Scriptures Usually Quoted to Prove the Abolition of The Sabbath, Examined

verses used against sabbathThe principal portions of Scripture quoted to sustain the no-Sabbath doctrine, are all from the epistles of the Apostle Paul. It is my object to prove to the reader, that these Scriptures do not mean what they are said to mean; and that they do not present the least evidence for the abolition of the weekly Sabbath.

We will first take a view of some of the trials of the early Church, and the Apostle’s labours with them in their trials. A portion of the Christian Church were converts from the circumcision, or Jews, and a portion from the uncircumcision, or Gentiles. The converts from the Jewish Church were still inclined to hold on to, and practice, many of the ceremonies and customs of the Jewish religion, in which they had been educated; while the Gentile Christians were free from these customs, as they had not been educated in them.

Peter did not see that the Gospel was for the Gentiles, until God gave him a vision upon the housetop, and sent him to preach to them at the house of Cornelius. He would not eat with the Gentiles, or keep company with them, until he was shown that God was “no respecter of persons.” (Acts 10:1-45)

Certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren that they must be circumcised in order to be saved. “Paul and Barnabus had no small dissention and disputation with them, and went up to Jerusalem unto the Apostles and elders about this question.” (Acts 15:2) There they were met by certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed who said“that it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” (Acts 15:5) After they had discussed this question, they came to the following conclusion which they wrote and sent to the brethren which were of the Gentiles in Antioch, and Syria, and Cilicia.

“For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.” (Acts 15:28, 29)

With these facts before the mind, turn to Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, where it is said that the Apostle has taught the abolition of the Sabbath. The apostle says, “O FOOLISH Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you. Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith.” (Galatians 3:1, 2)

It is very evident who had bewitched them. From what the Apostle says in the first and second chapters, it is clear that the Church in Galatia had been led from the truth of the Gospel by Judaizing teachers who had commanded them to be circumcised and to keep the law of Moses. Paul speaks in his second chapter, of the conference at Jerusalem with the Apostles and elders on this question, recorded in Acts 16:1-29. He then states that he withstood Peter to the face “because he was to be blamed,” for eating with the Gentile Christians in the absence of those of the circumcision and then when they were present, refusing to eat with the Gentiles. “But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel, I said unto Peter before them all. If thou being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews.”(Galatians 2:14)

I have been thus particular that the reader may clearly see, and understand the Apostle’s subject, in his epistle to the Galatians.

They had left the simplicity of faith in Jesus, and were turning back to the deeds of the law of Moses, which had been dead 25 years.

Paul speaks of circumcision, of their observing days, and months, and times, and years, and eating with the Gentiles; all of which related wholly to the ceremonial laws of Moses, and had no reference to the moral law of God, the ten commandments.

Galatians 5:4

“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:4)

This text is frequently quoted by the no-Sabbath teachers to show that those who are keeping the seventh-day Sabbath have fallen from grace. Now if we fall from grace for keeping the fourth commandment in the decalogue, do they not fall from grace for keeping the first, third, fifth, seventh, or eighth commandment in the same law? If we fall from grace by keeping the Sabbath commandment, we cannot be restored again to grace until we break it. And by the same rule those who are keeping the third, fifth, and eighth commandments, must dishonour their parents, swear, and steal, before they can be restored by divine grace.

I leave the reader to decide as to the justness of this startling conclusion. My desire is to hold up to view, the no-Sabbath, no commandment system in its true, hideous, and crooked form, that the reader may not be devoured by it. If we fall from grace by teaching the Sabbath, then St. Paul, and all the Apostles fell from grace, by teaching the commandments.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right. Honour thy father and mother, (which is the first commandment with promise.)” (Ephesians 4:1, 2)

This is the first commandment of the decalogue which has a promise annexed to it, and the first on the second table of stone. There is not a man or woman in the world who believes that the Apostle fell from grace for urging upon the Ephesians the claims of the fifth commandment in the moral law.

Neither is there a man or woman who really believes that we have fallen from grace (for the sin of Sabbath-keeping as some would have it) for keeping and teaching the fourth commandment. Those who give this impression do not really believe any such thing, but they seem willing to give this wrong impression in order to hide the Sabbath truth.

Romans 14:5, 6

“One man esteemeth one day above another; another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” (Romans 14:5, 6)

If we would understand the Apostle’s subject and argument, we must read the whole chapter.

The Christians at Rome were labouring under trials similar to those in other Churches. Some of them were holding on to the Jewish customs of eating, and feast-days, and others were opposed to these customs. Paul’s greatest trial with them was their judging one another, and making these things a test of Christian fellowship.

“Let not him that eateth, despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not, judge him that eateth; for God hath received him.” (Romans 14:3) He is here teaching them a lesson of Christian forbearance in those things which were not a test of fellowship. He would have every man fully persuaded, and established, as to his own duty in regard to eating, and feast-days; then act conscientiously before God. Such a course was acceptable to God, therefore it was wrong to judge one another.

The Apostle was “all things to all men,” that “by all means” he might “save some.” He even had Timotheus circumcised because of the Jews. (See Acts 16:1-3.) This Jewish custom was not to be observed by the Christian Church, still, Paul would have his fellow labourer (whose father was a Greek) circumcised, that they might better find access to the Jews.

“Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God IS SOMETHING.” (1 Corinthians 7:19, See Whiting’s translation.)

The keeping of the commandments of God, is nowhere spoken of in the New Testament as a thing of little importance, as circumcision, eating, and feast days are; but it is always made a test of Christian fellowship, and Eternal Salvation.

“He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:4) “If thou wilt enter into life keep the commandments.”(Matthew 19:17) “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” (1 John 5:3)

There is no evidence that St. Paul has reference to any of the commandments of God in his fourteenth chapter to the Romans. His subject is eating, and feast-days which some of the Church regarded, and others did not. The word eateth is mentioned in this chapter eleven times, eat three, meat four, drink twice, but the Sabbath (which the no-Sabbath teachers understand to be the subject of this chapter,) is not once mentioned. Those who have relied on this chapter as proof of the abolition of the Sabbath, have guessed at Paul’s meaning, but if they will carefully examine the whole chapter, with a desire to get the truth, they will see that they have guessed wrongly. If we read only the fifth and sixth verses of this chapter, without an understanding of the Apostle’s subject, we may infer that the Sabbath is meant. But an understanding of his subject, his trials, and his labour with his brethren at Rome, destroys all grounds for even an inference, that he refers to the seventh-day Sabbath.

Now let the reader bear this in mind, that Romans 14:5, 6, is one of the four or five texts which support the whole no-commandment, no Sabbath argument. I have shown that the no-Sabbath system has no foundation in this portion of Scripture; and by the help of the Spirit of truth, I will show that it has no foundation in the Scriptures of truth.

It is time for us to be fully awake to the whole truth in relation to the Sabbath; and not be deceived by those who are making void the law of God. O, that God would wake up the “little flock,” and show them all His Sabbath.

Colossians 2:14-17

These verses are also quoted to prove that the seventh-day Sabbath is abolished. “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 handwriting of ordinances that was nailed to the cross at the crucifixion of the Messiah, was the typical, ceremonial law of Moses, which was written by the hand of Moses in a book.

The crucifixion was the dividing line between the two dispensations. “In the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” (Daniel 9:27)

The first covenant, which had “ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary,” (Hebrews 9:1) was a shadow of the second, and better covenant. The law was the shadow, and the Gospel is the body that cast the shadow; and as all shadows reach to their body, and no farther, it is very clear that the sacrifices and oblations, new-moons, feast days, and Sabbaths of the Jewish law ceased, when the precious body and blood of the Lamb of God was sacrificed on the cross. This is what Paul calls “nailing it to his cross.”

“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day, 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 2:16, 17)

If we compare this text with Romans 14:3-6, we shall see that both refer to the same subject. Some regarded the Jewish Sabbaths, new-moons, and feast days, after they were abolished and nailed to the cross, and others did not. Paul would not have the Colossians judged by Judaizing teachers, in respect to those things that had ceased, according to the testimony of the Prophet.

“I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new-moons, and her Sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.” (Hosea 2:11)

Read the entire second chapter of Colossians and you will see what Paul was referring to that had been nailed to the cross. In verse 8 Paul said, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) Certainly Paul would not refer to any of the Ten Commandments of God as “the tradition of men.”

In verse 11 Paul clarified, “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands.” (Colossians 2:11) Here Paul reminded the Colossians that they have already been circumcised in heart and have no need of outward circumcision.

In verse 22 Paul refers to what has been nailed to the cross as “the commandments and doctrines of men.” (Colossians 2:22) Certainly no one would imagine that Paul was referring to any of the Ten Commandments as commandments and doctrines of men.

Now we will turn to Leviticus 23:24-38. Here are four Jewish sabbaths. One on the first day of the seventh month, one on the tenth, one on the fifteenth, and one on the twenty-third day.

“These are the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations,… BESIDES THE SABBATHS OF THE LORD.” (Leviticus 23:37, 38)

The Sabbaths of the Lord our God, come every seventh day; but some of the Jewish convocation sabbaths were nine days apart, others not but four days between them. Here is a clear difference made between the two kinds of sabbaths. The Sabbath of the Lord, so called by way of distinction, is not classed with the other sabbaths. The Jews were to observe their convocation sabbaths at their appointed time, “BESIDES THE SABBATHS OF THE LORD.”

The Sabbath of the Lord our God was instituted at the creation, before the fall, when the earth and man were holy, and Eden bloomed on earth. The convocation sabbaths of the Jews were given at Mount Sinai, more than twenty-five hundred years after, and were a portion of the handwriting of ordinances of the law of Moses, which was nailed to the cross at the death of the Messiah.

The fact that some were teaching these Jewish customs to the Christian Church, and judging them in respect to them, drew the Apostle out to write as he has to the Galatians, Romans, and Colossians, upon this subject.

Now where is the proof that the Apostle refers to the weekly Sabbath in Colossians 2:14-17? If there is any, let it be produced. I have no fears, however, in stating that there is no good evidence to be given, to prove that he refers to the Sabbath of the Lord our God; but there are many reasons (some of which I will give) to show that he has no reference to it.

1st. That which was blotted out, and nailed to the cross, was the handwriting of ordinances given by the HAND of Moses; but the Sabbath commandment was written with the FINGER of God. Moses wrote his law in a BOOK; but God wrote his ten laws, on TABLES OF STONE. It was the HAND WRITING in the book of the covenant, that was blotted out at the death of Christ, and not that which was written on the two tables of the covenant with the finger of God. One was a faulty covenant imposed on the Jews until the time of reformation, or first advent of Jesus; the other is God’s perpetual, everlasting covenant.

In order that we might be impressed with the perpetuity of the royal law, God engraved it on tables of stone. The idea of blotting out what Moses wrote in a book, is perfectly natural; but what idea can we have of blotting out what Jehovah has engraved, with his finger, on tables of stone! The Apostle has taught us that it was the HANDWRITING of ordinances that was blotted out, and nailed to the cross; therefore, he had no reference to the Sabbath law; for that, God has engraven in stones with his FINGER.

2nd. The Sabbath never was “against us;” but was made for the good of mankind in all ages. It was “made for man;” because he needed a day of rest from this world’s labour, and care: he also needed the Sabbath-day to spend in the worship of God.

The Holy Sabbath never was in man’s way, only as God put it in his way for him to keep; therefore he has not “taken it out of our way.”

The law of Moses was imperfect. It could not “make the comers thereunto perfect;” (Hebrews 10:1) therefore the first covenant which was faulty, “that was against us, which was contrary to us,” and which was in the way, was taken out of the way, and nailed to the cross; and gave place to the new, and better covenant, of which Jesus Christ is a Priest.

God’s everlasting covenant of commandments is a perfect law, by which we are to be judged; therefore God cannot give a better one to take its place. (See James 1:25; 2:8-12.)

“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” (Romans 7:12)

A law that is “holy,” “just,” and “good,” and “spiritual,” never is against, or contrary to man, or in his way, but it is just what his wants require; therefore the Apostle has no reference to the Sabbath, or any of the commandments in God’s holy, royal law of liberty. Which of the Ten Commandments could possibly be against us? Could it be the eighth commandment that forbids stealing? Maybe it is against the thief, but it is not against the people of God.

3rd. Paul does not speak of “the Sabbath-day” which is associated with the other nine moral laws; but the sabbath-days, which are associated with “meat,” “drink,” and “new-moons” in the ceremonial laws of Moses. Some object to this because the word days connected with sabbath is supplied by the translator. Here I will give a few lines from the pen of J. B. Cook, in his excellent “Testimony” published in 1846, which read as follows:

“Colossians 2:16, does not speak of the Sabbath; but sabbaths—called in our version incorrectly sabbath-days, (days being supplied by the translator.)”

Some may still object to the word sabbaths, as J. B. Cook has changed his views on the Sabbath.

Then we will take Young’s Literal Translation. He translates it sabbaths; and if this does not satisfy the reader; then we will take Darby’s Translation, or Green’s Literal Translation, or the New King James Version, all of which translate it sabbaths

4th. All that the Apostle has mentioned; such as new-moons, and sabbaths, were shadows, which ceased when they reached their body, at the introduction of the new covenant.

“Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” (Colossians 2:16)

But the Sabbath of the Lord our God is not a shadow; for it is to be perpetuated to all eternity. (See Isaiah 66:22, 23)

All flesh never have worshiped God on the Sabbath since Isaiah wrote this prophecy, neither will they till the righteous are all gathered into the New Earth; then the Sabbath will be observed as long as the immortal saints, and the New Heavens and Earth remain.

Mark this. The Sabbath was instituted in Eden, before the fall, when man was holy, and the earth was holy; and will be as much in its proper place after the restitution, as it was before the fall. It is not an ordinance given to restore fallen man to God; for it was given when man could talk face to face with God and angels, in the holy garden.

All shadows cease when they reach the bodies which cast them. Follow the shadow of a tree to its body, and there the shadow ends. But the weekly Sabbath will never end; therefore it is not a shadow; but a body, as well as the other nine commandments. The ten commandments are of the same nature; and if one is a shadow, they are all shadows. How can we make swearing, stealing, and killing, shadows? This we cannot do. Neither is there a man that can show that the Sabbath is a shadow.

I know that the old tradition is imprinted deeply in many minds that the seventh-day Sabbath is a type of the seventh thousand years. But where is the Scripture to prove it? It is not to be found.

But if any choose to hold on to this tradition, let them remember that all types, or shadows reach to their bodies; and admitting that the seventh thousand years is the body, and the seventh-day Sabbath the shadow; they are driven to the irresistible conclusion, that the seventh-day Sabbath was to continue the same until the seventh millennium.

The view that the Sabbath is a type of the seventh thousand years, and that it ceased at the crucifixion, makes a blank space of more than eighteen hundred years between the body and shadow, which is not in accordance with the system of types in the Bible, or with good sense.

Finally, the fact that the early Christians were troubled by those who were teaching them that they must observe the law of Moses in order to be saved, shows what Paul’s subject was, and that he did not refer to the Sabbath; but to the shadows of Moses’ law, which began to reach their body when the new covenant was introduced by the death of the Messiah.

2 Corinthians 3:7-13

These verses are also quoted to prove the abolition of the Sabbath; but they does not prove any such thing. I think all Bible readers will admit that the Apostle is here contrasting the ministration of the Jewish covenant with the ministration of the Gospel covenant.

God’s law “written and engraven in stones” was to remain unchanged, as long as heaven and earth remain; but the MINISTRATION of it by the outward ceremonies of the law of Moses, was “done away,” or “abolished” to give place to the better ministration of the same law by the Holy Ghost. The glory of the first covenant, represented by the glory of Moses’ face, was to pass away, and to be swallowed up by the exceeding glory of the ministration of the Spirit.

The light of the moon is glorious, but when the sun rises in all its glory the light of the moon is done away.

We may as well say there is no light, when the light of the moon is done away by the exceeding light of the sun, as to say there is no law, because the ministration of it under the first covenant is done away by the exceeding glory of the ministration of the Spirit.

Mark 16:2

“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)

Editor’s Note: This section on Mark 16:2 was written by    Lynnford Beachy.

Recently a man sent me a copy of an article on the Sabbath which commented on this verse and stated in part, “The word ‘week’ there in the Greek is ‘sabbatismos,’ plural (sabbaths). So, we have ‘the first day of the sabbaths.’ The word ‘first’ here is not the feminine Greek ‘mia.’ The word ‘first’ here is the Greek word ‘protos.’ You say, ‘Brother Weaver, what in the world does ‘protos’ mean?’ It means ‘prototype.’ It’s the first one of all those that are going to follow.… So Jesus Christ is inaugurating a new era.

“And at Mark 16:9, he says,… ‘the first day of the sabbaths.’ And again at Luke 24:1,… ‘upon the very first day of the sabbaths.’ And again at John 20:1, he says, ‘The first day of the week [sabbaths]…’ Over and over, in all of the Gospels, the Word of God is telling us that Jesus Christ inaugurated a new set, or different kind of sabbaths.” (A sermon by Pastor John Weaver as printed in The Christian Jural Society News, page 15)

First of all let me point out that the Greek word translated “first” in Mark 16:1 is not protos but mia, but it is protos in Mark 16:9. However, the word protos does not mean “prototype” as the author would have us believe. Protos simply means the first of anything, “first in time or place, first in any succession of things or persons.” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon) Notice how it is used in the following verse: “Now the first [protos] day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?” (Matthew 26:17) If we would apply Pastor Weaver’s definition here then we would have to say that this was the very first “feast of unleavened bread,” but there had been a feast of unleavened bread every year for over a thousand years. The Greek word protos was used 104 times in the New Testament, and it was never translated “prototype.”

Furthermore, the phrase, “the first day of the sabbath” was the Jewish way of saying the first day of the week. John Gill, commenting on this subject wrote, “The first day of the week, or ‘sabbaths’; so the Jews used to call the days of the week, the first day of the sabbath, the second day of the sabbath.” (John Gill’s Expositor, on Matthew 28:1)

In the New Testament the Greek word sabbaton can mean either “Sabbath” or “week.” There was no other Greek word to signify “week.” Please notice how this word is used in the following verse: “I fast twice in the week [sabbaton], I give tithes of all that I possess.” (Luke 18:12)

John Gill commented on this verse in this way, “I fast twice in the week, &c. Not ‘on the sabbath’, as the words may be literally rendered,… for the sabbath was not a fasting, but a feasting day with the Jews; for they were obliged to eat three meals, or feasts, on a sabbath day, one in the morning, another at evening, and another at the time of the meat offering: even the poorest man in Israel, who was maintained by alms, was obliged to keep these three feasts. (Maimon. Hilch. Sabbat, c. 30. sect. 9) It was forbidden a man to fast, until the sixth hour, on a sabbath day; that is, till noon (T. Hieros. Nedarim, fol. 40. 4)… But the word is rightly rendered, ‘in the week’; the whole seven days, or week, were by the Jews commonly called the sabbath; hence, tbvb dxa, ‘the first of the sabbath’, and the second of the sabbath, and the third of the sabbath (Maimon. Hilch. Mechosre Caphara, c. 2. sect, 8); that is, the first, second, and third days of the week. Now the two days in the week on which they fasted were Monday and Thursday, the second and fifth days.” (John Gill’s Expositor, on Luke 18:12)

Those who are resting on their mistaken views of these texts, which I have examined, for the abolition of the Sabbath, are on a sandy foundation. Unless they haste to get off from it, and have their feet planted on the commandments of God, “the over flowing scourge” that is soon to “pass through,” will sweep them away in ruin. (Isaiah 28:15)    ?

(This article was taken from the first and second editions of a newsletter entitled “The Present Truth,” written by James White and first published in Middletown, Connecticut in July and August 1849. It has undergone minor editing for printing in this newsletter. We will be printing more of these studies in future issues and pray they will be a blessing to you.    Editor)