The Sabbath: Saturday or Sunday?
This discussion has not yet been rewritten or presented in the updated multi-part format. That will occur as God wills to provide me the time and energy to do so.
If you are among the millions of Christians who have been deceived into believing that the Holy Sabbath of Almighty YHWH no longer exists, read on. This literature has been written in an attempt to restore the truth unto you as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, for YHWH seeks only those who worship Him in truth (Jn.4:23,24).
The fourth commandment of the “Ten Commandments” reads as follows; “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 YHWH thy mighty one: 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 YHWH made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore YHWH blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Ex.20:8-11).
YHWH blessed only the seventh day of the week (Saturday). He set it apart from the other six days as a day of rest from labor. The only person that has the authority to change one of the Ten Commandments, written on tables of stone as a sign of their immutability, is the writer himself, YHWH. No such command from YHWH, His Son Yeshua, or the Apostles, exists in the Old or New Testament to either change the Sabbath to Sunday (the first day of the week) or to abolish the Sabbath altogether.
Why, then, do the majority of Christians worship on Sunday? Most do so because the Messiah rose from the dead on that day. That, however, is not a valid reason. It is a man-made tradition that causes people to break the commandments of YHWH and therefore worship Him in vain. “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” “And he said unto them, ‘Full well ye reject the commandment of YHWH, that ye may keep your own tradition.'” (Mk.7:7,9).
There are those who believe they have scriptural grounds for no longer keeping the Sabbath. They use three “Proof texts” to support their belief; Galatians 4:10, Colossians 2:14-17, and Ephesians 2:15. Following is a true explanation of the meaning and intent of the Apostle Paul’s writings which, incidentally, the Apostle Peter said are sometimes difficult to be understood. Many people wrestle with them unto their own destruction (2 Pe. 3:16).
Paul was writing to the Galatians who had been heathen worshipers of pagan deities before their conversion to Yeshua. He says in verse 8,” . . .when you knew not God [YHWH], you did service unto them which by nature are no gods.” In other words they were idolaters who neither served YHWH nor walked in His laws. They knew nothing of His commandments and laws except what they had heard from Israelites living in their city. Verse 9 states that after they were converted they began to be known of YHWH, which prompted Paul’s question,”Why do you want to return to the way you were before you were converted? Why do you continue to observe days, months, times, and years that were ordained by pagans? Why do you wish to be slaves to the weak and beggarly elements of pagan so-called holy days?
It would be equivalent to a Muslim converting to Christianity and yet, continuing to observe Rammadan or make pilgrimages to Mecca. The holy days that the Galatians were returning to are comparable to the false holy days we have today such as Sunday, Easter, Lent, Christmas, Goods Friday, Holy Thursday, Ash Wednesday, all of which were declared holy by the “mother church” in Rome and not by YHWH. YHWH declared in Lev 23 which days were His holy days.
Think about it; Why would Paul tell us to keep the Feast of Unleavened in I Cor.5:7,8 and then tell us not to keep any days in Gal.4:10? Why did he desire to keep the upcoming feast in Jerusalem in Acts 18:21(KJV) and then tell the Galatians that they were not permitted to keep any feasts? Why were the disciples gathered together on the day of Pentecost (Feast of Weeks) in Acts 2 if that annual Sabbath had been abolished? Consider also 1 Cor.16:8; Acts 20:6,16; and Acts 27:9 (the fast was on the Day of Atonement, an annual Sabbath). Paul’s custom was to obey all of YHWH’s laws because he knew the law was not made void through faith (Rom.3:31).
These verses are used to prove that the weekly Sabbath as well as annual Sabbaths have been nailed to the cross. This view is incorrect and is based on several mistranslations, added words not found in any Greek texts, and poor Bible exegesis.
Let’s first determine the context of chapter two. In verses 4 and 8 Paul warns the Colossians about deceivers. Then again, in verse 18, Paul gives his final warning about these same deceivers. In what way were they trying to deceive the Colossians? Verse 8 tells us that they were trying to exalt the traditions of men over the Messiah (verses 8 & 19).
Notice carefully the context; the traditions of men in verse 8, 18, and 22. The verses that occur between 8 and 22 must be understood based on the context of the traditions of men.
Now we can understand the key word in Col.2:14, “ordinances.” The Greek word for ordinances here is a form of the root word “dogma” which means man-made rules, laws, commandments, precepts, etc. Paul is not talking about YHWH’s ordinances in this verse. He is talking about man’s ordinances or traditions. This same word is used in Col.2:20 pertaining to the doctrines and commandments of men; in Lu.2:1 pertaining to a decree from Caesar Augustus; in Acts 17:7 pertaining to a decree from Caesar; and in Eph.2:15, which we will look at later. It always pertains to man’s commandments, not YHWH’s. Compare the word dogma with the Greek word that pertains to YHWH’s ordinances, “dikaioma.”
This word dikaioma was used in Lu.1:6 pertaining to the ordinances of YHWH and in Heb.9:1,10 pertaining once again to YHWH’s ordinances. Therefore, Paul is saying in verse 14 that the traditions and commandments of men are the issue, not YHWH’s laws. But what was nailed to the cross? The Greek construction shows that the “handwriting” was nailed, not the ordinances. The handwriting or, in Greek, the “cheirographon” was a certificate of debt. Whenever a man sins against YHWH his sin is imputed against him (Rom.4:7,8). When men exalt the traditions of men over the commandments of YHWH, as the Pharisees did, for example, they sin against YHWH. The Messiah became sin for us and when He was nailed to the tree so were the sins that were imputed against us. YHWH’s holy ordinances were not nailed to the tree, the certificate of debt resulting in our death sentence was nailed to the tree. That is why Paul said the Colossians were “dead in your sins” in verse 13. The principalities and powers of verse 15 caused the people to sin by their man-made laws but Messiah was victorious over them.
This brings us to the crucial verse 16. It was the deceivers of verses 4,8, and 18 that were judging the Colossians regarding the things mentioned in verse 16. They had been imposing their man-made commandments and traditions upon the Colossians. Paul told them not to allow anyone to judge them concerning those matters. An important addition was made in the KJV that does not appear in any Greek manuscript. The word “is ” in verse 17 was added, which changes the meaning of Paul’s statement. That is why it is written in italics. Retaining the word “is” implies the thought of shadow vs. reality. In other words, Messiah fulfilled the shadow of the things mentioned in verse 16. However, if you remove the added word “is”, it implies that we should not let any man outside the body of Messiah judge us in respect to these things. Indeed that is in line with the context of Paul’s previous statements. Notice Col.1:18 & 24 and Col.2:19, all of which teach us that the body of Messiah is the church or all true believers.
There are several other points worthy of mention concerning verses 16 & 17. Verse 17 states that these things “are” a shadow of things “to come” not that they “were” a shadow that was now fulfilled. Paul wrote this epistle approximately 30 years after Messiah’s death and resurrection and yet he still spoke of them as unfulfilled shadows of something in the future.
The final “proof text” to be considered is Eph.2:15. Again we see the Greek word “dogma” (ordinances) meaning man-made commandments. Having that in mind let’s begin in verses 11-13. Paul explains that before one accepts Messiah as his Savior he is separated from the commonwealth of Israel, he is without YHWH, and he is uncircumcised. However, once he accepts Messiah he becomes an Israelite, circumcised in the heart, and at one with YHWH. Notice what is abolished in verse 15. It is the enmity or the hatred between the Israelite and the Gentile that was abolished. This hatred was caused by the commandments and traditions of men. For example, Paul alludes to a “middle wall of partition” between Jew and Gentile. This was a literal wall that Paul uses in a figurative sense to make his point. The Jews decreed,( they made a dogma), which stated that if a Gentile crossed over the wall separating the Court of the Jews from the Court of the Gentiles surrounding the temple, that they would be immediately killed. This was not a commandment of YHWH. In fact, YHWH never even commanded such a wall to exist. That dogma created a hatred between the two peoples which Messiah destroyed creating one new man and so, making peace.
I cannot impress upon you enough the importance YHWH places on the observance of all His Holy days. Each has a very special meaning, for example, not only does the Feast of Unleavened picture the putting away of sin (leaven) from our lives, but it is also a memorial of YHWH’s great deliverance of Israel from Egypt. Can we, with a clear conscience, say that such a great event no longer needs to be memorialized by observing it in honor of YHWH’s great mercy? Do we no longer need to memorialize the creation of the heavens and the earth by resting on the seventh day as the Creator gave us example?
The Sabbaths of YHWH were given as a perpetual covenant and are a sign between Him and His people so that they will know who it is that sanctifies them (Ex.31:13-17). They will continue to be observed after the new heavens and the new earth are created (Is.66:22,23), so why not begin now?
Many Christians are under the mistaken belief that the fourth commandment has been changed. They believe the weekly seventh day Sabbath has been changed to Sunday, the first day of the week. They call it the “Christian Sabbath” or the “Lord’s Day”. Before we review some of the scriptures used to support such a view, let’s see the example New Testament scriptures set for us.
It was Yeshua’s custom to read and worship in the synagogue on Sabbath (Lu.4:16). If he hadn’t, he would have sinned against Yahweh by breaking the fourth commandment. Throughout our Savior’s ministry he continually upheld the seventh day Sabbath without ever suggesting or hinting that the observance would be changed to Sunday or done away with altogether. He even taught us it is lawful to heal and do good deeds on the Sabbath (Mt.12:10-12).
The Scriptures also say that it was Paul’s manner to attend synagogue services on Sabbath (Acts 17:2). Many Christians assume that he did this to witness rather than to worship. They also use the same assumption to say that the only reason Paul attended the Feasts in Jerusalem was to witness. Acts 20:16 says, “For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.” Without deeper study, one can assume he went to witness. However, Acts 24:11,12 refers to that very trip. It says, “Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship . And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:” Paul went to Jerusalem to worship on the annual sabbath called the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. He and about 119 other brethren were also worshiping Yahweh on this same day (Pentecost) in Acts 2:1. Had they not been obedient to Yahweh’s command to have a holy convocation on that day (Lev.23:15,16,21 – a statute forever), they would not have received the Holy Spirit.
Please take note of the following verses:
In Acts 13:14 Paul and his company sat down in the synagogue on Sabbath. After the service, the Gentiles wanted Paul to preach to them the next Sabbath (vs.42)! Why did they wait an entire week if Paul was going to preach again the next day, Sunday? Verse 44 tells us the whole city came to hear Paul the next Sabbath day.
When Paul and company arrived in the next city, Iconium, again they went into the synagogue on Sabbath. Both Jews and Greeks were there to hear the word. If the disciples were worshiping on Sunday as well, surely the Greeks would have rather attended that service. But we find no mention of Sunday.
Acts 18:1-4 is very interesting. Paul moved in with a Jewish couple in Corinth. Verse 4 says, “he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath , and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks .” He did this for “a year and six months, teaching the word of Yahweh among them.” That is about 78 Sabbath days in a row. Again, no mention of Sunday. Again, teaching both Jews and Gentiles.
After spending some time in Ephesus, again attending synagogue services (Acts 18:19,20), he had to leave because he “must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem” (vs.21). This most likely referred to the Feast of Tabernacles, the first day of which was another annual sabbath.
We also see Paul fasting with his shipmates in Acts 27:9. The margin of the KJV says, “The fast was on the tenth day of the seventh month, [Le.23:27].” Again, another annual sabbath, the Day of Atonement. Verses 33 & 34 confirm the fact that they were fasting.
Throughout the Book of Acts, which comprises about 32 years of “church” history, we see only weekly and annual Sabbath observance. Absolutely nothing on Sunday, the first day of the week, except Acts 20:7.
We can also see Yeshua’s followers continuing to observe the weekly Sabbath in Lk.23:56 after Yeshua’s death and burial. And we have Yeshua’s own admonition to his disciples of the continued existence of the Sabbath. In Mt 24, the Messiah is prophesying of end-time events. In verse 20 he says to his disciples , “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day.
With all these witnesses to the weekly and annual Sabbaths, how can Christian preachers teach that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath? It is a common teaching that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday in honor of the Savior’s resurrection on that day. Since there is no command in the Bible, from either the Father, Son, Apostles, or disciples, to authorize such a change, their only proof lies in the “first day of the week” verses, of which there are only eight. So let’s look at them.
Mt.28:1 – The only thing we can learn by this verse is that the first day of the week is not the Sabbath. Why doesn’t this verse say, “In the end of the seventh day, as it began to dawn toward the Christian Sabbath . . .?”
Mk.16:2 – Same event. Nothing about a new day of worship.
Mk.16:9 – Vss. 11-14 tell us the disciples “believed not” that Yeshua resurrected. This proves that none of the verses that refer to the resurrection day are proofs that Sunday day was honored as the new Christian Sabbath.
Lk.24:1 – Same as Mt.28:1 & Mk.16:2. Nothing about a new day of Jn.20:1 – Same as Mt.28:1; Mk.16:2; Lk.24:1.
Jn.20:19 – This would be equivalent to our Sunday night or the second day of the week to the disciples. Notice they were “assembled for fear of the Jews,” not to worship & fellowship. They were hiding. According to Mk.16:11-14, they didn’t believe Yeshua had resurrected so they certainly could not honor that day as the new Sabbath at that point in time.
Jn.20:26 – This does not refer to Sunday. Eight days after a Sunday night is a Monday night or the start of the third day of the week for the disciples.
Acts 20:7 – What does it mean to “break bread”? Does it mean to take “the Lord’s supper” on Sunday? According to Acts 2:42-46, “breaking bread” was done daily. It simply means to have a meal. In Acts 20:7, the disciples finished Sabbath services on Saturday. After the sun set ending Sabbath and beginning the first day of the week, they had a meal together followed by Paul’s preaching until midnight Sunday (our Saturday night). The disciples held this special gathering because their beloved Paul was to leave the next morning (vs. 7). In the morning, he had planned to walk approx. 10 miles to Assos. Notice he would not take this strenuous, tiring trip on Sabbath, but waited instead until Sunday, another work day.
1 Cor.16:2 – Does this refer to collecting offerings during a Sunday service? No. If you check Acts 11:27-30 & Rom.15:25-28 you will see that there was a great famine that especially caused hardship for the brethren in Judea and Jerusalem. Paul requested offerings from the Galatian, Corinthian, Macedonian, and Achaian brethren. He told them to gather the goods (food, clothing, etc.) prior to his arrival. He did not want to have to wait for the offerings to be gathered when he came. He then took all the relief items to Jerusalem to disperse to the needy saints. There is nothing in these verses to indicate a typical Sunday collection. It was a one time special collection because of the famine. And it was done on Sunday because of the tremendous amount of work involved in loading all the goods, something they would never have done on Sabbath.
Rev.1:10 – Is the “Lord’s day” a new name for Sunday; a reference to the weekly Sabbath; or a reference to “The Day of the LORD,” “The Day of Yahweh”? The latter could be true since John was transported in the spirit to the prophetic time known as “The Day of Yahweh.” It seems more likely, however, that John was referring to the weekly Sabbath. Yeshua, in referring to himself, said, “…the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath” (Mk.2:28). In other words, since Yeshua is the Lord or Master of that day, then the weekly Saturday Sabbath is the Lord’s day or Yeshua’s day. To say that it means Sunday is pure assumption without fact or Scripture to back it up.
So what can we conclude?
- Yeshua kept the Sabbath on Saturday and we are to follow the example he set for us, especially since he is the Master of that day and not Sunday.
- The Jews, Gentiles, and disciples continually gathered in the synagogue on the Sabbath day to read, worship, teach, preach, and reason together.
- Not one of the 8 references to the first day of the week support a Sunday worship service.
- The fourth commandment, written on tables of stone as a sign of their immutability (unchangeable nature), declares the seventh day as the day of rest, not the first day. Add to this fact the following:
- Only the seventh day was blessed and sanctified (Ge.2:1-3), not Sunday.
- We follow the Creator’s example of resting as He did.
- We memorialize Yahweh’s great creation by resting as He did.
- We acknowledge the only sign ever given to Yahweh’s people that informs us of who it is that sanctifies us (Ex.31:13).
- The Sabbath is a “perpetual (everlasting) covenant” that is separate and distinct from the old covenant (Ex.31:16; 24:8).
- There are great blessings in store for those who keep the Sabbath holy (Is.58:13,14).
- The redeemed will worship Yahweh on the Sabbath days and New Moon days during the millennium (Is.66:22,23).
One more point before I close. I call your attention to Heb.9:16-17, “For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.” A will or testament can be altered only as long as the one making the will is alive. In addition, it can only be altered by that same person. Once the testator dies, the will cannot be changed. Once Yeshua died, no changes could be made to his will or testament. Therefore, the Sabbath could only be changed to Sunday by Yeshua prior to his death. Any changes made by anyone except Yeshua are unauthorized changes. Since there is no such authorization in the Bible, the seventh day Sabbath remains a holy day of rest for Yahweh’s obedient children.
There are many more facts too numerous to mention, all of which establish beyond a shadow of a doubt the truth that the seventh To exalt Sunday over the commanded seventh day Sabbath is to exalt tradition over the commandment of Almighty Yahweh. Yeshua the Messiah rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for doing that in Mt.15:1-9. In that case, the fifth commandment was being transgressed. He even went so far as to say that the scribes and Pharisees were worshiping in vain because of their exaltation of tradition over the commandments of Yahweh (vs.9).
My prayer is that you will be among the faithful who keep the commandments of Almighty Yahweh, for that is the fruit of true holiness.
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