I Do Keep the Sabbath!

This post is an answer to an email, which explains how it starts:

I’m really not sure why you think I rely heavily on the book of Barnabas. My Sabbath page (http://www.christian-history.org/sabbath.html) refers readers to the Sabbath Quotes page (http://www.christian-history.org/sabbath-quotes.html) where I have quotes from 8 early Christian writers, all from AD 225 and earlier. The most quotes are from Tertullian, so I’m somewhat confused by your accusation.

The problem with what you say about Jesus rising on the Sabbath is that no one agrees with you from that time period. Since the 19th century, there are those who have argued that Jesus had to be crucified Wednesday and rise on the Sabbath so that there were really three days and three nights. In antiquity, though, no one even addresses that question. They simply state that he was crucified on Friday and rose on the first day of the week.

Barnabas (pseudo-Barnabas) does have the most interesting take, calling the resurrection of Jesus the 8th day, but he is hardly the only one who states that the Lord’s Day is Sunday.

I hope you understand that to the early Christians, they were not keeping Sabbath on Sunday. They were celebrating the resurrection. The Sabbath taught by the second century church was not on any day. It was a perpetual Sabbath of obedience, rest, and holiness in Christ at all times, something that is possible for spiritual Israel. It is only fleshly Israel that could sanctify one day per week. We can sanctify every day by living in the rest of Jesus Christ as Hebrews 4 teaches.

As far as the Bible goes, Colossians 2:16 is simply irrefutable. I know that seventh-day keepers try to change it into Sabbaths that occur during feasts, but they are ignoring the Bible in doing so. “Feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths” is a common phrase in the Hebrew Scriptures referencing the yearly, monthly, and weekly sacrifices. Paul would have known that. Suggesting that he meant anything other than the weekly Sabbath in that verse is indefensible.

I have no objection to fleshly Jews, who have come to be grafted back into the spiritual tree that is Israle, keeping the 7th-day Sabbath. The apostles almost surely did as well, as did the Jerusalem Christians. I would hope that they learn from Hebrews, though, that this should be passing out of their lives as they move from the Law directed at the flesh to the Law of Christ, which is for spiritual children of God.

Finally, you said something about the 10 commandments. I have two answers.

  1. The 10 commandments are old covenant. We are not under the Law of Moses. The handwriting of ordinances that was against us have been nailed to the cross.
  2. Nonetheless, Christ expanded and filled up the Law; he did not abolish it. I keep all of it the way Jesus taught in Matthew 5:21 and forward. I keep the Sabbath by living in perpetual Sabbath. I do not murder by behaving in love and not hate by the power of the Holy Spirit. I do not commit adultery by refraining from lust, again because I am under grace and thus empowered to do so.
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About paulfpavao

I am a church historian and pastor, but I do occasionally play APBA baseball for fun.
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1 Response to I Do Keep the Sabbath!

  1. For good measure, another quotation from Justin:

    “We hold our assembly on Sunday because it is the first day [of the week], on which God brought forth the world from darkness and matter. On the same day, Jesus Christ our Saviour rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before [Saturday]; and on the day of the Sun [Sunday[ he appeared to His apostles and disciples and taught them these things, which we have submitted to you for your consideration”
    – St. Justin Martyr, First Apology
    (c. AD 150)

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