The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week (Saturday). According to Genesis 2:3 (ESV), "God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation." The Sabbath begins with sunset on Friday evening and ends with sunset on Saturday evening (days in the Bible being reckoned in that way, Gen. 1:5, Lev. 23:32, Mark 1:21 & 32). The Sabbath provides weekly relief from making a living “by the sweat of your face” (Gen. 3:19), freeing us to find fellowship with God and refresh our spirits in a "day of rest." For that reason it is a gift of God's grace for mankind ("The Sabbath was made for man," Mark 2:27), fulfilling the purpose of the blessing God pronounced upon it at creation.
Exodus. 20:8-11. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."
Isaiah 58:13-14. "If you... call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable... then you shall take delight in the Lord."
Leviticus 23:3. "On the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation."
The word Sabbath means "cease, desist, rest." The Sabbath is a day for laying aside ("resting from" or "ceasing from") the daily grind of labor in order to acknowledge our dependence on God for all we have, and to seek fellowship with God and his people. This is what it means to "keep the Sabbath holy." God "made" the Sabbath holy, and we are to "keep" it holy--by devoting it to God and using its hours in accordance with his purposes for the day. Twenty-four hours of religious activity is certainly not necessary, but rather a consciousness of the special significance of the day, which we carry with us until sunset Saturday evening. Thus, it is Sabbath "all day," just as on someone's birthday, it's their birthday "all day."
Most ordinary tasks of life (like mowing the lawn or doing the laundry) can easily be kept for another day, out of respect for God. Refusing to accept overtime hours at work on the Sabbath can be more difficult, but employers will often honor that conviction, if we take a stand on it and are willing to do extra work on other days (like Sunday). Calling the Sabbath "honorable" (Isa. 58:13) means honoring its holiness by yielding to God's will that it be a day of rest (even "In plowing time and in harvest you shall rest," Ex. 34:21). Those who honor the LORD's holy day "shall take delight in the Lord."
The symbolism of the seventh day reminds us of God as our Creator and as the Redeemer of his people (Deut. 5:14-15). The Sabbath is God's invitation to take "time out," echoing in our private thoughts and public worship, God's own judgment that the Universe he has provided for us is, "very good" Gen. 1:31. It is a time for giving extra attention to our relationship with God. Keeping the Sabbath is a personal sign between God and his people that he is their God (Ezek. 20:12,20). It is a day for "a holy convocation " (Lev. 23:3--i.e., church day). In many other ways the hours of the Sabbath may be dedicated to God, such as in the doing of good (Matt. 12:12, Mark 3:4). But it is also appropriate to just enjoy the relief from the daily grind which the Sabbath offers.
Abraham was the father of the Jews (John 8:31, 39), who are his descendants through Jacob's son, Judah. The Sabbath was given at Creation, long before Abraham, Jacob or Judah lived (see Gen. 2:3 above). Also, God commanded its observance (Ex. 16:30) even before the law was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai (Ex. 19). Since the Sabbath was given before the Jews and observed before the law of Moses, it can't rightly be called Jewish, anymore than monogamous marriage can be called Jewish, which (like the Sabbath) was instituted at Creation (Gen. 2:24). Furthermore, in Mark 2:27, Jesus said, "the Sabbath was made for man," (i.e., mankind) not just Jews. When God gave the Ten Commandments, he commanded observance of the Sabbath, along with the honoring of father and mother, and the prohibition of murder and adultery. Though the Ten Commandments were first revealed to the Israelites, Christians have accepted them as universal moral principles that apply to us, too. However, due to the desire to abide by unscriptural church traditions, most Christians today reject the Fourth Commandment ("Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.") or try to apply it to Sunday.
It's fine to worship God on any day of the week, but Scripture nowhere tells us to "forget" the Sabbath by no longer keeping it holy, nor does it tell us to observe Sunday in honor of the resurrection. It was not Sunday (the first day of the week) that God blessed and made holy, nor did he bless a "one day out of seven" sequence (any day we might choose). Scripture specifically says God blessed "the seventh day" of the week (Gen. 2:3).
Sabbath rest carries the God-given symbolism of God's own rest on the seventh day of Creation, which Sunday rest does not. Celebrating someone's twenty-first birthday a month after that person's actual day of birth would certainly be possible, but not nearly as meaningful! Likewise, it's not nearly as meaningful to celebrate Sabbath rest on a day other than the one God specifically blessed and made holy, based on the symbolism of Creation.
Since God even made observance of the seventh day one of his Ten Commandments, then substituting a man-made tradition for the God-given one is directly disobedient to God's will. Rather than commend such a practice to his followers as "Christian," Jesus repudiated it. Speaking of how another of the Ten Commandments was made to conform to man-made traditions, Jesus told those responsible: "Why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? ... for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God" (Matt. 15:3,6). Making Sunday into the "Christian Sabbath" replaces a God-given tradition with a man-made one. Even though this practice is widespread among Christians today, and is well intentioned, turning from the seventh day dishonors God by breaking his command and nullifying his word. It is also a sad neglect of a gift God gave to all mankind as a blessing.
As to Sunday observance in honor of the resurrection, Jesus never taught such a practice. When teaching about the meaning of his resurrection, Jesus specified only that it would be "on the third day" (i.e., the third day after he was placed in the tomb--Matt. 16:21, Mark 8:31). What is important about the day of the resurrection is the fact that it would come after Jesus had lain in the grave for 3 days, not that it would be any particular day of the week. Jesus makes no effort to point out which day of the week his resurrection would fall on, nor do his apostles, when they teach about the resurrection, even after it had occurred.Click to edit FAQ text. Here is your opportunity to tell customers what they need to know about your products and services, and how your company operates. Do you ship products? Is there parking available for visitors? Do you do any custom orders? The more information you give customers up front, the more prepared they are to make a purchase when they come in or call.
The phrase translated "Lord's day" is only used once in the whole Bible (in Rev. 1:10). We are not told in that passage that this "Lord's day" refers to the first day of the week (Sunday), and nothing is said about it's being a day of worship. All that is said is that John was "in the Spirit" on that day and had a vision. It may mean the day of judgement ("Day of the Lord"), to which John is carried in his vision (for the Book of Revelation focuses on the end times). It may actually mean the Sabbath, since Isa. 58:13 speaks of the Sabbath as "the holy day of the LORD." If it refers to the day of the resurrection at all, it could just as easily refer to the anniversary of the resurrection (i.e., "Easter"), rather than the weekday on which the resurrection occurred. Even if John is using a phrase he has coined to refer to the day of the week on which the resurrection occurred, he does not say it is a day of worship.
Jesus appeared to a number of his disciples at various times when he was resurrected, and several of these appearances occurred at the earliest opportunity--on the first day of the week. But that fact does not automatically confer the status of a "new Sabbath" upon the first day of the week, any more than the fact he appeared first to women confers on women the exclusive right to be witnesses of his resurrection or pastors. There are a few references in the NT to believers doing things on the first day of the week, but Scripture never says this was their regular day for worship, replacing the Sabbath, and never refers to the first day as "the Lord's day."
In John 20:19, the believers are together "on the evening of that day, the first day of the week" when Mary Magdalene had seen the resurrected Christ. Indeed, they may have gathered for the specific purpose of discussing her report that he was alive (Jn. 20:18). All that is said about the gathering is that the disciples were behind locked doors "for fear of the Jews." Jesus appears to them, not to establish a new day of worship (which would have been a notable change Scripture would certainly have reported), but to prove he was alive. According to Jn. 20:26, "Eight days later his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them." The disciples may have gathered on other days that week (Jn. 20:25) as well, but Scripture describes this particular gathering because the disciples are in the same house where Christ had first appeared to them, and (this time) Thomas happens to be with them. Christ appears again, and confirms his resurrection to Thomas. To allege that either of these gatherings was for weekly worship goes far beyond anything Scripture actually says. In addition, those who argue for Sunday observance allege the disciples gathered on Sunday mornings, in commemoration of the resurrection. But the meeting in Jn. 20:19 was in "the evening" (with the same being probably true of the second meeting, "a week later" v. 26).
In Acts 20:7 believers are gathered on the first day of the week "to break bread." But are we to assume they never broke bread (either as a common meal, or as communion), except on a weekly day of worship? According to Acts 2:46, the believers at Jerusalem gathered in the Temple courts "day by day," and they broke bread in their homes (presumably also, every day). The purpose of the gathering in Acts 20 is not to celebrate a Sunday "Lord's day," but simply to allow Paul opportunity to preach to the believers one more time, before he leaves "the next day." If the Jewish reckoning of days is used here, then the gathering was probably on what we would call Saturday night, not Sunday at all. Paul preached until midnight (v. 7), so the meeting probably began after dark.
In 1 Cor. 16:1-2 Paul tells the believers, "On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come." The natural sense of these words is that individuals were to set aside money on a regular basis at home. That is the natural place for each one to determine (week by week) what amount would be in keeping with his income and to set it aside for later presentation as a single offering upon the arrival of Paul. This passage does not speak about a church collection being made every first day of the week. In fact, it speaks of money being "put aside," not collected at church. The collection would occur at a church gathering when Paul got there. Again, no mention is made of a day of worship. To find one here, requires reading into the Scripture, what is not there.
A major principle of the right application of Scripture is ignored by those who seek to establish a Sunday "Lord's day" observance from these few NT references to the first day of the week. Doctrines should be established from teaching passages, not descriptive passages of Scripture. In other words, we are on shaky ground when we develop doctrines and practices from passages that don't directly teach such doctrines and practices. It's too easy to make things mean what we want them to mean when we begin reading doctrinal truths into descriptions of events, especially when those doctrines aren't directly stated elsewhere in Scripture. Scripture says, "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy," and never, "Remember Sunday by keeping it holy."
Christians receive salvation through faith in Christ alone, apart from the keeping of the law (Rom. 3:28; Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5-6). In the matter of their salvation, then, they are "free from the law" and are not "under the law." But Paul asks (in Rom. 6:15), "Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!" The Ten Commandments still define what sin is. In fact, 1 Jn. 3:4 says that "sin is lawlessness." So breaking the Ten Commandment Law is sinful. The NT commends obedience, not lawlessness. Though Christians are not bound to parts of the Old Testament law which applied only to Israel under the Old Covenant, the Ten Commandments (including the Sabbath Commandment) give universal moral principles. Illustrating the difference, 1 Cor. 7:19 says, "Neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God." (See also, Matt. 5:17-19).
The curse of Gal. 3:10 falls on all those who "rely" on observing the law (i.e., for their salvation), not those who seek to obey the Ten Commandments out of love and obedience to God. Gal. 3:11 confirms that it is not simple obedience to the Law which Paul condemns, but relying on our ability to keep it in order to "justify" ourselves before God (i.e., make ourselves acceptable to God by attempts to be good, rather than faith in Christ's atoning death).
(Also see answer to the previous question, #5, above.)
The OT law included temporary regulations that applied specifically to the religious and civil life of Israel, living under the Old Covenant, in the land of Canaan. It also included moral laws of a more permanent and universal nature, such as the Ten Commandments (and the commands Jesus mentions in Matt. 22:37-39). In those places where New Testament passages speak against the law, they are not denying the universal moral teachings (like the Ten Commandments), but are denying:
a) that anyone can be saved by keeping the law (i.e., justification by law-keeping, rather than by faith) and characterizing the law as against us (Col. 2:14, Rom. 8:2, Acts 15:10), apart from grace, or
b) that the temporary parts of the law which applied to Old Testament Israel (Heb. 8:6-13; 9:9-10; 10:1-4) are obligatory for the New Testament Christian.
Eph. 2:15 is an example of b), above. In the context of uniting Jew and Gentile in the church (see Eph. 2:14, especially), Paul speaks of Christ, "abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances." He doesn't mean Christ did away with the law altogether, since Christ himself denied that he came to do that (Matt. 5:17, and see also Rom. 3:31). He means that the ceremonial parts of the law which had separated Jew and Gentile (laws about "clean" and "unclean" foods, for instance--Mark 7:18-20) were now obsolete. The result is that the "hostility" between Jew and Gentile has now been put to an end, at the cross (Eph. 2:16). This passage does not speak about the Ten Commandments, which contained nothing which required the separation of Jew and Gentile.
Colossians 2:13b-14 is an example of a), above. It speaks of God (through Christ) "having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross." Deut. 31:26-27 describes the only way in which the Old Testament law could be characterized (by Paul) as "against us." It gives testimony to our sin and rebellion. But if forgiveness now comes through Christ ("having forgiven us all our trespasses," Col. 2:13), not by law keeping, then the law's condemnation is forever removed. The term "record of debt" is the same one that meant "indictment" or "bill of indebtedness" in New Testament times. It is that indictment or indebtedness (caused by sin) that was "nailed to the cross" (in the sense that complete forgiveness came, when Christ was nailed to the cross).* To say that the law cannot be used to earn salvation (and is against us, apart from grace) is not to say that the moral teaching of the Old Testament is suddenly declared "a dead letter" for the Christian. Paul would "turn over in his grave" (so to speak!) if he thought we were using his words to urge believers to start disobeying the Ten Commandments!
*Whether the image is of a separate bill of indictment/indebtedness specifying the sinner's guilt/debt, or is of the law itself as a bill of indictment/indebtedness (as a way of portraying its role in condemning the sinner), the meaning is the same. It is either condemnation based on the law, or the use of the law to condemn, which has come to an end in Christ: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1).
(Also see answer to the previous question, #6, above.)
The Colossian believers were being troubled by false teachers who told them faith in Christ was not enough: they also needed to keep the dietary and ceremonial regulations of the Old Covenant. Furthermore, they needed to gain the "hidden knowledge" claimed by the Greek religion later to be called Gnosticism. Paul reminded them that their real spiritual problem was sin, but that Christ has "forgiven us all our trespasses" (Col. 2:13). On the other hand, Paul taught, observing the law doesn't help sinful people make themselves acceptable to God, since (in that context) the law just reveals their sin (and is thus, "against" them--v. 14). And Gnostic practices, such as asceticism ("Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!" v. 21) are worthless in dealing with sin because they are "according to human precepts and teaching" (v. 22) and "are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh" (v. 23). Paul's conclusion: the believers should stand firm in the truth that Christ has "forgiven us all our trespasses." They should not submit to the "regulations" of Gnosticism (v. 20), and they should not let anyone judge them by their adherence/non-adherence to Jewish practices (v. 16).
In Col. 2:16, Paul seems to go beyond the point of just saying that law-keeping cannot save a person. He specifies certain Old Covenant practices (those urged by the false teachers, no doubt) and tells the believers they are no longer accountable to obey them, for any reason: "Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath."
To be judged "in questions of food and drink” probably means being held accountable to keep the Old Covenant dietary laws (in this context where circumcision, v. 11, and the law, v. 14, are mentioned), but are the believers also told not to keep the Sabbath? If Paul isn’t saying the 4th Commandment no longer applies to believers, what is he saying about the Sabbath? The key to understanding this verse is to recognize Paul is talking about ritual provisions of the law (like the dietary rules he mentions "in the same breath"), not moral provisions (such as the Ten Commandments). The Sabbath was given before the law of Moses and involved only the concept of rest (Ex. 16:23), but under the law of Moses certain temple rituals were assigned to the Sabbath (Lev. 24:5-9, Num. 28:9-10), along with rituals for the festivals and New Moons. It is these temple rituals, not Sabbath observance itself (resting), which are meant. That distinction is evident in the text of Scripture, here, which addresses something "with regard to" these observances, as they were being urged on believers at that time. That something is almost certainly the practice that was at the heart of all the rituals centered at the temple: animal sacrifices. A study of the Old Testament background for the phrase, "a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath" confirms this.
In the Old Testament, the Sabbath is never listed together with the new moons and festivals except when discussion is about the burnt offerings the Sabbath shared with these other days (1 Chron. 23:31; 2 Chron. 2:4; Ezek. 45:17; Isaiah 1:13-14, etc.). Therefore Col. 2:16 must be referring to the same thing (the making of burnt offerings at the Temple). Those who wished to draw Christians back into Old Covenant Judaism were passing judgment upon them for abandoning the temple sacrifices (to which the Christian reply is made in places like Heb. 10:1-4 and Heb. 13:9-14). The idea of Col. 2:16 is: don't let the false teachers talk you into keeping the Jewish ceremonies of the Old Covenant. Don't let them judge you for giving up the dietary laws and the Temple ceremonies (with the burnt offerings Moses commanded for the Sabbath--and for the new moons and festivals). Reason: "These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ" (Col. 2:17). The 4th Commandment was never a shadow of Christ's coming. The burnt offerings, however, were a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Christ's body on the cross. (The word translated "substance" in Col. 2:17 is literally "body," as used in Heb. 10:1-10, where it is again contrasted with the "shadow" that is in the ritual aspects of the law. Heb. 10:1-10 is a good commentary on the Colossians passage.)
Neither Sabbath nor the first day of the week is mentioned in this passage. Since the verse is sandwiched between verses dealing with the issue of vegetarianism (v.1-3 and v. 6f.), probably some believers esteemed certain days as "better" (v. 5) in the sense of being dedicated to the eating of vegetables only (meat being considered by them, "unclean," v. 14, on such days). This may have been in connection with contemporary Jewish observance of days of fasting (when some Jews abstained from both meat and wine; cf. v. 21). Paul treated such observances as a matter of different "opinions" (v. 1) upon which judgment was not to be passed, while he also stated the overall principle in Rom. 14:17 that, "the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." The 4th Commandment was never a matter of eating and drinking. It is not in view in this chapter.
Taking that verse to be exclusive (i.e., to mean that all Jesus requires of believers is to believe in him and love one another) would be making Jesus say we should ignore what he himself identifies in Matt. 22:37-38 as the "great and first commandment": "You shall love the Lord your God." Obviously the words in 1 Jn. 3:23 mean something like, "This is one of the commandments I'm giving you," not, "This is/these are all the commandments I'm giving you."
This verse merely states the opinion of the Scribes and Pharisees, who were angry with Jesus because he had healed a man on the Sabbath. Jesus had not broken God's Sabbath. He had broken theirs. (In Matt. 12:2 they accused Jesus' disciples of breaking the Sabbath because they had picked some heads of grain to eat. Again, this was breaking their rules for the Sabbath, not God's. Jesus said they were condemning "the guiltless," v. 7.)
Salvation is by Grace, but discipleship is a matter of obedience. The NT emphasizes discipleship, and sanctification and obedience--as well as salvation. Shall we not obey God, who loves us, and Christ, who died for us? It comes down to what Jesus said: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15, and see v. 21). Chief among Jesus' commandments were the two upon which depend "all the Law and the Prophets" (the entire OT)* in terms of the love they require for God and one's neighbor (Matt. 22:34-40). Love for one's neighbor "sums up" the last six of the Ten Commandments (Rom. 13:8-10), just as love for God sums up the first four.** So if we love Jesus, we will obey the Ten Commandments in the spirit in which Jesus summarized them--including the 4th Commandment to, "remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Ex. 20:8).
Jesus' commands are therefore not in opposition to the Ten Commandments. They provide a basis for summarizing the Ten in terms of the deeper heart-motivation which the New Covenant enables believers to show in keeping them. A summary does not contradict what it summarizes, and neither does Jesus' command to love God contradict those first four Commandments by which love for God is to be shown. To set the Son's commands against the Father's is to reject the direct teaching of Jesus, who said, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word... The word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me" (Jn. 14:23-24).
*In Matt. 22:40 Jesus is using the two commands from the OT Law as a means of summarizing the proper motivation for observing all of it--indeed, for observing all that the OT as a whole teaches.
**Paul applies Jesus' teaching specifically to the Ten Commandments, saying Commandments 5-10 (which deal with behavior toward others) are "summed up" by the command to "love your neighbor as yourself." Correspondingly, it is fitting to understand Commandments 1-4 (which deal with behavior toward God) as summed up by the command to "love the Lord your God." In neither case is the intention to replace the specific commands of the Law with generalized exhortations to love God or others. Paul's characterization of Commandments 5-10 as "summed up" by the command to "love your neighbor" implies a kind of specificity for the latter command in the former ones, not a replacement of the former by the latter.
The Ten Commandments and other moral teachings of the Old Testament (Deut. 6:5, Lev. 19:18, Matt. 22:24-40) have their permanence in the character of God, whose goodness is eternal and unchanging (Luke 18:19; James 1:17; 1 John 1:5 & 4:7-8). They deal with actions that are always good (like the love of God, Deut. 6:5 and Matt. 22:37) or always evil (like murder, Exodus 20:13 and Matt. 5:21-22). That is not equally true of the ritual and ceremonial aspects of the Law of Moses.* At the heart of them were the Temple sacrifices and the feast days designed around those sacrifices, by which Israel was cleansed from sin (Lev. 23:4-37). Though the Sabbath temporarily shared ritual offerings with these days, it was distinguished from them. (In Lev. 23:3, the Sabbath is distinguished from the list of feasts that is announced in v. 4, and Lev. 23:37-38 says later; “These are the appointed feasts… besides the LORD’s Sabbaths“).
Believers today do not need to participate any longer in these rituals (Heb. 10:1; Gal. 4:10-11). In Christ's sacrifice, the Passover lamb was offered once and for all time (1 Cor. 5:7, 1 Pet. 1:18-19), and a blood better than that of the bull and goat of the Day of Atonement was shed, ending the need for such sacrifices to ever be made again (Heb. 9:11-14, 24-26; Heb. 10:18). The ceremonial provisions of the law accompanying these have also ceased to be necessary. Their gifts and sacrifices, "deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation" (Heb. 9:10). Believers today owe no obligation to such regulations, which are set aside (like the priesthood of Melchizedek) because of their "weakness and uselessness" (Heb. 7:18). We relate to God under the new covenant in Christ. "In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away." (Heb. 8:13).
The ministry of Christ as High Priest and mediator of a new covenant marks a change in the Law ("For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well," Heb. 7:12). The results can be seen in such places as Mark 7:19, Acts 15:10-11, 2 Cor. 3:7-17, Gal. 4:8-11 and Gal. 5:2-4. The Sabbath, however, was not changed (except that the Temple offerings, which it temporarily shared with new moons and feast days, were made no longer necessary --Col. 2:16). In this sense, the Sabbath is no more Jewish than monogamous marriage (Gen. 2:18, 24) or belief in one God.
*So a law like that in Lev. 19:19 ("Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material") involves no action that is wrong in and of itself, but rather with an action to which symbolic meaning has been given. But laws like those in Lev. 19:11 ("Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another") involve actions that are, by nature, wrong. Laws of clean and unclean food also involve no actions that are wrong (in the sense of "inherently sinful") in themselves. Otherwise these laws would not have been revoked by Jesus (Mark 7:19).