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The Sabbath was one of the Shadows pointing to Christ that isn't Binding on Christians Today

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/10/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 414 times Debate No: 90994
Debate Rounds (5)
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"Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival (heortes), 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." (Colossians 2:16-17 New International Version)
"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days; which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." (Colossians 2:16-17 King James Version)

In this passage we have clear reference to the Sabbath as being one of the shadows that pointed to Christ. Just as the festivals, new moons, and animal sacrifices were shadows that pointed to, and found fulfillment in him (John 1:29; Heb 10:1; Col 2:16-17) and are therefore no longer necessary, so too, because the Sabbath has found fulfillment in Christ we no longer need it. We have the reality, Christ himself, so we need not the shadow anymore.

But Seventh-day Adventists have a ready answer to this. On their official website,, they say:
"The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary says: "The type of sabbath under consideration is shown by the phrase "which are a shadow of things to come" (Col. 2:17, KJV). The weekly Sabbath is a memorial of an event at the beginning of earth"s history. . . . Hence, the "sabbath days" Paul declares to be shadows pointing to Christ cannot refer to the weekly Sabbath designated by the fourth commandment, but must indicate the ceremonial rest days that reach their realization in Christ and His kingdom" (vol. 7, pp. 205, 206)" (The Sabbath in Colossians 2, Andy Nash)

In his book, When God Said Remember, the Vice President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Mark Finley, proposes that these Sabbaths in Colossians 2 were annual Sabbaths. He says:
"These annual sabbaths were intimately connected to events foreshadowing Christ"s death and His second coming. They were designed by God to be shadows or pointers to the coming Messiah. Leviticus 23:37 uses the language of Colossians 2:16, 17 to describe these ceremonial sabbaths. Leviticus 23:38 distinguishes the ceremonial sabbaths from the seventh-day Sabbaths by using the expression, " "Beside the sabbaths of the Lord." " Since Christ has come, the shadowy sabbaths of the ceremonial law have found their fulfillment in Him."

The following facts will prove beyond rational doubt that Mr. Finley is in error, because Scripture clearly shows the Sabbaths in Colossians 2:16-17 to be the weekly Sabbath:

First, the Greek word translated "holy day" at Colossians 2:15 in the King James Version is "heortes," which means "festival, feast" or "feast day." (W.E. Vine"s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words) This is the word used in the Bible for annual feasts such as the Passover (Luke 2:41; 22:1) and the feast of tabernacles (John 7:2). All annual Sabbaths were part and parcel of the annual feasts, and could have no existence apart from them. For example, the feast (heortes) of unleavened bread included the Sabbaths which fell on the first and seventh day of this weeklong festival. (Leviticus 23:6-8) Heortes is the Greek term in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament embracing all such annual Sabbaths. The "feasts [heortes] of the Lord" (Leviticus 23:4) include the Passover (Leviticus 23:5), the feast of unleavened bread (Leviticus 23:6-8), Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15-16, 21), the memorial of trumpets (Leviticus 23:24-25), the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:27-32), the feast of tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34-44), and so on. Thus, when Paul mentioned the annual "holydays" or "festivals" (heortes), and the monthly "new moons" at Colossians 2:16, he already included all yearly and monthly Sabbaths. There was nothing left for Paul to mean by "the Sabbath days" except the weekly Sabbath, because all the other Sabbaths were already mentioned as heortes (yearly sabbaths) and new moons (monthly Sabbaths). Therefore, the clear implication here is that the Sabbath being described in Colossians 2:16 is the weekly Sabbath. "Paul's use of the term 'holy day' already includes yearly ceremonial Sabbaths. To have the word 'Sabbath' refer to annual festivals would be needless repetition" (Church of God Seventh Day, Bible Advocate, May 1982, p.13) When Paul says "Sabbath days," if he meant annual Sabbaths he was needlessly repeating himself. In that case he would be saying, "Let no one judge you regarding"an annual Sabbath, a new moon, or an annual Sabbath," a statement neither logical nor likely!

Second, the Greek word for Sabbath at Colossians 2:16 is Sabbaton. One method of Bible interpretation, which Adventists themselves accept, is to look at all the other occurrences of a word in Scripture, so see how the word of God uses it. This gives us a good idea what the word means. So how does the Bible use the word Sabbaton? Well, outside of Colossians 2:16, Sabbaton is translated "Sabbath" fifty-nine times in the New Testament. All fifty-nine times it means the weekly Sabbath. (Matthew 12:1-2, 5, 8, 10-12; 24:20; 28:1; Mark 1:21; 2:23, 24, 27-28; 3:2, 4; 6:2; 15:42; 16:1; Luke 4:16, 31; 6:1-2, 5-7, 9; 13:10, 14-16; 14:1, 3, 5; 23:54, 56; John 5:9-10, 16, 18; 7:22-23; 9:14, 16; 19:31; Acts 1:12; 13:14, 27, 42, 44: 15:21; 16:13; Acts 17:2; 18:4) So in every case, not almost every case, but every case without exception, Sabbaton has always meant the weekly Sabbath. Common sense would tell us that if Sabbaton never meant any other day in all the Gospel records except the weekly Sabbath, that it still means the weekly Sabbath in Colossians 2:16. How strange that for Seventh-day Adventists the word "Sabbath (sabbaton)" means the Sabbath 59 times but the 60th time it don"t! Such an interpretation goes contrary to the consistent linguistic use of the word in the Gospels as a reference to the weekly Sabbath, but this is the only way they can save the Sabbath from Paul"s list. Obviously, Sabbath means the same thing in Colossians 2:16 as it means in the other 59 places were the same word occurs. In fact, the New Testament never uses sabbaton for any yearly or monthly holydays! All Gospel writers used sabbaton EXCLUSIVELY for the weekly Sabbath!

Third, the same exact list of holy days given by Paul in Colossians 2;16 is given many times in the Old Testament where it always includes the seventh day. 1 Chronicles 23:3O, 31: "To stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at even [daily]; and to offer all burnt sacrifices unto the Lord in the Sabbaths [weekly], in the new moons [monthly], and on the set feasts [yearly], by number, according to the order commanded unto them." Here is a list of the daily offerings, offerings on the weekly Sabbaths, new moons and annual feasts, summarizing the list given in Numbers 28 and 29. No one can deny that the Sabbaths mentioned here are the weekly Sabbaths, because the yearly Sabbaths are already mentioned as "set feasts." But this is the exact same list Paul gives in Colossians 2:16, "So let no one judge you in food or in drink [daily], or regarding a festival [yearly] or a new moon [monthly] or Sabbaths [weekly], which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ." (New King James Version) Note here that regular food which was eaten at any time was not, according to the law, a shadow of Christ; rather, it was the food and drink which was offered as daily meat and drink offering in Numbers 28:3-8 which served as a shadow of Christ. So the daily is mentioned. The festivals (heortes) were annual festivals, those are the yearly Sabbaths. And the new moons counted the months. The Sabbaths therefore, are weekly, an exact parallel to the Old Testament list we just saw in Numbers 28-29 and 1 Chronicles 23:30-31.

I'll add to this that Jesus broke the Sabbath: "So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working." For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God." (John 5:16-18)

Here Jesus admits he was working on the Sabbath, and it says in verse 18 NOT ONLY WAS HE BREAKING THE SABBATH. Now, as Christians, Con and I believe Jesus is God (John 1:1-3, 18) and is therefore equal with God, we also believe God is Jesus' Father, as he said in verse 17. So Con and I accept both these claims made in verse 18 as true, yet, he denies the third claim that Jesus broke the Sabbath. I accept it. As a Christian, I have to accept all of what the Word teaches, not just some. Jesus would not break the Sabbath if he wanted us to keep it, because he sets the example for us.

Also, there is no command anywhere in the New Testament for Christians to keep the Sabbath, but hundreds of commands not to kill, commit fornication, adultery, commands to preach, pray, read the Word, use the gifts of the Holy Spirit etc. People who commit the long list of sins in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Galatians 5:19-21will not inherit God's Kingdom, but nowhere does the Bible say that Sabbath-breakers will not inherit God's kingdom. If the Sabbath were as important as Adventists claim to Christian living, the New Testament would have commanded that it be kept.

Romans 14:5 is very clear that it doesn't matter which day one keeps or if one keeps no day, its a personal decision, not a binding command of God. As he says, just make up your own mind, you decide. Paul even rebuked the Galatians for making observance of Jewish holy days so important in Galatians 4:10.

I look forward to Con's opening argument.


Hey Daley,

Thanks for inviting me to this debate. However, I am not interested in debating this topic so this will probably be my only comment. There are plenty of other Christian groups that keep the Sabbath so it"s not something unique to Adventists; I was interested in debating the IJ.

I consider it a waste of time for Adventists to debate the Sabbath. It"s actually not that big an issue if other Christians choose to worship on a different day, even if many Adventists disagree. There is however one major flaw in all the arguments raised against the Sabbath by other Christians which is why Adventists are justified in being different in this respect. Christianity, like Judaism, is a religion where corporate worship is an integral part of the religious experience. And, because people have to work, religious traditions that place high emphasis on corporate worship have to set aside a day for when corporate worship can take place. The problem is that the Sabbath is so well established as that day in the Old Testament and the gospels that, if the Christian church was meant to be different, one would expect to find significant evidence in the New Testament changing the day. And, that evidence is simply lacking.

Basically, if you were to give Bibles to an isolated people group somewhere who knows absolutely nothing about Christianity, those who read the Bible and get converted will very likely end up worshiping together weekly and do it on Sabbath. It"s only when people are already familiar with Christian tradition that they worship on a different day. And, Adventists prefer to stick to Sola Scriptura.

Besides that I would just say that you should be careful claiming that Jesus broke the Sabbath since, even if Christians are not bound to keep it, Jesus was still born under the law and would therefore have had to keep it Himself.

Now you should not interpret this to mean that I am agreeing with your other arguments but simply that, even if your arguments were true, my point would supersede them.
Debate Round No. 1


That last point you made was so egotistical. Even if I am right, even if I'm telling the truth, your point would take precedence over mine? That's not a humble way to approach truth.

Any person reading the New Testament, seeing that the law has ended, and not finding a single command to keep the Sabbath, would not believe they have to set aside a day at all.

Also, its not true that Christian have to set aside a day. If I go to church on Sunday, that doesn't mean I have to set that whole day aside as special. I can go to church in the morning, and then go to work afterwards. The same is true of Saturday.

Also, just because a person gets a off day or two, doesn't mean they are keeping a Sabbath. Many people that get two days off work a week are not Sabbath keepers. It was John 5:18 that said Jesus broke the Sabbath, so tell God to be careful what he puts in his word and see how you fear, don't blame me.

The Jews had many other Sabbaths in Leviticus 23, so the weekly Sabbath wasn't the only day. What day was Pentecost in Acts 2? lol....OK. You don't want to debate this. It's ok.


My apologies, that wasn't very clear. By, 'set aside a day' I did not mean set aside the entire day. Just set aside a specific day of the week for corporate worship.
Debate Round No. 2


Even with that clarified statement you are still totally wrong in your assumption that there must be some special, specific day to go to church. All Christians, even the ones who don't believe in the Sabbath or in Sunday (cause I reject them both, none of them are holy), go to church on various different days of the week. I'm sure that Saturday is not the only day you have church. Like myself, I'm sure you have mid-week services during the night. In fact, I've known churches to have meetings at which they discussed changing the days they have church, and even the times, so nothing is set in stone. Why? Because we don't worship a day, we worship God. And if worship is more than prayer and going to church, but involves all aspects of our lives, then there can be no day of worship - God is worshipped everyday.


MikeManea forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


To God be the glory


MikeManea forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


MikeManea forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by daley 2 years ago
Maybe you should challenge me to a debate.
Posted by jkdufu 2 years ago
"the sabbath was made for man not man for the sabbath"
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: Con ff many times, so conduct to Pro.