Unless otherwise noted, all verses below are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.
Table of Contents
Christianity is a Jewish faith
God told the Jews when to worship
God wants Gentile believers to keep the biblical Sabbath
The Scriptures say that New Covenant Sabbath-keepers will receive a better name, a better heritage and much more!
Early Christians assembled on the Sabbath Day
If the Sabbath has truly been abolished then why should the Church still assemble?
The New Covenant has done away with Sabbath law but it will soon be mandatory in the New Covenant. Wait, what?
The Sabbath law is a necessary inference of Genesis 2:2-3
The seven-day week betrays the ongoing relevance of the Sabbath
Are there certain commandments in the Mosaic Law which are no longer applicable? If so, what does this mean?
The Law has been “abolished” yet it “remains in effect.” Are you confused? So am I!
According to Hebrews 4:9, there remains an “observance of the Sabbath”
Are those who disregard the Sabbath being disloyal to God?
Exploring the origins of Sunday worship
Hijacking the “Lord’s Day”
Extra-biblical Evidence of Sabbath-keeping Throughout Church History
Constantine, Antisemitism and the persecution of Sabbath-Keepers
Ecclesiastical forgeries and the Roman State Church’s involvement in Sunday Worship
Keeping the Sabbath obligates one to keep the whole law? Really?
This may come as a shock to some, but in all of the Bible, there is no verse that commands Christians to come together for corporate worship on a Sunday. Neither is there a verse which records Christians coming together for routine worship on a Sunday.
There is the oft-cited Acts 20:7 which mentions a Sunday evening Christian gathering (which would actually be Monday in Jewish reckoning) where the apostle Paul preached until midnight, but the purpose of this meeting was for fellowship and dinner, hence the term “breaking bread” which is used therein. Sometimes “breaking bread” can also refer to partaking in Holy Communion a.k.a. the Lord’s Supper (e.g. Matthew 26:26, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17). Nevertheless, this biblical phrase, on several occasions including this one (see Acts 20:11), only referred to eating a meal (e.g. Lamentations 4:4; Luke 24:30,35; Acts 2:46; Acts 20:11, Acts 27:33-35 etc.). Another verse often cited is 1 Corinthians 16:2 but this verse pertains to private preparation, doesn’t even mention a Christian gathering, and is therefore wholly irrelevant to the matter of corporate worship.
Finally, there is Hebrews 10:25 which reminds believers not to forsake “the assembling of [themselves] together.” But there is no New Testament verse or commandment which instructs Christians to gather together for worship on the first day of the week. Yet today, most Christian churches have designated Sunday as the day for worship and fellowship. There are two possibilities which come to mind as to when the early Christians “assembled together” for worship. Either, they decided upon a new day for assembly and worship in contravention to what had already been laid out in the Hebrew Scriptures or they continued worshiping upon that day (i.e. the Sabbath) which they, Jesus, and Paul had always worshiped on in the past (Luke 4:16, Luke 4:31, Acts 17:2, Acts 18:4, Acts 13:44, Acts 15:21, Acts 16:13, etc.). I will attempt to establish that both the Scriptures and the extra-biblical history of the early Church militate against the first possibility but firmly corroborate the second. Nevertheless, we will also discover that historically, some “Christians” did presume to redefine the day which the Bible designates for rest and worship (Daniel 7:25). However, these were certainly not the early Christians whose acts are recorded in the pages of the Bible’s New Testament.
Christianity is a Jewish faith.
It is crucial for all Christians to understand that Christianity is a Jewish faith. To be a Christian is to be a follower of Christ and He [i.e. Jesus/Yeshua] of course was a Jew, specifically a descendant of King David from the Israelite tribe of Judah (Hebrews 7:14, Revelation 5:5, 22:16). Therefore, every Christian follows and is indebted to a Jewish Savior. Our salvation is a Messianic salvation because Jesus our Savior is called the Christ (i.e. the Messiah) in John 1:41. Yet, the idea of a Messiah derives its meaning solely from a Jewish context (e.g. Psalms 2:2, Daniel 9:25-26, etc.). In the Scriptures, Jerusalem is not only Israel’s capital (2 Samuel 5:6-9) but is often used of Israel as a synecdoche (Isaiah 5:3, Luke 13:34) and is thus distinctively Jewish. Yet, Jerusalem is also called the city of God (Psalm 48:1) and the city of the Great King (Psalms 48:2, Matthew 5:35). Of course, that great King is Jesus our Messiah who presently sits on a heavenly throne which is situated in the “Jerusalem that is above”—the heavenly city according to which the pattern of the earthly Jerusalem was supposed to be based (Galatians 4:25-26, Hebrews 12:22, Hebrews 11:10). Yet, when our Savior comes back to this earth for His Millennial reign, He will rule on the Jewish throne of His father David from the earthly city of Jerusalem (Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 1:32-33). So it turns out that Jerusalem is also the capital of the Christian world. Also, situated in Jerusalem was the Jewish temple which God instructed the Israelites to build as “an example and shadow of heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5, 9:9; Exodus 25:40; Exodus 26:30). In other words, it was an earthly replica patterned after the original temple which is in Heaven where Christ our High Priest and Intercessor is presently interceding for us (Hebrews 8:1-5, Hebrews 9:23-24). Yet it is only through the example of the Jewish temple with its priests and offerings that we are able to apprehend our glimpse into the heavenly one. And though the Old Covenant is no longer in effect, it would be implausible to argue that upon the New Covenant’s arrival, God ordered this heavenly temple to be done away with. Yet a similar claim of obsolescence is made by many Christians regarding God’s law, which, incidentally, is described in Romans 7:12 as “holy, and just and good.” The New Covenant of grace from which the Christian’s salvation proceeds is actually a Jewish one (Jeremiah 31:31, 32:40, Romans 11:17) as the Gentiles were considered “strangers from the covenants of promise” until Christ came to “[break] down the middle wall of partition between us” (Ephesians 2:12-14). When Christ became a “sin offering” to secure our atonement by His sacrificial death for the sins of all men (1 John 2:2), He was fulfilling the requirements of a propitiatory system which is distinctively Jewish (Leviticus 9:15, 16:15, Isaiah 53:10, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Ephesians 5:2). In fact, in Romans 11:16-24, Paul explains that salvation for the Gentile is analogous to being a branch that was broken off from a wild olive tree and grafted into a Jewish olive tree. Also, in Ephesians 2:12-14,19 Paul implies that salvation for the Gentile is to no longer be an “alien from the commonwealth of Israel” but to be “fellow citizens [of Israel] with the saints, and of the household of God.” In commemorating the Feast of Passover, the Jews shed the blood of an unblemished male lamb (Exodus 12:4-6, Leviticus 23:5) as a memorial of God’s deliverance, when the blood of such a lamb saved Israel from God’s righteous wrath (Exodus 12:12-13). Accordingly (See Micah 7:15), in Christianity we hold that during a solemn Passover more than 2000 years ago, Christ was also sacrificed as an unblemished male lamb (1 Peter 1:19-20, John 1:29) in order to save all believers from God’s righteous coming wrath (John 3:36, Romans 5:8-9). This is why in 1 Corinthians 5:7, the Scriptures refer to Jesus as our “passover [lamb]” and yet the Passover is also distinctively Jewish. In the very next verse (i.e. 1 Corinthians 5:8), Paul uses the Jewish Feast of Unleavened Bread as a metaphor for “sincerity and truth” while encouraging Corinthian Christians to keep this feast, yet it too is distinctively Jewish. In 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, because Christ was the first to rise with an immortal body from the grave, He is called the “firstfruits.” Yet, this is not some poetic flourish but is, in fact, a reference to the Jewish Feast of FirstFruits (Leviticus 23:9-14)—a feast which foreshadows the coming resurrection of all beings and restoration of all things. Jesus fulfilled this feast when He rose from the grave on the day after the Sabbath. This feast (like the Feast of Pentecost) always occurred on a Sunday, i.e. “the morrow after the Sabbath” (Leviticus 23:11,16). Therefore, when churches celebrate Resurrection Sunday (or Easter), they are actually—and perhaps unwittingly—paying homage to the Jewish Feast of FirstFruits. Moreover, at the Christian’s “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) which is also known as the Rapture, a heavenly trumpet will sound and the assembly of Christ shall be raised incorruptible (1 Corinthians 15:52, 1 Thessalonians 4:16) thereby fulfilling the Jewish Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:23-25) in which trumpets are blown for “the calling of the assembly” (Numbers 10:1-3). In fact, all the appointed Jewish feast days (i.e. The Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of First Fruits, Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles) are “shadow[s] of things to come” (Colossians 2:16-17) which find their fulfillment in the Christian’s New Covenant:
- The Feast of Passover (Pesach – Leviticus 23:5, Numbers 28:16, Exodus 12:18) as mentioned earlier foreshadowed the shedding of the blood of Christ, the Passover Lamb of God (1 Corinthians 5:7).
- The Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag HaMatzot – Leviticus 23:6-8, Numbers 28:17-25, Exodus 23:15) foreshadows the final removal of sin (1 Corinthians 5:8).
- The Feast of Firstfruits (Reishit Katzir – Leviticus 23:9-14, Numbers 28:26-31) foreshadowed Christ’s resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-23) as Jesus was resurrected on this very day.
- The Feast of Weeks (Shavu’ot or Pentecost – Leviticus 23:15-22) foreshadows the giving of the Spirit to the church (Acts 2:1-4).
- The Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah – Leviticus 23:23-25, Numbers 29:1-6) foreshadows the trumpet-announced gathering of Christ’s congregation at the Rapture (Numbers 10:1-8, 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:52) and the 2nd Coming (Matthew 24:31; Revelation 11:15).
- The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur – Leviticus 23:26-32, Numbers 29:7-11) foreshadows Christ’s crucifixion (i.e. the day of the world’s atonement) and the fountain that will be opened to Israel for her future cleansing from sin and uncleanness at Christ’s Second Coming (Zechariah 13:1; 12:10)
- The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot – Leviticus 23:33-43, Numbers 29:12-39) foreshadows Christ’s Millennial reign when He comes back to earth to tabernacle among men (Zechariah 14:16-19, Revelation 21:3).
So we see that Christianity is indeed a Jewish faith! Actually, Christianity is so Jewish that initially some Christians thought and taught that you had to be Jewish in order to be a Christian (Acts 15:1). In fact, the apostle Peter had to receive a special revelation from God before understanding that is was acceptable for Gentiles to be Christians as well (Acts 10:10-16,28). It was because Jewish believers initially thought that the New Covenant was exclusively for the Jews (Acts 10:28, Ephesians 3:4-6) that they were amazed (in Acts 10:45) when Christ also poured out His Spirit upon the Gentiles. Yet, it wasn’t until the Jerusalem church council in Acts 15 that the apostles, through the Holy Spirit, officially declared as unnecessary the need for believers to be Jewish. This pronouncement made it clear that one does not need to “be circumcised, and keep the law” in order to be saved. However, because the Jerusalem council’s advice given to Gentile believers contains four prohibitions which are found in the Mosaic Law (i.e. abstain from meats offered to idols [Exodus 34:15], from fornication [Leviticus 18], from eating blood [Leviticus 7:26] and from eating animals that were strangled [Leviticus 17:13]), the council’s conclusion (in Acts 15:29) also made it clear that one did not need to forsake the law in order to be a Christian. In fact, Scripture even tells us that our New Covenant faith establishes the law (Romans 3:31).
Therefore, because “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22) it is prudent to recognize that if all these Jewish distinctives convey meaning within the sphere of Christianity, then there is a good chance that Jewish worship does so as well.
God told the Jews when to worship
Unfortunately, it appears to be a common thing for Sunday-keeping, Gentile Christians to not understand the biblical origins of corporate worship. For example, Got Questions Ministries (GQM hereafter), a popular web-based apologetics organization states:
A common error in the Sabbath-keeping debate is the concept that the Sabbath was the day of worship…[and] that God requires the church service to be held on Saturday, the Sabbath day. That is not what the Sabbath command was. The Sabbath command was to do no work on the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8-11). Nowhere in Scripture is the Sabbath day commanded to be the day of worship.
Yet, contrary to GQM’s assessment, Isaiah 66:22-23 teaches that in the new heaven and earth which God will make, the Sabbath day is commanded to be the day of worship. Moreover, Ezekiel 46:1-4, which is a prophetic account of Christ’s imminent Millennial reign, confirms that worship is both required and associated with the Sabbath. In fact, in Ezekiel 46:1, all the other weekdays (including Sunday) are referred to as “the six working days” and the temple gate is only opened for worship on the Sabbath. Thus the prohibition of temple worship on all other days but the Sabbath is instructive toward the notion that the Sabbath is indeed the designated day for worship. One also wonders why Psalm 92 (which is a “song for the Sabbath day”) exhorts the reader to “give thanks” and “sing praises” to God especially if the Sabbath has nothing to do with worship (Psalm 92:1). In fact, biblically speaking, it turns out that the idea believers should even gather together for routine worship can only be legitimately traced back to Old Covenant Jews, some of who became the early Christians who would assemble together every Sabbath day to fulfill the holy convocation (i.e. worship) requirements of its ordinance (in Leviticus 23:3). Accordingly, in Acts 13:42-44 & Acts 14:1, the Bible seems to imply that both Jews and Gentiles gathered together for the miqra (i.e. holy convocation) to hear Scripture on the Sabbath.
Miqra [H4744], the Hebrew word translated as “convocation” in Leviticus 23:3, simply means a recital or an assembly. That the miqra is qôdesh (i.e. holy) implies that it is a gathering specifically for the purpose of worship. That is why whenever the term “holy convocation” is used in the Scriptures, it is understood as an “appointed time” to assemble and worship (see Leviticus 23:4). Therefore, the qôdesh miqra is how God told the Jews to worship.
Moed [H4150] the Hebrew word translated as “feasts” in Leviticus 23:2 means an appointed time, place or meeting. In addition to the weekly Sabbath, there are seven annual Sabbaths which coincide with Jewish feast days and God declares both of these Sabbath types (i.e. weekly & annual) as a moed or an appointed time (See Leviticus 23). In fact, because every moed in Scripture (excluding Passover and FirstFruits) is a Sabbath and because every moed also requires a miqra, what emerges from Scripture is a very strong pattern between the Sabbath and worship. Therefore the moed and the miqra reinforce the idea that the Sabbath is when God told the Jews to worship.
Historically, in keeping the Sabbath’s miqra mandate, the Jews would assemble together in one place to rehearse or recite the words of the LORD. For example, in Nehemiah 8:1-10, the Scriptures elaborate upon a miqra for the Sabbath of the Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24, Numbers 29:1) where there was scripture reading (Nehemiah 8:2-3), prayer (Nehemiah 8:6), worship (Nehemiah 8:6) and expository preaching (Nehemiah 8:7-8). It is highly instructive that during this Sabbath, the word miqra (in Nehemiah 8:8) is translated as “the reading.” That the Sabbath’s miqra was exclusively the appointed time for both the reading and preaching of the Scriptures is also confirmed by Paul in Acts 13:27 and by James in Acts 15:21 when they state:
…the voices of the prophets …are read every sabbath day…For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day
Hence, it is God’s desire that all men (Mark 2:27) rest and worship on the appointed day of the Sabbath. This desire will not only be realized during Christ’s Thousand Year reign (Ezekiel 44:24; Ezekiel 45:17; Ezekiel 46:1-6, Zechariah 14:16-19) but also in the eternity of the new heavens and the new earth (Isaiah 66:22-23). To this end, God has promised that all flesh will adhere to that eternal decree (Isaiah 66:22-23).
God wants Gentile believers to keep the biblical Sabbath
In spite of verses like Exodus 12:49, Exodus 20:10, and Deuteronomy 5:14 which not only required Israel-dwelling Gentiles to keep the Sabbath but also gave Israel the authority to enforce Sabbath observance upon those Gentiles (Nehemiah 13:16, 20-21), many Christians still teach that the Sabbath is something that is exclusively Jewish. For instance, David Cloud’s Way of Life Ministry, in an article entitled “The Sabbath Yesterday and Today” stated the following:
Exodus 31:12-18 plainly states that the sabbath was a special sign between God and Israel. If mankind in general had been given the sabbath following creation, it could not have been a sign for Israel. The fact is that the sabbath belongs to the nation Israel and not to any other people.
Source: David Cloud, The Sabbath Yesterday and Today, http://www.wayoflife.org/ database/sabbathtoday.html
But even if Cloud was right that the Sabbath is exclusive to Israel, he has still failed to account for the fact that ever since their exodus from the land of Egypt, Israel has always been comprised of a mixed multitude of foreigners (Exodus 12:38, Numbers 11:4, Jeremiah 12:16-17) who were also supposed to keep the Sabbath. Also (and this is very important), because the Gentile’s membership in the New Covenant makes him a partaker of the “commonwealth of Israel” (Ephesians 2:12-14,19, Romans 11:16-24), it only makes sense that—for the sake of edification—he should also adhere to the applicable laws of that commonwealth. Yet, those who have dutifully studied the Scriptures know Cloud’s idea to be false and not only because of the previously mentioned verses but also because Christ plainly declares in Mark 2:27 that the Sabbath was created for man (and not just the Jews). Besides, both the weekly Sabbaths and the annual Sabbaths belong solely to God and not to Israel. In no less than 20 verses throughout the Scriptures, God demonstrates that the Sabbath belongs to Him alone by using phrases such as “my Sabbaths“, “my holy day” and the “Sabbath(s) of the LORD” (Exodus 20:10; 31:13; Leviticus 19:3, 30; 23:3, 38; 26:2; Deuteronomy 5:14; Isaiah 56:4; 58:13; Ezekiel 20:12, 13, 16; 20:20, 21, 24; 22:8, 26; 23:38; 44:24). Speaking of the annuals Sabbaths (i.e. the feasts days), on over eight different occasions the Bible refers to them as “the feast(s) of the LORD” or “my feasts” (2 Chronicles 2:4; Leviticus 23:2, 4, 37, 44; Judges 21:19; Ezra 3:5, Hosea 9:5). Not even once does the “Sabbath(s) of Israel” or “feast(s) of Israel” ever show up in the Bible. Even on the few occasions where the Bible refers to the annual Sabbaths as “your solemn feasts” or “your appointed feasts” it is understood that this is in reference to Israel’s keeping of God’s feasts. Hence, there can be no doubt that the Sabbath belongs solely to God. It is His holy day and the feasts are His holy feasts.
Moreover, it’s important to grasp the Sabbath’s uniqueness in that it precedes sin and the Mosaic Law. It was first a memorial of creation and the basis for our seven-day week before it was ever a sign between God and Israel. Therefore, the Sabbath transcends all nations including Israel. The reason why Israel was told to “remember” the Sabbath (in Exodus 20:8-11) has nothing to do with it being a “special sign.” Rather, God declares the inaugural Sabbath recorded in Genesis 2:2-3 as the basis for Israel’s Sabbath-keeping. Therefore, it is a prudent and necessary inference of Genesis 2:2-3 that the Sabbath is a creation ordinance and is therefore binding upon all of Adam’s descendants. This is why God required Sabbath observance in Exodus 16:5-6 several chapters before He incorporated it into the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8-11) or declared it to be a sign (Exodus 31:13). Otherwise, when the Israelites broke the Sabbath in Exodus 16:27-28, in response, why does God ask them how long they will refuse to keep His commandments if the concept of the Sabbath had only now been introduced to their minds?
It is an unsound argument for David Cloud to claim that “If mankind in general had been given the sabbath following creation, it could not have [also] been a sign for Israel.” The unfortunate mistake in Cloud’s reasoning is a known logical fallacy called asserting the consequent. It is because Cloud cannot fathom God using an existing statute as the basis for a “special sign” between two parties, that he carelessly declares such a scenario impossible. However, it is worth noting that just as God (in Exodus 31:12-18) used the Sabbath as the basis for a “special sign” between Himself and Israel, He also (in Exodus 34:28) used the Ten Commandments as the basis for a special covenant between Himself and Israel. Yet, it is doubtful that Cloud would likewise argue that the Sinai covenant’s commandments “belong to the nation Israel and not to any other people.” For in reading Genesis 4:7-11, it is clear to see that the moral injunction against the crime of murder (i.e. the Sixth Commandment) had already been in effect since the time of creation and before there was ever a nation called Israel. Yet, if Cloud’s rationale was correct this should not be the case. Therefore we know that Cloud is wrong because following his reasoning would force us to argue that the Sixth Commandment could not have been incorporated into a later covenant with Israel. In other words, just as the sixth commandment did not suddenly became an exclusively Jewish commandment when Israel received the Decalogue at Mount Sinai, so also did the Sabbath not suddenly become an exclusively Jewish commandment simply because God used it as a sign between Himself and Israel.
If the world coeval to the Hebrew Exodus had wrongly ignored the Sabbath as a creation ordinance, God’s inclusion of the Sabbath in the Decalogue would seem like a perfect opportunity for God to command the Israelites to “remember” the Sabbath so as to distinguish themselves from the other nations who had forgotten it. Their observance of the Sabbath would be a compelling sign to all nations that these were God’s people. Accordingly, Exodus 31:13 indicates that Sabbath observance would serve as a sign to remind Israel that it was God who sanctified them (i.e. set them apart). But why was Israel set apart? Wasn’t Israel “set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her” to provoke conformance (e.g. Deuteronomy 4:6, Ezekiel 5:5-7, Romans 2:17-20)? So that Israel, through the keeping of God’s statues and judgments, would be an example to the world of holiness in dedication to God? Yet, she did not “wrought any deliverance in the earth” but instead “changed [God’s] judgments into wickedness more than the [other] nations, and [His] statutes more than the countries that are round about her” (Isaiah 26:18, Ezekiel 5:6). Nevertheless, the fact that God wanted the other nations to also join themselves to the Him (Isaiah 45:22) and even gave Israel instructions regarding which Gentiles were allowed to join His congregation (Deuteronomy 23) demonstrates that He wanted the the other nations to also keep his statues and judgments. Therefore, the student of Scripture must conclude that the Sabbath as a sign between God and Israel does not invalidate it’s applicability to the rest of the world, but rather confirms it!
Still, perhaps the most compelling argument against the idea that the Sabbath is exclusive to Israel, is the fact that in Isaiah 56:1-8 we read of God instructing Gentiles to both grab hold of the New Covenant and keep the Sabbath:
(1) Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. (2) Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. (3) Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. (4) For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; (5) Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. (6) 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; (7) 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. (8) The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him. – Isaiah 56:1-8
|Isaiah 56:2’s meaning:||All believers (i.e. the son of man that layeth hold upon my salvation which is near) should keep the Sabbath|
|Isaiah 56:3’s audience:||Gentile believers (i.e. the son of the stranger or the eunuch) who is joined unto the Lord|
|Isaiah 56:4’s meaning:||Gentile believers (i.e. eunuchs that take hold of my covenant) should keep the Sabbath|
|Isaiah 56:5’s audience:||Gentile believers (i.e. them [eunuchs])|
|Isaiah 56:6’s meaning:||Gentile believers & Everyone (i.e. the sons of the stranger that …taketh hold of my covenant & everyone) should keep the Sabbath|
|Isaiah 56:7’s audience:||Gentile believers (i.e. them [sons of the stranger])|
|Isaiah 56:8’s audience:||Gentile believers (the gathered others [strangers, eunuchs, and all God’s “other sheep that are not yet of this fold” -John 10:16])|
In the Bible, a Gentile is someone who is a foreigner to Israel. In Isaiah 56:1-8, the offer of salvation through a new covenant and the command to keep the Sabbath is primarily, undoubtedly and emphatically meant for Gentile readers. Why? Well within the span of five verses, God issues three distinct Sabbath directives with each one addressing a New Covenant Gentile. The term “son of the stranger” which is found in verses 3, 6, 7 & 8 is a biblical expression that is used exclusively of Gentiles (e.g. 2 Samuel 1:13, Isaiah 62:8, Exodus 12:48, Numbers 15:29 etc.) and the “son of the stranger” who was qualified to claim (in Isaiah 56:3) that “The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people” included Gentiles such as the Ammonite or Moabite people. In the Old Covenant, these particular people groups were “utterly” disallowed from joining the Israelite congregation (Deuteronomy 23:3). In fact, it was a perpetual ban that was still in force well after their tenth generation as confirmed by Nehemiah 13:1, 23-31. Neither could eunuchs partake of the Old Covenant as they too were disqualified by Deuteronomy 23:1— an edict which would also have the effect of prohibiting Jews from voluntarily becoming eunuchs. Therefore, we see that both of these disqualified entities were Gentiles. Yet, Isaiah 56:1-8 speaks of a time when they would both be able to “take hold of [God’s] covenant” and join His congregation. Using words which portray an anticipation of this covenant’s arrival, God, in Isaiah 56:1 says His “salvation is near to come, and [His] righteousness [is about] to be revealed.” Furthermore, Isaiah 56:2 indicates that this salvation is available to anyone who “layeth hold on it.” This language can only mean that it is the New Covenant (i.e. the covenant of grace) spoken of in Jeremiah 31:31, 32:40 which is in scope. Yet, the most noteworthy aspect of Isaiah 56:1-8 is that tethered to the act of taking hold of God’s New Covenant, is the duty of pleasing God through Sabbath-keeping. This remarkable union is seen in verses 2, 4 and 6 of Isaiah 56. Many Christians today operate under the mistaken apprehension that Sabbath observance is antithetical to the New Covenant and yet here in Isaiah 56:1-8 we have a resounding confirmation of the Sabbath’s ongoing relevance. In fact, so devastating is Isaiah 56:1-8 to the notion that the Sabbath is no longer operative, that those who make this claim must try to confine the passage’s relevance to the Old Covenant era or to Christ’s future Millennial reign. For example, in his famous book Seventh Day Adventism Renounced, D.M. Canright, a former Seventh-Day Adventist turned Baptist pastor, claimed that Isaiah 56:1-8 must refer to the “Jewish age” (i.e. the Old Covenant). Specifically, he argued that:
If this [i.e. Isaiah 56:1-8] proves that Gentiles must keep the Sabbath, it also proves that they must offer burnt offerings and sacrifices upon God’s altar in the temple on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, for all those are mentioned as plainly as the Sabbath. Either, then, this applies to the Jewish age and to those Gentile proselytes who embraced Judaism and were circumcised, Ex. 12:48, and observed all Jewish rites; or if it applies to the Christian age, then these terms “Sabbath,” “altar,” “sacrifice,” “my house,” “my holy mountain,” must be taken figuratively, for Christians do not offer sacrifices, nor have a literal altar, nor go to Jerusalem to worship in that house nor on that mountain.
Source: D.M. Canright, Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, p.262
Obviously, there are many problems with the idea that Isaiah 56:1-8 “applies to the Jewish age” and the Old Covenant. For instance and as mentioned earlier, all “eunuchs” and certain “sons of the stranger” (i.e. foreigners) where not even allowed to partake in the Old Covenant, so when Isaiah 56:4-6 is seen extending an invitation to both of these groups, it necessarily follows that Isaiah 56:1-8 could never refer to “Gentile proselytes who embraced Judaism and were circumcised.” In fact, because the restriction against Old Covenant membership for some Gentiles was perpetual (Deuteronomy 23), it would not matter which age Canright placed the alleged proselytization of these would-be participants. This means that Canright’s citation of Exodus 12:48 is not relevant to this passage. Nor, can one reconcile the New Covenant speech of “my salvation is near to come” and “my righteousness to be revealed” with the Old Covenant fixtures of “Judaism” and “Jewish rites” which were based upon law-keeping. For then that would mean that God’s “righteousness to be revealed” comes by the keeping of the law in spite of what Galatians 2:21 tell us. Because Canright cannot see the terms “Sabbath,” “altar,” “sacrifice,” “my house,” and “my holy mountain,” comporting with the “Christian age,” he suggests that the only other valid alternative is to take these words figuratively. Yet, any astute logician would realize that what Canright presents us with is a false dilemma; for there is still another option which Canright refuses to entertain because of its obvious implications. For if it turns out that Christians do “offer sacrifices” (Ezekiel 40:42, Ezekiel 44:11, Ezekiel 46:24, Malachi 1:11), and they “have a literal altar” (Ezekiel 43:20,26), and they “go to Jerusalem to worship in that house” (Isaiah 2:2-3) or “on that mountain” (Isaiah 66:19-20), then what Canright would have to admit is that Isaiah 56:1-8 indeed refers to the “Christian age” (i.e. the New Covenant) and therefore proves that Gentiles should keep the Sabbath.
In yet another attempt to place Isaiah 56:1-8 beyond the reach of the Church age, Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, in his book on the Sabbath, says:
This is a prophetic passage dealing with the Sabbath in the Messianic Kingdom… Contextually, this passage deals with the observance of the Sabbath in the Temple in the Messianic Kingdom, the Millennium.
Source: Arnold Fruchtenbaum, The Sabbath, Paragraph 12.181
Because Dr. Fruchtenbaum is an accomplished and respected scholar, it is hard to resist the suspicion that he is purposefully evading this passage’s unmistakable application to our present time by seeking to place it in the Millennium (i.e. Christ’s one thousand year reign in Revelation 20:6). Admittedly, some parts of Isaiah 56:1-8 do deal with future events that have not yet taken place. For instance, when God, in Isaiah 56:7, says “them [i.e. the New Covenant Sabbath-keepers] will I bring to my holy mountain,” we must agree that the LORD has not yet fulfilled this promise. Nevertheless, it is abundantly clear that the preponderance of this passage must specifically refer to a time that is already upon us—a time which began when the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us as the incarnate Christ (John 1:14); for this was the advent of the New Covenant and the Messianic Age. Otherwise, if it is instead true that the coming Millennium will be the only time when Gentiles are able to both “take hold of [God’s] covenant” and “keep the Sabbath from polluting it” (Isaiah 56:2-4) then Ephesians 2:12-14 becomes a falsehood and Gentiles are yet “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise.” Neither does Isaiah 56:1 comport with the bizarre designation of a being “a prophetic passage dealing with the Sabbath in the Messianic Kingdom.” Otherwise, this would again mean that God’s salvation has not yet come, and that His righteousness has not yet been revealed, which is plain heresy. Since Romans 3:21 tells us that “the righteousness of God without the law” has already been manifested, then there is no reason why the reader should delay in obeying Christ’s clear admonition to “keep His Sabbaths.”
In fact, as we shall shortly see, there is actually an incentive for us as New Covenant believers to keep God’s Sabbath. Let it then be clearly understood that Isaiah 56:1-8 is the death knell to the unbiblical teaching that the Sabbath has been done away in the New Covenant. As the words of Dr. John P. Lange state:
…we must see in this [i.e. Isaiah 56:1-8’s] language the express revelation, that the new covenant is not to involve an abrogation of the Sabbath of the Fourth Commandment; that [the] Sabbath is, in fact, to be more honored than ever, and the keeping of it is to be the first privilege of those that hold fast to that covenant. Though part of the foundations of the Theocracy, it did not pass away with the latter.
Source: Lange’s Commentary O.T., Isaiah 56:1-8
The Scriptures say that New Covenant Sabbath-keepers will receive a better name, a better heritage and much more!
Those who teach that the Sabbath was done away with in the New Covenant are fond of claiming that the Fourth commandment is the only one of the ten which is not repeated in the New Testament. This is alleged in order to demonstrate that the Sabbath has there-fore lost its significance and is no longer binding in the New Covenant era. To one extent or another, this sentiment is repeated in the writings of folks like: the Christian Research Institute , Compass International , Dr. Arnold Fructenbaum , Chris White Ministries , Chuck Missler  and others. Yet, if one simply took the time to search through the Scriptures for the verses which pertain to the Sabbath, upon taking those verses seriously, one would actually discover that the opposite is true. Meaning, not only is the Sabbath commandment repeated in the New Testament, but it also turns out that the Sabbath is the only one of the Ten Commandments which, if kept during the New Covenant era, is accompanied by a special reward in the afterlife. For Isaiah 56:1-7 again says:
(1) Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. (2) Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. (3) Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. (4) For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; (5) Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. (6) 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; (7) 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.
In light of the passage above and before we touch upon the afterlife rewards slated for Sabbath-keepers, it is worth mentioning that a commandment does not need to actually reside in the New Testament writings in order to be considered part of the New Testament. The Holy Spirit can, within Old Testament writings, ascribe commands to the New Testament’s domain. Moreover, inasmuch as the New Testament writings are the history and exposition of the New Covenant, then these terms become somewhat interchangeable. In fact, whenever both terms (i.e. covenant, testament) appear in the N.T. Scriptures they are aways translated from the same Greek word (i.e. diatheke, Hebrews 9:14-16, 9:17-22 vs. Hebrews 12:24). Therefore, any precept which the Old Testament Author associates with the New Covenant is of necessity also part of the New Testament. And if so, then one of the reasons why the Sabbath commandment is firmly entrenched in the New Testament is because God places it there (via Isaiah 56:2, 4, 6) when He emphatically (i.e. no less that three times) instructs the Gentiles to both lay hold on the New Covenant and keep the Sabbath. Because both of these instructions are always employed in tandem, the resulting union virtually eliminates the possibility that God intended to do away with the Sabbath commandment in the New Covenant. Therefore, Isaiah 56:1-8 amounts to an unmistakable plea for the Sabbath to be kept in the New Testament and beyond.
As far as the rewards promised to Sabbath-keepers are concerned, it may first be helpful to recall that when God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, there was initially one commandment in particular which came with a special promise, for in Ephesians 6:1-3, Paul says:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with [a special] promise) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
By the way, when Paul’s quotes the Fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16) here in Ephesians, he is proving that the Old Testament law is not abolished in the New Covenant. Therefore, Ephesians 6:1-3 also destroys the common argument that Christ’s death has nullified the Mosaic Law. The Fifth commandment’s special promise links a person’s longevity to the manner of respect shown to his or her parents. According to Ephesians 6:3, it is only a temporal promise as it is constrained to one’s life here on earth. Nevertheless, and in the course of time, there has arisen another commandment with a special promise, however this time it is a heavenly one. But first of all, lets remember that according to Revelation 2:17, all “overcomers” (i.e. all believers—see 1 John 5:4-5) whether they be sons or daughters (2 Corinthians 6:18, John 1:12, Galatians 3:26) and whether they keep the Sabbath or not, are promised to receive a “new name” which no one else knows. Yet, here in Isaiah 56:5, those who both cling to the New Covenant and keep the Sabbath are promised an even better name and heritage than those “of sons and of daughters.” In addition to this “everlasting name that shall not be cut off” they are also promised an invitation to God’s holy mountain, divine joy in God’s house of prayer and the acceptance of their offerings. Such a bundle of incentives are unparalleled in all of Scripture as it pertains to any one of God’s commandments. Therefore, not only has the Fourth commandment become the second in the Decalogue with an extraordinary promise attached to it, but it also turns out that obeying the Fourth Commandment furnishes the believer with unprecedented privileges.
Exegetically speaking, a deeper look into the words of Isaiah 56:1-8 reveal that though its context is primarily meant for that of a Gentile audience, its message is clearly applicable to any “son of man.” This is seen from the fact that the subjects of both “neithers” in verse 3 (i.e., “neither let the son of the stranger…” and “neither let the eunuch…“) are subcategories of the son of man in verse 2. These subcategories of men are cited as examples of those who were considered Old Covenant outcasts. Their plight would be remedied by the arrival of a new covenant which we now know as “the faith which was once [and for all] delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). Because this new covenant lacks the preconditions of its predecessor, it is available to all participants, even to those who were previously excluded in the Old Covenant. Isaiah 56:2 designates as blessed, any “son of man” who is also a New Covenant Sabbath-keeper; while verses 4 and 7 define the specific promises which are associated with this blessing. Verse 4’s promise which pertains to the “eunuch” consists of a better name and a better heritage while verse 7’s promise to the “sons of the stranger” (i.e. the foreigner) is an invitation to God’s Holy mountain, divine joy in God’s house of prayer and the acceptance of their offerings. Yet, both of these promises are merely the details of verse 2’s blessing to the New Covenant Sabbath-keeper and are thus applicable to “every one that keeps the sabbath.“
It is undeniable then, that in Isaiah 56:2, 4 & 6, when God exhorts the participants of His New Covenant to keep the Sabbath, He is effectively placing the Fourth commandment in the New Covenant and thus the New Testament writings.
Early Christians assembled on the Sabbath Day
The Christian Research Institute (CRI hereafter) in their article entitled: Should We Keep the Sabbath? state:
Not once is it reported in [the book of] Acts that Christian believers assembled on the Sabbath. The only reference to the Sabbath in the New Testament after Acts is Colossians 2:16, where Paul told believers they are not under bondage to Jewish dietary restrictions or the Sabbath.
A careful exegesis of Colossians 2:16 will demonstrate that CRI has misapprehended this verse as it pertains to allegations of the Sabbath’s cessation (see Does Colossians 2:16 render the Sabbath irrelevant?) but what about CRI’s other claim that the New Testament is void of any references to believers assembling on the Sabbath? If Paul (in Acts 13:27) and James (in Acts 15:21) are right when they assert that the Bible is read and preached every Sabbath day, then a necessary inference of these verses would seem to place in doubt CRI’s claim that the New Testament is silent about believers assembling on the Sabbath. In fact, because both Acts 13:27 & Acts 15:21 affirm that the Scriptures are read and preached EVERY Sabbath day, and because Acts 13:42-44 implies that there was no other competing day for weekly assembly, one necessary implication is that the Sabbath did not diminish in its use but remained the exclusive and appointed time for both the reading and preaching of the Scriptures. As we shall shortly see, this would also have to mean that the early believers assembled (perhaps even along side Old Covenant Jews) in the synagogue and on the Sabbath.
Interestingly, the Hebrew term moed [H4150], apart from meaning “appointed time“ also conveys the idea of a congregation. In fact, over 60 percent of the time, that is how it is rendered in the KJV. With this alternate meaning in mind, the King James Concordance shows that moed and it’s Greek equivalent sunagōgē [G4864], are both at times translated as synagogue, and can either mean the “congregation of [God’s] people” or the place where such an assembly occurs (e.g. Psalm 74:8, Acts 6:9 etc.). Though the synagogue was typically where the Old Covenant Jews fulfilled the Sabbath’s miqra, the Scriptures suggest that New Covenant believers also attended the synagogue. For instance, in Acts 22:19 & Acts 26:11, Paul recounts his activities as an unbeliever when he persecuted the Christians in the synagogue. Likewise, in James 2:2-3, the writer’s speech pertains to a Christian gathering; yet, the Greek word translated as “assembly” actually means “synagogue.“
Ekklēsia [G1577] is another Greek word which is also related to the Hebrew term moed and the Greek term sunagōgē. Although ekklēsia shares the same meaning as sunagōgē, it is strangely and predominantly translated as “church” in the New Testament (KJV). Yet, there is reason to believe that the “church” was originally just a generic way of referring to New Covenant believers. For instance, the New Testament book of James was written “to the twelve tribes [of Israel] which are scattered abroad,” yet in James 5:14 the word ekklēsia is used when referring to these synagogue-attending Christians (James 1:1, cf. James 2:2). In verses such as Philippians 3:6, Acts 8:3, Galatians 1:13 and 1 Corinthians 15:9, the Bible recounts Paul persecuting the “ekklēsia” at a time when its believers were exclusively Jewish and attending the sunagōgē (See Acts 9:1-2 then Acts 10:28,45). Regarding Paul’s desire in Acts 9:2 to track down and persecute believers, British Methodist theologian Adam Clarke says that Paul could only oppress those found:
Provided they were Jews; for no converts had as yet been made among the Gentiles; nor did the power of the high priest and Sanhedrin extend to any but those who belonged to the synagogues.
Source: [Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible, Acts 9:2]
Again, this is confirmed by Paul in Acts 22:19 & Acts 26:11 when he suggests that these believers were being persecuted in the sunagōgē. Also, when Paul finally becomes a believer in Acts 9:17-18, afterwards it is said in Acts 9:31 that the ekklēsia had rest from (Paul’s) persecution; yet, as Clarke stated earlier, there were no Gentiles yet in the ekklēsia. Later on in Acts 10:45, the Bible records the conversion of Cornelius (and his household); they were the first Gentile recipients of the Holy Ghost to the amazement of Jewish onlookers who thought that the New Covenant was exclusively for the Jews (Acts 10:45, Ephesians 3:4-6). In fact, Peter who preached the Gospel to Cornelius’ household, had only hours earlier received a revelation from God that is was acceptable for Gentiles to be Christians (Acts 10:10-16,28).
Moreover, Hebrews 2:12 uses ekklēsia when quoting the word “congregation” from the Old Testament (i.e. Psalms 22:22) and Acts 7:38 refers to Moses as being part of the ekklēsia in the wilderness. In fact, Jesus in Matthew 18:17 uses ekklēsia when referring to a Jewish congregation. Therefore, we know that ekklēsia may generically refer to any assembly of God. The point is that the similarities between the sunagōgē and the ekklēsia are not mere coincidence, but are meant to be instructive. Both terms are employed when referring to a congregation of God’s people, and members of both the sunagōgē or the ekklēsia assembled weekly for scripture reading, worship and preaching on the Sabbath’s miqra. This is why verses such as Acts 13:14-16, Acts 17:1-2 and Acts 18:4 indicate that Paul always observed miqra by going to the synagogue on the Sabbath. Since the early Christians were Jews, there is no doubt that the ekklēsia (being the same group) would have also kept miqra on the Sabbath. Some would have kept miqra at home while others would have done so at the synagogue. So it appears that the typical modern day church service is historically just an offshoot of the miqra which occurred in the sunagōgē or ekklēsia and on the Sabbath. All of this then means that CRI is mistaken in their assertion that the book of Acts does not mention believers assembling on the Sabbath. The necessary inference of Paul’s testimony in Acts 22:19 & Acts 26:11 is that believers were in fact assembling to hear the Scriptures preached in the synagogues on the Sabbath and were being persecuted for doing so as believers in Jesus. Otherwise, we are forced to entertain the incredulous notion that a Sunday assembly for miqra would have been permitted in the synagogues (cf. Acts 13:42-44).
In the New Testament, the fourth chapter of John records a conversation that Jesus had with a woman at a well in the Samaritan city of Sychar. During their discourse, the Samaritan woman’s ideas about worship were shown to be in error when her Creator corrected her by saying: “You worship what you do not know; [but] we worship what we do know, for salvation is of the Jews.”
In light of what has been discussed thus far regarding the indispensability of the Sabbath’s miqra, could a similar rebuke be leveled at modern-day Christians who insist that God’s ideas about holy convocation are now obsolete? All who admit to the Bible as their standard must also admit that the church’s salvation is incurably tethered to the Hebrew Scriptures and thus the Jewish notions of worship.
If the Sabbath has truly been abolished then why should the Church still assemble?
Compass International, the Christian apologetics organization that publishes and emails a daily-devotional called Good Morning Lord, stated the following in one of their Bible studies on the Sabbath:
Rest from your work one day a week, any day you choose…But more than anything, it’s not what day you choose to rest that concerns God, it’s why you do it in the first place.
Source: [Compass International, Good Morning Lord, October 28th, 2015]
Along the same lines, theologian Dr. Paul T. Butler, contributing author to the College Press Bible Commentary states:
Sabbath-day keeping in the New Covenant dispensation is definitely abrogated [i.e. ended] as a law of God since the O.T. ordinances were “nailed” to the cross (cf. Col 2:13-15; Heb 9:10; Heb 10:1, etc.). Sabbath-keeping is, at best, merely a matter of opinion in the New Dispensation (cf. Rom 14:1-12; Col 2:16-23).
Source: Paul T. Butler, College Press 1978, Isaiah, vol. 3 (The Old Green Commentaries), Isaiah 56:1-5
In agreement with the gist of the citations above and in regards to Romans 14:4-6, Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum states:
While the term day is not limited to the Sabbath day, it would certainly be included. In verse 5, one man is free to esteem a day as being more important than another day, whether it is Saturday or Sunday. Another believer may view all days equally alike. Both are valid options according to this passage. In verse 6a, both options are to be taken as honoring the Lord…[Regarding Sabbath observation] the day of choice is purely optional. A day does not even need to be chosen as Paul so clearly brought out…how this applies to the individual is seen in two ways: first, each believer, Jew or Gentile, has the option to set a day aside or not to set it aside; secondly, if he does choose to set a day aside however, he is free to choose any day of the week, Saturday, Sunday, or Thursday, or whatever.
Source: Arnold Fruchtenbaum, The Sabbath, Paragraph 12:179 (Kindle)
As demonstrated by these three citations, the idea that the Sabbath is optional or no longer in use is a widespread notion among Evangelical Christians. Yet, some of these same Christians who argue that the Sabbath has become obsolete in the New Covenant still seem to assert the necessity of weekly assembly or rest. They claim that the day you decide to do either is optional but that these activities are nonetheless required. To substantiate this idea, they appeal to Hebrews 10:25 because it is commonly used as to incentivize regular Sunday church attendance. Additionally, others see Romans 14:4-6 supporting the notion that any weekday can serve as one’s Sabbath. Yet, some of the necessary implications which the cited theologians have inferred from both Hebrews 10:25 and Romans 14:4-6 seem to collide with one another.
Before we examine these conflicting inferences in detail, we first need to discern the who, what and why of Hebrews 10:25. Who is the audience to whom this verse pertains? What message is this verse attempting to convey? And why is this message being conveyed? Upon answering these questions, we will find that regardless of how many times this verse has been used to support the claim that a weekly church service is required, there are good reasons for thinking that Hebrews 10:25 is only referring to the Sabbath‘s holy convocation (Leviticus 23:3). For if we consider the title of this New Testament epistle (i.e. Hebrews) and note its numerous references to Old Testament Scriptures, based upon these clues, we must conclude that its primary audience (i.e. the who) is clearly Hebrew Christians. And when we actually examine the ‘what’ of Hebrews 10:25:
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
we find that its most probable purpose (i.e. the why) was to reassure discouraged Jewish believers to continue the Sabbath’s miqra in spite of the widespread persecution by zealous unbelievers (e.g. Acts 22:19, Acts 26:11). Interestingly enough, Hebrews 10:25’s most pertinent phrase—the assembling of ourselves together—when examined in the Greek [hē episunagōgē heautou], turns out to be based upon a variation of sunagōgē which is the Greek word for synagogue. The only other time episunagōgē appears in the Bible is in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 which refers to the gathering together of Christ’s congregation at His coming. However, extra-biblical writings which predate the epistle of Hebrews have employed the same Greek term when speaking of Jewish gatherings . Furthermore, and as discussed in an earlier section, one important implication of Acts 22:19 & Acts 26:11 is that Jewish believers still attended the synagogues. This implication is instructive because it shows us that the earliest gospel-obeying Christians were found worshiping in the synagogues and did so presumably and primarily for the purpose of the Sabbath’s miqra (i.e. convocation). Though Sabbath-keeping is primarily concerned with resting from work, according to Leviticus 23:3, it also included a requirement for God’s congregation to assemble for a miqra. This “holy convocation” has ever since been the basis for all weekly gatherings which involve worship (Acts 13:42-44). However, some Christians who insist that Christ’s death has abolished the Sabbath commandment, have yet tried to use Hebrews 10:25 to teach that the “church must meet.” They are fine with the notion that the church must meet weekly so long as the basis for this meeting is not the Sabbath. Of course, the irony here is that the Sabbath was (and is) the only day of the week which God ever appointed for such an assembly (Leviticus 23:1-3), and because Hebrews 10:25‘s audience was Jewish, any command to assemble could only serve to reinforce the Sabbath’s miqra mandate. However, in spite of its Sabbath-oriented context, Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum uses this verse in Hebrews to argue the following:
[T]he church must meet. The clear obligation in Hebrews 10:25 is that there must be the gathering of believers under elders and deacons…the day of the week is up to the individual local congregation. Most churches have chosen Sunday; that is fine. Many Messianic congregations have chosen Saturday; that is fine. In Moslem countries, churches have chosen Friday; that is fine. Any day of the week that the individual assembly wishes to choose, it is free to do so.
Source: The Sabbath, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Paragraph 12:181 (Kindle)
Biblically speaking, there is no problem with the idea that the assembly of God must meet; however, if Hebrews 10:25 suddenly becomes the basis for such a meeting, then it is incumbent upon the Author of Hebrews to inform us of the meeting’s purpose and whether it is in fact compulsory. Both the immediate and broader context of Hebrews 10:25 does not explicitly provide the reader with either of these requirements, so we are left with the task of inferring them from the answers to the who, what, and why of this verse. Based upon these answers, the most reasonable inference one can draw is that the meeting which Hebrews 10:25 has in mind is particularly the Sabbath’s miqra. So when Dr. Fruchtenbaum on the basis of Hebrews 10:25 maintains that the “church must meet,” he is inadvertently contradicting his own teaching that the Sabbath has no relevance in the life of a New Covenant believer. Moreover, he is also contradicting his assessment of Romans 14:4-6. In fact, the obvious irony as it pertains to Romans 14:4-6 is that earlier Fruchtenbaum used this passage as the basis for asserting that individual Christians have the liberty to determine which days are holy and which days are not. He even went so far as to say that, if desired, one need not choose a day at all. But here in Hebrews 10:25, in contravention to his views on the Sabbath’s demise and his assessment of Romans 14:4-6, Fruchtenbaum now says that not only is weekly assembly required, but that a day must be chosen. Based upon the true origin of the weekly church service which was discussed in an earlier section, we can be sure that the mandatory meeting which Fruchtenbaum has in mind is really just an offshoot of the holy convocation initiated by God in Leviticus 23:3. Therefore, if the Mosaic Law has truly gone by the wayside as folks like Fruchtenbaum suggest, then the question is: why does Hebrews 10:25 still reinforce the ongoing relevance of the Sabbath’s holy convocation?
Regarding the mandatory meeting of Hebrews 10:25 which in Fruchtenbaum’s mind is unrelated to the Sabbath, He says that believers are “free to choose any day of the week, Saturday, Sunday, or Thursday, or whatever.” But he completely disregards the fact that in Exodus 20:8-11 & Leviticus 23:3, God has already designated and sanctified a particular day for the weekly assembly of His congregation. Why should believers seek to establish another competing day which would neither be hallowed nor blessed? After all, God did not sanctify all seven days of the week, He only sanctified one—i.e. the Sabbath. Yet this Sabbath replacement ideology exhibited by Fruchtenbaum et al is the type of reasoning which has come to be expected from those Christians who have no regard for the Sabbath’s sanctity (Genesis 2:3, Exodus 20:8-11) or perpetuity (Isaiah 66:22-23, Exodus 31:16).
When theologians like Dr. Fruchtenbaum use Romans 14:5-6 to argue that Christians are under no obligation to regard the Sabbath day as holy, we can be sure that they are relying upon a misunderstanding of that passage. For we all know that the Bible says the Sabbath day is blessed, hallowed (Exodus 20:11) and eternal (Isaiah 66:22-23). But if, as Dr. Fruchtenbaum says, Christians are now free to no longer esteem the 7th day as such, then this sort of reasoning sets a dangerous precedent going forward. In fact, if we were to apply Fruchtenbaum’s hermeneutic consistently, we would also be forced to conclude that Christians may disregard—without consequence—anything which God has declared to be holy. After all, if the Sabbath is truly holy (Genesis 2:3) and God wants Gentiles Christians to keep the Sabbath in the New Covenant (Isaiah 56:1-8) but they can instead use the Romans 14:5-6 rule to dispense with observing holy days altogether, then why just stop at the Sabbath? Why can’t a believer disregard other holy things such as marriage (Matthew 19:6) or God’s Word (John 17:17). In fact, many have! What seems lost in Fruchtenbaum’s understanding of this passage is how Paul ascribes to each opinion the motive of worship. According to Romans 14:6-8, the person who exercises either of the opinions juxtaposed in Romans 14:5 is ultimately trying to please God. Yet, it remains unclear how God is pleased by an attitude of indifference toward the Sabbath. For if Fruchtenbaum’s view of Romans 14:5-6 is right, then in Acts 10:15, when Peter was admonished by the heavenly voice which said: “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common,” perhaps the apostle should have replied according to Fruchtenbaum’s Romans 14:5-6 rule by saying: “he who regards as common what God has cleansed, to the Lord doth he regard it as common, and he giveth God thanks.” Such a reply would be no more disrespectful than the nonchalant attitude toward the Sabbath which we are being encouraged to embrace. Is God honored by such a response? It is no wonder then that in Ezekiel 22:26, the Scriptures lament this kind of impropriety by saying:
“Her [i.e. Israel’s] priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My holy things; they have made no distinction between the holy and the profane, and they have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they hide their eyes from My Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.”
But if Fruchtenbaum’s assessment of Romans 14:5-6 is correct, then it seems that the admonition of Ezekiel 22:26 has now been overcome by the liberty of negligence which the New Covenant evidently affords the Christian in passages such as Romans 14:5-6.
If this application of Fruchtenbaum’s rationale seems like an unsuitable discernment of the Scriptures in question, then perhaps we need to take a closer look at what is really going on in Romans 14. First of all, it is necessary to approach this chapter and all others with the understanding that it is unacceptable to profane the things which God has declared to be holy. For instance, there is no room for the notion that Christians can transfer the sanctity of the Sabbath from the seventh day to any other day of the week. Nor is it possible for the Sabbath to have been abolished especially if Isaiah 56:1-8 has God expecting Gentiles to keep the Sabbath in the New Covenant. Because of these facts, it is more than reasonable to expect that the Sabbath is excluded from any view of Romans 14:5 which suggests that believers are free to regard all days with indifference. Yet, Dr. Fruchtenbaum is certain that Romans 14:5-6 allows any Christian to view the Sabbath day with indifference. He is certain that “this passage is against mandatory Sabbath-keeping for either Jews or Gentiles” but he does not offer an explanation to convince us of this certitude. Apparently, Fruchtenbaum thinks that his interpretation of Romans 14:5-6 is self-evident. But where are the contextual clues that would lead us to conclude as such?
Others have sought to tie in Colossians 2:16-17 because that passage also pertains to a believer’s dietary preferences or adherence to holy days (i.e. the new moon, Sabbath days, etc.). However, there are at least two key observations that make the Colossians 2:16-17 text unmistakably different from that of Romans 14:4-6. First of all, the Colossians 2 passage, contrary to how it is commonly understood, merely warns believers to shun ungodly judgments pertaining to dietary preferences and holy days, whereas the Romans 14 passage warns believers not to judge the validity of a fellow believer’s salvation based upon dietary preferences and holy days. The second difference is that, unlike the Romans 14 passage, the Sabbath is necessarily in the scope of Colossians 2:16-17 since it is explicitly mentioned in the text. The point is, there is no logical necessity to suppose that Romans 14:4-6 has the Sabbath in view in spite of the fact that many Bible commentators seem to think otherwise.
In the mind of the skeptic, there appears to be no good reason why one should exclude the Sabbath from the phrase “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike.” However, when Paul (in 1 Corinthians 6:12 & 1 Corinthians 10:23) says that “all things are lawful,” no rational person would treat this statement as a universal proposition. In other words, as a consequence of Paul’s words, no prudent reader would walk away believing that murder, rape, and homosexuality are all now lawful. Paul takes it for granted that the reader will not include within the range of “all things” any prohibition that was previously established in God’s law. Such prohibitions would obviously include murder (), rape () and homosexuality () but would also include the desecration of the Sabbath (). Therefore, if 1 Corinthians 6:12 & 1 Corinthians 10:23 are to be treated as enthymemes then so must Romans 14:4-6.
There are Sunday-observers who would use Romans 14 to justify not needing to keep the Sabbath on the seventh day. They would argue that Romans 14 allows Christians to keep the Sabbath on any day that they please. These same persons would also use Romans 14 to justify the act of eating any type of meat or drink whether clean or unclean. Yet, it is both probable and presumable that these same persons would not support using Romans 14 to justify the consumption of blood or of any animal that dies from strangulation because of the explicit prohibition against these items which was promulgated at the Acts 15 Jerusalem council (Acts 15:20, 28-29).
The rationale behind the Sunday-observer’s refusal to include blood or strangled animals among those items which are permissible for a believer to consume is flawless. After all, the Holy Spirit has explicitly deemed it necessary that New Covenant believers observe these two particular commandments which are cited from the Mosaic Law (Acts 15:28). Yet, in a shocking display of rank inconsistency, the Sunday-observer will fail to apply the same rationale to the New Covenant urgings of the Holy Ghost in Isaiah 56. For in Isaiah 56, the Holy Spirit expressly commands Gentiles who would embrace the New Covenant to also keep the Sabbath. Because of this explicit directive, the New Covenant believer can no longer argue that which day the Sabbath occurs is merely a matter of preference. For doing so would not only nullify the Isaiah 56:1-6 Sabbath-keeping mandate, it would also allow Christians to, based upon one’s preference, modify the Bible’s assertion that Christ rose from the grave on the third day. After all, the One who told us in Exodus 20:11 that the Sabbath is the seventh day is the same Person who tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:4 that Christ rose from the dead on the third day. Therefore, if Christians have the power to change the solemnity of the Sabbath day then why not also the solemnity of Christ’s resurrection day (i.e. the Feast of Firstfruits)?
Secondly, though many Bibles (including the KJV) add the word “alike” to the end of the first sentence in Romans 14:5, it turns out that this word is not found in the Greek text from which the epistle of Romans was translated. That there is no existing Greek manuscript which includes the word “alike” is why the KJV translators put this word in italics. On the several occasions when the KJV translators supplement the original text of Scripture with additional words, this is usually done in order to enhance the text’s readability without changing its meaning. However, in the case of Romans 14:5, the addition of alike may actually end up injuring the original meaning of the text. In fact, several theologians are convinced that it does! For example, Adam Clarke, Albert Barnes, JFB (Jamieson, Fausset, Brown), and Handley C. G. Moule, etc. all agree that this addition changes the Author’s original intent . They argue that the Author meant for Romans 14:5‘s comparison to be between the man who esteems one day above another versus the man who holds every day in high regard. In contrast, the popular view of this verse to which Fruchtenbaum adheres compares the man who has a differential regard for days to the man who is indifferent toward all days. That both indifference and deference are allegedly accepted by God is then said to prove that both attitudes towards holy days are of the same value to God.
Yet, Christians like Fruchtenbaum would do well to remember that in 1 Corinthians 6:12 & 1 Corinthians 10:23, Paul warns that while “all things are lawful, all things are not expedient.” In other words, though God gives New Covenant believers the freedom to behave according to the limitations of their understanding of Scripture, not all behavior is profitable for edification (i.e. spiritual growth). Nor does all behavior lend itself equally to being commendable for rewards on the believer’s day of judgment (Romans 14:10-12, 2 Corinthians 5:10). Isaiah 56:1-8 teaches that there are rewards for those who grab hold of the New Covenant and keep the Sabbath. But these rewards will not apply to those who knowingly refuse to obey God’s commandments. As such is the case, a confirmation of Paul’s 1 Corinthians 10:23 proverb is seen in Matthew 5:17-20 where Jesus warns that even though the act of teaching fellow believers to break God’s commandments does not disqualify one from being saved, it does, however, relegate one to the status of being “least in the kingdom of heaven.” Therefore, if it is irresponsible to teach other Christians that the God of the New Covenant no longer cares about the Sabbath’s solemnity, and if it is sacrilege to teach others to break the Fourth Commandment, then those who do such things will be “least in the kingdom of heaven.” This is the stern warning that what we must all remember as we seek to faithfully exegete Romans 14:4-6.
In Romans 14:2‘s comparison between the believer who eats all things versus the one who is a vegetarian, while Paul proclaims that both dietary preferences are acceptable to God, he still regards the vegetarian believer as someone who is “weak in the faith.” This should inform us that Paul’s judgment of the vegetarian’s position as “weak” is obviously not the same as the type of judgment which He warns against in Romans 14:3-4,10-13, 20 (i.e. consigning someone to condemnation). For if it were, then Paul would be guilty of violating his own admonition. No, the unacceptable judgment of Romans 14:3-4,10-13, 20 which Paul has in mind is the one that seeks to base the validity of a persons’ salvation upon their adherence to a particular diet or their veneration of a particular day. Yet, because Paul does not divulge the rationale behind why the vegetarian has chosen this particular dietary preference, it is not clear upon which fault the weakness lies. For there are many reasons why a believer could choose to be a vegetarian (e.g. Daniel 1:8-16) and some are more plausible than others. Some Bible commentators have sought to classify verse 2’s vegetarian as someone who was afraid to partake of meat which had priorly been consecrated to idols. But if this were so, then it is doubtful that Paul would have called this person “weak in the faith,” for the apostles themselves on many occasions had instructed Gentile believers not to partake of meat offered to idols (Acts 15:28-29, Acts 21:25, 1 Corinthians 10:18-28). While we may not know exactly why Paul deems the vegetarian as “weak in the faith,” we do know that the vegetarian’s position falls short of the dietary liberty which God has afforded the believer (Matthew 15:17-20, 1 Timothy 4:3-5).
As mentioned earlier, both Roman 14:1-6 and Colossians 2:16-17 are viewed by some Christians as being parallel passages because both appear to engage the believer’s discernment as it pertains to dietary preferences and the veneration of holy days. However, for those who would seek to marry these passages, there is a third nuance to consider. Just because the topics of dietary preferences and the veneration of holy days both appear within the same passage doesn’t mean that both are of the same theological weight. We must be careful not to conflate the triviality of carnal ordinances (Hebrews 9:10) with the serious and sacred duty of pleasing God through Sabbath-keeping. For while we must agree with Paul in 1 Corinthians 8:8 that “meat commendeth us not to God”, we must also agree with that heavenly voice which said to Peter: “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common” (Acts 10:15). In other words, we affirm that what a believer chooses to eat has no bearing on his or her spiritual edification, however, we also affirm that to knowingly profane the Sabbath does. That is the reason why Christians who ignore the Fourth commandment will be subject to the implications of Matthew 5:17-19.
Yet, in a stunning misapprehension of Romans 14:1-6, Chuck Missler, who is actually a respectable Bible teacher, extrapolates Paul’s label of weak in the faith and applies it to those who would dare to keep the Fourth Commandment. As if the desire to please God through the faithfulness of Sabbath-keeping could ever be associated with weakness! In that case, Paul himself would have to be deemed weak in the faith, for the Scriptures indicate that it was his custom to observe the Sabbath by worshiping and reasoning with the Jews in the synagogue (Acts 13:14-16, Acts 13:42-44, Acts 14:1, Acts 17:1-2, Acts 18:4). Paul ‘s attitude towards the Sabbath is no less than we would expect from the self-identified “Hebrew of the Hebrews” (Philippians 3:5-6, Acts 24:14, Acts 25:8). Therefore, when Paul pits the person who esteems one day above another against the one who (highly) esteems all days, he is not rendering judgment as to who is right amongst them. Nor is he saying that either stance is equally satisfying to God. He is merely saying that both persons are accountable to God alone and that (by implication) neither stance disqualifies one from membership in the New Covenant of grace.
Besides, of what use is the purported freedom to disregard the Fourth Commandment if Christ merely yanks away this freedom at the start of His Millennial reign? For both Ezekiel 44:24 & Ezekiel 46:1-6 tells us that in the Messianic Kingdom, the Sabbath day will neither be optional nor interchangeable. Yet, for some reason, many theologians cannot see the instructive implications of these verses. Why would God do away with a law that is described as being eternal, delightful, pleasing to God and that is prophesied to be enforced throughout Christ’s Messianic Kingdom?
The New Covenant has done away with Sabbath law but it will soon be mandatory in the New Covenant. Wait, what? [Draft]
The contradictions continue:
Paul definitely included the Sabbath command among those ordinances which were done away with in Christ…It [i.e. the Sabbath] isn’t intrinsically limited to the Mosaic Covenant. Sabbaths will continue as a basis for worship in the Millennium…The Sabbath will also be honored in Ezekiel’s Temple…Since the Sabbath apparently survives the church period, () this seems to cloud the view that Sunday replaced the Sabbath.
Source: [http://www.khouse.org/articles/2000/223/#notes, http://www.khouse.org/ articles/2000/258/#resources]
This passage [i.e. Hosea 2:11] contains a prophecy for the cessation of the Sabbath: God will cause all her mirth to cease. Among the things He will cause to cease include: her feasts, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn assemblies. This verse is a prediction of a future cessation of the Sabbath.The question is: When was this fulfilled, if it was? First of all, it was not fulfilled during the Dispensation of the Law, because the Sabbath was still mandatory throughout the entire period of the Law. Secondly, it will not be true in the Dispensation of the Kingdom for, according to the prophecies of both Isaiah and Ezekiel, the Sabbath will be mandatory in the Messianic Kingdom. Thirdly, this can only be true for the present Dispensation of Grace. Today, the Sabbath has ceased; it is no longer mandatory. The reason is because the Sabbath is not part of the Law of the Messiah. It is a fulfillment of the prophecy of Hosea 2:11, predicting a cessation of the Sabbath…according to Hosea 2:11, it was destined to cease for a long period of time, which is the age in which we now live…[but] it is to be re instituted in the Kingdom.
Source: The Sabbath, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Paragraph 10.49-10.56
The Sabbath law is a necessary inference of Genesis 2:2-3
The sabbath, though mentioned in Genesis 2:2-3, was not delivered to man until it was given to Israel in the wilderness (Nehemiah 9:13-14)…While it is true that the sabbath originated at end of the six days of creation (Gen. 2:1-3), that was God’s rest, not man’s. There is no record in Genesis that God gave the sabbath to man. The saints in Genesis built altars, prayed, offered sacrifices, and tithed; but the Scripture is silent in regard to sabbath keeping. Nehemiah 9:13-14 plainly states that the sabbath was first given to Israel in the wilderness.
Sources: David Cloud, Seventh-day Adventism, pg 16; David Cloud, The Sabbath Yesterday and Today, https://www.wayoflife.org/database/sabbathtoday.html;
Nowhere in all of the Bible is there any distinction made between a Sabbath for God and a Sabbath for man. Contrary to David Cloud’s rationale, God’s origination of the Sabbath at the end of the earth’s first week was not meant to benefit Himself — as if a repose could ever benefit One who never grows weary (Isaiah 40:28) nor slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:4) — but was instead an instructive rest. Cloud should heed the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:9-10 when he says:
For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written…
According to Paul, one would be mistaken to not realize that the primary application of Deuteronomy 25:4 pertains to men and not to oxen. Similarly, it is a mistake not to realize that the inaugural Sabbath in Genesis 2:2-3 was primarily meant to instruct man as to how he should pattern his life. In fact, Cloud has no proof that Adam and Eve did not observe the Sabbath. Nor does Nehemiah 9:13-14 demonstrate that the Sabbath “was not delivered to man until it was given to Israel in the wilderness.” For even before the inaugural Sabbath in Genesis 2:3 had occurred, the first man Adam had already begun to draw inferences from God’s prior actions in Genesis (e.g. Genesis 2:23). It is therefore incomprehensible that Adam would ignore such a startling event as an omnipotent and indefatigable being deciding to deliberately take a rest. It must have also occurred to Adam that a Person Who possessed the inexhaustible “residue of the Spirit” could have easily created the whole world in just one second (Malachi 2:15). Why God took an unneeded six days and why He needlessly rested on the seventh day are observations which one would expect any sapient being to reflect upon. It is therefore unreasonable to maintain that Adam could not have known about the Sabbath’s purpose or significance. Moreover, when we examine Nehemiah 9:13-14, we find the following:
(13) Thou [i.e. God] camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: (14) And madest known unto them [i.e. Israel] thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant.
But, what we do not find is any mention of Nehemiah 9:13-14 being the first time that the Sabbath was made known to Israel. Nehemiah 9:13-14 is but a small part of a larger prayer which spans from Nehemiah 9:5 to Nehemiah 9:38. And while it is clear that the prayer’s aim in Nehemiah 9:14 is to acknowledge that God made known His holy Sabbath to Israel, it is important to realize that the prayer does not indicate that this was the first time that Israel had heard of the Sabbath. It is to be expected that God would make His Sabbath known to His people on multiple occasions. God reminding Israel of the Sabbath on Mount Sinai qualifies as one of these occasions though not the first. For there is reason to believe that Israel had already known about the Sabbath from prior encounters (Exodus 16:23, 28). Otherwise, if we adopt David Cloud’s reasoning and use Nehemiah 9:13 to say that “the sabbath was first given to Israel” by God at Mount Sinai (i.e. Exodus 19:20; 20:11) then we end up contradicting Exodus 16:23-28 which clearly indicates that God had already expected Israel to know about His Sabbath ever before the events recorded in Nehemiah 9:13. In other words, when God in Exodus 16:28 asks: “How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?” this rhetorical question is an indication to the reader that God expected the Israelites to have already been acquainted with the Sabbath. In fact, according to Charles Spurgeon, the observation that Sabbath-keeping was required in Exodus 16 prior to the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai “proves that its foundation lay deeper and earlier than the promulgation of the Ten Commandments; [and that] it is bound up with the essential arrangement of time since the creation.” 
It is therefore undeniable that the Sabbath was instituted from the foundation of the world. God rested on the Sabbath before there was any sin in the world (Genesis 2:2-3), so the Sabbath precedes sin. The Israelites kept the Sabbath before the Mosaic Law was given (Exodus 16:23), so the Sabbath precedes the law. Although the Sabbath ordinance was incorporated into the Decalogue and the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 20:8-11), it was not for this reason that the Israelites were told to keep the Sabbath. Rather, Exodus 20:11 teaches that Israel was told to keep the Sabbath because it was a necessary inference of Genesis 2:2-3. In fact, later on in Exodus 31:13, when God tells Israel that the Sabbath is a sign, He also goes on (in Exodus 31:17) to explain that it is only a sign because it is an inference of Genesis 2:2-3. Hence, both Exodus 20:8-11 and Exodus 31:12-18 reinforce the idea that the Sabbath is a good and necessary consequence of Genesis 2:2-3. Perhaps this crucial point explains why Dr. John P. Lange, in his commentary on Genesis 2:3 states the following:
“If we had no other passage than this of Genesis. 2:3, there would be no difficulty in deducing from it a precept for the universal observance of a Sabbath, or seventh day, to be devoted to God, as holy time, by all of that race for whom the earth and its nature were specially prepared. The first men must have known it. The words, ‘He hallowed it,’ can have no meaning otherwise.They would be a blank unless in reference to some who were required to keep it holy.”
Source: [Lange’s O.T. Commentary, Genesis 2:3]
Nevertheless, organizations like the Christian Research Institute, apparently feel that it is inappropriate to draw an inference from God’s instructive rest on the seventh day of creation. Perhaps, it is lost upon them that Christians are not only required to believe and obey what is “expressly set down in Scripture” but also what “by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.” Due to CRI’s stance of not allowing for the deducing of a precept which would call for universal Sabbath-keeping, I suspect that in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 when Paul draws other necessary inferences from the Genesis creation account, CRI would probably argue that his conclusions were unwarranted. For instance, in arguing for the absence of a Sabbath creation ordinance, CRI states:
“In the initial account of God’s creation of the Sabbath…not only is there no explicit command and no use of the term ‘Sabbath,’ there is also no mention of humanity. The depiction of the seventh day in the schema [of Genesis 2:2-3] is solely in terms of God.” The text of Genesis 1–2 unfolds God’s creative work and its completion in six days, followed by God’s rest. The movement climaxes with God’s resting. It may be a fitting pattern for humanity to follow, but the text contains no suggestion of some universal moral obligation for humanity to keep the Sabbath…Not one verse of Scripture shows Adam, Enoch, Methuselah, or Noah keeping the Sabbath and passing it down to others. We never read that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or the patriarchs ever kept the Sabbath for even one day. They came out of heathen darkness and into marvelous faith in God, but there is no hint that they practiced Sabbath keeping.”
CRI argues that the creation account includes no “explicit command” to keep the Sabbath. But one could also argue that there is no “explicit command” in the Book of Genesis to wear clothes either and yet we must conclude that to do so is a creation ordinance since God’s clothing of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:21 demonstrated this action’s necessity on the part of man. Likewise, when our God Who’s never weary (Isaiah 40:28) nor slumbers, nor sleeps (Psalm 121:4) decided to rest on the seventh day, He also demonstrated this action’s necessity on the part of man (Exodus 20:8-11). The same thing goes for the days of our week. God didn’t need six days to create the world. He took that long and rested on the seventh day so as to provide us with a basis for the period of time which we have referred to as the week ever since the beginning of the world.
Furthermore, in regards to the oft-repeated idea that Genesis 2:2-3 contains “no use of the term ‘Sabbath,'” those who make this claim (e.g. CRI, Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, etc.) have failed to properly assess Exodus 20:8-11. For if they had truly comprehended the Fourth Commandment, they would also realize that a careful reading of it shows that the term Sabbath DOES appear in the Genesis creation account and that it does so by good and necessary consequence. For Exodus 20:11 uses the coveted noun “shabbat[H7676]” to speak of the inaugural seventh day when God rested in Genesis 2:2-3. In Exodus 20:11, the phrase “the LORD blessed the sabbath [i.e shabat[H7676]] day and hallowed it” can only refer to the inaugural “seventh day” in Genesis 2:2 when God rested. In fact, Exodus 20:11 is actually a restatement of Genesis 2:3 which says “God blessed the seventh [i.e. shebi‛ı̂y[H7637]] day, and sanctified it.” All of this can only mean that the noun “Sabbath” was indeed used of the first week in the book of Genesis despite the term not appearing in Genesis.
Moreover, CRI’s argument from silence has its limitations. It is irrelevant that the selective biblical accounts of the patriarchs do not mention the Sabbath since these writings do not come with a disclaimer suggesting they were supposed to cover such details. (See Some commands are inferred). Even if we were to stipulate that no one observed the Sabbath until Exodus 16:23, doing so would not tell us whether or not man SHOULD have observed the seventh day rest in light of God’s leading. We can only answer that question by discussing whether or not it is proper to infer rules for living from God’s actions in the Genesis creation account. If it is improper to infer rules for living from God’s actions in Genesis, then how come the Scriptures do so on multiple occasions?
Why, for instance, does Adam infer ownership of Eve from the fact that God created her from his own body parts if to do so is inappropriate or unnecessary (Genesis 2:23-24, 3:12, 3:20; Isaiah 43:1)? After all, didn’t Adam know that God inferred the ordinance of marriage from the fact that He in Genesis 1:27, 2:21-24, made the first two people male and female (Mark 10:5-9, Matthew 19:4-6)? Isn’t the implicit ordinance against nakedness based upon God clothing Adam and Eve with animal skins in Genesis 3:21? Yet CRI would have us believe that when God rested, Adam ignored but when God clothed then Adam followed suit. Doesn’t Paul, from the fact that God in Genesis 2:21-24 first created Adam and then Eve, infer the leadership role of man over the woman (1 Timothy 2:11-14)? In the same passage of scripture (i.e. 1 Timothy 2:11-14), Paul, from the woman’s culpability in the Fall of mankind, also infers that the woman should not “usurp authority over the man.” Again, Paul, from the fact that God in Genesis, made woman from man and not the other way around, infers that the woman is the glory of the man and the man is the glory of God (1 Corinthians 11:8-9). But finally and perhaps the most relevant inference of all is that God from the fact that He in six days created the heaven, earth, sea and all that is in them and afterward rested on the seventh day, infers that man ought also to rest on the seventh day (Exodus 20:8-11). Therefore, we see that is not merely proper, but also prudent to infer rules for living from God’s actions in Genesis. What follows then, is that it is not necessary for God to use Exodus 16:23 or Exodus 20:11 language in order for man to infer that the Sabbath is a creation ordinance.
The seven-day week betrays the ongoing relevance of the Sabbath
In their article on the Sabbath, the Christian Research Institute (CRI) states:
There is no question that the Bible teaches that God made the seventh day, blessed it, and sanctified it. All this can be learned from Genesis 2:1–3; however, there is no further mention of the Sabbath in Genesis, or in Exodus, during all the thousands of years that passed by until the Israelites, freed from Egyptian bondage, were on their wilderness trek. Not one verse of Scripture shows Adam, Enoch, Methuselah, or Noah keeping the Sabbath and passing it down to others. We never read that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or the patriarchs ever kept the Sabbath for even one day.
The 24 hour day comes from one rotation of the earth upon its axis. The month comes from one rotation of the moon around the earth. The year comes from one rotation of the earth around the sun. The divisions of time we call day, month, and year all come from astronomical observations, but the seven-day week can only be traced back to the fact that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day. Thus the Sabbath is the only basis for a seven day week. Meaning, if God would have instead rested on the sixth day, then we would all have a six-day week. It is therefore preposterous to think that “Adam, Enoch, Methuselah, or Noah” observed the Sabbath-based week without giving any thought to the Sabbath itself. After all, both propositions (i.e. the Sabbath defines the week & the Sabbath is the day of rest) are based upon the same verses (Genesis 2:2-3) in Scripture. In fact, the entire world unceasingly adheres to the seven-day week (See The Age-long, Worldwide Observance of the Week). That is why “in more than 100 ancient and modern languages the seventh day of the week was named ‘Sabbath’ or its [lingual] equivalent.” “For example, the Spanish word for the seventh day of the week is sabado— the same word for ‘Sabbath.'” Therefore, if God does not really care which day we rest as Compass International argues  then tethering the word ‘Sabbath’ to a particular day of the week in various languages seems like a weird and restricting thing to do.
Besides, if the Sabbath command was “done away with in Christ” as Chuck Missler argues, then how was Pentecost (in Acts 2) to be reckoned in light of the fact that the Sabbath was the basis for the calculation of its date (Leviticus 2:16)? The Jewish believers in Acts 2 who kept the Feast of Weeks (i.e. Pentecost) would have needed to defy the notion that the Sabbath had been done away with in order to reach this Feast’s day.
The Bible claims in many places that the Sabbath is to be observed perpetually (). But because these verses clearly undermine the idea that God has “done away with” the Sabbath law, anti-Sabbath Christians have sought to undermine the meaning of the word perpetual in the Hebrew scriptures. For instance, Dr. Fruchtenbaum…
Yet, in demonstrating that His word will never fail (John 10:35), God in Isaiah 66:22-23 prophesied that in the new heavens and the new earth yet to come, “from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another,” all people will come and worship before him, thereby vindicating the perpetuity of the Sabbath. Since this prophecy utterly devastates the anti-Sabbatarian position, some of them have sought to undermine it by also questioning the literalness of the terms “sabbath” and “new moon.” For instance, CRI states:
The context of this eschatological text [i.e. Isaiah 66:22-23], however, merely teaches that from month to month and from week to week, God’s people will worship Him. In that final state of God’s kingdom, which Revelation 21:3 tells us will have no need of sun or moon, there will be one perpetual day. John added that “there shall be no night there” (Rev. 21:25). How then could there be a cycle of seven days that would allow for a literal Sabbath? The Isaiah passage [i.e. Isaiah 66:22-23], in reality, says nothing about Sabbath worship. It simply means that God’s people will perpetually worship Him.
Yet, CRI’s reasoning involves a contradiction. For in one place they affirm that Isaiah 66:22-23 involves weekly worship (i.e. “week to week, God’s people will worship Him”) but then two sentences later they deny the existence of seven-day cycles. Moreover, CRI does not believe that God is able to distinguish one day from another without the darkness of night. If earthly humans did not have the darkness of night, even we who are infinitely weaker than God, are able by the use of a watch (or some other time-keeping device), to determine one day’s measurement from the next, and yet we are supposed to believe that this is an insurmountable problem for God to overcome? The fact that God’s words are able to contemplate worship “from one sabbath to another” is all the comfort we need in supposing that He is speaking literally. In fact, if the new heaven and earth did not contain any time markers at all, then the terms “day,” “Sabbath,” and “new moon” which are all used therein would be meaningless. The “new moon” is the first day of the Jewish lunar month; so, its mention in Isaiah 66:23 indicates that contrary to CRI’s understanding of Revelation 21:23 there will indeed be a moon in the final state of God’s kingdom.
Moreover, it seems that whenever Sabbath-deniers use the context of Revelation 21 to interpret Isaiah 66:22-23, they make no distinction between the new heaven and earth in Revelation 21:1 and the city of New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:2. This lack of differentiation leads to what logicians call the fallacy of composition—an error in reasoning which assumes that what is true of a group member is also true for the whole group. It is the earth-bound city of New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:2 which does not have night nor need the sun or moon, not the new heaven and earth in Revelation 21:1. Hence, the last word “there” in the Revelation 21:25 phrase “there shall be no night there” is only referring to the city of New Jerusalem which is lighted by God Himself (Revelation 21:23). By the way, even though Revelation 21:23 says that New Jerusalem DOES NOT NEED the sun or moon, it does not say that the city DOES NOT HAVE the sun or moon. There are similar occasions in the Bible where unnecessary elements are made present for particular reasons. For example, the glorified bodies of resurrected Christians, being immortal (1 Corinthians 15:42, 53), have no need of nourishment to survive, yet, in Revelation 22:2, the Scriptures reveal that nourishment will be made available nonetheless. Likewise, the fact that New Jerusalem does not need the sun or moon (Isaiah 60:19-20, Revelation 21:25, Revelation 22:5) does not require their dismissal especially since their presence is a good and necessary consequence of verses such as Isaiah 66:23; Jeremiah 31:35-36; Jeremiah 33:20, 25-26; Psalms 89:36-37, Psalm 72:17, Psalms 148:3,6, etc. Also confirming that days and months are eternal fixtures, Dr. Henry Morris states:
Although the city [of New Jereusalem] will not need the light of the sun and moon, they will continue to exist forever (note Psalms 89:36; Psalms 148:3, Psalms 148:6; Ecclesiastes 3:14), along with all the stars (e.g., Daniel 12:3)…there will be no “night” in the city itself, [however] there will continue to be day and night in the cosmos as a whole (e.g., Revelation 20:10), as well as “months” on the new earth (Revelation 22:2).
Source: [Defenders Study Bible Rev 21:24-26]
Hence, it is CRI’s error of assuming that what is true for the city of New Jerusalem is also true for the whole earth which has caused them to prematurely allegorize Isaiah 66:23’s new moon and Sabbath. All of this then means that there is no need to undermine God’s words by allegorizing them to fit the anti-Sabbatarian narrative. This also means that the Sabbath is indeed an eternal law, and if so, then it is impossible for God to have “done away” with it.
Are there certain commandments in the Mosaic Law which are no longer applicable? If so, what does this mean?
Many (if not most) Old Covenant commandments are still binding on New Covenant believers. A few examples include: the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1–17, Deuteronomy 5:6–21) and the laws against: mistreating the poor (Exodus 22:25, 23:6, Leviticus 19:9-10, Deuteronomy 15:7-11, 24:21), slave-trading (Exodus 21:16, Deuteronomy 23:15), bestiality (Exodus 22:19, Leviticus 18:23, Leviticus 20:15-16, Deuteronomy 27:21), drinking blood (Leviticus 7:26), eating strangled animals (Leviticus 17:13), eating meats offered to idols (Exodus 34:15), homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9) and polygamy (Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 17:17). However, there are certain commandments associated with the Mosaic Law which are not currently binding on believers. For example, the laws concerning animal sacrifices and the Levitical Priesthood, while still instructive, are not currently applicable. This fact has led many Christian leaders to argue that these laws have thereby been revoked. Yet, there is ample Scriptural evidence that this is far from the case. There are several Old Covenant laws that are currently inapplicable and are yet not abolished. For instance, the Jewish sacrificial system just mentioned including: the animal sacrifices (Ezekiel 40:42, Ezekiel 43:18-27, Ezekiel 44:11, Ezekiel 46:24), Burnt offerings (Ezekiel 46:13), Meat offerings (Ezekiel 45:15, 46:15), Sin offerings (Ezekiel 40:39), Drink offerings (Ezekiel 45:17), Peace offerings (Ezekiel 45:17) and the Levitical Priesthood (Ezekiel 40:46, 43:19, 44:15, 48:11) are all currently inapplicable to the New Covenant believer, yet we know that they have not been abolished. For they will all reemerge into significance according to Ezekiel’s depiction of the Millennial Temple, and they will do so on a daily basis (Read Ezekiel 40-48). And Ezekiel is not alone, for at least five other prophets also testify to the future continuance of the sacrificial system (Isaiah 56:7, Isaiah 66:20-21, Jeremiah 33:18, Daniel 12:11, Zechariah 14:16-21, Malachi 3:3-4).
On the other hand, there are other inapplicable laws which God has changed due to the realization of the New Covenant era. The prominent example which comes to mind is the law against the eating of unclean animals. In the New Covenant, all animals are considered clean for the purposes of consumption (Romans 14:14, 1 Timothy 4:4-5) unlike the Law of Moses (Leviticus 11) which declared certain animals to be inedible due to uncleanness. Does this change mean (as many have argued) that all the Laws which pertain to the Mosaic Law are now abolished? Or is this merely God adjusting dietary restrictions based upon human circumstances?
If God in Romans 14:14 & 1 Timothy 4:4-5 was adjusting the law, based upon human circumstances, then this would not be unprecedented. Meaning, in the hierarchy of God’s laws, as it pertains to lower-tier commandments (i.e. “carnal ordinances” c.f. Hebrews 9:10) which govern the human body, God has at times modified the laws to accommodate the human condition. For instance, back in Leviticus 18:6, God adjusted the marriage laws when He outlawed marriage between close relatives; prior to this time, close relatives could marry one another without breaking God’s Law. This is why it was perfectly legal for Abraham to marry his half-sister Sarah (Genesis 20:11-12). Yet, for reasons which we now realize to be biological in nature, God, around the time of Moses suddenly declared that no longer could close relatives marry. Another example is divorce which prior to Deuteronomy 24:1 was forbidden (Matthew 19:6-8, Mark 10:9). Implied in Genesis 1:27, 2:24 was the inseparability of the husband and wife who upon marriage were both deemed as one individual in the sight of God. Yet, because of the hardness of men’s hearts, God permitted (but not commanded) divorce as long as it was based upon marital infidelity. In doing so, God was adjusting the law based upon the human condition. Therefore, that certain laws change or fall out of application is not a new thing nor something that should solely be associated with the advent of the New Covenant.
The role of Old Covenant laws in the New Covenant era is a topic that has been widely misunderstood by Christian leaders. It is a common teaching within Christian circles that Christ’s ushering-in of the New Covenant nullified the Mosaic law, and this teaching is based in part upon the realization that certain laws have changed and are therefore no longer applicable. According to “Introduction to Logic” by Copi & Cohen, there is an error in reasoning called the fallacy of composition “in which an argument erroneously assigns attributes to a whole (or to a collection) based on the fact that parts of that whole (or members of that collection) have those attributes.” I believe that many Christians commit this fallacy when it comes to the ongoing relevance of what is known as the Mosaic Law. In order to fully understand this phenomenon, let us delve a little deeper into the history of the law against the eating of unclean animals.
Back in Genesis 9:3 which was during the time of Noah, because death had entered the world, God declared that man was no longer restricted to the vegetarian diet of the garden of Eden, but was now allowed to partake of “every moving thing.” Later on (in Leviticus 11 & Deuteronomy 14) during the time of Moses, God would again change the dietary laws limiting what was allowable for consumption from the breadth of “every moving thing” down to just those moving things which were not considered “unclean.” For instance, in Leviticus 11:2-4 God deemed any animal who did not both “chew the cud” and “divide the hoof” as unclean and thus unsuitable for consumption. Yet, the distinction between which animals were clean and unclean had already existed as far back as Noah’s time (Genesis 7:2, 7:8, 8:20) and perhaps even earlier.
That the Old Covenant dietary laws did not originate the idea of unclean animals raises an interesting question: when exactly did certain animals come to be viewed as unclean and why? Because Genesis 1:31 tells us that prior to the Edenic Curse all of creation was “very good”, it is certain that
whichever unclean animals were deemed unclean could not have been so before the Genesis 3 Fall. Yet, because of the curse which God enacted upon the entire world (Genesis 3:14-17, Romans 8:21-22), there was a change in the animal kingdom especially regarding their diet and behavior (). Before the Fall, there was no death so animals were not carnivorous, but after the Fall came the emergence of unfriendly creatures “red in tooth and claw.” Whether or not the curse also conferred upon certain animals the distinction of being unclean has been a matter of scholarly speculation. From Leviticus 11 alone, it was reasonable to surmise that the uncleanness of unclean mammals arose from their failure to both “chew the cud” and “divide the hoof” and that this uncleanness must have therefore been biological in nature. Perhaps this is why some arguments devised by defenders of the Old Covenant laws often appeal to the biological composition or the feeding behavior of unclean animals as justification for their uncleanness. However, in Romans 14:14, because Paul reveals “that there is nothing unclean of itself” the Bible student understands that the designation of clean versus unclean stems solely from God’s prerogative to establish the meaning and significance of each word. In fact, that God esteemed certain animals to be unclean in the first place seems to have had a purpose that extends far beyond just food (See 1 Corinthians 8:8 & 1 Corinthians 9:9-10). Yet, even before Paul’s conclusion in Romans 14:14, there were other hints in the Scriptures that animals were not inherently unclean. For instance, we have previously seen that the distinction between clean and unclean animals had already existed in Noah’s day (Genesis 7:2, 7:8, 8:20) yet Noah was still allowed to consume “every moving thing.” This means that God originally approved of godly men consuming unclean animals. And if so, then animals could not have been inherently unclean, otherwise, an inconsistency would emerge. Moreover, there is the matter of Matthew 15:17-21 (and Mark 7:15-23) in which Jesus declares that nothing a man consumes can defile him because all edibles are purged in the belly before coming out as waste.
When we fast forward to the New Covenant era, we see that no animal needs “to be refused [for the purpose of consumption], if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:4-5). What happened then to the distinction between clean and unclean animals? Did this distinction suddenly disappear in the New Covenant? No, for as we noted earlier, this distinction existed even before the Old Covenant (Genesis 7:2, 7:8, 8:20). This distinction is as intact right now as it was back in the time of Noah (Genesis 7:2), for it even reappears in the end-times prophecy of Revelation 18:2. Therefore, regarding the Old Covenant law against the eating of unclean animals, we see that what has occurred in the New Covenant is not a rescission but a regression. Daring to conclude that God has rescinded this law is to argue imprecisely since we have seen that the distinction of which animals are unclean actually endures into the current dispensation and beyond. Upon careful consideration of the entire history of God’s dietary laws, a better conclusion is that the law against unclean animal consumption merely returned to an earlier state since it had served its purpose. What then was its purpose? It was devised to separate those who were in God’s assembly from those who weren’t (Haggai 2:13-14, Isaiah 52:11, 2 Corinthians 6:17).
Though the distinction between clean and unclean animals was already known in the pre-Israelite era
which was prior to Moses, God had not yet circumcised nor set apart any ethnicity or nation of the earth. nor that was set apart, circumcised, or considered holy, In other words, there were no Jews or Gentiles. It was only after God created the nation of Israel and set them apart from all other nations, that He required that they abstain from consuming unclean animals. Hence it is clear that one of the reasons why the Old Covenant dietary restrictions were enacted was in order to separate the Israelites from the other nations of the world. In doing so, God was declaring the Gentile (or uncircumcised) nations to be unclean, and warning Israel to separate from them and not learn their ways (Ezra 9:1-2, Isaiah 52:11, 2 Corinthians 6:17). This is probably one of the reasons why the Jews considered it unlawful to keep company with Gentiles (John 4:9, Acts 10:28). Yet, just as the unclean animals were not inherently unclean (Romans 14:14) so also were the Gentiles not inherently unclean (Acts 10:34-35). Rather, it was God’s estimation (of their heart/mind) which conferred upon them the distinction of being unclean.
Now under the New Covenant, no longer is a person deemed unclean for solely being uncircumcised or a Gentile, nay, it is now the unbelieving Jew or Gentile who is guilty of uncleanness (1 Corinthians 7:14, Titus 1:15). This change is confirmed by Peter’s vision in Acts 10:15-16 and its subsequent interpretation in Acts 10:28. Contextually speaking, Acts 10:28 indicates that Peter’s vision had nothing to do with the sanctification of unclean animals but was actually about the sanctification of unclean persons (1 Corinthians 9:9-10). Nevertheless, constructing an a fortiori (i.e. reasoning from the greater to the lesser) argument from Peter’s conclusion in Acts 15:28 would also allow for its application to unclean animals.
Moreover, because Christ unites both believing Jew and Gentile as one in the New Covenant (Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:18-22; 3:6; Colossians 3:11), there is a regression back to the rules of the pre-Israelite era, when there was just one type of people and every moving thing was acceptable for the purpose of consumption. Yet, from the regression of this one law, one would be committing the fallacy of composition to merely assume (as many Christian leaders have) that all of the Old Covenant laws (whether dietary or not) have therefore been abolished. One of the reasons why such thinking is flawed is because even the Jerusalem council of Acts 15, which dismantled the idea that one must be Jewish in order to be saved, admitted that the Old Covenant dietary laws (such as the restrictions against eating blood [Leviticus 7:26], or strangled animals [Leviticus 17:13], or meats offered to idols [Exodus 34:15]) still remain intact (See Acts 15:20,29).
The Law has been “abolished” yet it “remains in effect.” Are you confused? So am I! [Draft]
“The Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever since. This fourth commandment begins with the word ‘remember,’ showing that the Sabbath already existed when God wrote this law on the tables of stone at Sinai. How can men claim that this one commandment has been done away with when they will admit that the other nine are still binding?”
Source: Weighed and Wanting, D. L. Moody, The Bible Institute Colportage Association, 1898.
Many opponents of the biblical Sabbath’s ongoing relevance employ antinomian arguments in order to achieve the Sabbath’s demise. Antinomianism is the denial of the law’s relevance in the life of a New Covenant believer. Among the most popular Bible verses erroneously used to teach that the law has been abolished include: Romans 14, Colossians 2:15-17; Galatians 4:9-10, 5:1-3, 5:18; Hebrew 7:18, 2 Corinthians 3:6-17, Ephesians 2:14-15. I have dealt with these verses in-depth within the following article: Refuting Antinomian Icons. However, along with antinomian arguments, many anti-Sabbatarians also rely upon a strange contradiction in order to defend their cause. They usually proclaim that Christ’s death on the cross has abolished the Mosaic Law (including the Ten Commandments) but then they immediately proceed to remind us that nine of the ten commandments are still binding upon Christians. For example, CRI states:
Christ … finished work on the cross abolished the entire Mosaic law of ordinances, which includes the Sabbath commandment…The moral standards in the other nine commandments…remain in effect because they reflect God’s very nature and as such are timeless.
So according to CRI, in Isaiah 56:1-2 when God directs those who would be partakers of His New Covenant to keep the Sabbath, though this directive reflects His will, because it apparently falls short of CRI’s criteria that a law must also “reflect God’s very nature,” it must consequently be discarded. Incidentally, the Sabbath command calls for worship (in Leviticus 23:3, Ezekiel 46:1-3, Isaiah 66:23) but I guess CRI does not deem this moral component to be reflective of “God’s very nature.” It is rather unfortunate though that CRI did not go on to explain how a law can be “abolished” and “remain in effect” at the same time. To those
of us who would adhere to the laws of logic, it is quite clear that if a law “remains in effect” then it could never have been “abolished” in the first place. Meanwhile, other anti-Sabbatarians have endeavored to concoct a new system of laws under the mantle of a phrase gleaned from Galatians 6:2, namely, the “Law of Christ.” Like, CRI’s “moral standards” which “remain in effect,” this so-called “Law of Christ” conveniently leaves out any law dealing with the Sabbath. For example, Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum who is a Jewish believer and opponent of the Sabbath’s ongoing relevance states:
The Law of Moses has been done away with, and we are now under a new law. This new law is called the Law of Christ in Galatians 6:2, and the Law of the Spirit of Life in Romans 8:2. This is a brand new law totally separate from the Law of Moses. The Law of Christ contains all the commandments applicable to a New Testament believer.The reason there is so much confusion over the relationship of the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ is that the two have many similar commandments, prompting many to conclude that certain sections of the Law have, therefore, been retained… A new covenant will always contain some of the same commandments as the previous covenant, but this does not mean that the previous covenant is still in effect…The same is true when we compare the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ. There are many similar commandments. For example, nine of the Ten Commandments are to be found in the Law of Christ, but this does not mean that the Law of Moses is still in force.
Source: [Arnold. Fruchtenbaum, The Law of Moses and the Law of Christ, MBS 006]
There are so many problems with Fruchtenbaum’s excerpt. First of all, according to Scripture, the “Law of Christ” is not some new group of laws which are meant to supersede the Mosaic Law. Rather, it is the tandem of two commandments which Christ gave the preeminence in the gospels, namely, to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and to “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:29-31, 1 John 4:21). Because these two greatest commandments are meant to be a “brief comprehension” of the Mosaic Law (Romans 13:8-10, Matthew 7:12, Galatians 5:14) they cannot also be said to replace it. Therefore, the reason
why Paul (in Galatians 6:2) says that by bearing one another’s burdens we fulfill the “Law of Christ” is not because he is inventing a new group of superseding laws, but because the “Law of Christ” calls for us to “love our neighbor as ourself.” Consequently, James 2:8 calls this same commandment the royal law. Hence, far from replacing the Mosaic Law, the “Law of Christ” actually establishes it. Moreover, according to Romans 3:31, our New Covenant faith in Christ establishes the law as well. As such, Romans 3:31 is yet another refutation in the long list of Bible verses which destroy the idea that the Mosaic Law has been canceled or superseded by the so-called “Law of Christ.” Since we do not “make void the [Mosaic] law through [our New Covenant] faith” but we instead “establish the [Mosaic] law” with it, then it cannot be said that the Mosaic Law has been superseded. Also, the word “law” in the phrase “make void the law” must have an identical meaning as the word “law” in the phrase “establish the law” otherwise the logical fallacy of equivocation is committed.
Incidentally, some other verses which eliminate the possibility of a new superseding law include: Psalm 19:7-9, Nehemiah 9:13, Jeremiah 31:33, Isaiah 2:3, Isaiah 42:21, Isaiah 42:4, 51:4-5, Matthew 5:17-19, Galatians 3:21, Romans 7:12, Romans 7:14, Romans 7:22, Romans 7:25, 1 Corinthians 9:21, Hebrews 8:10, 10:6, 1 Timothy 1:8. Furthermore, we must never forget that Moses had nothing to do with the authorship of the Mosaic Law; he was simply the messenger through whom Christ chose to deliver His laws to the people. Accordingly, Isaiah 33:22 proclaims that Christ who is our Judge (John 5:22) and King (Matthew 25:34), is also the lawgiver. It was Christ Who spoke the law from Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:18-20; Hebrews 12:18-20, 25-26). This is why Paul in his 1 Corinthians 10:9 rendition of Numbers 21:4-6 says that it was Christ who the Israelites murmured against in the wilderness. Therefore, since the Law of Moses was given by Christ, it is also in one sense the “Law of Christ.” And if so, then Fruchtenbaum’s so-called “Law of Christ” cannot be pit against the Law of Moses (which is also known as the Law of Christ) without contradiction.
Secondly, the “the law of the spirit of life” in Romans 8:2 is not a synonym for Fruchtenbaum’s so-called “Law of Christ,” rather, it is the solution to a problem which Romans 8:2 calls the “law of sin and death.” Six verses earlier, Paul defines the “law of sin and death” by saying: “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” Of course, the evil that is present with Paul is Sin which seeks to produce death (Romans 7:5,11). Hence, Paul coins this principle the “law of Sin and death” or “the law of Sin” (in Romans 7:23 & 25). Ironically, this law or principle is powered by our failure to adhere to God’s law. Sin repurposed God’s law which was originally meant to sustain and enhance life (Romans 7:10) and instead made it administer death (Romans 7:13). So we see that there are two different meanings of the word law which are in scope. Though Paul’s use of nomos [G3551] (i.e. the Greek word for law) in the 7th & 8th chapter of Romans is twofold, he never engages in the fallacy of equivocation. In verses like Romans 7:1-7, 12, 14, 16, 8:3-4 Paul uses nomos in its normal or literal sense. Literally speaking, nomos is the law. Hence whenever Paul employs nomos literally, he is always referring to God’s law, i.e., the Mosaic Law. Yet, in other verses like Romans 7:21-23, 25, 8:2 the word nomos is used figuratively to mean “a principle” and is in this sense akin to other principles such as the law of gravity or the law of entropy. According to Princeton’s Wordweb dictionary, a principle is “a rule or law concerning a natural phenomenon or the function of a complex system.” For example, after observing that all objects which go up must also come down, Sir Isaac Newton inferred the presences of a principle which he called the law of gravity. Likewise, after realizing that all good intentions of the heart are intentions that will be countered by evil thoughts emanating from indwelling Sin (in Romans 7:21), Paul, through the guidance of God’s Spirit, inferred a principle which he called “the law of Sin and death.” As the law of gravity describes a force which acts upon the earth and its inhabitants, so also, the “law of Sin and death” describes a force which acts within the human flesh. For more information about “the law of Sin and death” see Is Sin Alive in our Bodies?
Paul’s inner man (i.e. his mind) delights in the law of God (i.e. “the law of my [i.e. Paul’s] mind“) but his outer man (i.e. his body) is infected with Sin and therefore delights in the “law of Sin.” The “law of Sin” is “another law” which wars against the “law of God” aiming to bring Paul’s mind into captivity unto Sin and its dictates. Sin lives in the flesh () and according to Galatians 5:19-21, “the works of the flesh” are: “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, and revelings.” Therefore, judging by the works of the flesh, it is clear that by “the law of sin” the bible is referring to the law which permits things “forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD” (Leviticus 5:17). For instance, the law of God says “thou shalt not commit adultery” while the law of sin says thou shalt commit adultery. In this sense, the “law of sin” is…
Throughout the Scriptures, when the word “law” (i.e. torah in Hebrew or nomos in Greek) is used by itself, its meaning is pretty clear—it refers to the entirety of God’s Word or to the Mosaic Law.
However, when the phrase “law of” (i.e. the word law followed by a subject) is used throughout the Scriptures, it conveys a variety of different meanings depending on the context. For instance, when “law of” is accompanied by the words “God”, “LORD” or “Moses” the phrase means the entirety of God’s Word or the Mosaic Law. The many examples of this usage include:
- Joshua 8:31, 23:6, 1 Kings 2:3, 2 Kings 14:6, 23:25; Ezra 3:2, 7:6 (law of Moses),
- Joshua 24:26, Ezra 7:12 (law of God),
- 2 Kings 10:31, 1 Chronicles 16:40, 22:12; 2 Chronicles 12:1, Ezra 7:10 (law of the LORD), etc.
On other occasions, the context of the phrase “law of” suggests that it means the teaching or the doctrine of something. Examples of this usage include:
- Proverbs 6:20 (law of thy mother),
- Galatians 6:2 (law of Christ),
- Romans 3:27 (law of works),
- Romans 3:27 (law of faith),
- Romans 9:31 (law of righteousness),
- James 1:25; 2:12 (law of liberty),
- Proverbs 31:26 (law of kindness),
- Malachi 2:6 (law of truth),
- Proverbs 13:14 (law of the wise), etc.
The phrase “law of” can also mean the commandments which pertain to something. For instance, in Romans 7:2 the “law of her husband” are the commandments which pertain to the woman who has a husband. Other usages in Scripture include:
- Leviticus 6:25 (law of the sin offering),
- Leviticus 7:37 (law of the burnt offering),
- Leviticus 11:46 (law of the beasts),
- Leviticus 13:59 (law of the plague of leprosy),
- Leviticus 14:57 (law of leprosy),
- Leviticus 15:32 (law of him that hath an issue),
- Numbers 5:29 (law of jealousies),
- Numbers 6:21 (law of the Nazarite),
- Ezekiel 43:12 (law of the house) etc.
And yet, other times “law of” simply means the principle or the reality of something. For example, in Romans 8:2 it is [the principle or reality] of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus [which] has made [us] free from the [principle] of sin and death. Other usages include: …
So, all that Romans 8:2 is telling us is that the “law of the spirit of life” is the solution or antidote to the problem of the “law of sin and death.” This is why Paul juxtaposes these two principles in Romans 8:2. The “law of the spirit of life” which is also called the “law of God” in Romans 7:22 &25 and the “law of my mind” in Romans 7:23, grants freedom to believers (i.e. those who walk after the Spirit) from the condemnation of the “law of Sin and death.” Because the “law of the spirit of life” is earlier referred to as the “law of God” in Romans 7 it is …
In Romans 7:22, when we read that Paul’s inner man (i.e. his mind a.k.a. his heart a.k.a. his soul a.k.a. his spirit) delights in the “law of God” it is natural to think that the “law of God” refers to the Mosaic Law or in a general sense to all the commandments which God has given man. However, in the very next verse, because Paul says that he sees “another law” in his members (i.e. his body) warring against the “law of [his] mind”, and because this “warring” law is the figurative “law of Sin and death” first mentioned in Romans 7:21, it then becomes clear that the phrase “law of God” is not referring to a literal law like the Mosaic Law but to a figurative one. Otherwise, Paul would be guilty of equivocating (i.e. being deliberately ambiguous) on the word “law.” Romans 8:7 seems to confirm as much since there we read that the carnal mind is not subject to the “law of God” nor can it be. Hence, the “law of God” and the “law of my mind” and the “law of the spirit of life” must all refer to the same thing since they are all used interchangeably and are all in opposition to the “law of Sin and death.”
So, just as there is no system of laws in the Bible called the “law of sin and death” likewise there is no system of laws in the Bible called the “law of the spirit of life.”
Otherwise, how in Romans 8:4 can the “righteousness of the law be fulfilled in [those] who walk …after the spirit” if as Fruchtenbaum claims, the law and its righteousness “has been done away with?” Therefore, trying to equate the principle that is the “law of the spirit of life” with a subset of cherry-picked commandments from the Mosaic Law seems like a desperate attempt to concoct a new system of biblical jurisprudence.
As we reach the conclusion of Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s opinions regarding the law, it is worth noting that while he offers a slightly different defense than CRI, he still adheres to the irrationality of both affirming and denying the existence of the Law. For instance, Fruchtenbaum states:
…all of [the Law] has been invalidated. No commandment has continued beyond the cross of Yeshua. The Law exists and can be used as a teaching tool to show God’s standard of righteousness and our sinfulness…It has, however, completely ceased to function as an authority over individuals.
Source: Arnold. Fruchtenbaum, The Law of Moses and the Law of Christ, MBS 006
But how can a law which “exists” and shows “God’s standard of righteousness” cease to be authoritative? Only if God’s standards of righteousness are no longer relevant can such speech make sense? Have God’s words suddenly lost their power to guide or govern over us? In the entire text of the New Testament, there is no mention or reference to the Mosaic law against bestiality. So are we then to conclude that this Old Covenant law has “completely ceased to function as an authority” over our conduct? Sadly, this is the reductio ad absurdum (i.e. reduction to the absurd) of the antinomian’s rationale.
According to Hebrews 4:9, there remains an “observance of the Sabbath“! [Draft]
1. Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. 3. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall [i.e. they shall not] enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 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. 5. And in this place again, If they shall [i.e. they shall not] enter into my rest. 6. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7. Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9. There remaineth therefore a [Sabbath] rest to the people of God. 10. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. – Hebrews 4:1-10
In Hebrews 4:9 it is rightly argued by Sabbath-keepers that the Greek word sabbatismos [G4520] which in the KJV is simply translated as “rest” is not a mere rest but is a “sabbath” rest. The Thayer Greek lexicon seem to agree (e.g. “a keeping sabbath”) and according to Moulton & Milligan’s Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, the literal meaning of sabbatismos is “a resting as on the Sabbath.” Alternatively, Dr. Lange, in his commentary on Isaiah 56 interprets sabbatismos to mean “the observance of the Sabbath” [Lange isa56]. Though it is clear from these references that sabbatismos, literally speaking, means a keeping of the Sabbath, the Author of Hebrews may be employing sabbatismos in a figurative sense. Since Colossians 2:16-17 confirms that the weekly Sabbath continues to foreshadow something in the future, then this means that the weekly Sabbath must continue at least until its antitype is realized. The antitype, of course, is the very thing which is being typified (or foreshadowed) by the weekly Sabbath. If Hebrews 4:9’s sabbatismos is both a figure of speech and the weekly Sabbath’s antitype, then what exactly is this pending Sabbath rest?
Some Christians have argued that the weekly Sabbath foreshadows a pending heavenly rest , while others have made the Sabbath’s antitype to be Christ’s upcoming Millennial reign. And yet others point to the “new heavens and the new earth” of Isaiah 66:22-23 as an eternal Sabbath rest. Is the typified rest: heaven, the Millennial reign or the new heavens and earth? No matter what the answer ends up being, one thing that is certain is that the weekly Sabbath must persist at least until that pending rest is realized.
Are those who disregard the Sabbath being disloyal to God?[Draft]
In the Bible, …
Exploring the origins of Sunday worship
In the bible, the activities of scripture reading, prayer, worship, and preaching are constantly tied to the Sabbath (e.g. Leviticus 23:3, Psalm 42:4, Psalm 92:1, Nehemiah 8:1-10, Isaiah 66:23, Ezekiel 46:1-4, Luke 4:16, Acts 13:14-16, Acts 13:27; 13:42-44, Acts 15:21, Acts 16:13, etc.). Today, Christians who engage in corporate worship are therefore paying homage to the Sabbath’s miqra, and many are probably doing so unwittingly. For some Christians—especially those who rightly see the Sabbath as a creation ordinance—the main day for corporate worship is Saturday , the seventh day of the week when God Himself rested from His creation of the world. However, for most Christians, the main day for worship is on Sunday, the first day of the week. Though one could try to argue that the day one chooses to worship and rest is a matter of the liberty which Christians possess, because the Seventh-day Sabbath remains relevant during Christ’s Millennial reign (Ezekiel 44:24, Ezekiel 45:17, Ezekiel 46:1-6) and even throughout eternity (Isaiah 66:23), the question will continue to arise as to why most Christians have forsaken the divinely appointed day of rest and worship, for a man-made one.
Of the Christians who engage in Sunday worship, there are some who teach that the Sabbath law was revoked when Christ instituted the New Covenant. For instance, according to the Christian Research Institute:
“Christ’s finished work on the cross…abrogated [i.e. revoked] the Mosaic law, and thus the fourth commandment no longer applies to Christians.”
In other words, in contravention to Matthew 5:17, CRI believes that Christ came to get rid of the law under the guise of fulfilling it. However, if fulfilling the law also “abrogates” it, then Matthew 5:19 which promotes the keeping of even the “least commandments” comes into a glaring conflict with Matthew 5:17 which purportedly renders them inoperable. Isaiah 42:21 prophesied that Christ would come to “magnify the law, and make it honorable” yet CRI actually believes that He came to do the opposite. If God’s law has truly been abolished then why do “the isles (i.e. the distant nations) wait for his law” in Isaiah 42:4?” Or, why in Isaiah 2:3 is the law prophesied go forth out of Zion when it has already been made void? If indeed the law “is done away with in Christ” then Paul lied in Romans 3:31 when he, through the Holy Spirit, claimed that our New Covenant faith does not invalidate the law . And if “Christ has freed us from the law” so that it is “no longer binding on Christians” then why does Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:21 teach that believers are “under the law to Christ ?” Why would Christ “abrogate” the law for believers only to reestablish it by “writing it in their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33, Hebrews 8:10, Hebrews 10:16)? Clearly, Christians like those at CRI need to realize that they must first reconcile the paradox that we are not under the law (in Romans 6:14 & Galatians 5:18) and yet under the law (in 1 Corinthians 9:21). Without harmonizing these two teachings, it is a bit premature for one to assert that the law has been revoked. Obviously, any righteousness that is based upon the works of the law is defunct which is one of the reasons why we are not under the law (to works). However, we are under the law (to Christ), so that “the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:4)
Moreover, if the Sabbath law was indeed revoked, then this would also mean that God no longer requires a holy convocation. Yet, Christians who engage in weekly Sunday worship are ritually (and perhaps unwittingly) observing the requirements for a holy convocation. Otherwise, why else would the early Christians who had supposedly forsaken the Sabbath law, be inclined to meet for weekly worship? Those who venerate Sunday will undoubtedly reply by reminding us that Hebrews 10:25 instructs Christians to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.” Yet, this admonition is found in an epistle which was written to Hebrew Christians who would have therefore understood this verse as a reference to the Sabbath’s miqra. Furthermore, the phrase “assembling of ourselves together” is based upon episunagōgē which is a variation of the Greek term for synagogue. So it turns out that the only verse in the entire New Testament which reminds Christians to meet for assembly happens to refer to the Sabbath’s miqra.
Due to the absence of scriptural support for a mandate requiring weekly Sunday worship, those who observe this practice have looked to circumstantial evidence in helping to explain how the practice arose. Among the various reasons which are given, the popular ones usually revolve around the fact that (1) Sunday was the day when Christ arose from the grave or (2) because there were apparently several deliberate Sunday appearances of the resurrected Christ.
For instance, Dr. Arnold Fructenbaum in his book The Sabbath states:
the origin of the Sunday service…was based on six events which occurred on that day. The first event was the Resurrection of the Messiah (Mat. 28:1; Mk. 16:2; Lk. 24:1; Jn. 20:1). The second event was that He appeared to the ten disciples on a Sunday (Jn. 20:19). The third event was that He appeared to the eleven disciples a week later, also on a Sunday (Jn. 20:26). The fourth event was that the birthday of the Church occurred on the first day of the week, a deduction which can be made by comparing Acts 2:1-4 with Lev. 23:15-16. The fifth event was that it was the time when the Church of Troas gathered together (Acts 20:7). And sixth event was that it was the time that the offering was to be set aside (1 Cor. 16:2).
Likewise, CRI states:
The New Testament mentions that believers met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). Though we cannot be certain about its origins, there are “reasons for holding that Sunday worship began at an early stage of Christian history and was from an early stage understood as commemorative of the Lord’s resurrection on the first day of the week.”
In addition, Compass International, a Christian ministry and the producers of a devotional called Good Morning Lord, also asserted the following in a bible study on the Sabbath:
The early Christians met on the first day of the week probably because:
1. Sunday was the day of the Lord’s resurrection.
2. The six post-resurrection appearances were on Sunday.
3. The Holy Spirit came on Sunday.
Revelation 1:10 called Sunday the Lord’s Day. And, in Scripture, the number eight is always used to mean “new beginning,” i.e.—eight people on the Ark, etc.
But more than anything, it’s not what day you choose to rest that concerns God, it’s why you do it in the first place.
Moreover, Chris White Ministries, a non-profit organization based in Tennessee, produced a popular Internet documentary called “The Sabbath and the Covenants” where the following reasons are given for Sunday worship:
The early Christians referred to Sunday, the first day of the week, as the “Lord’s Day” and the reason they met, ate together and worshiped the Lord on the first day of the week was for two very good biblical reasons. The first reason was that Sunday was the day that Matthew, Mark and Luke mention that the empty tomb was found. Mark 16:1-3 says “And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. Similar passages can be found in Matthew 28:1 and Luke 23:55, 24:2. The other biblical reason that early Christians met on the first day of the week was because of the Sunday appearances of the resurrected Christ. After Jesus rose from the dead, there were forty days before he ascended into heaven. So He was on earth forty days after he rose from the dead. During that time scripture records seven times in which he appears to his disciples. On five of those occasions, the bible goes out of its way to tell us that He met them on the first day of the week, which is Sunday (Matthew 28:8-10, Mark 16:9-13, 16:14-18, Luke 24:13-33, 34, 36-44, John 20:11-18, 19-23, 26-29). The other 2 times no day is mentioned.Here is an example:
Joh 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
There are many other first day appearances of the resurrected Jesus, for further study of these passages see the references on the screen or in the notes:
Mt. 28:8-10, Mk. 16:9-13, 16:14-18, Lk. 24:13-33, 24:34, 24:36-44, Jn. 20:11-18,19-23, 26-29.
During these 1st day appearances Jesus allowed himself to be worshiped, He ate meals with His disciples; He commissioned them, breathed the Holy Spirit on them, and taught them. These are some of the reasons that the early Church met together to eat, worship and learn from the scriptures on Sunday.
The claim’s made by Chris White’s documentary are similar to those made by Dr. Fruchtenbaum, Compass International and CRI so by refuting the documentary, we end up addressing them all.
Paul already confirms that early Christians worshiped in the synagogue (Acts 22:19 & Acts 26:11) and according to the implications of Acts 13:42 this would have occurred on the Sabbath. Therefore, Scripture denies the hypothesis that early Christians thought to venerate Sunday. Nevertheless, even if we entertain the stipulation that early Christians did, in fact, meet routinely on the first day of the week, the Scriptures do not reveal what compelled them to do so. Nor can the obligation to meet on Sundays be necessarily inferred from the observation that Christ arose on the first day of the week. Therefore, the conclusion that early Christians met on Sunday because of the resurrection is an unnecessary and thus invalid argument.
Moreover, bible verses such as Acts 26:23, Romans 11:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 suggest that Christ’s resurrection occurring on the first day of the week was not a mere coincidence, but was actually a fulfillment of the Feast of First Fruits, much in the same way his death was a fulfillment of Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7). In Leviticus 23:9-14, God commanded Israel to present the first fruits of their harvest to Him on the first day following the Sabbath of Passover. Accordingly, Jesus is called the “firstfruits” because He is the “firstborn [immortal] from the dead” (Colossians 1:18) and because He arose on the first day following the Sabbath of Passover—the same Passover in which He was also the Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7, John 1:29,36). After He arose, He presented himself as our firstfruits to the Father (John 20:17). So, when Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:20 & 23 chooses the word “firstfruits” to describe this event, it is not by happenstance. Rather, Paul is intentionally alluding to the Jewish feast day by the same name. Therefore, the irony in insisting that early Christians resisted the Sabbath and instead chose to venerate Sunday because of Christ’s resurrection on that day is that the Sunday worshiper is merely (and perhaps inadvertently) switching from the veneration of one Jewish holy-day to another. Yet, the argument to do away with Sabbath-keeping is supposed to be based upon a freedom from the same system of law which requires the reverence of both these holy days. In other words, if the Sunday worshiper insists on using Christ’s resurrection as a pretext for Sunday veneration, then they are also unwittingly arguing that Sunday worship is to be based upon the celebration of the Feast of First Fruits, which comes from the Mosaic Law that they now deem obsolete.
Moving on to the second “biblical reason” for Sunday veneration, it is clear that in his documentary, Chris White wants the audience to be impressed with the claim that over 70 percent of the resurrected Christ’s appearances were deliberately made to occur on a Sunday. Specifically, he states that there were “seven times in which He [i.e. Christ] appears to his disciples” and that “on five of those occasions, the bible goes out of its way to tell us that He met them on the first day of the week.” Yet, when we take the time to look up the cited verses and examine what is claimed, our expectations are met with disappointment. Rather than seven, Scripture actually records eleven post-resurrection appearances made by Christ with only five of them occurring on a Sunday. That means that less than half of Christ’s appearances occurred on a Sunday!
- The first was on Resurrection Sunday to Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary (Mark 16:9, John 20:1, 14-18)
- The second was on Resurrection Sunday to the holy women who came from the tomb. (Matthew 28:1, 9-10)
- The third was on Resurrection Sunday to the two disciples on their way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-15, 35; Mark 16:12-13). The phrase “the same day” is mentioned which was earlier identified as a Sunday.
- The fourth was on Resurrection Sunday to Simon Peter. The day is not explicitly mentioned but that it was on Resurrection Sunday is a necessary consequence of Luke 24’s context. (Luke 24:34, 1 Corinthians 15:5)
- The fifth was on Resurrection Sunday to ten of the apostles , Thomas being absent (Mark 16:14, Luke 24:36-42, John 20:19,24)
- The sixth was on a Monday (i.e. “eight days” from Sunday) to the eleven disciples, Thomas now being with them (John 20:26-29, 1 Corinthians 15:5)
- The seventh was to seven of the apostles in Galilee, at the sea of Tiberias. (John 21:2-4)
- To eighth was to the disciples on a certain mountain in Galilee. (Matthew 26:32, Matthew 28:10, Matthew 28:16, Mark 14:28, Mark 16:7)
- The ninth was to James. (1 Corinthians 15:7)
- The tenth was on a Friday when they were assembled together, and Jesus led them unto the Mount of Olives in Bethany from whence he ascended to heaven. (Luke 24:50-53, Mark 16:19, Acts 1:3-12)
- If the appearance of Christ to upwards of 500 brethren at once which is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:6 is not the same as his appearance on the Mount of Olives in Bethany, then it must be considered the eleventh appearance.
So it turns out that Scripture DOES NOT go out of its way to mention that Christ’s appearances were on a Sunday. In fact, of the five times when Christ’s appearances did occur on a Sunday, that it was a Sunday is only explicitly mentioned 3 distinct times. The other two times were indeed Sunday appearances but this is only known by inference.
What’s worse is that all five of Christ’s “many…[Sunday] appearances” occurred on the exact same Sunday. So, if not meant to deceive, then what is the significance of enumerating the “many Sunday appearances,” especially if they all occurred on the exact same day? Moreover and as seen in the list above, John 20:26 tells us that Jesus does make a post-resurrection appearance that does not occur on a Sunday but on a Monday (i.e. eight days from resurrection Sunday). So, when Dr. Fruchtenbaum, in his third reason for Sunday worship claims that John 20:26 is referring to a Sunday, he has reached a conclusion that was not derived from a clear reading of the text. Neither was Christ’s ascension on a Sunday since it occurred 40 days after His resurrection (Luke 24:1, Acts 1:3) which was a Friday. Therefore, the assertion that Christ’s post-resurrection appearances were on Sundays is an inference that is not derived from a clear reading of the Bible. Yet, perhaps the most important point that this documentary’s author fails to grasp is that none of the specific post-resurrection appearances mentioned in Scripture are of any consequence in buttressing this supposed reason for Sunday worship. That’s because the bible clearly states that each of the forty days which Christ spent on the earth after His resurrection, were also days when he made post-resurrection appearances. Specifically, Acts 1:3 says:
To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
Paul also makes a similar claim in Acts 13:31. This means that contrary to the claims of Chris White’s documentary, Christ did not deem any particular day as a favorite or special day for making appearances.
Chris White continues his defense of Sunday veneration by saying:
It is also very clear, as we will see from the early writings of the church fathers, that the tradition of the Lords day on Sunday was being kept by the brand new church hundreds of years before Constantine, but there is also a lot of Biblical evidence that they had begun this tradition in the biblical times as well. For example:
Act 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
This passage specifically mentions Paul’s preaching as well as a fellowship meal occurring on Sunday. Also in 1 Corinthians 16 verses 1-2 it says:
1Co 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
1Co 16:2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
Paul instructs the Corinthian church here, as he apparently instructed the Galatian churches before this, to lay up an offering for those experiencing famine in Jerusalem, and to do it on the first day of the week. There would appear to be no other reason for him to mention the day to do this unless they were already meeting regularly on that day.
Regarding the inclusion of 1 Corinthians 16:2 as a Christian gathering, Chris White commits the logical fallacy of asserting the consequent when he argues that “there would appear to be no other reason for [Paul] to mention the day [i.e. Sunday] to do [alms gathering] unless they were already meeting regularly on that day.” White’s rationale amounts to a mistake in reasoning because there are many other reasons one could put forward as to why Paul would appoint and mention Sunday as the day for each individual to gather their own alms. In fact, one reason that would seem to better suit this verse is that Paul was arriving on a day other than Sunday and did not want his arrival day to be encumbered with a public collection for the saints. Private preparation seems to be what is in scope here, not a church gathering. In fact, 1 Corinthians 16:2 mentions nothing of a public gathering but instead states: “let each one of you lay by him[self] in store” the items intended for donation. Of the Greek words behind this phrase, Dr. Albert Barnes argues that:
The Greek phrase, “by himself [para heautou G1438],” means, probably, the same as at home. Let him set it apart; let him designate a certain portion; let him do this by himself, when he is at home, when he can calmly look at the evidence of his prosperity. Let him do it not under the influence of pathetic appeals, or for the sake of display when he is with others; but let him do it as a matter of principle, and when he is by himself.”[ref]
Corroborating Dr. Barnes’s insight regarding the Greek term heautou [G1438], the King James Version translates this same phrase as “their own home” in John 20:10 and as “alone” in James 2:17. In fact, most of the time when heautou appears in the bible it is translated as referring to a single person. So, not only does 1 Corinthians 16:2 say nothing of an assembly on Sunday, but it is also clear that Paul does not even intend to arrive on Sunday. To this end, Paul requested that the alms-giving be done on the first day of the week (i.e. Sunday) so that on the day when he actually arrived—which isn’t mentioned in the text—there would be no public collection for the saints. Otherwise, why wouldn’t Paul show up on Sunday if it was truly the church’s designated day of worship as claimed by those who venerate the week’s first day? It is obvious from the fact that Paul requested a private collection and from the fact that he was not coming on Sunday that 1 Corinthians 16:2 does not constitute “biblical evidence” of a supposed Sunday worship tradition.
Concerning the second Christian gathering of Acts 20:7-11, there is some question as to which “day” the event took place. If this was an evening gathering as the context seems to imply (e.g. they had a meal then Paul preached until midnight), then it is not only Saturday at 6:30 pm which would have been the first day of the week but also Sunday at 5:30 pm. Why? Because the Jew’s sacred computation of a 24 hour day as defined back in Genesis 1:5 began in the evening (at approximately at 6:00 pm when the sunset) and ended right before the next evening (i.e. sunset to sunset), while their civil computation of a day spanned from sunrise to sunrise [TSK, Matthew 28:1]. Was the Author’s account of Acts 20:7-11 based upon the Jews’ sacred computation of 24 hours or upon their civil computation of 24 hours? Theologian Chuck Missler argues that this oft-cited meeting probably occurred on a Sunday night which “would actually be Monday in Jewish reckoning.” Based upon the contextual clues found in the phrases “ready to depart on the morrow” and “preached until midnight” Missler’s conclusion seems to have merit. Because “midnight” is only close to “the morrow” in the parlance of a civil day then these phrases do not seem to comport with the “Jewish reckoning” of a day. This means that the Christian gathering of Acts 20:7-11 was probably a Sunday evening fellowship which actually occurred on a Monday in the Jewish [sacred] reckoning of a day. Obviously, such a revelation damages the usefulness of Acts 20:7 as it pertains to being a proof-text for Sunday veneration.
Moreover, the coming “together to break bread [klaō artos]” in Acts 20:7 is not a reference to partaking in Holy Communion as some Christian writers have supposed (). Although “breaking bread” can sometimes refer to partaking in Holy Communion (e.g. Matthew 26:26, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17), Acts 20:7 is not one of these times. In fact, four verses later in Acts 20:11, Luke again uses klaō artos —the same Greek phrase employed in Acts 20:7— to describe the meal that Eutychus ate after he fell from the third-floor window and Paul revived him. So, unless Paul here is equivocating on klaō artos, this additional context helps to clarify that the purpose of the Acts 20:7 gathering was to have an evening meal and not to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
So, let us recap. Of all the two proof texts provided as evidence that early Christians initiated a Sunday worship tradition, none ever mention worship as the purpose for gathering, and the only one that might actually qualify as a Christian meeting (i.e. Acts 20:7) doesn’t even occur on a Sunday, at least according to the Jewish reckoning of that day. The argument that Sunday worship was based upon the Sunday resurrection, if it is to have any merit, would require the worship to occur on a Jewish Sunday (i.e. the first day of the week according to the Genesis 1:5 definition of a day) since Christ arose on a Jewish Sunday. Yet, as we have seen, the Acts 20:7 meeting occurs on a Sunday night which is actually Monday in the sacred computation of a day.
Also, neither proof-text implies that these meetings were customary. On the other hand, there exists at least four times as many verses that mention meetings on the Sabbath (Acts 13:14, 27, 42, 44; 15:21; 16:13; 17:2; 18:4) and three of these verses seem to indicate that the meetings were routine (Acts 15:21, Acts 17:2, Acts 18:4). This, combined with the realization that the Sabbath was made for rest and worship provides a compelling reason to re-embrace God’s appointed time for weekly worship.
Yet, of all the N.T. passages that militate against the idea that the early Christians met on the first day of the week (in lieu of the Sabbath), Act 13 is perhaps the most compelling. In Acts 13:14-16, 27, 42–44, Paul and Barnabas, when speaking at a synagogue with both a Jewish and Gentile audience, were invited back by the Gentiles to speak again the next Sabbath. Now, if the early Christians had indeed embraced a tradition of meeting on Sundays, then this would have been the perfect opportunity for Paul and Barnabas to tell the Gentiles to meet with them on the following day (i.e. Sunday) rather than having them wait a whole week for the next Sabbath. Instead, “on the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city [both Jews and Gentiles] together to hear the word of God.” Hence, Acts 13:42-44 clearly demonstrates that early Christians had not developed a routine of meeting on Sundays for worship.
However and against all the evidence, even if we were to stubbornly entertain the claim that early Christians met routinely on the first day of the week; what would this stipulation prove? Must we, therefore, embrace Sunday meetings as a mandatory tradition? Must we of necessity become first-day advocates? The book of Acts tells us that early Christians also met on other days of the week as well (Acts 2:46; 5:42). Moreover, the Bible already tells us that early Christians constantly observed the Sabbath (Luke 23:56, Acts 17:2, Acts 18:4, etc.) so why not enforce or embrace this tradition as well? Why is the act of early Christians coming together for an evening meal of any importance in determining whether God has now changed what He earlier referred to as an eternal law (in Exodus 31:16, Exodus 31:13, Exodus 31:17, Leviticus 24:8)? Again, logic becomes indispensable in helping to demolish the unwarranted conclusion that just because early Christians supposedly met on Sundays, we must now alter one of the Ten Commandments. If the church (as some claim) did, in fact, change the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first, were they also able to hallow and sanctify the first day the same way that God did the seventh (Genesis 2:2-3)? If the Church can change God’s Law pertaining to which day the Sabbath is, then why can’t the Church also redefine marriage? We can avoid these types of problematic yet necessary inferences, by simply being consistent in our reasoning. Remember, “A double minded man is unstable in all of his ways.” — James 1:8
Hijacking the “Lord’s Day” [Draft]
In Acts 20:29-31 Paul said:
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
It turns out that Paul was right! (sarcasm intended) For even during Paul’s time, the church was already burdened with heresies which sought to engender apostasy. For instance, Paul warned Timothy (in 1 Timothy 4:1-3) about apostate Christians who “giving heed to seducing spirits and the doctrines of devils” would “speak lies in hypocrisy … forbidding [other believers] to marry, and commanding [them] to abstain from meats, which God has created to be received with thanksgiving for them which believe and know the truth.” It is no coincidence then that this description describes exactly what history records about the doctrines of the apostate Roman State Church. Moreover, 3 John 1:10 speaks of yet another heresy by a pope-like figure named Diotrephes who spoke malicious words against God’s apostles and engaged in unwarranted excommunications in order to establish his own preeminence. In this atmosphere where heretical doctrines had already begun to emerge from early church members, it appears that yet another heresy which “church fathers” embraced was the redefinition of the Lord’s Day from the Sabbath to Sunday, or as coined by the apostate Roman Church, the Dominical day.
Unscrupulously promoting this heresy, CRI states:
“…Sunday worship began at an early stage of Christian history and was from an early stage understood as commemorative of the Lord’s resurrection on the first day of the week.” This is also the best explanation of why Sunday became known as “the Lord’s day” (Rev. 1:10). 
However, according to Magdeburg Centuries, a renowned publication that documents the first thirteen centuries of A.D. church history, it was Pope Sylvester, the bishop of Rome while Constantine was Emperor, who illegitimately dignified Sunday by designating it with the more imposing title of the Lord’s day. [Lucius’ Ecclesiastical History]
Moreover, in Isaiah 58:13, God call’s the Sabbath day His holy day; therefore, biblically speaking, the phrase “the Lord’s Day,” if meant as a literal day of the week, can only refer to the Sabbath. Yet, it seems that in most Christian literature, this same term is instead used as a synonym for Sunday. The proponents of this bizarre redefinition will normally cite Revelation 1:10 as a proof-text, but this verse only informs us that John was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day. It does not tell us which day that was. Now at this point, a prudent student of God’s Word would search through the scriptures like the Bereans of Acts 17:11, looking for other times when this phrase occurs. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that unless this verse refers to the” Day of the Lord” which is actually an eschatological era spoken of several times throughout the Scriptures (e.g. Isaiah 2:12, Jeremiah 46:10, Ezekiel 13:5, Joel 1:15, Amos 5:18, Obadiah 1:15, Zephaniah 1:7, Zechariah 14:1, Malachi 4:5, Acts 2:20, 1 Corinthians 5:5, 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Peter 3:10, etc.), the only other biblical option which qualifies as an explanation of Revelation 1:10 is Isaiah 58:13 which again unmistakably refers to the Sabbath. Since God has already called the Sabbath “my holy day,” Christians who dare to hijack the phrase “the Lord’s Day” and re-purpose it are showing the world that they have not really submitted themselves unto the Word of God nor do they tremble at His authority.
Yet, Chris White’s documentary on the Sabbath elevates the writings of “church fathers” above that of Scripture when he states:
[In Revelation 1:10] we have a mention of the “Lords day” by John, and we know from the early Church fathers like Ignatius of Antioch who was a student of the Apostle John, that the Lord’s Day was referring to the day the Lord rose from the dead, I.E. Sunday. He said the following:
“If therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things that have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s day, on which also our life has sprung up again by him and by his death.” – Ignatius of Antioch (35 or 50 to 117AD)
Another Church Father, Justin Martyr, who to give you some context, died about 165AD, about 150 years before Constantine’s edict, he said the following after giving a very detailed description of their church services which sound a lot like the ones we have today, he said:
“But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.”
You can find similar statements from early Christians in the centuries before Constantine. The fact is that the reason Christians meet on Sunday has nothing to do with Constantine or the Sabbath and has a strong Biblical basis.
White’s mention of Constantine is in reference to that emperor’s establishment of a Sunday law in 321 A.D. which several historians see as the real impetus behind ecclesiastical Sunday veneration. We will soon discuss Constantine’s law in more detail. Nevertheless, it is important to realize that nothing Chris White’s documentary has suggested in regards to Sunday worship demonstrates “a strong Biblical basis.” In fact, for those who would venerate Sunday, it turns out that apart from the aforementioned Feast of First Fruits, there is actually no biblical basis at all! This is obviously why Chris White must appeal to the writings of these so-called “church fathers.” The bible contains the only authoritative history about early Christians and their traditions and the bible repudiates the idea of Sunday veneration or a Sunday worship routine. We must thus let God be true and deem Ignatius of Antioch a liar (Romans 3:4)!
Besides, this same Ignatius whom Chris White cites, not only encourages Christians to disregard the Sabbath in contravention to Isaiah 56:1-8, but in his Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians, he also calls Sunday “the queen and prince of all days !” Now, where does someone get the gall to make such a pronouncement? Were the early church fathers able to hallow and sanctify Sunday the same way that God did the Sabbath (Genesis 2:2-3)? Let He who created the days of the week tell us which day is the “queen and prince of all days.” Our Creator, in His Word, has mentioned nothing of Sunday but has instead sanctified the Seventh-day for rest and worship (Exodus 20:11, Leviticus 23:3). Moreover, Isaiah 66:22-23 reminds us that God does not recognize the purported change in the church’s worship habits and will still require weekly Sabbath worship in the new heavens and the new earth yet to come. Isaiah 58:13 is also a reminder that not all days are equal when it comes to worship, and that on the Sabbath we must turn our foot away from trampling on God’s holy day by forsaking any desires which do not coincide with rest and worship. This is what pleases God (Isaiah 56:4). Accordingly, the Bible tells us that Psalm 92 is a song specifically composed to be sung in worship on the Sabbath day. Yet, in vain will one search the Scriptures looking for a psalm that is to be sung on the first day of the week, it isn’t there!
Incidentally, it is interesting to find that also among the letters of this so-called Ignatius of Antioch is the following excerpt:
“See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father…Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop…Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church…It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize, or to offer, or to present sacrifice, or to celebrate a love-feast…he who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop, does [in reality] serve the devil.”
However, it is hard to imagine that any Sunday-venerating, Bible-believing Protestant (including Chris White himself) would endorse this excerpt as being biblical, yet some of these same folks boldly appeal to Ignatius’ writings when seeking support for Sunday veneration. Therefore, if this latter saying of Ignatius should be rejected as unbiblical, then why shouldn’t his earlier statement regarding the Lord’s Day be jettisoned as well?
Moreover, God never promised to preserve the words of the so-called “church fathers” so we are not even sure if these are the actual words of Ignatius of Antioch, nor are we sure that he is even a real person. In fact, there is apparently much scholarly debate as to the authenticity of the 15 epistles that are attributed to Ignatius of Antioch. For instance, according to Protestant theologian and church historian Philip Schaff:
“The whole story of Ignatius is more legendary than real, and his writings are subject to grave suspicion of fraudulent interpolation.”
Nevertheless, if Ignatius was indeed a disciple of John and the attributed citation about “…no longer observing the Sabbath…” is indeed what he wrote, then we must conclude (like Paul did of Hymenaeus and Philetus) that he has erred concerning the truth (2 Timothy 2:18). Because we remember that God, in Isaiah 56:1-8, instructs New Covenant Gentiles to keep the Sabbath, when someone like Ignatius comes along and utters heretical nonsense which seeks to marginalize God and His esteeming of the Sabbath, then we must rebuke such an individual and reprove him publicly.
Likewise, we must also confront Justin Martyr for presuming to legitimize a competing day of worship in light of what His Creator has already immortalized in the Decalogue (Exodus 20:11). Interestingly, what history records about Justin Martyr demonstrates him to be a Replacement Theologian which could explain why he appears to have no regard for either the Jews nor the Sabbath . Among the teachings ascribed to Replacement Theology is the belief that the Church has replaced Israel and will instead receive the irrevocable (Romans 11:29) promises that God gave Israel. Of course, Martyr’s citation is not to be shunned merely because he was affiliated with Supersessionism (i.e. Replacement Theology) but primarily because such a citation demonstrates that one has not studied to show themselves an approved workman who need not be ashamed (2 Timothy 2:15). Any theologian who after reading Isaiah 56:1-8, Isaiah 58:13 and Isaiah 66:23 can still utter what Martyr wrote has either failed to comprehend God’s words or is clearly ashamed of them.
Of course, the problem with appealing to the writings of the so-called “church fathers” is that there is no unanimity among them and so nothing can be conclusively inferred from their writings. For example, while Chris White claims that Ignatius was a Sunday- venerating student of the Apostle John, church history records that Polycarp, another student of the Apostle John was instead a Sabbath-keeper.
The following account is from a 4th-century document, explaining various times when Polycarp kept the Sabbath:
And on the sabbath, when prayer had been made long time on bended knee, he, as was his custom, got up to read; and every eye was fixed upon him…And on the following sabbath he said; ‘Hear ye my exhortation, beloved children of God. I adjured you when the bishops were present, and now again I exhort you all to walk decorously and worthily in the way of the Lord…’
Source: Pionius, Life of Polycarp (1889) from J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 3.2, pp.488-506
It is therefore evident that the prima facie writings of “church fathers” are neither conclusive nor unanimous regarding the behavior of early Christians. Before we transition to the Roman Catholic State Church’s involvement in “changing times and laws” (Daniel 7:25) it is worth noting that Ignatius is claimed to be the first Christian writer who espouses the unbiblical notion of one bishop lording authority over a church body. Moreover, because Ignatius’ quote is apparently the very first historical reference to the “Catholic Church” in patristic writings and because it also coincides with uniquely popish doctrines, several scholars see these observations as a powerful clue that the Ignatius letters are a forgery from a later time. It certainly doesn’t help that Ignatius’ reference to the “Catholic Church” appears in between pope-like commands to obey the bishop as you would Jesus Christ and to assent that the only valid baptism or communion service is one officiated by the bishop’s authority.
Any person familiar with the Roman Catholic Church’s history of ecclesiastical forgeries would, therefore, realize that it may not be mere coincidence that the first historical reference to the church as the “Catholic Church” is contained within these Ignatian letters. Of course, the fact that Roman Catholic apologists are so fond of quoting Ignatius only adds to the suspicion that his letters are not trustworthy.
Extra-biblical Evidence of Sabbath-keeping Throughout Church History [Draft]
The writings of “church fathers” or early historians while useful in limited applications, do not necessarily represent a reliable account of the behavior of early Christians. Only the Bible contains an infallible account of the early church’s worship routines. Therefore, a prudent Christian apologist would not appeal to these writings as proof in the same way they would the Scriptures. Yet the studious student of Scripture can employ these writings in an ad hominem (i.e. the non-abusive variety) sense when refuting those who would rely upon them as the chief basis for establishing an apostolic or ecclesiastical Sunday worship routine. Because Sunday worshipers are fond of appealing to the writings of these so-called “church fathers” in order to establish that the early church had largely rejected the biblical Sabbath and chose Sunday in its place, we can use the dozens of historical excerpts which record the early Christians’ Sabbath-keeping to embarrass our opponents. These excerpts occur from the time of the early church down through present times. The following quotations comprise a small portion of the historical evidence for sustained Sabbath-keeping:
Eusebius regarding the destruction of Jerusalem in circa 66-70 AD:
“Then [just before the Romans attacked and destroyed the city] the spiritual seed of Abraham [i.e. the early Church] fled [Jerusalem] to Pella, on the other side of the Jordan, where they found a safe place of refuge, and could serve their Master and keep his Sabbath”
Source: Eusebius’s “Ecclesiastical History” Book 3, Chap. 5
“The primitive Christians did keep the Sabbath of the Jews;…therefore the Christians, for a long time together, did keep their conventions upon the Sabbath, in which some portions of the law were read: and this continued till the time of the Laodicean council.”
Source: “The Whole Works” of Jeremy Taylor, Vol. IX,p. 416 (R. Heber’s Edition, Vol XII, p. 416).
Athanasius (Bishop of Alexandria) in the 3rd Century:
“We assemble on Saturday, not that we are infected with Judaism, but to worship Jesus the Lord of the Sabbath.”
Source: Athanasius, Letter to Marcellinus on the Interpretation of the Psalms
A document of the 3rd and 4th Centuries.
“Thou shalt observe the Sabbath, on account of Him who ceased from His work of creation, but ceased not from His work of providence: it is a rest for meditation of the law, not for idleness of the hands.”
Source: The Anti-Nicene Fathers, Vol 7,p. 413. From “Constitutions of the Holy Apostles,”
Though the Council of Laodicea outlawed resting on the Sabbath, they did allow for the Scriptures to be read on that day. The following concession to allow Scripture reading on the Sabbath is instructive because it establishes that the Sabbath was still being kept by the churches.
“The Gospels are to be read on the Sabbath, i.e. Saturday, with the other Scriptures.”
Source: Council of Laodicea, c. A.D. 337, Canon 16
Socrates in 440 AD
“There are various customs concerning assembling; for though all the churches throughout the whole world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the Sabbath day, yet the Alexandrians and the Romans, from an ancient tradition, refuse to do this; but the Egyptians who are in the neighborhood of Alexandria, and those inhabiting Thebais, indeed have assemblies on the Sabbath, but do not participate in the mysteries, as is the custom of the Christians. At Caesarea, Cappadocia, and in Cyprus, on the Sabbath and Dominical day, at twilight, with lighted lamps, the presbyters and bishops interpret the Scriptures. At Rome they fast every Sabbath.”
Source: Socrates Scholasticus, “Ecclesiastical History,” Book 5, chap. 22, p. 289.
“While the Jewish Christians of Palestine retained the entire Mosaic law, and consequently the Jewish festivals, the Gentile Christians observed also the Sabbath and the Passover, with reference to the last scenes of Jesus’ life, but without Jewish superstition.”
Source: Giesler, Ecclesiastical History, Volume 1, chapter 2, section 30.
“The primitive Christians had a great veneration for the Sabbath, and spent the day in devotion and sermons. And it is not to be doubted but that they derived this practice from the apostles themselves, as appears by several scriptures to that purpose.”
Source: Dr. T.H. Morer.’s Dialogues on the Lord’s Day, p. 189.
Constantine, Antisemitism and the persecution of Sabbath-Keepers [Draft]
- Quartodecimanism and Antisemitism
– “Fourteenism,” derived from Latin. The practice of fixing the celebration of Passover for Christians on the 14th day of Nisan in the Old Testament Calendar
(Lev 23:5). [Missler]
– This was the original method of fixing the date of the Passover, which is to be a “perpetual ordinance” (Ex 12:14). [Missler]
– In 154 a.d. Polycarp visited Rome to discuss the difference in Paschal calculation with Bishop Anisettes and reached an amicable compromise. [Missler]
– Polycrates of Ephesus and Irenaeus wrote in support of the Quartodecimans (Eusebius H.E. 5.24.17).
- Council of Nicea and Antisemitism
– The council unanimously ruled that the Easter festival should be celebrated throughout the Christian world on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox; and that if the full moon should occur on a Sunday, and thereby coincide with the Passover festival, Easter should be commemorated on the following Sunday. [Missler]
– As result of the Council of Nicea, and amended by numerous subsequent meetings, the formal church deliberately attempted to design a formula for “Easter” which would avoid any possibility of falling on the Jewish Passover, even accidentally! [Missler]
– Quartodecimans were excommunicated. [Missler]
- Council of Laodicea and Antisemitism
– Sabbath-keepers were excommunicated.
“Wherefore let us have nothing in common with that most odious brood the Jews.”
Source: Chapter XVIII, Eusebius Pamphilius: Church History, Life of Constantine, Oration in Praise of Constantine
“Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on the Sabbath, but shall work on that day; but the Lord’s day they shall especially honour, and as being Christians, shall, if possible, do no work on that day. If, however, they are found Judaizing, they shall be shut out [anathema] from Christ.”
Source: Council of Laodicea, c. A.D. 337, Canon 29
Ecclesiastical forgeries and the Roman State Church’s involvement in Sunday Worship [Draft]
It is a matter of recorded history that the Roman Catholic State Church, in order to legitimize her wickedness and impose her apostate doctrines on the rest of humanity, has foisted numerous literary forgeries upon the world. These forgeries are not merely restricted to extra-biblical writings but also pervade biblical manuscripts as well. For example, the two most revered bible manuscripts by textual critics—Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus—are suspected of being Bibles altered under the guidance of Rome (see Tares Among The Wheat and Bridge To Babylon). Some famous examples of other deceitful historical documents which Rome is guilty of forging include:
- The Donation of Constantine,
- the Symmachian Forgeries,
- Liber Pontificalis,
- the Forgeries of Lorch,
- the Decretals of Isidore (a.k.a. Pseudo Isidorian Decretals)
- and the Decretum of Gratian.
Yet, a less-known forgery which also happens to be relevant to the topic of Sunday worship is entitled “A holy Command of the Dominical Day.” I will hereafter refer to this forgery as St. Simeon’s Scroll since it was at St. Simeon’s tomb in Golgatha, Jerusalem where this document was purported to have landed when it descended out of heaven.
According to multiple historical accounts , Pope Innocent III., in A.D. 1201, sent Eustachius, the Abbot of Flay (in Normandy France) to England in order to convince the Christians there to abandon their widespread Sabbath-keeping and adhere instead to Sunday veneration. It is said that Eustachius preached from city to city imploring audiences to abstain from using the marketplaces on Sunday. Apparently, Eustachius message was met with much resistance which would cause him to leave aiming to return again the next year. Before his return and in order to make his sermons more compelling, Rome equipped him with a spurious document entitled “A holy Command of the Dominical Day” which claimed to wield divine authority over the Dominical day (i.e. Sunday). Eustachius was to tell his hearers that the manuscript fell down from heaven to Jerusalem and was “found on the tomb of St Simeon at Golgotha Jerusalem and which for days and nights men looked upon falling to the earth [and] praying for mercy after they took the holy epistle of God and found it thus written:”
“I, the Lord, who commanded you that ye should observe the Dominical Day, and ye have not kept it, and ye have not repented of your sins, as I said by my gospel, heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away; I have caused repentance unto life to be preached unto you, and ye have not believed; I sent pagans against you, who shed your blood, yet ye believed not; and because ye kept not the Dominical day, for a few days ye had famine; but I soon gave you plenty, and afterwards ye did worse; I will again, that none from the ninth hour of the Sabbath until the rising of the sun on Monday, do work any thing unless what is good, which if any do, let him amend by repentance; and if ye be not obedient to this command, amen, I say unto you, and I swear unto you by my seat, and throne, and cherubims, who keep my holy seat, because I will not change any thing by another epistle; but I will open the heavens, and for rain I will rain upon you stones, and logs of wood, and hot water by night, and none may be able to prevent, but that I may destroy all wicked men. This I say unto you, ye shall die the death, because of the Dominical holy day and other festivals of my saints which ye have not kept. I will send unto you beasts having the heads of lions, the hair of women, and tails of camels; and they shall be so hunger-starved that they shall devour your ﬂesh, and ye shall desire to ﬂee to the sepulchres of the dead and hide you for fear of the beasts; and I will take away the light of the sun from your eyes; and I will send upon you darkness, that without seeing ye may kill one another, and I will take away my face from you, and will not show you mercy; for I will burn the bodies and hearts of all who keep not the Dominical holy day. Hear my voice, lest ye parish in the land because of the Dominical holy day. Now know ye, that ye are safe by the prayers of my most holy mother Mary, and of my holy angels who daily pray for you. I gave you the law from Mount Sinai, which ye have not kept. For you I was born into the world, and my festivals ye have not known; the Dominical day of my resurrection ye have not kept; I swear to you by my right hand, unless ye keep the Dominical day and the festivals of my saints, I will send pagans to kill you.”
Sources:  Sabbath Recorder Volume 71, p.192
 Andrews, J.N.. THE SABBATH AND THE LAW. Oakland, Ca.: Pacific Press Publishing Company, 1890.
 HISTORY OF THE SABBATH AND FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK. Battle Creek Michigan: Review & Herald Publishing Association, 1887.
 Carlow, George. A DEFENSE OF THE SABBATH.New York, Paul Stillman publisher, 1847.
Yet, in spite of the manuscript’s divine threats, the people choose to continue their labor on Sundays in accordance with the wishes of their king. “The king and princes of England, in 1203, would not agree to change the Sabbath, and keep the first day, by this authority.”
Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas were both considered doctors of the Roman Catholic Church. This means that their teachings are revered as foundational to much of the church’s doctrines. In the quotes below, both men clearly proclaim that it was the church who was responsible for replacing God’s Sabbath day with their own:
It appears from the sacred Scriptures, that this day was a solemn one; it was the first day of the age, that is of the existence of our world; in it the elements of the world were formed; on it the angels were created; on it Christ rose also from the dead; on it the Holy Spirit descended from Heaven upon the apostles as manna had done in the wilderness. For these and other such circumstances the Lord’s day is distinguished; and therefore the holy doctors of the church have decreed that all the glory of the Jewish Sabbath is transferred to it. Let us therefore keep the Lord’s day as the ancients were commanded to do the Sabbath.”
Source: Cox’s Sabbath Laws Examined, etc. p. 284.
In the New Law the observance of the Lord’s day (Sunday) took the place of the observance of the Sabbath (Saturday), not by virtue of the precept (of God) but by the institution of the Church and the custom of Christian people.
Source: Summa Theologica – SS Q A Reply to Objection 4.
Keeping the Sabbath obligates one to keep the whole law? Really? [Draft]
In Galatians 5:2 when Paul says to the Gentiles: if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing, anti-Sabbatarians would have us believe that any gentile believer who was circumcised after believing is suddenly in danger of losing their salvation.
When God causes the Gentile nations to keep the Feast of Tabernacles is He obligating them to keep the whole law? Is he putting the Gentile nations under the bondage of the law?
That language that the bible uses to promote the cessation of the Old Covenant (i.e. the Mosaic Covenant) uses the terms “covenant” and “law” interchangeably. For instance, …Much of the confusion around the language in the bible that is used to promote…
The “disanulling of the [foregoing commandment due to its] weakness and unprofitableness” in Hebrews 7:18 is specifically referring to the part of the law which “maketh men high priests which have infirmity.” This is clear from the context in Hebrews 7:11-28. Therefore Hebrews 7:18 is not referring to the entirety of the law as it pertains to God’s standards. If it were, then this verse would contradict Romans 7:12 which says that “the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” Moreover, the reason why the foregoing commandment was weak and unprofitable was not because the commandment itself was ill-conceived. Rather, God found fault with those to whom the commandment pertained (i.e. the high priests with infirmity). When seen in this way, the commandment is vindicated and the fault is placed where it belongs (i.e. at the feet of the law-breaker).
- In spite of the fact that there were only ten disciples present (John 20:19,24), Luke 24:33 says “the eleven.” This was because the phrase synonymously referred to the whole group of the apostles after Judas’ death (Luke 24:9, 33) in the same way that “the twelve” referred to the whole group of apostles (Luke 8:1, Luke 9:12, Luke 18:31, Luke 22:3, 14, 47) prior to Judas betrayal of Christ. Hence, the phrase “the eleven” was not to enumerate those present but to convey that Judas was no longer among the number of the apostles. John does the same in John 20:24 when he uses “the twelve” in spite of the fact that Judas was now dead. Paul also does so in 1 Corinthians 15:5 when he employs the phrase “the twelve” to refer to the eleven disciples.
- The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans: Chapter VIII.-Let Nothing Be Done Without the Bishop, Chapter IX.-Honour the Bishop.
- History of the Christian Church, Philip Schaff, Vol 2, ch 4
- Benjamin B. Warfield, The Westminster Assembly and Its Work (Still Waters Revival Books, 1991), 226- 227.
- Chuck Missler, “Christians and the Sabbath: The Seventh Day,” http://www.khouse.org/articles/2000/223/#notes. Accessed Febuary 7, 2015.
- Technically, the Sabbath begins on Friday evening around 6:00 pm and ends on Saturday around 6:00 pm.
- Martyr, in the writings attributed to him declared that “We as Christians, not the Jews, shall inherit the Holy Land.”
- Theologian Chuck Missler believes that this is actually a reference to the “Day of the Lord” as portrayed by Joel, et al. He argues that “the aorist tense in the Greek would seem to support the uniqueness of John’s experience.” – http://www.khouse.org/articles/2000/258/#resources. Accessed Febuary 7, 2015.
- Chuck Missler, “The Seventh Day, Part 2: The First Day of the Week,” https://www.khouse.org/articles/2000/258/print/. Accessed Febuary 7, 2015.
- Arnold. Fruchtenbaum, The Law of Moses and the Law of Christ, MBS 006.
- Albert Barnes, N.T. Commentary, Hebrews 4:9
- Chuck Missler, The Feasts of Israel (Supplemental Notes)
- CRI, James A. Borland, “Should We Keep the Sabbath?,” http://www.equip.org/article/should-we-keep-the-sabbath. Accessed February 7, 2015.
- Chuck Missler, Colossians and Philomen (Supplemental Notes), 1997
- Chris White Ministries, http://conspiracyclothes.com/nowheretorun/ntr-audio-should-christians-keep-the-sabbath-in-the-new-covenant/
- Arnold Fruchtenbaum, The Sabbath, Paragraph 10.8-10.9
- Arnold Fruchtenbaum, The Sabbath, Paragraph 12.181
- Adam Clarke, N.T. Commentary, Acts 9:2
- Compass International, Good Morning Lord for October 28th 2015
- Arnold Fruchtenbaum, The Sabbath, Paragraph 12.110
- Charles H. Spurgeon, C. H. Spurgeon’s Expositions Volumes 1-3, Exodus 16:23
- For example, in the apocryphal (i.e. uninspired) book of Maccabees (2 Maccabees 2:7) Jeremiah is said to employ the same term when speaking of a divine regathering of the Jews.