The Christian Sabbath – Part Two

Another significant question surrounding the Sabbath today is whether Sunday can rightly be considered the “Christian Sabbath.” Some say, “No. Sunday is not the Christian Sabbath. Saturday is the Sabbath day. It always has been and always will be.” This answer is offered up by everyone from Seventh-Day Adventists to some dispensationalists (who, ironically, don’t observe Saturday either!).

Keeping the Sabbath is not optional. It was commanded by God and that command was never abolished (see “The Christian Sabbath – Part One”). But, doesn’t that just mean we must “keep” Saturday as the Sabbath?

Good question. We do not observe a “Saturday Sabbath” because, as we will see, there is an obvious switch that takes place in the New Testament that affected the early Church and must be continued by us today.

1. Jesus never spoke against the fourth commandment, only the abuse of it.

In Mark 2:27, Jesus says, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” In other words, the Sabbath was not meant to be a burden, full of manmade rules and regulations. The Sabbath was to be a day of rest, worship, and praise. In Luke 4:16, we read, “And He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read.” In other words, Jesus obeyed the fourth commandment.

2. The New Testament never nullifies the fourth commandment, it only clarifies it.

Again, this is what Paul did in Romans, Galatians, and Colossians (see “The Christian Sabbath – Part One). This is what Jesus did as well.

3. Christ Himself is the Lord of the Sabbath.

In Mark 2:28, Jesus says, “Therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” Colossians 2:17 tells us that He has fulfilled the Sabbath. Does this mean that we don’t honor it anymore? No, it means that we have even more reason to celebrate the Sabbath!

4. The New Testament shows a shift from the seventh day to the “first day.”

The New Testament never tells us to worship on the “seventh day.” We do, however, see a clear shift to the “first day of the week.” Mary and Mary went to the empty tomb on the “first day of the week” (Matt. 28:1). Acts 20:7 says, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them…” They gathered to worship, hear the Word preached, and celebrate the sacraments on “the first day of the week.”

1st Corinthians 16:2 says, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” In Revelation 1:10 and throughout church history, Sunday is referred to as the “Lord’s Day.” We worship on Sunday as a celebration of the resurrection of Christ. He is “Lord of the Sabbath” and so the Sabbath has been shifted to Sunday in His honor.

Notice that the New Testament gives us the elements of the Sabbath on Sunday – communion, fellowship, worship, preaching.

5. Church history reflects that Sunday is seen as the Christian Sabbath.

– Justin Martyr (A.D. 145) wrote, “But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day of the week and Jesus our Savior on the same day rose from the dead.”

– Tertullian (A.D. 200) said, “We observe the day of the Lord’s resurrection laying aside our worldly business.”

– Origen (A.D. 185-255) said, “It is one of the marks of a perfect Christian to keep the Lord’s Day.”


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