False Views Of Marriage – Part 2

Since writing the previous part of this series, I’ve had the opportunity to read more widely online. I don’t intend to link back to anything which I did in fact read, as my experience was something like sifting through a pile of garbage. Christians seem to have adopted a wide variety of beliefs and opinions regarding the institution of Marriage, even introducing practices in an effort to preserve purity which are foreign to the Bible. Assaults on free choice, making up systems of rules, attempting to bring back arranged marriages, claiming that Marriage or singleness is a gift, the suggestion that you’re not an adult without getting married, the claim that ministry is the only reason a person may choose to remain single, nonsense that God will supposedly try to frustrate your attempts to get married because it’s “not his will”, trying to elevate celibacy above marriage, and other false teachings seem to characterize this festering digital landfill.

No doubt, if you want to understand these issues for yourself I once again have a rather radical suggestion for you. Pick up your Bible, grab a concordance, discard all literature or websites talking about relationships, and study it for yourself. You might even think about getting yourself some good Bible software [my own personal recommendations to you are E-sword and Bible Analyzer], as Bible search engines are easier to use than a physical concordance. With that said, let us jump right into debunking these false teachings.

Assaults On Free Choice, God Meddling in Your Relationships, and the gift of singleness

One website I found spoke of people who try to find a spouse. Evidently this was done by going on mission trips, praying repeatedly, and using websites like E-harmony. After giving a lecture about how God does not promise a spouse to any of his people, the writer of the article proceeded to suggest that an individual’s lack of success in this area was due to God saying “no” or “not yet” and that he was essentially blocking the person’s attempts at finding some one.

The first problem with this position is it assumes that when God wants or does not want something, he will block people from going contrary to what he wants. In which case, I would challenge you research the concept of free will from the Bible. For instance, I made citation of two such passages in the previous part from Deuteronomy and Joshua. Free will allows people to walk contrary to God’s will, though there may be consequences for doing so. Jeremiah could’ve told the Lord, “I’m going to get Married whether you like it or not.” He would’ve experienced the results he was essentially warned of if he had, but the point is that he could’ve chosen to walk contrary to command.

As another example, lets take the Bible’s numerous warnings about marrying unbelievers. Christians often do this anyway, yet God does not step in and stop them. He sends warnings through his servants and perhaps convicts them by flashing the Scriptures back into their minds, but he doesn’t cause the relationship to fail and end in heartbreak. He may then allow people to experience the results of their choices. If a Christian prayed for a marriage and God’s answer was “no”, theoretically they could still find and marry some one anyway, as it is free will that ultimately allows this. I cannot stress this enough, you have a choice.

Another problem with these ideas is they ignore Matthew 19:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 7. If a person is trying to find some one, that is a pretty good indicator that they “cannot accept” Christ’s saying in verse 12. Otherwise they would be perfectly fine, and might not experience even the slightest longings in that area. In addition, such views ignore the fact that only two of the Eunuchs on Christ’s list are involuntary and the third is a purely voluntary action chosen by the individual. “Made themselves Eunuchs for the Kingdom of heaven’s sake” makes this pretty clear. If God is manipulating circumstances to prevent some one from getting married because it’s “not his will”, than a person’s state of singleness is involuntary. Therefore one might reasonably argue that they’re not really the third type of Eunuch which Christ mentions. These ideas really are just another attack inside of Christendom on personal choice, likely held because the people espousing these ideas are deterministic in their thinking.

Consider also the Biblical record of Marriages. There are no cases where we read of God stepping in to prevent some one from getting married anywhere in the Bible. You may search from Genesis to Revelation, but you will find no such stories where God has ever done this. There are no records stating that God rigged events so that a person would not find some one. In addition, the only times he ever commanded people to marry or stay single were given under special circumstances to prophets who do not represent the general population. Thus we might safely conclude that in a general sense, God doesn’t do this kind of thing. He may not answer prayers the exact way you want him to, but this doesn’t mean he will stop you if you decide to do your own thing.

After this, the most obvious arguments that can be marshaled against such teachings stem from statements speaking of God’s character in the Bible. I think specifically of John 3:16, 1 John 4:16, Matthew 10:30, Psalm 145:8, etc. God is described as one who loves the world, who is Love, who numbers the hairs of your head, and who is full of compassion. How could a God who is full of compassion deliberately rig your relationships to fail or make it harder for you to find some one? I might further add that if God were to do such a thing, than he doesn’t really love you as he claims, and he isn’t love, because if you love some one you wouldn’t hurt them.

Usually at this point some one objects by saying, “but God will give you what is for your best, and his own glory!” I might ask in response how cruelty is in a person’s best interest, or how it glorifies God. Like it or not, arbitrarily manipulating circumstances in a person’s life to where they cannot get married is cruel. I would not be surprised if some folks would leave Christianity because of this suggestion. Given the fact that there are numerous Bible passages that portray God as a being of love, compassion, and kindness we may safely conclude that the suggestion that God is manipulating circumstances so that you can’t get married doesn’t glorify him. It makes him out to be cruel, like some one who seeking to torture you. Maybe a study on what actually does or does not glorify God from the Bible is in order.

But not only does this fact present itself, but the objection once again ignores Matthew 19:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 7, both of which are authoritative Biblical texts that set the standard for what is or is not best for a person when dealing with this subject. You should let those verses sink in, because they put the abilities a person is in possession of on display and show that whether or not somebody is getting married is really up to them. God would not manipulate circumstances to prevent somebody who “cannot accept” Christ’s saying from getting married. As for 1 Corinthians 7, let’s take a quick look at Paul’s counsel which destroy these ideas.

“For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” – 1 Corinthians 7:7-9

Paul starts off by saying that he “would that all men were even” as himself. If we scroll down to verses 8-9, we find some clues as to what he is here talking about. He speaks of how it is good for the unmarried and widows if they “abide even as I”, then makes reference to those who cannot contain, and says “let them marry.” This suggests that Paul remained unmarried, especially when one considers his reference to containment in connection with these cryptic statements about himself. Thus when he says he “would that all men were even” as himself he is saying that he stayed single, and that he would like it if all men were that way. Above in verse 6 he states that he speaks “by permission, and not of commandment.” So, Paul is here giving nothing short of his own opinion, and thus such a text should not be read as saying all men should stay single. This would be ignoring Christ’s statements in Matthew 19:11-12.

Paul then references gifts, saying that everybody has his proper gift of God. This is usually where people get the ideas of the “gift of singleness”, “gift of marriage”, or even “gift of celibacy.” The problem is that people stop at this verse and do not keep reading. Paul follows up by saying that, “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry.” ‘Therefore’ is a word which links the two statements, since it means “for that reason, consequently.” Paul is saying that because everybody has their proper gift, it can be good if people remain unmarried, but if they cannot “contain” [i.e.] handle that lifestyle they should therefore be allowed to get married. He finishes by saying, “it is better to marry than to burn.” The New King James version adds the words “with passion” into the mix. Here is the crucial point, singleness itself is not the gift but rather to ability to “contain” as Paul states. Though these texts by no means state that celibacy, singleness, or marriage are themselves gifts.

The concept of the “gift of singleness” is something we’ll come back to. But for now, I want you to focus in on the abilities that a person is in possession of. If some one “cannot contain” as Paul states, is it really logical to conclude that God will manipulate circumstances so that they cannot get married? If it would cause them to “burn” as Paul says would God therefore block a person from finding a spouse? The answer would logically be a resounding “no.” This does not mean that prayer will cause a spouse to miraculously appear, or that God will always answer “yes” to such prayers. Though I know some personally who’ve found their marriages through prayer, this doesn’t mean it’s always going to make somebody materialize in your home. We need to remember that God isn’t a dating service or a vending machine. At the same time, I will not say that such prayers are inherently wrong though some act as if they are.

So, if God doesn’t manipulate circumstances to block a person from getting married, what stops people? This would seem a very logical question, and in view of it I would like to point out that there may be practical reasons why a person is having trouble finding a spouse. For instance, it should be noted that the concept of the “gift of singleness” has been used to attack people who desire Marriage. Usually they will get a line about how singleness is a gift, dating is bad because it causes discontent with said gift, they should just be content with what they have, and its wrong to seek for it. They might even have 1 Corinthians 7:27 thrown at them, twisted outside of its context. This kind of garbage is what causes the reaction from the people who run around saying Marriage is a duty, and both positions are wrong. But further, it can cause a person not to seek out a relationship, and thus by default not to find it. Unless you actually put the effort into finding some one, in most cases it isn’t likely that some one will just magically materialize in your home so that you may marry them.

In which case, it is also worth pointing out that merely praying about it until you’re blue in the face doesn’t guarantee somebody will show up. Especially if you’re the man, because it seems like women these days expect men to do all the work in getting things started. Some even go so far as to preach that this is the way things are supposed to be, when I’m not convinced the Scriptures really definitively teach that. Others things worth consideration might be that you give up too easily [i.e. it fail a couple of times and therefore conclude it won’t happen], you have too high of or impossible to meet standards thus causing you to overlook perfectly compatible people, and you’re not open to looking in multiple avenues [there are more websites than just e-harmony, some of which are even Christian specific, and mission trips are not the only place to meet other Christians.] Maybe there are even things in your life and habits that block it from happening.

One of the biggest things that needs to be acknowledged is free will. Not only does the suggestion that God is manipulating circumstances to prevent a person from getting married ignore the free choice of the person seeking, but it ignores the the choices of others involved. For instance, women can choose to say “no” and reject your advances for virtually any reason. This isn’t God manipulating circumstances to prevent you from getting married, it’s the free choice of the woman who doesn’t want to date or marry you. Sometimes an individual just doesn’t like you, and I think Christians should acknowledge that such a thing is a person’s right. It doesn’t mean that God has rigged everything against an individual getting married, neither does it mean that therefore nobody will ever like you. This would be what is termed “over generalization”, which is where one or two pieces of evidence are taken to support blanket conclusion covering all of something.

To Be Continued

This seems to be a good point to cut it off and continue onto a 3rd part, which was ultimately not my expectation. So, I intend to continue examining and refuting the other errors in part 3. I hope this post is a blessing to you!

False Views Of Marriage – Part 1

“You don’t get to decide to get married because you aren’t in control of your life!”

“What will you do if it’s God’s will for you to marry!? Will you say no!?”

I have been a Christian for seven years. Throughout my time as a follower of Jesus, I’ve often had encounters with people holding to false theology. False beliefs and teachings are floating around everywhere, as if every “wind of doctrine” is blowing in the Churches of Christendom. Marriage seems to be no exception, where even here some Christians do not seem to have correct views of it. I don’t mean to zero in on those who think that Marriage is the attainment of perfect bliss, either. This would constitute more naivete than false teaching. Instead I mean to target those views of Marriage which malign God’s character [and they’re more prevalent than you think.] There are also ideas related to this subject which are extreme and potentially dangerous.

One such view is what should be termed “salvation by marriage.” It should be acknowledged that nobody literally runs around, so far as I know, thinking that Marriage will lead to their salvation. Instead there is a much more subtle teaching, which seems to have no Biblical support whatsoever, that Marriage is meant for the growth of Christian character. I’ve heard some go so far as to suggest that Marriage is God’s most effective tool for causing Christians to achieve likeness to Christ. But an in-depth research project on the subject of Marriage has yielded no such information supporting this view point. With the best Bible software at my disposal, I searched for words like “Marriage” and “Wife”, and studied each passage that jumped out at me in its context. I found no evidence anywhere from Genesis to Revelation that supports the notion that Marriage is God’s most effective tool for Character growth, that it was his original purpose for Marriage when he created it, or that Marriage has any connection to the Salvation of Christians.

I must say that if a Christian decides to marry an unbeliever, this has the potential to suck the Christian away from his or her faith. The Old Testament is full of warnings meant to steer the Isrealites away from marrying the Canaanites on the grounds that it would lead them into Idolatry. You also have stories which demonstrate the effects of this in action, such as Ahab’s Marriage with Jezebel which lead to the apostasy of both him and all of Israel. This is a Biblical route in which a Christian’s salvation could be effected negatively by a Marriage, and it has strictly to do with the influence a wife has on the husband and vice versa. This would be the rationale behind Paul’s prohibition of being “unequally yoked” together with unbelievers in 2 Corinthians 6:14.

Marriage is not a salvation issue. If Christians do not get married, there is no evidence anywhere from Genesis to Revelation that even remotely suggests that they will be penalized for it. Neither does the Bible paint it as something which could be helpful in a Christian’s salvation. What some have failed to recognize is that a view which paints Marriage as the most effective tool for a Christian’s character growth/sanctification is a doctrine lacking in the department of compassion. What if a person never finds a wife or husband? Does this mean that sanctification will be harder for them than those who’re married? Such a thought would place considerable discouragement not only on those who have difficulty involved in finding some one, but people who have chosen not to marry.

People who hold to this view need to recognize that relationships are hard. My own personal experience is that it is exceedingly difficult to find some one, especially since my previous Church had no women my own age. In addition I’ve found it even harder to avoid something bad happening. Its been something like walking through a mine field. I cannot even begin to stress just how cruel it is to suggest to people who’re having such difficulties in this area that its going to be much harder for them to experience sanctification because of not getting married.

Some who think this way have a tendency to equate questioning their position with downplaying or attacking the institution of Marriage. Marriage is a sacred institution which was given to man as a gift shortly after creation alongside the Sabbath. Hebrews 13:4 calls it “Honorable”, and 1 Timothy 4:1-4 classes enforced Celibacy as a “doctrine of devils.” Proverbs 18:22 suggests that finding a wife is a “good thing.” [Surely this means a good wife.] It should also be noted that Christ performed one of his miracles at a wedding feast. There is nothing wrong with Marriage inherently, and it doesn’t need to be connected to Character growth in order to be a blessing to mankind, have sacredness, or be held in high regard by the Christian. Some through the centuries have had the mistaken notion, perhaps based on a misinterpretation of Matthew 19:11-12, that Celibacy is somehow more commendable than Marriage. Hebrews 13:4 destroys this false viewpoint. Thus Marriage can be still viewed as honorable without being seen as the most effective agent for your character growth.

Closely connected is the notion that the Christian doesn’t have a say in whether or not they’re getting married. The two quotations given at the beginning of this article illustrate this view point. Essentially it is claimed that we have to pray for divine guidance in order to determine whether or not we’re getting married and submit to whatever God tells us to do irrespective of our personal wishes. Now if a Christian wants God to lead in these areas of their life there is nothing wrong with that. But these ideas go well beyond that and practically imply that people will be forced into marriage by divine providence, which is usually accompanied by the suggestion that any resistance will cause the Christian to be lost. This is like the reverse of the age old position of enforced celibacy.

God’s character is maligned by these ideas. The Bible paints God as a being of love, compassion, one who numbers the very hairs of your head, and kindness. It pictures him as one who does good to all, and whose tender mercies “are over all his works.” You cannot claim to love some one and then force them into Marriage irrespective of their wishes on the matter. Regardless of the justification [some like to use the “its for your best” platitude that Christians often toss out at such an objection] this would be a very hurtful move to somebody who wants to remain single. The reverse is true for those who want to get married. In actual fact, this would just be a divine version of enforced celibacy, and thus it has to be acknowledged that most people would be harmed by this. I have a difficult time of seeing God as a being who is in the business of causing deliberate harm to his people, which sounds more like an accusation that would come from the mouth of Satan.

The teaching also ignores Bible passages, as well as whole chapters, such as Matthew 19:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 7. Matthew 19:11-12 is the teaching of Christ regarding Celibacy. In verse 11 Christ says, “All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.” Clearer translations, such as the New King James Version, translate the word “receive” as “accept.” Jesus was virtually saying that not everyone was able to accept what he was about to say, but only those to whom the saying had been “given” could do so. A person’s acceptance or rejection of a message has to do with their initial reaction to it, and whether or not they want to carry out the instruction therein contained. “Cannot” is also a strong word, running contrary to the notion that Philippians 4:13 should be taken to its literal extreme. Evidently there actually are things that a Christian cannot do, although in this case it depends heavily on them personally and where they stand on the issue. “Given” in this statement seems to be suggesting that Christ’s upcoming saying is targeting a specific type of person.

In verse 12 Christ then says, “For there are some eunuchs which, were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive let him receive it.” The term “eunuch” is a word which references an individual who has been neutered, or rather a man who is castrated due to his service in a king’s harem. In general it references some one incapable of producing children. This is evident from Christ’s use of the term, as he speaks of people who were born that way, people who were made that way by men, and people who made themselves that way for the sake of the kingdom.

However, it should be noted that the third type of Eunuch Christ references is not an individual who has been castrated. You should observe that Strong’s Greek Lexicon, shown below, suggests that the term “Eunuch” has a figurative sense referencing living in an unmarried state. Taking his statement with regards to Eunuchs literally would be dangerous and extreme, sort of like taking his statements about cutting off your hand or plucking out your eye rather than sinning to an extreme literal interpretation and then severely injuring yourself because you thought this was Christ’s direction. It should be observed that Jesus often used figurative language in some of his teachings and parables, spoke with hyperbole, and used similar illustrations. Concrete thinking should be suspended when dealing with some of his sayings.

[*StrongsGreek*]
2134 eunouchizo yoo-noo-khid’-zo from 2135; to castrate (figuratively, live unmarried):–make…eunuch. see GREEK for 2135

Notice that Jesus used the words “made themselves”, and then contrast that with the two previously cited types of Eunuchs. If a person is born incapable of having children they had no control over this happening. Somebody who was made a “Eunuch of men” was forced into that position by the cruelty of men. The third type of Eunuch is completely deliberate. The word “made” strongly implies that it was a deliberate action on the part of the individual. In other words, they did this to themselves. It was not decided for them by anyone else. These words alone, in contrast with the individual who “cannot” accept this saying imply free will or choice on the part of the Christian. This is through a contrast of options, something which Scripture uses to suggest free will in other locations of the Bible. [See Joshua 24:15, Deuteronomy 30:19]. Either a person “cannot accept” Christ’s saying, or he can and therefore he makes himself a Eunuch for the sake of the kingdom. But whether or not he is capable of accepting it depends heavily on him. Not only may we derive free will from this fact, but it should be clear that a person’s abilities also has an influence on whether or not they’re getting married.

Now, to demonstrate more fully that these passages are in fact in reference to Marriage take a close look at its context. Verse 10 states, “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.” From verses 1 down through 10, the entire subject was marriage and divorce, and it was brought on by a question the Pharisees were using to entrap Jesus. Thus Matthew 19:11-12 must unquestionably be talking about Marriage, and the conclusion is inescapable that Christ was using “Eunuch” as a figure to reference living in an unmarried state for the sake of the kingdom.

However, Christ’s statements should by no means be taken as suggesting that Celibacy is more commendable than Marriage. The Bible should be making this clear when it classes enforced Celibacy with apostasy [1 Timothy 4:1-4], calls Marriage “honorable” [Hebrews 13:4], states that whoever finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor of the Lord [Proverbs 18:22], and so on. A more balanced position would regard permanent singleness by choice as something which could cause some one to have more time for ministry, but which is not necessarily something to be exalted over Marriage. It’s a choice and not something to be enforced, neither is it required on the part of the clergy. Not only would such a notion run contrary to 1 Timothy 4:1-4, but it would also contradict the qualifications of bishops and elders who were to be the “husband of one wife.” [Titus 1:5-6, 1 Timothy 3:2.]

A case by case study of the Marriages of the Bible also reveals that there were only two times in which God ever gave commands in this area of a person’s life. One was Jeremiah, who was told to remain single directly. The other was Hosea, who was ordered by God to marry a “wife of whoredoms” [implying either that she was a prostitute or a wife who cheated on him frequently.] Hosea 1:2-3 and Jeremiah 16:1-4 are where you may find this information. Verses 3-4 strongly imply that the whole reason Jeremiah was issued the command not to marry is simply that his wife and children would’ve been killed. Hosea’s Marriage is obviously being used as a symbol for Israel’s apostasy, which is evident by the phrase “for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord.” In other words, these extremely rare cases are under special circumstances that the average person might not necessarily experience. I personally have never been used by God as a symbol for my local Church.

This alongside the low amount of such commands strongly imply that the majority of people are left to marry or stay single on their own. There really is no reason to believe that God is going to issue commands to the average person in this area. The fact that he has only done it twice throughout all of sacred history should give us a clue that generally he isn’t interested in playing puppeteer when it comes to whether or not a person will marry. Christians need to realize that this is a bit like expecting God to tell you whether or not to eat an apple or an orange, which is a bit ridiculous. God is a God of love and choices, he isn’t in the business of forcing others to do anything. Honestly, reading either Hosea’s case or Jeremiah’s as though we must wait for God to tell us what to do regarding whether or not we’re getting married is a bit of a stretch. I might go so far as to declare it Eisegesis [reading something into the Bible that isn’t there.] It should be remembered that these stories are descriptive rather than prescriptive, and thus are not meant to be suggesting that you cannot decide whether or not to get married, since this would run contrary to the actual counsel given in Matthew 19:11-12.

1 Corinthians 7 will reinforce this position, but it will have to be examined later due to the length of this article. However, one point that will be covered in closing will center around the belief that Marriage is a duty. This view is pushed by one particular person who recently wrote a book challenging the concept of the “gift of singleness.” I can understand reacting against people who teach this kind of thing, but swinging to the opposite extreme and implying that Marriage is something a Christian MUST do is a bit of a stretch. I will not only reiterate my previous point that relationships are hard, but point out that this has the potential to cause the Christian to live with guilt because they’re having trouble finding some one to marry. There also is no Scriptural support for such a position.

There are no Bible verses condemning Celibacy in anything other than an enforced context. Remember that Adam was the only human being alive when God gave Eve to him, and thus Genesis 2:18 would have more to do with isolation as opposed to singleness [which doesn’t necessarily result in a person being “alone.” How can some one be alone when they have friends they can talk to, co-workers they can converse with and witness to, or people to fellowship with at Church?] As close as the Bible gets to a command to Marry for the general populace is Genesis 2:24 which reads, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.” When compared with Christ’s statements in Matthew 19:11-12, and later passages we will examine in 1 Corinthians 7, it should actually be clear that this is more stating that marriage is the general plan for most people. It is the natural order of things. Such a passage in Scripture would speak volumes as to why not everyone can receive Christ’s saying in Matthew 19, why some people would find Celibacy painful, and perhaps even why some one carries the desire for marriage. But when read in connection with other passages this statement no longer assumes the position of a command. Christians do not have a duty or obligation to get married. In fact, turning it into a duty is a bit strange since usually people want to get married.

I cannot stress this enough. Marriage is a choice, not a duty or an obligation. Christians do not have to get married if they do not want to. Neither do they have to stay single if they want to get married. Christians need to toss their false doctrines making it anything but a choice in the garbage.

Without Rule Of Law

Anarchy…

What does this word conjure in your imagination? He who can put the most boots on the ground and who has the biggest guns becomes king, or rather a warlord of sorts. This word “anarchy” generates images of rule by warlords, chaos in which the most revolting crimes are committed without penalty, complete and total lawlessness. Hordes of base criminals, best described as predators of the innocent, seem to come forth as though spontaneously generated. Bloodshed and indescribable evil become common place with looting and rioting.

Anarchy is the result of the complete and total breakdown of society, and ultimately what one might term rule of law. Society is governed by these laws, which alongside measures of enforcement, prevent the picture thus described. Although law in society is often broken, the scene pictured is held in check by armed and trained individuals who serve either in the military or police and essentially the Government.

Laws and their enforcement generate restraint with masses of individuals, who would prefer to live peaceably rather than create problems for themselves and their lives as a result of breaking those laws. The average individual knows that remaining in a state of abiding by laws is in their best interest, if they wish to avoid being arrested and thrown in prison, much less shot and killed. Therefore some of the baser crimes that an individual may wish to commit, were no laws present to stop them, may remain somewhat closeted. This is due to the potential to create serious problems, and no doubt because of an inability to perpetrate such crimes as a result of a lack of skills which might be required in order to escape punishment and evade the enforcers of law. Thus a closeted criminal remains a law abiding citizen, provided they do not suddenly acquire the skills that would enable them to get away with crimes.

Human nature is ultimately a base thing. In the book of Galatians, there is a description of what is known as the “Works of the flesh.” Some of the crimes that would come about as a result of anarchy in the land are listed among them. Paul also once wrote that “in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing.” I have produced this passage, as well as the texts from Galatians 5. Suffice it to say however that this all references human nature, which ultimately leads to the picture of anarchy described above. This is a result of the fact that we are all sinful fallen human beings with base passions, that if not restrained and overcome through Christ, lead to evil. One need only look at the wars consistently waged between countries, and the indescribable evil often perpetrated during those wars, to get a complete picture of what human nature is ultimately capable of.

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” – Romans 7:18

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” – Galatians 5:19-21

Note Paul’s use of the word “flesh” in Romans 7. He immediately connects the word with “in me”, indicating that this is something internal. Galatians 5 produces a list of sins of which the flesh is ultimately capable of if not restrained. Putting the pieces together this very clearly references human nature. Some of the things on the list are not necessarily condemned by the laws of man. Adultery, Idolatry, Witchcraft, and Hatred are prime examples of this. However, notice that “murders” is among the list. This in addition to another form of adultery known as rape would be prevalent in a world in which there was Anarchy, merely on the grounds that no rules exist to govern mankind and aid in restraining his base passions.

According to Scripture mankind is base. Therefore were the laws of the land to be removed, anarchy would be the inevitable result. Without rule of law there is nothing to stop this from happening. I then find what the Christian world has done with the laws of God to be strange. Too many echo the oft-repeated assertion that the Ten Commandments have been abolished, and that God’s laws have been nailed to the cross. Given the words of Paul in the book of Romans, I would imagine that this teaching is pleasing to the carnal heart.

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” – Romans 8:7

In all reality, there isn’t an ounce of truth to this assertion. To picture the ridiculousness of the abolition of the Ten Commandments, one need only take statements from them such as “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not steal” or even “Thou shalt not commit adultery” and picture the result of them no longer being in effect. Christians would then be free to hate each other, look at porn, cheat on their spouses, steal from their neighbors, and even murder some one without repercussions from God. Moral restraint becomes arbitrary and goes out the front door, resulting in what one might term a spiritual anarchy.

Many in the Christian world do not oppose these things mentioned. Some will even go so far as to suggest that through love for God and our fellow man, we naturally do the things listed above. That in following the spirit of Christ these things just happen. Yet they turn around and assert that the law of God is abolished. The level of blindness to the contradiction in their thinking is worthy of a palm to the face. It is foolish and contradictory to assert that you naturally keep the law through Christ and yet in the same breath exclaim that it was abolished, for if it had been abolished there would be no keeping of the Ten Commandments at all.

These types of claims demonstrate a complete ignorance of the Biblical definition of Sin, as found in the book of 1 John. The passage in question reads, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” – 1 John 3:4. With Sin defined as the transgression of the law by the Scriptures, it should be clear that to abolish the law is an act which in and of itself removes any possibility of transgression. You cannot break a law which does not exist. Therefore I as a Christian would be free to cheat on my wife, supposing I had one, and could not be held accountable by God for any reason. I could essentially be saved in transgressions, and go to heaven regardless of whatever evil practices were present in my life.

What I have described is of course not possible. The simple fact is that sin has a defined punishment attached to it. This is found in the sixth chapter of Romans, where there are astounding and powerful statements that speak of the possibility for victory over sin. Note that in the text, the “wages of sin” is defined as death. Wages are something earned for work which a person does. Thus by committing sin you earn death. The reality is that this means a person who has earned this will miss out on salvation. If the Ten Commandments were abolished, than it would be very arbitrary of God for anyone to be lost because of Sin. How can you transgress a law which does not exist?

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

Were the Ten Commandments ultimately abolished, this would leave the Christian in a position where they could do whatever they want. While the more intellectual have a tendency to make outrageous claims about naturally doing the things mentioned in the law through love in spite of it’s supposed abolition, the less studious and more simple minded would no-doubt take the idea of the abolition of the Ten Commandments as a license to sin. This of course is the ultimate and inevitable conclusion that one may come to. Since sin is defined in Scripture as “transgression of the law”, the thought that the Ten Commandments were done away with creates the suggestion of freedom to transgress, since you cannot break a law which no longer exists.

The senselessness of the teaching that the Ten Commandments were done away with has a tendency to boggle the mind. This teaching is something which I would include on a list of teachings within Christianity that make very little sense, are contradictory in some way, and do not really have a foundation in the Bible. Reality is that Scripture does not teach that the Ten Commandments were abolished at the cross, neither does it teach that it is even possible for the law of God to be done away with. In the book of Matthew, around the fifth chapter, we find a series of strong statements made by Christ illustrating this fact to us.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the 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 5:17-19

“And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.” – Luke 16:17

Christ states specifically “think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” There are some who interpret this word “fulfil” as though this in and of itself abolishes the Ten Commandments on the grounds that the “law was fulfilled”, therefore the logic is that the law was done away with. However were this the case Jesus would be contradicting himself. He would in effect be saying, “I did not come to destroy the law. I came destroy the law.” This is ultimately a reason in which every word used in the text should be considered.

These words of Christ state that it was not his mission to destroy the law, and that nothing was to pass from it. He even used such strong language as “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the law.” These terms indicate very strongly that it is impossible for the Ten Commandments to be done away with, as long as the earth still stands and that the term “fulfilled” in no way means what people take it to mean. We then have instruction in the nineteenth verse which completely invalidates the thinking that “fulfilled” means to abolish. These statements of Christ suggest that whoever breaks one of the commandments, and teaches men to do so, shall be “called least in the kingdom of heaven.” This language is very clear, and seems to place questions in one’s mind. Supposing that “fulfilled” means “abolished” how is it that one could be called least for breaking the Ten Commandments? Obviously that wouldn’t make any sense.

G4137

πληρόω

plēroō

play-ro’-o

From G4134; to make replete, that is, (literally) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction), etc.: – accomplish, X after, (be) complete, end, expire, fill (up), fulfil, (be, make) full (come), fully preach, perfect, supply.

Yet if this is all the case, what is the meaning of the mysterious word “fulfilled”? Doesn’t this word prove that Christ meant to abolish the law? Such a conclusion ignores the Greek meaning, produced above from Strong’s Concordance. Note the word “satisfy” and “execute” found in the definition. They seem to be the only definitions among the list produced that actually fit with the meaning of the word, given the rest of Christ’s words in the text, showing that the original meaning of the writer would’ve had to have been something along those lines. Otherwise contradictions and violence is done to the passage. Thus these Bible verses in fact state that it is impossible to do away with the Ten Commandments. Note that the equivalent passage produced above from Luke says virtually the same thing, only this time without using the word “fulfilled.”

Yet even without these texts, there are quite a few New Testament verses which mention the Ten Commandments. Many would be shocked to learn this, as some have claimed that the New Testament does not mention them. Note that in the book of Revelation, there are several verses which mention God’s law. All of these verses are prophetic in their nature. Some of these passages have a future application, while some are presently being fulfilled. If this is indeed the case, how can the Ten Commandments have been done away with? That is a thought which of course causes a man to scratch his head in confusion.

“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 12:17

“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” – Revelation 14:9-12

The first passage speaks of a dragon wroth with a woman. He then tries to make war with the woman, and the “remnant of her seed” which are defined as keeping the commandments of God. The commandments of God are obviously the Ten Commandments. Jeremiah 6:2 and Revelation 12:9 define for us these other terms. These texts, when combined with Revelation 12:17, teach us that the woman is the Church and the dragon is Satan. Thus Satan is enraged with a church, the remnant or remainder of which are defined as “keeping the commandments of God” and designated as that which the devil makes war with. If the Ten Commandments were done away with, why is Satan making war on the remainder of a church which keeps God’s commandments? This seems a fairly good question.

In the texts from Revelation fourteen, notice that an angel is proclaiming a message. This message is a warning that if anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives the mark in his forehead or in his hand, “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.” The very next thing which follows are descriptions of torment via fire and brimstone. What is interesting is the contrast mentioned in the final verse of the three. In the twelfth verse, it says “here are they that keep the commandments of God” and this is then defined as the “patience of the saints.” The saints are obviously the people of God. Such a thought is difficult to dispute. However the saints are defined essentially as keeping God’s commandments. Were the Ten Commandments to be abolished, such a statement appearing in the book of Revelation would be rather outlandish.

“And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” – Matthew 19:17-19

“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” – Romans 13:8-9

As one comes across these texts, the idea that the Ten Commandments were done away with starts to vanish. In the statements from the book of Matthew, Jesus appears to connect them to Salvation, telling the rich young ruler to keep them. The Ten Commandments are quite obviously referenced here, as Jesus lists a series of specific commandments which are found in the second table. Note that his statements are not meant to convey these are the only ones which should be kept. The Christian would then be free to worship idols and take the Lord’s name in vain. Such a thought is ridiculous and taking a seriously large amount of license. Instead the Ten Commandments are pointed out.

The next passages are from the book of Romans. Logically these would be statements from which one gets the idea that love does away with or supplants the law, in addition to some texts where Jesus made similar comments. However these texts are not really saying that. Paul starts out by saying that we should owe no man anything but to love one another. Thus he says that we should love each other, and that this “hath fulfilled the law.” He then goes on to list several of the commandments which appear in the second table of the Ten Commandments, and states that they are “briefly comprehended” in the saying “love thy neighbor as thyself.” In other words, if you love your neighbor you will naturally refrain from stealing their things, committing adultery with their wife, murdering them, or coveting their stuff. These texts do not teach that love replaces the Ten Commandments, but rather that if you truly love your neighbor you end up naturally keeping them.

If Jesus made such statements in Matthew 19, and Paul says that we naturally keep several of the Ten Commandments through love for our neighbor, how is it that they have been abolished? Does it make any logical sense for Jesus to respond to the rich young ruler’s question about Salvation in that way, if part of his mission was to abolish them? Why on earth would Matthew be writing those statements years later if they had been done away with after the cross? Wouldn’t this give to Christians the idea that the Ten Commandments were still binding, and that we have a duty to keep them? What of Paul, who claims that we naturally keep them through love for our neighbor? If the Ten Commandments were abolished, how on earth is that possible? Wouldn’t that be contradictory in the extreme to suggest that you wind up naturally keeping them, and yet to claim they were done away with? Isn’t it clear that this would be saying, “you will end up keeping the Ten Commandments, but you don’t have to keep the Ten Commandments”? Isn’t it clear that to abolish the Ten Commandments, based on Paul’s words, would mean that you no longer are required to love your neighbor?

I could further ask how this kind of thinking is harmonized with the book of James. In the second chapter of that book, we find passages which present problems for the thought that the law was abolished. Notice verses eight through eleven, where we find the phrase “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” By default this would obviously connect back to the concept found in the thirteenth chapter of Romans, where we find this same phrase used. Note that James states that if you keep the whole law, yet offend in one point, you are guilty of all. The concept ultimately brought forth by James is that if you break one commandment, you break all of them.

“If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 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 2:8-11

Notice that James extends this concept beyond just loving your neighbor versus having respect to persons. He takes it right down to the actual commandments themselves, noting that if you do not practice adultery and yet run off and kill some one you are a transgressor of the law. We already proved that 1 John defines sin as transgression of the law, and that Romans 6:23 suggests that the wages of sin is death. This means that being a transgressor of the law is something which ultimately causes some one to miss out on their salvation, when all of the pieces of Scripture are studied together. If we were not under any obligation to obey the Ten Commandments, why on earth would James be saying this? His words do not in any way harmonize with the popular teachings of today that the Ten Commandments were abolished.

In all reality, those who claim that the Ten Commandments were done away with do not have any problem with the majority of them. When pressed and confronted, everyone ultimately believes that it is wrong to steal, kill, have sex with another man’s wife, lust, worship idols, refuse to honor your parents, or take the Lord’s name in vain. The real issue is the fourth commandment, or rather the Sabbath. The claim is advanced that he who keeps the fourth commandment is a “judaizer”, and that the Ten Commandments were abolished as a means of skirting around obedience to a command which people are unwilling to obey.

The word “judaizer” is nothing more than an ad hominem attack. Ad hominem is a mistake in reasoning or logical fallacy, in which some one attacks the character of an individual making an argument rather than actually answering their arguments. The claim that the Sabbath is Jewish falls right into this category. The idea is to paint some one who keeps the fourth commandment as pushing false teachings that are associated with Judaism, which is something which most Christians believe shouldn’t be followed any more. We freely admit that the ceremonial or sacrificial system was abolished. Therefore my words should not be misunderstood.

However claiming that the Sabbath is Jewish, that everyone who keeps the Sabbath is into “Jewish practices”, that Sabbath keeping is somehow cultic, or that a Sabbath keeper is a “Judaizer” does not in any way make their teachings false. These claims by themselves do not in any way answer the argument that the Sabbath should be kept, or sweep the Scriptural evidence of such aside. Merely this is just an attack on the character of those who do it, without really proving them wrong from Scripture. And obviously every passage that we have produced from the Bible should prove conclusively how it is impossible for the Ten Commandments to be abolished.

That said, I hope that you see the ridiculousness of the idea that the Ten Commandments were done away with.

 

Sunday Sacredness Examined

“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 Corinthians 16:2

“The Christian Sabbath is Sunday” says the believer of Sunday-Worship. Then follows a  collection of Scriptures, which on the surface seem to support this very claim. Seemingly triumphant over the Sabbath-keeper, the average Sunday-keeping Christian exults in an apparent victory over the observer of the fourth commandment. The above two Bible passages, thrown out to support these claims as stock arguments against the Seventh-Day Sabbath, are often produced by those seeking to combat Sabbath keeping.

It is saddening to see the great lengths many will go to in defense of tradition, rather than adopting a teachable spirit and allowing the Bible to speak for itself. As I point out in my writings on how to study the Bible, we must always come to Scripture with a teachable spirit, rather than making the Bible say what we want it to. These Scriptures, produced in support of Sunday-worship, are an evidence that somebody approached Scripture with a lot of assumptions. They came to the Bible with the idea that they were going to make it ‘prove’ that we must worship on Sunday, and then forced that meaning on to the text without thorough examination. This should become much more obvious as we engage in a deep examination of these passages.

The question should then at this point be asked, “what exactly makes a day sacred?” This question holds a high degree of importance to it. The answer will determine whether or not these texts prove the sacredness of Sunday, and if Sunday has indeed become the Christian Sabbath. With that thought in mind, it is a logical deduction to examine the original Sabbath to determine what attached sacredness to this day. This will give us the answer as to what exactly attaches sacredness to a day, and sets it apart from any other day of the week. Then we must turn back to the beginning, when the earth was first created.

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 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 2:1-3

“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 20:10-11

The statements from the book of Genesis speak of the creation of the earth. The very next thing which is mentioned is the end of God’s work on the seventh day, followed by a description of him resting from all of his work. He then blesses the seventh day and sanctifies it, with the reasoning being connected to his resting from the creation of the earth. Notice that in the book of Exodus in the twentieth chapter, these events are clearly referenced. The eleventh verse mentions the creation of the world, then God’s resting on the seventh day, which is then followed by a blessing on the Sabbath day and it being hallowed. The tenth verse also identifies the seventh-day as being the Sabbath, finishing off a clear connection between these passages.

It would stand to reason that the word “hallowed” is essentially the same thing or holds the same meaning as the word “sanctified”, because Exodus 20:11 uses this word in place of “Sanctified” and contains an obvious reference to the passages from Genesis, which suggests that the two are synonymous. However, in order to arrive at the true definition of these words I have produced a series of Scriptures below. You will notice that in Leviticus 27:14 it states “And when a man shall sanctify his house to be holy”. The passage makes this statement as though the act of sanctifying the house would make it holy in and of itself, indicating that the word bears huge connotations of making something holy. I would also single out Exodus 40:9, which uses the word “hallow” and then concludes with “and it shall be holy”, thus indicating that to hallow something would essentially make it holy. Note that the way the Bible is using these terms in all of the passages quoted below is in complete harmony with Webster’s definitions for the two words. Thus to sanctify and hallow something is to make it holy.

“Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.” – Leviticus 20:7

“And when a man shall sanctify his house to be holy unto the LORD, then the priest shall estimate it, whether it be good or bad: as the priest shall estimate it, so shall it stand.” – Leviticus 27:14

“And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot. And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy.” – Exodus 30:28-29

“And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy.” – Exodus 40:9

Sanctified

SANC’TIFIED, pp.

1. Made holy; consecrated; set apart for sacred services.

2. Affectedly holy.

Hallowed

HAL’LOWED, pp. Consecrated to a sacred use, or to religious exercises; treated as sacred; reverenced.

If something therefore has been made holy, than obviously there is a degree of sacredness attached to it. Than truthfully this is what would make a day sacred in Scripture. If it has been directly sanctified or hallowed, than we may conclude that it is to be regarded as sacred. Nothing else is acceptable as evidence for the supposed sacredness of a day. Even apparent meetings taking place on that day do not prove the day in question to have been regarded with sacredness, as there could be a number of common reasons for meetings [whether they are of a religious character or not] to be held.

We might also direct your attention to the word “blessed” as used in both Genesis 2:1-3 and Exodus 20:11. This word does not need any lengthy explanation, but we may logically conclude that this term would indicate that something is to be regarded as special. The two words “blessed” and “sanctified” or “hallowed” when combined carry a weighty testimony as to what constitutes sacredness. Can any of this be produced in connection with the first day of the week? In spite of access to a very powerful Bible search engine in the form of E-sword, I conveniently am unable to produce a text which connects these words with that day.

In fact, all of the references to the first day of the week in the Bible have been produced below. You will notice that none of them ever attach the words “blessed”, “sanctified”, or “hallowed” to that day. Therefore none of these statements prove that Sunday has any sacredness whatsoever. The majority of them describe events taking place on this day, but never attach any level of sacredness to it. You will find that not one of these texts says anything to the effect of, “Remember the first day of the week, to keep it holy; because on the first day of the week he rose from the grave.” When studied in context, many of these texts reference the resurrection of Christ. Yet not one of them, when all the verses are examined before and after these texts, uses the words “blessed”, “sanctified”, “hallowed” or flat out “made holy.” Those words cannot be located in any of the surrounding Scriptures either. This fact is something I invite you to see for yourself, as you will notice some of the Scripture references below contain embedded links.

“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.” – Matthew 28:1

“And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.” – Mark 16:2

“Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.” – Mark 16:9

“Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.” – Luke 24:1

“The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.” – John 20:1

“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” – John 20:19

“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 Corinthians 16:2

If none of these statements attach any sacredness to Sunday whatsoever, than it is clear that really these statements of the Bible do not prove anything. Without the markers of sacredness, they do not define the first day of the week as anything other than an ordinary day. It is also prudent at this point to expose what else is missing from these statements. Were one to take a look at the difference between the fourth commandment and these passages, what might they notice?

It is all in the name, for the fourth commandment is just that — a commandment. Only one of these statements bears any appearance of a command, and you might notice that the instruction is not to worship on Sunday but rather to “every one of you lay by him in store” on the “first day of the week”. The fourth commandment is much more explicit. You are told the exact day on which you are to worship, how you are to observe that day as holy, in addition to the fact that you are given the reasons why you are to do this; namely being the creation and God’s sanctifying and blessing of that day.

In contrast, if these statements from Scripture regarding the first day did prove that we’re now to worship on Sunday they are in fact rather vague. A fresh convert with no knowledge of the Bible or Christianity could read these passages and never get the idea that we’re to worship on Sunday from them alone, strictly because none of these texts include any instruction of the sort. Six of the verses are historical records, one is a recording of a gathering taking place, and the final statement talks about laying money aside. However none of these verses really transfer sacredness from one day to the other, command worship on the first day of the week, instruct us to remember it, or give directions as to how to keep it holy.

It is interesting to note that the reasons which Christians commonly claim for Sunday worship, that being that Jesus rose from the grave on that day, are not connected to the two most common quotations that supposedly prove Sunday sacredness. One mentions a gathering on the first day of the week “to break bread”, but says nothing about the resurrection either in the context or the passages that immediately follow. The second verse makes some vague statements about “laying by him in store”, says something about a collection in the verse before it, but doesn’t say a word about the resurrection. Whereas the statements that are connected to Jesus rising from the grave do not command worship on that day, say nothing about Sunday’s supposed holiness because of it, or strangely enough do not say anything to the effect of “and now Christians commonly gather on this day because of these things.” You would think with such powerful descriptions of the resurrection, there would be room to say something along those lines. Surely an extra sentence could not in any way make Scripture too lengthy.

Is it not a logical deduction that if God wanted us to worship on Sunday, he would give us exact directions surrounding his desires, that we may not be left in darkness as to what his will is? Would he not want to leave no question in people’s minds as to what he wants us to do? It seems kind of odd that God would, in the place of explicit directions, give us nothing but vague statements to work with. The reality is that some one has taken the first two statements in question, and twisted them in support of tradition, without investigating the Biblical foundations for their practices. When some one takes liberties with Bible verses, it is probably a good bet that their teachings are starting to lean in the direction of false.

So what of the gathering that the passage from Acts mentions? It is claimed that since the disciples are described as coming together to break bread on the first day of the week, and Paul is preaching, than therefore this must be a church service taking place on Sunday. The reasoning is then that this was becoming the regular practice of the Christians, that they had begun to abandon the Sabbath for the First day of the week to honor the resurrection, and that this text somehow proves that early Christians worshiped on the first day of the week. There are a couple of realities that somebody missed in their neglect to examine the foundations for their thinking.

The first comes from the mysterious phrase, “to break bread.” This is usually looked at by the advocate of Sunday sacredness and worship as being something significant, like communion, or in and of itself referencing a church service. The claim then might be something to the effect of communion always falling on a Sunday, which is a thought that has been demolished by others. However, we might direct your attention to the neglected verses. You might notice that these passages comment on the issue of “breaking bread.”

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” – Acts 2:46-47

Breaking bread does not always mean something significant like communion. The disciples are described in the second chapter of the book of Acts as doing this every day. In reality, the phrase “breaking bread” simply just means that they came together to eat food. That thought also destroys the possibility of it referencing their Church services. If one were to interpret the phrase this way, they may as well claim that early Christianity regarded every day as holy.

Another fact so often missed by the advocates of first-day worship rests in the claim that early Christians worshiped on the first day of the week in Paul’s day. In response, I might direct your attention to the references above which use the phrase “first day of the week.” These are the only verses in the Bible which use that phrase. Bible search engines and concordances fail to produce another verse, neither can anyone claim to have read one without lying. To further illustrate this point, I narrowed the search range on E-sword to the book of Acts and have produced the Bible-wide search results in this link for your perusal.

Act_20:7 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.

1 verse found, 8 matches

Acts 1 verse found 8 matches

The book of Acts, being a historical record of Christianity directly after Christ, would be the most likely place to mention the switch from the Seventh-Day to the first. The only other places in which this could happen would be the epistles and the gospels, but none of those locations in Scripture say a word about the supposed change. In this particular case, it is pretty clear that the book of Acts doesn’t mention any other instance in which Paul, the disciples, or the apostles met on the first day of the week. With these facts before us, its clear that this is the only recorded instance in the entire Bible in which the followers of Christ appear to be having a meeting of an apparently religious character on Sunday. They are never mentioned as doing this again anywhere in the Bible.

I find it strange that from this lone Bible verse we are expected to believe that early Christianity in the time of Paul worshiped on Sunday. It is a thought which leaves a man who truly thinks the matter through scratching his head in apparent confusion. To further illustrate why this doesn’t constitute real evidence of that thought, I would like to direct your attention to the passage I’ve produced below. Notice that it describes Jesus [see verses 14-15 of Luke 4] entering the synagogue on the Sabbath, and standing up to read. Specifically you should focus in on the phrase “as his custom was.” This statement implies that this was a regular habit for Christ, or rather a tradition if you will. Note that this phrase is missing from Acts 20:7.

If this lone Bible verse had said that it was the custom of the Christians to meet on the first day of the week, than perhaps there would be a valid case. Yet such a statement is missing from the passage! The implication is that this is the only time that early Christianity in the time of Paul ever met on a Sunday. In which case it was not their regular practice, and therefore it cannot be claimed that early Christianity in the time of Paul worshiped on Sunday in honor of the resurrection. There just simply is not sufficient evidence upon which to make that case.

“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

Let us stop and think about this for a moment. The lack of Bible passages elsewhere in Scripture which describe similar occurrences bears the marks of something quite sad. Somebody came to the Bible with the idea that they were going to make it say what they wanted it to. They have practiced what is known as Eisegesis, which is something we have discussed in other articles. Having practiced this, they abused the text in support of tradition rather than approaching the Scriptures with a teachable spirit. It is my hope that you do not approach the Bible in this way!

The arguments surrounding this text from the book of acts are quite obviously full of holes. This fact becomes much more clear as the surrounding passages are examined. The reality of it is this meeting never actually really took place on what we would call “Sunday”. Most who use this passage in support of traditional thinking do not consider the description of what a day is in the Biblical sense. Note that Genesis 1:5 defines a Biblical day by stating that the, “evening and the morning were the first day.” According to Scripture, a day is defined as evening to morning, which is a huge difference from the modern definition of midnight to midnight. Thus a statement can read, “first day of the week” and in actual fact be in reference to the evening of what we would interpret as the previous day.

Paying careful attention to the passage, we notice details such as many lights in the upper chambers, the length of the sermon defined as being until midnight, and Eutychus falling into a deep sleep. Every single one of these details bears the markers of “evening”. The presence of lighting indicates that it was dark, the statement about ‘midnight’ places the setting at evening, and Eutychus falling asleep indicates that he was tired. Boring preaching did not put him to sleep, but rather the fact that they had been awake late. With all of these facts before us, it is clear that in actual fact they did not meet on Sunday but rather on Saturday night. Therefore the concept of a Sunday church service completely disappears under the weight of the original connection of the passage.

“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. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.” – Acts 20:7-9

“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” – Genesis 1:5

This is of course even further the case as one examines the defined reasons for the meeting. The passage often abused contains the phrase, “ready to depart on the morrow.” This statement implies that Paul was intent on leaving the following day. In other words, the whole point of the meeting was not having a religious meeting in honor of the resurrection, coming together for communion, or something of that sort but was indeed rather a farewell meeting. Paul was leaving, therefore the disciples came together to break bread and say their goodbyes on Sabbath evening.

I hope that you are able to see that this argument in support of Sunday sacredness is not sound. Chances are, the use of 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 to support Sunday sacredness is even less sound. I have produced the passages below with their original connection, as context is always important and sheds much light on the meaning of a verse. The claim is that these passages are referencing a church collection which took place on Sunday, and are therefore an argument in support of Sunday sacredness, or the transfer of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. However, it is my hope and prayer that you might see that this argument actually doesn’t work or bear the scrutiny of Scripture. Notice also that I have produced the fourth commandment underneath this statement for comparison.

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 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 Corinthians 16:1-2

“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

Although I have already made similar points above, I see it as prudent to restate a few details. In comparison with these passages from Exodus, I hope that you might be able to see what I am talking about with much more clarity. Notice the difference between these two statements from the Bible. One mentions a collection, and then says something to the effect of “lay by him in store.” The other says to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. It then gives directions as to how the Sabbath may be kept, and closes by mentioning creation and the blessing and hallowing of the Sabbath.

The question which arises in my mind comes right down to this. If these statements from 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 transfer the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, why are they missing a statement of blessing and sanctification? Why is it that these statements say nothing about the Christian’s supposed duty to Remember the “Christian Sabbath”? Why do they not outright command Sunday to be kept holy? Why is it that these statements do not include a word about the resurrection of Christ? All of the necessary information was together in one place with the original Sabbath, so that the reader is without excuse. Yet obviously this is not the case with these statements from Paul, as they are clearly missing huge details.

The missing details indicates that somebody has obviously twisted these statements. Others have even provided significant evidence further detailing this fact, showing conclusively how these Scriptures have been abused. They’ve even gone so far as to point out that these passages actually do not indicate that the Corinthian believers worshiped on Sunday, as is so often claimed from this text. Of course, this should’ve been clear as there is a huge difference between laying money aside on a particular day and making that a day of worship. These texts are read with a ridiculously large amount of assumptions taking place.

There is a reality that every abuser of these passages must face. It is that these statements neither command worship on the first day of the week, neither do they forbid the keeping of the fourth commandment. These statements do not in anyway prove that a day other than the Sabbath should be the date of worship for the Christian, as clear statements commanding this are not found in any of the passages in question. The lack of commands automatically means that the Christian should feel no guilt for worshiping on the Sabbath and not being in Church every Sunday, and that there really is no Scriptural foundation for Sunday sacredness.

 

The Rich Man and Lazarus

“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:  And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” – Luke 16:19-31

The above passages from the sixteenth chapter of Luke are cited as a sufficient case for rejecting two doctrines, namely the annihilation of the wicked and the sleep of the dead. These statements are taken to support the concept of the immortality of the soul, and therefore brought forth as proof along with an array of stock arguments to suggest that those who hold to contrary doctrines are nothing short of heretics. Therefore any further investigation into the matter of death or final punishments is effectively stifled, or so it would seem.

Many have been silenced by the above cited verses, shrinking at opposition thus encountered from those who cling to traditional views. Yet no one stops to ask much needed questions. If these statements of holy writ are indeed to be taken as though they support the traditional view of hell, does this then mean that the Bible contradicts itself? Do we as Christians run around with a contradictory Bible, which teaches one point and then turns around and teaches the opposite?

The prudent would admonish one to think on this matter carefully. In the book of 1st Timothy, we find passages which present glaring contradictions to the way in which the above statements from Christ have been interpreted. The passages read, “That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only potentate, the King of kings and Lord of Lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.” – 1 Timothy 6:14-16

These verses from 1st Timothy are clear. Reading all of the surrounding details, it should be apparent that only God/Jesus is immortal. The words “Who only hath immortality” could not be a more straight forward declaration. With such clarity, the conclusion is inescapable. If only God is immortal, than obviously no part of man is immortal, which means that man does not possess some kind of immortal soul which separates from the body at death. This is what is required in order for a man to receive rewards or punishments immediately upon dying, or to be whisked away to some kind of conscious intermediate state. If man does not possess an immortal soul, then any of the previously listed states in death are impossibilities. In addition, the lack of an immortal soul means that one could not burn in the fires of hell for any length of time without being killed.

Thus a contradiction exists between 1 Timothy 6:14-16 and these statements of Christ. Further complicating the matter are Christ’s own teachings found elsewhere in the gospels. From the fifth chapter of John we find the following, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” – John 5:28-29.

These passages from John present a problem for the literal interpretation of the above words of Christ. The words “in the graves” present glaring contradictions for this kind of thinking. How is it that anyone could be ‘in the graves’ if they are in either heaven or hell, or some kind of vat for the supposedly conscious dead? Some might attempt to get around this by simply contending that these statements only reference the body, but this would be nothing short of eisegesis. The lack of references to the body present in these passages make any attempt to read the word “bodies” into the verse a clear case of twisting the scriptures. By placing everyone who has died unanimously in the graves, Christ’s words clearly reference the entire man, and cannot be applied to the body alone.

Those who believe that rewards are given at death are immediately confronted with the problem of resurrection. John 5:28-29 clearly gives two resurrections, one of life and the other of death. The titles attached to each indicate their purpose. Yet these would be made obsolete by the idea that when a man dies, he is whisked away to receive his rewards or punishments. It is nothing short of confusion to imagine the soul sent to hell, only to be placed back in the body, so that both soul and body can be raised up, only to be burned some more. Those who hold to this type of a position would do well to re-examine the foundations for their beliefs, while others who think the soul goes to a conscious intermediate state had better ask themselves why Jesus described anyone as being in the graves.

Yet there is one story in the book of John that complicates the matter further. Many Christians are perhaps familiar with the story of the resurrection of Lazarus, found in the eleventh chapter of John. The verses which most stand out in view of the words of Christ in Luke 16 read, “These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus said unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.” – John 11:11-14.

In these verses, Jesus seems to cryptically state that Lazarus is asleep. The confused disciples responded by saying that “he shall do well”, in view of the fact that if he slept he would merely awaken and be fine. However, scripture is very clear that Jesus was mentioning Lazarus’ death. These passages generate the obvious inescapable conclusion that Jesus is here referring to death as a sleep. But why is it exactly that Jesus is doing this? For the simple fact that there is no consciousness in death, otherwise sleep would not be a fitting statement to attach to it. This would explain the expressions of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, where he clearly stated “the dead know not anything.”

These facts create serious problems for the literal interpretation of the Rich man and Lazarus. One of the largest is the name of the individual involved. Many Christians contend that the words of Christ in Luke 16 are to be read as a literal history. If this is indeed the case, than we are to believe that Lazarus both slept in his grave and went into the bosom of Abraham. Yet this cannot be possible, as the word “sleep” suggests unconsciousness. A lack of consciousness eliminates the idea that the ‘soul’ is to be immediately transported anywhere upon death, as the whole man sleeps until the resurrection. This fact can be made much more clear by comparing John 11:11-14 with John 5:28-29.

Due to the fact that these passages from the eleventh chapter of John strike directly at the heart of tradition, many might attempt to get around these verses. Some might go so far as to suggest that no consciousness in death is a heresy, and that the word “sleep” as used by not only Jesus himself but by the apostle Paul [1 Thessalonians 4:13-18] references the body alone. If one really contemplates such an idea, it becomes clear just how ridiculous the assertion sounds. Jesus clearly used the words, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth” before he said “Lazarus is dead.” Why did he not say, “Lazarus is in Abraham’s Bosom” or “Lazarus has gone to heaven” or perhaps even “His soul has gone to heaven, while his body sleeps..”? If we are to believe that the body sleeps while the soul goes somewhere else, would these not be more fitting statements? The fact of the matter is the words, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth” clearly is a reference to the entire man.

Even the concept of sleep itself creates problems for the literal interpretation of Christ’s words in Luke 16. Near the very beginning of the story, there are three passages that I would like to especially focus in on. They read, “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.” – Luke 16:22-24.

To begin, these verses have “consciousness” written all over them. This is evident by the fact that the rich man is described as lifting up his eyes and crying out to “Father Abraham.” Than if this part of the sixteenth chapter of Luke is to be read literally, a contradiction is created between the passages of Luke 16:22-24 and John 11:11-14, both of which contain the words of Christ. Unconsciousness in death would obviously eliminate any possibility of being able to cry out to any one, there being any torment for the rich man to experience when he died, or there being any ability to ‘lift up his eyes’. Yet Jesus clearly stated that death was to be compared to a sleep [which is unconsciousness], and then seemingly turned around and told a story in which a man was consciously transported to hell when he died.

The question therefore remains, does the Bible contradict itself? It is an unfortunate reality that such would cause Atheists to exult and exclaim that we as Christians have been lied to, and that we are foolish for believing in the scriptures. Therefore these contradictions must be resolved. In the very beginning of these statements from the sixteenth chapter of Luke, we find a certain recurring phrase that appears elsewhere in the gospels, usually in connection with parables. Two such examples may be seen below.

“And he said, A certain man had two sons: and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.” – Luke 15:11-16

“Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:” – Matthew 21:33

The phrase “there was a certain” or “a certain man” is used by Christ frequently in connection with parables. As shown by the above examples, scripture sometimes directly identifies the parable and sometimes does not. Note that Christ used an obviously fictitious narrative in the fifteenth chapter of Luke as a teaching point. He describes a son, who takes his father’s goods into a far country and wastes “his substance with riotous living.” Most Christians recognize this as the parable of the prodigal son. We find a similar phrase occurring again in Matthew 21, this time connected with a clear statement that he is about to speak a parable.

Does this mean that since Jesus did not directly identify the prodigal son story as a parable, it must be read as literal history? Any Christian spoken to recognizes these descriptions given in Luke 15 as a parable, and will more than likely not take it as a literal history. Indeed, if we are to believe the story given is always literal merely because a clear statement that it is a parable is missing than perhaps we should believe that trees talk. One need only look in the ninth chapter of Judges to verify this fact. “And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you. The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.” – Judges 9:7-9

Christians recognize Jotham to be speaking a fable, which is also a fictitious narrative. Yet there are no clear indicators of this fact before he begins to speak. It is only evident from an obviously fictitious element present in the story, such as the concept of talking trees. Therefore the fact that a clear statement of “this is a parable” missing from the text before, after, or during the story does not necessarily mean it is to be taken as literal history. Yet quite a few Christians still mistakenly treat the story of the Rich man and Lazarus this way, thereby wresting it in support of tradition.

The phrase “there was a certain rich man” indicates that the story of the rich man and Lazarus is a parable. This is demonstrated by the fact that Jesus used similar statements and phrases in connection with fictitious narratives in various locations in the gospels. For more evidence that this story is not to be taken literally, one need only look to the obvious fictitious elements present in the story. The story furnishes us with details such as the Rich man calling out to ‘Father Abraham’ and a request for water to cool the Rich man’s tongue. If one was ablaze in fiery torment, a drop of water for your tongue wouldn’t be very helpful. Additionally, what would be the use in calling out to ‘Father Abraham’? What authority does Abraham have to really do anything? It is obvious that there wouldn’t be much good done in calling out to him.

Even beyond this, Abraham and the Rich Man are described as talking to each other. This conjures the horrific thought that while the saved are in heaven, the lost are burned in full-view of the saved. They are apparently even capable of hearing the shrieks and cries of the lost as they burn throughout all eternity. Yet if that were the case, how would the promise of Revelation 21:4 find it’s fulfillment? [“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” – Revelation 21:4] Enjoying the abodes of heaven is an impossibility with the thought of your suffering friends and loved ones ever before you, much less having to hear it on a day-to-day basis. Unless one holds to the inhumane sadistic conclusion that the saved will find the suffering of the lost “most entertaining” [hint: this position is not found anywhere in the Bible], these facts cannot be observed as anything other than an obvious fictional element.

These fictional elements, taken together with the obvious contradictions, indicate strongly that this story from the sixteenth chapter of Luke is just a parable. As such, interpreting these passages as a literal history is nothing short of a fallacy, if not eisegesis. Worse yet, the literal interpretation of the story creates a paradox between the literal resurrection of Lazarus and the story told by Christ in Luke 16, namely that one was resurrected and the other clearly was not. Therefore how could this parable be taken as literal history? One must think on this carefully, as the word “Lazarus” standing alone does not leave much room for differentiating between characters, if the story is to be read literally. This means that were this a literal history, it would be impossible to take it as referencing anyone other than the Lazarus mentioned in John 11:11-14, therefore creating the paradox of “Was he resurrected…or not?” [See Luke 16:28-31.]

The sheer weight of the contradictions and paradoxes crushes any possibility of basing one’s conclusions of the afterlife on this parable alone. It therefore cannot be taken to be teaching about final punishment, man’s state in death, or some kind of post-death vat for the conscious dead. Others who have sought to answer this and other stock arguments have expounded upon the true meaning of the parable. As for us, we would counsel students of the word who have held to traditional viewpoints to avoid building doctrines off of one or a few obscure verses. It is prudent to line up every single passage on the subject in question, in order to help avoid errors and misunderstanding and to gain a clearer picture on the subject.

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 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.

“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 20:10-11

“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

H1616

גֵּיר גֵּר
gêr gêyr
gare, gare
From H1481; properly a guest; by implication a foreigner: – alien, sojourner, stranger.

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.

Note also that the tenth verse of the twentieth chapter of Exodus contains a description of how to keep the Sabbath. At the end of this description is the statement “nor the stranger that is within thy gates.” You will note that we have produced the Hebrew meaning of this word “stranger”. As you can see, the word means “guest” or by implication “a foreigner.” The real question to be asking is this. If the commandment was only meant for the Jews, why is it that it contains this statement, which obviously applies to anyone who could theoretically be a visitor, whether they be from Israel or not? To suggest that this commandment only applied to the Jews, and was only meant for them at this point actually does not make any sense in view of what this statement contains.

However the idea that the Sabbath was meant only for the Jews starts to vanish even further if we go back to the beginning, and combine this with all of the evidence listed below. The statement of Isaiah 66 that it will be kept on the new earth, the clear evidence that the apostles kept the Sabbath are facts which annihilate the idea that it is Jewish alone. One would have to ask how the idea of it being Jewish holds any water under the weight of Paul and the apostles keeping it, followed by the fact that it will be kept on the new earth by all of humanity. Yet the Sabbath’s institution for humanity at the creation finishes the work of demolishing the thought that it is Jewish. The fact that the Sabbath was instituted for humanity when the world began, as Genesis 2:2-3 shows, destroys the idea that it was meant only for the Jews. The implication is that Adam and Eve would have kept the Sabbath, and the reality is that neither of them were Jewish.

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.