Sabbath - the very concept of an interruption in the stress and worry about the cares of the world should make the day welcome to everyone.
OK, this is a big one, probably the biggest indication as to whether people will follow the will of God or go their own way. In fact, that's what God said in Exodus 16 when preparing to test the Israelites for obedience:
4Then the Lord said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days."
19Then Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning." 20However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; (Exodus 16:4-5, 19-20)
This was before the Ten Commandments episode at Mt. Sinai. Though most of the Israelites followed the instructions, on the second morning, some had kept some manna left over from the previous day. Imagine that. Some people didn't follow instructions.
It was not until later that God made observance of this day into a Commandment. You know, one of those rules that no one can break without consequences.
Just for the Israelites?
When the subject of the Sabbath comes up, most Gentiles immediately bristle and brace themselves to resist any implication that God expects His people to observe the seventh-day rest as well. The most common response is, "That's just for the Israelites! We don't have to do that!" While it is true that we "don't have to do that", we really don't have to follow any of the rules God has set up. After all, there are no rules from God "given to the Gentiles". We can do like those who do not believe in God and go our own way. And, while we will not disappear in a puff of smoke for disobedience, there will be consequences.
The two real questions are whether or not we Gentiles should follow the Ten Commandments and will it matter to our Salvation. After all, they were only given to the Israelites, and at least the fourth one was supposedly not repeated in the New Testament, right? Many people say this, but then forget about passages like Luke 23:56
Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
, which happened after Jesus died. As for our Salvation, will disobedience to the Commandments matter?
What does that mean?
So, if we do not have to do anything that God gave "only to the Israelites", what is left to guide us Gentiles? If God doesn't care what we do, then why do our pastors even bother to preach to us Gentiles from the Bible? After all, it was written by Jews. Maybe it is because a lot of the New Testament was written by the Apostle to the Gentiles - Paul. He seems to make it clear that we are not to expect the law to save us - only Jesus can do that. But how does he feel about whether the law applies to the Gentiles? For that matter, how does Jesus feel about the law? So many people have twisted the words of the Bible regarding law so much that it causes other Biblical passages to be lying.
That twisting creates havoc with passages like Matthew 5:17-20:
17"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."
How can you read these verses and think it is OK to just write off one of the Commandments? Any of them? Jesus said "if anyone sets aside one of the least" of them, that person is going to have a problem. Of course, some spin their fancy words to make this apply only to Jews and say even that requirement stopped at Jesus' death. The obvious question is, "Where and when was this important announcement made?" (see Got Questions? for a sample of contradicting scripture by claiming Jesus "ending" all law at His death). People claim that Jesus was "talking to only the Jews". If that is the case, then what was Paul talking about in Romans 3:31 when he spoke to the Gentiles?:
31Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
There is no way to stretch or twist this into meaning that having faith in Jesus voids the law or even makes it no longer matter if it is still there. But people are so desperate to be free from any sort of guidelines that they "nullify the word of God" by their tradition. Jesus spoke of doing one thing in order to cancel out another in Mark 7:13
"Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that."
. It's the same thing happening today, but the traditions we follow are those established by the anti-Semitic early "Christian" church fathers.
But some will try
We have done the same thing with regard to God's Fourth Commandment. For some reason, the modern church has turned the fourth commandment into a "disputable matter", thinking that each person can "be convinced in his own mind" as to which day he should "keep". Not which day to worship, mind you, which is open to choice, but which day to set aside as Holy to the Lord in obedience to His instructions. As if He was not clear about which day He made Holy. Remember Genesis 2:3
Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
? In case you aren't sure, this was before there were any Israelites. To ignore this is to ignore something that GOD MADE HOLY! Note also that it does not say, "Made holy for the Israelites only." While it is true that this was not stated in the form of a commandment, how can we say we love God, but then treat like trash something He made Holy?
Considering the actions of men, what becomes immediately apparent is the human need to do things their own way. There seems to be some built-in human need to change the practice of following the rules of God - even setting aside a day established by God as a holy day of rest. Maybe with a deep enough look we can see that many want to ignore God's commandment and worship on the first day of the week as some sort of attempt to improve His plan, but that has nothing to do with resting on the seventh day.
Even the definition of the term has been changed from God's original.
Dictionary.com defines it this way:
Notice that only number 1 has a Biblical reference (for some reason separated from number 4, which is also biblical), while 2, 3, and 5 twist the definition to fit some human desire or need. None of 2, 3, or 5 match God's definitions in Exodus 16 and 20. But, since they are in the dictionary, everyone feels justified to practice what God said not to do. There is nothing wrong with celebrating the resurrection of Christ on Sunday, unless you do that instead of following God's commandment to keep the seventh day.
What do you think would happen if I created a new dictionary that contained the following definition:
1. voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not his or her spouse.
2. a modern acceptable form of stress relief from marital discomfort and frustrations.
There is nothing negative in this definition. The first one is right from the dictionary, but the second one I made up. How long do you think it would take before this dictionary would be copied and the definition would become the norm? With considerably more secular authority than I have, this is exactly what happened in the fourth century with Constantine regarding the new Christian church and the adoption of pagan rituals and holidays. Sabbath was changed to Sunday and the original was outlawed by the emperor. (see Life, Hope, & Truth, and others for an honest, short answer to the question of changing the day) You can find many sites that tell the truth, then explain why it isn't really the truth even though it is in the history books that way, so be careful.
This move likely led to the freedom the Muslims felt in changing the Sabbath from Saturday to Friday around 609 - 632 AD, called the Day of Assembly, on the recommendation of their Prophet. (Though this is not really a Sabbath for them, just a day of prayer.) After all, the infidels did it, so why can't they? They even claim to have the same God as Abraham, but claim that Ishmael was the one sacrificed, and claim to be his descendants. So, they claim the same God as the Christians and Jews, but follow the life of the other son of Abraham - Ishmael, and claim that the same God wants them to destroy the infidels - that would be you and me.
You can get some idea, with no Biblical references, at About Islam.
For that matter, where did most Christians get the idea that we could arbitrarily stop keeping God's day holy? There are as many opinions on this as there are sites, but none with valid applicable Biblical references.
"I did it my way..."
What we can see without trying too hard is people not just worshipping on a day of their own choosing, which in itself is not wrong as we should worship God every day, but also having a total disregard for God's commanded HOLY day of rest. They don't even "keep" their "sabbath" the way God specified. People go to church on Sunday and then go home to mow the lawn or even make others work by going to restaurants or stores to buy and sell on their "sabbath". And where did the Christians get their day? They say they are doing it because Christ rose on Sunday, but their "prophet" was evidently Constantine, because he made the change in the fourth century. Up until then, except for those convinced by the very anti-Semitic "early church fathers" (see Early Christians and Sunday on this site), they kept the seventh-day Sabbath.
Why the Sabbath?
When God set apart the Sabbath as a day of rest, He had our welfare in mind. He said that it was also a sign of the relationship between Him and His people - those who believe in Him. As we said in the opening paragraphs above, long before He gave the 10 Commandments on Mt. Sinai, God said in Exodus 16:4-5, 23-26
4 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction. 5 "On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily."
23 He said to them, "This is what the Lord commanded: 'Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.' "
24 So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. 25 "Eat it today," Moses said, "because today is a sabbath to the Lord. You will not find any of it on the ground today. 26 Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any."
that He would use the Manna to test the Israelite people to see if they would follow His instructions. How? By telling them not to gather manna on the day He set aside. That day was the Sabbath - the seventh day.
While we are on the subject of God setting aside the day, remember that He made it one of the Ten Commandments, a covenant which the people agreed to keep. That was the "old covenant", entered on Mt. Sinai, ratified with the blood of an ox. Sunday-keepers say that we are under a new covenant with Christ, ratified when He died on the cross with His own blood. When did this covenant get ratified? When He, Jesus, died on the cross. This covenant was the same covenant, but with a more permanent, and more effective, ratification - His blood!
The same rules applied, the same laws that He said would not change in the slightest (Matt 5:18
For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
), but He added His sacrifice to make the effect permanent instead of temporary. What did change was that we can go straight to the Father through Him, and that now we know His ability to forgive our sins permanently as long as we believe in Him.
Hold on, everything did not change
What did not change was the standing command from God to sacrifice animals. Yeah, yeah. But, if this was not so, explain how the Pharisees and the Sadducees could continue to accept Paul as a good Jew (albeit one with supposedly "weird" ideas about a Savior), and let him continue teaching in the synagogues? Remember, he had Timothy circumcised (since he wanted Timothy to help him teach in the synagogues) because the Jews would not let him in unless he was circumcised. They would also certainly have driven Paul out if he had not continued the sacrifices required of every Jew. Check it out before you call me crazy.
Jesus did not interpret the commandments as we do. He sees them as going far beyond the way they were understood even back then. Remember His interpretation in Matt 5:27-28:
27 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
To me, this means that the commandments were not only still in effect, but mean more than they (or we) even thought! So why, after Christ said this to those who were to become Christians, do today's pastors tell us the law never applied to Christians, but then consider it a problem if someone steals or commits adultery? Or, declare that we should keep nine of the commandments, but that the other one is not for us but only for the Israelites?
Changing a covenant?
Can a covenant be changed after ratification? Not unless both parties are present and agree to the change in terms. Now, when did the Sabbath of rest get changed to Sunday worship, no rest, and the discarding of observance of the Sabbath? Centuries after the death of Christ, as I will show later on this page. By whom was it ratified and on what authority? How can man change a covenant with God that has been ratified without a new agreement made by both parties? If this happened, where are the terms of the "new Sunday covenant" in the Word of God, and why weren't we told about it?
If these "new" terms cannot be shown, why must so many fight to separate themselves from a Commandment written in stone - twice? When we say something is written in stone, we mean that whatever it is cannot be changed except by the one who made it that way. So, why doesn't that apply to something that was really written in stone by the One who supposedly really matters to us above all else? But the most important question we should ask is, what does God think of this change of His law?
Who said you could do that?
Have you ever wondered why the fourth commandment starts with the word "Remember"? Many people today worship because they want to show their respect for God, fellowship with others, and share the gospel with those who do not know or understand its nature. These are all commendable reasons for worship. However, if you think of it in a slightly different way, perhaps a more complete picture will emerge.
Though the dates for the change to Sunday vary depending on with whom you discuss the subject, God's fourth commandment has been set aside for a new set of rules. When you ask any Sunday-keeping Christian why they worship on Sunday, they say to honor Christ who rose on Sunday. Christ, by the way, kept the Sabbath and worshipped on every day of the week. He never approved of this rule change, it was made by people. The fourth commandment clearly states that the Sabbath is the seventh day.
Why the Sabbath? - Paul kept it!
In case anyone is confused by which is the seventh day, He spelled it out in the wilderness for forty years. The Jews know which day it is, and so do Sunday Christians. People say the Sabbath was for the Israelites and Jews only. Well, what about Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.
? That term "all mankind" is translated from the Hebrew word ha'adam, meaning man, men or human being. You can see the Hebrew/English definition at Bible Hub. The definition is for 'adam, but you can see the different occurrences and the forms of the word on that page, including ha'adam, and the interlinear definition for Ecclesiastes 12:13. The verses mean that it is the duty of all men (every person), not just Israelites, to fear God and keep His commandments.
Also, read Isaiah chapter 56 - it clarifies who is blessed by keeping the Sabbath. It seems funny to me that Christians say they want to be just like Jesus, except they do not want to do the things He did, worship the way He did, or even keep the same day He did (and, by His own statement, the day of which He was the Lord). But for some reason, these Christians cannot, or will not, explain why they feel it is OK to change the rules without any scriptural reason. In fact, there are many New Testament reasons to keep the Sabbath.
He was a good Jew, but broke the Sabbath?
Many people say that Paul kept Sunday. They even quote several vague interpretations of scriptures that they twist to mean that the fourth commandment was somehow sneakily set aside by God without telling anyone. Acts 13:42
As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath.
relates that some Gentiles that had heard Paul speak in the synagogue on the Sabbath wanted him to return again the next Sabbath.
Now, if the Gentiles were visiting in the synagogue on the Sabbath, but were really, as the Sunday-keepers hold, worshipping regularly on Sunday, wouldn't they ask him to "come back tomorrow"? Not only did they ask him to return the next Sabbath, he returned the next three Sabbaths. What happened when Paul showed up the next Sabbath? The whole city turned out for the Word of God and the Sabbath rest. Doesn't sound like anything was changed to Sunday to me.
"Sunday is my sabbath"
Another thing that seems funny to me is, as mentioned earlier, for those who say they "keep" Sunday, they do not keep it as God said to keep the Sabbath. Now, we should probably define the word "keep" so that, once again, we are all together. The following list came from the site at Merriam Webster. Some of the brackets(<>) were changed to parentheses () because they affected my page formatting, but the rest is word for word from their definition (take a peek at 1:b:)
Definition of keep
(kept \'kept\; keeping)
1: to take notice of by appropriate conduct : fulfill: as
a: to be faithful to (keep a promise)
b: to act fittingly in relation to (keep the Sabbath)
c: to conform to in habits or conduct (keep late hours)
d: to stay in accord with (a beat, i.e. keep time)
2: preserve, maintain: as
a: to watch over and defend (keep us from harm)
b: (1): to take care of : tend (keep a garden)
(3): to maintain in a good, fitting, or orderly condition - usually used with up
c: to continue to maintain (keep watch)
d: (1): to cause to remain in a given place, situation, or condition (keep him waiting)
(2): to preserve (food) in an unspoiled condition
e: (1): to have or maintain in an established position or relationship (keep a mistress) - often used with on (kept the cook on)
(2): to lodge or feed for pay (keep boarders)
f: (1): to maintain a record in (keep a diary)
(2): to enter in a book (keep records)
g: to have customarily in stock for sale
3: a: to restrain from departure or removal : detain (keep children after school)
b: hold back, restrain (keep them from going) (kept him back with difficulty)
c: save, reserve (keep some for later) (kept some out for a friend)
d: to refrain from revealing (keep a secret)
4: a: to retain in one's possession or power <kept the money we found>
b: to refrain from granting, giving, or allowing (kept the news back)
c: to have in control (keep your temper)
5: to confine oneself to (keep my room)
6: a: to stay or continue in (keep the path) (keep your seat)
b: to stay or remain on or in usually against opposition : hold (kept her ground)
7: conduct, manage (keep a tearoom)
1: chiefly British : live, lodge
2: a: to maintain a course, direction, or progress (keep to the right)
b: to continue usually without interruption (keep talking) (keep quiet) (keep on smiling)
c: to persist in a practice (kept bothering them) (kept on smoking in spite of warnings)
3: stay, remain (keep out of the way)(keep off the grass): as:
a: to stay even - usually used with up (keep up with the Joneses)
b: to remain in good condition (meat will keep in the freezer)
c: to remain secret (the secret would keep)
d: to call for no immediate action (the matter will keep until morning)
4: abstain, refrain (can't keep from talking)
5: to be in session (school will keep through the winter - W. M. Thayer)
6: of a quarterback: to retain possession of a football especially after faking a handoff
keep an eye on
It's pretty certain that you will find your definition of the word in there somewhere, but it's also interesting that one of the primary (as in listed first) definitions of the word "keep" was in reference to the Sabbath in one of the most well-known dictionaries in the world.
"I don't believe in keeping God's Sabbath."
So, the way most Sunday-keepers keep Sunday, while ignoring the Sabbath, is not the way the Lord defined it, as you will see elsewhere in this site. We are to refrain from work, buying and selling, and seeking our own pleasure for one 24-hour period every week. And the only other difference for them if they decided to keep the Sabbath is that they would do exactly the same worship things, only do it on the Sabbath. There would be no functional difference in the service worshipping the Father who created the Sabbath expressly for the purpose of rest and worship.
Well, they would lose Friday night "party night". Since the Sabbath starts at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on "Saturday", this is a tremendous roadblock for many Sunday-keepers. This is a large reason why anyone would change something important enough to God that He would write it in stone - twice - to make His point. Who would suggest that anyone do that? OK, there is one being who would suggest doing that in order to defy God - that would be the god of this world.
It's amazing how a term can create such emotion in an individual. Whether you believe in God or not, the word "Sabbath" evokes an emotional response. Right, wrong, fear, joy, strictness, liberation, warmth, coldness, love, and a multitude of other subjects and feelings flood through us as we sort through our positions on this decidedly God-based word. Why is it such an emotional issue?
If you keep Sunday, can you say why? If you read the Bible without any input from others, which day would you choose based on God's word? Many say, "Because that's the day that Jesus rose from the dead." Fair enough, that is at least a reason to worship on Sunday, but when did He say to change the orders He gave for the seventh-day Sabbath and break the fourth commandment?
Jesus' custom, and those of His apostles and disciples, was to keep the Sabbath and worship God every day. Of the 12 references to, or mentions of, the first day of the week in the New Testament, six are mentioned to specify the day He rose, without any instruction to change the Sabbath to another day (Matt 28:1
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
, Mark 16:2
Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb
, Mark 16:9
When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.
, Luke 24:1
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
, John 20:1
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.
, John 20:19 (NIV)
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"
) . Which one of the other six (John 20:26
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"
, Acts 20:7
On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.
, Acts 2:1
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
(Pentecost is always on Sunday), Acts 2:41
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
, 1 Cor 16:2
On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
) indicates that God changed His mind about the day he told us to "remember" forever?
They've been doing this for centuries, but now it's different?
Some try to use Acts 20:7, but there are too many problems with that because most "scholars" do not interpret this verse in accordance with the practice of the Jews which give its intended meaning. More on that in the box below. Luke, the author of Acts, mentioned in the previous verse the fact that the Days of Unleavened Bread were still in effect and had recently passed, and he may not even have been a Jew. So why would they (Jews and Gentiles) keep at least one important festival of the law, but change the sacred day of rest and worship?
Also, after a mention of the need to eat regularly, there is a traditional worship service called Havdalah performed at the end of every Sabbath (more on this later), and the session was a need for Paul to talk to them, not necessarily to preach to them. Where is the indication that a new day of worship has been assigned by anyone, much less Jesus? Also, why do you never hear about what the important part of this passage is all about - the death and revival of a young man?
"Quick, look over there!"
Let's take a look at some of the "Sunday-supporting" passages listed in the previous paragraph to see if they indicate a change of days important to God.
Hiding is worshiping?
JOHN 20:26 - Just prior to this in verse 19, the story mentions that the disciples are hiding in fear of the Jews on the first day of the week. Then in verse 26, they are again in the room when Jesus visits them to show Thomas that He is alive. The doors of the room were locked, demonstrating that the circumstances were the same as a week before. This is hardly a typical gathering to indicate a new day for worship. On the contrary, there is no mention of any reason for their gathering other than fear.
A Jewish ceremony is a reason to change?
ACTS 20:7 - This is a favorite of those who like Sunday over the Sabbath, but it is actually referring to a ceremony marking the end of the Sabbath and the beginning of a new week. It's called Havdalah. According to Wikipedia, "Havdalah" (Hebrew for "separation") is a Jewish religious ceremony that marks the symbolic end of Sabbath and Jewish holidays, and ushers in the new week. The ritual involves lighting a special havdalah candle with several wicks, blessing a cup of wine and smelling sweet spices. Shabbat ends on Saturday night after the appearance of three stars in the sky. Some communities delay the Havdalah in order to prolong Shabbat by adding a meal.
This ceremony, also called Motza'ei-Shabbat, is the reason the apostles and disciples were gathered in the room where Paul decided to address the group until after midnight since he was leaving the next day. This is a derivative of the 4th commandment, specifically the phrase "keep it holy" (see About Religion for more information on the meaning and origins of Havdalah). Since most scholars agree that this gathering was likely on Sabbath evening (Saturday night), it had nothing to do with establishing a new worship day that would "replace" the holy Sabbath of God. Even the Interlinear Bible uses the Hebrew words for "the one of the Sabbaths", though the ceremony takes place after sundown, thus the first day of the week. The ending of the Sabbath and the ceremony a few minutes later are one and the same event. This is not a new call to worship on any certain day.
A Jewish Holiday is a reason to change a Jewish command?
ACTS 2:1 - This one is a beauty. Sunday keepers say that this is an example of the believers keeping "the first day of the week" as a newly established day of worship. Well, if you check Jewish history, culture, and language, you will find that the Pentecost is the last day of the Festival of Weeks. This Festival is to be observed as God specified in Lev 23:15-16:
"15From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. 16Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD."
O.K., for you mathematicians, if you start with the day after the Sabbath (that would be Sunday), count off fifty days to get to the High Sabbath called Pentecost, what day does it fall on? Sunday, every time. Now, if that day is to be a special day, established by God in Leviticus (that would be before Jesus was born on earth), and you find Jews and Gentiles celebrating it, would you consider that a "new" day set up by the early church...? They always kept this Festival on the same day of the week every year because God told them to do so. Not a new day of worship.
Pentecost is a reason to violate the Sabbath?
ACTS 2:14 - This is a direct result of the Holy Spirit being with them because they were following the commands of God.
Gather some food for the brothers, and by the way, don't keep the Sabbath any more?
1 COR 16:2 - This one is probably my favorite. Sunday-keepers point to it as though it is an indisputable reference to the right of the church to collect money on their day of worship (Sunday). Without getting too deep into wordiness, this has never made sense to me. Basically, there are some saints in Jerusalem who are going through a tough time (Acts 11:28-30
28One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. 30This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
), whether because of famine or by persecution or both. The usual reason given is famine. Now, a famine is a food shortage, which means, oddly enough, there is a shortage of food. So, if Paul is advising people to gather anything for transport to the saints, what would they gather that would help the most?
Notice that the term "money" is used in this verse in nearly every Bible translation, yet the Greek interlinear never uses that term, but merely mentions a "collection for the saints". Also notice that the instructions were to have people set aside in store on "the first day of the week". Since they were not to be doing any work on the Sabbath, he had them do it on a workday. Now, packing up things like food and supplies on the Sabbath would be work. But how hard is it to collect money at church, especially if they knew in advance to bring it? Paul did not want to have to wait around for collections to happen after he came. Why? Collecting the money would take no time at all, but gathering food and clothing would take time.
Rather than go into this too deep here, if you are curious, check out Principles for Giving to the Needy or see the site at Was the Sabbath Changed to Sunday?.
The Lord's Day?
Well, there is one verse that "everyone" claims is referring to the first day of the week, but - you can't get there from here. That is Rev. 1:10
On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,
, referring to "the Lord's Day". Well, if you cannot show any valid reference to a change of days that is supported by the word of God, why would the "Lord's Day" refer to anything other than either the end-time "Day of the Lord", or better yet, the Sabbath itself? For some reason, even the major bible scholars, well-known preachers, and the editors of the Bible say this is referring to the day we call Sunday. I have a small challenge for you and them. Find any passage in the Bible where Jesus claims to have a relationship with a day. There is only one instance - described in Matt 12:8
"For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
, Mark 2:28
28 "So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."
and Luke 6:5
5 Then Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
, and He is not referring to Sunday. So, if a claim is going to say which day of the week is the "Lord's Day", it is THE Sabbath.
Again, if you read the Bible from cover to cover, with no outside input, which day would you conclude is God's chosen, indeed, commanded, day? Why, if you do, do you worship on Sunday? Many of you have been given chapter and verse to use in defense of your choice, but have you read those verses to see if they are speaking of Sunday, or the weekly seventh-day Sabbath, or something else not related to a day of rest or worship?
Judging others by the day they keep?
Here is a passage that virtually everyone uses to say that we cannot be criticised for keeping Sunday. However, what does this passage actually say?
"Do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration, or a Sabbath Day." (Col 2:16 NIV).
The statement here is not even speaking of the seventh-day Sabbath, but is referring to the special days of the Festivals (the beginning and ending days of which are also called Sabbaths, see Lev 23:39
"'So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the LORD for seven days; the first day is a day of sabbath rest, and the eighth day also is a day of sabbath rest.'"
). The point is that the Gentiles are not required to become Jews or to keep the Festivals if they do not wish to do so. This passage is saying that, whether or not they decide to keep the festivals, no one should judge them either way. More on this below.
Can we possibly make this more confusing?
Another passage is constantly used out of context because it actually refers to matters other than its main use. In Romans 14:5, Paul says:
"One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind."
Many use this passage to show that we no longer need to keep the Sabbath. However, if you read the notes in your NIV study Bible (not familiar with all other study bible versions, but they are likely the same), you see the following note for verse 5:
"14:5 one day more sacred than another. Some feel that this refers primarily to the Sabbath, but it is probably a reference to all the special days of the OT ceremonial law. considers every day alike. All days are to be dedicated to God through holy living and godly service. fully convinced in his own mind. The importance of personal conviction and of a correct conscience in disputable matters of conduct runs through this passage "
Not only that, but look at Romans 14:1, and then apply the statements to 14:5 regarding the real subject matter of Romans 14:
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.
This whole chapter has to do with things not made clear in the word of God, not commands that are very clear.
There is one verse...
In the interests of being thorough, there is one verse that made me curious with regard to the keeping of the Sabbath. In Exodus 35:3
3Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.
, Moses said something that made me wonder whether the Sabbath was still valid for today's Christian. What about this lighting of a fire in their dwellings?
While I found nothing definitive, since it is never mentioned again in the Bible, a multitude of commentaries apply study and reasoning to this statement in Exodus. The most common understanding is that this statement was made by Moses to the Israelites during the communication of the work that was to be done on the building of the tabernacle, and referred to the building of a fire to make tools, melt gold for articles, and other tabernacle work that was only to be done during the other six days of the week.
Since there has never been a continuation of this prohibition, even for the non-Messianic Jews, for their regular sacrifices and other cooking on the Sabbath, it was determined to apply to the tabernacle work, not normal life activity such as warmth and food preparation. While this could be the wrong way to look at it, it falls into line with the teachings of the Bible and the activity of God's people. To believe otherwise is to place a hardship on the sick and the older people required to live in the homes. This doesn't seem to fit with what we know about God and His mercy.
Just follow God's instructions...
It is easy to see how many do not go beyond the point where they find what they want to see, even if it makes a mockery of the text and the real meaning of the passage. Of course, there are disputable matters where the scripture meaning depends on an understanding of the culture and/or language of the time. This will allow that gray area to be undefined. However, there are no Biblical instances in which even suggest that the seventh-day Sabbath has been discarded or even made "disputable" by either Jesus or His Father. Nor, for that matter, were any of the Ten Commandments.
God passed Moses a lot of instructions to write down regarding eating, drinking, festivals, new moon celebrations, and sabbath days. Many know that when Jesus Christ died for us, He ratified a new covenant that no longer required the many blood sacrifices to cover our sins. His once for all act saved us from ourselves if we believe in Him and obey the commandments of God. But what is in that new covenant? Those "saving" actions are no longer required by the law in order for us to be saved, but the commands for the ceremonial sacrifices were never removed. That's why they were still being performed in the first century church, and why they will again be performed on earth right before Jesus returns. (see the page at Sacrifices for Biblical references as proof of this statement.)
Many are still the same.
However, how do we know that those actions are not still required by God for those who do not accept Jesus as the Messiah - or even for those who do? Not for salvation, mind you, but as a display of obedience. You can say what you want, but without references, it is only opinion. In fact, Paul kept all the commandments, including sacrifices, as did all Jews because the temple was not destroyed until 70 A.D. Notice that Paul was never criticized by the non-Messianic Jews for not keeping the whole law as commanded by God. If he had not followed the sacrificial laws, they would have said so - loudly.
Paul did say that they were no longer necessary to obtain salvation as that only comes from Christ. But, here again, since there was no command from God or Jesus for the Jews to stop the practice as commanded, the Jews were still under obligation to perform the rituals for the Festivals. And Paul was a Christian Jew.
Is your faith weak or strong when you follow God?
Now, some Jews and Christians of weak faith will want to keep those laws because they think if they would save us once, they will still save us. However, in Col 2:16
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
, Paul reminds us that these were the things that pointed to the "cross" and are only to be kept by those who want to do so as something between them and God or Jesus - not do something that would save them. No one should judge them for doing so - or not doing so, they just won't save them. This is why he mentioned "a Sabbath day", one of the sabbaths that are common to all the Festival days (called High Sabbaths).
He did not say that this choosing was acceptable for "the Sabbath Day", or any of the ten commandments, as these are not those things that look forward to Jesus' sacrifice. If they were, we can add all the ten commandments to those discarded laws, and treat them all as gone. This is the claim of most Christians today. The trouble with that is that then we do not have to keep #1, or #2, or #6, or #7, since these are also part of the commandments given by the voice and the very hand of God "only to the Israelites". If one does not matter, then none matter.
How does that work?
How does that kind of thinking fit into the lists found throughout the New Testament that describe the kind of people that will not enter the Kingdom of God, indeed will not enter "Heaven"? Is there a new list that Jesus will use to judge everyone at the End Times? Will Jesus unveil a new list that He has not given us, or will He use the one that contains the laws he used to answer the rich man's question in Matthew 19:16-19
16Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"
17"Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments."
18"Which ones?" he inquired.
Jesus replied, "'You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19honor your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'"
? You say the new commandments are written on our hearts, but what is actually written on our hearts?
What is the intent of the verse in Col 2:16
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
? If you, a Gentile, are doing these ceremonial and ritual things (Paul calls these "disputable matters" for the Gentiles), no one should judge. If you are NOT doing these things, no one should judge (Romans 14
1Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2One person's faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
5One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
10You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. 11It is written:
" 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord,
'every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.' "
12So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
13Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
19Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
22So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
). The point is that disputable matters are not hard and fast rules, as are the 10 commandments. The verses that follow say to not let someone without a foundation in Christ lead you astray. The problem comes in if you are doing these things in order to be saved, without faith in Christ.
Go back to verse 2:14
having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
in Colossians. This is the standard response given to prove that the 10 commandments were abolished and we no longer have to obey the law. If that is the case, then why do Paul and John refer to the fact that NO bad people will enter eternal life? (Rev. 21:8
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur.
) If the Law is gone, there is no measure of good and bad, right and wrong. You can "Love God..." and "Love your neighbor...", break the fourth commandment, murder, steal, worship other gods in addition to YHWH, and everyone will still be saved. Heaven will look just like Earth does now with everyone telling God what they are going to do, not the other way around. No Thanks.
Man's law and God's Law
Let's compare the Law of God to the law of man. When you carelessly break a traffic law by driving like an idiot, and get caught, you get a ticket. You don't go to jail when you get the ticket, but you are given a date by which to pay the fine, or you can let someone know you want to contest it and get a court date. You are now under the law, but are generally left as a free person to move about and live your normal life. This includes the possibility of breaking the same law that caused you to get the ticket in the first place. You are free, that is, until you go past the pay date or the court date without some kind of action. This ticket is a "certificate of indebtedness" you owe to society. As long as you continue without the required action, you are under the law and owe the "debt to society".
Now, at this point, there are several options available to you. You can pay the ticket using the currency of the day. If you are broke, you can ask someone else to pay the ticket. Or you can go to court and convince the judge that you "blah, blah, blah " and do not deserve the ticket. Now, the judge can either throw you in jail, reduce the fine, or say he believes you and dismiss the ticket. Let's say he dismisses the ticket. Usually that mercy will come with a statement something like, "If I hear of you getting another speeding ticket, I will throw the book at you. Now get out of here."
"Ah, now I can do it again..."
Now, whether you paid, had someone pay, or the ticket was dismissed, you are free and no longer "under the law", but the traffic laws are still out there. Are you going to go out and drive recklessly again? Remember what Jesus told the adulterous woman that He had kept from a stoning (John 8:10-11
10Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
11"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."
). When Jesus asked her if even one of her accusers still condemned her, she said "No, Lord,". But, then did He tell her to "go on her way and let no man judge her actions"? Nope. Jesus said, "Neither do I. Go and sin no more." She still had the same social restrictions on her actions that she had before she was caught. That was not a "new freedom in Christ" for her to continue as before or to ignore her clear responsibilities, but a warning that there are consequences to her actions and it is her duty to conform to her responsibilities as a "new" representative of Christ's compassion.
Or, what about John 5:14
Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you."
when Jesus found the man He had healed the man by the pool at Bethesda. Again, He didn't tell him that he was forgiven for every sin he would ever commit, as many "Christians" today claim. He issued a warning that, since he was now cleansed and fresh, he is to stop sinning because there are consequences if he doesn't. How else do you take His words?
Jesus released us ROR (Released on our Own Recognizance)
The written code Paul referred to in Col 2:14
having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
is that "certificate of indebtedness" we owe to God because of our sin. It is, in effect, a ticket requiring our death that we all have because of the actions of Adam and Eve. Jesus Christ is that judge who says "If you promise not to go on living against the rules, I will remove that debt you owe by dying for you." That is called a covenant, the "new" one. Christ forgave that indebtedness if we just accept His gift on the cross, stop continuing to sin, and then treat others in the same way.
Look at the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:21-35
21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?"
22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26"At this the servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. 29"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.'
30"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart."
. The servant who was forgiven did not mend his ways, so his debt was restored. If we do not follow through, then that "certificate" is brought back down from the cross, and we will still owe that full debt to God - but the debt is death (Romans 6:23
23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
). That doesn't sound like the law is gone. I know that sounds hard, but look how people live when they do not believe there is One out there who gives tickets, or even that they already have a ticket. Those who think "once saved, always saved" must be careful - there is a path back to destruction for any of us who abuse the Gift.
Remember, the path is narrow and few are those who find it
So what is Col 2:16
16Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
all about? Samuele Bacchiocchi clearly shows in his book From Sabbath to Sunday that this is in reference to the Colossian heresy of the day that says one must follow strict rituals and rites to obtain salvation (see verse 8
8See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ.
). His point is that rites and rituals will not save us, in fact were never designed to do so, even if they are given to us by God. They will, however, demonstrate our obedience to God. Christ is our salvation, if we accept Him. Thinking that these pagan practices, or even merely following God's commandments without fully accepting Christ will save us regardless of how we live, is absolutely wrong. First accept Christ, then obeying God's commandments will be a sign of faith, not the means to salvation. One of those commandments is to keep the Sabbath day as holy to God.
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