The Sabbath or Sunday?
Part 3 of 3 of this bible study
 

Research on eight grounds why Christians celebrate Sunday

 
1. The new covenant does not give a commandment to keep any special day as the "Day of the Lord."

One of the most important texts to prove this point is a text from Romans 14


Romans14:5-6

"One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind."

Well, this seems a clear text. However, you always have to be careful to use a in itself clear text without involving the context.
These words were written to Christians.
But in what context were they written?
It is about: Do not judge your brother and in this case especially with his thinking about food.


verse 2

"One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables".

It is therefore the question: should a Christian be a vegetarian or not? The whole chapter 14 is about that. Which reason would Paul have to speak here suddenly on the Sabbath or Sunday? His subject is food!


verse 3

"The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does"

The subject is a certain form of fasting! (verse 4 is a parenthesis)
In verse 5 Paul continues:


verse 5

"One man (who eats) considers one day (when he is fasting) more sacred than another; another man (who eats just vegetables) considers every day alike."
And so he became a vegetarian. For the man who doesn't eat meat on a given day, that day is more sacred than the other days. But for the man who doesn't eat meat at all, all days are equal.


verse 5b

"Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind."
If one thinks that a certain day of fasting is right and the other thinks every day should be like that (ie no meat should be eaten), it doesn't Matthew r to Paul. As long as the attitude of the person who is fasting is not one of indifference but one of conviction. It is about pleasing God in this particular attitude.


verse 6

"He who regards one day (for fasting) as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat (after the fasting), eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains (ie eats meat on every day), does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God."

It is quite clear that Paul is not talking about the Sabbath. And so this section of the Bible doesn't apply as an argument to keep the Sabbath nor to keep the Sunday as a day to the Lord.

2. As second important Bible part Colossians 2:14-17 is used.

Colossians 2:14-17

"having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.
15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day."

Let's have a good look at these verses.
We will only look to the issue of a so called abolishing of the sabbath. But we can't do that without looking to the context.

 Verse 14 makes it clear that Jesus cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us. He took that away and nailed it to the cross.
 Then in verse 16 Paul says: Therefore do not let anyone judge you.
Who were judging the new born Colossians?


verse 18

That were people who delights in false humility. People who's mind puffs them up with idle notions.


verse 19

People who lost connection with Jesus the Head of the body (the church).


verse 21

People who submit to rules like: Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!


verse 22

Rules which are based on human commands and teachings.

 Where ever Paul came he had trouble with the Jews. Jews knew already a lot of the Thora, but they had other books too, like the Talmud. And the Talmud had so much rules like: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”

Rules which were not in the bible (Thora). Rules about how to celebrate New Moon and what not to do on the Sabbath.
These Jews were judging the Colossians because the Colossians didn't live according these rules. But Paul said: "do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day."

 Is Paul telling these Colossians that the Sabbath is abolished? Or that they better ignore the people who were telling them you have to do this or that on the Sabbath day?

 In verse 17 he makes it clear that those Talmud rules are not important at all. It is not about how you celebrate a religious festival or the Sabbath day, but that you understand that those festive days have a meaning. They are shadows of things that were to come.

When you want to understand what the meaning is of the festive days read the bible study of The Holy Days of the Lord.

It is clear, as I think, that these texts are not meant to abolish the Sabbath. It is one of the ten commandments to keep the Sabbath.

We, Christians (should) keep those commandments. We don't have other gods before God. We don't have idols nor worship them. We don't misuse the name of the Lord our God. But we don't keep the Sabbath day holy (except a few). At the other hand we honor our father and mother. And we do not murder, commit adultery, steal and give false testimony. We do not covet our neighbors house or wife nor anything else from our neighbor.

So when we (try) to keep the commandments of God, nine of them, why do we exclude the fourth commandment?

It is not allowed to steal a little, or to murder just one person, so why is it permitted to change the holy day of the Lord to another day?
Think about that and read the next verse where Matthew quotes Jesus.


Matthew 5:17

" “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."

It is good to ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Did the heavens and the earth disappear?
  • If not. Then why are God commandments abolished?
  • Should Jesus' words not taken seriously?

3. The third point is that the sabbath is not mentioned in the rules as to who defines Acts 16.

Acts 16:19-20

"It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood."

Indeed, here is not said that the Sabbath should be kept. But not only that, all other nine commandments of the 'ten' are not mentioned. If therefore the absence of the specific Sabbath commandment should prove that the Sabbath commandment is no longer in force, then the absence of those other nine commandments proves that they are no longer in effect either. Nothing is less true. These commandments are to us just as much valid as for the people of Israel. The main question in Acts 15 is not should the Sabbath be held or not, but: should Gentile-believers be circumcised or not.

The statement mentioned in paragraph three therefore doesn't hold .


4. The Sabbath has not to be kept anymore because real and eternal rest is in Christ. (Hebrews 4)

Actually this is not so much on the Sabbath day, but on the Sabbath rest in Hebrews 4.
Let us go over this for a moment.
Actually it begins in Hebrews 3:16 (from here please read in your own Bible, till 4:13).

The writer speaks here about the people of Israel that withdraw from Egypt. They have been forty years in the desert and the older generation died there. There bodies lies in the desert.


Hebrews 3:18-19

"And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief."

Where would Israel enter?
Here we read: into his rest.
We know from history, that after a few years desert journey the promised land was reached. Moses sent some men to explore the country, but the people believed the explorers more than God. God punished them by letting them wander a total of forty years in the wilderness until all who had been incredulous, had died. (Numbers 14:34).

They could therefore not go into the promised land because of their disobedience. The "rest" where the writer of Hebrews is talking about, was for them: the promised land. Chapter 4 shows clearly, we still come back to that, that the 'rest' of the promised land, a prefiguration is, or even more a pre-fulfillment of the eternal rest in the eternal promised land. This is confirmed in Hebrews 11:9-10.
We Christians have also to make a journey till we arrive in our promised country.
For those who do not understand the following: Egypt is usually the image of the world. Like Israel turned his back to Egypt, so we must also turn away from the world. Israel went through the desert in a time of education and testing, so we go also after our conversion for a certain time our way through the desert.

Israel entered at a certain time into the promised land and began to possess the land by chasing away the inhabitants, -people that have been very disobedient to God. Here we see a parallel. Us Christians should also be to that point of turn in the promised land. This promised land is for us the 'heavenly regions'.

In Ephesians 6:11-12 it is clear that we neither can enter this promised land. We also have a fight. A battle against spiritual forces and armies. These spiritual creatures were also extremely disobedient to God, just as the original inhabitants of Palestine.

But now comes an important point. All rather complicated, argument of Hebrews 4:1-13 is as follows, that God, long before there was a promised land (Palestine), another promised land had in mind. He had another kind of rest in his mind than the rest the people in Israel entered when they took possession of Palestine. It is even true that the rest we Christians already have, is a shadow -in fact more a pre-schadow- of the rest that awaits us when we enter the real rest.

These are issues that still more can be said, but that is for now far beyond the issue that we are talking about.

We can clearly see from the previous things we discussed, that the rest presented here is a rest that is in excess of the rest that Israel got when they entered the promised land. And also exceeds the rest we now enjoy by living as spiritual people, which doesn't expect to get it from works of the law.

verse 9

"There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God".

This Sabbath rest has only in a symbolic way to do with the Sabbath commandment.
The word Sabbath means a break or stop work. The Sabbath rest, as mentioned here, has clearly to do with resting of your works (verse 10). What works? The works of the law!
It has nothing to do with a possible abolition of the Sabbath commandment.

5. The Sabbath has been changed to Sunday because at that day the Lord rose from the dead.

Let us study this point, because if this point is right this may be evidence to Christians to keep that day as day of the Lord.
Luke says that Joseph of Arimatea laid Jesus' body in a rock tomb.


Luke 23:54

"It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin."
"But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment."


verse 56b

"On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb."


verse 24:1

Two angels told them "He is not here; he has risen!".
"on the third day be raised again."


verse 6 and 7b

A number of specific points are mentioned here. (Out of the most important point of course: Jesus is raised! He is no longer in the grave!)

a. it talks about a Sabbath
b. and it talks about the first day of the week
c. and it talks about "raised again on the third day."

First, let's examine what point c "the third day" means. These other issues are automatically thereafter. In Mark 8:31 Jesus says: after three days. Let's assume that the term 'third day' can mean that Jesus raised on the third day. Then we get the following situation: We know that He died the day before the Sabbath. So then the Sabbath is the second day and Sunday the third. Then Jesus would therefore be raised on Sunday.

But Marcus is talking a few times about: "after three days". Again, Jesus died on the day before the sabbath, which would have been Friday afternoon. Saturday (or Sabbath) at afternoon is then the first day. Sunday afternoon is the second day and Monday afternoon the third day. We know with certainty that this is wrong because Mark tells us clearly that Jesus was no longer in the tomb on Sunday morning very early. (So that is, assuming the crucifixion was on Friday afternoon, at best one day and two nights.)

Should we assume that one apostle was wrong and the other right? Who speaks the redeeming word? Is it now 'the third day', or is it 'after three days? The Savior Himself, speaks this redeeming word. Jesus gives a very clear statement how long it would be.


Matthew 12:40

"For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

So Jesus would remain in the tomb for three days and three nights .
All these texts seem contradictory, because how can Jesus died on Friday and on Sunday He is no longer in the grave, as He himself said that He would remain three days and three nights in the grave?

Let's assume that Jesus raised on Sunday morning. Based on Jesus' statement, we will deduct three days and three nights from that Sunday morning. Sunday morning back to Saturday morning, the 1st day and 1st night. Saturday morning back to Friday morning is the 2nd day and the 2nd night. The third day (counted back) begins on Thursday morning. But it says that Jesus died at the end of the day and not early in the morning. Three nights and three days later, again at the end of the day and not early in the morning. The conclusion must therefore be: If Jesus died at the end of the day, He also raised at the end of the day (three days later). The Christians ought not to celebrate 'Good Friday', but "good Wednesday.

Or maybe not? Why does it seem that this is not right? Because the Christians celebrate 'Good Friday' because they read in Luke 23:54 that the following day it would be Sabbath. And when we talk about the Sabbath, then we talk about Saturday isn't it? Do we see an error in the Bible? Fortunately not! As we have seen so often in other bible studies the problem is solved when the surrounding parts of the Bible are involved. The whole story of Jesus' suffering and death begins with Luke in Chapter 22. The parallel sections in Matthew 26 and Mark 14 must of course also be compared.


Luke 22:1

1 "Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching".


Matthew 26:17

17 "On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”


Mark 14:12

12 "On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

These texts clearly show that the whole history of Jesus' suffering, death and resurrection happening in the days of the feast of unleavened bread.

Leviticus 23 describes this festival accurate. We have to understand that in Leviticus clearly is defined when the Passover should be kept and what then follows. The Passover must be held on the 14th day of the month Nisan, in the twilight. (Days like God has instituted goes from sunset to sunset, not like we are used to from midnight to midnight.) The 14th Nisan begins after sunset. The Passover to. The day of preparation (or, as Mark mentions in Mark 15:43: (that is, the day before the Sabbath) was to prepare the Passover. So that is Nisan 13th.


Luke 22:7 and 8

"Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”"

After the Passover is prepared, the following day, the 14th Nisan, begins at sunset. On that evening, or as it says in Luke 22:14 "When the hour came" the Passover was eaten. Jesus did that too. And after the "Evening" meal He went to Gethsemane. There He was captured and brought to the High-priest. On that day in which the Passover was eaten, He became the Lamb that was led to slaughter for us. In that night He was also denied by Peter, before a rooster had announced that the new day arrived. This new day was still the 14th Nisan. That same day, our Passover was slaughtered, and died around the ninth hour. (In our time frame around 1500 hours).

Why is this so important? What has that to do with the Sabbath?
When God set up the festival times, He had an intention. It takes now too much time to explore this in detail. But you can read about that in the bible study about the Feasts of the Lord.
There is a lot of symbolism in these feasts, even for us Christians. Anyway, God has established that the day after Nisan 14th the feast of unleavened bread was to be celebrated. It is a day that "no servile work" may be performed. The 15th Nisan is a Sabbath. Regardless of what day that is. So again for clarity: the day after Passover is a always a Sabbath!

So if we believe Jesus. Who said that He would be three days and three nights in the grave, we see that Jesus died Nisan 14th at noon at ± 1500 hours and that He was is the in the grave Nisan 15th and 16th and was resurrected on Nisan 17th before sunset. And that day it was Sabbath again. (Now the weekly Sabbath). And when the women went the next morning, very early to the tomb He indeed was risen.

All this shows that point 5 is not correct and that the Lord appointed the Sabbath as His day by being resurrected that day.


6. The sixth proposition which is why Christians often say the first day of the week, Sunday, is the 'day of the Lord' is because the first Christians also kept that day instead of the Sabbath. John 20 should prove that.

John 20:19

"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”!"

This text is not on whether the Sabbath was abolished. The disciples were there in all probability, even on Sabbath. They were constantly together. After Jesus' ascension they went also to the upper room "where they were staying." "They all joined together constantly in prayer".


Acts 1:15

" In those days ("where they were staying") Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) and said..."


Acts 2:1

"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place."
From the above texts it clearly shows, that it is not one particular day that they came together, but that they were constantly together.

From the continuation of the story that is recorded in John 20 it is clear that neither the gathering together of the disciples on that first day of the week, nor the appearance of Jesus on that first day of the week has implications for changing the Sabbath to sunday.


John 20:26 KJV

"And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut,...."

Why here the King James Version? Because the basic text is more literally translated in this text. It is not a week later, but after eight days.

What stands out in this text? The disciples came after "eight days" back together. So on a Monday. And Jesus and appears to them on that monday. If it was the intention of Jesus that they had their next meeting on Sunday, wasn't this then the best chance to say something about that? They had apparently not understood that they now had to come together on Sunday. No, Jesus says nothing. And so the cited text has no meaning to prove that Jesus wanted them come together on Sunday.

Let us, by not skipping texts, look at the often-quoted text:


Acts 20:7

"On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight."

Paul traveled around. Wherever he came he held meetings. And one of those meetings was for the author of Acts important because of the incident with Eutychus, who fell out the window. To indicate under what circumstances that happened the story begins with:
"On the first day of the week we came together....."
This says nothing about the relationship Sabbath / Sunday. At best, it shows that Paul was not only busy with speeches on the Sabbath (as we shall see below), but also e.g. the first day of the week. Paul was also on other days than the first day of the week busy with discussions. In Acts 19 we read that

Acts l9:9b

"He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus."
Paul went on the sabbath day at the synagogue as well. Acts 13:14 and also Acts 17:2.

Now there are people who say that he was going to the synagogue to convince the Jews of Christ. That was his intention too. But it says that he went in the synagogue "As his custom was".
Acts13:42-44
"Every Sabbath he (Paul) reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks."
Acts 13 shows too that "On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord."

So not only the Jews were gathered there on Sabbath.

The sixth claim is covered, with accompanying texts. It is not very strong and certainly no evidence that the Sabbath no longer has to be kept, or changed into Sunday.


7. Sunday is the 'Lord's Day', because at that day was John in the Spirit and saw what was written in Revelation.

The logic of this argument escapes me, because this proves nothing about the Sunday. This text shows moreover that that day was Sabbath. Why?


Matthew 12:8

"For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, so it is His day. So the day of the Lord is the Sabbath. But is the subject in the text of Revelation 1:10 on the Sabbath / Sunday? I believe that something else is meant by "Day of the Lord."
Almost all of Revelations is about "the day of the Lord", and that's not the Sunday and not the Sabbath, but it is the day of his revenge. But also the day of the Kingdom of God here on earth. The millennial kingdom of peace which Jesus will rule from his throne in Jerusalem. It is the day which what happens is described in Revelation.


8. A final statement would prove that Sunday is the new "day of the Lord".

To prove this the next verse is cited:
1Corinthians l6:2 "On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made."

How one wants to use this text to designate the Sunday as "day of the Lord" is again not clear to me. The subject is: collection and set early aside a some of money for this purpose. It is not needed to do this on the 'day of the Lord'. Why says Paul that they have to do this on the first day of the week? The first day of the week was to the people of Israel traditionally the first work day. Paul says them to set aside a sum of money, in keeping with ones income, on the first day of the week, for the work of the Lord. It's about gifts. It's about the first fruits. From the revenues of the first day first fruits had to be set aside.


Proverbs 3:9

"Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first-fruits of all your crops."

Now we have examined all these points, it should be clear that there can't be found a valid reason in the Bible, to deviate from the day that God has set from the creation.

Let's have a look to the whole thing from another perspective.

  1. When was the Sabbath instituted? God instituted it, even before the Fall. If this is an institution of God, which has nothing to do with sin, then we can not abandon it knowing to be cleansed from of our sin. It has nothing to do with sin!

  2. When showed God clearly his people Israel how he thought about the Sabbath? Was that when the law was given? No, that was before the law was given by God to Moses. In Ex.16 God showed supernatural what day of the week the Sabbath day was. In Ex.20 this Sabbath commandment was incorporated in the law. Quite apart from the question: do we have to take into account the law, we find that the Sabbath commandment already existed before the law came. So it seems only logical to keep the Sabbath commandment whether it is in the law or not and regardless of whether the law still should be held.

  3. In Ex.20 this commandment was included in the law, these are the ten commandments. Of these ten commandments 9 are held by Christians, at least trying it. Christians see these as the commandments of God for their lives. But the remarkable thing is that the fourth commandment, which regulates the Sabbath rest, is not be taken literally. One keeps the Sunday instead of Saturday, and then in a way which does not correspond with what God has commanded.

  4. And finally, why should we abolish the Sabbath day as God himself thinks that this day is so important that He leaves that day survive, even after He created the new heaven and new earth. Isaiah 66:22-23 "from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the LORD". Both the people of Israel and the Sabbath will remain before God's face, as will the new heaven and new earth. The Sabbath is a day that belongs to God. It is His day. It must be very weighty arguments to change the day of God into another day, as Christians have done. They have, without a direct command from God, changed the Saturday into Sunday.

Afterword

Keeping the Sabbath doesn't give us eternal life. That is only through faith in Jesus Christ and His completed work. But from our study on the Sabbath we can draw the conclusion that if we keep the Sabbath, as the commandment, we are pleasing God. And is this not reason enough for us to do what his word is telling us to do?

I try myself to keep those rules. I closed my business on Saturday. I use the Saturday to relax and also to do Bible study.
Unfortunately I found no church, where I feel comfortable, which comes together on Saturday. So I go to a church that comes together on Sunday.
God is looking to your heart.
I feel that the Father Heart of God welcomes those who wish to keep his word in what He has made clear.

When my sons were still at home and under my (our) authority, you could say: when they were still under the law, I taught them what is good for them. Now they are grown up (you can say, in Christ), I have no possibility to punish them if they do not respect my rules they learned, I don't even want that. But, what am I happy when I see that it goes well with them as they do stick to those rules which I have taught them.
And I am a father who made mistakes in the upbringing. God makes no mistakes in our education. He has His reasons to show us His precepts, His commandments. And those are holy, just and good!
(Romans 7:12).




Numbers 14:34

34 For forty years--one year for each of the forty days you explored the land--you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.’

Hebrews 11:9-10

9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Ephesians 6:11-12

11Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Acts 13:14

14 From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down.

Acts 17:2

2 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures,