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THE SABBATH: UPDATE (EXPANDED)

Selected Verses Relating to the "Sabbath"

Exodus 16:29-39

See, for that Yahweh has given you the Sabbath, therefore He gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days. Abide*every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day.

Comment: The Lord gave the Sabbath to Israel, not to the gentiles.

Exodus 31:12-17

And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
{31:13 Speak also to the Children of Israel, saying:

Verily you* shall keep my sabbaths; for it is a sign between me and you [= Children of Israel] throughout your generations, that you* may know that I am Yahweh who sanctifieth you. You shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you [= Children of Israel] everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whosoever
does any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people [= Israel]. Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to Yahweh; whosoever doeth any work on the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the Children of Israel shall keep the sabbath to observe the sabbath throughout their generations for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the Children of Israel for ever; for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.

Comment: The sabbath was a sign between the Lord and Israel, not the gentiles.

Leviticus 25:1-5

And Jehovah spoke unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When you come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto Jehovah. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune thy vineyard and gather in the fruits thereof. But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to Jehovah; you shall neither sow thy field nor prune thy vineyard. That which grows of itself of thy harvest you shall not reap, and the grapes of thy undressed vine you shall not gather. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land.

Comment: Israel not only had a weekly sabbath, but also a Sabbatical Year, a sabbath that lasted an entire year every 7th year.

The Sabbath Day is the 7th Day of the week, which the Hebrews evidently began at 6 PM (or sundown) on we call Friday and ended at 6 PM (or sundown) on what we call Saturday. The Sabbath has nothing to do with the 1st Day of the week, which is Sunday.

The Sabbath law was only given to the nation of Israel, never to the gentiles or to the church. Actually the Israelites were commanded to keep not only the 7th Day as a day of rest, but also they were commanded to keep every 7th year as a year of rest. Besides these special days, there were other special "feast" days that required special observance under the Law of Moses, such as the Passover, Tabernacles, and the Great Day of Atonement.

But actually the entire Law of Moses only had rule over the nation of Israel and lasted only until the cross, at which point it fell out of effect. Nonetheless, there are many provisions of the Law of Moses which are also repeated in the scripture given to the church in the epistles of the New Testament, such as "love your neighbor as yourself."

As a matter of fact, there are warnings against keeping the Sabbath in the New Testament.

Consider Galatians 4

"4:1 But I say that so long as the heir is a child, he differs nothing from a bondservant though he is lord of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the day appointed of the father. 3 So we also, when we were children, were held in bondage under the rudiments of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 that he might redeem them who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because you* are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying: Abba, Father. 7 So that you= are no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. 8 Howbeit at that time, not knowing God, you* were in bondage to them who by nature are no gods. 9 But now that you* have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how do you* turn back again to the weak and beggarly rudiments, whereunto you* desire to be in bondage over again?" You* observe days
and months and seasons and years. 11 I am afraid of you*, lest by any means I have bestowed labor upon you* in vain.

Likewise, consider Colossian 2

"13 And you*, being dead through your* trespasses and the uncircumcision of your* flesh, you*, [I say], he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses; 14 having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us; and he has taken it out that way, nailing it to the cross. 15 Having despoiled the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. 16 Let no man therefore judge you* in meat or in drink or in respect of a feast day or a new moon or a sabbath day, 17 which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ's."

The law [of Moses] has been nailed to the cross, that is, it ended at the cross as a covenant that required obedience by Israel.

WHAT ABOUT SUNDAY, THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK?

Of course "Sunday" is a word not found in the Bible. The word "Sunday" probably derives from our English pagan Anglo-Saxon / Germanic heritage. In Spanish the first day of the week is called Domingo, evidently related to the Latin word for Lord, referring to the day of the Lord Jesus, particularly the day on which He rose from the dead.

The "first day of the week" does occur in the New Testament. However, there are no commandments regarding the first day of the week (except one Paul gave to the Corinthians). Commandments in the Bible establish obligations for obedience; historical occurrences do not (by themselves) establish obligation for obedience. Just because the early Church did something, does not (by itself) establish an obligation for us to obey. Obviously the fact that there were 4 factions in the Church of Corinth, does not oblige us to have 4 factions in our churches.

It seems probable that the Book of Revelation calls the first day of the week "the Lord's Day," although the context does not make that certain. Revelation 1:10 contains these words: "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day." Although "the Lord's Day" here has been interpreted as meaning "the Day of the Lord," the Greek is different from the usual expression for "the Day of the Lord." On the other hand, "the Lord's Day" is similar to the modern Greek expression for the first day of the week. Therefore, one is led to suppose that what John means here is in fact the first day of the week. The other interpretation would connect "the Lord's Day" here with the eschatological "Day of the Lord," and in particular with Daniel's 70th week, popularly called "the Tribulation," which appears to be the main time period described in Revelation.

If we are correct in interpreting "the Lord's day" in Rev. 1:10 as the first day of the week, that would indicate that Sunday had already been considered a special day in the Church, a day named for the day on which our Lord Jesus rose from the dead.

In Acts there are several references to the first day of the week. In Acts it is indicated that the Church met on the first day of the week. And it also appears that the Church met on what we call Saturday evening, since the first day began on Saturday at about 6 PM or sundown. On the other hand, there is no commandment given in Acts that churches ought to meet on the first day of the week. In order to use time most efficiently and minimize time spent on travel and dressing up, I think it would be well to have all the essential church activities on Saturday evening, including a Prayer Meeting (at which one prays!), praise singing, Bible teaching, and the Lord's Supper. On Sunday morning one could then sleep in and rest.

I, myself, would like to meet on Saturday evening and have Sunday reserved for resting. Going to church twice on Sunday may not be resting. In fact a church may have so many activities and take so much time on Sunday that the Christian is not well-rested for resuming work on Monday.

As to church attendance, there is no commandment concerning attending on Saturday night or Sunday. But there is the admonition in Hebrews not to forsake the assembly.

And as to the first day of the week, Paul did tell the Corinthians that each man should lay by him in store on the first day of the week, money for his special Jerusalem Aid Fund that he was collecting.

In 1 Cor 16 we read:

16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye. 2 Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come. 3 And when I arrive, whomsoever ye shall approve, them will I send with letters to carry your bounty unto Jerusalem: 4 and if it be meet for me to go also, they shall go with me.

This commandment does not appear to be intended for those outside of this context, like ourselves today. However, as part of scripture, it is there for our edification. I don't see anything in that passage about giving money to the church on Sunday. Apparently it pertains to persons privately storing money themselves to bring out and give to Paul whenever Paul should arrive in Corinth (for Paul to take to Jerusalem). Neither does there appear in this passage any connection with the Old Testament admonition to bring the tithes into the storehouse, an activity which seems unlikely to have been a weekly occurrence.

The main thing to keep in mind regarding what we do on the Lord's Day, the first day of the week, is that we are to use it to love the Lord with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves, which is the same thing to keep in mind regarding all days.

Re: WHAT ABOUT SUNDAY, THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK?

Enoch,

re: “In Acts there are several references to the first day of the week.”

I’m aware of only one reference - Acts 20:7. What other ones do you have in mind?

Error Above: Acts 20 is the only reference in Acts

Thanks for leading me to this correction. I wrote from memory, and my memory was wrong. A concordance check indicates that Acts 20 has the only reference to "first day" in Acts (as a reference to first day of the week). John 20 has another, but Acts has only 1 reference. Pardon my error.