Saturday and Sunday Sabbaths

David Lawrence
Charleston, Arkansas

A Sabbatarian is a person who believes that the seventh day is to be observed religiously in the Christian dispensation. There are several sects which are Sabbatarian by nature. Foremost among them is the Seventh Day Adventist group. They are always willing for a discussion on the subject, as I have found out. However, the investigation into the matter provoked by the discussion has revealed some rather interesting facts.

In order to justify the keeping of Saturday, the Sabbatarian must take the same position regarding the Old Testament law as all who would observe Jewish practices. He says that the Law is still in effect, or part of it at least. Naturally this is an inconsistent and untenable stand, for it involves a division of the Law which is simply not found in scripture. They say that Moses did not reveal to Israel one law, but two: a moral law and a ceremonial law. The former of which was for all people of all ages, and is embodied in the decalogue. The latter is a code of worship for the Jews throughout their existence as a nation, and was supplanted by the gospel. They argue that Psalms 111:7-8 (his commandments are sure and stand fast forever) teaches that the Old Covenant could not be completely abrogated. And since Jesus and the apostles observed the seventh day, and Jesus warned the Jerusalem citizens to pray that the destruction of the city come not on the Sabbath day (Matt 24:20), then surely it was to be perpetuated. Their scheme is so complete that they can answer the "Sunday-keeper" that Acts 20:7 refers to a Saturday night meeting, that I Cor 16: 1-2 had nothing to do with public worship, and "the Lord's Day" in Rev 1:10 is in reality Saturday.

A refutation of Sabbatarian error lies in the proof that the Old Testament Law, in toto, is finished; fulfilled in Christ and no longer binding on the servant of God. "To fulfill" as Jesus uses the word in Matt 5:17-18, in regard to the Law, is "to bring to completion, to finish." Evidence is clearly provided by such scriptures as Heb 1:1, Heb 7:17-18, Heb 8:5-13, Gal 3:24-25, Eph 2:15, Col 2:14, and others. There is no indication of a dual law with one part continuing. All reaches its fulfillment in Christ and is replaced by the law of liberty.

Once it can be established that the Old Law has ended, the matter should be settled. However, more evidence remains. The Sabbatarian overlooks the very purpose of the Sabbath. In Exodus 31:12-13 the Lord speaks to Moses: "Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that Both sanctify you." The purpose of the seventh day was that of a sign of the covenant existing between Jehovah and the Jewish nation. So long as their generations would endure, they were to religiously observe the Sabbath to remember the covenant, and their sanctification from God. When Israel ended as a nation, as assuredly it did in 70 AD, so would simultaneously end the reason for observing the Sabbath.

There are two serious stumbling blocks in the New Testament to those who purport that the seventh day endures. One is found in Gal 4:8-10, the other in Col 2:16. In Galatians Paul definitely equates the observance of holy days to paganism. The Galatians had come out of the bondage of paganism, but were about to return to bondage of the same sort by yielding to the teaching of the Judaizers. They had begun to observe Jewish days, months, times, and years. This statement would certainly include the Sabbath, for it was foremost among the "days" of Israel.

The other scripture, Col 2:16, specifically names Sabbaths, and warns the brethren against allowing such a practice to be bound upon them.

But the problem of refuting error has only begun when we prove to the Sabbatarian that the seventh day is no longer to be observed.

For then we encounter those who believe that the regulations of the Jewish Sabbath have been transferred to the "Christian Sabbath:" Sunday. They point out that since Jesus said that the Old Law must be fulfilled, then Sunday must stand as the fulfillment of the Sabbath. A close examination of the fourth chapter of Hebrews will dispel any such concept. The fulfillment of the Sabbath, the rest day of God and of Israel, is found in the eternal rest of spiritual Israel: heaven.

There are even brethren who venerate the Lord's Day as a holy and sacred occasion which must not be marred by labor or pleasure. (I have heard of a "sister" who will neither cook or wash dishes on Sunday.) Yet there is as much New Testament authority for religiously observing the seventh day as the first.

In the absence of any holy day at all, the first day stands forth as a day on which Christians are to meet to worship God. It was the resurrection day, upon which the church was established, and which Christians met. This can be proven from scripture. The day as such as no significance as a "rest day" or "holy day." If anything, it should be a day of work for gospel causes. None of the restrictions and requirements of the Jewish Sabbath can possibly be construed as extending to Sunday. The only thing mandatory for us, by reason of approved example, is meeting to worship, the worship including observance of the Lord's Supper. Of course, we are obliged to meet whenever the elders of the congregation determine, yet no set of elders has authority to dispense with a first day of the week meeting. But as far as right and wrong involved in doing certain things on Sunday; whatever is right on Monday through Saturday is right on Sunday, and whatever is wrong on Sunday is wrong Monday through Saturday.

Thus a little investigation into matters, incited by opposition, clears up some of the cobwebs of traditional thinking and reveals the plan of God as intended: pure and uncluttered.

Truth Magazine, V:10, p. 1, 15, 16
July 1961