Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com

The Sabbath explained


Hi Dr. I know we don’t fall under the law anymore, but in Genesis it says that the Sabbath is made for man and not the man for the Sabbath. And that we are to keep the Sabbath holy. So when is the Sabbath or rest day? Is it Sunday as it is now in the world or how should I understand this?




You are correct in observing that Jesus taught that the Sabbath was made for man’s benefit (Mark 2:27). It was not made as a slavish rule for man to follow, but for mankind to rest, be refreshed, and have a special time of religious observances.  God rested on the seventh day after six days of work (Exodus 20:11), and that set the pattern for the Old Testament. Of course, that does not mean that God was tired, but that His work of creation was complete.

The principle, then, is that we need at least one day out of seven to recoup our energy, and give special time in corporate worship and service.

There does not seem to be an instruction for the Hebrews to keep the Sabbath before the time of Moses. Its first mention is in Exodus 16:23. The Israelites were commanded to observe it in honor of God’s creation (Exodus 20:8-11; cf. Genesis 2:1-3), and Israel’s release from bondage (Deuteronomy 5:12-15; cf. Exodus 32:12). This day released the Israelites from work and all other ordinary daily activities (Exodus 35:2, 3).

Consequently, it was a reminder to Israel of their distinct identity contrasted with the nations around them. The Sabbath is a day of remembrance for the Jewish Nation, not Christians.

We are not under the Mosaic Law as a means of salvation or Christian growth. We are being, “conformed to the image of His Son (i.e. Christ), that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29; cf. Philippians 3:20, 21; Colossians 1:28, 29). Christ is our model and standard of life. Salvation is by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

Having said this, however, all the moral commandments or the principles of what God is like and what He approves of in the Law are repeated in the New Testament – except for keeping our day of rest on the seventh day, or Sabbath – which was only for the Jew.

The day of rest for Christians is on the first day of the week, or Sunday. There are at least two clear reasons Christians practice this day. First, Christ rose from the dead on the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1). Second, the early Christians started the pattern of meeting on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). Acts 20:7 is the clearest verse in the New Testament that indicates the early New Testament Christians met on Sunday. Third, the history of the Church continued on with this pattern of Sundays.

For example, an early church manual, the Didache, instructs, “And on the Lord’s own day gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks, first confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure.” This document dates to somewhere between 100-110 A.D.

Martin Luther, in the year, 1528 A.D. in the Lutheran “Large Catechism” maintained, “Our word ‘holy day” or “holiday” is so called from the Hebrew word “Sabbath,” which properly means to rest, that is, to cease from labor; hence our common expression for “stopping work” literally means “observing a holy day or holiday.”

One day of seven is required for our bodily and mental needs to rest from labor, and to involved ourselves in gathering to worship God. One day is as good as another, but as Luther reflects, “Since from ancient times Sunday has been appointed for this purpose, we should not change it. In this way a common order will prevail and no one will create disorder by unnecessary innovation.”

Madelyn, I hope this helps you.

All the best; and God bless,

Dr. Newman


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