Should We Observe The Sabbath Day?
A Scriptural Response to Dr. John MacArthur’s Report:
“Are the Sabbath laws binding on Christians today?”
Are the Sabbath laws binding on Christians today?
By John MacArthur
(Response in blue – Patrick McGuire)
We believe the Old Testament regulations governing Sabbath observances are ceremonial, not moral, aspects of the law.
While many Christians believe that to be true (because it is taught in most churches), the separation of the law into so-called “ceremonial laws” and “moral laws” is not depicted anywhere in Scripture. It is a man-made separation only. As a matter of fact, the term “ceremonial” does not even appear in Scripture.
When we start saying that there are certain aspects of the law that we no longer need to follow, where does it stop? This creates problems and confusion when we manufacture divisions in Elohim’s Word that do not exit.
(Deu 27:26 NKJV) ‘Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
As such, they are no longer in force, but have passed away along with the sacrificial system, the Levitical priesthood, and all other aspects of Moses’ law that prefigured Christ.
All of the law prefigured Messiah, not just the parts you are trying to winnow out. I don’t understand exactly where Scripture says that certain aspects of “Moses’ Law” (actually this should read “Elohim’s Instructions”) have passed away.
Here are the reasons we hold this view.
In Colossians 2:16-17, Paul explicitly refers to the Sabbath as a shadow of Christ, which is no longer binding since the substance (Christ) has come. It is quite clear in those verses that the weekly Sabbath is in view. The phrase “a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day” refers to the annual, monthly, and weekly holy days of the Jewish calendar (cf. 1 Chronicles 23:31; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 31:3; Ezekiel 45:17; Hosea 2:11). If Paul were referring to special ceremonial dates of rest in that passage, why would he have used the word “Sabbath?” He had already mentioned the ceremonial dates when he spoke of festivals and new moons.
This passage in Colossians reads as follows:
(Col 2:16 NKJV) So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths,
(Col 2:17 NKJV) which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
Paul is referring to others judging us concerning the manner of adherence to laws of eating, drinking, observance of the Holy Days, and of the Sabbath. He is not throwing away the Sabbath or Elohim’s Law, just man’s judgmental opinions.
Paul says these things are still “a shadow of things to come.” They are not something that has faded away into oblivion. They are truly a shadow, or image, of our salvation we have in Yeshua. However, they also point to His return and the righteousness on earth that will follow. Why would we wish to toss them away, especially when Scripture never orders or implies us to do so?
But there is NO mention of these things being “no longer binding” as Dr. MacArthur claims. Elohim did not change His standard of righteousness.
The Sabbath was the sign to Israel of the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 31:16-17; Ezekiel 20:12; Nehemiah 9:14). Since we are now under the New Covenant (Hebrews 8), we are no longer required to observe the sign of the Mosaic Covenant.
Dr. MacArthur makes the same mistake that almost all of Christianity makes about the content of the New Covenant. Yeshua did not come to change His Father’s Laws. A “covenant” is an agreement. The Old Covenant is not Torah itself. The Old Covenant was the agreement between Elohim and the people to obey Torah. But to say “covenant = Torah” is erroneous. The Old Agreement had to be done away with, but that does not do away with Torah. If we look at what the New Covenant actually states, it does not do away with any laws. As a matter of fact, the New Covenant further embeds Torah by writing it on our hearts and minds:
(Heb 8:7 NKJV) For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.
(Heb 8:8 NKJV) Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah;
Who is the New Covenant with again? Hebrews 8:8 tells us that it is with Judah and Israel, not “the New Testament Church.”
(Heb 8:9 NKJV) “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD.
(Heb 8:10 NKJV) “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
(Heb 8:11 NKJV) “None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.
(Heb 8:12 NKJV) “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
(Heb 8:13 NKJV) In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
The first covenant (agreement) was conditioned upon their obedience. The event is explicitly described in Exodus 19:
(Exo 19:5 NKJV) ‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.
(Exo 19:6 NKJV) ‘And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”
(Exo 19:7 NKJV) So Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the LORD commanded him.
(Exo 19:8 NKJV) Then all the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” So Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD.
The difference between the first covenant and the second covenant is that the first covenant was conditional upon our obedience. The second covenant does not embody anything new in content. With the second covenant, the law (Torah) is written on our hearts and in our minds. However, the law itself doesn’t change.
The New Testament never commands Christians to observe the Sabbath.
The New Testament does not command Christians in many areas. For instance, the New Testament does not say: “do not cross-dress,” “do not have sex with animals,” nor does it mention the tithe either. Those things are explicitly defined in the Tanakh (Old Testament) only. Why would they need to be repeated?
How do we know the definition of “fornication?” It is defined in Leviticus. Paul’s admonitions against homosexuality, immorality, taking care of the poor among us and other things are based upon the laws given in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. He did not just make them up as “new things for the church to follow.”
Regardless, the argument from silence is never proof of anything. This argument attempts to ride upon the fact that if it were important it would’ve been restated (as if it hadn’t already been stated 50+ times in the Old Testament). The problem with this is that it refuses to accept the natural continuous flow of scripture, which if accepted, already well establishes the commandment of the Sabbath. Therefore the only possible ground for assuming the Sabbath has been changed or done away with is if special notice had been given within the text of the New Testament, of which no such evidence is to be found. The only safe assumption then is that these Jews continued on in the previous commandments (as is evident from Acts) seeing it as no such conflict to their faithfulness or religious practice.
In our only glimpse of an early church worship service in the New Testament, the church met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).
Look at the passage:
(Acts 20:7 NKJV) Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.
First of all, it is only a gathering of the disciples. It is not described as “a church” or any kind of “church service.” The reference to “breaking bread” is a Jewish term referring to “eating” or “dining together” and has nothing to do with celebrating the Lord’s Supper, as some claim.
Secondly, the mention of the first day of the week implies it as being on this occasion only, not that it happened all the time.
Thirdly, this didn’t happen on what we today know as “Sunday.” The Biblical day starts at sundown and ends at the following sundown. This event was probably a carryover of the Sabbath celebration that continued past sundown from the Sabbath. It does say that Paul “continued his message until midnight.” Therefore, if this occurred on what we call “Sunday,” then this would have been recorded as the second day of the week.
Fourthly, we are told that Paul was about to leave the next day. Naturally, they would have wanted to get together with him as much as possible before he left. To say that this is some kind of ordinance that should be an example for a day of worship is a poor misinterpretation.
One more point. Paul was making himself as an example for the disciples by not traveling on the Sabbath. He waited until the Sabbath was over and for the sun to rise on Sunday morning before he left.
Paul taught us be example. We are actually told in the book of Acts that Paul met with and taught the Jews AND Gentiles on every Sabbath:
(Acts 17:2 NKJV) Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
(Acts 17:3 NKJV) explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.”
(Acts 17:4 NKJV) And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
(Acts 18:4 NKJV) And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.
Nowhere in the Old Testament are the Gentile nations commanded to observe the Sabbath or condemned for failing to do so. That is certainly strange if Sabbath observance were meant to be an eternal moral principle.
What about Isaiah 56:1-8?
(Isa 56:1 NKJV) Thus says the LORD: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, For My salvation is about to come, And My righteousness to be revealed.
(Isa 56:2 NKJV) Blessed is the man who does this, And the son of man who lays hold on it;Who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And keeps his hand from doing any evil.”
(Isa 56:3 NKJV) Do not let the son of the foreigner Who has joined himself to the LORD Speak, saying, “The LORD has utterly separated me from His people”; Nor let the eunuch say, “Here I am, a dry tree.”
(Isa 56:4 NKJV) For thus says the LORD: “To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant,
(Isa 56:5 NKJV) Even to them I will give in My house And within My walls a place and a name Better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name That shall not be cut off.
(Isa 56:6 NKJV) “Also the sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, And to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants; Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And holds fast My covenant;
(Isa 56:7 NKJV) Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
(Isa 56:8 NKJV) The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet I will gather to him Others besides those who are gathered to him.”
Elohim’s will was directed toward his holy people, of which there is but one body. This body was a spiritual body and not a physical body. Any Gentile who approached the Elohim of Israel, therefore became part of this holy people. In the Torah, we find mention over and over again that the law is for the natural born son of the people and for the Gentile who has come to join the people, that they may obey Elohim in all their ways.
(Exo 12:49 NKJV) “One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.”
(Lev 24:22 NKJV) ‘You shall have the same law for the stranger and for one from your own country; for I am the LORD your God.’”
Paul makes it clear that the law of Elohim had included all under guilt and thus all had to have been subject to the laws of Elohim or else the Gentile could not have likewise been guilty along with the Jew.
There is no evidence in the Bible of anyone keeping the Sabbath before the time of Moses, nor are there any commands in the Bible to keep the Sabbath before the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai.
Genesis 1 and 2 give adequate proof that the Sabbath was sanctified and therefore existed before the time of Moses (Ex. 20:8-11). In the account of creation we see that Elohim blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. Therefore, we have every reason to believe that man observed the Sabbath long before Moses.
(Gen 2:3 NKJV) Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
When Scripture states Elohim sanctified the seventh day, that means He set it apart for His special use (made it holy). When Elohim does this, who are we to UNsanctify it? Did Elohim change His mind? Where in Scripture is such a change demanded or even suggested?
We are told in the Ten Commandments (which Dr. MacArthur does not deny) that we are to “remember” the Sabbath Day to keep it holy (set-apart). How could they “remember” something if it wasn’t previously given to them??
Once again Dr. MacArthur has made the argument from silence, which says “it doesn’t say yay or nay, so it must be nay.” It is easier to assume that the Sabbath very much was kept before Moses due to the fact that God has always instructed us in righteousness. (Gen 26:5 NKJV) “because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” Which laws did Abraham obey? Likewise Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife because he did not want to sin before Elohim (Gen. 39:9). How did he know adultery was sin against Elohim? How did Abel know to give a sacrifice, much less a proper one, long before the time of Moses?
In Exodus 16 the people of Israel had left Egypt 30 days earlier and had run out of unleavened bread they had taken with them. Elohim started supplying them with manna and they were instructed to gather twice as much on the sixth day of the week in order to honor the Sabbath. This was several weeks before they got to Mount Sinai:
(Exo 16:22 NKJV) And so it was, on the sixth day, that they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.
(Exo 16:23 NKJV) Then he said to them, “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.’”
(Exo 16:24 NKJV) So they laid it up till morning, as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it.
(Exo 16:25 NKJV) Then Moses said, “Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field.
(Exo 16:26 NKJV) “Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, there will be none.”
Paul said there was sin in the world before the law. But without the law, man had no way of knowing what was right or wrong. The law did pre-exist the world even if it was not written on tablets of stone yet. By the fact that we can still transgress that law when it is not before us through all of the earth is testimony to this.
Regardless, Dr. MacArthur’s point is meaningless. Although I showed where he is profoundly wrong about there being no evidence of Sabbath observance before Sinai, his claim is vacuous anyway. The absence of evidence is the absence of an argument. It proves nothing at all. There is no solid evidence of man walking on two feet before Sinai, but that does not mean he crawled everywhere.
When the Apostles met at the Jerusalem council (Acts 15), they did not impose Sabbath keeping on the Gentile believers.
By Dr. MacArthur’s reasoning, they did not impose laws against idolatry, murder, lying, or many other atrocities either. The council passed some ordinances that would prohibit Gentiles from participating in the pagan idolatrous practices of that day. If Gentiles were engaging in idolatry, they would not be allowed in the synagogues on the Sabbath Day. If they refrained from these idolatrous practices, they would be allowed among the Jewish believers in order to learn of Torah and of Messiah.
(Acts 15:19 NKJV) “Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God,
(Acts 15:20 NKJV) “but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.
When is the last time your preacher focused on those things that Paul said for Gentile believers? When did he last preach about abstaining from things polluted by idols, from things strangled, and from blood? These things were a part of the idolatry of that day and were particularly offensive and vile to the Jewish believer.
According to Scripture, the Gentile could not have fellowship with the Jewish believer while practicing idolatry. Elohim demands destruction of idols and things associated with idolatry among His people:
(Exo 34:12 NASB) “Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, lest it become a snare in your midst.
(Exo 34:13 NASB) “But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim
(Exo 34:14 NASB) –for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God–
(Exo 34:15 NASB) lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they play the harlot with their gods, and sacrifice to their gods, and someone invite you to eat of his sacrifice;
(Exo 34:16 NASB) and you take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods, and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods.
Regardless, those four items in Acts 15 are not the only laws that applied to the Gentile believer. These are initial items that would permit fellowship for the Gentiles with the more learned and mature Jewish believers in the synagogue.
The issue in front of the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 was only the issue of whether a man must be circumcised before he was allowed to hear of Messiah and the Torah.
(Acts 15:1 NKJV) And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
The burden of adult circumcision was one that the Jews throughout history did not have to bear, but they wanted to place that burden on the new Gentile believers and force them to be proselytes. All Jewish males were circumcised on the eighth day of their lives and did not have endured adult circumcision. Many of the Jews wanted the Gentiles forced out of the assemblies if they did not convert to Judaism as proselytes. This rite included circumcision.
(Acts 13:42 NKJV) So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.
(Acts 13:43 NKJV) Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
(Acts 13:44 NKJV) On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God.
(Acts 13:45 NKJV) But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul.
(Acts 13:46 NKJV) Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.
(Acts 13:47 NKJV) “For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
(Acts 13:48 NKJV) Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
(Acts 13:49 NKJV) And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region.
(Acts 13:50 NKJV) But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.
There was much division and the Judaizers who opposed Paul and Barnabas wanted to use the argument of circumcision to halt the spread of the Gospel. But whether or not one must be circumcised as an adult is not covered in the Mosaic Law (unless one wants to participate in Passover). It is a deep subject that required much thought. That is why the council met to discuss the issue. The conclusion was, if they stopped a few of their pagan practices, the Gentiles were to be allowed to hear the Gospel and participate in the assemblies and in the synagogue.
Regardless, Paul’s mentioning that Gentiles should abstain from things strangled and from blood is related to the dietary requirements in Leviticus. Why does Dr. Macarthur want to throw those away also? (That is for another day…)
The apostle Paul warned the Gentiles about many different sins in his epistles, but breaking the Sabbath was never one of them.
There were other sins that the Apostle Paul didn’t warn the Gentile believers, such as having sex with animals, cross-dressing, and other things. But that doesn’t mean that those things do not apply. Must all the Laws of Elohim be reiterated by Paul in order to be valid? Of course not!
Again this is the argument from silence. An argument from silence is a non-existent argument. He assumes that because it is not directly mentioned that it means it is no longer important. That is not a tenable point at all. The laws concerning the Sabbath were well established by this time and did not need to be repeated.
In Galatians 4:10-11, Paul rebukes the Galatians for thinking God expected them to observe special days (including the Sabbath).
The author conveniently left out the previous two verses of this passage:
(Gal 4:8 NKJV) But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods.
(Gal 4:9 NKJV) But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?
(Gal 4:10 NKJV) You observe days and months and seasons and years.
(Gal 4:11 NKJV) I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.
Paul is warning the Galatians against returning to the idolatry that plagued them previously. He said they are serving the other gods that they formerly left behind. In doing this pagan worship, they were observing their pagan days, weeks, months, and years. Paul says that he is afraid for them and that all he has taught them was in vain because they were returning to idolatry.
But Paul does not warn them against observing Sabbaths or Feast days. That is a ludicrous statement if you think about it. Especially considering there is every indication in Scripture that he too honored the Sabbath and Biblical Feast Days throughout His life, just as Yeshua did.
The book of Galatians is Paul’s warning to the people concerning conversion to Judaism as a method of salvation. He was not doing away with the law in the letter to Galatians. Paul was battling those Judaizers who claimed only Jews were a part of the kingdom and conversion to Judaism (including circumcision) is necessary for salvation. The Judaizers claimed salvation through Judaism and keeping the law without the need for Messiah. That is the issue Paul is addressing.
(Gal 2:1 NKJV) Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me.
(Gal 2:2 NKJV) And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.
(Gal 2:3 NKJV) Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.
(Gal 2:4 NKJV) And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage),
(Gal 2:5 NKJV) to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
These men who came in by stealth are those who tried to tie salvation to circumcision (conversion to Judaism) in particular. This passage can be compared to Act 15 which gives more details of this same account. Here we are told what the Judaizers were teaching:
(Acts 15:1 NKJV) And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.“
(Acts 15:2 NKJV) Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.
Paul was protesting those who would tie circumcision (and therefore conversion into Judaism) to salvation. The Judaizers were teaching that the way to Elohim was to become a member of the covenant people and for them to proselytize themselves over to Judaism.
These false “brethren” were trying to intentionally lead the assembly of Galatia astray with false teaching. These false teachers hated the Gentiles and hated the message of the Gospel. They were mocking the Galatian believers by telling them they had to get circumcised in order to be saved. This was a very clever ploy on their part. If the Gentiles refused, they would doubt their salvation. If they complied, they were doing it by joining themselves to Judaism instead of joining themselves to Messiah.
(Galatians 4:17 NKJV) They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them.
Paul’s disgust with these false teachers is evident in his words and in his tone.
(Galatians 6:11 NKJV) See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!
(Galatians 6:12 KJKV) As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
Paul lets them know that the Judaizers were laughing at them! They were not trying to help them at all.
(Galatians 6:13 NKJV) For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.
Paul told the Galatians that in reference to the “circumcision for salvation” message goes, he wished that those who taught them this false teaching would “cut themselves off.” Paul was being brutal in his opinion of these false teachers.
(Galatians 5:7 NKJV) You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?
(Galatians 5:8 NKJV)This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you.
(Galatians 5:9 NKJV) A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
(Galatians 5:10 NKJV)I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is.
(Galatians 5:11 NKJV) And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.
(Galatians 5:12 NKJV) I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!
The book of Galatians is a warning to those particular people concerning the false teachings of Judaism and their possible return to idolatry. Paul is not trying to keep the new believers from obeying Elohim.
In Romans 14:5, Paul forbids those who observe the Sabbath (these were no doubt Jewish believers) to condemn those who do not (Gentile believers).
(Rom 14:5 NKJV) One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
All of Romans 14 is a commentary on NON-Scriptural issues and how to deal with them. We are not to be an offense to another believer. It has nothing to do with changing Elohim’s Law. Paul tells us that we should not judge others when it comes to non-Scriptural issues:
(Rom 14:1 NKJV) Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.
(Rom 14:10 NKJV) But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Elohim’s Law is not a “doubtful thing.” Paul was not saying that we should not condemn the acts of murder, rape, and theft. He is saying that there are non-Scriptural issues that others hold to. If those things are not sinful (lawlessness), then we should not condemn them for it.
(Rom 14:20 NKJV) Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense.
(Rom 14:21 NKJV) It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
(Rom 14:22 NKJV) Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.
(Rom 14:23 NKJV) But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
Paul is telling us not to judge others who act in faithfulness outside of Scriptural issues. He is not referring to changing the law in any way. The days spoken of in Romans 14:5 were non-biblical days and observances held by some people and disregarded by others. Many of these special days still exist within Judaism, such days as Yad Vashem and Tish B’av are held as days of mourning and fasting. While these are not wrong to honor they are not scriptural either and so we cannot judge a man’s walk if he chooses not to honor them likewise.
Paul tells us that we do not make the law void through faith, we establish the law through faith. We are to obey Elohim’s Law through love and obedience.
(Rom 3:31 NKJV) Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
The early church fathers, from Ignatius to Augustine, taught that the Old Testament Sabbath had been abolished and that the first day of the week (Sunday) was the day when Christians should meet for worship (contrary to the claim of many seventh-day sabbatarians who claim that Sunday worship was not instituted until the fourth century).
Many teachings of the early church fathers were wrong and abhorrent in various ways. These men are only teaching their viewpoints of Scripture and that is not the same thing as Scripture. Many were anti-Semitic regardless and were anxious to separate themselves from anything they perceived as being “Jewish.”
In the times of the “early church,” false doctrines crept in quickly. Even the Apostle John was battling Gnosticism in his writings. By the times of Ignatius, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Augustine many doctrines were already held to that all Christians today would detest.
On top of this there is a substantial amount of evidence as to the Sabbath being kept throughout the empire even later than the 4th century. Sozomen, an early historian, said that the Sabbath was kept throughout, everywhere in the empire, except in Rome and Alexandria, where they follow after another tradition.
Here are a few examples of Sabbath keeping after the day of Messiah:
EGYPT (OXYRHYNCHUS PAPYRUS) (200-250 A.D.)
“Except ye make the sabbath a real sabbath (sabbatize the Sabbath,” Greek), ye shall not see the Father.” “The oxyrhynchus Papyri,” pt,1, p.3, Logion 2, verso 4-11 (London Offices of the Egypt Exploration Fund, 1898).
EARLY CHRISTIANS-C 3rd
“Thou shalt observe the Sabbath, on account of Him who ceased from His work of creation, but ceased not from His work of providence: it is a rest for meditation of the law, not for idleness of the hands.” “The Anti-Nicene Fathers,” Vol 7,p. 413. From “Constitutions of the Holy Apostles,” a document of the 3rd and 4th Centuries.
AFRICA (ALEXANDRIA) ORIGEN
“After the festival of the unceasing sacrifice (the crucifixion) is put the second festival of the Sabbath, and it is fitting for whoever is righteous among the saints to keep also the festival of the Sabbath. There remaineth therefore a sabbatismus, that is, a keeping of the Sabbath, to the people of God (Hebrews 4:9).” “Homily on Numbers 23,” par.4, in Migne, “Patrologia Graeca,” Vol. 12,cols. 749, 750.
“In the last half of that century St. Ambrose of Milan stated officially that the Abyssinian bishop, Museus, had ‘traveled almost everywhere in the country of the Seres’ (China). For more than seventeen centuries the Abyssinian Church continued to sanctify Saturday as the holy day of the fourth commandment.” Ambrose, DeMoribus, Brachmanorium Opera Ominia, 1132, found in Migne, Patrologia Latima, Vol.17, pp.1131,1132.
“They despise our sun-god. Did not Zorcaster, the sainted founder of our divine beliefs, institute Sunday one thousand years ago in honour of the sun and supplant the Sabbath of the Old Testament. Yet these Christians have divine services on Saturday.” O’Leary, “The Syriac Church and Fathers,” pp.83, 84.
“For although almost all churches throughout the world celebrated the sacred mysteries (the Lord’s Supper) on the Sabbath of every week, yet the Christians of Allexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, refuse to do this.” The footnote which accompanies the foregoing quotation explains the use of the word “Sabbath.” It says: “That is, upon the Saturday. It should be observed, that Sunday is never called “the Sabbath’ by the ancient Fathers and historians.” Sacrates, “Ecclestical History,” Book 5, chap. 22, p. 289.
“The people of Constantinople, and almost everywhere, assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or at Alexandria.” Socrates, “Ecclesiastical History,” Book 7, chap.19.
THE WORLD-AUGUSTINE, BISHOP OF HIPPO (NORTH AFRICA)
Augustine shows here that the Sabbath was observed in his day “in the greater part of the Christian world,” and his testimony in this respect is all the more valuable because he himself was an earnest and consistent Sunday-keeper. See “Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers,” 1st Series, Vol.1, pp. 353, 354.
SIDONIUS (SPEAKING OF KING THEODORIC OF THE GOTHS, A.D. 454-526)
“It is a fact that it was formerly the custom in the East to keep the Sabbath in the same manner as the Lord’s day and to hold sacred assemblies: while on the other hand, the people of the West, contending for the Lord’s day have neglected the celebration of the Sabbath.” “Apollinaries Sidonli Epistolae,” lib.1, 2; Migne, 57.
“There are several cities and villages in Egypt where, contrary to the usage established elsewhere, the people meet together on Sabbath evenings, and, although they have dined previously, partake of the mysteries.” Sozomen. “Ecclesiastical History Book 7, ch. 119
Gregory I (A.D. 590-640) wrote against “Roman citizens (who) forbid any work being done on the Sabbath day.” “Nicene and Post- Nicene Fathers,” Second Series, Vol, XIII, p.13, epist. 1
ROME (POPE GREGORY I,A.D.590 TO 604)
“Gregory, bishop by the grace of God to his well-beloved sons, the Roman citizens: It has come to me that certain men of perverse spirit have disseminated among you things depraved and opposed to the holy faith, so that they forbid anything to be done on the day of the Sabbath. What shall I call them except preachers of anti-Christ?” Epistles, b.13:1
“Declared that when anti-Christ should come he would keep Saturday as the Sabbath. “Epistles of Gregory I, “b 13, epist.1. found in “Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers.”
“Moreover, this same Pope Gregory had issued an official pronouncement against a section of the city of Rome itself because the Christian believers there rested and worshipped on the Sabbath.”
COUNCIL OF FRIAUL, ITALY-A.D. 791 (CANON 13)
“We command all Christians to observe the Lord’s day to be held not in honour of the past Sabbath, but on account of that holy night of the first of the week called the Lord’s day. When speaking of that Sabbath which the Jews observe, the last day of the week, and which also our peasants observe..” Mansi, 13, 851
“And because they observed no other day of rest but the Sabbath days, they called them Insabathas, as much as to say, as they observed no Sabbath.” Luther’s “Fore-Runners” (original spelling), PP. 7, 8
They held that Saturday was properly the Sabbath on which they abstained from work. “Celtic Scotland,” Vol. 2, p. 350
“Because you observe the Sabbath with the Jews and the Lord’s Day with us, you seem to imitate with such observance the sect of Nazarenes.” Migne, “Patrologia Latina,” Vol. 145, p.506; also Hergenroether, “Photius,” Vol. 3, p.746. (The Nazarenes were a Christian denomination.)
“The observance of Saturday is, as everyone knows, the subject of a bitter dispute between the Greeks and the Latins.” Neale, “A History of the Holy Eastern Church,” Vol 1, p. 731. (Referring to the separation of the Greek Church from the Latin in 1054)
“Among the documents. we have by the same peoples, an explanation of the Ten Commandments dated by Boyer 1120. Observance of the Sabbath by ceasing from worldly labours, is enjoined.” Blair, History of the Waldenses, Vol.1, p. 220
“There is much evidence that the Sabbath prevailed in Wales university until A.D.1115, when the first Roman bishop was seated at St. David’s. The old Welsh Sabbath-keeping churches did not even then altogether bow the knee to Rome, but fled to their hiding places.” Lewis, “Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America,” Vol.1, p.29
The papal author, Bonacursus, wrote the following against the “Pasagaini”: “Not a few, but many know what are the errors of those who are called Pasagini…First, they teach that we should obey the Sabbath. Furthermore, to increase their error, they condemn and reject all the church Fathers, and the whole Roman Church.” D’Achery, Spicilegium I,f.211-214; Muratory, Antiq. med. aevi.5, f.152, Hahn, 3, 209
“Erasmus testifies that even as late as about 1500 these Bohemians not only kept the seventh day scrupulously, but also were called Sabbatarians.” Cox, “The Literature of the Sabbath Question,” Vol.2, pp.201, 202 “Truth Triumphant,” p.264
“In the reign of Elizabeth, it occurred to many conscientious and independent thinkers (as it previously had done to some Protestants in Bohemia) that the fourth commandment required of them the observance, not of the first, but of the specified ‘seventh’ day of the week.” Chambers’ Cyclopaedia, article “Sabbath,” Vol. 8, p. 462, 1537
(estates in Austria, Bohemia, Morovia, Hungary. Lichenstein in the Rhine Valley wasn’t their country until the end of the 7th century). “The Sabbatarians teach that the outward Sabbath, i.e. Saturday, still must be observed, They say that Sunday is the Pope’s invention.” Refutation of Sabbath, by Wolfgang Capito, published 1599
-Dr. Esk (while refuting the Reformers) “However, the church has transferred the observance from Saturday to Sunday by virtue of her own power, without Scripture.” Dr. Esk’s “Enchiridion,” 1533, pp.78,79
PRINCES OF LICHTENSTEIN (Europe)
About the hear 1520 many of these Sabbath-keepers found shelter on the estate of Lord Leonhardt of Lichtensein held to the observance of the true Sabbath.” J.N.Andrews, History of the Sabbath, p. 649, ed.
“The famous Jesuit, Francis Xavier, called for the Inquisition, which was set up in Goa, India, in 1560, to check the ‘Jewish wickedness’ (Sabbath-keeping).” Adeney, “The Greek and Eastern Churches,” p.527, 528
(Abyssinian legate at court of Lisbon) “It is not therefore, in imitation of the Jews, but in obedience to Christ and His holy apostles, that we observe the day.” Gedde’s “Church History of Ethiopia,” pp. 87,8
“Some have suffered torture because they would not rest when others kept Sunday, for they declared it to be the holiday and law of Antichrist.” Sebastian Frank (A.D. 1536)
12. Sunday has not replaced Saturday as the Sabbath. Rather the Lord’s Day is a time when believers gather to commemorate His resurrection, which occurred on the first day of the week. Every day to the believer is one of Sabbath rest, since we have ceased from our spiritual labor and are resting in the salvation of the Lord (Hebrews 4:9-11).
What you are referring to as “The Lord’s Day” is only referred to one time in Scripture:
(Rev 1:10 NKJV) I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet,
There are two ways to look at this passage. Possibly, John is saying he is in meditation on the Lord’s Day as a particular day of the week. If that were the case, it could be effectively argued that a reference to “the Lord’s Day” is still referring to the Sabbath, not Sunday.
But the more likely meaning of the passage is this: “I was in the Spirit (meditating) on the Day of the Lord.” This is a valid translation of the verse and it would certainly fit the theme of the Revelation much better than John stating that he is in meditation on some particular day of the week.
If John were trying to start the trend of worshipping on Sunday, he certainly never taught it in any of his writings besides this one vague comment.
As for “every day to the believer is a Sabbath rest” in Hebrews 4, we should look very closely at what that passage says:
(Heb 4:3 NKJV) For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’ ” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
(Heb 4:4 NKJV) For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”;
(Heb 4:5 NKJV) and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”
(Heb 4:6 NKJV) Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience,
(Heb 4:7 NKJV) again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.”
(Heb 4:8 NKJV) For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.
(Heb 4:9 NKJV) There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.
(Heb 4:10 NKJV) For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
(Heb 4:11 NKJV) Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.
We are to enter into Elohim’s rest of salvation, which is typified by the Sabbath. Just because the Sabbath typifies salvation does not mean the Sabbath should be tossed out. On the contrary, this passage is a confirmation for the Sabbath rather than a nullification of the Sabbath. As a matter of fact, the Greek term for “rest” in Heb. 4:9 is “Sabbatismos” which means a “Sabbath-keeping.” The New American Standard more correctly translates this passage the following way:
(Heb 4:9 NASB) There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.
The book of Hebrews clearly states that we should be celebrating the Sabbath if we are people of Elohim.
So while we still follow the pattern of designating one day of the week a day for the Lord’s people to gather in worship, we do not refer to this as “the Sabbath.”
John Calvin took a similar position. He wrote,
There were three reasons for giving this [fourth] commandment: First, with the seventh day of rest the Lord wished to give to the people of Israel an image of spiritual rest, whereby believers must cease from their own works in order to let the Lord work in them. Secondly, he wished that there be an established day in which believers might assemble in order to hear his Law and worship him. Thirdly, he willed that one day of rest be granted to servants and to those who live under the power of others so that they might have a relaxation from their labor. The latter, however, is rather an inferred than a principal reason.
This is not relevant to Scripture at all. It is based upon theological treatise and not on Elohim’s Word.
As to the first reason, there is no doubt that it ceased in Christ; because he is the truth by the presence of which all images vanish. He is the reality at whose advent all shadows are abandoned. Hence St. Paul (Col. 2:17) affirms that the sabbath has been a shadow of a reality yet to be. And he declares else-where its truth when in the letter to the Romans, ch. 6:8, he teaches us that we are buried with Christ in order that by his death we may die to the corruption of our flesh. And this is not done in one day, but during all the course of our life, until altogether dead in our own selves, we may be filled with the life of God. Hence, superstitious observance of days must remain far from Christians.
Elohim’s command to observe the Sabbath Day or His commands to do anything are not a matter of superstition. This comment is profanation. It would be more correct to apply this comment to pagan holidays that were “Christianized” such as Easter or Christmas.
The two last reasons, however, must not be numbered among the shadows of old. Rather, they are equally valid for all ages. Hence, though the sabbath is abrogated, it so happens among us that we still convene on certain days in order to hear the word of God, to break the [mystic] bread of the Supper,
Mystic? I wasn’t aware of anything “mystic” about the Lord’s Supper.
and to offer public prayers; and, moreover, in order that some relaxation from their toil be given to servants and workingmen. As our human weakness does not allow such assemblies to meet every day, the day observed by the Jews has been taken away (as a good device for eliminating superstition) and another day has been destined to this use. This was necessary for securing and maintaining order and peace in the Church.
As the truth therefore was given to the Jews under a figure, so to us on the contrary truth is shown without shadows in order, first of all, that we meditate all our life on a perpetual sabbath from our works so that the Lord may operate in us by his spirit; secondly, in order that we observe the legitimate order of the Church for listening to the word of God, for admin-istering the sacraments, and for public prayers; thirdly, in order that we do not oppress inhumanly with work those who are subject to us. [FromInstruction in Faith, Calvin’s own 1537 digest of the Institutes, sec. 8, “The Law of the Lord”].
For further study:
D. A. Carson, ed., From Sabbath to Lord’s Day (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982).
I don’t see anything to rebut here. There was not a Scriptural point made.
Does Scripture command us to gather on the Sabbath Day?
In the list of the Appointed Days in Leviticus 23, the Sabbath Day is the first Appointed Day mentioned:
(Lev 23:1 NASB) The LORD spoke again to Moses, saying,
(Lev 23:2 NASB) “Speak to the sons of Israel, and say to them, ‘The LORD’S appointed timeswhich you shall proclaim as holy convocations— My appointed times are these:
(Lev 23:3 NASB) ‘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.
The Hebrew word for convocation is mikraw. Strong’s Concordance give this definition: H4744. miqra’, mik-raw’; from H7121; something called out, i.e. a public meeting (the act, the persons, or the place); also a rehearsal:–assembly, calling, convocation, reading.
The definition of this term seems to tell us that the Sabbath Day commands an assembly. But some have argued that Israel is declared a “set apart assembly” (holy convocation) by honoring the Sabbath Day and not doing work, not that an assembly is required. However, this argument is diffused by the fact that Lev. 23:2 plainly states that all the Appointed Times will be proclaimed as Holy Convocations.
The author of the book of Hebrews tells not to forsake the assembly of believers:
(Heb 10:25 NASB) not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.
This passage is an obvious reference to the Sabbath Day as the author of Hebrews was just rebuking the Hebrews for forsaking the Sabbath Day in chapter 4. However, some say that this is merely “halacha” (interpretation of law) given to that group of people and not a command. To make a statement such as this seems to say that the book of Hebrews is merely commentary, and not Scripture.
While it is difficult to find other Scriptural references that command Elohim’s people to assemble on the Sabbath Day, the book of Hosea clearly tells us that the Sabbath Day is a day of assembly:
(Hosea 2:11 NASB) “I will also put an end to all her gaiety, Her feasts, her new moons, her sabbaths, And all her festal assemblies.
Yeshua gathered on the Sabbath Day on a regular basis:
(Mark 1:21 NASB) And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach.
(Mark 3:1 NASB) And He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there with a withered hand.
(Mark 3:2 NASB) And they were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, in order that they might accuse Him.
(Mark 6:2 NASB) And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands?
(Luke 4:16 NASB) And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.
(Luke 4:31 NASB) And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And He was teaching them on the Sabbath;
(Luke 13:10 NASB) And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.
Our “halacha” should come from the One whose example is best to follow, which is Yeshua Messiah. He honored the Sabbath Day assemblies in every recorded instance and we should do the same.
Paul also honored the assemblies on the Sabbath in every recorded instance:
(Acts 13:14 NASB) But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they (Paul and his companions) went into the synagogue and sat down.
(Acts 13:42 NASB) And as Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath.
(Acts 13:44 NASB) And the next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of God.
(Acts 16:13 NASB) And on the Sabbath day we (Paul and others) went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled.
(Acts 18:4 NASB) And he (Paul) was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
Some claim that driving to a place of assembly would be “kindling a fire in my dwelling” which is prohibited in Exodus. (Exo 35:2-3 NASB) “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. “You shall not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on the sabbath day.”
There are several problems with equating driving a car today with kindling a fire in your dwelling four thousand years ago. Kindling a fire in your dwelling in that day would have entailed much work such as cutting wood, gathering it, striking rocks, etc. That seems to be the message of Exodus 35:2-3 if the passages are taken together in context. Also, one’s car is hardly a “dwelling place” (residence).
Regardless, even if one insists on that interpretation of Exodus 35:2-3, one must decide which command to break, that one or Leviticus 23:2-3. The weight of the evidence is clear that one must assemble with others on the Sabbath Day. We are told in Scripture that when laws conflict such as circumcising a baby boy on the eighth day and that day being a Sabbath, the weightier matter should be followed. It is obvious that the weightier matter is meeting on the Sabbath where we can praise the Father, honor Him, and build up each other in fellowship on His appointed day.
Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly
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Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly
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