what day are we suppose to worship the seventh-day or sunday?
Debate Rounds (4)
Passage Genesis 2:3:
And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.(bible)
God had set the sabbath day aside from all the rest and made it holy.
(2) The disciples at Troas "were gathered together" [passive voice] upon "the first day of the week" to break bread, i.e., to worship, (Acts 20:7). The specific day of meeting was no accident. Though Paul was anxious to get to Jerusalem (20:16), he waited seven days for the opportunity to assemble with the church. Moreover, the passive voice (see above) indicates that the assemblage was orchestrated by someone other than the disciples; it was of divine initiative.
(3) The saints in Corinth were assembling, and contributing into the church treasury, "every first day of the week" (1 Cor. 16:2 — Greek text; cf. NASB).
(4) On the isle of Patmos, John was "in the spirit" on "the Lord's day" (Rev. 1:10). The term for "Lord's" is kupiakos, which is defined here as "relating to the Lord." Thayer comments: ". . . the day devoted to the Lord, sacred to the memory of Christ's resurrection" (365).
The Gospel narratives, of course, make it clear that the resurrection occurred on Sunday. While Revelation 1:10 would not be conclusive by itself, the very fact that the day is specifically mentioned is significant.
While it was true that some weak or uninformed Christians had a problem making a clean break with the Mosaic economy (Rom. 14:1ff; Gal. 4:10-11), it is important to recognize that inspired apostolic teaching sought to correct this error.
Also, there is the record of the post-apostolic patristic writers. For the first three centuries of Christian history, the testimony is uniform that the original disciples of Jesus Christ worshipped on Sunday — not on the sabbath. Here is a sampling of that testimony.
(1) The Didache (c. A.D. 120) declares that "every Lord's day" the Christians gather themselves together and "break bread" (ANF.VII.381).
(2) The Epistle of Barnabas (c. A.D. 120), in discussing such things as incense, new moons, and sabbaths, says that the Lord "abolished these things" in deference to "the new law of our Lord Jesus Christ" (ANF.I.138). Later, it is affirmed: "Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead" (I.147).
(3) Justin Martyr (A.D. 140) declared that "on the day called Sunday" the primitive Christians met for worship. He further stated that this was the day on which Christ was raised from the dead (I.186).
(4) Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 194) spoke of the one who "keeps the Lord's day" as "glorifying the Lord's resurrection in himself" (ANF.II.545).
(5) Tertullian (A.D. 200) argued that the "old law" had been consummated; thus the "observance of the Sabbath is demonstrated to have been temporary" (ANF.III.155). Elsewhere he says that "Sabbaths are strange" to Christians, and that they share together "the Lord's day" (70).
(6) Eusebius (A.D. 324), known as the "father of church history," stated that sabbath-observance does not "belong to Christians." On the other hand, he asserted that Christians "celebrate the Lord's days . . . in commemoration of his resurrection" (26,113).
(7) Noted historian Philip Schaff concludes: "The universal and uncontradicted Sunday observance in the second century can only be explained by the fact that it had its roots in the apostolic practice" (478-479).
Finally, we must make this comment. It is incorrect to refer to Sunday as "the Christian sabbath."
Old Testament Sabbath Considerations
First, in considering the sabbath requirements of the Old Testament era, perhaps it would be helpful to point out that there were many other "sabbaths," in addition to the seventh-day sabbath, which the Hebrews were required to keep (cf. Lev. 19:3; 26:2).
For example, there were extra sabbath days in connection with the five sacred festivals (e.g., the Passover, First-Fruits, etc. – cf. Lev. 23:7-8; 21; 24-25; 32; 39). The Hebrews actually observed fifty-nine sabbaths each year. In addition, every seventh year was a sabbatical year (Lev. 25:1-4), and each fiftieth year was sabbatical as well (Lev. 25:8-13). The land was to lie uncultivated during these times, and debts were to be cancelled (Dt. 15:2).
In a fifty-year span, the faithful Hebrew, to one degree or another — depending upon the specific requirement of the law, would observe 5,830 sabbaths. Contrast that with the fact that the average sabbatarian today, in the same time-frame — keeping Saturday alone — would honor only 2,600 sabbaths, thus, fall 3,230 sabbaths short of the divine standard.
Second, as noted earlier, the sabbath, as a religious requirement, was restricted to the Israelites. It was not a part of any patriarchal covenant (cf. Dt. 5:2-3); rather, it was an ordinance made known at Sinai (Neh. 9:13-14), which served as a "sign" between Jehovah and his special people (Ezk. 20:12). Thus, Gentiles have never been obligated to observe the sabbath day.
Third, consider this regulation: "You shall not light a fire in any of your homes on the sabbath day" (Ex. 35:3). This is clear evidence of the fact that the sabbath was not intended to be a universal requirement. Prof. Rawlinson observes that "in the warm climate of Arabia and Palestine artificial warmth was not needed" (378).
For example, Jerusalem is in the same latitude as New Orleans and Houston. The average annual temperature is sixty-five degrees, and it seldom falls below forty (see Jackson, 11). One can only imagine what it would be like attempting to keep this ordinance in Alaska or Siberia.
The Scriptures are emphatic that the requirement to keep the sabbath has been terminated. New Testament data lead to the conclusion that the law of Moses (with all of its components — including the sabbath) has been abrogated. Paul affirmed that the "law of commandments" was abolished "through the cross" (Eph. 2:14ff). Similarly, the "bond written in ordinances" (which contained such things as feast days, sabbaths, etc.) was taken out of the way, having been nailed to the cross (Col. 2:14-16).
Sabbatarians allege, however, that only the ceremonial features (e.g., animal sacrifices) of the Mosaic covenant were abolished at the cross. The moral elements of the law (e.g., the ten commandments), it is argued, continue to this very day.
This position is arbitrary, artificial, and will not stand the test of scripture. Observe the following:
(1) God promised to make a "new covenant," which would not be like the one given to Israel when the nation left Egypt (Jer. 31:31ff). When that "new covenant" was given, a "change" in laws was made (Heb. 7:12). But the old law, bestowed when Israel came out of Egyptian bondage, contained the ten commandments (1 Kgs. 8:9,21). Thus, the decalogue passed away when the Old Testament was replaced by the New.
(2) In Romans 7, the apostle argued that the Christian is "dead to the law through the body of Christ" (4). He further contended that the child of God is "discharged from the law" (6).
Well, exactly what "law" was in view? Merely a "ceremonial" law? No, that is not the case, for subsequently Paul says: "[F]or I had not known coveting, except the law had said, ‘You shall not covet'" (vs. 7; cf. Ex. 20:17).
Clearly, the law to which the Christian is "dead," i.e., separated from, and from which he is "discharged," included the ten commandments. The Christian is not under obligation to keep the sabbath.
The fact is, just after he affirmed that the law was "nailed to the cross," Paul declared that no one could "judge," i.e., condemn (cf. Thayer, 361) a Christian for not keeping feast days, sabbaths, etc. (Col. 2:16). That statement could not have been made had the sabbath-law still been operative.
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Why does Satan hate the Sabbath so much? Because the Sabbath identifies the true God and His claim of ultimate sovereignty.
God certainly anticipated the controversy over the Genesis account of Creation. He knew that after the fall of man, there would be doubts about His claims of manufacturing all the staggering mass of matter by merely commanding it to exist.
To safeguard His sovereignty, He established a mark that denoted His absolute right to rule as Lord. He chose to memorialize His display of creative power by setting aside the seventh day of the Creation week as a holy day of rest and remembering.
God wrote these words: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work. … For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is: … wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it" (Exodus 20:8–11).
Once a week, as the earth rotates on its axis, the Sabbath reminder travels around the earth reaching every man, woman, and child with the message of an instant creation and the one who did the creating.
Why did God say remember? Because to forget the true Sabbath is to forget the true Creator.
Does it really matter that much? See "The One Unimportant Commandment?" below.
Fact #2: The Seventh-day Sabbath Was Made for Everyone
A multitude of Christians call God's fourth commandment the "Jewish Sabbath." But nowhere is this expression found in the Bible. The seventh day is called "the sabbath of the Lord," and it is never called "the sabbath of the Jew" (Exodus 20:10).
Luke, a Gentile writer of the New Testament, often refers to things that were particularly Jewish. He writes of the "nation of the Jews," "the people of the Jews," "the land of the Jews," and the "synagogue of the Jews" (Acts 10:22; 12:11; 10:39; 14:1). But he never refers to the "sabbath of the Jews," although he mentions the Sabbath repeatedly.
Christ also taught that "the sabbath was made for man" (Mark 2:27). Adam and Eve were the only two people who existed when God actually established the Sabbath. There were no Jews in the world until 2,000 years later, so it was never meant just for the Jews. Jesus uses the term "man" in the generic sense, referring to all mankind. The same word is used in connection with the institution of marriage that was also introduced at creation. Certainly no Christian can believe that marriage was made only for the Jews.
Fact #3: It's Not About Just Keeping Any Day
Every word of God's Ten Commandments was written by His own hand in stone. Every word is serious and meaningful. No line in them is ambiguous or mysterious. Sinners and Christians, educated and uneducated, are not confused about the words "seventh day." So why do they discount those words if every other word in the commandments is considered to be ironclad?
Satan wants the world to accept Sunday as the day he has chosen for worship, but any day will do for him so long as it means we're breaking God's command.
Genesis describes the origin of the Sabbath like this: "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made. … And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made" (Genesis 2:1–3).
Which day did God bless and sanctify? The seventh day. How was it to be kept holy? By resting. Could any of the other six be kept holy? No. Why? Because God commanded not to rest those days but to work. Does God's blessing make a difference? Of course. Parents pray for God to bless their children because they believe it makes a difference. The seventh day is different from all the other days because it has God's blessing.
Has God ever given man the privilege of choosing his own day of rest? No. In fact, God confirms in the Bible that the Sabbath is a matter settled and sealed by His own divine power. Read Exodus 16. For 40 years, God worked three miracles every week to show Israel which day was holy: (1) No manna fell on the seventh day; (2) they could not keep manna overnight without spoilage; (3) but when they kept manna over the Sabbath, it remained sweet and fresh!
But some Israelites had the same idea as many Christians have today. They felt that any day in seven would be okay to keep holy: "It came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none." What happened? "And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?" (Exodus 16:27, 28).
God met them and accused them of breaking His law by going forth to work on the seventh day. Would God say the same thing to those who break the Sabbath today? Yes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
But why the seventh day, exactly? See "Why the Seventh Day?" below.
Fact #4: We Know the True Seventh Day
Some reject the seventh-day Sabbath over the belief that we cannot know which day it falls on today, so picking any day should be okay. But this is fallacy. Here are four proofs that identify the true Sabbath.
1: According to Scripture, Christ died on Friday and rose on Sunday, the first day of the week. Practically all churches acknowledge this by observing Easter Sunday and Good Friday. "This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. The women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment" (Luke 23:52–56).
This is clear evidence that Jesus died the day before the Sabbath! The day of His death was a "preparation day" because it was the time to get ready for the Sabbath. Notice, then, that the women rested over the Sabbath "according to the commandment." The commandment says, "The seventh day is the Sabbath," so we know they were resting on Saturday. The very next verse says, "Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared. … And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre" (Luke 24:1, 2).
2: The calendar has not been changed so as to confuse the days of the week. Just as we know that Jesus and His followers observed the same day as Moses, we can be positive that our seventh day is the same day Jesus observed. Pope Gregory XIII did make a calendar change in 1582, but it did not interfere with the weekly cycle. What did Gregory do to the calendar? He changed Friday, October 5, 1582, to be Friday, October 15, 1582. He did not affect the weekly cycle of days.
3: The Jews have observed the seventh day from the time of Abraham, and they still keep it today. An entire nation of people, all around the world, continue to observe a Sabbath they have known for more than 4,000 years.
4: Over 100 languages on earth use the word "Sabbath" for Saturday. For example, the Spanish word for Saturday is "Sabado," meaning Sabbath. What does this prove? It proves that when those languages originated long ago, Saturday was recognized as the Sabbath day and was incorporated into the very name of the day."(Amazing).
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