But Paul said….The next topic I am going to discuss is the Sabbath. There are so many thoughts on this subject. One can look at the Tanakh (Old Testament) and see that Hashem instituted the Sabbath on Saturday. Many Christians today believe one of several ideas about the Sabbath. One, Sunday is the Sabbath, two, Yeshua is their rest or three, any day you want can be your Sabbath. There are several verses in the Brit Chadasha (New Testament) that people base their belief, but only one can be correct.
I want to take a look at the common passages used to defend people’s beliefs. I want to see in what context were the passages and what was the true meaning of the verse. Obviously, many of the passages will be coming from Paul’s letters since he is the most controversial writer of the Brit Chadasha.
One of the reasonings used for Sunday or first day of the week as the Sabbath is whenever Christ appears in His resurrected form and the day is mentioned, it is always the first day of the week. One of the verses is Matthew 28:1 – “now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.” Later in verse 9 Yeshua does meet them. Notice it does mention the Sabbath, so it has not been abolished or moved at this point. The Sabbath on the seventh day of the week was still the official Sabbath. The second time is in Mark 16:9 and it is basically stating the same event that is recorded in Matthew 28. There are some manuscripts that do not contain the verses starting at verse 9 in chapter 16 of Mark. From a Sabbath point of view it does not change any of the viewpoints so I am not going to make to big of deal about it for this discussion. The next set of verses is in Luke 24. It is the same story of the first day of Yeshua’s resurrection. The last verse on this point is in John 20. You guessed it, the first day of the resurrection. The four times that the day was mentioned when Yeshua appeared in resurrection form was speaking about the same day. This was not four different times, but one day. Yet, sites like Got Questions state “Whenever Christ appears in His resurrected form and the day is mentioned, it is always the first day of the week”. Sadly, one day is used as a bases for undoing thousands of years of true Sabbath observance.
A second idea that sites like Got Question is “the only time the Sabbath is mentioned from Acts through Revelation it is for evangelistic purposes to the Jews and the setting is usually in a synagogue.” The site goes on to say that “Paul did not go to the synagogue to fellowship with and edify the saints, but to convict and save the lost.” Yet there is no support for such statements. Let’s see if these statements are true. Was Paul only speaking to Jews? In Acts 13 Paul and Barnabas went to Pisidian Antioch which is in today’s Turkey. On the Sabbath they did go to the synagogue and let’s see who was present. Verse 13:44 – “The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord.” Pisidian Antioch is a Roman city, not a Jewish city, so there were a lot of gentiles in this city. Paul and Barnabas spoke on the previous Sabbath and the next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled. If the new worship day or Sabbath day was on Sunday why did they not meet up the very next day or any day during the week? Take in mind this chapter 13 of Acts is thought to happen 12-15 years after Yeshua was resurrected. Surely, there was plenty of time to start churches and meeting on Sunday by then. The next time in Acts the Sabbath is mentioned is in Acts 15 and the infamous Jerusalem Council meeting. After the elders discussed the situation this was the announcement “Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” (Acts 15:19-21). James makes a declaration for the Gentiles to start doing 4 things immediately, but he does not stop there. No, James then says the Gentiles will learn the rest as they attend the synagogue every Sabbath. James indicates that Gentiles should be in the Synagogue on Sabbath. Not on Sunday or on any day you choose, but on the Sabbath. A portion of the Pentateuch (first 5 books of the Tanakh) is read every Sabbath. Over the course of the year every verse is read. So the Gentiles will be able to pick up on the rest of the commandments as they go along. So the question was about “the only time the Sabbath is mentioned from Acts through Revelation it is for evangelistic purposes to the Jews and the setting is usually in a synagogue.” Do you think this is a correct statement? Was it mention for evangelistic purposed to the Jews only? Yes, in Acts 16 & 17 he reasoned with the Jews, but it is not always the case.
Another question for you, if you are already told something, does it have to be repeated to still be in effect? When your parents told you not to steal, did you later think it was ok to steal because they did not tell you again? Hashem said one time that I AM WHO I AM and never repeats it. Does that mean He is no longer I AM? Yet, this is what is taught by many about the Sabbath and many other commandments. Some teach since the Sabbath is not mentioned for the rest of Acts after chapter 18 that the true Sabbath is no longer in effect. Blasphemy!
The next case that is built against the true Sabbath is Colossians 2:16:17 which says “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.” First, let me note that the word mere is inserted and is not in the actual Greek. If you read these two verses by themselves then it certainly appears to say to not worry about the festivals or the Sabbath. Let’s broaden the view a little and see what it this is all about. Let’s start with verse eight – “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” Paul is warning the Colossians to not allow someone to persuade them with smooth talking, empty deception – all according to the tradition of men. Is the Sabbath a tradition of men or is it from Hashem? Moving on to verses thirteen and fourteen – “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Here we are told our sins are forgiven having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us….nailing it to the cross. Some say that the Jewish Sabbath was abolished at the cross where Christ “canceled the written code, with its regulations” That is not what was done here. What was canceled? The certificate of debt. This is akin to a speeding ticket that you received. Your court date arrives and you appear before the judge. The judge looks at you and tells you that he is going to look past this ticket, forgive you, show you some grace. In this instance what was hostile to you? It was not the law you broke, but the consequences of breaking the law. What is the consequence of breaking Hashem’s Torah? Death! Death is what is hostile towards you. You deserve death. We all deserve death, yet by G-d’s grace the debt we had to pay was nailed to the cross! Amen! Do you see? The judge is not going to tell you don’t worry about the speed limits after he forgave you, just as Yeshua said many times….do not sin any more. These two verses do not cancel the written code. This is false. Regarding the new covenant, what did Jeremiah tells us? In chapter 33:31-33, we are told that the Torah will be written on our hearts. The Torah is Hashem’s instructions to us on how to be holy to Him. Why would Yeshua get rid of it? Moving on… Paul then says “Therefore”. Big word. The preceding paragraph started off by saying do not allow someone to take you captive by the traditions of men. “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day” This is stated in the positive. When you do these things don’t let others judge you.
Many believe the group Paul is speaking against in Colossians are Pharisees or zealous Jews, but that is not true. The group is a set of Gnostics. Gnostics had two main branches. They either lavished in everything or they debased themselves of everything. An example would be one either was a glutton or they would not allow themselves to eat meat. If it was cold they would not start a fire to debase themselves of the enjoyment of warmth. Some of them worshiped angels. Josephus wrote about these groups in the 1st century. The Torah does not speak about worshiping angels, warns about being a glutton, and does not teach about debasing oneself. There is no way Paul is speaking against Judiasm in this chapter.
Does the rest of Colossians support this this way of looking at verse sixteen? Yes! Paul goes on to say to not allow people to take away your prize by following after the commandments and teachings of men. Self-made religion he calls it. Paul is not advocating to remove the law, which he calls holy, righteous, and good in Romans. When we read the Bible you must read with context.
Speaking of Romans, another point Paul was making is taken out of context. Romans 14:5-6 is not even about the Sabbath, yet it is used to counter the Sabbath frequently. The point Paul was making was about fasting. He was dealing with this just a few chapters earlier. Some were bragging about how much they fasted and this is what Paul is confronting here. The book of Romans never speaks about the Sabbath, yet so many use it for such. Context!
Another passage taken out of context is Galatians 4:9-10 and again the Sabbath is not even mentioned in all of Galatians. Yet, so many desire to be rid of the Sabbath that they twist words to fit their desires. Let’s take a look at what was said – “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? You observe days and months and seasons and years.” Again, notice no mention of Sabbath in these two verses. Also, note they were turning back again to the weak and worthless elemental things. Before we dive in to this, do you think anything G-d setup, ordained, etc is considered weak and worthless elemental things? That should be your first clue that Paul is not speaking about anything G-d gave in the Torah. If that is not enough for you there is more. The Galatians assembly (church) was compromised mostly of Gentiles. We know this due to the circumcision issues discussed in a couple of chapters within this book and based from history. Since these are Gentiles how could they turn back to the Torah i.e. the weak and worthless elemental things? They would be turning back to their pagan ways, not the Torah.
Some say that believers never met on the Sabbath for worship or fellowship per Scripture. I just have to say really? This is so false and it is not even funny. Do you think the twelve disciples were believers? Throughout the Gospels they met on the Sabbath. The Got Questions site helps show this and they do not even know it. The times the site shows the Messiah appears on Sunday (spoke about above) tells the account how those preparing the spices honored the Sabbath. That is why they were delayed in preparing Yeshua’s body for burial. Luke 23:54-56 says “It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” The common response to those who oppose the Sabbath is that they were not aware you did not have to follow the law yet. In Luke 4, Yeshua went to the synagogue as was His custom. In Acts 18:4 we are told Paul went to the synagogue on the Sabbath to persuade the Jews and the Greeks. Does every letter Paul or any of the New Testament writers wrote mention the Sabbath? No, but that does not mean it did not have to be followed. We have to remember the letters were written answering specific questions or dealing with certain issues. Christians act as if the letter’s, more specifically Paul’s letters, give them a new instruction manual on how to live, how to be holy. They were not intended to rewrite the instructions for Hashem’s people. They were not a new Torah, which is a topic for another writing.
Got Questions, other sites, and Christians in general speak of other verses to support their belief. Yet, there is no basis for their belief. I will say they are flat our wrong and ignorant of what is truly being said. We have to remember the writers of the New Testament are generally believed to be Jewish. Luke may be an exception, but generally speaking the New Testatement should be viewed through the the lens of the writers background which happens to be Jewish. The first verse used for support of the Sunday Sabbath is Acts20:7 which reads – “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.” Without taking into account Judaism, Paul did not say this was “church”. They gathered together to eat and Paul began speaking to them. It is as simple as that. Yet, many state this is an indication that “church” is now on Sunday. They do not know about Havdalah or Motzoei Shabbos because they do not know much about the Jewish culture. A Havdalah service is the marking of the end of Shabbos or Shabbat. The Motzoei Shabbos is the time period immediately following Shabbos, literally Saturday night. In Jewish terms it is already Sunday, since the day ends at sundown and the next day begins. This is what they were likely having. The Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB) says this is what they were doing, but most would think there is a bias there so I will not make a big point from it. Regardless what it is called, they were breaking bread on Saturday night and it was not “church” I cannot find one instance of when there was a service on Sunday morning in the Bible. Not one.
Another verse used to support Sunday as the new Sabbath is 1 Corinthians 16:2. Paul tells them to put aside or save money on the first day of the week so that a collection will not have to take place while he is there. Many teach that this is church, Sunday worship. Many would be wrong though. First, Paul said to set aside and save. He is not talking about meeting together and collecting the money. It sounds like Paul is not wanting to start the collection process while he is there. Second, in Judaism one would not collect money on the Sabbath. They could not and would not collect the money in that time on the Sabbath. Without knowing the culture and history of Judaism you do not know this. The site Got Questions actually goes on to say since 2 Corinthians 9:12 says “For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.” that Paul designated the offering as service and must be linked with Sunday worship services. Yikes! Where did they pull this from? Only if you have preconceived ideas could you come up with linking 2 Corinthians 9:12 to Sunday worship.
Got Questions actually has something right about this and that is it states the Sabbath is still Saturday (Friday night sundown to Saturday night sundown) and has never been changed. Along with this statement though the site says it was only give to Israel and not the church. The site says Christians are free from the bondage of the Law (Torah) and sites Galatians 4 and Romans 6:14. The Torah is not bondage. Paul is not stating in Galatians 4:4-5 that the Messiah set us free from the Torah. Paul is stating that the Messiah is setting us free from the bondage of the consequences of not keeping the Torah. The bondage is the debt against us that we must pay with our lives. Yet, Yeshua took our place. He took our bondage. I already dealt with the next few verses above, so we will move on to verses 21-31.
The story of Hagar and Sarah, the bondwoman and the free woman, is believed by many to state the law was bondage and removed. The story is misunderstood though. The son born under Hagar was born according to the flesh. Abraham and Sarah attempted to help Hashem with His plan….according to the flesh. If you are going to try and keep the Torah on your own then you will be a slave to it. This was not Hashem’s plan. He always wanted us to circumcise our hearts (have emunah) first. Through the promise we are freed from being slaves to sin. We are to follow Hashem through the Spirit which was Isaac. Following the Torah through our own means (flesh) is bondage, slavery. Following Torah through the Spirit is freedom. David writes about this many times. The Torah is freedom, not bondage. Again, the bondage is the law of sin and death.
Romans 6:14 is another commonly misunderstood verse. Many people this verse places the law and grace against each other. Nothing can be further from the truth. Grace was available during the Tanakh as well. It is a Jewish thought. Esther found grace, Noah found grace, Moses found grace. The word used in the Tanakh is usually translated favor, but it is the same thing. Grace and law do not combat each other. Paul goes on to say, should we sin? Without the law how do you know what sin is? You don’t. Paul says you are a slave to the one you obey. If you obey sin, then it is death for you. If you are obedient (following Torah) then it will result in righteousness. Paul says you are slaves to righteousness. Hashem wants a willing and obedient heart to follow His instructions.
Believers do not get to choose which day is there rest. Hashem from the very beginning made the Sabbath day holy. He wants us to be holy because He is holy. The Sabbath day is a day devoted to Him. A day without work. A day to stop focusing on your desires and focus on Him and His creation. The Lord’s Day in Revelation 1:10 is commonly referred to as Sunday by many, but yet no where is the 1st day of the week ever called the Lord’s Day in the Bible. Matthew 12:8 and Mark 2:28 tells us the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. The Lord’s Day is used two different ways throughout scripture. It is either the Sabbath day or the Day of the Lord (end times).
I pick on Got Questions throughout this post, but there are many other sites that teach the same things. Below is the link to the specific Got Questions post for you to review. The only way you can get to any day or Sunday as an acceptable day of rest is to assume or twist scripture. The Torah was never meant to be abolished or not followed. The Torah was used to create the world and as Yeshua says it will be here until heaven and earth pass away.
Do you agree? Why or why not?
Until next time…Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh is Adonai!