Question: I am a new Christian and I have been reading my Bible and anything I can get my hands on that is of [a] biblical nature. But, I am confused about the Sabbath. I am attending church now on Sunday, but my gut says the Sabbath is Saturday and that is the day that I should hold “Holy” and not Sunday. Also, in relation to the 10 Commandments. We are to keep them all and that means the Sabbath also. I cannot find anything in the Bible stating Sunday is the Sabbath. I also, understand that the first day of the week in the Bible was Sunday and Saturday the 7th day. Am I right on this or not?
Answer: You have started out your new life as a Christian in the right way, and that is studying the Word of God. I commend you on this! Also, you have gone to the Word of God for your answers, this is also commendable. St. Paul says of the new Christians in Berea, “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11) Here is my answer for you from the Word of God.
Let’s start in Acts 20:7 where it says, “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…(the first day of the week, Sunday.) Although some maintain that they met on Saturday evening since the Jewish day began at six o’clock the previous evening, there is no indication that Luke is using the Jewish method of reporting time to tell of happenings in this Hellenistic [Greek or Gentile] city. to break bread. Here indicates the Lord’s Supper, since breaking bread was the expressed purpose for this formal gathering. The Lord’s Supper had been commanded (Luke 22:19), and it was observed regularly (see Acts 2:42).” (NIV Study Bible)
“Although Paul was in Troas seven days (Acts 20:6), apparently neither he nor the local church met for the breaking of bread until the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). The fact that Paul and others sometimes attended Sabbath services in Jewish synagogues (Acts17:1-3) does not prove that the apostolic Church kept the seventh day as a special day of worship. It only shows that the early missionaries took the Gospel message wherever and whenever they found people gathered together (Acts 5:19-20; 13:5; 16:13,25-33; 17:17,19,22; 18:7; 19:9; 25:6,23). This witness was carried on daily (2:47; 17:17; 19:9) in every possible way (1 Corinthians 9:19-22).
“The early churches were specifically warned against submitting themselves to the bondage of any legalistic observance of Sabbath days (“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” Colossians 2:16,17 cp. Galatians 4:9-11).
On the other hand, in the exercise of their Christian liberty (Romans 14:5-6), these same churches voluntarily chose the first day of the week as an appropriate time for fellowship and worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2), the day on which the Lord arose and repeatedly appeared to His disciples (John 20:19-24,25-29). It was a new day for a new people belonging to a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) [a New Testament or New Covenant- Comment by G.T. Panell], a day of commemoration and joy (Matthew 28:9 margin), service (Matthew 28:10, and spiritual rest (Hebrews 4:9-10).
“This observance of the first day of the week is corroborated by the early fathers: in the writings of Barnabas (c. A.D. 100), Ignatius (A.D. 107), Justin Martyr (A.D. 145-150), and Irenaeus (A.D. 155-202). The edict of Laodicea (4th Century A.D.) did not change the day of worship from the seventh to the first day of the week, as sometimes alleged, but rather put the stamp of official approval upon an observance already long established in the early churches.” (New Scofield Reference Edition)
“This is the first mention of the disciples meeting on the first day of the week, but this seems to have soon become a regular practice (1 Corinthians 16:2). For a considerable time, as long as he was welcome, Paul (presumably the others also) continued to meet and preach in the synagogues on the Sabbath day. However, as Jewish opposition became more virulent, this soon became impracticable. The last reference to this practice of meeting each Sabbath day with the Jews in the synagogue is in reference to Ephesus (Acts 19:8).
“It seems likely that during the period while the Jews and Christians would meet each Sabbath day, the Christians would then want to meet by themselves the next day for fellowship and study. However, this would normally have been a work day, so they would probably have had to wait until early evening to do so.
“This practice of meeting on the evening of the first day with the other disciples presumably continued after they could no longer worship in the synagogue. This would also explain why Paul was preaching at Troas until midnight and why Eutychus fell asleep (Acts 20:9). The first day of the week then eventually became known as ‘the Lord’s day’ (Revelation 1:10).
“By worshiping and resting on that day, the Christians were keeping the Sabbath (‘Sabbath’ means ‘rest,’ not ‘seventh’ or ‘Saturday’) and also honoring the Lord Jesus, who rose from the dead on the first day of the week. He is both Creator and Redeemer and now that He has completed both great works (Genesis 2:1-3; John 19:30), it is appropriate that we remember both together this way.” (The DEFENDER’S Study Bible)
“‘Sabbath,’ from Hebrew shabbath (Greek sabbaton), means cessation from labor, rest. (1) The Sabbath appears in Scripture as the day of God’s rest in the finished work of creation (Genesis 2:2-3). During the long period from Eden to Sinai, no mention is made of it. Then the Sabbath was revealed to Israel (Exodus 16:23; Nehemiah 9:13-14), made a part of the law Exodus 20:8-11), and invested with the character of a ‘sign’ between the LORD and Israel, and a perpetual reminder to Israel of their separation to God (Exodus 31:13-17).
“It was observed by complete rest (Ex. 35:2-3); and by the LORD’S express order a man was put to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath day (Number 15:32-36). Apart form maintaining the continued burnt offering (Num. 28:9), and its connection with the annual feast (Ex. 12:16; Lev. 23:3,8; Num. 28:25), the seventh-day Sabbath was never made a day of sacrifice, worship, or any manner of religious service. It was simply and only a day of complete rest for man and beast, a humane provision for man’s needs. In Christ’s words, ‘The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath’ (Mark 2:27).
(2) Our Lord found the observance of the day encrusted with rabbinical evasions and restrictions (Matthew 12:2), wholly unknown to the law, so that He was Himself held to be a Sabbath-breaker by the religious authorities of the time. The Sabbath will be again observed during the tribulation period (Mat. 24:20-21) and the Kingdom Age (Isaiah 66:23).
(3) The Christian first-day-rest perpetuates in the dispensation of the Church the principle that one-seventh of the time is especially sacred, but in all other respects is in contrast with the Sabbath. One is the seventh day; the other the first. The Sabbath commemorates God’s creation-rest; the first day, Christ’s resurrection. On the seventh day God rested; on the first day Christ was ceaselessly active. The Sabbath commemorates a finished creation; the first day, a finished redemption. The Sabbath was a day of legal obligation; the first day, one of voluntary worship and service. The Sabbath is mentioned in the Acts only in connection with the Jews, and in the balance of the New Testament but twice (Col. 2:16; Heb. 4:4). In these passages the seventh-day Sabbath is explained to be, not a day to be observed by the Christians, but a type of the present rest into which the believer will enter when ‘he also ceases from his own works’ and trusts Christ.” (New Scofield Reference Edition)
To answer your questions then, we as Christians are a ‘New Creation,’ we are not Jews, nor are we under the Law. Christ is our righteousness! When He died on the cross He fulfilled the Law and all it’s requirements. Yes, we keep the Ten Commandments because we love Christ, but we keep them as a by-product of our salvation. The Sabbath (rest) for us is on Sunday ‘The Lord’s Day,’ but it is done voluntarily. We are not told to stone someone in the Church Age for not keeping the Sabbath, as they were told to do under the Law.
“Following the resurrection of Christ, there is no record in the New Testament that the sabbath was observed by any believer, even in error. Doubtless the multitude of Judaized Christians did observe the sabbath; but no record of such observance was permitted to appear in the Word of God. In like manner, following the resurrection of Christ, there is no injunction given to Jew, Gentile, or Christian to observe the sabbath, nor is sabbath breaking once mentioned among the numerous lists of possible sins. On the contrary, there are warnings against sabbath observance on the part of those who are the children of God under grace.
“Galatians 4:9, 10 condemns the observance of ‘days and months and times and years.’ These were usually observed with a view to meriting the favor of God and by those who would be thoughtful of God at one time and careless at another.
“Hebrews 4:1-13 contemplates the Sabbath as a type of the rest (from his own works) into which the believer enters when he is saved.” (Major Bible Themes by Chafer)
It really boils down to an understanding of what we have in Christ, in the Age of Grace. So many Christians are confused on this subject, so I believe it was of God that you should ask these questions. Many Christians today think that they are Israelites and under the Law. You will want to study our Acts of the Holy Spirit Series that shows how the Church became a body distinct from Israel, but at the same time ‘born again’ Jews are in this body also. St. Luke ends the book of Acts showing that Gentiles mainly make up the Church. Also, you will want to get into our Romans study and see how salvation is by grace through faith. It is a gift of God, having nothing to do with good works, except that the good works follow our salvation.
There are some Christians that keep Saturday as a day of rest, and I would see nothing wrong with this if it is done for the right motive. If it is done to in some way earn salvation, it is done for the wrong motive, as St. Paul points out in Colossians and Galatians. So often the ones who insist that Christians must keep Saturday as a part of the Law, also have other laws they will tell you, you have to keep as well. Usually they will say that if you don’t keep Saturday you will not be saved. Paul says we are not under the Law, but under Grace. (You will see this taught through out all of the Epistles.) As for myself personally, Sunday is kept, to the best of my ability, as the “Lord’s Day.” We don’t like to go shopping and do yard work or other strenuous things. We do like to fellowship with other believers, and serve the Lord any way we can on that day.
However, I have had to work on that day before on some jobs I have had. I do not feel I am sinning when this happens, but I try to avoid those types of jobs. As a minister of the Gospel, it is probably the hardest day of the week. Therefore many ministers take Monday as a day of rest. Yes, God know best, when He says we should work six days, and rest one. He does not make keeping the ‘seventh day’ a law for us as Christians.
“Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it.(Romans 14:4-6a) The early Church Fathers said that they wanted to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection from the dead, this is the reason the Lord’s Day is observed in the Church Age.
Here is are some food for thought as you consider this subject:
1. A New Day is Prophesied and Appointed under Grace.
According to Psalm 118:22-24 and Acts 4:10,11, Christ in His crucifixion was the Stone rejected by Israel the ‘builders’; but, through His resurrection, He has been made the Head-Stone of the corner. This marvelous thing is of God, and the day of its accomplishment is divinely appointed as a day of rejoicing and of gladness. In accord with this, Christ’s greeting on the resurrection morn was, ‘All hail!’ (Matt. 28:9, which is more literally, ‘O joy!’), and being ‘the day which the Lord hath made,’ it is rightfully termed ‘The Lord’s Day.’
2. Observance of the First Day is Indicated by Various Events.
a. On that day Christ arose from the dead (Matt. 28:1).
b. On that day He first met His disciples in the new fellowship (John 20:19).
c. On that day He gave them instruction (Luke 24:3-45).
d. On that day He ascended into heaven as the ‘first-fruits,’ or wave sheaf (John 20:17; 1 Cor. 15:20, 23; Lev. 23:10-12).
e. On that day He breathed on them (John 20:22).
f. On that day the Spirit descended from Heaven (Acts 2:1-4).
g. On that day the Apostle Paul preached in Troas (Acts 20:6,7).
h. On that day the believers came together to break bread (Acts 20:6,7)
i. On that day they were to ‘lay by in store’ as God had prospered them (1 Cor. 16:2).
j. On that day Christ appeared to John on Patmos (Rev. 1:10).
(Major Bible Themes by Lewis Sperry Chafer, D.D., Litt. D. Founder and First President of Dallas (Texas) Theological Seminary; Bible Teacher, Author, Editor
Thank you for your questions, and God bless you as you walk with Him,
G. T. Panell
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