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                           "THE SABBATH DAY"


1. After God created the world in six days...
   a. He rested on the seventh day - Gen 2:1-2
   b. Then (at some point, see below) He blessed and sanctified the
      seventh day - Gen 2:3

2. The seventh day later became known as "The Sabbath Day"...
   a. From the Hebrew word shabbath, meaning "to rest from labor"
   b. The Greek word is sabbaton, and like English, a transliteration of
      the Hebrew
   c. Thus it came to mean "the day of rest"

3. Questions often arise concerning "The Sabbath Day"...
   a. What day of the week was the Sabbath day (Saturday or Sunday)?
   b. Are Christians to keep the Sabbath?
   c. Is Sunday now the "Christian" Sabbath?

4. The first question is the simplest one to answer...
   a. The Sabbath was a day of rest after six days of work - Gen 2:1-2;
      Exo 20:8-11
   b. According to Jewish reckoning, the seventh day began at sunset on
      Friday and ended at sunset on Saturday - Judaism 101
   c. Thus in the Bible the Sabbath generally refers to Saturday

[As for the other two questions, let's first consider what is revealed
about the Sabbath...]


      1. From Adam to Moses (Gen 3-Exo 15), there is no mention of the
         a. "Moreover, all those righteous men already mentioned [after
            mentioning Adam. Abel, Enoch, Lot, Noah, Melchizedek, and
            Abraham], though they kept no Sabbaths, were pleasing to
            God; and after them Abraham with all his descendants until
            Moses..." - Justin Martyr, Dialogue With Trypho the Jew,
            150-165 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers , vol. 1, page 204
         b. "...God originated Adam uncircumcised, and inobservant of
            the Sabbath, consequently his offspring also, Abel, offering
            Him sacrifices, uncircumcised and inobservant of the
            Sabbath, was by Him commended...Noah also, uncircumcised -
            yes, and inobservant of the Sabbath - God freed from the
            deluge. For Enoch, too, most righteous man, uncircumcised
            and inobservant of the Sabbath, He translated from this
            world...Melchizedek also, the priest of most high God,
            uncircumcised and inobservant of the Sabbath, was chosen to
            the priesthood of God." - Tertullian, An Answer to the Jews
            2:10; 4:1, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 3, page 153
      2. This suggests that Gen 2:3 may be a prolepsis
         a. "a preface intended to anticipate and answer an objection to
            an argument" - Encarta
         b. "the representation or assumption of a future act or
            development as if presently existing or accomplished"
            - Merriam-Webster
         c. "anticipating and answering objections in advance" - OneLook
         d. "these words may be read in a parenthesis, as containing an
            account of a fact that was done, not at the beginning of the
            world, and on the first seventh day of it; but of what had
            been done in the times of Moses, who wrote this, after the
            giving of the law of the sabbath; and this being given
            through his hands to the people of Israel, he takes this
            opportunity here to insert it, and very pertinently, seeing
            the reason why God then, in the times of Moses, blessed the
            sabbath day, and hallowed it, was, because he had rested on
            that day from all his works, Exo_20:11 and the same reason
            is given here, taken plainly out of that law which he had
            delivered to them" - Gill
      3. "Although God did not command man to keep the Sabbath at this
         time, He taught the principle of one day of rest in seven."
         - Believer's Bible Commentary
      -- While God rested on the seventh day of Creation, He did not
         command anyone to rest on that day until thousands of years

      1. The Sabbath is first mentioned in regards to Israel collecting
         Manna - Exo 16:23-30
      2. Shortly after the exodus of Israel from Egypt - Exo 16:1
      3. When God actually blessed and sanctified the seventh day as a
         day of rest - Exo 16:23,29
      4. For previously it had been unknown to them - cf. Neh 9:14
      -- The Sabbath was made known, blessed, and sanctified in the time
         of Moses, with God's rest on the seventh day of Creation as its

      1. With the Ten Commandments, the Sabbath became part of the Law
         - Exo 20:8-10
      2. The basis for the Sabbath is explained - Exo 20:11 (and
         inserted in Gen 2:3)
      3. The Sabbath became a sign between God and Israel as His special
         people - Exo 31:13-17
      4. Commanded of Israel because they had been delivered from
         slavery - Deut 5:15
      -- Thus the Sabbath became a weekly reminder of Israel's
         deliverance from Egypt

      1. All the commands regarding the Sabbath are directed toward
         Israel, no other nation
      2. The exception was "the stranger who is within your gates" - Exo
      3. The exception was to prevent being influenced to disobey - cf.
         Neh 13:15-21
      4. It was to be a sign between God and His people Israel - Exo
         31:13,16-17; Eze 20:12,20
      -- Like circumcision, the Sabbath served as a sign between God and

[Thus there is no indication that the Sabbath was intended for all of
mankind.  But let's now see what we can learn about the Sabbath...]


      1. Jesus taught in the synagogues on the Sabbath - Mk 1:21; 6:2;
         Lk 4:16,31; 13:10
      2. His actions on the Sabbath sparked controversy
         a. Allowing His disciples to pluck grain in order to eat - Mk
         b. Healing on the Sabbath - Mk 3:1-6; Lk 13:10-14; Jn 5:9,16
      3. Jesus countered their objections
         a. By showing their ignorance of the Law - Mk 3:25-27; Mt
         b. By professing to be Lord even of the Sabbath - Mk 3:28; Mt
         c. By pointing out their inconsistencies - Lk 6:6-9; 13:14-16;
            14:3-5; Jn 7:22-23
      4. Note the following observations:
         a. The Law of Moses was still in effect prior to the death of
         b. As an Israelite, Jesus kept the Law (along with the Sabbath)
         c. He displayed authority to forgive sin and interpret the Law
            - Mt 9:6; 12:8
      -- There is nothing to indicate that Jesus extended the Sabbath to
         all nations

      1. The apostles were to pray that their flight from tribulation
         not be on the Sabbath - Mt 24:20
         a. A reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70
         b. For in Judea the Jews would still be observing the Sabbath,
            closing the gates and thereby hindering flight - cf. Mt
         c. This does not indicate whether or not the Sabbath was still
            bound by God
      2. Paul utilized the Sabbath during his evangelistic efforts - Ac
         13:14,42,44; 16:13; 18:4
         a. It was his custom whenever he came to a new city - Ac 17:1-3
         b. He knew the Jews would be there, and he sought to teach them
            about Jesus
         c. Just like he went to the market place to reach others - Ac
      3. Paul taught that the Law of Moses, including the Sabbath, had
         come to an end
         a. That Jews died to the Law when they became Christians
            - Ro 7:4-7
         b. That Jesus ended the Law with its ordinances through His
            death - Ep 2:13-16; Col 2:14
         c. That the Law and ordinances like the Sabbath and
            circumcision should not be bound on others, especially
            Gentiles - Col 2:16-17; Ga 5:1-4
         d. That a new, superior covenant had replaced the old - 2Co
            3:6-11; cf. He 8:6-13; 9:15
      4. They taught observing the Sabbath was no longer necessary
         a. Jewish Christians continued to observe elements of the Law
            - cf. Ac 21:18-20
         b. Paul himself did so on occasion - cf. Ac 18:18,21; 21:21-26
         c. But Paul (and the rest of the apostles) drew a clear line:
            1) The Law could not be bound on Gentiles - Ac 15:1-2,19-29;
               cf. Ga 2:3-5; 5:1
            2) The Law could not serve as a basis for their salvation
               - Ga 5:4; cf. Ro 3:28
         d. But if an individual desired to keep one day above another
            (e.g., the Sabbath), that was between the individual and his
            Lord - cf. Ro 14:5-6
      -- There is nothing in the apostolic practice and writings to
         suggest that the Sabbath was made a part of the New Covenant of
         Jesus Christ

[If our reading of the New Testament regarding the Sabbath is correct,
then we should not be surprised by what we learn...]


      1. Expressed both explicitly and implicitly in the NT - Ac 20:7;
         1Co 16:1-2
      2. As per early "church fathers"; a sampling:
         a. "We keep the eighth day [Sunday] with joyfulness, the day
            also on which Jesus rose again from the dead" - The Epistle
            of Barnabas, 15:6-8, 100 AD
         b. "And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in
            the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of
            the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as
            long as time permits..." - First Apology of Justin, Weekly
            Worship of the Christians, Ch. 68, 150 AD
         c. "But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common
            assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having
            wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world;
            and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the
            dead." - ibid.
      3. As per various encyclopedias; a sampling:
         a. "Sunday, first day of the week; in Christianity, the Lord's
            Day, the weekly memorial of Jesus Christ's resurrection from
            the dead. The practice of Christians gathering together for
            worship on Sunday dates back to apostolic times..."
            - Encyclopedia Britannica
         b. "From the apostolic era to the present it has been customary
            for Christians to assemble for communal Sunday services..."
            - Encyclopedia Americana
         c. "The celebration of the Lord's Day in memory of the
            resurrection of Christ dates undoubtedly from the apostolic
            age. Nothing short of apostolic precedent can account for
            the universal religious observance in the churches of the
            second century. There is no dissenting voice. This custom is
            confirmed by the testimonies of the earliest post-apostolic
            writers, as Barnabas, Ignatius, and Justin Martyr."
            - History Of The Christian Church, Philip Schaff, vol. 1,
              pg. 201-202
         d. "...it appears, therefore, from the New Testament itself,
            that Sunday was observed as a day of worship, and in special
            commemoration of the Resurrection, whereby the work of
            redemption was finished. The universal and uncontradicted
            Sunday observance in the second century can only be
            explained by the fact that it has its roots in apostolic
            practice." - ibid., pg. 478-479
         -- Both internal and external evidence from the Bible indicates
            that Christians met together on the first day of the week,
            i.e., Sunday

      1. As we've seen, most early Christians did not observe the
      2. Some Jewish Christians continued to observe the Sabbath,
         including heretical groups such as the Ebionites
      3. Gradually, though, many began to view the Lord's Day as the
         "Christian" Sabbath
         a. During the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries A.D., there
            was much controversy over whether Christians should keep the
            Sabbath (on Saturday)
         b. Some sought to enjoin both the Sabbath and the Lord's Day on
         c. Others, especially the Puritans, began to call the Lord's
            Day (Sunday) the  "Christian" Sabbath
      -- Today, many Catholics and Protestants routinely refer to Sunday
         as the Sabbath


1. Basically, then, there are three views of the Sabbath...
   a. The Sabbatarian view - that Saturday is the Sabbath and should be
      kept by Christians
      1) This is the view held by Seventh Day Adventists and other
      2) They are correct in saying that the Sabbath is Saturday, but
         wrong to say that Christians should keep the Sabbath
   b. The Sunday Sabbath view - that Sunday is the Sabbath and should be
      kept by Christians
      1) This is the view held by most Catholic, Orthodox, and
         Protestant churches
      2) They are wrong to call Sunday the Christian Sabbath, but
         correct to teach that Christians should assemble on the first
         day of the week (Sunday)
   c. The Biblical view - that Saturday is the Sabbath, but Christians
      are not obligated to keep it
      1) This view is held by all those who respect the Biblical record
         as found in the Old and New Testaments
      2) "The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, from sundown on
         Friday to sundown on Saturday. Nowhere in the NT are Christians
         commanded to keep the Sabbath." - Believer's Bible Commentary

2. There is, however, a "rest" (sabbatismos) that remains for the people
   of God... - He 4:1-11
   a. Not the Sabbath rest, the weekly rest instituted for Israel
      through Moses
   b. Not the Canaan rest, provided for Israel by Joshua
   c. But the heavenly rest, provided by Christ which requires diligence
      to enter

   "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who
   has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God
   did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest
   anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience."
                                                           - He 4:9-11

If we are serious about entering that rest, then let us not forsake our
assembling together, such as that done on the first day of the week (cf.
Ac 20:7)...

   "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good
   works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is
   the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more
   as you see the Day approaching." - He 10:24-25
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