Thanks Professor Papaioannou for this insightful article on the day of the Sabbath in the NT. Some ask, why the Sabbath is not more prominent as a commandment in the NT. But they forgot that the NT was not written directly to meet today’s controversies. Book by book and epistle by epistle, have been written to meet the challenges of that historical time. The Sabbath commandment is not repeated explicitly, repeatedly and specifically, simply because the Sabbath was not challenged. Jews, Christians and even a lot of heathens praciticed the Sabbath, and the rest of the world knew which day was it, from the Jews that were dispersed everywhere. This is what Josephus wrote around the year 90 CE:
”Nay, further, the multitude of mankind itself have had a great inclination of a long time to follow our religious observances; for there is not any city of the Greeks, nor any of the barbarians, nor any nation whatever, where our custom of resting on the seventh day has not come, and by which our fasts and lighting lamps, and many of our prohibitions as to our food, are not observed”. (Against Apion 2:282, pasted from Bible Works 10).
There is an important mention of the Commandment in Luke 23:56. Decades after the events, Luke writing to the Christian Church, he himself a Gentile, says that ”on the Sabbath they (the Galilean women disciples of Christ) rested according to the commandment.
This is one of the clearest Greek scriptures. The greek ἐντολή (entolé) is invariably traslated as ”commandment” (usually referring to God’s commandment). However, it is interesting that some translations preferred LAW instead of Commandment: some Catholic translations (e.g. NJB - New Jerusalem Bible; EIN - Einheitsubersetzung), some Protestant translations (L45 - Luther, 1545; L17 - Luther 2017; ZUR - Zurich Bible) and some Eastern Orthodox (traditional Romanian translations, including the main Evangelical Romanian translation CNS - Cornilescu).
To keep the Sabbath according to the Law, might be interpreted as a Jewish custom, or according to the status of a Judean (or a Israeli) resident. ”According to the commandment” is a direct referrence to the Fourth Commandment, which Luke regards it as a standard for the Church.
Actually, when John is shown the Ark of the Covenant in the heavenly temple, in the context of the Judgment day, his silent message for the Church and for the entire world is not ambiguous. In fact is not even silent, since the heavenly scene is accompanied by ”Sinaitic” phenomena: lightnings, thunderbolts, earthquake and hail (just as in the vision of the seven plagues, compare Rev 11:19 to chap. 16:18, 21).
I was reluctant to comment on this topic, again, even though it doesn’t look like it. I’m sure some are tired of my bringing this issue about how the time of the Sabbath was calculated. It’s been interesting to see the reactions. On a personal level it has been very revealing. My “apple cart” has been turned over a few times since I became an Adventist decades ago. What strikes me as very relevant is that my fellow Adventist are very loyal to the keeping the Sabbath (in their own way) - to the point that some get angry for pointing out some of the facts about how it was originally kept.
I think we have a problem in the Adventist experience. I think we’re more attached to the Sabbath than the Lord of the Sabbath. There is always the danger of making those “sacraments” (as you put it) the object of our worship, instead of who we should be worshipping with it. - just my impression.
I guess most Adventists feel that the Sabbath is a measure of their faith; and the one thing in their religious life that will tip the scales of justice in the judgment. That is how it is often presented - especially in the large rallies we hold from time to time. It’s about the uniqueness of the remnant.
I must add that this was my own personal experience. I was upset by what I found. But that wasn’t the first time. It helps to make us take stock of what or on whom our faith is placed.
You are right, of course. Jesus lived according to the Jewish system of religious laws - and so did the apostles EVEN AFTER JESUS WAS NO LONGER AMONG THEM. They kept all the OT laws, until Paul pointed out that the Gentile Christians did not have to become Jews in order to worship God. (Argument with Peter). Paul even said:
One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.
This is followed by how Christians (Jew and Gentile) should regard all the Jewish laws. No Gentile needs to become a Jew before accepting Jesus. Paul is specific about what needs to be kept. Proof based on silence is an excuse, given all the other instructions given to new Christians by Paul, particularly.
No one is arguing that the Sabbath wasn’t kept by Jesus or his followers. The issue is, how did they know it was the 7th day? The edict to change to a stable “Saturday” sabbath didn’t happen until around 359CE. There were no names for the days of the week. When Mary and the other women went to the tomb, the Bible says nothing about “Sunday”. It was the FIRST day of the week. How far back did they have to count by sevens to reach that conclusion? All they had was nature, and the statement as to how God wanted them to keep track of time.
So what - does it matter? it matters if we, as Sabbath “keepers” make it our focus and mark of identity. the Sabbath that was originally observed was not on a Saturday. (If it matters.)
Codification usually follows custom, so I would assume there was a tradition of a fixed, computed, non-empirical 7-day week (Shabbat also means “week”) long before 359CE. How did Jesus know which day to keep holy as his custom was? I don’t know. More important was his reason for the observance: humanitarian. The Sabbath was made for man, rather than man for the Sabbath.
I have a “bombshell” for the contributors of this topic to consider, to the intent of Paul, “Let every man be fully persuaded” Rom 14:5.
It mattered to Paul and after his conversion, he spent 3 years in Arabia studying (Gal 1:17,18) but blind & naked Laodicea has accepted a papal calendar that changed everything and we are not fully persuaded because we haven’t looked carefully at the “law,” a word in the title of this article that overlooks its Bible origin, torah–five books.
The 7th day Sabbath was counted from the New Moon in Bible times in contrast to the papal calendar that gives us months with NO relationship to the new moon, but an unending series of 7’s. The biblical proof is big.
In Lev 23, we see the 1st day of Passover was the 15th day of the month, a Sabbath, called a “high day” in John 19:31 when the 7th day Sabbath and the Passover coincided. The 16th was the wave sheaf corresponding to “Sunday” when Christ was the 1st fruits of the dead.
But the point is, the Sabbath (Lev 23:11, Strong’s shabbat, 7676) was on the 15th day, COUNTED from the New Moon, as seen in Exod 12:2, seen as a thin crescent and they were to blow the trumpet in the new moon, Ps 81:3.
That does not seem huge until we realize the first place we find the word “Sabbath” is in Exod 16, in the SECOND month when it is ALSO on the 15th & 22nd of the month (see verses 1,4,5,22,23).
To have two months in a row with a 7th-day Sabbath on the 15th & 22nd means they were counting every 7th day from the new moon which was also in a position like a Sabbath. After the new moon they worked six days and the 7th day fell on a calendar under the New Moon day as #8, 15, 22, and 29.
There are other Bible examples of these numbers, BUT NOWHERE can you find a Sabbath on any other numbered day, OR I will give you $100 to disprove what some call the lunar calendar or creation calendar.
I had a website with 10 reasons why it was “luny” until a friend showed me the two months in a row. You can’t have Sabbath on the 15th & 22nd two months in a row unless you are counting from the New Moon.
The papal calendar we follow is a masterpiece to destroy bibiical practice and the Jews accepted it under Hillel or some leading rabbi.
The Peshita Translation of Rom 14:5 is helpful-- “He who is mindful concerning a day’s duty is considerate of his master; and every one who is not mindful concerning a day’s duty, is inconsiderate of his master. And he who is wasteful, is detrimental to his master even though he confesses it to God; and he who is not wasteful, is not wasteful to his master, yet he likewise tells it to God.”
OK, I agree. But, if we are to rail against “apostate Protestantism” for following Rome into Sunday sacredness, we don’t have a leg to stand on. If we imagine we are keeping the very same hours sacred, as were declared by God, we are deluding ourselves. We are keeping one day out of seven as calculated by the Roman calendar and the “others” are keeping day #one. If that’s OK with everybody, we’re good. But we sell Saturday sacredness as the original 24 hour period that has always been holy time - a “cathedral in time”; and Rome came along and messed with it - more than what we like to admit.
The issue really isn’t which 24 hour period is sacred. As we know, it changes depending what latitude and longitude you’re calculating from. The issue is how much we depend on the Sabbath to keep us "right " with God. I’m finding out - more than we should.
Thank you, Kevin, for clarifying that the Gregorian Calendar that we follow is essentially the same as the Julian Calendar (also from Rome) and Catholic does not have to mean Roman Catholic–it means universal as the masses of this world want to go along and get along, but with little interest in the only religion that can lead to God–it’s the one that comes from God and this includes His calendar which is different from the world’s calendar, like a square peg in a round hole.
And of all the commandments, the Sabbath might seem optional to most people–until the New World Order (image beast of the UN) makes it compulsory, Rev 13:14-16.
Yes, George…Paul speaks about Jews and Gentiles in Galatians 4, equating being enslaved under the basic principles of the world with being enslaved under Law. But, he is not simply speaking about the condemning power of the Law, although that is included. He is speaking about the Law as covenant arrangement as the way to relate to God, and to belong to the people of God. This is the substance of the argument throughout the entire letter…do Gentiles, via circumcision, have to come under this covenant in order to be justified and counted as full participants in the people of God, circumcision being the entering sign? IOW, do they have to live their lives under the Law, ostensibly as Jews? (The visible covenant badges of foods and holy times are also alluded to in this letter as part of this whole complex…see Peter’s walkout from the common meal in Antioch in Chapter 2, and the Galatians desire to come under some type of observance of Jewish holy times in Chapter 4: 8-11.)
Paul’s answer is a resounding no, and he chides the Galatians throughout the letter that if they come under the Law, it would be akin to traveling backwards to before the time Christ had come. He likens it to going back to living under guardians and custodians, or under a child paidagogos, that would regulate the life of a minor not yet living in the full freedom and privilege as an adult heir of the estate. This is his treatment of the Law, and being under Law as covenant arrangement before the coming of the Messiah. It was the time of spiritual childhood for humanity. That time is up, and the time of full adulthood has come with Jesus, and faith in him. Thus, Paul did not see the Law in this way as a timeless, existential reality. He described it as having its beginning at Sinai, 430 years after the promise, and a terminus with the coming of Jesus.
In light of this, Paul says to the Galatians, "Tell me, you who desire to be under the Law, do you not hear what it says?" (Gal. 4:21) The Galatians were certainly not desiring to be under the condemnation of the Law, something of which they seemed totally unaware would be the result of their actions. Their desire, and what the false teachers were teaching them, was that they had to come under the Law as covenant, the covenant that marked out Jews as Jews, separate from all other peoples, in order to fully belong to the people of God.
This is the same meaning that Paul uses earlier in chapter 4 when he speaks of Jesus being born under the Law. Jesus was born and lived as a Torah observant Jew of his day. To say that this means that Jesus was born or lived under the Law’s condemnation or curse is not something I believe is true, nor what the passage is saying. "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, ’ Cursed is every one who is hung on a tree.’ " IOW, Jesus died under the Law’s condemnation, in order "…to redeem those under the Law, so that we might receive the full rights of sons." Jesus redeemed Jews and Gentiles from the Law’s cursing and condemning power, something that the Galatians would have negated if they chose to travel backwards to live under the Law.
I wonder if we are throwing a similar type of yoke upon people with our stress that full membership in the remnant/covenant people of God is contingent upon observing clean and unclean food distinctions, and the observance of holy time. Is it not divisive to the body of Christ? Doesn’t this possibly imply the idea that other Christians, who have faith in Jesus and have received the Spirit just like us, but don’t observe these regulations, are not full members of the body of Christ? That they have to become just like us in order to be saved in the end? Doesn’t this line of thinking sound very similar to what Paul was battling in Galatia? Just some thoughts…
A fundamental blunder of SDA doctrine is the presumption that when the NT mentions “the Law”, it is referring to the Ten Commandments. The Bible NEVER calls the Deccalogue “the LAW” because that term was reserved for the Pentateuch, the first of the three sections of the Hebrew Bible (The Law, The Prophets and The Writings).
Insisting that the Law was never changed and therefore God wants us to obey it is insisting that we observe ALL of the Sabbaths that we call “ceremonial”, and the hundreds of other commandments that the Bible calls “the Law”. What began as innocent ignorance on our part appears to have become stubborn obfuscation.
To this day, when Jews refer to the Hebreew Bible (our Old Testament) they call it “The Law and The Prophets and the Writings”, (Heb: Torah, Neviim and Kethubim) shortened to the acronym TNK, vocalized as “TANAKH”. When Jesus said, “the Law and the Prophets” , He was referring to the whole [Hebrew] Bible, not just ten of its 613 commandments.
Paul would never create hopeless confusion by referring to the Decalogue as the “Law”. But we continue to commit that very crime!
Frank, do you believe that Adventists/ the SDA Church are the remnant/covenant people of God, apart from other Christians? And if so, why?
It always seemed to me that the Sabbath was the big thing that made them the remnant…“a remnant has been called out to keep the commandments of God…” with the Sabbath being of the utmost importance. It’s the end time test.
I agree with what you have said, until you speak of the remnant/covenant people of God (SDA’s?). It seems to me (perhaps mistakenly) that you are trying to have it both ways. We aren’t under the Law, but we (SDA) are the remnant/covenant people of God, which has always had as it’s identifier the keeping of the Sabbath
I’m just trying to clarify your position, whatever that may be.
Yes, there was no concept of weeks on the Jewish calendar or in their minds. There was only months and years. A sabbath happened on the 1st (a high New Moon Day sabbath), 8th, 15th, 22, and 29th days of each month, with 6 days between as work days.
When a month had 29 days there were two sabbaths in a row, the second being New Moon Day. When it was 30 days there was a sabbath, work day, and then sabbath-New Moon Day.
Yes, and further, insisting that Saturn’s day on a calendar that did not even exist when the Sabbath was given is rather uninformed.
I read once (but can’t find my source), and have also heard from an expert I know, that when the Jewish leaders picked Saturday on the Roman calendar in the 300’s, it was picked because it was not Sunday when the Christians, and more predominantly the Pagans, worshiped. And that at the time Saturday appeared as the first day of the Roman week, not the seventh.
So, at best we are copying modern Jewish practice to meet on Saturn’s day, which was selected by Jewish leadership arbitrarily on a calendar that is foreign to them to this day, one they still do not use to calculate any other of their holy days.
It seems their leadership was, if not comfortable with then at least believed themselves authoritative enough to do this, to simply change their mode of worship. At least they continue to work no more than 6 days in a row before another Sabbath. That the modern practice is different than the practice in biblical times does not seem to bother Jews one bit.
If the Jews, the original recipients of the Sabbath, just picked a day as has been asserted and doing that is OK, which Saturday-sabbath Christians validate by copying them, then claiming that a particular day on a Pagan calendar is special is illogical and has no footing. Any day is as valid as another. How about Thor’s day or Freya’s day?
And while Adventist claim to follow the entire Decalogue(s, all three), which makes us better than other Christians who ignore some of the commandments, we blithely ignore some of even them as well. Never mind the rest of the law. It’s an incoherent stance.