A friend of mine mentioned the other day that the Jews have 613 laws that they follow in the Torah and he said that he only followed ten. I told him that I only follow the two that Jesus said we had to follow and was Love God with all our heart, soul, and mind along with love your neighbor as yourself which sums up the law and the prophets. And actually, we can round that out to just one four letter word and that is LOVE.
The Gospel sound simple put in these terms, doesn’t it. Love God, Love Others as you love yourself. However, there are those who would like to add another law from the ten commandments and that is Honor the Sabbath Day to Keep it Holy. The question then comes to mind, Where does Honoring the Sabbath Day to Keep it Holy fall into these two commandments. Is it possible that Jesus forgot to include it?
The Hebrew word for Sabbath is Shabbath (Hebrew-Strongs 7676) which comes from the word shabath (7673)which means “to desist from exertion, to celebrate.” This isn’t about God trying to make us stop working on the seventh day so that we follow his law. It is about God blessing us with his rest.
The Bible says that we are to take one day in seven to rest as God rested. The Bible told the Jews that they were to worship God on the seventh day which commemorated the celebration of God’s finished work of creation.
Many Christians today believe that we should celebrate Christ’s resurrection which occurred on the first day of the week. Is there a correct day of the week to enter God’s rest? Is it Saturday or should it be Sunday? Does the Bible say anything about whether we should worship on Saturday or Sunday?
There are many references in the book of Acts about the early Christian church meeting together on the Sabbath (Saturday) to pray and study the Scriptures. Here are some examples:
Paul and his companions … On the Sabbath they went to the synagogue for the services.
On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer …
As was Paul’s custom, he went to the synagogue service, and for three Sabbaths in a row he used the Scriptures to reason with the people.
However, there are also several references to Sunday worship
The gentile Christians began meeting on Sundays soon after Christ rose from the dead, in honor of the Lord’s resurrection, which took place on a Sunday, or the first day of the week. This verse has Paul instructing the churches to meet together on the first day of the week (Sunday) to give offerings:
1 Corinthians 16:1-2
Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 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.
And when Paul met with believers in Troas to worship and celebrate communion, they gathered on the first day of the week:
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.
While some believe the transition from Saturday to Sunday worship began right after the resurrection, others see the change as a gradual progression over the course of history. Most Christians today believe Sunday is the Christian Sabbath day. They base this concept on verses like Mark 2:27-28 and Luke 6:5 where Jesus says he is “Lord even of the Sabbath,” implying that he has the power to change the Sabbath to a different day. Christian groups that adhere to a Sunday Sabbath feel that the Lord’s command was not specifically for the seventh day, but rather, one day out of the seven week days. By changing the Sabbath to Sunday (what many refer to as “the Lord’s Day”), or the day the Lord resurrected, they feel it symbolically represents the acceptance of Christ as Messiah, and his broadening blessing and redemption from the Jews to the entire world.
Other traditions, such as Seventh-day Adventists, still observe a Saturday Sabbath. Since honoring the Sabbath was part of the original Ten Commandments given by God, they believe it is a permanent, binding command that should not be changed.
Interestingly, Acts 2:46 tells us that from the start, the church in Jerusalem met every day in the temple courts and gathered to break bread together in private homes.
So, perhaps a better question might be, are Christians under obligation to observe a designated Sabbath day? I believe we get a clear answer to this question in the New Testament. Let’s look at what the Bible says. These verses in Romans 14 suggest that there is personal freedom regarding the observance of holy days:
In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God.
In Colossians 2 Christians are instructed not to judge or allow anyone to be their judge regarding Sabbath days:
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. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
And in Galatians 4, Paul is concerned because Christians are turning back like slaves to legalistic observances of “special” days:
So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years.
As followers of Christ, we are no longer under legalistic obligation, for the requirements of the law were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Everything we have, and every day we live, belongs to the Lord. Giving him one day out of seven is the very least that we should give honor his sacrifice to us. We are not to do it as an obligation but as a joyous celebration of his love for us. Finally, as Romans 14 instructs, we should be “fully convinced” that whichever day we choose is the right day for us to set aside as a day of worship. And as Colossians 2 warns, we should not judge or allow anyone to judge us regarding our choice.
Worshiping With Other Worshipers
One thing that I have noticed about the verses in the Bible is that the verses all talk about meeting with other worshippers when they were worshipping. If the worshipers were Jews who worshiped in the synagogue on Saturday, then that was where Paul (or whoever) joined the worshipers. In the case of Gentile believers, he met with them on Sunday rather than Saturday. One of the biggest discussions in the New Testament about the Sabbath was in Hebrews 3 and 4 which was written not to the Gentiles in the Church but rather to the Jews.
Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church 1 1/2 miles south of Brandsville, Missouri on Hwy 63. Sunday services are at 10 am and Wednesday night Bible Study at 6:30 pm. As Author Cygnet Brown, she has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener
She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga