IS SUNDAY THE SABBATH

The first job I had after I retired from playing music on the road was to make an empty building into an office complex. I was assembling and installing those horrible little cubicles that our modern day slaves are chained to. There was one nice gentleman who was installing the telephone wiring who had on a Star of David symbol around his neck. It was not likely that this man was Jewish because he was African-American. An older lady who worked at the office we were constructing inquired why he wore the star. He explained to her that he was indeed a Christian but that his particular denomination worshiped on Saturday, the traditional Sabbath. He continued to tell some of the reasons why they did this. He made several points but his main point was that there is nothing in scripture where the Sabbath was changed to Sunday. I have heard other assertions on this matter, such as that day of worship was changed by the Romans because of various, less than acceptable reasons.

So which day is the Sabbath? The only true answer can be Saturday. It may come as a surprise to some, but there really is nothing in scripture that has officially changed the Sabbath day to Sunday; but when it comes to what day Christians should gather and worship or take a day of rest, I think you will see that this is really beside the point.

The commandment reads:

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, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. Exod 20:8-11

Most Christians hold that the Ten Commandments are still in effect. Why do we ignore this one commandment? Well, a simple reading of any of the Gospels will show that Jesus was in constant trouble for his Sabbath activities. He had several responses to these charges. One interesting one is this.

Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. Mark 2:28

I recall one denominationís theological hop-scotch that made Jesus the person who gave Moses the Ten Commandments thus it would make worshiping on the Sabbath day mandatory for all Christians. Letís suppose that Christ was the one who gave Moses the Ten Commandments. The above verse shows that Jesus is truly Lord of the Sabbath and he can do with it as he pleases. This makes anything he teaches about the Sabbath extra important. If we look at the verse that precedes the above verse we will find this.

And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Mark 2:27

Here we find a purpose for the Sabbath that we can relate to. The Sabbath was a day of rest. If we labor seven days a week, we will soon suffer. I know that I have when I have abandoned taking a day of rest.

Consider this verse:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. Matt 5:17

For Christians the Old Testament law is no longer binding. This is because Christ completed the law and, although the law contains Godly truths and wisdom, the letter does not bind us because we are under grace. The letter of the law commanded us to rest on the Sabbath day. Christ, in whom the law is complete, teaches.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matt 11:28

It is good to have a day of rest. If one chooses to make it the Sabbath day, that is O.K but it is not mandatory. If one chooses to make it, say, on a Tuesday, that one is still respecting the Godly command

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Col 2:16

One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. Rom 14:5-6

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Next. What day should Christians gather and worship. To me the only answer is every day, but I think we can see that this may not be practical. It is well documented in scripture that the early Christians would meet on the first day of the week to celebrate the Lordís Supper.

And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. Acts 20:7

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. 1 Cor 16:2

I recall hearing one preacher assert that they held their Supper celebration on Saturday evening in reference to Acts 20:7. The reason given was that the Jewish day goes from dusk to dusk and the context of this verse suggests an evening service. Not quite a Saturday Sabbath, but letís take a look at this assertion. In New Testament times there were three standards of time keeping: Jewish dusk-dusk, Greek dawn-dawn, and Roman midnight-midnight. With this in mind letís look at Lukeís account of the crucifixion.

And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Luke 23:44

Luke is considered to be the author of the book of Acts. I have never heard a challenge to this. If Luke were using the Jewish time system then he would have reported darkness from midnight to three oíclock in the morning. No special event. If Luke used the Greek system then darkness would have fallen from noon to three in the afternoon. This seems a lot more likely. Thus if Luke reports a gathering in the evening of the first day of the week, then it is most likely that he is speaking of Sunday evening and not Saturday evening. So, as far back as the first century we see early Christians meeting and breaking bread on the first day of the week. This does not mean that they took this day as a day of rest. To me the evening service at Troas suggest that possibly the Christians there first did a full dayís work before they met. The young man who fell from the window during this event could have possibly been exhausted from a full dayís labor as well as the late hour.

I think a possible source of confusion on this subject is that the majority of Protestant communions fell away from a regular weekly celebration of the Lordís Supper and although Rome has decreed Sunday as the Christian Sabbath, they do this on their own authority and not because it is founded in scripture.