Contend Earnestly: Has the Sabbath Moved to the Lord's Day?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Has the Sabbath Moved to the Lord's Day?

I took this from The Bible Bulletin Board from the MacArthur's Q & A section of the webpage. I know that this is a tough one for my reformed friends to "swallow" and I also wish that their view of the Sabbath was a conviction of mine. I am tired of the Lord's Day being used as just "morning worship" at best among the local church (not speaking of my actual church). Even so, my conviction is that the Sabbath has not moved to the Lord's Day. So, here we go:

We believe the Old Testament regulations governing Sabbath observances are ceremonial, not moral, aspects of the law. As such, they are no longer in force, but have passed away along with the sacrificial system, the Levitical priesthood, and all other aspects of Moses' law that prefigured Christ. Here are the reasons we hold this view.

1. In Colossians 2:16-17, Paul explicitly refers to the Sabbath as a shadow of Christ, which is no longer binding since the substance (Christ) has come. It is quite clear in those verses that the weekly Sabbath is in view. The phrase "a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day" refers to the annual, monthly, and weekly holy days of the Jewish calendar (cf. 1 Chronicles 23:31; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 31:3; Ezekiel 45:17; Hosea 2:11). If Paul were referring to special ceremonial dates of rest in that passage, why would he have used the word "Sabbath?" He had already mentioned the ceremonial dates when he spoke of festivals and new moons.

2. The Sabbath was the sign to Israel of the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 31:16-17; Ezekiel 20:12; Nehemiah 9:14). Since we are now under the New Covenant (Hebrews 8), we are no longer required to observe the sign of the Mosaic Covenant.

3. The New Testament never commands Christians to observe the Sabbath.

4. In our only glimpse of an early church worship service in the New Testament, the church met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

5. Nowhere in the Old Testament are the Gentile nations commanded to observe the Sabbath or condemned for failing to do so. That is certainly strange if Sabbath observance were meant to be an eternal moral principle.

6. There is no evidence in the Bible of anyone keeping the Sabbath before the time of Moses, nor are there any commands in the Bible to keep the Sabbath before the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai.

7. When the Apostles met at the Jerusalem council (Acts 15), they did not impose Sabbath keeping on the Gentile believers.

8. The apostle Paul warned the Gentiles about many different sins in his epistles, but breaking the Sabbath was never one of them.

9. In Galatians 4:10-11, Paul rebukes the Galatians for thinking God expected them to observe special days (including the Sabbath).

10. In Romans 14:5, Paul forbids those who observe the Sabbath (these were no doubt Jewish believers) to condemn those who do not (Gentile believers).

11. The early church fathers, from Ignatius to Augustine, taught that the Old Testament Sabbath had been abolished and that the first day of the week (Sunday) was the day when Christians should meet for worship (contrary to the claim of many seventh-day sabbatarians who claim that Sunday worship was not instituted until the fourth century).

12. Sunday has not replaced Saturday as the Sabbath. Rather the Lord's Day is a time when believers gather to commemorate His resurrection, which occurred on the first day of the week. Every day to the believer is one of Sabbath rest, since we have ceased from our spiritual labor and are resting in the salvation of the Lord (Hebrews 4:9-11).

So while we still follow the pattern of designating one day of the week a day for the Lord's people to gather in worship, we do not refer to this as "the Sabbath."


Anonymous said...

Seth, I believe the premise to your argument needs work. Observation of the Sabbath is clearly a moral command as it is the fourth commandment of the morallaw.

If your going to argue it has been set aside then the rest of the ten commandments would have to be as well. This is antinomianism. I certainly wouldn't condemn someone if they chose not to call the Lord's Day the Sabbath. But the implications for the Sabbath are applicable to the NT observation. I would recommend you reading what I've written here, and possiby deal with the issue then.

Anonymous said...

I'm also going to have to challenge this one, Seth, as you might have guessed! I invite you to read this paper that I published on my blog, and tell me what you think. By the way, the Sabbath cannot possibly be limited to the ceremonial law, since it was established at *creation,* (See Genesis 2:1-4) not at Mount Sinai. Therefore, the Sabbath is eternally binding, since it is in the same category as marriage and work. The day changes when the reasons for the seventh day are superseded by reasons for the first day.

The passages you cite could just as easily be referring to special Sabbath days and not the weekly Sabbath.

Anonymous said...

Seth, I'm going to agree with David and Lane. I'm curious how you deal with Hebrews 4:9, the remaining Sabbath rest for the people of God. It seems that if the Sabbath were no longer in effect then we would have no reason to look forward to one. Lane, if this is part of your article, forgive my repetition.

Seth McBee said...

First, know that this post is from MacArthur and not myself...but I do agree with him. I also, as I said in my opening, wish I was convicted in the Sabbath's Day being moved to the Lord's Day, but I am not.

Joe, you asked about Hebrews 4:9...all you have to do is read the preface of that verse where the "rest" for the believer is everyday in Christ. Look at Hebrews 4:3.

For we who have believed enter that rest...

We rest from our works into the rest of salvation in Christ. This is what I believe Colossians 2:16,17 is stating that the Sabbath and the other days, new moon, festivals and the such, are a shadow of what is to come, which is Christ, Who is the substance.

Lane and David.
I do need to read your articles and I will.

Land, David and Joe.
This, again is something that I do respect you for and love your respect for the Lord's Day as I feel as most of the evangelical community treat the Lord's Day as a day of enjoyment instead of worship.

Praise God for great brothers in Christ like yourselves that I can speak with.

Anonymous said...

You're right that we can agree in a common love for the worship of our Lord on his day.
As for the Hebrews passage, I'll refer to Lane's scholarship on the issue and text as to not repeat the argument.

Seth McBee said...

thank you for your patience in advance on the issue. I do know that it is too common for those who do not hold to a Sabbath for the Lord's Day to become close to blasphemy and this is what frightens me. But, I also don't want to become legalistic in my dealings with the Lord's Day (not saying that you guys are). In the end whether or not we "state our convictions" the same way, I would hope that we would all revere the Lord's Day as a day of worship in practice and in our hearts.

Anonymous said...

"it is too common for those who do not hold to a Sabbath for the Lord's Day to become close to blasphemy"

Could you please explain what you mean by this?

Seth McBee said...


As I watch what people do on the Lord's Day after church and also how they act outside of church seems to me that they at times can blaspheme God, that is to disrespect God on the day that those same people choose to congregate together to worship Him. What I do respect of the reformed position is their focus on the worship of God on the Lord's Day, that is why I also said that I wish that this were my conviction.

Anonymous said...

Seth, how can you want something to be your conviction w/o having it as such? If we are to hold fast to that which is truth, then we should only want that which is true, right? Does this mean you currently hold to something you don't want as a conviction and believe is unture, or that you are holding something true and want something untrue?

Seth McBee said...

Good question David...

By me saying that "I wish it were my conviction" I mean that from Scripture I wish I could be convicted of it. The reason I wish it were my conviction is because of the mis-use of the Lord's Day as a "whatever" day. I see people not wanting to do anything that has to do with church unless it is during the actual service, or we see people having a Saturday night service instead, or now even saying that they don't need a service...all this seems to stem from misusing the view of the Sabbath being done away with.
so, in essence I am saying like David, I wish that we had a cart for the ark, but unlike David who build a cart, I cannot...

I hope you know that I am not condemning your practices in any way and not equating you with "building a cart" for the Lord's Day, but that is what it would be for me at this point, because of the actions I see taking place within our churches and people.

Anonymous said...

Seth, if you view other Christian's use of the Lord's Day as a mis-use, you've already presupposed a correct use for it. The simply solution is to study what the Word has to say concerning the matter. Both the Westminster Confession and the 1689 London Baptist Confession speak strongly against breaking the Sabbath. The novelty is not in keeping the Sabbath, the new thing on the scene it to grossly dishonor it.

Anonymous said...

"If your going to argue it has been set aside then the rest of the ten commandments would have to be as well. This is antinomianism."

That would be true, except for the fact that each of the 10 commandments were, for lack of a better word, "re-commanded" in the New Testament itself- each of them, that is, except for the command to keep the Sabboth. I agree with Seth and MacArthur. Being in the New Covenant, and thus free from the Mosaic, its laws do not apply to us. This includes adherance to the "moral law" of Moses as well! Of course, this by no means permits us to murder, commit adultery, etc. But we are forbidden from doing those things because they violate Christ's commands of the New Testament, not because they are included in the Law of Moses.

Those of you who don't agree with Seth's position: could you comment more on the 12 reasons MacArthur lists in defense of this position? I found them very convincing, and I'm curious how you get around those things- especially the references in which the LORD seems to clearly attach the Sabboth to Israel specifically (see MacArthur's point #2).

Seth McBee said...

That is another thought on all the other commandments were "re-commanded" except that of the Sabbath, which is interesting. I knew of that and also knew that it shouldn't be our primary reason for not adhering to the Sabbath, but is definitely an interesting point.

I believe that it WAS recommanded to some aspect, but was recommanded in Hebrews 4 that our "Sabbath rest" is now here because of Christ. So the recommandment is for us to rest in Christ instead of just on the Sabbath day.

Seth McBee said...

I read your post on the issue, and I would of course agree that the Lord's Day is instituted on the first day of the week, the part where we differ would be that not only did Christ change the day but He changed the aspects of the meaning of the day. We are to rest in Him not on a particular day as Hebrews 4 points to.

Anonymous said...

Again, Seth and Blake, I deal with the substance of much of this in the post I linked to previously. Yet briefly, Christ reaffirmed all the 10 commandments in the NT by summarizing them in the 2 Great Commandments. He says this is that which all the law and the prophets spoke to. Secondly, God is a Sabbatarian, He "rested" from His labors. The Sabbath extends back before the Mosaic Covenant, to the created order. Much in the same was we know God wants one man to marry one wife (he created one Adam and one Eve) we know He desires us to keep the Sabbath holy, that is what is was created for.

Seth McBee said...

Let me ask you this. If Christ made all the commandments more strict...hate=murder; lust=adultery. Could Christ not have made the Sabbath "more strict" Instead of one day a week of rest and worship, we now have all our days are to be rest in Christ and the worship of our God? Seems to fit.

Anonymous said...

The meaning of the dDay is grounded in the moral character of God which does not change. This is true of all the Moral Law (10 commandments). It's signifance comes from the fact it is a foretaste of the rest that will come in Christ, in glory, as Heb. 4 points too. We are to honor Him now, as we do in worship, by honoring the ENTIRE day He set aside as a type of this reality.

p.s. please consider turning off your word makes posting easier!

Anonymous said...

He made the commandments a heart issue, not merely an external one. He didn't reject the fact for example, we are to keep the Sabbath, but we aren't simply to go through the motions. The Sabbath ought to be a delight and enjoyed as a blessed taste of the eternal Sabbath to come!

Seth McBee said...

You might have posted your last comment before you saw mine...but if Christ brought in more strict "guidelines" for the decalogue then why not more for the Sabbath? Not one day, but all days!

Do you get spammed a lot w/o word verification?

Anonymous said...

We worship God one day out of the week, even though we ought to be "worshipful" all the time. We set aside a specific time and place to honor God specifically, even though our whole lives belong to Him.

Much in the same way, we are to consider everyday as a day of "rest" from the striving of unregenerate life, and remeber our lives as saved by grace through Christ. Yet we know, God has specifically set aside a day to honor this truth, but in the same way we worship Him only once a week. We remember the Sabbath once a week, as commanded as well.

What would it mean to you to keep this Sabbath holy, if not what I'm saying?

p.s. No, they quit spamming you after you've been on just a few days. They're looking for new folks

Anonymous said...

The discussion seems to be continuing with a disregard to many verses that have already been brought up. Namely, the Ezekial passages where the Sabbath is clearly connected to Israel. We all agree that God rested on the 7th day. This does not mean the command to rest on the 7th day has been in effect since creation. Remember, it was probably Moses who wrote Genesis.

I'm glad Seth keeps returning to Hebrews 4, because I think this is the crux of the matter. 4:1-11 is clear that the Sabbath rest was meant to look toward the rest we now have in Christ, just as the sacrificial system pointed to His final and ultimate sacrifice.

I'm assuming we all agree on the fact that we live in the New Covenant. How, then, can you say that aspects of a completely different covenant with a totally different group of people can apply to us gentiles today?

Seth McBee said...

I think that the meaning in Ex 20 has changed. Instead of keeping this one day as holy we are to live our lives as a holy sacrifice because we have the Holy Spirit in us that enables us to be holy. So, instead of their being one day to keep holy, we are to keep all our days holy and we are to rest in our Saviour. The one day out of the week is set aside for us to worship and rest as a congregation or body of believers, to break bread together, to sing together. Again, if Christ changed the day, why couldn't he have changed the idiology? Which He did when he "worked" on the Sabbath when He healed and the such, which I know reformers agree with.

Anonymous said...
Read some excellent articles wrt 'sabbath' -

The Christian and The Sabbath - Part 1
What is the Christian Sabbath?

by Daniel Parks

Our English word sabbath derives from the Greek sabbaton, which in turn derives from the Hebrew sabbat. A sabbath is "a cessation from activity; rest." Our question therefore is "What is the Christian's rest? In what does he cease from work?"

The Christian sabbath is not the "sabbath of creation" mentioned in Genesis 2:1-3: "... And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done...." This is the first mention of a sabbath in the Bible. It was a day of rest. This sabbath is not the Christian sabbath because: 1) It was observed by God alone at the completion of His work of creation (1:1-2:1). Furthermore, this sabbath of God was not merely a day of rest, but a perpetual rest, as His work of creation was once-for-all completed (2:1). Man, who had been created on the sixth day (1:26-31), could not rest from work on this day because he had done no work. 2) The Bible contains no commandment from God to man to observe a weekly sabbath/rest for thousands of years after creation, until about 1500 BC. And there is no Biblical record that such a weekly sabbath was ever observed by Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, or any of their contemporaries.

The Christian sabbath is not the "sabbath of manna-gathering" mentioned in Exodus 16:23-30. This was the first commandment from God to man to observe a weekly sabbath. It was given to the newly-constituted nation Israel during their wanderings from Egypt to the Promised Land. God promised them a daily portion of manna, or bread from heaven, for the first six days of every week, but none for the seventh. The seventh day was to be a day of rest. Therefore, God commanded Israel to gather a double portion of manna on the sixth day to suffice for the seventh. This "sabbath of manna-gathering" is not the Christian sabbath because both it and the manna were given only to the nation Israel, not to Gentile nations.

The Christian sabbath is not the "sabbath of the Ten Commandments" mentioned in Exodus 20:1-17: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy...." (vv.8-11). The Ten Commandments were the code of law which set forth Israel's responsibility to God under the covenant He made with them at Mount Sinai (19:3-8; 34:28b). The "sabbath of the Ten Commandments" is not the Christian sabbath because: 1) It and the Ten Commandments and the Sinaitic Covenant were given only to Israel, that nation whom "God ... brought ... out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage" (20:1f). 2) The Sinaitic Covenant is no longer in effect because it has been abrogated and superseded by the New Covenant instituted by Jesus Christ (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Matthew 26:26-28; Hebrews 8; 10:11-18). Since the Old Covenant is no longer in effect, the sabbath it required is also no longer in effect. Consequently, those who enter into this New Covenant with God through belief in Jesus Christ are told to ignore those who judge them for not observing sabbaths (Colossians 2:16f). Furthermore, God approves the believer who "esteems every day alike" (Romans 14:5).

The Christian sabbath is that of the New Covenant. It is not one day of the week. It is rather that spiritual rest which is found in Jesus Christ, the Mediator and Surety of this "better covenant" (Hebrews 7:22; 8:6). He has fulfilled all the work God required for the salvation of His people (John 19:30), and therefore rested from all His saving work. Everyone who trusts in Him for salvation enters into His rest, and forevermore ceases working to obtain God's blessings (Matthew 11:28f). "There remains therefore a rest [or sabbath-keeping] for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall ... [in] unbelief" (Hebrews 4:9-11).

Seth McBee said...

anonymous: thanks for the article and the insight. answers some key questions that are brought up.

Anonymous said...

Blake and Anonymous, it seems to me that you are positing a bit too much discontinuity between OT and NT. The Sermon on the Mount has a blanket statement regarding Jesus' interpretation of the law, "I have not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it." Plainly, by the very terms of that statement, "fulfill" does not mean "fulfill so as to come to an end." This is also evident from how He interprets the sixth and seventh commandments in the Sermon on the Mount. The sixth and seventh commandments are plainly meant to be paradigmatic of the whole law (which is one whole, Anonymous and Blake, not able to be broken, see James 2: 8-13), then the fourth commandment would have to be interpreted as excerpted from the whole law and set out in the cold and dark all by its lonesome.

Discontinuity is also challenged in the NT in Galatians 3 and 6. Galatians 3:7 *closely* connects the NT people of God with OT Israel. You cannot posit such absolute discontinuity. The terms of that passage forbid it. I would also argue that the flow of the argument of Galatians as a whole means that 6:16 ("Israel of God") is not referring to Jews, but to the whole church.

Briefly put, my argument for Sunday being the Christian Sabbath goes lke this: Sabbath was instituted at creation, not on Mt. Sinai. Anonymous's criticisms of this are not to the point. Point by point I will answer. 1. Man was not created until the sixth day. So it was not as if man had six days of work which he then did *not* rest from. he couldn't have rested from work. Therefore, the fact that he did not is no argument against Gen 2 being paradigmatic for humans. 2. The fact that God's rest is eternal does not stop Moses from using God's creation as a paradigm for Israelite Sabbath in Exodus 20. In effect, this argument of Anonymous's could just as easily be leveled against Moses, and how he uses the creation Sabbath. 3. Argument from silence can cut both ways. There is no record of the patriarchs *not* observing the pattern of creation, either. Arguments from silence on this one are hard to sustain in the light of Moses' own argumentation in Exodus 20.

If the Ten Commandment were given only to Israel, and their significance is only for OT Israel, then what is Jesus doing in the Sermon on the Mount *explicitly* affirming continuity of the Ten Commandments for the NT people of God? Unless you are willing to argue that the SM doesn't apply to us, hardly a helpful argument. You are not properly distinguishing among ceremonial aspects of the law, civil (national) aspects of the law, and the moral aspects of the law. The first two come to an end with ethnic Israel no longer being the people of God, having rejected their Messiah. The last aspect of the law has abiding, continuous validity for the people of God, not as a way to salvation, but as a guide and rule for the Christian life, not as legalism, but as our rule for holiness in response to being saved.

Having answered Anonymous's objections to the Sunday being the Christian Sabbath, i will now build my case more positively.

There is explicit continuity between the creation account of God's Sabbath, and the pattern established in Exodus 20 for the OT people of God. I have already argued that the SM indicates continuity of the moral law with the NT people of God. Exodus 20 and Deut 5 give two reasons for the Sabbath. Exodus 20 gives us the creation reason (the pattern that God established at creation) for keeping the Sabbath. Deuteronomy 5 gives us the redemption reason for keeping the Sabbath (redemption from the land of Egypt). Only something as foundational as creation and redemption could change anything about the Sabbath commandment, which was given to the whole world in creation (being in the same category as work and marriage). What we have in Christ is new creation and new redemption. There is Exodus language in many places of the NT describing what Christ has done for us, taking us out of the Egypt of sin and death and taking us to the promised land of the new heavens and the new earth. It is also described in new creation language (see especially 2 Cor 5:17, which should read "if anyone is in Christ, new creation," not "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation." The implications are much broader than the individual person. Christ has brought new creation to its inauguration. A Christian having faith is proof of this new creation. The new creation and new redemption that I have described really took place when Christ was raised from the dead on Sunday. Therefore, Sunday is the Christian Sabbath.

Anonymous said...

See my paper, by the way, for a much more closely reasoned and thorough argumentation for this position.

Seth McBee said...

Honestly the first time that I found that some reformers hold to a "strict" Christian Sabbath (be patient with my usage of strict) I was surprised. If reformers see that the OT and NT are very much in congruance and also that the Sabbath day has changed to Sunday why wouldn't the Sabbath's requirements also change? We see this in Christ working on the Sabbath and healing on the Sabbath, so why not the actual day as well. I, again, see that just as you cannot lust or it is adultery, you cannot hate or it is murder, that you must also, as a Christian, rest and worship in the heart daily, not only on the Sabbath, which is how the Jews and Pharisees saw the Sabbath. That is why there were so many added rules for the Sabbath. I don't want you to think I am saying there is no Christian Sabbath, but I am saying that our Sabbath and the Jewish Sabbath are different, both in day and in being every day and now being found in our hearts through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We do come together though to also do this as a body on the Lord's Day.

Did not Christ make the other commandments "harder" to follow when he restated them? Why would he not make the Sabbath also "harder" to follow so that we cannot only rest and worship on the Sabbath but every day? This makes it all more important to the believer to "cast all your anxieties upon him" We must do this as Christians because our rest is in Christ.

Anonymous said...

Seth, you have the right idea regarding the implications of the ten commandments and their broader application in the NT. But simply because we are to worship God everyday in our heart, doesn't mean we stop going to church.

Likewise, when we say we obeserve the Lord's Day as the Christian Sabbath, it is a way to express the reality that everyday belongs to Him. Therefore we set aside one day in seven to symbolize this. Just like with the other commandments. Take murder for example. It isn't alright to murder someone just becuase Christ said not to hate your brother and that is murder. Real murder wasn't abrogated in light of Jesus' application to our heart attitude.

Much in the same way, Sabbath keeping wasn't abrogated simply becuase we need to recognize Christ extends it into everyday. Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath, broaden the application for the NT believer, as I have discussed in my article. We worship Him corporately once a week to express the truth everyday belongs to Him. Similarily, we keep one day a week holy, in order to express the reality that everyday belongs to Him and that our lives are dictated by His commands, not by our own willful desires.

Again, if you believe the ten commandments are applicable today, then what does it mean to keep the Sabbath holy?

Seth McBee said...

I am not trying to defend or to say that we should not have church on Sunday. But if we are to keep the Sabbath the way the Jews kept the Sabbath we need to go all the way with this thought. But, we as Christians are not to do this, we are to rest in Christ (Hebrews 4). To keep the Sabbath holy is nothing that I can do but Christ did for me, He is the fulfillment of the Sabbath (Col 2)and is my rest,through faith, not a particular day (Heb 4:3).

Now will I treat the Lord's Day different? Yes, I will worship with believers, break bread in remembrance and sing praises to my Lord, but to envoke Sabbatarian laws to the congregants who now have rest in Christ, I will not do.

But, again, I do love the outcome of your thought process and that is a day that is concecrated to Him, but I believe we must not put an unnessary yoke around our brothers neck regarding the Sabbath.

Anonymous said...

But Seth, your still not dealing with the heart of the matter. If we are to maintain our lives by God's standards, and His standards teach to keep the Sabbath holy, (all of it, not just a few hours in the morning), then how are we to honor God through keeping this command? Jesus said, "if you love me keep my commandments". Well, His commands are God's commands.

We are not to keep the Sabbath the way the Jews did. They did it AS LAW, we do it AS GRACE. God has given us this day to worship, meditate upon Him and to rest from our wordly toil. That is grace. To reject the Christian Sabbath is to reject a blessing God has bestowed upon His people. It is anything but a burden, we can and should delight in the Sabbath!

"If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.~ Isa. 58:13-14

Seth McBee said...

I will again point to Romans 14:5 and Galatians 4:10 and also that we as Gentiles have been grafted in, but not grafted in so that we have to now "do as a Jew" but so we can receive grace and mercy from God. If we do not celebrate the festivals and the feasts, nor do we sacrifice, nor do we follow all the Jewish laws, because all of these were fulfilled by Christ, so now the Sabbath has been fulfilled also by Christ, for the Sabbath was for the Jew. That, to me is exactly what Paul is pointing out in Galatians, Romans and Colossians.

Also, in Hebrews 5,7,9,10 Jesus is presented as the true fulfillment of the priestly role. He is the ultimate priest and ultimate sacrifice, why? So we can have rest in the grace that He provides to us freely. Once and for all so that our conscience is clean.

Just as eternal life starts when you trust in the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 5) so does our rest in Him.

Anonymous said...

I have to think there is a difference in the sacrifices of the OT being fulfilled in Christ and the Sabbath being fulfilled in Christ. For one thing, Christ's sacrifice is perfect, but our sabbath rest is not. We are still in this sinful world and wrestle with our own sin. It will not be until the other side of glory that our sabbath rest will be perfected. So even today's Sabbath is a type (even though fuller than the OT type) of the one to come at the consummation of the ages.

Also, the Sabbath was introduced in creation itself when God was said to create in six days and rest on the seventh. This was before the ceremonial Laws of the Jews. For that matter, it was before the Jews were a distinct people. All nations were still in the loins of Adam. Therefore the Sabbath should pertain to all people just as creation in Adam did.

The Sabbath is also part of the ten commandments. Would it be ok to break any other of the commandments? or just the Sabbath? Doesn't its inclusion in the commandments set it apart as a moral law?

Seth McBee said...

Larry (theologian)

If we were to go ahead and say that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath, which I am not surrendering to, what governs "to keep it holy"

This is also another issue becuase the Pharisees started to add laws to keep it holy, wouldn't we fall into the same trap? I know that there are some "laws" that the reformed camp adheres to when it comes to the Sabbath, as I found through a friend, although I don't know all of them...

I truly believe that Paul's teaching is that we have rest from these type of works in Christ, now. But also perfect in heaven, just as we have eternal life now, but not perfected because of the flesh. Just as I can't fully rest now because of my flesh.

Anonymous said...


That's an excellent question.
I would have to say that since we are still looking forward to that perfecting of our rest in Christ in glory, it should resemble what it points to. So we should be consumed that day with the worship of God, which is what we will be consumed with in glory when we have the perfection of our rest established.

I believe this can mean different things to different people, but i also think we can have a tendency to stretch the limits at times. For instance, playing a game that is God-centered might be o.k. for some folks (like maybe a Bible memorizing game). But playing football and saying that it is Christ-centered because you are praying for you team to win would be stretching it a bit too much.

I think the day should be spent focusing on God and His things, not our personal pleasures and the like. Truly it should be a pleasure for us to be with God all day. I'm not sure why Christians don't long for Sunday so that they can spend the whole day focusing on God and His things.

If we would rather watch a movie than pray, that shows us that we still get our enjoyment more from this world than from the Lord. And that's why the Sabbath is important, to bring us into focus on what the consummated Sabbath will be - totally God-focused and worshipful!

Sorry if i rambled a bit in this reply

Anonymous said...

Instead of treating the Sabbath like the burden of a taskmaster, we should treat it as a taste of Heaven to come!

Anonymous said...

These are excellent points, Larry. I think that we need also to exegete Romans 14:5 and Galatians 4 very carefully. Why did not Paul use the term "Sabbath" if that is the specific day he had in mind? The previous context is talking about dietary laws. Plainly then, we are not in the realm of the moral law. The day being talked about is probably a feast day, or the pattern of holy days that marked the Jewish calendar. It probably does not refer to the Sabbath.

Galatians 4:10 is also not referring to the Sabbath, but to the exclusively Jewish celebratory calendar. They were being observed legalistically in Galatian for the purposes of earning salvation. The Sabbath was not in the same category as these things. Paul could hardly have called the Sabbath "weak and beggarly elements." How could Paul have known Isaiah 58:13 and said such things? One does not observe Sabbath, of course, to gain salvation. However, one does observe the Christian Sabbath as one day in seven (Sabbath completely loses its meaning if celebrated every day, as Calvin's view has it: the very term "Sabbath" means seventh). I don't believe that these two passages to which you refer are saying what you think they are saying.

Seth McBee said...

But when Paul specifically uses the term Sabbath in Colossians 2 you in turn make it seem as though it implies something different, which I don't adhere to, being Paul points out new moon and other festivals and then specifically points to the Sabbath, if you in seven...can't have it both ways...

Anonymous said...

Good points Lane.


With regards to Col 2:16, this is most easily understood as Paul telling them that they need not observe the Jewish Sabbath. The context of verse 16 seems to be ceremonial law: food, drink, festival, new moon, Sabbath. Paul was probably fighting against the Judaizers who wanted Christians to eat kosher, drink kosher, follow their ceremonial festivals, new moons, and the Jewish Sabbath instead of the Christian Sabbath. Today he might just as easily say "Don't let seventh-day adventists pass judgment on you because you worship on Sunday instead of Saturday, they are still following the shadows of the OT"

Hebrews 4:9 tells us that there still remains a Sabbath rest for God's people, so there is still a fulfillment that we are looking for.

If i'm not mistaken, every mention of Sabbath except for Heb 4:9 in the NT is in reference to the Jewish Sabbath, and not to the Lord's Day.

gracevet said...

The confusing aspect to this discussion is the word sabbath. I too would hold to Macarthur's conviction on this subject - it seems to fit all the new covenant references together nicely. I grew up in a reformed tradition whereby Sunday became the Christian's Sabbath (capital S) and woe betide if you weren't engaged in 'worship' or meditating/reading/praying etc. Under these types of interpretation the observance of Sabbath became a legalistic ritual (especially for children). You weren't allowed to even throw a ball around together. (More like sit still and shut up).

The whole subject or sabbath and worship has confused me over the years. Firstly sabbath because of what is already raised and secondly 'worship'. Is not all of life 'worship' - when did 'worship' or a 'worship service' ever become part of new covenant believers vocabulary? I just don't read it in scripture. Certainly whenever Christians gathered they undertook a range of activites - reading, praying, singing, sharing a common meal. But is this a 'worship service'? Is not all we do part of being human - made in the image of God - to His glory?

I digress - getting back to sabbath. Is not sabbath a term derived from 'taking rest', and did not God Himself enter that rest after creation? Is not the seventh day (or 1 day in seven) given as a means that we rest from our normal activity? That's why I believe we should still follow this creation example. God in His wisdom saw that it was good to give man sabbath (rest) - the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. The Jewish Sabbath though was a particular covenantal sign and law given to the Jewish nation which marked them off from the surrounding nations. I cannot see that we have been given the same law/sign as new covenant believers.

(This brings up a huge subject - what do new covenant believers do with the 'Law')?

gracevet said...

Actually - for a new covenant perspective on the 'tablets of stone- - John Reisinger's website has a good read:

gracevet said...

I'm not sure as to whether I'm allowed to publish a little about 'tablets of stone' - but here goes:

"The following facts summarize Paul's understanding of the purpose and function the Ten Commandments today:

1.A New Covenant was ratified in the blood of Christ at the cross. The Old Covenant written on the Tablets of Stone at Sinai have been "fulfilled" and done away. The claims of the Old Covenant have been met; it's curse has been endured and removed; and it's blessings have been secured by Christ and bestowed on His Church.

2.A new people or nation was "born in a day" at Pentecost. The true "holy nation" of "kings and priests" (the true Israel of God) came into being (Compare Ex 19:4,5 and I Pet 2:9-11).

3.A new approach to God was opened up the moment the veil was rent from top to bottom. It was the Tablets of Stone that blocked the way into the presence of God's presence, but now the terms of the covenant written on stone (Ten Commandments) have been fully met and we enter boldly into the Most Holy Place (Heb 10:1-23).

4.A new status, Sons of God, with new privileges was given to the "grown up" people of God.

5.A new Pedagogue took over in the conscience of the new covenant believer. The Tables of Stone were, in themselves, the old Pedagogue in the conscience of an Israelite. That old Pedagogue has been dismissed (Gal 3:24,25) and been replaced by the indwelling Holy Spirit.""

If we understand that the old covenant had a 'use by date' - we might better understand the fact that the Jewish Sabbath is not carried forward to new covenant believers and therefore we aren't commanded to 'observe' a Christian Sabbath in it's cultic sense, such as Israel was called to do. (I still believe that we have be given a day of rest every 6 days 1/7. But I don't subscribe to a view that the new covenant church is called to 'worship services' or that some kind of re-creation be not allowed. )

gracevet said...

Sorry - can't help myself ... how about having a read of Reisinger on Sabbath whilst your there:

Anonymous said...


you said: The Old Covenant written on the Tablets of Stone at Sinai have been "fulfilled" and done away. The claims of the Old Covenant have been met; it's curse has been endured and removed; and it's blessings have been secured by Christ and bestowed on His Church.

I would simply like to state here that God's moral law is never abrogated. Only His ceremonial law has been abrogated. We are no more to break the Sabbath than we are to break the commandment against murder or adultery.

Anonymous said...

Tony, that's a good question. Our family worships every Lord's Day morning. Our paritcular church (it's very small) eats lunch together and then spends some time in a Bible study. We wrap up around 2:00 P.M. or so and go home for the day. As a family, we don't conduct wordly business on this day. And we look to avoid other wordly influences as well, such as T.V. The remainder of our day is spent as a family doing things together such as spending time outdoors, or inside with a board game or reading together. We usually close our evening in a time of family devotion. All in all it is blessed time and a refreshing respite from our other daily responsibilites.

Seth McBee said...


to be honest...what you just described is something that I would love to start doing whether or not I believe in a Christian Sabbath or not. A lot of the times that is exactly what my family does on the Lord's Day. We wake up, go to church where I attend a prayer meeting with the elders, teach Sunday School, worship in "main" service, go home and usually read and spend time with the family. But, to my fault, where I would like to change is we will turn on the TV or if we have to run errands for the up and coming week. This is obviously where we differ but this is also what I want to get away from.

Anonymous said...

As my wife does not hold to the Sabbath as i do we reached a compromise. The compromise is that we observe the Sabbath until 6pm instead of the entire day.

We go to Church from 9am until about 12noon. Then we come home and have lunch. After lunch we usually
discuss what we learned in our Sunday School classes. Then we discuss what we thought of the sermon and study that topic a bit.

After that there is usually some type of Christ-centered family fun that we do. So if the kids want to watch TV we will put on Angel Wars or something else that is Christ-Centered. If we play a board game it is something like Bible Scatergories.

At around dinner time our Sabbath is usually over, but we still have our evening family worship. And throughout the day i also catechize my children.

Lance Roberts said...

Seth, I agree with there be no binding Sabbath laws anymore, though I disagree with point#2 of McArthurs list, since I consider that just the usual dispensational antinomianism.

I believe all the laws in the OT not specifically abrograted are to be followed (not for salvation, but out of our love for God). The Sabbath was specifically abrograted by the verse in Colossians 2 and Romans 14. I still believe we have a principle of Sabbath rest, but it's fulfilled in Jesus Christ and our abiding in him at all times.

Some things that people don't realize about the Sabbath is that the Sabbath laws forbid you from causing anyone else to work on the Sabbath either, so you couldn't use electricity or flush the toilet, since there are people at the utility on Sunday maintaining your systems.

Another point, is that the Jewish Sabbath wasn't Saturday. It changed every year to a different day. It didn't become Saturday until they adopted the Roman calendar.

Lance Roberts said...

I also understand where you're coming from on the desire for the sabbath. I personally see most of the men I respect believing in the Sabbath, so I feel like I must be missing something. I plan on reading all the articles pointed out by people, hoping I can figure it out.

B said...

I believe the Sabbath is as valid today as it was at creation. It really has nothing to do with the law, although the Sabbath Commandment is just as valid as each of the others of the Ten Commandments. The Sabbath is holy because God blessed it and made it holy.

When was the first Sabbath?
Genesis 2:1-3

Is there other evidence that the Sabbath was kept before Sinai?
Exodus 16:4-5, 24-26
Exodus 20:8-11(notice how it starts with the word remember, and points to creation...)

Other than creation, is the Sabbath a sign of anything?
Exodus 31:17
(Remember, as believing gentiles, we are grafted into Israel. Romans 11 says this, as well as Galatians 3:29, Romans 2:28-29, and other scripture).

Will the Sabbath be kept in heaven?
Isaiah 66:22-23
(So....why would it be done away with for only a couple thousand years?)

Was the Sabbath to be kept after the cross?
Matthew 24:20

Should the Sabbath be a blessing?
Mark 2:27

B said...

Ok, a response to the original blog, starting with:

1. Col 2:16 is very clearly not talking about the weekly Sabbath. The author asks why Paul would say Sabbath talking about ceremonial Sabbaths....they were Sabbaths, why wouldn't he call them that?

For those who don't know, ceremonial sabbaths such as the day of atonement and the passover were also considerred Sabbaths, no matter which day they were on, and were kept as Sabbaths friday night sunset to saturday night sunset.

Now, keeping that simple knowledge in mind, read into the context, starting with verse 13.

Verse 13 - The weekly Sabbath has nothing to do with transgressions, the day of atonement and otehr Sabbaths totally do.

Verse 14 - nothing to do with a certificate of death, and definitely not hostile to us(It was created for us, Gen 2:1-3, mark 2:27, Isaiah 58:13-14, Hebrews 4. Try comparing it instead to Deuteronomy 31:24-26 and other similar scripture.

Verse 15 - It seems Jesus is talking about the pharisees(so oral law is included here). We definitely don't need people to help us keep the Sabbath(although they did need them to help with the day of atonement, carrying out the ceremonies and all that)

Let's go ahead and check:
Verse 17 - Shadow of things to come. The day of atonement is clearly a shadow of Jesus, as is the Passover. The weekly Sabbath? Points to creation, as we see in Genesis, as well as Exodus 20(it's the only command that starts with the word "remember")

So, when paul talks about judging by "a Sabbath," I'm thinking it was pretty clear to those listening(back then, because they used to deal with sacrifices and stuff every day) what paul was talking about.

B said...

2. I see that as supporting the Sabbath being eternal, especially since Exodus 31:16-17 uses the word "forever." You say it's for Jews, but...only for Jews? It's a sign between God and His people, that's one reason it's so attacked. Remember, as believers, we are grafted into Israel. Romans 11, Galatians 3:29 and Romans 2:28-29, and others.

B said...

A response to the original blog, number

Hebrews 4

9So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.
10For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.
11Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.

So...Paul seems to think that not keeping the Sabbath would present an example of disobedience. That makes sense. I'm pretty sure the Hebrews would have taken this as any Jew would today. Plus, it certainly makse sense with:

John 14:15
15"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

Romans 3:31
31Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.

Romans 6:14-15
14For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!

Context: We're not under the penalty of sin, or the burdon of sin, we're freed, by grace. We should still not sin.

Romans 7:7-25 is worth reading, but long enough that I won't post it all here. It's interesting how Paul speaks of the commandments and sin as interchangable things. verse 12 says "So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good."
verse 16 says "I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good." Verse 22 says " For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man." Obviously speaking about the commandments given in stone.

1 Corinthians 7:19
19Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.

James 1:25
25But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

James 2:12
12So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.

1 John 3:4
4Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

1 John 5:3
3For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

B said...

A response to the original post, number...


Acts 1:12, Acts 13:14, Acts 13:42, Acts 13:44, Acts 15:21, Acts 16:13, Acts 17:2, Acts 18:4, and Hebrews 4

B said...


Not true. In the Old Testament, if anyone converted and wanted to become an Israelite and serve the God of Israel, they were required to keep the same commandments. Also, in Nehimiah, Sabbath breakers were locked out of the city.

B said...


Again, not true. Read Genesis 2:1-3, and check out Exodus 16 for proof that the Sabbath was kept before Sinai.

B said...


When they went out converting new believers, they preached Jesus, which is what we should do. They knew that once converted the new believers would go to the temples to learn more of the specifics about the religion(Verse 21)

B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B said...


Hebrews 4:9-11. Pretty much everyone knew to keep the Sabbath, they knew what it was about back then, and the bigger problem was keeping it legalistically according to the extraBiblical requirements of the pharasees.


You don't think it's just talking about specific ceremonial(or even pagan) holidays? That's what I thin, in light of the weight of evidence.

B said...


We're not supposed to condemn people, because God knows their hearts(we should judge right from wrong though). Romans 14 definitely goes both ways, it's not just one group to another. Let me just say that John 8:7 isn't saying adultery is ok.

B said...


History shoes us that the change in the popular day of worship started with the Roman Catholic church, and only took off because it was legally enforced, and Catholicism was the only legal religion, and Sabbath keeping was seen as Judaizing. It also happened centuries after the New Testament was written.

B said...


Hebrews 4:9-11 talks about the Sabbath....that's the word that's used, Sabbatismos, and it's talking about the rest that comes on the Sabbath day. Considerring the fact that Paul was writing to Hebrews, I'd be willing to bet that that's how they took the Sabbath day's rest.

B said...

Ok, I just wanted to throw another perspective out there. God Bless :)

B said...

Please excuse my many typoes :P

Anonymous said...


To narrow the field of comments, I also started a discussion at my blog specifically entitled: Sabbath rest vs. Sabbath day- Is there a distinction?

I invite your comments. Lord bless!

Jim Richardson

Anonymous said...

Will the Sabbath be kept in heaven? (Isaiah 66:22-23)

If Isa 66:23 teaches that we will keep the Jewish Sabbath in heaven, then it also teaches we will keep the Jewish New Moon festival in heaven! "And it shall be from new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all mankind will come to bow down before Me, says the Lord" Isa 66:23. Sabbatarians have the Jewish new moon festival in heaven: Isa 66:23? No! Abolished Col 2:16

If Isa 66:23 teaches that we will keep the Jewish Sabbath in heaven, then it also teaches in Isa 66:21 that the Levitical priests will be in heaven, because it is also mentioned. Sabbatarians have Levitical priests in heaven: Isa 66:21? No! Priesthood changed Heb 7:12.

Sabbatarians have night in heaven Isa 66:23? (new moons require night) No! Revelation says there is no night in heaven. Rev. 21: 23; 22:5. You cannot have "new moon to new moon" without day and night!

Anonymous said...

It just so happens that I have been doing an in-depth study on the Sabbath. So far I have not come across anyone who can give me a Scripture which changes the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. What I have found in Acts is that the church met daily. The only two times that we are told that the church was having worship on Sunday is in Acts when the young man fell out of the window and Paul brought him back to life. That story however is told for its miracle and not for instruction as to when to have church. It just so happened that the young man fell out of the window on Sunday, but remember they were having worship services daily. The other instance is when Paul tells a church to gather money together and he would pick it up on Sunday to take to some brethren. So here it doesn't even mention worship. People say that the Sabbath changed to Sunday because that's when Christ was raised from the grave. This is people's own imagination of why Christ rose on Sunday. No where does Scripture tell us that He rose on Sunday to change the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. They then point to the apostles meeting together on the day the Lord rose and they say that is their evidence. But they were not together for worship. They were together because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. So if someone could show me where Scripture changes the Sabbath to Sunday I'd appreciate it. Remember that the Sabbath was a big deal in the OT and so you would need a strong Scripture telling us of this change just like you find strong Scriptures doing away with circumcision. If you can't find this Scripture, then literal Sabbath keepers are breaking the Sabbath just as non-literal Sabbath keeper are.

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