Answer: Yes, it is. So is your neighbor's wife, his property, and even his life. Nevertheless, the unlawful treatment of any of these constitutes sin. In the Scripture, there is never a distinction made between "physical" and "spiritual" transgressions.
- "The Sabbath is a 'physical' thing."
"Mark 7:21-22 enumerates thirteen sins, and not one of them is sabbath breaking."
Answer: The sins of idolatry, bearing false witness, having other gods before the Lord (as well as many other sins) are not mentioned in Mark 7:21-22 either. Just because a sin is not "repeated" in this passage, or anywhere else in the New Testament, does not mean it is no longer a sin. This fact has no bearing on whether a law is still in force or not. Scripture never says to use this criteria to discern if a law has passed or not.
"When Jesus was asked, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?", He said to keep the commandments, then cited the Ten Commandments. But Jesus did not repeat the 4th commandment (Matthew 19:16-17, Luke 18:18-20, Mark 10:17-19). Therefore, the 4th Commandment is no longer binding upon us!"
Answer: Using this logic, we must say that five of the ten Commandments are no longer binding upon us. Because Jesus only quoted five of the Ten Commandments above. Jesus did not repeat the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 10th commandments; does that mean all those commandments are no longer binding upon us? Does that mean we can worship other gods, bow down before graven images, blapheme God, and covet now, just because Jesus did not repeat them verbatim? Of course not. And to say that the 4th commandment is no longer binding, while saying, at the same time, that the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 10th Commandments are still binding, because Jesus did not repeat any of them in this passage, would be inconsistent. Because one would have to include all five commandments, since all five were not repeated.
"All ten of God's Commandments are repeated in the New Testament books except the Fourth Commandment. Therefore it is not God's intention that the Sabbath continue in the New Testament era."
Answer: This idea is called the "Silent Scriptures" argument, similar to the above objections. To illustrate why we cannot use this argument to discern if a law has passed away or not, consider the fact that nowhere in the New Testament is the sin of having sex with an animal repeated in the New Testament. To lie with an animal is not even mentioned in God's Ten Commandments, but the sin of having sexual pleasure with an animal is vigorously stated to be sinful by Christian clergy! Why? Didn't they just say "if something isn't repeated in the New Testament, then we don't have to obey it"? Yes. But they admit their argument doesn't hold up when it comes to laying with an animal, and neither does it hold up when it comes to the Sabbath.
Whether something is repeated in the New Testament or not has no bearing as to whether it is still binding or not. There are many, many sins not listed in the New Testament scripture, yet they are still a sin under the New Testament. God's definition of good and evil does not change.
But the New Testament is not quite as silent about the Sabbath as some people would have you believe. While the Fourth Commandment is never repeated verbatim in the New Testament, there is more dialogue in the four Gospels addressing the sabbath than any of the other nine commandments. Out of the 613 laws of God in the Old Testament scripture, the sabbath is mentioned more times than any of them! What the New Testament does tell us about the Sabbath is that Jesus regularly rested and worshipped on the 7th day Sabbath (Luke 4:16). So did the pious women (one of whom was his mother) who had been with Jesus keep it, even after Jesus' death (Mark 16:1-2, Luke 23:56). (Did Jesus forget to tell his Mom that the sabbath was to cease at the cross?) So did Paul and the other apostles (Acts 13:14). So did all the Jewish and Gentile converts to Christ (Acts 13:42-44). Then why would anyone expect Jesus or His disciples to command these people to do something they were already faithfully doing?
And, by the way, why would a Sunday-keeping Christian insist on a New Testament command to keep the Sabbath holy when he already worships on Sunday without a single Bible command to keep Sunday holy? You see, this "Silent Scriptures" argument is crooked logic and it flies in the face of both Scripture and the examples of Jesus and the apostles.
"As Christians, we are to keep the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law."
Yes, we are to keep the spirit of the law, but does that mean we can disregard the letter?
"Thou shalt not commit adultery" is the letter of the law. Jesus said if we "lust" after these women, we have committed adultery in our heart. This is the spirit of the law. Would it be okay to say "Well, I will keep the spirit of the law by not lusting after my neighbor's wife, I will just rape her, but I won't lust after her while I rape her." Is it possible to keep the spirit of the law while breaking the letter of the law at the same time? No.
"Thou shalt not kill" is the letter of the law. Jesus said to not be angry with our brother. This is the spirit of the law. Would it be okay to say, "Well, I will keep the spirit of the law by not being angry with my brother, I will just be a serial murderer, but I won't be angry with anyone while I kill my brothers." Is it possible to keep the spirit of the law while breaking the letter of the law at the same time? No.
"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD" is the letter of the law. Is it possible to keep the spirit of the law while breaking the letter of the law at the same time? No.
"As Christians, we are under grace and thus aren't supposed to keep the Sabbath."
Answer: Think about this; Acts 13:42-44 says a congregation of Gentiles were gathered together on the Sabbath day to listen to Paul's preaching. More than this, they all came back the next Sabbath to hear more. But did you notice Paul did not tell them to come back on Sunday instead of Saturday because they were "under grace"? As a matter of fact, in the city of Corinth, for a year and a half, Paul taught "in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks" (Acts 18:4-11). Why were non-Jews going to the synagogue on the sabbath day, if Sunday was their day?
Furthermore, Paul specifically upheld God's Law and said it was applicable to all bondservants of Christ (Romans 3:31, I Corinthians 7:19). He also said that being under grace does not give us a license to sin (Romans 6:15). Paul also said that God's Law is "holy, righteous and good" (Romans 7:12).
So why would Christians twist his words to mean that being "under grace" gives them a license to break God's fourth commandment by substituting some other day for the 7th day? Would Sunday keeping Christians use the very same logic and say that being "under grace" means they can break God's sixth commandment: "You shall not murder?" Did God say, "You shall not murder except when you are under grace?" No. Being "under grace" simply means the blood of Christ has forgiven us and we are no longer under the condemnation of the Law - it does not mean we are free to sin by disobeying God.
"The Lord's Day is Sunday."
Answer: Only because of man's tradition is Sunday referred to as the "Lord's Day." However, Christians are not to blindly follow tradition, they are to follow Jesus through His Word (Mark 7:7-9). The Word of God says: "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." (Col.2:8).
The term "Lord's Day" appears only one time in the entire scripture (Revelation 1:10). It is never associated with Sunday in this verse, nor any other verse. John, who wrote the book of Revelation, also wrote the Gospel of John after he wrote the book of Revelation. When referring to Sunday in John, he calls it "the first day of the week" (John 20:1,19), and never as the "Lord's day". John didn't consider Sunday the Lord's Day, because if he did, he would have said so in the Gospel of John.
The "Lord's Day," if it refers to a day of the week, must be the day that Jesus himself claimed as His day. What day did Jesus claim was his? Jesus tells us "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath"' (Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28, Luke 6:5). So, in context, which day is the "Lord's Day" according to Christ's own words? The Sabbath, the seventh day of the week!
However, the book of Revelation is a highly symbolic book, and the "Lord's Day" might not be referring to any specific day of the week at all. The context of John's vision transported him into the future, to the 2nd coming of Christ. Elsewhere in the New Testament, the future coming of Jesus has been called the "day of the Lord" (Acts 2:20, 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Peter 3:10), or the "day of the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:8), or the "day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Corinthians 5:5, 2 Corinthians 1:14), or the "day of Christ" (Philippians 1:10; 2:16, 2 Thessalonians 2:2). These terms are not speaking of a specific day, but to the events surrounding the return of Jesus. This is the theme of the book of Revelation and the "Lord's Day" that John saw in his vision.
By twisting the Scriptures, a deceptive philosophy developed into a tradition claiming Sunday as the "Lord's Day". Never in the scripture is the term "Lord's Day" ever applied to the first day of the week!
"The Sabbath was made for Jews."
Answer: This falsehood has gained such strength that multitudes of Christians refer to it as the "Jewish Sabbath." But nowhere do we find such an expression in the scripture. It is called "the sabbath of the Lord," but never "the sabbath of the Jews" (Exodus 20:10).
Luke often made reference to things which were peculiarly Jewish. He spoke of the "nation of the Jews" (Acts 10:22), the "people of the Jews" (Acts 12:11), the "land of the Jews" (Acts 10:39), the "law of the Jews" (Acts 25:8), and the "synagogue of the Jews" (Acts 14:1; 17:1,10,17). But please note that Luke never referred to the "sabbath of the Jews," although he mentioned the Sabbath repeatedly.
John also made references to things which were peculiarly Jewish. He spoke of the "people of the Jews" (John 12:9), the "Jews' feast of tabernacles" (John 7:2), the "feast of the Jews" (John 5:1), "the passover, a feast of the Jews" (John 6:4), and the "Jews' Passover" (John 2:13; 11:55). But please note that John never referred to the "Jews' Sabbath", although he mentioned the Sabbath repeatedly.
But what did Jesus say? That the sabbath was made for Jews? No! Jesus said: "The sabbath was made for man" (Mark 2:27), for all men. The Greek word translated here as "man" is "anthropos" meaning "people, whether male or female". This Greek word is never translated as "Jew" or "Israel" anywhere in the New Testament books. This word is translated as "man" 552 times, and each time it is translated as "man," it refers to all men.
The fact is that Adam was the only man in existence at the time God made the Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3). There were no Jews in the world for at least 2,300 years after creation. It could never have been made for them. "Man" is also used in connection with the institution of marriage which was also introduced at creation. Certainly no one believes that marriage was made only for the Jews.
And the fact that God specifically gave his Sabbath day to the stranger, as well as to the Jews, is proof that the Sabbath was not given exclusively for Jews, but for whoever else wishes to serve the Lord (Isaiah 56:1-8, Exodus 20:10).
"God gave Israel the Sabbath to memorialize their deliverance from Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15, Ezekiel 20:10-12)."
Answer: Some people draw from this text that God gave the Sabbath as a memorial of the Exodus from Egypt. But the Genesis story of the making of the Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3) and the wording of the fourth commandment by God Himself (Exodus 20:11) reveals the Sabbath as a memorial of creation (Psalm 111:4). These verses are not a reason for the sabbath, but an incentive to obey the sabbath. It was not unusual for God to hark back to the Egyptian deliverance as an incentive to obey other commandments.
In a similar vein, God had commanded his children not to oppress the stranger in Leviticus 19:33-34, because his children were once "strangers in the land of Egypt." Surely this command existed prior to the Exodus, and is not limited only to Jews. In Deuteronomy 24:17-18, the command to be just was not given to memorialize the Exodus (neither was the Sabbath) but God told them that His goodness in bringing them out of captivity constituted a strong additional reason for their dealing kindly with their servants on the Sabbath and treating justly the strangers and widows. Otherwise, you must say that the command to be just was given because God redeemed them from Egypt.
In the same way, God spoke to them in Leviticus 11:45 concerning holiness. Surely no one would insist that this command to be holy did not exist before the Exodus, or that it would be ever afterwards limited only to the Jews, to memorialize their deliverance. Notice the similar wording between Deuteronomy 5:15 (concerning the sabbath) and Leviticus 11:45 (concerning holiness).
Deuteronomy 5:15, "And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day."
Leviticus 11:45, "For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy."
"If the Sabbath is still binding today, then so is the penalty for its violation, death (Exodus 31:14-15; 35:2)!"
Answer: Dear reader, was it a sin to steal before Jesus died? Yes. Was it a sin to steal after he died? Yes. Therefore, the sin of stealing is still binding today. If the sin of stealing is still binding today, then is the death penalty for its violation still binding? No, it's not. Then why do you say that the death penalty is still binding on his 4th commandment, and not his 6th? The fact is, it was a sin to break the Ten Commandments before Jesus died, as well as after.
Now, what was the penalty for breaking these 10 commandments before Jesus died? Death.
Having other gods before God (Exodus 22:20, Deuteronomy 18:20), or preaching to others to worship other gods (Deuteronomy 13:5).
Serving other gods (Deuteronomy 13:6-10), or communicating with spirits (Leviticus 20:27).
Taking the Lords' name in vain (Leviticus 24:16), or trespassing on sacred ground (Exodus 19:12).
Working on the sabbath (Exodus 31:14-15; 35:2, Num.15:35).
Not honouring thy father and mother (Exodus 21:15,17, Leviticus 20:9).
Murdering (Exodus 21:12, Leviticus 24:17,21, Numbers 35:16-31), even if owner's animal kills someone (Exodus 21:29).
Adultery (Leviticus 20:10), homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13), rape (Deuteronomy 22:25), sleeping with animals (Exodus 22:19, Leviticus 20:15-16).
Stealing (Exodus 21:16, Leviticus 5:6,19; 6:2,5, Deuteronomy 24:7).
Bearing false witness (Leviticus 6:1-6, Deuteronomy 19:16-19, Proverbs 19:9; 21:28).
Coveting (leads to above sins).
Is the penalty for breaking one of the Ten Commandments today, still physical death? No. Why not? Because Christ died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3), and he redeemed us from the curse of the law (Gal.3:13). Physical death, the shedding of blood, is no longer required for committing sin, because Jesus shed his blood for us (Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24). So if there is no more death penalty for breaking 9 of the commandments, there is no more penalty for breaking the 4th commandment, the sabbath.
"The Law did not exist before Moses received it at Sinai."
Answer: Wrong! Dead wrong! The scripture tells us "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." (I John 3:4). When Adam disobeyed God in Eden he "sinned" (Romans 5:12). How could Adam be called a sinner clear back in Eden if God had no law back then to define sin? When Cain was thinking about murdering his brother Able, God warned him: "sin lieth at the door." (Genesis 4:7). How could God warn Cain he was about to sin, and then place him under a curse for murdering his brother, if God had no law back then prohibiting murder? And how did Cain, and "every one" else on "earth," know that the penalty for a murderer was death (Genesis 4:14-15) if God had no law revealing this? How could God tell that mankind had become exceedingly corrupt and evil if there was no Divine Law that they had broken (Genesis 6:11-13)? What justification did God have for destroying the world by the Flood if the people were unaware of His law?
How did King Abimelech (the Philistine king of Gerar, a heathen) know adultery was wrong, and that the penalty was death (Genesis 20:1-7; 26:7-11)? As did Joseph (Genesis 39:9)? How did Jacob know stealing was wrong (Genesis 30:33; 31)? The answer is obvious, because God's Law DID exist before Moses, before Jews existed in the world. God Himself said of Abraham that he, "...obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws" (Genesis 26.5). Did you read that? How could Abraham have obeyed God's commandments and laws unless God had already given it to him? God's Law, His Ten Commandments, did exist before Moses repeated them.
As a matter of fact, there were blood sacrifices in the Garden of Eden! After Adam and Eve sinned, God clothed them in skins that were taken off animals whose blood had been poured out as a sin-offering to God (Genesis 3:21); for as we find Cain and Abel offering sacrifices to God. How did Abel know to sacrifice the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof to the Lord (Genesis 4:4) if there was no law of sacrificing and offerings? How did Noah know to take clean animals and offer them as burnt offerings on the altar to the Lord (Genesis 8:20) if there were no burnt offering laws?
How did Judah know that Tamar, being a widow, was to marry her husband's brother (Genesis 38:8,11) if this law was not revealed to them? The fact is, Deuteronomy 25:7-10 existed before God gave this law to Moses.
How did God teach the Israelites about the Sabbath? God sent manna six days a week for them to eat (Exodus 16). But He told them to gather twice as much on Friday because there would be none on the Sabbath. The scripture tells us God gave the Israelites manna to determine if they would walk in God's Law (Exodus 16:4). But Exodus 16:27 tells us the very next Sabbath they flunked the test, they disobeyed God by going out to gather manna on the Sabbath, they didn't even obey God for one week!
So God asked them in verse 28, "How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?" The Lord didn't institute the Sabbath and then one week later cry out "How long will you refuse to keep My commands" the very first time they failed! No, God's commandments had been around for more than two thousand years by then. People had been continually breaking God's Law from Eden onwards. Even the Israelites whom He rescued from Egypt were breaking His Sabbath Day! No wonder God said, "How long will you refuse to keep My commands?"! The scripture evidence is that God's Law and His Sabbath had been around for thousands of years before they were reaffirmed to the Israelites at Mount Sinai.
"It doesn't matter which day you keep, just as long as you keep one."
Answer: Really? Then why did God create "the" Sabbath day? Why did God bless "the" seventh day? Why did God sanctify "the" seventh day? Why did God call the 7th day "My" Sabbath day, and "My" holy day? Why did God command His people to remember to rest on "the" seventh day (Exodus 20:8-11)? Notice God did not say "Remember one day out of seven, to keep it holy!" No. He did say, "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy."
If the Law of God is something we are to recognize as merely good advice while retaining an inability to follow its precepts, we might more appropriately title that Law, "The Ten Suggestions." Each one of God's Ten Commandments is very specific. Nothing is left to chance. Nothing is confused, not according to the scripture evidence. There is, of course, no technical difference between one day of the week and another, they are each 24 hours long, except that God said that we are to keep one specific day. This, like the tree of life versus the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden, is a simple test of loyalty to God. If all the days are the same, why not keep the one God said to? If we are going to keep a day holy, why not God's day?
"Redemption is greater than creation; therefore, we ought to keep the day of Christ's resurrection instead of the ancient Sabbath of the Lord."
Answer: Where has God said this? It must be admitted that He never did. What right, then, has any man to make such an assertion and then to base the change of the Sabbath upon it? But suppose that redemption is greater than Creation; who knows that we ought to keep the first day of the week on that account? God never required men to keep any day as a memorial of redemption. If, however, it were a duty to observe one day of the week for this reason, most certainly the crucifixion day presents the strongest claims. It is not said that we have redemption through Christ's resurrection, but it is said that we have redemption through the shedding of His blood (Revelation 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 9:12, 15.)
Nor can it be urged that the resurrection day is the most remarkable day in the history of redemption. It was as far exceeded by the day of the crucifixion as the wonder of the act of God in giving His beloved and only Son to die for a race of rebels exceeds that of the Father raising that beloved Son from the dead. It was not remarkable that God should raise His Son from the dead, but the act of the Father in giving His Son to die for sinners was a spectacle of redeeming love on which the universe might gaze in wonder throughout all eternity. Who can wonder that the sun was veiled in darkness and that all nature trembled at the sight! The crucifixion day, therefore, has far greater claims than the day of the resurrection; but God has not enjoined the observance of either.
If we would commemorate redemption, there is no necessity of robbing the Lord's rest day of its holiness in order to do it. God has already provided us with memorials for commemorating Jesus' redemption. Baptism commemorates his death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Romans 6:3-5, Colossians 2:12).
"Sabbath-keepers are working for their salvation, they're on the 'wrong side of Calvary."
Answer: Keeping the Sabbath holy has absolutely nothing to do with earning our salvation. It has everything to do with obeying God out of our great love for Him. In our loving gratitude to Him for saving us we eagerly praise and worship Him on the day He set aside for us to fellowship with Him. Because we recognize Him as both our Savior and our Lord, we do not try to countermand what He has commanded.
Anytime we break God's Law we sin. When we sin, God's kindness leads us toward repentance. Can a professed follower of Jesus Christ do less than repent of his sins? Sin is transgressing God's Law, any part of God's Law. And that includes deliberately disobeying God's fourth commandment to "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Exodus 20:8). Don't you love Jesus enough to follow His example, and obey God by worshipping and praising Him on His Sabbath Day??
"The word 'Sabbath' does not appear in Genesis 2:2-3, therefore, God did not make the Sabbath on the 7th day of creation."
Answer: Actually, the word Sabbath does appear in this verse. The word "rested" in Genesis 2, verses 2 and 3, is Hebrew word #7673, "shabath", which is the root word for "Sabbath." Shabath means "to cease or rest", and it is from this that the Sabbath gets its meaning as "a day of rest." To paraphrase the account in Genesis 2:2-3, "God sabbathed on the seventh day from all His work, and God blessed it and sanctified it." The Hebrew language is clear and unambiguous in its intent. The sabbath day is a holy day, for God has sanctified it. He has separated and distinguished it from the rest of the days of the week.
There are many different Hebrew words for the word "rested", but "shabath" is used often in reference to the sabbath (Genesis 2:2-3; 8:22-"cease", Exodus 5:5; 16:30, 23:12; 31:17; 34:21, Leviticus 23:32-"celebrate"; 25:2-"keep"; 26:34-35, II Chronicles 36:21-"sabbath"). For example, the Hebrew word "shabath" is in Exodus 16:30, when the people sabbathed on the seventh day. Verse 29 mentions the sabbath specifically. Also, Exodus 31:17 explains that the sabbath was made at creation, and even quotes from Genesis 2:2! In addition, the word "shabath" is actually translated as "sabbath" in II Chronicles 36:21!
To show the other Hebrew words for "rested" that could have been used in Genesis 2:2-3 but weren't, here are all other uses:
Nuwach (Genesis 8:4, Exodus 10:14, Numbers 10:36; 11:25-26, Esther 9:17,18,22). Chanah (Numbers 9:18,23). Shaken (Numbers 10:12). Sahqat (Josh.11:23). Achaz (1 Kings 6:10). Camak (2 Chronicles 32:8). Daman (Job 30:17).
God chose to cease from His labor, not because He was tired (Isaiah 40:28), but because He wanted to set an example for all mankind. The seventh day sabbath is as ancient as the earth!
"There's no biblical evidence that the Sabbath was observed before the Ten Commandments were given at Mount Sinai."
Answer: Actually there is. Exodus 16 describes the seventh-day Sabbath being in existence before the Ten commandments were given! As a matter of fact, this was the only commandment God specifically mentioned by which he would test their obedience (Exodus 16:4).
All the Flood dates are Sabbath's except one (Genesis 8:5 - Tuesday). For example, in Genesis 8:4, when "the ark rested," the 17th day of the 7th month is a Sabbath. In Genesis 8:10, the 18th day of the 11th month is a Sabbath. In Genesis 8:12, the 25th day of the 11th month is a Sabbath.
There is also indirect evidence of its observance, as in the week of a wedding celebration (Genesis 29:27-28).
And finally, when Moses went to deliver the Israelites from their Egyptian taskmasters, "sabbathing" was one of the things that concerned Pharaoh:
Exodus 5:1-5, "And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness...But the king of Egypt said to them, Moses and Aaron, why do you draw the people away from their work? Get back to your labors! Again Pharaoh said, Look, the people of the land are now many, and you would have them rest from their labors!"
The English word "rest" is translated from the Hebrew word "shabath." This is the same, exact Hebrew word used to describe the seventh day sabbath elsewhere (Genesis 2:2-3, Exodus 16:29-30; 31:17). In other words, Pharaoh was not about to give his slaves a sabbath rest from their labors. This appears to be at least one reason why, before entering Canaan land, Moses told the Israelites to "remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt...therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day" (Deuteronomy 5:15).
"Is not the rest of the Sabbath a symbol of our rest in Christ (Matthew 11:28)?"
Answer: The word "rest" in the above passage is Greek word #373, "anapauo, and is never associated with the sabbath rest. But even if it was, this does not obliterate the Sabbath day (Luke 23:56). Marriage is said to be a symbol of the relationship between Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:31-32, 2 Corinthians 11:2), but no one thinks that this gets rid of marriage in the Christian era. Scripture also declares that in Christ "there is neither male nor female" (Galatians 3:28), but again, this does not obliterate holy wedlock. The Sabbath is a memorial of creation, and a provision for the learning of God's will through regular worship, as well as a restorative agency for the body, mind and soul. Obviously, Christ's labors for us do not make unnecessary our labor for six days each week. Neither does His rest from the work of redemption make the rest of the Sabbath unnecessary.
The fact is that two beautiful, original institutions were set up by God Himself before sin ever came into the world - marriage and the Sabbath. Both were made for mankind, both received the special blessing of the Creator and both continue to be just as holy now as when they were sanctified in the Garden of Eden.
And remember, people "rested in the Lord" in the Old Testament era also (1 Kings 8:56-61, Psalm 37:7), but it did not replace the Sabbath in the Old Testament. Did it? No, they obviously did not interpret this "rest" as replacing the sabbath. Likewise, when we "rest in the Lord" in the New Testament era, it does not mean that the sabbath is unnecessary.
The "rest" that Jesus promises is a release from the drudgery of sin, not from the service of God.
"If we are to cease from our works, why did our Father and Jesus work on that day (John 5:17)?"
Answer: The works we are to cease from are worldly, common, and ordinary works, not holy and merciful acts. God never ceased from the work of preserving and governing. He continued his acts of love and mercy, as did Jesus. You will not read in scripture where works of love and mercy are sins, even if done on the sabbath.
"Christ abolished the law. He broke the Sabbath and justified His disciples in doing the same (Matthew 12-1-4, Mark 2:23-26, Luke 6:1-4)."
Answer: Those who hold this view are really taking the same ground as did the caviling Jews and the Pharisees. In this, they contradict the testimony of Christ Himself, who declared, "I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love" (John 15:10). Neither the Saviour, nor His followers, broke the law of the Sabbath. Christ was a living representative of the law. No violation of its holy precepts was found in His life. Looking upon a nation of witnesses who were seeking occasion to condemn Him, He could say unchallenged, "Which of you convicteth Me of sin?" (John 8:46). Scripture records that Jesus was obedient until his death (Philippians 2:8), both to the letter and to the spirit of God's Law. Hebrews 4:15 specifically says Jesus was "without sin," as does 1 Peter 2:22, which says Jesus, "did no sin."
Jesus and the disciples plucked corn on the Sabbath day because they were hungry (Matthew 12:1), not because they were harvesting the field (harvesting on the sabbath was a sin and required the death penalty - Exodus 34:21). God made specific allowance for picking handfuls of corn from another man's field (Deuteronomy 23:25). This was a command from God, and a provision for Christ and his disciples, and Jesus and his apostles were obeying this command from God. God even told His people to leave portions of their fields unharvested so the poor and travelers would be able to eat what was left (Leviticus 19:9,10; 23:22).
Christ emphasized that God's law allowed for mercy (Mark 3:4,5, Matthew 12:10-12, Luke 6:6-10), and the Pharisees were completely wrong in elevating their harsh, humanly devised regulations above everything else, including mercy.
Remember, Jesus was a Jew (John 4:9,22, Galatians 4:4). Jesus was born under the Old Testament Law (Galatians 4:4), and in order to redeem those that were under the law, Christ had to live under that same law and keep the law perfectly. The New Testament did not go into effect until after Jesus died, which means the New Covenant was of no force, and of no strength at all while Jesus was physically alive (Hebrews 9:15-17). The Sabbath was a binding Commandment to Jews while Jesus was alive in the flesh. What Jesus and the apostles broke that day were all the added laws and traditions that the Pharisees added to God's Sabbath. Their added laws made it a burden for everyone.
If Jesus did break God's Sabbath, then the Pharisees would have used this against Jesus at his trial! They would not have had to hire false witnesses at his trial and accuse him falsely of breaking other laws. The Pharisees could have plainly testified that Jesus broke the Sabbath with real witnesses, and Jesus would have been found guilty! But the accusation that Jesus broke the Sabbath never came up at his trial!!! They tried so hard to accuse him of breaking the law, but couldn't find any fault in him, so they hired false witnesses. The reason they could not accuse him of breaking God's Sabbath Law was because, in truth, Jesus only broke the added sabbath laws that the Pharisees added to God's Law.
Here is another proof that Christ did not "abolish" the Sabbath law. Christ taught the following:
Matthew 5:17-18, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
Christ specifically taught that no part of the written law would be abolished until heaven and earth pass, and until all be fulfilled. It would be contradictory and hypocritical of Jesus to immediately teach that the Sabbath law is now abolished, before heaven and earth passed away and before all was fulfilled, after he just got through teaching it would not be abolished! Do you see this dilemma? It was not the written law of the Sabbath that Christ broke, it was the oral tradition of the Pharisees that he broke.
"Well, Jesus told a man to carry his bed on the Sabbath day, which was not lawful to do (John 5:8). How do you explain that?"
Answer: First of all, we should understand what this "bed" is. It is not the same as a "bed" today, which is built out of boards and springs. In Jesus's day, a bed was a light mattress or pallet of the poor which could be easily rolled up and carried under the arm. With this in mind, let's continue.
The Jews extended the obligation of the Sabbath beyond what was intended by God. They observed it superstitiously, and Jesus took every opportunity to convince them of their error, and to restore the day to its proper observance (Matthew 12:6-11, Luke 6:9; 13:14; 14:5). Christ showed them what the law of God really permitted on that day, and to demonstrate that works of necessity and mercy were lawful.
The answer of Jesus to his accusers goes to the very root of the matter, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (verse 17). Jesus shows that God's rest was not idleness. The Father had continued his works of love and mercy. He worked in these works right on till Jesus came; "now," says the Son, "I work as my Father works. There is no suspension on the Sabbath of works of benevolence and mercy." The Father's example is the pattern given to direct man.
The Jews reckoned that to carry a bed was among the "burdens" forbidden by the law (See Jeremiah 17:21,22; Nehemiah 13:15-20), but in truth, the burdens borne were in the way of traffic, trade, and ordinary labor (Nehemiah 13:17-20, Isaiah 10:27; 23:1-3; 30:6). Many today assert that the man broke the Sabbath law, but this position is false. Jesus would not have ordered the sabbath to be broken, for he came to fulfill it, not to break the law (Mattew 5:17). At no time did he break the sabbath or countenance its violation, as some people are erroneously led to suppose. In this case a man lying on his bed, away from home, is suddenly healed. Under such circumstances Jewish tradition said that he must either spend the rest of the day watching his bed, or else he must go off and leave it to be stolen. But He who rightfully interpreted the law of his own devising, and who knew that "the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath" (Mark 2:27), ordered the healed one to carry his bed along home with him.
"No, I still believed Jesus broke the 4th Commandment. After all, he made clay and healed a man (John 9:14-16)."
Answer: Those who hold this view must believe the Pharisees were correct in their judgment of Jesus:
John 9:14-16,24,31 "And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?...we know that this man is a sinner. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth."
The Pharisees were quoting directly from scripture (Job 27:9, Psalm 34:15; 66:18, Proverbs 15:29; 28:9, Isaiah 1:15, Jeremiah 11:11, Ezekiel 8:18, Micah 3:4, Zecariah 7:13). Therefore, if Jesus was sinning and breaking the 4th commandment, the Pharisees would have been doing good by pointing out the sinner, because scripture commands us to do so in order to put away evil from our midst. However, those who believe that our Lord and Saviour was a sinner do not know our Lord. They are projecting their own sinful self onto Jesus Christ.
"Whatever day one chooses to rest and worship is irrelevant, so long as one is 'fully convinced in his own mind' and 'observes it to the Lord' (Romans 14:5-6)."
Answer: Does this mean that the Sabbath is no different from any other day? Or that we are free to choose whatever day we wish to observe? To come to that conclusion, one must read it into the verse, because the Sabbath is nowhere mentioned here. In fact, the word Sabbath or references to Sabbath-keeping are not found anywhere in the entire book of Romans! The reference in this passage is simply to "days," not the Sabbath or any other days of rest and worship commanded by God.
It is important to notice the context in which Paul is writing. Romans 14:1 says to accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. A matter on which God himself has spoken and given instruction is not disputable. Therefore, the days that one might or might not consider sacred in Romans 14:5 do not include the seventh-day Sabbath.
Keep in mind that Paul, earlier in this same epistle, had said: "Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." (Romans 7:12); "The doers of the law shall be justified" (Romans 2:13), and "I delight in the law of God" (Romans 7:22). If he were saying here that Sabbath observance is irrelevant, such an assertion would be completely inconsistent with his other statements in this same letter. What are the days Paul mentions here? We must look at the context to find out.
Paul was writing to a mixed church of Jewish and gentile believers in Rome. In Romans 14, verses 2 and 3, Paul discussed vegetarianism ("another, who is weak, eateth herbs") and continued this theme in verse 6 ("he who eats...and he who does not eat"). The passage in question about days is in verses 5 and 6, immediately between references to eating meat and vegetarianism in verses 2, 3 and 6. There is no biblical connection between Sabbath observance and vegetarianism or meats, so these verses have to be taken out of context to assume that Paul was referring to the Sabbath. It is apparent that Paul was discussing special days during which feasting, fasting or abstaining from certain foods was practiced.
In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul addressed the issue of eating meat that may have been sacrificed to idols and consequently could have been viewed by some members as unfit to eat. Paul's point in that chapter was that any association of food with idolatrous activity had no bearing on whether that food was otherwise suitable for eating. Paul's advice in 1 Corinthians 8 was the same as his conclusion in Romans 14:15: His advice was to be especially careful not to offend a fellow member, causing him to stumble or lose faith over the issue of meats.
In no way was this related to Sabbath observance. The Sabbath is nowhere mentioned in Paul's letter to the Romans; it simply wasn't the issue. The "days" mentioned here are obviously connected with avoidance of meat, indicating that they are Roman or other observances, and not any days of worship commanded by God.
"The Sabbath is a weak and beggarly element which puts you in bondage (Galatians 4:9-10)."
Answer: Those who would argue against Sabbath observance see Paul's reference to "days and months and seasons and years" (verse 10) as pointing to the Sabbath day, and the festivals, sabbatical and jubilee years given in the Old Testament (Leviticus 23, 25). They view these God-given observances as "weak and beggarly elements" to which the Galatians were "turning again" and becoming "in bondage" (verse 9).
But the problem is, coming to this conclusion betrays a lack of understanding, both of the historical context of the book of Galatians and of the immediate context in which Paul is speaking. In addition, there is an obvious problem with viewing these verses as being critical of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is not even mentioned here. The term "sabbath" and any related words do not appear anywhere in the entire book of Galatians!
To argue against keeping the Sabbath, some assume that the "years" referred to in Galatians 4:10 are the sabbatical and jubilee years described in Leviticus 25. However, the jubilee year was not being observed anywhere in Paul's day, and the sabbatical year was not being observed in areas outside Palestine (Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol. 14, p. 582, and Jewish Encyclopedia, p. 666, "Sabbatical Year and Jubilee").
The fact that Galatia was in Asia Minor, far outside Palestine, makes it illogical to conclude Paul could have been referring here to the sabbatical and jubilee years. The Greek words Paul used for "days and months and seasons and years" are used throughout the New Testament in describing normal, civil periods of time. They are totally different from the precise Greek words Paul used in Colossians 2:16 specifying the sabbaths, festivals and new-moon celebrations given in the scripture. He used exact terminology for biblical observances in Colossians, but used very different Greek words in Galatians. This is a clear indication that he was discussing altogether different subjects.
To understand what Paul meant, we must examine both the historic and immediate contexts of these verses. The Galatian churches were composed mostly of members from a gentile, rather than Jewish, background. Paul made it clear that they were physically uncircumcised (Galatians 5:2; 6:12,13), so they could not have been Jewish. The gods of these gentile people were Jupiter, Zeau, Mercury, and not God Almighty. In other words, the Greek and Roman gods are what they worshipped, not the God of the Old Testament.
Galatians 4:8, "Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods."
These people were predominantly gentile, because Paul would not have said that to a congregation of Jews. He would not have said they did not know God; they may not have understood God, or the plan of God, or the mercy of God, but it would be grossly innacurate to say to a synogogue of the Jews, "you didn't know God." These were gentiles who did not know God.
First must understand what they were in the passed, to understand what Paul meant in these verses. Scripture says they did not know God, and they were in bondage to false gods. This background is important in understanding this controversial scripture. In Galatians 4:9-10, Paul said that the Galatians were "turning again to the weak and beggarly elements," which included "days and months and seasons and years." Since Paul's readers were from a Gentile background, it is difficult to see how the "days and months and seasons and years" they were turning back to could be the Sabbath and other biblical festivals, since they could not turn back to something they had not previously observed.
Now, the whole concept here is the going back to something from which they came. Now, there isn't any way that we can find these gentiles having come out of the pagan worship of false gods, then having go forward to Christ, and then have them go back into Judaism. It will not come together this way. The immediate context won't hold it, and the historical context won't hold it.
Is it possible that these "weak and beggarly elements" they were returning to (verse 9) could be God's laws, sabbaths and festivals? The word translated "elements" here is the Greek word stoicheia, the same word translated "elements" earlier in verse 3. There Paul described his readers as having been "in bondage under the elements of the world." For this to refer to God's law in verse 9, it would also have to refer to His law in verse 3, since the same word is used.
A great deal of people seem to want to equate the observance of the Law of God as being a form of bondage, and they look for these expressions regarding bondage, and the yoke of bondage, and attempt to apply them to God's Law. Paul's expression, though, says they were in bondage to the elements of the world. This expression can never be applied to God's Law. These gentile Christians had not been involved in those Jewish observances before Paul came there, so how can they go back into them again if they had never come out of them in the first place!
It would seem that in Paul's time, this exceedingly early and primitive view had been expanded to the point at which the stoicheia also referred to the sun, moon, stars, and planets-all of them associated with gods or goddesses and, because they regulated the progression of the calendar, also associated with the great pagan festivals honoring the gods. In Paul's view these gods were demons. Hence, he would be thinking of a demonic bondage in which the Galatians had indeed been held prior to the proclamation of the gospel.
In the verses that follow, Paul goes on to speak of these three crucial subjects in quick succession:
- 'those who by nature are not gods,' presumably false gods or demons (verse 8);
- 'those weak and beggarly elements (verse 9); and
- 'days and months and seasons and years' (verse 10).
No doubt Paul would think of these demons in ways entirely different from the former thinking of the Galatians. Thus, this whole issue takes on a cosmic and spiritual significance. The ultimate contrast to freedom in Christ is bondage to Satan and the evil spirits. Whatever "days and months and seasons and years" the Galatians were observing, they were apparently observing them in a superstitious manner, as they had observed days and times before their conversion.
From the context, we see it is illogical to conclude that Paul was criticizing the observance of the scriptural Sabbath and festivals, since they were not even mentioned. Instead, he was attacking misguided efforts to attain salvation through unnecessary superstitious observances. Besides, the Sabbath is a commandment, and God's Commandments are not grievous (1 John 5:3).
Here's another point to consider concerning the fact about the Galatians "observing times" (Galatians 4:10). In Leviticus 19:26, the term "observe times" does not refer to the days that God set aside. Leviticus 19:26, "...neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times." The phrase "use enchantments" refer to divination that the sorcerers used. To observe times meant to observe the clouds, as a study of the appearance and motion of clouds was a common way of foretelling good or bad fortune. (See Matthew 16:3).
"When the one hundred and twenty were gathered in the upper room and the Holy Spirit came on them, it was Pentecost Sunday. This is yet another evidence of the change of the day."
Answer: Once again, there is no scripture text stating the disciples had gathered here to change the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. Instead, before Jesus returned to heaven, He commanded His disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit to come to them (Acts 1:4). After Jesus was gone they went to the upper room to wait. Acts 2:1 informs us that "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place." Notice they had remained there in the upper room every day of the week including Saturday and Sunday.
Now, Pentecost was on Sunday, not because the Sabbath day had been changed to Sunday, but because Pentecost had been on Sunday ever since God instituted it through Moses, fifteen centuries earlier! Leviticus 23:15,16 said Pentecost was to be celebrated "the day after the seventh Sabbath." What day comes after the Sabbath? The first day! Which is Sunday!
So here the scripture tells us New Testament Christians celebrated Pentecost on Sunday. And that proves they recognized Saturday was still the scripture Sabbath. Why? Because they had to count off seven Sabbaths to arrive at the right date for Pentecost. Pentecost would never have been on Sunday if New Testament Christians thought the Sabbath had been changed to Sunday. In that case, they would have counted off seven Sundays and celebrated Pentecost the next day, on Monday!
"First century Christians were worshipping on Sunday."
Answer: There is simply no scripture evidence of that assertion. Even church history records that the majority of Christians were still worshipping on Saturday three hundred years after Christ. But, suppose some did worship on Sunday in the first century, just as many do now. No doubt there were also some Christians back then who lied, murdered, stole, and so on, just as some do now. Does someone else's disobedience justify our breaking one of God's specific Ten Commandments? No. The scripture says: "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to [do] evil" (Exodus 23:2).
"The Sabbath was nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14-17). The Sabbath was abolished."
Answer: This is an important text which bears consideration. There are many points which need to be addressed. Firstly, it should be noted who Paul is writing to. Paul was writing "To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse," (Colossians 1:2), not to Jews. Here is the passage in question:
Colossians 2:14-17, "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ."
Was the weekly sabbath made for man or contrary to man?
Notice verse 14. The weekly sabbath day could not possibly be referred to here, because the Sabbath was never against men or contrary to them, but was always for them, and promotive of their highest good (Matthew 12:8-10, Mark 2:23-28). Keep that in mind as you read these passages. There is no intimation here that the Sabbath was done away, or that its obligation was superseded, by the crucifixion of Christ.
For those who believe this verse does pertain to the seventh day sabbath, please explain how the Sabbath was "against men" and "contrary to men." And after you explain how, please tell me why God would give a command to His children that was against them and contrary to them, and would command the penalty of death to those who did not do what was against them and contrary to them.
Which "men" does verse 16 refer to?
It is clear that "man" in this verse refers to men outside of the body of Christ, because this entire chapter is about the men of the world, and how they are judging us and forcing their own "philosophy, traditions, ordinances, commandments, doctrines, enticing words, laws, and ways of worship" upon us. Paul's point was to not let these worldly men judge us.
Further evidence that the phrase "let no man" only refers to men outside the body of Christ is the fact that every time this phrase is used in the New Testament scripture, it always refer to men outside of Christ (or, at the very least, believers who are acting outside of God's Will). The following is every passage in the New Testament with the phrase "let no man," so we can compare scripture with scripture:
1 Corinthians 3:17-18, "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. Let no man deceive himself..."
1 Corinthians 3:21, "Therefore let no man glory in men..."
1 Corinthians 10:20-24, "But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils...Let no man seek his own..."
1 Corinthians 16:10-11, "Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. Let no man therefore despise him:"
2 Corinthians 11:13-16, "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. I say again, Let no man think me a fool..."
Galatians 6:17, "From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus."
Ephesians 5:6-7, "Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them."
Colossians 2:8,15-16, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ...And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:"
Colossians 2:18-23, "Let no man beguile you...intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind...Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances...after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh."
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."
1 Timothy 4:12, "Let no man despise thy youth..."
Titus 2:15, "These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee."
James 1:13, "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:"
1 John 3:7-8, "Little children, let no man deceive you...He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."
As we can see, by comparing scripture with scripture, and examining each and every passage that "let no man" appears in, the term "man" always refers to those who would be outside of God's Will, and it does not refer to those who are in God's Will.
The importance of this passage is thus. Paul was saying to not let those ungodly men, who are outside of Christ, judge us, who are in Christ, when we do things that God has commanded in His Law!
Mistranslation in verse 17
In verse 17, most translators insert the word "is" between "soma" ("body") and "tou Christou" ("of Christ") in an attempt to clarify the meaning in English (i.e. "...but the body [is] of Christ"). The translators' addition of the word "is" after "body" perverted the meaning of the verse. Placing "is" within the expression "body of Christ" also has no precedent in the New Testament. This phrase is translated as "body of Christ" in all other passages in scripture (Romans 7:4; 1Corinthians 10:16, 12:27; Ephesians 4:12).
This phrase should read, "...but the body of Christ ", because it is a continuation of the thought of judging mentioned in the previous verse! So Paul was actually saying, "Don't let any man judge you . . ., but [rather let] the body of Christ [i.e. the Christ's assembly] be your judge." In other words, don't let those outside the Christ's assembly talk you out of doing what you should do. Let the Christ's assembly be your guide, not any man outside the Christ's assembly.
The weekly sabbath or yearly sabbaths?
In verse 16, the text of the King James Version talks about "the sabbath days" (plural). Many point out that the word "days" was added by the translators. This is absolutely correct. But we must ask, why did the translators add "days" and not "day"? The reason is because the word "sabbath" here is plural. In the Greek, not only does the word "days" not appear in the original texts, but the word "the" here does not appear either! The correct reading of this verse is not "the sabbath days," the correct reading is "sabbaths" (as rendered in Interlinear Greek/English New Testament books). This passage is not in reference to the sabbath "day," but to the yearly sabbaths.
Throughout the New Testament books, when the seventh day sabbath is referenced, it says, "the sabbath," or "the sabbath day." But Colossians 2:16 does not say "the sabbath;" the word "the" does not appear before the word "sabbath," because this word is not referring to "the" seventh day sabbath, but to yearly "sabbaths."
Were Sabbaths and Holy Days nailed to the cross?
It should be noted that Colossians 2:16 says "Let no man therefore judge you in..." Now, what does this verse say? Does it say let no man observe a sabbath day? Does it say it is wrong to observe these days? Does it say you really don't need to observe the sabbath day? Does it say they are done away with? No! This verse says "let no man judge you" in these things, but this is very different from saying they are abolished. If I told you "don't let any man judge you because of the glasses you wear," I am not saying that you should abolish those glasses.
As a matter of fact, the next verse says these very things "...are a shadow of things to come..." This is spoken in the present and future tense. The point is that the tenses rule out the interpretation that the Sabbaths and Holy Days became obsolete when Christ was nailed to the cross, because of the time perspective of the statement. To have that meaning, it would have to say "were a shadow of things that came" (not "are a shadow of things to come") since Christ had already come in the flesh, died for our sins and was resurrected by the time Paul wrote Colossians. Yet he says the Festivals, new moon and Sabbaths are (still) a shadow at the time he wrote this, many years after Christ's death. Therefore, Paul was not teaching that the Sabbaths and Holy Days were nailed to the cross.
Many people read only until the word "sabbaths" in verse 16, and fail to read the rest of the sentence which is found in verse 17.
Here, Paul is talking about the sabbaths which were "a shadow of things to come" (Hebrews 10:1; 8:3-5), and not to the seventh-day Sabbath. There were many yearly sabbaths in ancient Israel, and these were all shadows that pointed to Christ and His work as Redeemer. These were in addition to, or "beside the sabbaths of the Lord" (Leviticus 23:38); which expressly distinguished "the sabbath of the Lord" from the other yearly sabbaths. These yearly sabbaths all foreshadowed, or pointed to, Christ Jesus. He is not talking about the weekly Sabbath, but the yearly sabbaths that offered burnt sacrifices (1 Chronicles 23:31, 2 Chronicles 2:4; 8:13; 31:3, Nehemiah 10:33, Isaiah 1:13-14, Lamentations 2:6, Ezekiel 45:17).
Paul referred to the temporary system of ordinances in Colossians 2:14-16 as being "against us" and "contrary to us." He tied it to the meat offerings, drink offerings, and yearly festivals of the law that were "blotted out." It is true he referred to sabbath days also in the text, but take careful note that he called them "sabbath days which are a shadow of things to come." Were some sabbath days blotted out? Yes, there were yearly sabbaths which came on certain set days of the month, and they were fulfilled by Christ. They were shadows and pointed forward to Christ as Redeemer. All of these annual sabbaths are described in Leviticus 23:24-36, and then summarized in verses 37 and 38.
The Scripture plainly differentiates between the annual, shadowy sabbaths and the weekly "sabbath of the Lord." The yearly sabbaths were blotted out; they had been added as a consequence of sin (Galatians 3:19). But the weekly Sabbath is a memorial of an event at the beginning of earth's history, and had been hallowed before sin was introduced (Genesis 2:2-3), and was later repeated in the Ten Commandments written by the finger of God (Exodus 20:8-11). Therefore, the "Sabbath days" Paul declares here, as shadows pointing to Christ, can't refer to the weekly Sabbath of the fourth commandment. The 4th commandments does not point to Christ as Redeemer, but to God as Creator.
Meat and Drink?
Concerning Colossians 2:16, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink," There are two different Greek words that are used for eating. The one is word #1033, broma, which means food in the Greek. The other word is word #1035, brosis, which means the act of eating. Word #1035 is the word used in Colossians 2:16. The same thing is true of the word "drink," it means the act of drinking. In other words, don't let anyone judge you for the act of eating or for the act of drinking. And then it goes on to say or in part of a holy day, or of a new moon, or of the sabbaths.
Now, here is a verse which uses meats and drinks in a different context:
Hebrews 9:10, "Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation."
In the above verse, the Greek word for "meats" is broma. In other words, the word means "food." The word "drink" in this verse is the Greek word for "drink." And they are not the same words as used in Colossians 2:16, which means the act of eating. Here is a verse which uses the same Greek word for "meat" as does Colossians 2:16:
Matthew 6:19, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:"
The word "rust" above is Greek word #1035, brosis. In other words, rust or corrosion is a form of eating away of something, and this word that is translated as"meat" in Colossians 2:16 is translated as "rust in Matthew 6:19. So, this word brosis does not mean food, it means the act of eating. Now, we must ask ourselves, Does Colossians 2:16 mean that these things were abolished? Well, was eating done away with? Was drinking abolished? Of course not. Then why do people choose to get rid of the sabbath days, but not eating or drinking? Why one and not the other, when they are mentioned in the same verse?!
And when you get down to the question as to whether or not to let any man judge you, he doesn't say you're not supposed to keep the sabbath days anymore than it says not to eat or drink. He says it's nobody's business except the body of Christ's as to your eating, drinking, or the sabbath days. And this verse is actually saying that the brethren at Colosians were actually keeping the sabbath days.
What was nailed to the cross?
Many people assume that the "handwriting of ordinances...nailed...to the cross" (Colossians 2:14) that was "blotted out" was God's Ten Commandments. But this is not what Paul meant. The Greek word translated "handwriting" is cheirographon, and this is the only place the term is used in the scripture. It means a handwritten record of debt, or what we would today call an IOU. In contemporary apocalyptic literature, this word was used to designate a "record book of sin," meaning a written account of our sins.
Paul was not saying that God's law was nailed to the cross. What was nailed there, he said, was all record of our sins. Because God's law required the death penalty for sin (Romans 6:23), this record is what "was against us, which was contrary to us", not the law itself. He has forgiven us all our sins (Ephesians 1:7), and redeemed us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). Christ has utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over His own head on the cross. It is the evidence against us, not the law itself, that was nailed to the cross, enabling us to be forgiven.
When one does a search throughout the scripture of the word "blot," it becomes clear that it always has to do with blotting out the curse, or the sin, in ones life.
Exodus 32:32-33, "Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book"
Numbers 5:23, "And the priest shall write these curses in a book, and he shall blot them out with the bitter water:"
Deuteronomy 9:12-14, "And the LORD said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image. Furthermore the LORD spake unto me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven: and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they."
Deuteronomy 29:20, "The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven."
Psalms 51:1, "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions."
Psalms 51:9, "Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities."
Jeremiah 18:23, "...forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight, but let them be overthrown before thee; deal thus with them in the time of thine anger."
This becomes clear when we read the rest of Colossians 2. It is apparent that other issues were involved that had nothing to do with God's laws given in the Old Testament. Among these were "principalities and powers" (verse 15), "false humility and worship of angels" (verse 18), forbidding to "touch, taste and handle" (verse 21) and "neglect of the body" (verse 23).
Further, Paul referred to the false teachings in Colosse as rooted in "enticing words" (verse 4), "philosophy and vain deceit" and "the tradition of men" (verse 8). He also referred to submitting to "ordinances" of this world (verse 20) and "the commandments and doctrines of men" (verse 22). Could Paul, who in Romans 7:12 said the law is "holy and just and good," possibly be referring to the same law here, or is he addressing an entirely different issue? Paul answers this in 1 Corinthians 9:21, when he said, "I am not free from God's law."
Colossians 2:20-22, "Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances...after the commandments and doctrines of men?"
The ordinances, commandments and doctrines of who? The ordinances, commandments and doctrines of man! Not of God. You see, Colossians 2 does not abolish the ordinances, commandments, and doctrines of God, but of man!
The term "ordinances" and "commandments" in Colossians 2:20-22 refer only to the teachings of men, and never to God. For example, the word "ordinance" is Greek word # 1379 dogmatizo, and this is the one and only time this word is used in scripture. It is taken directly from the Greek word #1378 dogma used in verse 14. And the word "commandments" is from Greek word # 1778 entalma, which is only used 3 times in scripture. The other two times it is used to denote commandments of men only (Matthew 15:9, Mark 7:7), and never refers to the commandments of God.
Not only are these words defined as refering to the commandments of men, but the context they are used specifically states it refers to the commandments of men! Not the commandments of God.
God's Word tells us that His commandments are never burdensome (1 John 5:3). They are not meaningless or arbitrary. They were given to man in love from a God of infinite wisdom and knowledge (Isaiah 55:8, 9). They were given to be a benefit to mankind, bringing blessings when obeyed (Deuteronomy 4:40; 5:29, 33). These commandments include God's 7th day Sabbath. Matthew 5:19 is Jesus' message to those who teach the sabbath was abolished.
Matthew 5:19, "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
"I disagree. I still believe Colossians 2:16-17 says the seventh day Sabbath was a shadow of things to come. Therefore, it was abolished, since all shadows were abolished (Hebrews 10:1)."
Answer: This verse does not say, "the sabbath days ARE a shadow of things to come;" it says, "the sabbath days WHICH are a shadow of things to come." When the word "which" is used, this means that ONLY those sabbaths which are shadows are being addressed...and not necessarily ALL sabbaths. Let us compare scripture with scripture:
Colossians 1:2 says, "The saints WHICH are at Colosse." This phrase does NOT means "All the saints are at Colosse; it refers to ONLY those saints which are at Colosse. It would be presumption to say that ALL the saints are at Colosse, just as it would be presumtion to say that ALL sabbaths are shadows.
But, let us presume that Colossians 2:16-17 says that the seventh day sabbath is a shadow of things to come. Now, where does scripture say that all shadows were abolished? The fact is, scripture says no such thing. However, there is one verse, and only one other verse in the entire scripture, which speaks of shadows of things to come, and here it is:
Hebrews 10:1, "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect."
Notice this passage does not say, "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never make the comers thereunto perfect." This is how most people interpret this verse, but this is in error. Hebrews 10:1 does not say shadows were abolished. It does not even say shadows "can never make the comers thereunto perfect." What does this verse say "can never make the comers thereunto perfect"? The answer is, "those sacrifices which they offered year by year."
Not only does this verse verify that the "sabbaths" are "yearly" sabbaths, but it says the laws that demaded sacrifices can never make anyone perfect. What sacrifices is Hebrews 10:1 referring to? Well, the remaining verses of this chaprter tell us:
Hebrews 10:3-4, "But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins."
Hebrews 10:6, "In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure."
Hebrews 10:8, "Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;"
Hebrews 10:11, "And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:"
Therefore, to summerize, Hebrews 10:1 is saying that the sacrifices that were offered year by year, the animal sacrifices made to attone for ones sins, does not take away sins. God has no pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices. Therefore, these sacrifices can never make anyone perfect. Hebrews 10:1 is in reference to the laws which are shadows, yes, but only shadows that offered animal sacrifies. That is the point of Hebrews 10. The laws that prescribed animal sacrifices have passed away, not laws that define good and evil.
When somebody committed theft, they had to sacrifice blood for their sins. Even though these sacrifices were done away with, the law that says it is a sin to steal is still binding upon us. When somebody broke the sabbath day, they had to sacrifice blood for their sins. Even though these sacrifices were done away with, the law that says it is a sin to work on the sabbath day is still binding upon us.
"The seventh day sabbath was abolished when the other seven yearly sabbaths were abolished. They are in the same category (Leviticus 23)."
Answer: No, they are not in the same category. This is easily proven by the fact that to not keep the seventh day sabbath was a sin (a transgression of God's Law), but to not keep the other seven yearly sabbaths was not considered a sin!
For example, what was the penalty for the sin of transgressing the seventh day sabbath? The penalty was to be put to death (Exodus 31:14-16; 35:2, Numbers 15:32-36). What was the penalty for transgressing one of the yearly sabbaths? Well, there was none! You can read scripture from cover to cover and never find a penalty for not keeping a yearly sabbath. Why is there not a penalty? Because, unlike the seventh day sabbath, it was not sin to transgress them! If it was sin, then there would have been some penalty associated with its transgression.
Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death;" The wages of transgressing the weekly sabbath was death. There was no penalty associated with the yearly sabbaths. Therefore, the weekly sabbath is not in the same category as the yearly sabbaths.
"The scripture itself groups the Sabbath Day as a ceremonial law (Leviticus 23:1-4, 32-34, II Kings 4:23, Nehemiah 10:33, Isaiah 66:23, Ezekiel 46:1, Amos 8:1), therefore it passed away."
Answer: May I ask the reason why you believe these verses say the Sabbath is "ceremonial"? Is it because the Sabbath day is mentioned along with the "ceremonial laws"? I agree that the Sabbath is mentioned right alongside the "ceremonial laws". But the question is, does this mean the Sabbath was a "ceremonial law" also, just because it is mentioned alongside other ceremonial and temporary laws?
If the answer is "yes," then this criteria must also work for other laws as well. In my studies, it does not always work, because God's Laws (those that are still binding upon us today) are mixed in with temporary laws many times in scripture.
For example, Deuteronomy 22. If you read this chapter, the "temporal, ceremonial, and eternal" laws are all mixed together. Among these temporary and ceremonial laws, such as wearing mixed fibers and wearing fringes, it also mentions the sin of adultery. Does this mean that adultery was a ceremonial law, because it is mentioned among all these other ceremonial laws? Of course not.
Therefore, just because a particular law is mentioned right alongside ceremonial laws, we cannot use this as a criteria to discern if this law was ceremonial or not. Even if it is mentioned in the same verse! The Old Testament says if someone steals, then one must make a trespass offering. Now, the trespass offering has been abolished, but the sin of stealing has not been abolished. If one was to go by the fact that the sin of stealing is mentioned in the same exact passage as a ceremonial law (trespass offering), and conclude that the law of stealing is a ceremonial law simply based upon the fact that it is mentioned alongside other ceremonial laws, would not be a correct conclusion.
Likewise, we cannot presume that any other law of God is ceremonial, simply because it is mentioned right alongside other ceremonial laws.
"The seventh day Sabbath involved animal sacrifices (Numbers 28:9-10), therefore the Sabbath was abolished along with those sacrifices."Answer: First of all, this sacrifice was only for preparation of conquest (Numbers 26:2).
Just because the "shedding of blood" was abolished, it does not do away with the day it was done on. For example, there was not only animal sacrifices on the sabbath day, but there were animal sacrifices every day of the week (Exodus 29:38-41, Numbers 28:1-8)! But this does not do away with the other 6 days of the week, it does not do away with work 6 days a week, does it? Of course not. Then why would it do away with godly work on the seventh day?
Similarly, the penalty for adultery, stealing, lying, idolatry, etc. was the shedding of blood, but just because the shedding of blood law was abolished, it does not mean adultery, stealing, lying and idolatry was abolished as well. Does it? Adultery is still law, even though its punishment of shedding blood is no longer law. Stealing is still law, even though its punishment of shedding blood is no longer law. Lying is still law, even though its punishment of shedding blood is no longer law. Idolatry is still law, even though its punishment of shedding blood is no longer law. And the Sabbath is still a law, even though the shedding of blood on that day is no longer law.
"I do not need scripture to plainly tell me in a clear and concise manner that I should observe Sunday rather than the seventh day sabbath. I am more then willing to employee the spirit of the commandment and follow that."Answer: Jereboam sinned by instituting a day of atonement which was "like the one feast which is in Judah," the one ordained by God, but on a different day. Jereboam devised a month for a holy day (1 Kings 12:32-33). Even though they were keeping the spirit of God's commandment on a different day, and duplicated all the same ceremonies as prescribed by God, this was considered an abomination to God (1 Kings 13:1-6).
Another example is in Samuel 15:13-28. Saul was specifically told by God to kill everything (v.18), yet he disobeyed God's direct commandment and kept the best of the animals to offer sacrifices to the Lord (v.21). Saul thought he was obeying God (v.20), and thought he did nothing wrong. After all, God did not specifically say that he could not use these animals for sacrifice. Right? (Just like God did not specifically say nobody can't worship on Sunday). In fact, God commanded his people to make animal sacrifices to Him throughout the Old Testament! So, Saul felt justified in disobeying God's direct command. He wanted to worship God in a way that Saul thought God would like. But he, like Jereboam, was wrong in God's eyes.
The point is, Saul was trying to Worship God in his own way, instead of doing what God specifically said. He was placing his own will above that of God's Will. Saul learned that "It is better to obey than to sacrifice" (1 Samuel 15:22-23). Saul sinned because he feared the people more than he feared God (v.24), but we are not to fear man (Psalm 56:4; 118:6, Isaiah 51:7, Matthew 10:28, Hebrews 13:6).
Worship, by definition, is an act recognizing the one who is worshipped as Lord. If he is Lord, whose Will should prevail? If I dictate the means of worshipping, whose Will prevails? Do you see the point? Worshipping God in my own way is a contradiction. To worship God, I must do so according to His will. What is God's Will? God's Will is his Law written in our hearts (Psalm 40:8). Jesus said his true family are those who "shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 12:50). We don't worship God by following man-made traditions (Matthew 15:3,6, Mark 7:7-9,13, Colossians 2:8). We are to show our love for Jesus by doing what Jesus himself said to do in John 14:15, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 21,24; 15:10,14, James 1:22, Romans 2:13, 1 John 5:2-3).
"Keeping Sunday Holy is a remembrance of Jesus Christ. Keeping the Lord's Supper on Sunday is a remembrance of Him. Therefore, we ought to keep Sunday Holy."Answer: Remember, Christ never commanded or even hinted that Sunday was to be a Holy Day. He could have mentioned he wanted Sunday to be a remembrance of Him when he saw all his disciples for the last time, during the Lord's Supper. But instead, Jesus told them to remember Him by eating the Lord's Supper (Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:24-25). Some people claim the Lord's Supper was on Sunday, but Jesus ate the Lord's Supper on Thursday evening (Luke 22), never on Sunday!
Some people claim that Jesus didn't celebrate the Lord's Supper on Sunday because he was going to be crucified the next day, Friday, and would not be able to do it on Sunday, but Jesus rose on Sunday morning (Mark 16:9). Jesus could have had the Lord's Supper on Sunday because he was alive and could eat food (Luke 24:42-43, Acts 10:41). If anything, he could have mentioned to his disciples that he desired to have them worship Him on Sunday from then on, but during his entire 40 days of his resurrection, he never once mentioned that he wanted anyone to worship him on the first day of the week, even though Christ had plenty of time to tell them this. Would this be so if He really wanted God's Holy Day changed from the seventh day of the week to the first?
"Doesn't Hebrews 4 do away with the Sabbath?"
Answer: It should be pointed out that Hebrews 4 does not even mention the word "sabbath." The word "sabbath" appears over 60 times in the New Testament. Why not use one of the over 60 passages in the New Testament scripture which contains the word "sabbath" in it to show us that the Sabbath was abolished? Hmm.
But, let us look at Hebrews 4, because it does refer to the seventh day rest. Hebrews 4:1-11, explains how God limits a certain day of rest so man can cease from his own works, as God did from his. As a matter of fact, in verse 9, the Greek word for "rest" is "sabbatismos", which means "a keeping of the sabbath". This is the only occurrence of this word in the entire scripture. So Hebrews 4:9 specifically states, "There remaineth therefore a [keeping of the sabbath] to the people of God!" Some assume that this "rest" is the heavenly rest, but he speaks of this rest as a present state: "we do enter into rest," (verse 3), which is not consistent with a future heavenly rest.
A closer look at Hebrews 4
Verse 1 speaks of "his rest," which means God's rest. Verse 3 speaks of this same "rest," and then quotes from the Old Testament in which God says "my rest." So far, this is speaking of the same "rest," but this chapter has not defined this "rest." yet. But it does in the verse 4:
Hebrews 4:4, "For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works."
So, the rest spoken of in Hebrew 4, so far, is the seventh day rest, the sabbath. Continuing, verse 5 says, "And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest." Notice it says "again." It is speaking of the same seventh day rest. Verse 6 says, "therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein." This is speaking about some who must enter into his rest, which remains.
Verse 7 begins, "Again, he limiteth a certain day," and then speaks about David. This verse is showing how God "again" limits the seventh day as a holy day. Verse 8 speaks about Joshua.
Now verses 9-11 speak of the "rest" for the bondservants of Christ in the New Testament age. Let us briefly summarize Hebrews 4 so far. The "rest" spoken of is God's rest, which is the seventh day, the same day God rested on at creation. Verse 5 says "again," and speaks of the seventh day again. Verse 6 says, "it remaineth," and explains how the seventh day remains. Verse 7 says, "Again, he limiteth a certain day," and is speaking about the seventh day sabbath.
Verse 5: "again."
Verse 6: "it remaineth."
Verse 7: "again."
Now, how does verse 9 begin? "There remaineth"! Remains what?
Hebrews 4:9, "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God."
There is only one rest spoken of in Hebrews 4. The seventh day rest. If this "rest" is a new heavenly rest, or if this rest is our rest in Jesus, then how could it "remain"? For something to remain, it must have been in existence before! It is obvious that the "rest" that remains is the seventh day rest. And remember, the Greek word for "rest" in verse 9 is "sabbatismos", which means "a keeping of the sabbath". This is the only occurrence of this word in the entire scripture. So Hebrews 4:9 specifically states, "There remaineth therefore a [keeping of the sabbath] to the people of God!"
However, just so there is no confusion as to what "rest" is spoken of in the above verse, verses 10 and 11 clarify what this rest is:
Hebrews 4:10-11, "For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief."
Notice it is speaking of "his rest," which is defined throughout Hebrews 4 as the seventh day. And verse 10 itself explains this rest as ceasing from ones own works as God did from his! Dear reader, how did God cease from his own works? By resting on the seventh day! And if we are to rest from our own works as God did from His, then how do we do that? By resting on the seventh day as well! Just like the fourth Commandment says (Exodus 20:8-11). And don't forget that Hebrews 4:11 commands us to enter into this same rest that God, David, and Joshua entered into, which is no other than the seventh day Sabbath of the Lord!
"If the Sabbath existed from the creation of the world, why is it not mentioned for so long a time after what is said of its first institution in Genesis 2:2-3?"Answer: Because of the history of those times it is so very brief. It might as well be asked why the Sabbath is not mentioned from Joshua to the reign of David? Or why is not circumcision mentioned from Joshua to Jeremiah? Can it be that the prophets and pious judges and Jews did not observe the Sabbath or circumcision during those periods? Of course not. And yet they are not once named.
The command to honour thy father and mother is not once mentioned in the book of Genesis. Neither is there any examples of anyone honouring their father and mother. Does this mean nobody honoured their parents? No. Does this mean that God did not expect anyone to honour their father and mother until it was written in the Ten Commandments? No. Does this mean that it was not a sin to dishonour one's parents for the first few thousand years of earth's history? No. Obviously, it would have been a sin to not honour ones parents before the Ten Commandments were given, as much as after. Why? Because God's Law was written on the heart during this time. And the book of Genesis is not a book about law, but about the origins and history of man. The book of Exodus and beyond are where God's Law is written, but God's Law was revealed from the beginning as well.
Many ancient writers bear testimony to the existence and observance of the Sabbath in various nations. A few are mentioned here:
- Homer and Hesiod both speak of the seventh day as holy.
- Porphyry says: "The Phoenicians consecrated one day in seven as holy."
- Philo says: "The Sabbath is not a festival peculiar to any one people or country, but is common to all the world, and that it may be named the general and public feast, or the feast of the nativity of the world." That is, a celebration of the worlds birthday.
- Josephus affirms: "That there is no city either of Greeks or barbarians, or any other nation, where the religion of the Sabbath is not known."
- Lampidius tells us that Alexander Severus, the Roman Emperor, usually went on the seventh day into the temple of the gods, there to offer sacrifice to the gods.
- Grotius says: "That the memory of the creation being performed in seven days, was preserved not only among the Greeks and the Italians, but among the Celts and Indians, all of whom divided their time into weeks."
- Humphrey (an historian.) adds: "The same is affirmed of the Assyrians, Egyptians, Gauls, Britons, and Germans." These facts show that the Sabbath was not a Jewish institution, but was known to and acknowledged by various nations.
"I still do not see where scripture says people will be worshipping on the Sabbath day after the Old Covenant vanished away."Answer: Speaking about "the new heavens and the new earth," the Lord said the following:
Isaiah 66:23, "And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD."
The phrase "from one new moon to another" is a time statement, meaning from month to month. Likewise, the phrase "from one sabbath to another" is also a time statement, meaning from week to week. This passage plainly states that in the new heavens and new earth, people will be worshipping God from one sabbath to another!
Dear reader, if the Sabbath was instituted at creation, and the sabbath was kept throughout the Old Covenant, and Jesus kept the Sabbath Day Holy, and the apostles kept the sabbath during the New Covenant era (after Jesus was crucified), and the Lord said people will worship him on the sabbath when he creates the new heavens and new earth, how can we feel that the sabbath was abolished? When did it become abolished?
"Don't you realize we are living under the New Covenant now, and keep Sunday instead of the Sabbath?"
Question. Well, it seems as though you have studied the subject of the covenants quite deeply! You undoubtedly know when the Old Covenant was instituted.
Answer. It was started at Mount Sinai. (Exodus 19:11; 31:18).
Question. And how was it ratified?
Answer. By the sprinkling of the blood of oxen (Exodus 24:5-8).
Question. Very good. And how was the New Covenant ratified?
Answer. By the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross (Hebrews 12:14; 13:12, 20).
I commended you for your knowledge of the Scriptures. I'd like to ask you to read me two verses out of your Bibles; Hebrews 9:16-17 and Galatians 3:15.
Hebrews 9:16-17, "For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth."
Galatians 3:15, "Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto."
Question. Are we in agreement that the New Covenant did not go into effect until the moment Christ died? (Hebrews 9:16-17)
Question. And that nothing can be added or taken away from this Covenant after Jesus ratified it on the cross? (Galatians 3:15)
Question. Now you must answer two more questions for me. Here's the first one, and you must think carefully to give me the correct answer: When did Sunday keeping begin?
Answer. (Shocked silence).
Question. Surely you can tell me the answer to this question. You have known all the others, and have answered correctly. When and why do you think people began keeping Sunday?
Answer. We keep Sunday in honor of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Question. Then I must ask you my last question. How could Sundaykeeping be a part of the New Covenant? You just stated that nothing could be added after the death of Christ. He died on Friday and was resurrected on Sunday. If Sunday was added after Jesus died, it could never be a part of the New Covenant, could it?
Answer. We'll study into that and talk to you later.
The scripture states that the testator (Jesus Christ) died to confirm the New Testament (Hebrews 9:16). And that nothing could be added to this New Covenant once it was confirmed, when Jesus died (Galatians 3:15). Jesus died on Friday, so the New Testament went in force on Friday (Hebrews 9:17). Jesus was resurrected on Sunday. Sunday keeping did not exist before the New Testament was confirmed. So if Sunday was added to the New Testament after Jesus died, that means it was added after the New Testament was confirmed. So, according to the scripture, it is not part of the New Testament, because this is something that was added after the New Testament was confirmed!
The fact is that Sundaykeeping, even if it had started on the day of the resurrection, would have been three days too late to get into the New Covenant. Both Bible and history prove that Sunday was never observed by the apostolic church. It was added much, much later as a result of the gradual apostasy which developed in the early centuries of the church and which culminated in the pagan accommodation of Constantine in 330 A.D.
Millions of modern church members regard Sunday as a sacred day which memorializes the resurrection of Christ. It is certainly true that Christ arose on the first day of the week, but nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to keep that day holy. Events such as the crucifixion and resurrection should mean much to every bondman of Christ, but not one intimation is given in the Bible for observing either Friday or Sunday. The only day ever commanded for weekly worship is the seventh day of the week - the same Sabbath Jesus kept during creation week and the one He will keep with His people throughout all eternity (Genesis 2:1-3, Isaiah 66:22, 23).
The very strongest reason for rejecting Sunday worship is that it was not included in the New Covenant requirements which were ratified by the death of Jesus. If Christ had desired His resurrection to be memorialized by Sundaykeeping, He could have introduced it on that same Thursday night of the Last Supper. Then it would have become a part of the New Covenant, along with the Communion service and the observance of His death, even though it had not taken place yet. Just as easily He could have commanded the observance of His resurrection, which was still future, in order that it might become a New Covenant requirement. But He did not!
"The Sabbath Law was given to the children of Israel only, so they are not binding on believers on Christ."Answer: Actually, the sabbath was not given to the children of Israel only, they were given to the stranger as well. The scripture is clear that there were not two laws, but the same law applied to both Israel and strangers, believers and non-believers (Exodus 12:49, Isaiah 56:6, Numbers 9:14; 15:15-16,29-30, Psalm 18:44).
Leviticus 24:22, "Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God."
God ruled over all the kingdoms of the heathens, not just the kingdom of Israel (2 Chronicles 20:6). The Lord is, "the governor among the nations" (Psalms 22:28), and not just the governor among Israel.
Ecclesiastes 12:13, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." (notice it does not say "jews" here, but man...all men).
This is also proven by fact that there can be no "sin" without the "law":
Romans 3:20, "...by the law is the knowledge of sin."
Romans 4:15, "...where no law is, there is no transgression."
1 John 3:4, "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law."
Scripture says both Jews and Gentiles are under sin (Romans 3:9), and the "world" is guilty of breaking God's Law.
Galatians 3:22, "But the scripture hath concluded all under sin..."
God cannot convict the whole world of sin unless the Laws of God are binding upon the whole world, because if there's no law, there's no sin. If God's law was only for Israel, how could God bring judgment upon Gentiles and heathen nations for not keeping His law? This fact alone proves that all nations are to keep God's Law.
Many believe that the laws contained in the Ten Commandments applied only to Jews, and not to the heathens. This goes contrary to all the evidence in scripture. For example, God told The Philistine king of Gerar, king Abimelech (i.e., a heathen, foreigner, and stranger), the following, "...Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife. But Abimelech...said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?" (Genesis 20:3-4). If the laws contained in the Ten Commandments, such as adultery, did not apply to the heathen, how did this heathen king not only know it was a sin against God, but why did God threaten this man with death if he did not let this married woman return to her husband (Genesis 20:7)? The answer is, because there is one law for both the heathen and believers, the same law, God's Law.
As a matter of fact, for those who believe the Old Testament was given to the house of Israel only, scripture says the New Covenant was given to the "house of Israel" only as well (Jeremiah 31:33, Hebrews 8:10; 10:16)!!! Does that mean the New Testament does not apply to believers in Christ just because it was given to the house of Israel? Of course not. And why not? Why does the New Testament apply to all people; Jews, gentiles, and believers alike? For the same reason the Old Testament applied to all people as well. Because it is Truth! Because the same law is for both Israel and strangers! Besides, "Israel" is not a specific nation or race, it is all those who believe in God. All Christians are "Israel" and "Jews" today (Romans 1:16; 2:28-29; 9:4-8; 10:12, 1 Corinthians 10:2-4, Galatians 3:16,26-29, Colossians 3:11).
This fact alone proves that we cannot use this criteria to discern if a law has passed away or not. Just because a law was given to the children of Israel "only" has no bearing on whether it applies to those living under the New Testament. The command prohibiting having sex with an animal was also given to the "children of Israel" only; does that mean it is not binding upon the servants of Christ? Does that mean Christians can have sex with our pets and it will be okay? Of course not. A sin is a sin. This logic does not work for the sin of laying with animals, and neither does it work for the sin of breaking the Sabbath.
Many people believe that the following laws were given to Jews only, but scripture says otherwise. In Old Testament times, non-Jews were also partakers of, not only God's Law, but the Mosaic laws as well. God wanted the "stranger" within their gates to do the following:
- to be circumcised (Exodus 12:48);
- to keep the 7th day sabbath (Exodus 20:10; 23:12, Deuteronomy 5:14);
- to keep yearly solemn fast (Leviticus 16:29);
- to keep the 7th year sabbath (Leviticus 25:6);
- to observe the feast of weeks (Deuteronomy 16:11);
- to observe the feast of tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:13-14);
- to not eat blood (Leviticus 17:10,12);
- to not eat animals that die of itself or is torn (Leviticus 17:15);
- to keep God's statutes and judgments (Leviticus 18:26);
- to not eat of the holy thing (Leviticus 22:10);
- to be stoned to death if he blasphemeth the name of the LORD (Leviticus 24:16);
- to be put to death if he comes near the tabernacle (Numbers 1:51; 3:10,38; 18:4,7);
- to not eat leavened bread during the feast of unleavened bread; (Exodus 12:18-20);
- to keep the passover (Exodus 12:48, Numbers 9:14);
- to make burnt offerings to the LORD (Numbers 15:14);
- to not commit any sexual sins (Leviticus 18:26)
- to be forgiven as the children of Israel were forgiven (Numbers 15:26);
- to be cut off from among his people if he does something presumptuously (Numbers 15:30);
- to use the ashes of the heifer as a purification for sin, and it was to be a statute for ever (Numbers 19:9-10);
- to go to the cities of refuge when one kills by accident (Numbers 35:15; Joshua 20:9);
- to eat and be satisfied (Deuteronomy 14:29);
- to rejoice before the Lord (Deuteronomy 26:11);
- to hear, learn, and fear the LORD your God, and do all the words of God's law (Deuteronomy 31:12);
- to have no idols (Ezekiel 14:7);
Jews were commanded to treat strangers:
- as one born among them (Leviticus 19:34);
- to judge strangers righteously (Deuteronomy 1:16);
- to love strangers (Deuteronomy 10:18-19);
- to share tithes with the stranger (Deuteronomy 14:28-29; 26:12-13);
- to do no violence to the stranger (Jeremiah 22:3);
- to give strangers their inheritance depending in what tribe they were sojourning with (Ezekiel 47:23);
- Strangers also stood on the side of the ark and heard all the words of the law (Joshua 8:32-35).
Isaiah 56:6-7, "Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people."
The fact that God has punished Heathen nations throughout the Old Testament is proof that God's Law was binding upon the stranger without the gates of Israel as well. If God's Law was not binding upon them, why would God punish them for breaking His Laws?
The stranger within thy gates
God's fourth commandment (Exodus 20:10) tells us briefly "who" must observe this law, but there are certain people not mentioned. For example, it says, "Thou, and thy son, and thy daughter...", but "wife" is not mentioned in this commandment! Does that mean the "wife" did not have to keep the sabbath day holy? No, of course not. The wife had to keep it just as much as the husband did. This fact shows that just because certain people are not specifically mentioned in this commandment, it does not mean they are excluded from keeping the Sabbath.
Likewise, just as God's fourth commandment mentions the man but not his wife, the fourth commandment mentions strangers within their gates, but not outside their gates. And just as in the case with the man and wife, in which the Sabbath pertains to both of them (even though the wife is not mentioned), the same is true with the stranger within the gates as well as without the gates (even though the stranger without the gates is not mentioned).
Some may believe that the phrase "the stranger within thy gates," (God's fourth commandment) or "the stranger that sojourneth among you" is limited to only those strangers within the gates (i.e. strangers who soujorneth among them), and excludes all strangers without the gates. But, when we compare scripture with scripture, these phrases pertain to all strangers, whether inside or outside the gates.
Does adultery (and all the other sexual sins in scripture), only apply to Jews, or to all strangers as well? If that phrase is limited to only strangers that sojourneth among them within their gates, then we must say adultery (God's seventh commandment) and every sexual sin in scripture, is not a sin for the stranger if he is not sojourning with them and is outside the gates of Jerusalem. Leviticus 18 lists every sexual sin that God considers an abomination. After all these sins are revealed, look what God says:
Leviticus 18:26, "Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:"
Scripture shows us that this phrase does not exclude strangers who are not sojourning among them, because God shows us, in His Word, that His law forbidding adultery applies to the heathen as well. God plagued Pharoaoh and his house because they were treating Abraham's wife as an unmarried woman (Genesis 12:11-20). God told King Abimelech (the Philistine king of Gerar, a heathen) that adultery was wrong, and that the penalty for committing adultery was death (Genesis 20:1-7; 26:7-11). Therefore, the phrase "any stranger that sojourneth among you" does not exclude the strangers not sojourning among them.
How about God's second commandment, forbidding idols? Is this limited to only Jews and those strangers sojourning in Israel, or does it apply to everyone?
Ezekiel 14:7-8, "For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself: And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the LORD."
Scripture shows us that this phrase does not exclude strangers who are not sojourning in Israel, because God shows us, in His Word, that His law forbidding idol worship applies to the heathen living outside of Israel. The fact that God has punished Heathen nations throughout the Old Testament is proof that God's Law was binding upon the heathens without the gates of Israel as well. If God's Law was not binding upon them, why would God punish them for breaking His Laws?
Deuteronomy 29:16-17, "(For ye know how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which ye passed by; And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:)"
Notice in the above passage that scripture says Egypt and other heathen nations were committing abominations with their idols. If the law prohibiting idols did not apply to heathen nations, but only to those in Israel, why would God say these Heathen nations were sinning by having idols? The reason is because they were sinning and committing abominations by having idols, because God's Law applied to the heathen nations as well as to the nation of Israel.
Learning God's Word:
Was it God's will that the stranger outside the gates not learn about and fear God, and observe the words of the law?
Deuteronomy 31:12, "Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:"
Scripture shows us that this phrase does not exclude strangers who are not within thy gates because God shows us, in His Word, that it is God's Will that strangers outside the gates hear and learn and fear the Lord God, and observe His Law. For example, remember Nineveh and Jonah (in the book of Jonah)? Nineveh, a heathen city, was doing evil, and God sent a prophet, Jonah, to that city so these people would be informed that they were sinning. God told Jonah to tell Nineveh they had 40 days to repent of their sins, or God would destroy them. Jonah went to Nineveh and told them they were going against God's Law. Then the people in that heathen city repented of their sins, and started to obey God's Law from that moment on, and God graciously spared that city from destruction.
Vex means "to suppress, treat violently, maltreat, do wrong." Does Leviticus 19:33 apply only to strangers that sojourn with them; meaning that it was okay for God's children to suppress, treat violently, maltreat, and do wrong to every man, woman, and child throughout the rest of the earth? Or was it God's Will that His Children treat all men, women, and children with love, regardless of where they live?
Leviticus 19:33, " And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him."
Deuteronomy 24:14, "Thou shalt not oppress...thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates:"
Obviously, all the above passages refer to all strangers, regardless of where they sojourn. Proof of this is found in:
Exodus 22:21, "Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt." (See also Exodus 23:9).
Leviticus 18 and 20 lists all the sexual sins in scripture. After Leviticus 18 lists all these sexual sins, it states:
Leviticus 18:26, "Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:"
Does this mean that these sexual sins are an abomination only for the strangers that sojourn among them, and not to the strangers in other nations? No, it does not have that meaning. This is proven by reading the context:
Leviticus 18:24-30, "Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God."
As we can see, it was an abomination for the heathen nations as well to commit these sexual sins. Now let's look at Leviticus 20.
Leviticus 20:2, "Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones."
Does this mean that it is not a sin for strangers who are not sojourning in Israel? No, this phrase does not have that meaning.
Leviticus 20:23, "And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them."
God abhorred these heathen nations, and cast them out, because they committed these same acts that "the strangers that sojourn in Israel" were forbidden to do. This shows that this phrase is not a term of limitation.
This command applies to all strangers, no matter where they are sojourning, or what country they are from.
Therefore, when the 4th commandment says it was for the stranger within thy gates, that means it was a law for the stranger without the gates also. That is the scriptural meaning of this phrase.
In addition, when God's Ten Commandments were first given, what "gates" was God referring to? The children of Israel, at that time, were in Egypt, in the wilderness. They were not in the country of Israel, with gates around them. This would not happen for at least another 40 years. So, obviously, the "gates" did not refer to any physical gates or borders.
Why this phrase?
Why does the fourth commandment, and many other passages, say "the stranger that is within thy gates" or "the stranger that sojourneth among you", instead of just saying "stranger?", so as to make it clearer that it applies to all strangers as well?
The main reason has to do with letting the children of Israel know that when a stranger in their country sins, they are not to turn a blind eye to their sin just because they are from another country. God wanted them to know that the stranger will be held accountable for their sin just as much as the children of Israel are. There is one law for all men. What applies to the children of Israel, also applies if they see a heathen down the road committing the same sin. Do not let the fact that he is from another country excuse his sin.
Another reason has to do with jurisdiction and judging. When the children of God judge others as to whether they are sinning or not, they are only allowed to judge those within their own jurisdiction, and not those without their jurisdiction. For example, the law concerning adultery applies to everyone, believer and unbeliever alike, no matter where they sojourn. If a stranger committed adultery within the gates of Israel, he was to be stoned to death. But if a stranger committed adultery outside the gates of Israel (in another country), the children of Israel had no authority to leave their own country, enter into that pagan country, break down the adulterer's door to his house, drag that stranger out of bed and back to Israel, then stone him to death.
In short, judgment of the strangers outside the gates of Israel is left only to God, whereas judgment of all men and women, both believers and strangers, within the gates of Israel, were given to God's people.
Deuteronomy 17:2-7, "If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant, And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die. At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you."
This same truth is expressed in the New Testament as well, by brother Paul:
1 Corinthians 5:9-13, "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person."
As we see, Paul did not command us wholly to abstain from intercourse with worldly men, for that would require us to retire from the world. It is not the will of God that good men should retire from the world to avoid its evils; nor is that the way to become more holy, useful, or happy. Our duty is to communicate with the wicked, for the purpose of doing them good. It is important to notice that Paul did not give directions concerning our conduct towards the heathen, but towards our brothers. This is very important.
Paul is saying here that we may transact our worldly concerns with someone that knows not God, and makes no profession of Christ, whatever his character may be; but we must not even acknowledge a man professing Christ, who is evil in his conduct. Let him have this extra mark of your abhorrence of all sin; and let the world see that the assembly of God does not tolerate iniquity.
Paul says, "For what have I to do to judge them also that are without?" The term without signified those who were not members of the Christ's assembly, and in this sense it is "those that are without." In other words, "Does it belong to me to pass sentence on those which are without - which are not members of the Christ's assembly? By no means. Pass ye sentence on them which are within - which are members of the Christ's assembly: those which are without - which are not members of the Christ's assembly, God will pass sentence on, in that way in which he generally deals with the heathen world."
Paul also says, "But put ye away the evil from among yourselves." Those who are false brethren ought to be cast out of the congregation. As for those who are outside of it, they must be left to the judgment of God. If members of the Christ's assembly continue in evil, sin, and unrighteousness, their good, the good of the Christ's assembly, and the honor of Christ require that they should be excluded from it.
When Paul said, "For what have I to do to judge them also that are without", it was not Paul's business, nor ours, to judge those without; hence the rule just given is not one to regulate our intercourse with them.
When Paul said, "Do not ye judge them that are within?", He was saying the authority of the Christ's assembly is over those who have been united with it. It can judge them. Is not your jurisdiction as bondservant of Christ confined to those who are within the Christ's assembly, and professed members of it? Ought you not to exercise discipline there, and inflict punishment on its unworthy members? Do you not in fact thus exercise discipline, and separate from your assembly unworthy men; and ought it not to be done in this instance, and in reference to the offender in your assembly?
Paul also stated, "Them that are without, God will judge." The passing sentence on the heathen God hath reserved to Himself. The unconverted are left in the hands of God. He will judge them according to their deeds. We are not to seek to inflict punishment on them by shunning them, but rather to go to them in the love of Christ to try to lead them to repentance.
When Paul said, "Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person", this sentence of excommunication in language is taken from the Old Testament, where the like directions are given to the congregation of Israel, relative to a man found guilty of evil:
Deuteronomy 13:5, "…So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee."
Deuteronomy 17:7, "So thou shalt put the evil away from among you."
Deuteronomy 24:7, "…and thou shalt put evil away from among you."
Discipline must be exercised in the Christ's assembly; without this it will soon differ but little from the wilderness of this world. If evil be tolerated, the work of God cannot prosper there. The passing sentence on brothers properly belongs to us. This is a summary order to execute discipline upon the incestuous offender. But those without the assembly properly belong to God to judge.
Just as in the Old Testament, God's children were to judge one another (those who were within their gates). But as far as a stranger (gentile), they were to judge only those strangers within their gates, even though God's Law applied to all people, whether strangers or Jews (just as today, God's Law applies to all people, but our judgment is limited to those within our jurisdiction). If a Jew saw a gentile committing adultery outside the gates, they were not to stone him with stones, because God judges the gentiles outside the jurisdiction of His People. Likewise, bondservants of Christ are not to judge and take action against unbelievers who are outside their jurisdiction. But those who are within the gates of Jerusalem, including the gentiles who were sojourning among them, and God's children, they are to be judged by those within that community. That is still our duty today, to judge our brother, and take appropriate action against that brother.
But are not strangers under a different law?
Even though scripture says God's Law applies to all men, and that there were not two laws, but the same law applied to both Israel and strangers, believers and non-believers (Exodus 12:49, Leviticus 24:22, Isaiah 56:6, Numbers 9:14; 15:15-16,29-30, Psalm 18:44), some claim that sometimes, a stranger would not be under God's law, and only the children of Israel would be under God's Law, while the stranger was not.
To evidence this, they use the following scripture. It is against God's Law for a believer to eat an animal that dies by itself (Leviticus 17:15; 22:8), but at the same time, believers are commanded to give it or sell it to an unbeliever (Deuteronomy 14:21). Another example is usury. Believers are forbidden to charge usury to another believer (Exodus 22:25, Leviticus 25:36-37, Deuteronomy 23:19), but at the same time, God commands believers to charge usury to unbelievers! A final example is that of being a bondmen (meaning a lifelong slave). Believers were forbidden from buying, selling or having bondservants that were also believers (Leviticus 25:42). However, believers were commanded to buy, sell, and have bondservants who were unbelievers (Leviticus 25:44).
But, the confusion is cleared up when we understand that this was the Law of God. When God said, "An Israelite cannot eat something that dies of itself, but the stranger can", this is the law of God, and both the stranger and Israelite was under this law.
Let me demonstrate with a hypothetical example.
In the State of Maine, we can say all people must obey the traffic laws of that State. The Law of Maine says "Those 14 years of age and older can drive a car, those under 14 years of age cannot drive a car."
Let us take 2 people. One is 23 years old, the other 13. Does this mean the 13 year old is not under this specific law of Maine, just because the 13 year old is told something different than those 14 and older? No, it does not. This is Maine's Law, and both the 13 year old and 23 year old are bound to obey it. The 23 year old is allowed to drive, the 13 year old is not. Both these regulations are part of the Law of Maine. And all people in Maine are bound by this traffic law. Maine's law is for both those over 14 as well as those under 14.
Likewise, God's Law says the Israelite cannot eat an animal that dies of itself, and the stranger can.
Let us take 2 people. An Israelite and a stranger. Does this mean the stranger is not under this specific law of God? No, it does not. This is God's Law, and both Israelites and strangers are bound to obey it. The Israelite is not allowed to eat, the stranger is. Both these regulations are part of the law of God. And all people in Israel are bound to obey it. God's Law is for both Israelites and strangers.
You see, different people might be regulated differently by God, but all people were under the same law; God's Law. No exceptions.
Another example to illustrate this is that God's Law required a sacrifice for sins. However, depending upon who the man was who sinned, the sacrifices would differ for each man. The sacrificial system incorporated into law a basic principle: the greater the responsibility, the greater the culpability, the greater the sin. This is very clearly set forth in Leviticus, according to which there are four levels or grades of sin:
- of the high priest (Leviticus 4:3-12), whose sin offering required a bullock, the largest and most expensive sacrifice. Religious leaders, because they have a central responsibility with respect to the law of God, are all the more guilty, and all the more severely judged by God.
- of the sin of the whole congregation is next in consequence (Leviticus 4:13-21). The sin of a people collectively is a real one: it can be a sin of ignorance, or of falling short in obeying the law, but it is still a sin. The required sacrifice was again a bullock.
- of the sin of a ruler is next in order of consequence. The sin offering here was “a kid of the goats, a male without blemish” (Leviticus 4:22-26). The “ruler” clearly includes all civil magistrates (Proverbs 24:12).
- of the sins of individuals, of any of the people of the land, are last in the order of sins (Leviticus 4:27-35). For the well-to-do, the prosperous, a female kid was required; if they were unable to bring the kid, a lamb could be offered. For sins of inadvertency, the poor could bring two turtle-doves or two young pigeons (Leviticus 5:11); for other sacrifices also, this poor man's offering was possible.
All these people were under God's Law. Just because the high priest was commanded to do something different than the poor man, both the high priest and poor man were under the same law...God's Law. Likewise, just because the stranger was commanded to do something different than an Israelite, both the stranger and the children of Israel were under the same law...God's Law.
The Silence of Scripture
A common question asked is, "If the Sabbath Day is still binding under the New Testament, why is there no clear command to keep it in the New Testament books?" But the burden is really upon people to prove that God changed the sabbath, and should ask themselves, "If God changed the Sabbath, why don't you read about this change in the New Testament books?"
In other words, because there was a very clear change about sacrificing animals for sins from the Old to the New Covenant, you read all about that throughout the New Testament books, and this was just a ceremonial law. But if one of the Ten Commandments had been altered or abrogated in the New Testament, there would have been much teaching on this issue, so they would be clear on that. Especially something that would have been as obvious as the day of worship. But the silence is actually an endorsement that is has not changed.
For instance, suppose the government should decide to change which side of the road to drive on. Let's say they change it from the right side to the left side. If they were not to educate thoroughly the population, can you imagine the traffic snarl there would be in 24 hours? Because it's an every day law you live with. And the Sabbath is an every week Law, it was not an annual feast. And for the Jews to change it from the day that went back from Adam, the seventh day, to a new day or no day at all, to have silence in the New Testament is the loudest argument that it's still intact.
However, many people try to use the silence of scripture to say that certain laws of God were either never given, or were abolished. However, as will be seen, it is impossible to use this criteria to come to this conclusion.
Example 1. I am thinking of a specific law. I will not tell you what this specific law says, only it's description, which describes many laws. Tell me if it passed away or not. This law requires the sacrificing of an animal to atone for ones sin. Has this law passed away? Yes. But notice I did not tell you what animal, who was to do the sacrificing, what the reason is for sacrificing it, where it is to be sacrificed, when it is to be sacrificed. Yet, you were able to tell me it was passed away. Why? Because scripture specifically says that these laws passed away.
Example 2. I am thinking of a specific law. I will not tell you what this specific law say, only it's description, which describes many laws. Tell me if it passed away. A certain book of the bible does not mention this particular law. Does that mean this particular law was passed away at this point? No. It is impossible for anyone to determine if a law has passed away based upon the silence of scripture. We must use what scripture says!
However, most people use the silence of scripture to determine that the Sabbath Day has passed away! They use something which is impossible, and use this impossibility to build their doctrine on. For example, here is a common list of reasons why people believe the sabbath day was never given to anyone but Israel, and is no longer binding for them today. Each and every one of these arguments are using "silence" to establish doctrine.
Now, on its face, these seems like good arguments to claim the sabbath was never given and is passed away. However, those who use this argument refuse to use this same argument on other Laws of God equally, they only limit this argument to the laws they do not want to obey. If other laws fit into this same criteria, but they agree with keeping that law of God, they will not come to the same conclusion as they do for the Sabbath Day.
- The Sabbath was never specifically commanded to Adam and Eve.
- The Sabbath was never specifically commanded to anyone in the book of Genesis.
- There is no mention of Abraham, Noah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph keeping or breaking the Sabbath.
- Their is no mention of Job keeping or breaking the sabbath.
- There is no mention of any nation, except Israel, keeping or breaking the Sabbath.
- The Sabbath was never specifically commanded in the New Testament books.
- The Sabbath was never specifically commanded to the gentiles in the New Testament books.
- There is no mention of anyone in the New Testament being punished for not keeping the Sabbath.
For example, let's take the Law that says it is a sin to have sex with an animal. If they replace the word "Sabbath" in the above criteria, with the law that forbids having sex with an animal, the same results are true for this law, as with the sabbath law! Yet, these same people believe it was a sin to have sex with an animal since Adam and Eve, it was a sin for both believers and heathens, and it is still a sin to have sex with animals today! Even though they claim the sabbath has passed away because of the above truths, they do not claim the same for the law prohibiting having sex with animals! Even though it fits into this same criteria!
Why do they come to different conclusions, when the results are exactly the same? The reason is the following. Those who use the above arguments are not really using the silence of scripture to determine if a law has passed away or not, they are using it as an excuse to disobey those parts of God's Law that they do not agree with.
Instead of going to what scripture does say about the sabbath, they prefer going to what scripture does not say about the sabbath. This way, they can make scripture say whatever they want it to say! This is called the "strawman" argument.
It is impossible to use the silence of scripture to determine if a law of God has passed away or not. And we should not use that which is impossible to determine truth, we should not use silence to determine truth. We should use what scripture says for truth.
Consider this question for a moment.
"If a man had others work for him 7 days a week, without a day of rest, for years and years, would that be evil?"
Please answer yes or no before going on. You see, many tyrannical countries, throughout time, have had its citizens work 7 days a week, and depression, corruption, degeneration, and a savage selfishness of spirit were always the result. History has proven this to be the result of working 7 days a week.
I asked this question to a man who believed that the sabbath day, the 4th commandment, was abolished. He believed that as long as one rests in the Lord, then one does not need a physical day of rest anymore. But, his answer to my above question was, "Yes. If a man had others work 7 days a week, he would not have the Spirit in him." So, at this point, both he and I agreed it would be evil to have someone work 7 days a week! I then asked him, "Why would it be evil for a man to have his workers work 7 days a week without a day of rest?" He replied, "Because we are to love our neighbor." Then I asked him, "Where in the Word of God does it say we would not love our neighbor if we had him work 7 days a week?" He could not, or would not, answer my question. Why? Because he would have to say, "the 4th commandment," which he claims was abolished and no longer applies to those in Christ.
Do you see the contradiction in this line of reasoning? If there is no need for a day of physical rest anymore (as long as we rest in the Lord), and it is no longer evil if a man decides to work seven days a week, then how can anyone call it evil to have others work for him seven days a week? There is no answer, because either it is evil to work 7 days a week, or it is not.
Some may try to answer this question by saying, "It is evil for a man to tell someone else how long to work for him. It should be left up to the worker how long to work, as he is led by the Spirit." My reply would be the following. If a husbandman has land that needs harvesting, and it was up to the workers to decide for themselves how often to work, and the workers say, "I enjoyed working today, but for the next 6 days, let's all get together and have bible study instead of going to work for the husbandman." Is that good? If the fruits and vegetables spoil, because they did not work, is this an example of a worker that God approves of? Of course not. The husbandman knows what needs to be done and when, most workers just do what they are told because their boss knows what needs to be done. If somebody works for another, they are to do the job that they agreed to do. The worker is free to work for someone else if he is moved to, but he is not free to do as he pleases while working under another.
In the parable of Jesus at Matthew 20:1-9, a husbandman tells each worker how long to work, because he knows how much work is required to get the job done. The husbandman tells the workers how long to work, and pays each of them at the end of the day. Jesus describes that man as a good and righteous man of God. But, according to the above reasoning, they are saying it was evil for that man to tell his workers how long to work. Again, this shows how the above line of reasoning contradicts not only their own line of reasoning, but scripture as well. Keep in mind that these workers were free not to work for this husbandman; this husbandman did not force anyone to work. But he did tell his workers that if they worked for him, they were to do a certain job for a certain length of time, and this is not evil to do, but necessary. Otherwise, there would be all chiefs, and no one to take orders!
Christ did not change the law of the Sabbath day. On the Sabbath day, one was to rest in the Lord on that day. What many wrongly believe is that we no longer need to physically rest from our labour one day a week. Or, in other words, it is no longer evil if one works 7 days a week. They are saying as long as one rests in the Lord, one can work 7 days a week and it will be righteous, holy and good, in God's eyes. One can treat that day like an ordinary work day, and instead of profaning it, like God says would happen, it would be good.
Therefore, if workers are resting in the Lord when they work, how could it possibly be evil to have someone work them 7 days a week, when Christ made that a righteous, holy, and good work? The answer is, this is impossible. They are saying, "On the one hand, it is no longer evil for me to work 7 days a week, but, on the other, it would be evil for another man to have me work 7 days a week." This line of reasoning accomplishes one thing; it re-defines good and evil. Men who think this way are determining for themselves what is good and evil. They say, "Oh, it is not evil if I choose to work 7 days a week, because that is what I want to do. But if somebody else wants me to work 7 days a week for them, then that is evil, because I need a day of rest, unless, of course, I enjoy working for him 7 days a week."
This is a double standard. But God does not use double standards. To God, it is evil to work 7 days a week; it matters not if a man voluntarily wants to work 7 days a week, or if a man tells somebody else to work 7 days a week, this is still considered a sin by God.
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