More Sabbath Stuff

| | Comments (12) | TrackBacks (1)

A little while back, Jollyblogger responded to my criticism of Sabbatarianism. His general view seems to be that the 10 Commandments are part of the moral law, while other laws were abrogated. Jesus then must have been talking about only this segment of the law (a segment the Bible never isolates as such) that he calls the ceremonial law. I think it's much more obvious that Jesus really was talking about the whole law as fulfilled. One might wonder why he felt free to break some but keep some of the law, if all of it will never pass away. Well, it's important to remember that the one part of the law that he kept not keeping was the Sabbath command. He allowed his disciples to gather grain on the Sabbath. If that doesn't constitute doing something that the law would prohibit, I don't know what does. This signals that he didn't see the Sabbath command applying. So there's no biblical distinction between ceremonial and moral law, with some abiding and some not (rather all is fulfilled in Christ, and some moral truths that formed the basis of some of the Torah continue on). And even if you did have such a division, the moral law part of the Torah is one thing Jesus kept going against.

David also tackles my discussion of the weaker brother of I Cor 8-10 and Rom 14-15. He doesn't think I'm accurately characterizing the Sabbatarian as the weaker brother in these passages, even if my view is correct that Sabbatarianism is wrong. His reason is that Sabbatarians wouldn't be likely to stumble by violating their own conscience simply because they see believers they respect not keeping the Sabbath. They would be more likely to judge their brother or sister, and David says that's not the problem of the person Paul refers to as the weaker brother. Actually, he's right but only about I Cor 8-10. The danger the weaker brother in that passages faces is doing something the weaker brother considers wrong (but that isn't really wrong), but it's wrong to do what one believes wrong. I can't see how a Sabbatarian couldn't have this happen. Any time someone believes a regulation is morally obligatory, they can be tempted to violate it because they see someone they respect doing so. But even ignoring that, Romans 14-15 gives further problems facing the weaker brother. "Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother?" For we will all stand before the judgment of God" (Romans 14:10, ESV). Judging is certainly a worry for the weaker brother. "Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother" (Romans 14:13, ESV). So I think these terms do apply.

I should also say that I've already responded to one of his arguments in the comments on my original post. He says he doesn't see how someone could divorce one commandment from the other nine, as if my view requires saying that nine commandments remain in effect while this one doesn't. But that's not my view. My view is that all ten commandments were given to a specific people, Israel, an Israel that was rejected and needs a new covenant to continue in good standing with God. The new covenant does repeat some of the general moral principles behind the ten commandments, but that doesn't mean the specific statements apply as stated to Christians. If you want to think of the fourth commandment as not applying, as I do, then the right thing to say is that they all fail to apply to Christians. So the charge that I'm arbitrarily singling out one command not to follow just doesn't apply.

I do want to say that nothing I've said prevents anyone from following a general pattern of resting one day a week, as long as it's not seen as an absolute moral command that must be followed in a way that even Jesus wasn't willing to do. Also, the principle of rest remains as a moral obligation. The general principle also supports the tithe command in the Torah. Part of our time and part of our money are reserved for God. In one case, that was a seventh, and in another it was a tenth. That suggests that the degree of what's reserved isn't the key but that a part of your time and money represents your devotion to God in the rest of your life as well. You devote a portion of your money specifically to God to represent that all of your money is God's. You devote a portion of your time specifically to God to represent that all of your time is God's. In the end, we do have a moral obligation to devote all that we have to God. I see no statement in the New Testament detailing how much the representative amount to reflect the whole devotion ought to be. The clear moral principle behind each is not about percentages but about representing the whole of one's devotion with a part specifically earmarked for particular devotion. That principle, I think, remains. (I do think my points in the original post about the Sabbath rest of the seventh day being fulfilled in Christ also undermine the argument from creation to some degree, since we are resting in the most complete form that we can in this life if we are in Christ, and the only true obedience to that creation ordinance is to rest in God forever in the new creation. Still, I think a principle of part-whole devotion is also at work here.)

1 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: More Sabbath Stuff.

TrackBack URL for this entry:

It is as if we cannot escape those things as foundational to our understanding, even if our obedience takes other forms than the Law spelled out. Read More


"I think it's much more obvious that Jesus really was talking about the whole law as fulfilled."

Jeremy, I deeply agree with you here. For Christ to fulfill only part of the law in any way, would allow for those portions "still remaining" to still condemn - something Paul would vehemently disagree with by the way. James was also clear that if we break just one part of the law, we are guilty of all of it. So if this true, and I believe it is, then to be not guilty of any part of the law through faith, would also need to mean that Christ crucified all of it on the cross.


I believe your conclusion that Christ broke the Sabbath command is a bit of a stretch. Christ and his disciples were not doing farm work, but were plucking "heads of grain" (Mk 2:23, ESV). In Deut 23:25, farm work is forbidden but not the plucking of heads with your bare hands. In context, the Mark passage is dealing with the Pharisee's legalism and adding to the law. Christ was not advocating the disposing of the Sabbath, but was rebuking the Pharisee's for their legalism.

Also, I didn't find any reference to Mt 5:17, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets [that is, the Old Testament]; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." (ESV) Abolish means to do away with. Let's insert this into the verse. "Do not think that I have come to [do away with] the Law or the Prophets [that is, the Old Testament]; I have not come to [do away with] them but to fulfill them." (ESV) Now, if Christ is doing away with the law, as you suppose, let's insert "doing away with" for "fulfill". "Do not think that I have come to [do away with] the Law or the Prophets [that is, the Old Testament]; I have not come to [do away with] them but to [do away with] them." (ESV) This makes no sense. Christ did not come to do away with the law while at the same time doing away with the law; this is absurd. Further, the connective "but" implies the opposite of "abolish". So in effect Christ did not come to "abolish" the law but to bolster it, or to establish it. Christ establishes the laws true intent, that is, that man, in and of himself cannot observe the whole Law, that the penalty for not observing the law is death, and, thus, that he is in need of a Savior who perfectly observed every facet of the law since he wrote it.

Before salvation, the moral law works death in us through sin (Rom 7:8-11). After salvation, the moral law no longer works death in us; however, we can still sin. How do we know sin? Through the moral law. Good works are no longer required; however, good works will be a fruit of salvation (Jam 2:14-26). As Christians we are called to be “perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect��? (Mt 5:48). How do we become perfect? What is the standard for perfection? The moral law. If Christ did away with the law, then how would we obey Christ and become “perfect��?.

“For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.��? (Mt 5:18) The Law shall not pass away until the full manifestation of God’s kingdom (Mt 24, 25).

“Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.��? (Mt 5:19) For the rest of Mt 5, Christ clarifies certain aspects of the law. Why would Christ clarify the commandments and command us to do and teach them if He does not desire us to observe them.

“Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law��? (Rom 3:31).
“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled [established] in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit��? (Rom 8:3,4)
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled [established] the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling [establishing(?)] of the law��? (Rom 13:8-10)
“Greater love has no one than this; that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command��? (Jn 15:13, 14).

I agree with you comments above. Why do you assume that Christ was breaking the Sabbath. Perhaps he was breaking an (erroneous) view, but he was certainly not violating God's law - for he kept it perfectly.

Deuteronomy 23 makes it clear that what they did would have been perfectly fine on any of the other six days of the week, but the Sabbath command explicitly forbids gathering any food on the Sabbath. See Exodus 16, for example.
If the Sabbath command had been in effect, such an action would have broken it. Of course, Jesus did not break the Sabbath, as I've been saying all along. Be sure you've read my first post and the comments there. Jesus declared that the Torah was fulfilled in him, and thus none of it would ever pass away, but that doesn't mean the particular commands still apply to Christians. Surely the command to sacrifice animals doesn't! Are we thus breaking those commands by not following them? No, they are fulfilled (i.e. completed) in Christ. We don't need to follow them because they are fulfilled already. That doesn't make them abolished. It makes them fulfilled. That was Jesus' point. I won't explain all over again exactly how they are fulfilled. See the previous post and the comments there.

As I've been complaining since the beginning, I haven't ever seen this moral law/ceremonial law distinction in the scriptures. When someone shows me where that is, I'll accept it. As far as I can see, the entirety of the law is fulfilled in Christ, and all that remains are moral truths that are not necessarily tied to any particular revelation to the Hebrew people.

I don't have the Greek with me (or any commentaries on Matthew), but most translations don't say "anyone who relaxes any of these commandments" but "anyone who breaks any of these commandments". Either way, you're not relaxing or breaking a command if you don't follow it when it doesn't apply to you.

I think, Zachary, that you should also take a look at Jeremy's previous post to see that he is not painting an antinomian mural with highlights of wanton immorality.

The purpose of the original Sabbath in the Old Covenant was to remember God's resting after creation. The purpose of the Lord's Day in the New Covenant was to remember Christ's resurrection which occured on a Sunday. The old Sabbath was on the seventh day, Saturday, and the new Lord's Day was on the first day of the week (Jn 20:1) which is Sunday.

Here are several instances in the New Covenant where the early church or Christians set a day apart to come together to worship, break bread, collect tithes, and hear the apostles teaching.

Acts 20:7 - "On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul..." In this verse, the meeting together on the first day of the week seems implied as both of these phrases are adverb phrases supporting "Paul talked with them..." My point is that it was not a special meeting. It sounds as if they did this every week.

1 Cor 16:2 - "On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up..." Part of the chruch's job is to collect the tithes of God's people. I find it hard to believe that Paul would instruct (if not command) this church to meet on a specific day unless the specific day meant something special. Also, the meetings are not just whenever, they are to be every week on a Sunday. Sounds like a Sabbath/Lord's Day to me.

Rev 1:10 - "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day..." I find this verse to be the strongest evidence for a Sunday meeting. John does not call it "the Sabbath", but he calls it, "the Lord's day", which is literally what the Greek means. He was worshipping on "the Lord's Day".

Heb 10:25 - "not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." (While a specific day is not specified, the principle of meeting together applies.)

The old covenant Sabbath on Saturday is not to be observed by Christians today; however, the Lord's Day or resurrection day is to be observed by Christians.

I still disagree with you about the moral law not apllying. If the 10 C's do not apply to Christians, then why do all ten (with a modified Sabbath/Lord's Day) reapper in the New Testament/ New covenant. The ceremonial law/ old covenant was superseded by Christ. Christ is our lone King, Prophet, and Priest. The moral law, not ceremonial law, applies to all men, everywhere. (See Paul's application in Rom 2, esp 2:12.)

I do appreciate the idea that every day is (or ought) to be a holy day. I had never looked at it from that point of view.

Regarding Revelation 1:10, John is not referring to a day of the week. He was "in the Spirit", a phrase used elsewhere in Revelation to describe his being taken up to heaven to view the prophetic vision, and "in" (same Greek word is used) the Lord's Day".

I humbly submit the best understanding is that the "Lord's day" is John's way of speaking of what Paul and Peter call the eschatological "Day of the Lord".

I am well aware this is a minority view of this verse, but it is a view that in my mind does best exegetical and contextual justice to the passage.

To paraphrase, John was saying, "I was in the prophetic spirit, and in that spirit was taken to view those things associated with coming Day of the LORD. Here's how it happened..."

I find it disconcerting that the majority view that this verse talks about a day of the week is ultimatly based on Patristic writings in conjunction with presuppositions brought to the text itself, and not a solid exegetical and contextual framework from the text itself. That simply does not carry my conscience...


~ The Billy Goat ~

This is a subject I labored over for a long time, not so much intellectually, as wanting to feel at peace in my experience -that I understand it. So I keep going back, over and over. Right now I would stand somewhere between you and the "Sabbatarians".

I don't believe that Jesus actually broke the Sabbath, but He certainly offended the tradition surrounding it. He offered the explanation within the law of the "spirit" of Sabbath when referencing the rule on oxen falling into a ditch on another occasion, as well as the example of David on this.

I agree with you, Jeremy, on the points about principles. Yet, I think that observation of Sabbath is related to that of tithing- there are certain things required that precede the law, and hold promise in their fulfillment. The Ten Commandments are a condensing of many things that show we recognize God in the universe, which is why their principles transcend rote obedience, I think.

Theoretically we may believe we enter God's rest without one particular day, but the reality for most of us is that if we don't set apart that one day, we tend to usurp all for our own interests. This is my experience, and underscored by Biblical example of Israel. If one truly entered the rest of God in a fuller way, who could judge that man? We can't really set keeping Sabbath in a particular way as a standard to judge anyone, but we certainly can use Sabbath as a minimum rule of measuring ourselves, couldn't we? Are we giving God one seventh of our days upon the earth? Are we allowing Him an undisturbed day of fellowship with us... and that is what it is,-what we give Him- since He makes Himself available 24/7.

Sabbath is principle, but it must be practice... and I think we short it when we diminish the importance. When Jesus said He came to fulfill the law He was telling us we would not have less. the whole question here is do we, as Christians, have rules? And the hard answer is that we do not, except the rule of love. Academically, can we quantify our Sabbath? In human relationships can we quantify time spent? I think we can, but not in a rigid sort of way; which is why I agree with your principles idea.

That is what makes abstract discussion of this sort of thing so hard. The law directs us, but doesn't rule us... explaining why we may change the day, etc.

And none of this addresses our own need for such rest... I suppose that is part of the practical, rather than the intellectual approach to this discussion. It must be important since Jesus stated that the Sabbath was for man (The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.)
That seems interesting to me... how do you think that applies here?

Zachary, if the early Christians assembled for worship on Sunday mornings before they went to work, how does that establish the eternality of the Sabbath command? And don't pretend that these meetings were during a day off. The Roman context wouldn't have allowed for that, at least when it came to slaves, who constituted a fairly large portion of the early church. Also, the fact that they chose the first day for its symbolic value does not entail that there's some moral obligation to use the first day for regular, weekly meetings.

You say that all ten commandments reappear in the new covenant, but that's right in the same comment when you say that it doesn't but is replaced by a Lord's day concept. I agree that moral obligations apply to everyone, but I'm not convinced that this is a moral obligation. I'm not convinced that anything is a moral obligation for all people simply because it appears in a covenant code for a people who spiritually speaking are no longer even under that covenant, never mind those who never were under that covenant.

Billy Goat, I'm thoroughly unfamiliar with the view you're presenting, but I don't think that issue is heavily relevant to the main issues at stake here. That was one verse in Zachary's list of verses, and even if he thinks it's the most convincing of his list, I agree with his point from the others. The early Christians did meet on the first day of the week.

Ilona, as I've said, I don't think Jesus broke the Sabbath. You can't break a rule that doesn't apply. The law for an adult not to have sex with a minor doesn't apply to someone who is married to that minor with proper parental consent for marriage. It isn't a breaking of the law.

You raise the David case. I think that one is very interesting, because what David did does explicitly go against one very specific command in scripture that only the Levites (or priests, even?) could eat the showbread. Yet he got the high priest to give him some. Why? I think the most plausible explanation is that the laws of the old covenant aren't absolute, particularly when they conflict with each other. Life or death matters are very important, at the foundation of much of the Torah. I think what Jesus was saying about David is that it was ok for him to go against the particular law in question, because it was a matter of life or death. Some Torah principles trump others, and life and death principles trump the ones that, in the light of the new covenant, are purely symbolic for spiritual purity. Those principles are removed anyway later on, since they're fulfilled in the new covenant. This sort of thing would also not be breaking the law. It would be keeping a higher obligation among the Torah principles, one that trumps the lower obligation that therefore doesn't apply. This isn't the only way to take this, but I think it's the one that seems most plausible to me lately. I think Jesus' statement that the Sabbath serves humanity is doing something similar.

I have no problem with saying the 10 commandments reflect deeper moral principles that come from before the lawgiving of Exodus. I would say that also about the Sabbath command. It comes from the general principle about rest that the Hebrew Torah records as having its basis in the depiction of creation as six days and a rest. Genesis is part of the Torah, however, and thus it's framed in a way that forecasts the Sabbath commands of Exodus and Deuteronomy. It's basically saying something like "that is why we rest on the seventh day", which amounts to saying that that's why the principle of rest applies in the Mosaic covenant the way it does, with seven days. Keep in mind that the seven-day framework of Genesis 1 is also part of the old covenant, since the old covenant includes Genesis. I don't see any reason in the new covenant to take the 1/7 tithe of days any more literally than we need to transfer the 1/10 tithe of money literally in the new covenant. Neither is explicitly required, and both are explicitly declared inadequate anyway.

I've never said here that we shouldn't set aside a day for rest. What I've said is that it's legalism to think that principle is an absolute moral command, and I think scripture tells us not to see any such day as particularly holy any more than any other day. These are important enough principles that I think Sabbatarianism is worth resisting, even if I think it's a good idea to try to rest a little more on one day of the week and to spend time with other believers and worship on that same day if possible.

I'm not sure what you mean by an undisturbed day of fellowship. If you don't mean forsaking responsibilities such as caring for children (which I think would be obviously immoral), then isn't it something that we should be doing every day?

I think what I'm saying isn't really all that different from what you're saying. I think we're just emphasizing different elements, because I'm disagreeing with Sabbatarianism and you're wanting to say that such a disagreement doesn't mean denying a bunch of other things, but most of those are things I don't deny. I just didn't emphasize them the way you are.

I think what I said about the David case should give a sense of what I think about the Sabbath being made for humanity, so see the above response (in this comment) to Zachary.


I want to affirm your assertion that the distinction between the moral and ceremonial law is a false one. To a Jew all of the Law was moral. Even the part we might label "civil."

I am surprised that so many intelligent Christians get this wrong.


Thanks, Rod. I would affirm, though, that there are different ways that elements of the Torah reflect morality. Some reflect it in terms of commanding the result of a moral truth in a particular situation. Others flat-out state moral principles that always apply. Still others reflect ways that God wanted to represent deeper principles encoded in a system of laws that aren't moral principles themselves or direct applications of moral principles but are still morally binding in that context because of God's setting up of the laws so that their following them would reflect the deeper truth.

Hello everyone
I used to be a seventh-day Adventist strongly born and raised to keep the sabbath, tithe, food laws, taught to belive in soul sleep, the seal of God to be sabbath keeping Rather than the Holy Spirit, sunday keepers will gain the mark of the beast, the sda to be the remnant church, Ellen G White to be the one and only last day Prophet, atonement wasnt fully completed at the cross etc etc...

Now years later being a strong spirit-filled Evangelical Christian i have come to a much greater understanding of Gods Word CONTEXTUALLY rather than SELEXTIVE PROOF TEXTING parts of Gods word so to suit our own misguided messeger and teachers in Adventism the sabbath of course just one of those twists of Truth.

Part of this understanding and now as a teacher has made me study the bible covenants which make the whole bible stand in it purpose Gods will for man its all about our Savour Jesus Christs completed on the cross!

The following i pray will answer where the sabbath fitted in then and now and for us as Christians.

Have your bible ready to study all this prayerfully to grow in a correct understanding.

Each bible covenant given by God incloses a
1) PROMISE- Gods duty
2) CONDITION- Mans duty
3) SIGN- Symbol showing the covenant as valid
or showing man abiding in that covenant.

Starting with Adam in Gen 3:15 going right through to chapter 4 because of the fall.

eg 1) Abraham
Genesis 15-17 The Promise-
Everlasting, a father of multitudes
Genesis 15:1-5 The Condition-
Faith, Abraham belived Gen 15:6
Genesis 17:10-13 The Sign-

eg 2) Noah
Genesis 9:8-17 The Promise-
Never destroy the earth by flood water
Genesis 9:8-11,15
Condition- Unconditional
Sign- The Rainbow, Gen 9:12-16

eg 3) Moses-
The Promise- A great land to call your own
Exodus 2:24-25
Condition- Obedience, by Israel to all of the law and decrees given at sinai to Moses
Exodus 19:7-8
Sign- The Sabbath
Exodus 31:12-18 & Exodus 20:8-11.

From the Word now take carefull attention to the covenant with Moses for Israel what its more
specificlly called and how it tangelably manifests itself through THE WORDS OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS read Exodus 34:28
Read and notice Deut 4:13 calls the Ten Commandment Law THE COVENANT WRITTEN ON TABLETS OF STONE.
Also read- Dueteronomy9:9-12, 15, 10:4
5:2-22 and 1Kings 8:9,21

The covenant Law was not given before Sinai according to Deut 5:2-3 only to Israel and the sign being THE SABBATH made for man as Jesus declared, in the bible context OF NATION OF ISRAEL AS MAN not for Mankind.

Reading states in Exodus 31:12-18 The Sabbath a sign between God and Israel only as a part of the covenant Sign, As we know as Christian being the old covenant.

This Covenant was to last only as Galations 3:19 says- The Law was added till the seed (JESUS CHRIST) should come.

The Promise- ETERNAL LIFE to all who beleive on the name of Jesus Christ. John 3:16
The Condition- FAITH in Jesus Christ alone
Romans 3:21-28.
The Sign- Commuion/the Lords supper do this in rememberance of me
1cor 11:25 Luke 22:20 Mark 14:24.
In reponse of Gods Grace to us Christ calls us to obedience to HIS COMMANDMENTS.
The Commandments of God through Jesus Christ are found in 1John 3:22-24 1) BELIVE ON THE NAME of Jesus Christ and 2) LOVE one another, this is the Law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 GAL 5:13, 14, 18
John 13:34, 35. Romans 13:10.

The very Good News of Grace which makes us Christians SAVED is shown in the covenant that replaced the old one given at Siani.
Jeremiah 31:31-32 fortold this change to a new covenant nothing like the one given when they left Egypt at Siani the Law Covenant with the Covenant Sign of THE SABBATH.
Thus when reading Colosians 2:16, 17 why The sabbath is in the list of shadows a sign post pointing to Christ as the REST FOR THE SOUL according to Matthew 11:28.
His Perfect Atoning Sacrifice on the cross giving us complete REST in the saving grace of JESUS CHRIST a new day TODAY! Hebrews 3:17-4:11

Christian Regards
Marte Bilic

Leave a comment


    The Parablemen are: , , and .



Books I'm Reading

Fiction I've Finished Recently

Non-Fiction I've Finished Recently

Books I've Been Referring To

I've Been Listening To

Games I've Been Playing

Other Stuff


    thinking blogger
    thinking blogger

    Dr. Seuss Pro

    Search or read the Bible

    Example: John 1 or love one another (ESV)

  • Link Policy
Powered by Movable Type 5.04