Of course, the reference to the refusal to “keep my commandments and my laws” is not a specific reference to the Law of Moses, for the latter, by definition, was not around until it was given through the hand of Moses. Just as when David, and others, make reference to ‘the law’ (Heb: torah) they are not simply referring to the Law of Moses. These later writers are in fact very frequently referring to the ‘Torah’, the first five books of the Old Testament. But more than that, as so many references demonstrate, they refer to the Jewish way of life, requiring total dedication by reason of the covenant. That the torah is not only law can be seen from the fact that it is equally well prophetic utterances (Isaiah 1:10; 8:16) and the counselling of the wise (Proverbs 13:4). Therefore, to quote passages such as Psalm 19:7, or Isaiah 8:20 (as sabbath supporters do) as support for observing the sabbath today, is clearly pointless, or even for observing the sabbath in the days of the Psalmist – the sabbath is simply not being discussed in the passages alluded to.
The same playing with the word of God is shown when selecting Psalm 89:34 in support of the keeping of the sabbath day – “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.”
For if the quotation is continued to show the context, it is very apparent that it is dealing with a completely different subject: namely, the establishment of the Kingdom under Jesus Christ as promised to David.
“My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established forever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.” Psalm 89:34-37
As is clearly stated, the word ‘covenant’ used in context here, refers to a covenant with David concerning his seed, and has nothing at all to do with the sabbath We must always be careful to quote, or use, Scripture only when we are sure that it endorses within its context the things which we wish to demonstrate. Otherwise, we may believe a delusion. More than that, we would be doing the very thing that Isaiah warned against.
“But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared , and taken.” Isaiah 28:13
The word of God must always be considered within context. If one draws a point from here, and selects a further point from there, and an inference from another place, then one can prove anything from the Bible. In fact, that is probably why there are so many ‘versions’ of Christianity around today!
Too many people today base their faith on inference – on supposed ‘facts’ that are not in the record. Sabbath-believers make many inferences, strongly based in the first book of the Bible, and in the last book of the Bible – two books which in fact do not make mention of the word ‘sabbath’, let alone mention it as a command of rest to mankind. To claim that John received his revelation on the sabbath (refer Revelation 1:10) is a biased interpretation of the ‘Lord’s Day’. There is available today some fragmentary writings from the time of the apostle John’s closing days (ca. AD96) which are clearly using the same phrase to refer to the first day of the week, ie., Sunday. It is not surprising that such would be the case, since Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. Further evidence is that Paul delayed his departure from the brethren until after he had met with them to break bread on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7-11), monetary collections were to be taken up on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1-3), and the testimony of writers of that era. Ignatius (AD107), who was a disciple of the apostle John himself, wrote:
“Be not deceived with strange doctrines, nor with old fables. For if we still live according to Jewish law, we acknowledge that we have not received grace … those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the sabbath.” The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 1, pp 62,63
There are other writers, such as Barnabas (ca. AD100), Justin Martyr (AD145-150), Irenaeus, the bishop of Lyons during the latter part of the second century (AD155-202); Clement of Alexandria, around the close of the second century; and Tertullian, at the beginning of the third century who each affirmed that the followers of Christ did not observe the sabbath. The latter writer stated:
“We have nothing to do with sabbaths or the other Jewish festivals, much less with those of the heathen.” The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 3, p70.
The claim that Sabbath believers often make-that it was Constantine in AD321 who first initiated Sunday worship amongst Christians-is untrue, and patently in error as even the above sampling of quotations show.
Was the Sabbath shifted?
“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..” Acts 20:7
Now concerning this event as recorded in Acts 20, although Paul was in Troas for seven days (verse 6), apparently neither he, nor the local believers met for the breaking of bread until the first day of the week. Since they were following the Jewish custom of regarding days from sunset to sunset, this passage showed that they were occupying the Saturday evening in this manner, and actually continued through to the Sunday daybreak.
“When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.” Acts 20:11
The Syriac translation (known as the Peshitta, and dating from near the end of the 4th. century AD) recognised this passage as celebrating the Lord’s Supper, in translating it “to break the Eucharist”, i.e. to break the Eucharistic bread.
So we note in this passage, that the event was not associated with the Sabbath day, but the first day of the week. That day was not renamed as the Sabbath. The seventh day could never be renumbered as the first. Indeed, the fact that Paul and his companions sometimes attended services in the Jewish synagogue, showed that he still recognised the continuance of the Jewish Sabbath, though it doesn’t in itself prove that they continued to recognise the Sabbath as a special day of worship.
The Sabbath was not shifted from being the seventh day of the week. To this day it remains the seventh day of the week. It is completely irrelevant to assert that the edict of Laodicea changed the day of worship from the seventh to the first day of the week, as sometimes alleged – the observance had changed centuries before, but the Sabbath day remained unmoved. But it no longer had relevance to the follower of Jesus Christ.
- 1. The first Sabbath
- 2. Covernant with Israel, Resting, A New Experience
- 3. The Covernant, Correct Context, Was the Sabbath Shifted?
- 4. Why Change the Day, A Fading Law
- 5. Holy Days, Cermonial and Moral Law
- 6. Keeping the Sabbath, Giving up the Law
- 7. A Pedegogue, Fulfilment of the Law
- 8. Freedom in Christ, Paul and the Sabbath, Sunday as the Sabbath?