded for the Church Age in the NT), we are not under obligation to keep it. Here, Paul taught the Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome that the Jewish Christian, (as assumed from the context of verse one), is dead to the Mosaic Law in that it no longer has any jurisdiction over them. Jewish Christians are not under the authority of the Mosaic Law because they are identified with Christ in His death on the Cross, and thus Gentile Christians are not under the authority of the Mosaic Law as well. Consequently, they are not required to observe the Sabbath or circumcision or the dietary regulations whose observance was prescribed under the Mosaic Law. He presents the principle found in the Mosaic Law that a woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives, but if he dies, she is discharged from her marriage contract with him. If a Jewish woman’s husband dies, then she is not an adulteress if she remarries. In the same way that a Jewish wife is discharged from the marriage contract with her deceased husband and is now free to marry another, so too has been the Christian discharged from the Law, including the Decalogue, and was free to be married to Christ through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is made possible through the completed work of Jesus upon the Cross, i.e., “through the body of Christ.” We see our present status of having been freed from the Law, having died to it and now having the capacity to serve in newness of the Spirit. Jewish Christians have been discharged from their legal and moral obligations to the Mosaic Law, as a result of being identified with Christ in His death. The Mosaic Law and Sabbath observance were given to the nation of Israel, and thus were not given to the Gentiles or the Church, cf. Rom 3:2. Therefore, Sabbath observance is not prescribed for the Church Age believer. The Church Age believer is not commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ or by His apostles to observe the Sabbath. As we noted above in Rom 7:1-6, the Church Age believer has died to the Law. Thus, they are not required to observe the Sabbath which was prescribed by God for the nation of Israel to observe under the Mosaic Law.
Likewise, we see in Eph 2:12 that the Sabbath has never been given to Gentiles. Therefore, it is not for the Church during the Church Age, as Christ fulfilled and abolished the Law for this Age, Eph 2:15. Therefore, we are not under its authority for salvation or to live the unique spiritual life of the Church Age.
In regard to this, when the Judaizers were bringing false doctrines to the early Church, specifically regarding the need to keep the Law and believe in Christ for salvation and the spiritual life, we find an interesting response from the early Church leaders in Acts 15:1-31.
Nowhere do they mention the keeping of the Sabbath as a requirement for salvation or to live the spiritual life. In fact, the few things they mentioned have nothing to do with salvation, but are to refute the false pagan god worship of their day.
Thus, the Church Age believer should not allow people who have been Judaized to criticize them because they do not observe the Sabbath like they do, Col 2:16-17; Rom 14:5-6.
In fact, when Stephen was stoned to death, he was accused of something. You can find the answer in Acts 6:11-14; note the word “customs” in vs. 14. Cf. Acts 15:1; 21:21; 26:3; 28:17. We can assume that these “customs” had to do with the ceasing of the Law during the Church Age.
There are no grounds for imposing the Sabbath on the Christian who is free from the burden of the Mosaic Law’s demands. Paul was quite clear in the book of Galatians that the Church is not under the Law, Gal 3:1-5; 5:1-3.
In warning about the false teachers, the Judaizers who taught the Church needs to keep the Law, Paul reminded the Colossian of Col 2:8, 14, 16. In the Church Age, it is the Spirit of Christ who enables you to fulfill God’s will apart from the external observances of the Law.
As shadowed by our Lord in the giving of the Law to Israel in Exodus 20, the first justification and emphasis of the Sabbath was on the Creator God, and then 40 years later in Deuteronomy 5, the emphasis was changed to His redemptive act. The Sabbath then emphasized His redemption over creation, of rest over cessation. As such, a work vastly greater than that of creation has now been accomplished by Christ, the work of redemption, and it provides the Church the theological justification for the observance of His redemptive work culminated in His resurrection on the first day of the week, where we now can enter into His rest, Heb 4:1ff. Therefore, we celebrate the first day of the week as commemorative of His triumphant victory over sin and death, as He is the “Lord of the Sabbath.”
Further, the Sabbath is mentioned along with the festivals and new moons, all of which are declared to be “only a shadow of what is to come,” Col 2:16-17. Therefore, to “observe days, and months, and seasons, and years,” is deemed to be slaves to “the weak and worthless elemental things,” Gal 4:9-10; Cf. Col 2:8, 20. The ritual observance of days is a characteristic of “the man who is weak in faith,” Rom 14:1-6.
Therefore, these elementary principles or regulations from the Mosaic Law were promoted by Satan’s cosmic system in the sense that he, through these Judaizers, sought to put both Jewish and Gentile Christians back under the Mosaic Law, so that they would not experience their new found freedom in Christ from the Mosaic Law, that is based on their union and identification with Christ in His crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, and session at the right hand of the Father. Paul is in effect telling them that their teaching regarding the Mosaic Law is demonic and does not originate with Jesus Christ and is opposed to Jesus Christ, Col 2:10, 14-15.
At the Cross, Jesus fulfilled the Law so that we would not have too. The Law condemned Jew and Gentile, Rom 1:18-3:23. Christ’s death on the Cross paid the sinner’s sin debt which was incurred from breaking the Law. Therefore, it is not the 7th Day which emerges as the critical theological issue; it is the role of the law, and our liberty in Christ, that is really the fundamental issue.
Therefore, this seems to be the reason for the shift in the Gentile churches from observance of the Jewish Sabbath Day, (Saturday), to worshiping on the Lord’s Day, (Sunday), cf. Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2; Rev 1:10.
Luke wrote in Acts 20:7, regarding Paul’s 3rd Missionary journey when he came to Troas, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, (Celebrate Communion), Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.”
Though Paul and his companions were there for several days, no mention is made of any religious service on the seventh day of the week; but it is expressly stated that “the disciples came together,” and that “Paul preached to them” on “the first day of the week.” The object of the meeting is also stated to have been the “breaking of bread,” which clearly indicates the taking of Communion; the bread and wine ritual for the Church during the Church Age, which too will cease when Christ returns. Therefore, it was the first day of the week that they practiced their gathering together to worship God.
1 Cor 16:2, “On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.”
Here, they collected their offerings on Sunday when they met.
Rev 1:10, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, (KURIAKE, “belonging to the Lord, HEMERA, “day,” which is a reference to the 1st day of the week), and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet.”
John uses the phrase, “Lord’s day,” without otherwise indicating which of the seven days of the week he referred to; thus, evidently showing that when the book of Revelation was written, there was a day known and observed by Christians generally as the “Lord’s day.” That this was the first day of the week, which was kept in memory of the resurrection of our Lord, is abundantly evident from the history of the Church, as we will see below.
The root word for “Lord’s” is KURIAKOS from KURIOS. KURIAKOS means, “belonging to the Lord.” This Adjective, used like a noun, is used only here and in 1 Cor 11:20 in the phrase, “the Lord’s Supper,” KURIAKOS DEIPNON. Therefore, there would be an apparent impropriety in calling a common supper the “Lord’s Supper,” just as there would be a similar impropriety in calling a secular day the “Lord’s day.” It should also be noted that even to this day, the Greek word for “Sunday” is KURIAKE, Κυριακή.
The NT reflects the observance of the first day of the week, instead of the seventh day, as the time of gathering together, teaching the Word of God, breaking bread, taking offerings, and worshipping, because it was the day of Christ’s resurrection, cf. Mat 28:1-7; Mark 16:1-6; John 20:19-20, which they termed, “the Lord’s Day.”
In fact, even after His resurrection, we never find Christ meeting with His disciples on the 7th Day. But He specially honored the 1st day by showing Himself to them on four separate occasions, Mat 28:9-10; Mark 16:9, 12; Luke 24:18-34; John 20:19-24. Then, on the next first day of the week, Jesus appeared to his disciples, John 20:26-29. Interestingly, the number 4, (material things), is in view once again. Note in Luke 24:30, Jesus “broke bread” with the disciples on this day, which meant they participated in the Communion Supper, the Lord’s Supper, as it was later called in 1 Cor 11:20.
Next, we see that the first Pentecost, “The Feast of Weeks,” after our Lord’s resurrection, was the birth of the Church and Church Age. By definition, it was on a Sunday, the 1st day of the week, Lev 23:15-16; Num 23:26; Deut 16:9-12; Acts 2:1. Interestingly, in Deuteronomy, the Jews were to remember their freedom from slavery on this day, just as we are to remember Christ’s sacrifice, which paid for our sins and purchased the believer from the slave market of sin.
The tradition of Jews to gather and worship in the synagogues on the Sabbath continued post resurrection of Christ, Acts 15:21. Yet, there is no commanded observance for Christians of a Saturday Sabbath after Christ’s resurrection in the NT, and no one is termed a Sabbath-breaker. In fact, the disciples “broke the Law” by traveling on the Sabbath post resurrection of Christ, Acts 1:12.
Because of the redemptive work of Christ, a prescribed observance of the Jewish Sabbath is no longer required for righteousness in God’s eyes. Thus, the importance of the Resurrection in the Christian faith caused the day Jesus rose from the dead to be considered the “Lord’s Day,” the first day of the week.
“Analogous is the relationship of the Sabbath and the Exodus, to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Christian faith. As the Israelites were created a new nation through God’s miraculous intervention, so we are made new creatures through the power of the resurrection. Memory of this miraculous transformation should make the Lord’s Day a holy day for us, as the Sabbath was a holy day in OT times.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary).
The writings of a number of the early “Church fathers,” in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D., support the tradition of Sunday worship as the “Lord’s Day.”
Ignatius, a companion of the apostles, said, in so many words, “Let us no more Sabbatize,” that is, keep the Jewish Sabbath, “but let us keep the Lord’s day, on which our Life arose.”
Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, who lived in the second century, said, “On the Lord’s day every one of us, Christians, keeps the Sabbath; meditating in the law, and rejoicing in the works of God.”
Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, who also lived in the second century, said in his letter to the Church at Rome, “Today we celebrate the Lord’s day when we read your epistle to us.”
William De Loss Love, wrote an article for Bibliotheca Sacra in 1880 titled, “The Sabbath: The Change Of Observance From The Seventh To The Lord’s Day: Testimony Of The Fathers.” In it, he discusses how the early Church fathers wrote about meeting on Sunday, called “the Lord’s day,” rather than the Sabbath, Saturday. Below are his concluding remarks.
“For equally strong, or stronger, reasons there is no real basis for what Dr. Hessey calls the “ecclesiastical theory” respecting the Lord’s day: the view that the sacred observance of the first day has no authority except in the history of the church since the apostolic era. For we obtain New Testament evidence that in the apostles’ time the first day was religiously observed, and the obligations to keep holy the seventh day were cancelled. Further, we get evidence from the fathers, beginning with those contemporary with the last of the apostles, that they understood the apostles to authorize the keeping of the first day sacred, and to release from keeping the seventh as the Sabbath, and that the apostles authoritatively acted in this under instruction from their divine Master.
And again, according to this discussion, the view of some even American evangelical ministers, that the early Christians were disagreed on the question of keeping the first day in, a religious manner, is entirely wrong. Not the least evidence of such disagreement appears in the New Testament, and positive evidence of agreement on that point appears in the patristic writings.” (Bibliotheca Sacra, October 1880, P. 685)
Later, by the Fourth Century A.D., the Lord’s Day began to erroneously acquire Sabbath characteristics when Constantine prohibited certain kinds of work from being done on Sunday.
“Hence, there can be no reasonable doubt that the early church recognized the change which the Lord himself had ordained because of the beginning of a spiritual new creation through the Resurrection victory. Those who wished to worship on Saturday were allowed to do so, apparently (judging from Col. 2:16f), during the transition period, so far as Jewish converts were concerned. But the basic purpose of a weekly celebration of God’s works of creation and redemption was certainly to be carried over to the observance of the Lord’s day, as understood by the early church and by the reformers as well.” (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)
Nevertheless, there is no expressed law to meet on the Sabbath or on the first day of the week for the Church Age. But we do know for a fact that the first day of the week has been observed from apostolic times, and the necessary conclusion is, that it was observed by the apostles and their immediate disciples. And we can be assured that they would never have done so without the permission or the authority of their Lord.
Paul emphasized that the law was a yoke of bondage from which the Christian had been set free, Gal 3:2, 3; 5:1. Paul made no distinction between moral and ceremonial law. It was all part of that old covenant which was done away in Christ, 2 Cor 3:14. It was “nailed to the cross,” Col 2:14.
Today, many Christians continue to set aside Sunday as a day of worship and rest, while some, like the Seventh-Day Adventists, practice a more literal seventh-day Sabbath. In spite of their differences, both practices hold that the present observance of a “Sabbath rest” is also a look to the future when Christ will usher believers into an eternal Sabbath.
While some of the Church fathers and Constantine took it a bit too far in thinking the 7th day Sabbath given to Israel, was now being replaced by a 1st day Sabbath for the Church. Nonetheless, we see that the Church is not commanded nor expected to keep a Sabbath day, but is instead to be continually resting in the Lord for salvation and in living the unique spiritual life for the Church Age. And as was the tradition of the apostolic and early Church, we too should set aside at least one day a week, the Lord’s Day, to focus our worship, learning of Bible Doctrine, breaking of bread, giving, etc., on the Lord Jesus Christ, in commemoration and celebration of His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension being seated at the right hand of God the Father, based on our position and union in Him, made possible through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Next, we will discuss how the Church is to enter into His rest and when the Sabbath will be reinstated.
Although the Church was not given the ordinance to observe the Sabbath, we are commanded to enter into God’s Sabbath rest, meaning to rest in the promises of God and our union with Christ, cf. Heb 3:11-19; 4:1-11.
The one who experiences God’s rest is the one who “ceases from his own works, as God did from His.” That means we do not “work” for our salvation, as it is based on the faith alone in the completed work of Jesus Christ upon the Cross. This is the first of two “rests” or Sabbaths for the believer of the Church Age.
Two Sabbath Rests for the Church Age believer:
1) The first of these Sabbath Rests, as mentioned above, is eternal salvation for the individual believer that culminates in our eternal life in heaven. This is the, “Eternal Sabbath.” Based on your faith in Christ as your Savior here on earth, upon your death or Rapture of the Church, you will be in heaven with God for all of eternity with, “no more sorrows or pain,” Rev 21:4. This rest becomes the possession of each believer at the moment of salvation, Mat 11:28, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
2) The second Sabbath Rest is the believer’s, “Temporal Sabbath.” It pertains to the believer’s life on earth. It refers to the faith-rest life, spoken of in Heb 3:11, and the moment-by-moment Sabbath of Heb 4:1-7.
Since individual OT believers were only rarely and for special functions indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the faith-rest life was their basis for spirituality, Heb 11. They were to rest on the promises of God, claiming them, along with Bible doctrine and Divine principles as given in the Scripture.
In the Church Age, every believer is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit from the moment of salvation, and the filling of the Holy Spirit is the basis for spirituality in this dispensation, Eph 5:18; 1 John 1:9. In the Jewish Age, the Holy Spirit was not yet given (universally) because Jesus Christ was not yet glorified, John 7:39. Therefore, in the Church Age, the believer, through the power and the filling of God the Holy Spirit, is to learn and apply God’s Word to his life’s situations, as he trusts and relies upon God in all situations and circumstance. This is your moment-by-moment rest.
This rest is a state in which the believer has a Relaxed Mental Attitude no matter what the situation may look like. It is a complete trust in the character and nature of God working for you.
Illustrations of this moment-by-moment Sabbath, or faith-rest.
- Abraham, Rom 4:17‑21.
- Moses at the Red Sea, Ex 14:10‑14.
- The bones of Joseph, Heb 11:22.
- Caleb and the giants, Num 13; 14, cf. Josh 14:6‑14, 15:14; Judges 1:20.
We are the beneficiaries of many wonderful blessings from God. Yet, many of you do not even know a thing about those blessings. The Sabbath or rest that God has for you is completely neglected by many because of ignorance.
The modern tendency of apostasy stresses the works and production of the believer. Just as the Jews distorted the ritual Sabbath, most Christians distort the real one. The main problem is ignorance of Bible doctrine. People feel guilty and condemned and think they are not doing enough for God. Or, they think they have not because of not witnessing daily, or not praying, etc. You see, many have been brain washed by men behind the pulpit who have not studied the Word in depth, but simply emphasize that you should be hustling around the church working, usually for them. However, when God gets down to indicting you, He does not mention your failure to do this or that, but He indicts you for your ignorance concerning His plan for your life. The main problem in your life is no Bible doctrine in the soul. Ignorance of Bible doctrine means a breakdown of the spiritual Sabbath in your life, which is in reality a breakdown of faith-rest in your life. Therefore, in both Eternal and Temporal Sabbaths, Jesus is our Sabbath rest which is not just one day, but every day, and for all of eternity.
Our final point is that the Sabbath is to be restored in the tribulation, Mat 24:20-21, and fully re-established in the Millennial kingdom, Deut 30:8; Ezek 45:17; 46:1, 3-4, 12, and continue into the eternal state, Isa 66:22-23.
Isa 66:22-23, “For just as the new heavens and the new earth which I make will endure before Me,” declares the LORD, “So your offspring and your name will endure. 23And it shall be from new moon to new moon and from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says the LORD.”
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If you would like more information on this subject, you may order, watch, or listen to:
Lesson #’s 17-107, 17-108, 17-109
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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.
Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of Go