SABBATH OR SUNDAY?

What Does The Bible Say About Christians Keeping The Sabbath?

Encouraging Christian Connection

Which day of the week is the Sabbath for Christians?
Should you rest on Saturday or Sunday?
Does a Christian even need to keep the 4th commandment?
Does it make any difference which day of the week you observe?

bible says

"Behold the days come saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord." (Amos 8:11)




Before you can answer this question you need to see what the Bible says in the New Testament about keeping any of the commandments. Should a Christian still keep the commandments after they are saved by grace? Is obedience to God's commandments an identifying sign that Christians know Jesus and His truth is in them? Does commandment keeping show a Christian's love for God? What does the Bible say?

(John 14:15) "If ye love me, keep my commandments."

(John 14:21) "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."

(1 John 2:3-4) "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."

Almost everyone knows that a Christian does not need to keep the commandments to earn salvation. Most Christians recognize that grace, not law keeping is the way to salvation.

(Eph 2:8) "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:"

(Gal 2:15) "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."

Even though a Christian is saved by grace the Bible is very clear about obedience to the commandments being the means of expressing love for God. Jesus was clearly speaking about the ten commandments in Matthew 5:19 because He said "these" commandments, and then he went on to magnify several of the ten commandments in the next few verses.

(Matt 5:19) "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. "

Jesus called the ten commandments the "least" commandments, not because they were not important and you don't need to keep them, but in contrast to the two great commandments found in Matthew 22. They are all His commandments which Jesus said you are not to break.

(Matt 22:35-39) "Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets

The Bible says the ten commandments hang on the two great commandments. It does not say they are replaced by the two great commandments. They are separate commandments differentiated as two great commandments and ten least commandments. When you add John 13:34 as yet another new commandment from Jesus, you can plainly see the Bible says there are thirteen commandments that a Christian should keep.

(John 13:34) "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."

Anytime you find the word "commandments" in the New Testament the Bible is referring to all of them. Let no one deceieve you into believing the New Testament references to commandments only means two or three of them. Two of the commandments that Jesus magnified in Matthew chapter five are part of the ten commandments. They are taught as being required both literally and in spirit. Now you not only can't break the sixth commandment literally by committing adultery, you also have to keep the principle of the commandment in spirit, not even lusting in your heart.

(Matt 5:27-28) "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."

The same is true for killing someone. Now you not only can't break the fifth commandment literally by committing murder, you also have to keep the commandment in principle, not even hating someone in your heart.

(Matt 5:21-22) "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment".

Most Christians have no problem in recognizing the literal observance of these two of the ten commandments. They likewise don't have a problem understanding the spiritual principles of them either. The problem for most Christians is commandment number four.

(Exodus 20:8-11). "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it"

Rather than observe this commandment to rest on the seventh day with the same degree of literal obedience as "Thou shall not kill" or "Thou shall not commit adultery" , a different approach is usually taken. The fourth commandment is taught as a principle alone. No literal observance is taught as being required by a Christian.

There is no question that any Christian is free in Christ to worship on any day they choose. As a matter of tradition most Christians worship on Sunday, the first day of the week, in observance of the resurrection of Jesus. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this as long as it is clearly recognized as a tradition and not as a fourth commandment observance. The Bible is very adamant about not creating doctrines out of traditions. Churches cannot make a commandment observance out of a tradition.

(Matt 15:9) "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."

(Mark 7:7-9,13) "Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, ..... And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.....Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye".

Throughout the New Testament the principles of commandment keeping are taught without negating or voiding the literal observance. The fourth commandment is a glaring exception. Almost every Christian church teaches the fourth commandment in principle only. They interpret it as the fourth "suggestion" rather than the fourth "commandment". The principle they teach in place of the commandment is the observance of worshiping "one day in seven". The fourth commandment is about "rest". A Christians is free to "worship" on Sunday but should they still "rest" on the Sabbath? If you ask most preachers or ministers they will tell you they are keeping the fourth commandment by worshiping one day in seven. Is this what the Bible says or is this their interpretation?

Jesus said, "the Scripture CANNOT be broken" (John 10:35). Man cannot break Scripture. No church has the authority to break Scripture by changing God's commandments. Scripture was inspired by God for your instruction. No one has the right to change what they don't like.

(2 Timothy 3:16-17). "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work".

The Scriptures teach about the true Sabbath day beginning in Genesis.

(Genesis 2:2-3) "And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God BLESSED the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made."

The Bible commands "THE" seventh day as "THE" day of rest, not "A" day of rest. It is "THE" Sabbath, not "A" Sabbath.

(Exodus 20:8-11). " Remember THE Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but THE seventh day is THE Sabbath of the Lord your God. .... For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested THE seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed THE Sabbath day and hallowed it"

Scripture never commands anyone to observe Sunday, the first day of the week as a weekly day of rest or worship! No other day of the week has been "sanctified" (Greek- "qadash" ...to consecrate, dedicate, be holy, be separate) and blessed by God. Only God can make something holy. The Sabbath was set apart, consecrated and dedicated by God. It points to creation when God himself rested.

Many theologians claim that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday because Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week. Where is their Biblical authority to make this claim? Just because Jesus rose on the first day of the week would not in any way authorize a change in God's great spiritual law. Most Christians believe Jesus died on Good Friday. Jesus' death freed Christians from the penalty of death in Hell and gave them eternal life. Why not keep the sixth day of the week as a day of rest to celebrate your salvation? Taking communion, or the Lord's Supper is a central part of Christian worship. Most Christians celebrate the Lord's supper on Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday. Why not keep the fifth day of the week as a day of rest to celebrate the Lord's Supper? As important as all of these events are, none of them authorize a change in the fourth commandment. Just because something important happened on a certain day of the week does not justify a change in God's law.

One argument that is often used is that the Sabbath was only for the Jews so Christians don't have to keep it. It is often called the "Jewish Sabbath" in many Christian circles implying that it is not the day of rest for Christians. What does the Bible say about this argument? First of all the Sabbath rest was in place long before the Jews even existed as is shown in Genesis 2:2-3 above. The Sabbath has been here since God created it the seventh day of creation.

In the New Testament Jesus did not say that the Sabbath was made just for the Jews. He didn't say the Gentiles had to toil and work seven days a week without the blessing of the day of rest. Jesus said the Sabbath is a blessing made for "man".

(Mark 2:27) "And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man......"

A strong argument is regularly made that Sunday is the day of rest for Christians because it is the "Lord's Day". There is no verse anywhere in the Bible that connects Sunday with the expression "The Lord's Day". Some interpret Revelation 1:10 to support Sunday worship. This is simply an assumption without any Scriptural support. Without interpretation it simply says John was in the spirit on the Lord's Day. That's it! The Bible says literally nothing about this being Sunday or the first day of the week.

(Rev 1:10) "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet."

This verse does not even refer to any specific day of the week. This is a prophecy of future, end-time events. The "Lord's Day" is synonymous with the "Day of the Lord" in Bible prophecy. It in no way indicates a specific day of the week, or mentions worship or rest. The first day of the week is never called "The Lord's Day" anywhere in Scripture. Revelation 1:10 is just a prophetic time reference and nothing more.

There is only one day that could be the "Lord's Day" based upon Jesus' own words. Jesus said the Sabbath (not Sunday) is the day He is "Lord of."

(Mark 2:28) "Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath."

Some people will point to John 20:19 and interpret this as a Sunday church service when in fact it says nothing about church or worship. That is an assumption and an interpretation. It could not be a worship service. The disciples could not have been celebrating Jesus' resurrection. The Bible says they did not even believe Christ was risen until they saw Him! (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:27-41). How could they have been celebrating the resurrection when they didn't even believe it had occurred? The context without any interpretation is very clear. They were not having a worship service. They were scared! They were hiding behind locked doors on the first day of the week out of FEAR. You should never assume what isn't written.

(John 20:19) "... the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'"

Here is another verse that has long been misunderstood because of interpretation and assumptions about when it occurred and why.

(Acts 20:7-12) "Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight"

Does anything here say this was a weekly worship service? They were just eating a meal. Without adding any interpretation to this verse it simply says Paul delivered his message to them during a meal on the first day of the week and then continued speaking until midnight. "Breaking bread" is a common expression used even to this day that simply refers to eating a meal together. Just because Jesus broke a piece of bread as a symbol of His Body at Passover does not mean that every time a piece of bread is broken by a group of Christians they are celebrating the Lord's Supper. The majority of the times that Christians break bread they are simply eating a meal together, not partaking of the Lord's Supper or communion. This is exactly what happened here. They were just breaking bread together. That's what the verse says! You must again make assumptions and use interpretation to make this verse say anything else.

This was not a Sunday worship service. It wasn't even a Sunday morning meeting. It actually occurred on a Saturday evening and went until midnight. The biblical reckoning of days is from sunset to sunset beginning in Genesis at creation. The first day of the week begins on Saturday evening as God counts time. The modern calendar is based upon a twenty four hour day that begins at midnight, in the middle of a dark night. Men have decided that a day begins and ends at midnight. What does the Bible say? God established when a day begins at creation.

Gen 1:5, "And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day."

Gen 1:8, "And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day."

Gen 1:13, "And the evening and the morning were the third day."

Gen 1:19, "And the evening and the morning were the fourth day."

Gen 1:23, "And the evening and the morning were the fifth day."

Gen 1:31, "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day."

God begins each day in "the evening". God begins and ends days at evening time, as the setting of the sun ends one day and a new day begins. The beginning of a day at sunset had been the standard practice for thousands of years and is still practiced by Jews today. .

Lev. 23:32...." from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath."

Saturday evening at sunset is actually the beginning of our modern Sunday as God counts time. The beginning of "the first day" is actually on our Saturday evening. If this meal was on Sunday evening the Bible would have said "Now on the second day of the week". Paul actually departed on his long journey the next day, the daylight part of the first day of the week, our Sunday.

Now you can clearly see that the disciples had gathered together for dinner on a Saturday evening and Paul spoke with them for a few hours during and after the meal. In the first century the traditional Sunday morning worship service usually began right after sunrise. It's ludicrous to even suggest that this was a regular Sunday morning worship service that began about 6:00 AM and then dragged on for 18 hours, until midnight.

What about 1 Corinthians 16:2? This verse is assumed to be a collection taken up during a church service. Is that what it actually says or is this another interpretation?

(1 Corinthians 16:2) "On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come."

Without any interpretation this verse simply says they were to lay something aside on the first day of the week, storing up their contributions to give to Paul when He arrived. That's it! There is no mention of resting from their labors here. There is no mention about gathering for a weekly worship service to do this collection. This was not even a collection of money. It was food to assist the poor in Jerusalem.

When was this to occur? The expression translated "the first day of the week" comes from two Greek words, "mia" which is defined as "one", and "sabbaton" which is defined as "Sabbath Day". On "one Sabbath day" the disciples were to lay some food aside for the saints who were starving in Jerusalem. This isn't even a Sunday in the first place. This is an assumption based upon a mistranslation. It was the Sabbath. Each individual was asked to lay some food aside on one Sabbath day so it would be ready when Paul and the men arrived to receive it and carry it to Jerusalem.

Some theologians try to contrive arguments that the Sabbath was part of the Jewish ceremonial law that was done away when Jesus came. This is an assumption based upon false human reasoning. Nothing is mentioned anywhere in the Bible about the sacrifices or ceremonial duties of the law being connected with the ten commandments. The Sabbath as part of the ten commandments stands by itself as part of the great spiritual law of God.

The Jews today are required by God to keep the ten commandments! God gave them the commandments through Moses at Mount Sinai. Speaking of Moses in the book of Acts, Stephen said that God gave him the oracles, which are the laws of God.

(Acts 7:38) "This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:"

The Jews have been committed with the responsibility to be the record keepers of God laws.

(Romans 3:2) "Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God."

The Jews have faithfully guarded the oracles of God to this day. They have never lost sight of which day is the Sabbath because God will not allow it. They are the guardians of His written law. They have faithfully kept the seventh day rest as God commanded. Regardless of any changes in any calendars, or decrees from any Catholic Pope, or orders from Roman Emperor Constantine, God has made sure that the Jews He entrusted with his oracles never lost sight of which day is the fourth commandment Sabbath rest.

If God had changed the fourth commandment from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week after the resurrection He would have had to tell the Jews. If God's law changed He had to tell the people He charged with keeping the record of His laws or He would be causing them to sin! If the Sabbath was changed from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week then millions of Jews are sinning and it's God's fault! There can be only one fourth commandment. There can't be one fourth commandment for the Jews and one fourth commandment for Christians. There is one law for all! Jesus said not even the smallest part of the law would change until heaven and earth have passed away.

(Matt 5:18) "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

No interpretation can change what Jesus plainly said! Heaven and earth are still here! The law is still here. Not one letter of it has changed. The fourth commandment is still part of God's great spiritual law and it has not changed! God did not change his fourth commandment for Christians while keeping it the same for Jews. That is an assumption not supported by any Scripture. The Jews are not sinning because they are still resting on the day God commanded and set apart as holy time. The Jews, the keepers of the oracles of God, never lost the Sabbath.......Christians did! Christians sin by not obeying the fourth commandment to rest on the seventh day.

The fourth commandment cannot be separated from the other nine commandments and be given special dispensation from literal observance. It carries the same weight of God's great spiritual law as the other nine commandments. A Christian is free in Christ to worship on Sunday if they choose to do so, but they should still rest from their labors on the seventh day according to God's fourth commandment.

Christians belong to God! They show that love by obeying the commandments. God says if you claim to be a Christian who knows Jesus as your Savior, yet you don't keep the fourth commandment, you are a liar and the truth is not in you.

(1 John 2:3-4) "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. "

Those are pretty strong words from God to all Christians! He doesn't say just keep His two great commandments. He doesn't say to just keep the principles of His commandments. He says to keep his commandments! Period! Jesus' commandments are the same as His Father's commandments. To those who claim that Jesus' commandments are different than God's commandments given to Moses the Bible says this.

(John 10:30) "I and my Father are one" .

There is no difference. There is no distinction. There isn't one set of commandments from Jesus and another set of commandments from His Father that apply to different people at different times. This assumption is utter nonsense! It is an affront to the Godhead to even suggest that God is divided in His teachings and His commandments.

Worship on Sunday according to your tradition if you choose, but remember to rest on the seventh day according to the Word of God!

(Exodus 20:8) "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God."

Without any interpretation this verse plainly says "the seventh day" is the Sabbath! This is what the Bible says!



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