Consent Thou Not

“My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.” – Proverbs 1:10

John was a Christian, and a married man. He had been for almost five years now. Still somewhat of a baby Christian yet rapidly learning and gaining knowledge of the Bible, he was familiar with many of the scriptural commands especially those regarding adultery. He had spent considerable time memorizing many of these passages of scripture, as well as others. This was under the thought that he might quote them under moments of temptation as Jesus did.

While at work, she began to pressure him. Her name was Elizabeth. John was a married man. He had been married for almost twenty years now. He was loyal to his wife. This had been one of his reasons for memorizing many of the adultery texts. He had purposed in his heart to do whatever it took to live up to the seventh commandment and remain faithful to his wife.

Elizabeth was attracted to John. The devil purposed to use Elizabeth as his tool to tempt him, cunningly devising a snare by which he would attempt to entice John into violating the Seventh-Commandment. Elizabeth had been frequently attempting to seduce John, but these attempts had thus far not been successful.

“No” John told her, firmly placing his foot in the ground. Knowing that he was facing the latest assault, he darted a prayer to heaven. A series of scriptures flashed into his mind. These passages were from Proverbs and read, “For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.” – Proverbs 5:3-5.

“Come on” she said “who will know about it?” He gave her a powerful comeback, “God will know, and so will I.” By this time she began to notice that she couldn’t convince him to sleep with her, and she began to back off.

Brethren, how is it that you handle temptation from your peers? Do you cave or do you resist? A Christian should manifest nothing less than straight defiance when confronted with peer pressure. That defiance is to be directed at the temptation to do wrong. Regardless of the pressure brought to bear upon our souls, we ought to obey God and plant our feet in the ground.

The scenario presented above was given for the purpose of illustrating how a Christian should respond to like circumstances. Of course, this type of response is to be applied to any scenario the Christian may face and not just the temptation to commit adultery. Where ever peer pressure manifests itself, it should be greeted by firm resistance. We as Christians cannot afford to compromise with evil in the slightest.

In the final days of this earth’s history, we can bet that the most intense peer pressure will be leveled upon us. But during that time we must take our spiritual weapons of warfare and fight the battle. God has never failed anyone during their hour of combat. As it is said in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

When pressured to do wrong by those around you, “consent thou not.”

The Sabbath A Shadow?

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of any holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” – Colossians 2:14-17

“The Sabbath was done away with,” says the believer in Sunday worship. “We don’t have to keep it anymore; it was only for the Jews.” He who worships on Sunday agrees, and then adds “You are denying Christ by keeping the Sabbath!” The claim here is that the Sabbath was abolished at the cross, alongside the Ten Commandments. Therefore we as Christians do not need to keep either of them. The question then remains, is the Sabbath still valid for Christians today?

In the book of 2 Peter, we find the following passages “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” – 2 Peter 3:15-16

In these passages from the second epistle of Peter, we are warned about scriptures which are difficult to understand. We are told plainly that they are often wrested by “they that are unlearned and unstable”, to an individual’s own destruction. Yet, as we previously saw when we first examined these passages the specific target of these texts from Peter is Paul’s writings. The logical deduction is that Colossians 2:14-17 especially fall under this warning from 2 Peter, since Colossians was written by Paul. We therefore owe it to ourselves to examine these passages.

A point often overlooked by most is the immutability of the Ten Commandments. In the book of Luke we read, “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than for one title of the law to fail.” – Luke 16:17. The meaning of the mysterious word “title” can be found below from Strong’s Greek definitions. It is the “apex of a Hebrew letter (figuratively the least particle)”, in other words the term “title” refers to the minutest details. If it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than for the minutest details of the law to fail, it should be obvious that neither the Sabbath nor the Ten Commandments can be changed or abolished in the slightest.

G2762

κεραία (keraia) ker-ah’-yah

Feminine of a presumed derivative of the base of G2768; something horn like, that is, (specifically) the apex of a Hebrew letter (figuratively the least particle): – tittle.

In addition, the Christian must consider the result of these conclusions. If any one of the Ten Commandments have been abolished, this places the Christian in a position where he is only keeping Nine of them. As we have seen from Luke, it is an utter impossibility for any of them to be abolished. Yet we find even more problems as we turn to the following passages.

“But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, do not commit adultery, said also, do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.” – James 2:9-11

“Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:19.

According to James, to break any one of the Ten Commandments causes the Christian to break all of them.

This means that if we as Christians run around teaching that any one of the Ten Commandments have been abolished, we are teaching others to transgress the whole Law. In addition, he who teaches this is also called “least” in the kingdom of heaven according to Matthew. To teach that the Sabbath or any part of the Ten Commandments has been done away with is a serious thing, and could be causing the Christian to transgress the law. 1 John 3:4 defines this as sin. This is a thought which should cause the Christian to stop and put these teachings to the test.

In order to properly test the claims of those who object to the Sabbath, we have quoted the passages from Colossians in context. The very first passage of which reads, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” – Colossians 2:14. The terms “handwriting” and “ordinances” are very important. They are the first pieces in the puzzle of a proper understanding of that which Paul is speaking of. What is their meaning?

Handwriting might seem a little more obvious on the surface than ‘ordinances.’ The logical deduction from a mere surface understanding of the word’s meaning is that this term is a reference to something written by the hand. However, when we take a look at Strong’s Greek definition we gain a slightly deeper understanding of what is taking place in this text.

G5498

χειρόγραφον (cheirographon) khi-rog’-raf-on

Neuter of a compound of G5495 and G1125; something hand written (“chirograph”), that is, a manuscript (specifically a legal document or bond (figuratively)): – handwriting.

Strong’s definition includes both the obvious understanding of the word, and something just a bit more interesting. It says, “something hand written (“chirograph”), that is, a manuscript (specifically a legal document or bond (figuratively)).” The Greek word here is referencing a handwritten manuscript, and not simply just ‘handwriting.’ The implication here is of a paper or book-like document, especially with the word ‘manuscript’ found in the definition.

As we look at the second word, ‘ordinances’ we find much that sheds light on these passages. Elsewhere in scripture, we find other passages where this word ‘ordinances’ is used. These passages read, “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and diverse washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.” – Hebrews 9:8-10

The context of these verses from Hebrews, found in verse eight, indicate that the old sacrificial system is here referenced. This is made very clear by terms such as “the first tabernacle” followed by “gifts and sacrifices.” Note that the terms “meats and drinks” are connected directly to “gifts and sacrifices”, indicating that meat and drink offerings are here referenced. This is an important point as this fact sheds light on Colossians 2:16, which reads “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:” The probability is high that “meat and drink” as used in these passages from Colossians is a reference to the same meat and drink offerings found in Hebrews 9:8-10. This is a fact which should become much more apparent as we further examine these passages from Paul’s writings.

Shortly after we read about meats and drinks, we find the statement “and carnal ordinances.” These passages from Hebrews connect the term “ordinances” with the old testament sacrificial system. In view of this fact, it is clear that the word ‘ordinances’ as used in Colossians 2:14 is a reference to the ordinances of the ceremonial/sacrificial system found in the old testament. As we look at the Greek definition for the word ‘ordinances’ as it is found in Colossians 2:14, this is a fact which becomes much more apparent to us.

G1378

δόγμα (dogma) dog’-mah

From the base of G1380; a law (civil, ceremonial or ecclesiastical): – decree, ordinance.

The Greek word for “Ordinances” is defined as a “law (civil, ceremonial, or ecclesiastical)”. The word ‘ceremonial’ as found in the definition opens the door for this statement in Colossians 2:14 to be a reference to the old testament sacrificial system. Combine this with the previous connection of the word ‘ordinances’ by itself with that system as found in Hebrews 9:8-10. It should then be clear that the sacrificial system or rather the ceremonial law is here being referred to when Paul uses the term “ordinances.” Strong’s definition for the word ‘Ordinances’ as found in Colossians 2:14 makes this fact much more obvious.

We now direct your attention back to the word “handwriting”, and especially to the wording of Colossians 2:14. It is important at this point to focus on the words “that was against us, which was contrary to us.” These statements are a direct reference to a statement found in Deuteronomy. The passages found therein read, “And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.” – Deuteronomy 31:24-26.

The term ‘book of the law’ is a phrase which is connected to the sacrificial system. Inside this book is written various curses, directions for the sacrificial system, descriptions of feasts which the Jews were to keep, and laws governing other aspects of life. This book is described as being placed ‘in the side’ of the ark of the covenant. This implies that the book was to be placed on the side of it rather than directly inside the ark. It is described as being placed in this position, “for a witness against thee”, a statement which connects these passages from Deuteronomy to Colossians 2:14.

Note that Moses is described as the writer of this book. This is a fact which again connects to Colossians 2:14, as the word “handwriting” is used. This term, as we saw from the Greek definition, references a manuscript or legal document. This fact would logically connect the term and the entire passage of Colossians 2:14 to these passages from Deuteronomy, which we will see references the ceremonial or sacrificial system.

“Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in mount E-bal, As Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings.” – Joshua 8:30-31

These passages from Joshua connect the phrase “book of the law” with the sacrificial system. Joshua is here pictured constructing an altar for sacrifices according to directions found in that book, and found giving burnt offerings and peace offerings. These are of course activities only found in the ceremonial system of the old testament. As if what Joshua is here pictured doing is not enough, the book in of itself is termed the “book of the law of Moses.” The term “law of Moses” by itself both references this book and the sacrificial system.

In the book of John we find the following passage, “If a man on the Sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the Sabbath day?” – John 7:23 In this passage, Jesus is here found connecting circumcision to the “law of Moses.” Circumcision was a part of the old testament system. This is a fact which connects the ceremonial law to the phrase “law of Moses.” It is important to note that the Law of Moses and the Law of God are two very different things. A mistake often made in Christian thinking in this day and age is that they are supposedly connected with each other, and therefore the abolishing of the one automatically abolishes the other. As we already saw, the Ten Commandments are immutable and cannot be done away with. This conclusion that most Christians seem to have about both being abolished together is therefore an impossibility.

In view of the fact that the term “book of the law” references the ceremonial system, we then turn our attention to the Ten Commandments.

“And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice. And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.” – Deuteronomy 4:12-13.

“At that time the LORD said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me into the mount, and make thee an ark of wood. And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark. And I made an ark of shittim wood, and hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having the two tables in mine hand. And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD gave them unto me. And I turned myself and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the LORD commanded me.” – Deuteronomy 10:1-5

From these two sets of passages, we learn that the Ten Commandments were written on tables of stone. This is very different from the book of the law that Moses is found writing. This is made clear by the statements “and he wrote them upon two tables of stone” and “Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first.” Later, we see that these Tables were placed inside the Ark of the covenant. Once again, this is very different from the book of the law which is found on the side of the ark. The two laws, the Law of Moses and the Law of God, are two very different things and are not connected to each other.

When Colossians 2:14 uses terms like “handwriting” and “ordinances”, combined with “that was against us” these are all very clear references to the old testament system. This means that in context, Colossians 2:14-17 is speaking about the ceremonial law, and not the Ten Commandments. From the differences thus cited above, we know that these are two different unconnected things. Therefore we know that Colossians 2:14-17 does not do away with the Ten Commandments. Such would be a ridiculous assertion in view of many passages admonishing us to keep them. [Matthew 19:16-17, Revelation 22:14, 1 John 5:3, John 14:15, James 2:9-11, 1 John 2:4.]

In view of this information, we cannot take Colossians 2:16 as though it does away with any one of the Ten Commandments. As we examine the passage closely, this should become much more clear. The verse reads, “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.” We previously saw that the terms “meat and drink” are references to meat and drink offerings, a fact which is made so much more clear by the following passages from Ezekiel.

“This is the oblation that ye shall offer; the sixth part of an ephah of an homer of wheat, and ye shall give the sixth part of an ephah of an homer of barley: Concerning the ordinance of oil, the bath of oil, ye shall offer the tenth part of a bath out of the cor, which is an homer of ten baths; for ten baths are an homer: And one lamb out of the flock, out of two hundred, out of the fat pastures of Israel; for a meat offering, and for a burnt offering, and for peace offerings, to make reconciliation for them, saith the Lord GOD. All the people of the land shall give this oblation for the prince in Israel. And it shall be the prince’s part to give burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and drink offerings, in the feasts, and in the new moons, and in the sabbaths, in all solemnities of the house of Israel: he shall prepare the sin offering, and the meat offering, and the burnt offering, and the peace offerings, to make reconciliation for the house of Israel.” – Ezekiel 45:13-17

Piecing Ezekiel 45:17 together with Colossians 2:16, it is clear that these passages are connected. Both passages mention meat and drink, with Ezekiel 45:17 adding the word “offerings.” In the passage from Ezekiel, “feasts, new moons, and sabbaths” immediately follow the offerings. The way in which the passage lists things mirrors Colossians 2:16 in a most striking manner, further confirming the fact that “meat and drink” in Colossians is a reference to “meat and drink” offerings. Another type of offering, which is burnt offerings, is also mentioned in Ezekiel. This is yet another link to the ceremonial law found in these texts.

What of the term “Sabbaths?” Also referenced as “Sabbath Days” in Colossians 2:16, the term Sabbaths is speaking about the feasts of the old testament system. It should be noted that when in the plural, it does not reference the Seventh Day Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Ezekiel 45:17 makes this especially clear as it mentions this term in connection with offerings. The targets here are feasts like the Day of atonement and the Passover, which are festivals that the Jews still observe to this day. In the book of Leviticus we find a description of the day of atonement.

“And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.” – Leviticus 16:29-31

Note that the day of atonement, one of the feasts of the old testament system, is here referred to as “a sabbath of rest.” We see this concept again with the feast of booths, and with the feast of trumpets. [See Leviticus 23:24, 39. With the feast of booths specifically the beginning and end of it is titled a ‘Sabbath.’] The term ‘Sabbaths’ and ‘Sabbath days’ in this sense are references to these old testament feasts where the term “sabbath of rest” or “sabbath” is used to describe them.

As we take a look at the Greek definitions for the words “Sabbath Days” and “Holyday”, it becomes unquestionably clear to us that Colossians 2:16 is referencing the feasts of the old testament system. Many believe that this also targets the Seventh-Day Sabbath, but as we will see this is not the case.

G1859

ἑορτή heortē heh-or-tay’

Of uncertain affinity; a festival: – feast, holyday.

Note that the term “holyday” as defined above means “festival”, and is also translated as “Feast.” The two words share the same meaning, bringing us to the logical conclusion that the term “holyday” is actually referencing the old testament feasts, a fact which is most fitting with the context. Complete with the surrounding references to that system of feasts and sacrifices, it should be clear to us that the Ten Commandments are not referred to in Colossians 2:16.

At this point, some go to the Greek definition for the word “Sabbath” and attempt to use this to state that the Seventh-Day Sabbath is also referenced. We acknowledge that the word “Sabbath” can reference the Seventh-Day Sabbath, as shown from the definition below. The fact is however that the word “Sabbath” simply just means “Sabbath”, and without a context you cannot select whether it refers to the Seventh-Day Sabbath or the feasts of the old testament system, or whether or not both is included.

In response, we again point to the context. As we have thus far seen, the system of feasts and sacrifices found in the old testament is referenced here in Colossians 2:14-17 and not any one of the Ten Commandments. All of the surrounding details such as offerings and feasts also place it within this context. We then direct your attention to the end of the Greek definition, which says “likewise the plural in all the above applications”. The Greek here is unquestionably plural. Combined with the context, this means that the feasts are referenced and not the Seventh-Day Sabbath. The term “days”, although supplied by man, fits most strikingly into place with the Greek definition found to be plural.

G4521

σάββατον sabbaton sab’-bat-on

Of Hebrew origin [H7676]; the Sabbath (that is, Shabbath), or day of weekly repose from secular avocations (also the observance or institution itself); by extension a se’nnight, that is, the interval between two Sabbaths; likewise the plural in all the above applications: – sabbath (day), week.

The fact that Seventh-Day Sabbath is not included is a fact which is acknowledged by several theologians of the past, the commentaries of which can all be seen below:

Albert Barnes:

“Or of the Sabbath days – Greek, “of the Sabbaths.” The word Sabbath in the Old Testament is applied not only to the seventh day, but to all the days of holy rest that were observed by the Hebrews, and particularly to the beginning and close of their great festivals. There is, doubtless, reference to those days in this place, since the word is used in the plural number, and the apostle does not refer particularly to the Sabbath properly so called. There is no evidence from this passage that he would teach that there was no obligation to observe any holy time, for there is not the slightest reason to believe that he meant to teach that one of the ten commandments had ceased to be binding on mankind. If he had used the word in the singular number – “the Sabbath,” it would then, of course, have been clear that he meant to teach that that commandment had ceased to be binding, and that a Sabbath was no longer to be observed. But the use of the term in the plural number, and the connection, show that he had his eye on the great number of days which were observed by the Hebrews as festivals, as a part of their ceremonial and typical law, and not to the moral law, or the Ten Commandments. No part of the moral law – no one of the ten commandments could be spoken of as “a shadow of good things to come.” These commandments are, from the nature of moral law, of perpetual and universal obligation.”

Adam Clarke:

“Let no man – judge you in meat, or in drink – The apostle speaks here in reference to some particulars of the hand-writing of ordinances, which had been taken away, viz., the distinction of meats and drinks, what was clean and what unclean, according to the law; and the necessity of observing certain holydays or festivals, such as the new moons and particular sabbaths, or those which should be observed with more than ordinary solemnity; all these had been taken out of the way and nailed to the cross, and were no longer of moral obligation. There is no intimation here that the Sabbath was done away, or that its moral use was superseded, by the introduction of Christianity. I have shown elsewhere that, Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, is a command of perpetual obligation, and can never be superseded but by the final termination of time. As it is a type of that rest which remains for the people of God, of an eternity of bliss, it must continue in full force till that eternity arrives; for no type ever ceases till the antitype be come. Besides, it is not clear that the apostle refers at all to the Sabbath in this place, whether Jewish or Christian; his σαββατων, of sabbaths or weeks, most probably refers to their feasts of weeks, of which much has been said in the notes on the Pentateuch.”

We will note that Adam Clarke missed the passages connecting meats & drinks with meat and drink offerings. Having not seen this connection, he applies meats & drinks to the concept of ‘clean & unclean’ foods found in the scriptures. It is prudent to point out that this interpretation does not work, as the only prohibition in the scriptures regarding “drink” is that surrounding Alcohol. The author of this article does not know of any other prohibition regarding “drink” in the scriptures. To take this passage as though it is authorizing the Christian to drink alcohol would be taking a lot of license, especially in view of the following passage: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” – Proverbs 20:1

Both of these past theologians however agree that the ceremonial law, and the feasts of the old testament system, is the target of Colossians 2:14-17. We are therefore not alone in holding this position, neither can anyone state at this point that these conclusions are merely my speculations. The Sabbath-Keeping Christian at this point says, “The Sabbath is still binding. It wasn’t done away with at the cross.”

A Day To Remember

Why do Christians worship on Sunday?

Many are surprised that anyone would even ask this question. They reason, “Christians have always worshiped on Sunday. Why bother asking questions? After all, if Christians have always done this than surely it must be supported by the Bible.” The occasional answer of “tradition” is often urged as a reason as to why Sunday should be the day of worship for the Christian. Still others respond by saying it doesn’t matter what day we worship on, as long as we worship God. When these are not the response, than many sometimes respond by saying “we should worship on Sunday to honor the resurrection of Christ” or “because Christ changed the day of worship from Sabbath to Sunday after his resurrection!” Are any of these responses valid? Do any of them justify worship on Sunday? Are we as Christians commanded anywhere in the Bible to worship on a specific day?

Why should we even bother asking this question? If it does not matter what day we worship God on, and Christians have always worshiped on Sunday, does this not stand to make asking questions a pointless exercise? Wouldn’t questioning the practice be challenging the established practices of the Church and make one a heretic? In the book of Isaiah we read, “To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” – Isaiah 8:20.

Everything must pass the test of Isaiah 8:20. Even beyond this, we are warned plainly in the scriptures against reliance on others. In the book of Proverbs it has been said, “The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.” – Proverbs 14:15. This passage is an obvious warning against blind belief in every word that comes from a man’s mouth. It also uplifts careful research of what we are told as the mark of a “prudent man.”

Supposing you were to ask your Pastor the question which we have here asked, would he reply with any of the above responses? Would you accept whatever his answer was as the absolute truth, without effort to verify whether or not it had a foundation in the scriptures? Many accept all or a few of the above responses as sufficient reason both not to investigate the issue of Sunday Worship, and as reasons to justify the practice. Yet these responses are not sufficient for either.

We should never attempt to stifle investigation of God’s word upon any subject. Groups who are aware of the Bible’s power to uproot the foundations of their practices often attempt to prevent others from asking questions. Are we to be found doing the same? Are we no better than such groups? There is nothing wrong with the question, “why do Christians worship on Sunday?” In the book of Acts we read, “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming tither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” – Acts 17:10-11

These texts from the book of acts describe a group of people known as the “Bereans.” They mention the Beareans’ practice of putting things to the test of the scriptures, and note that they were more noble than those in Thessalonica for this reason. Beyond what we have already seen from the books of Proverbs and Isaiah, we find in these passages an example that we should all follow. The example of the Bereans was to “search the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” These words of scripture indicate that they were seeking to verify the things which they were told.

The question that we have asked is no violation of scripture. Seeking to answer it from the Bible would only be following the example of the Bereans. There is therefore no good reason to brush such a question off as not being valid merely on the grounds that Christians appear to have always worshiped on that day. Neither is it legitimate to label a man a heretic because he questions the traditions of the church, which a Christian is bound by God’s word to abandon if they do not harmonize with the word of truth.

It has been said, “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” – Acts 5:29. These powerful words from Peter and the apostles hammer in a point which should forever lock in the Christian’s mind the place of tradition. If it cannot be defended from the Bible, than this makes tradition the sayings of men alone. Peter and the apostles are here recorded as uplifting the obedience of God as superior to the obedience of men, making tradition worthless when compared to the commands of scripture. In view of this fact, ‘tradition’ is not a valid justification for worship on Sunday neither is it sufficient reason to cease investigation.

Some might still at this point cry out, “but it doesn’t matter!” The thought that what day we worship on does not matter in of itself does not hold water. We have been told, “For this is the Love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” – 1 John 5:3. Love to God is defined as keeping his commandments, and is in fact the motive for obedience. If God has commanded us to worship on a specific day anywhere in the Bible, than we must follow that command. If we Love God, we will do this.

The day of worship for the Christian is therefore a matter of obedience to God. Referred to as keeping his commandments, this is described as “the whole duty of man” in Ecclesiastes 12:13. We must not be found in disobedience to the commands of God or the teachings of the scriptures, for we enter into rebellion the moment we are found in this state. In view of this fact, it is important that we investigate this matter from the scriptures that we may know the will of God on this topic.

Still some at this point cite the Resurrection of Jesus, as though this alone is somehow sufficient for the Christian to worship on Sunday. It would seem natural for the Christian to want to mark and celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. Yet where are we commanded to do this in the Bible? Can one produce a text anywhere from scripture to suggest that we are now to worship on Sunday because of the resurrection?

The real question to be asking is, what has God commanded in the past? In the book of Exodus, we find the following “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.” – Exodus 20:8-11

There are many details describing what God’s people are to do found in these passages. The seventh day is mentioned as the exact day, and it is stated that no work shall be done. Here we find the command to remember the Sabbath, in order that it may be kept holy. The phrase “keep it holy” and the fact that it is to be remembered in of itself implies that this day has some special significance, which alone might imply a date of worship.

This command also contains a reference to a statement found in the book of Genesis, which reads “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” – Genesis 2:2-3. The fact that the command in the book of Exodus mentions the sabbath as “blessed and hallowed” in connection to creation is an obvious reference to what is found in these statements from Genesis, making the words ‘sanctified’ and ‘hallowed’ as essentially referring to the same thing. The blessing and sanctification of the Sabbath sets it aside to be of special significance, indicating that it should be marked for celebration. As if the phrase “to keep it holy” were not enough, these facts imply a strong potential for this to be a day for worship.

The fact that God recognizes it as such is made clear in the prophecies of Isaiah, “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.” – Isaiah 66:22-23. These prophecies found in Isaiah place the setting of events on the new earth, as shown by the twenty-second verse. The very next thing that happens is a description of worship “from one sabbath to another.” The implication here is that the Sabbath will be kept on the new earth, but especially that the Lord recognizes it as a time for worship.

It is later noted in scripture that Jesus is found worshiping on this day. In the book of Luke we read, “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.” – Luke 4:16. This passage of scripture implies that Christ entered the synagogue to read on the Sabbath as a ‘custom’, indicating that it was a regular practice of his. The fact is that Jesus is here described as worshiping on the Sabbath. Combined with the passage from Isaiah, which shows God’s recognition of the Sabbath as a date of worship, it should be clear to us that God’s people worshiped on this day in the past. The fact that the Jews have always done this is something which no one within reason is capable of denying.

In view of these facts, there are two things needed in order to prove that Christians must now worship on Sunday. The first is a command, and the second is the ‘blessing and sanctification’ of that day. Unless this day is defined as ‘blessed and sanctified’ or as something to be kept holy, there is no evidence that it is anything other than an ordinary day. If a command cannot be produced, than every conceivable reason for worship on that day falls apart under the weight of scripture.

Is it therefore legitimate to claim that we should worship on Sunday in order to mark the resurrection? Without the components mentioned, this type of reasoning does not hold any water. If one was to search from Genesis to Revelation, one would find no evidence that Sunday has been blessed or sanctified. You would be just as hard pressed to produce evidence from the scriptures that we are commanded to worship on Sunday for these reasons. This is a fact which is a clear indication that it is no different from any other day, and therefore there is no reason to mark it. The grounds of Christ’s resurrection is not sufficient reason to do this.

It is still stated by many that we must worship on Sunday because Christ changed the day of worship. If we were to search our Bibles from Genesis to Revelation, would we be able to produce a text to support this thinking? The answer is of course a solid ‘no.’ This is because scriptures which speak of Christ changing the day of worship from Sabbath to Sunday cannot be found anywhere in the Bible. One can search as long as they live and still not find a text which supports this claim.

It starts to become less likely for one to produce a text in view of the previously mentioned components. The pieces that make a day of worship as found in Exodus 20:8-11 cause the potential for locating such a text in support of a change to Sunday to become an impossibility. Without any of these pieces, the Christian is left stumbling in darkness. The Christian does not know which day they are to worship on, why the day is important, how they are to engage in such activity, and whether or not a change even took place. It is therefore impossible to prove that the day of worship has changed, because none of these details can be produced.

If the day of worship has not changed, than exactly when are Christians to worship? Just what are God’s people in this day and age commanded to do? If there has been no change, and none of these arguments stand to hold any water, than all that is left for the Christian is to revert back to the command found in Exodus 20:8-11. The question to be asked than is, just what day exactly is the Sabbath? Some have pointed to this very command as though it in of itself justifies the keeping of Sunday, but it has no such application.

In the previously mentioned passages, we find the following: “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 the gates.” – Exodus 20:10. The Seventh-Day is defined as being the Sabbath. We are therefore left with the question, “just when is the Seventh-Day?” Due to the fact that numbers are used instead of the modern names for days, it appears difficult on the surface to determine which day this passage is talking about.

In view of the fact that some have interpreted the “Seventh-Day” to be Sunday, I am therefore lead to inquire “When did Jesus rise from the grave?” The overwhelming majority of Christians believe the resurrection of Christ to have taken place on Sunday. This is a fact which all seem to acknowledge. In the book of Matthew, we find the following passage speaking of Christ’s resurrection.

“In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightening, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the woman, fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” – Matthew 28:1-6.

Matthew 28:1 gives the exact place of the Resurrection of Christ. The first describes these events as taking place, “as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week.” As previously noted, the entire Christian world acknowledges this day to be Sunday. Without this fact, no one would be able to produce an argument stating that we must worship on Sunday to commemorate the resurrection. It is sound reasoning to point out that the day which comes before Sunday is Saturday, making this the Sabbath and therefore the Seventh-Day of the week according to the passage.

Were this not sufficient evidence, one need only remember the original target of Exodus 20:8-11. Context of who is being spoken to helps in making proper deductions. Before the start of the first commandment out of the ten, God makes a very interesting statement. He says, “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” – Exodus 20:2. This statement is a clear indication of who the Lord was talking to when giving these commandments. In view of this fact, the conclusion that he was talking to the people of Israel at this point is unavoidable.

What does this mean? Does this mean that the Ten Commandments were only for the Jews, as some might suggest? Such a conclusion of course ignores numerous scriptures, such as 1 John 3:4 which defines sin as being the ‘transgression of the law’ [an obvious reference to the ten commandments], and 1 John 5:3 which defines love to God as keeping his commandments. Instead this is a fact which actually helps us to pinpoint the seventh-day. On which day do the Jews worship? No one would argue against their worship on Saturday, which is the Sabbath.

At this point the Christian lifts up his arms in frustration and screams, “The Sabbath was only for the Jews!” It is prudent to point out that if we approach the fourth commandment with this logic, we also extend it to the rest of the Ten Commandments as previously noted. If this is indeed the case, than a great many moral problems are created. The Christian is then permitted to cheat on his or her spouse [Exodus 20:14], murder people, steal, and worship idols. Yet even in the face of the sheer ridiculousness of such assertions, many still cling to their thinking that it was only for the Jews in an effort to escape obedience. The following passages put this thinking into question.

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13

“And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” – Mark 2:27.

“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” – Revelation 12:7

Ecclesiastes 12:13 describes the keeping of the commandments as the “whole duty of man.” The logical deduction here is that the keeping of the Ten Commandments is the whole duty of all men, and not simply just the Jews. There is no reason to believe that this only applies to nine of the Ten Commandments, as though the fourth commandment is no longer applicable to Christians to today.

The passage from Mark also gives us a clear picture of the original target of the Sabbath. When it states that the “Sabbath was made for man”, it shows that the Sabbath is meant for all men. To take the Sabbath as though it is meant for the Jews alone is a ridiculous assertion and an attempt to get around obedience at best. Such a statement falls apart into a thousand pieces under the sheer weight and force of this passage from Mark, showing us that the Sabbath is meant for all men who follow the Lord. It is interesting to note at this point that it was also “made for man”, implying that the Sabbath is meant as a gift to men rather than a burden.

Finally, we have produced a passage from the book of Revelation. These both speak of a future time in which God’s people will be found keeping all of the Ten Commandments. This is made clear by the statement of the “remnant of her seed” which “keep the commandments of God.” The woman spoken of in this passage is of course God’s church. In the book of Jeremiah we find the following statement which sheds light on this fact, “I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman.” – Jeremiah 6:2. Zion is a term in the scriptures often used to refer to God’s church. If this is therefore the case, than it is logical to conclude that any one of the Ten Commandments cannot simply be just for the Jews as God’s Church will be found keeping all of them at the end of time. The Sabbath is therefore to be applied to Christians today, making it the true day of worship for the Christian. No one can within reason argue that it was meant only for the Jews.

Yet there are many other reasons as to why the Christian should worship on the Sabbath. Exodus 20:8-11 contains a statement of exactly what the Sabbath is about. The verse reads, “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.” – Exodus 20:11. This is an obvious reference to creation. The fact that these passages state that it was blessed and hallowed in connection with creation shows that it is meant as a memorial for this event. By keeping the Sabbath, we as Christians acknowledge God as our creator. This is a fact which makes failure to do so almost a claim that God is not our creator.

We also find in the book of acts and the gospels several interesting statements which imply a history of observance. “And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and the religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.” – Acts 13:42-44.

The gentiles in these passages from acts approach Paul and the early Christians with a lot of assumptions. That they were the ones originally preaching is a fact which is evident from the context [see Acts 13:16.] The assumption here on their part is that Sabbath is the day of worship in which things are to be preached. This is evident from the fact that their request is for the things which they had heard to be preached to them “next Sabbath.” Why did they not ask to be preached to the following day, or perhaps a Monday or Tuesday? The conclusion to draw from this is the fact that Sabbath was the acknowledged day of worship for Paul and the early Christians. This implies a history of the observance of the Sabbath by the early Church.

This is hedged in by the fact that Jesus is recorded as keeping the Sabbath in Luke 4:16, and that later in the book of Luke the disciples are recorded as keeping the Sabbath after the crucifixion. In the book of Luke we read, “And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.” – Luke 23:54-56.

Women who followed Christ are here recorded as observing the Sabbath. They are pictured preparing for the Sabbath through the preparation of spices and ointments [an action which is connected with Christ’s burial, something which evidently must have been done before the Sabbath.] These passages also state that they “rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.” The indication here is that these early followers of Christ kept the fourth commandment. It is obvious that they never once got the idea from Christ’s teachings while he was alive that they were cease doing this.

Combined with the fact that Christ is recorded as keeping the Sabbath in Luke 4:16, it should be clear to us that there is a record of past observance. As previously noted, Isaiah 66:22-23 implies that it will be observed on the new earth, indicating that there it is to observed in the future as well. This makes the idea that it was done away with an impossibility. The true day of worship for the Christian is the Sabbath, and not Sunday.

In view of all these facts, the only conceivable reason the Christian worships on Sunday in its stead is tradition. We must remember that tradition is not to take the place of the plain commands of the Bible. As Peter and the other apostles once said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” – Acts 5:29. The Christian therefore has a choice. It has been said, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15. Let the Sabbath then be a day to remember.