Does the New Testament tell us we don’t have to keep the «Jewish» Sabbath?
This is a very discussed topic, but the Bible does have some answers for us. Jesus never said the law would be abolished nor the Sabbath. Actually, none of the New Testament writers say it either, and many think they do because they have been told they do. So we are going to look at the verses many interpret into saying we no longer are obligated to keep the Sabbath.
The first often used is the Jerusalem council. They list some of the things they think the converted heathen should keep:
«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)
Them not mentioning the Sabbath in this list is interpreted to mean the same as the Sabbath isn’t required to keep for the heathens. This raises several issues though if interpreted that way.
One is if the Jerusalem Council had authority to abolish God’s law as valid for the heathens. The second is if these are the only things the pagans were to keep from God’s law, then what happened to «thou shalt not steal, thou shall not covert, thou shall not have any other gods beside Me, thou shalt not kill, honor thy mother and thy father” and so on. Was the not mentioning of the Sabbath, the fourth commandment of the dialogue, synonym with it being lawful to break? And if so, none of the other commandments was mentioned unless we think of the «fornication» to be synonym with the seventh commandment against adultery. However often the word fornication was used also to describe when a believer took part in rituals and feasts with idol-worshippers or pagan interpretation of what was legal sexually that contradicted the moral of the Bible. Different people had a different idea of what fornication was.
When Jesus tells a young man to keep the commandments He lists several of the ten commandments and when He says: «do not commit adultery» an entirely different Greek word (moicheuo) is used to describe this commandment. (Mar 10:19) The word used by the Jerusalem council is “porneia” which means harlotry. It could be referring to the seventh commandment or it could refer to an interpretation of sexual morality or even fornication with pagan gods. But wasn’t that a given thought to not have any other gods once converted? It wasn’t. In Roman times it was custom to welcome new gods into their mythology. In fact, as the territory widened the Roman government accepted the gods of that new place as part of their pantheon rather competing with it. They had an ecumenical sort of religion, and most pagans weren’t used to a monotheistic religion. Hearing about the Father and the Son would for many be considered an addition to other gods rather a replacement of it. And these are part of the battles the apostles faced when converting pagans into a Jewish-biblical God-view that forbade other gods. An unusual concept for most heathens. And so among the first converted followers, there were many who were receiving but didn’t reject their other customs that made them part of the larger society.
In the Bible and old testament, God’s people were called a harlot when they engaged in religious rituals tied to idol worship. He repeatedly was upset with them because they didn’t leave their traditions from Egypt behind and so easily adopted from other religions.(Esek.23,8, Acts.7,42-43)
It’s hard for us today to understand the worry Jesus-believing Jews felt, who were custom to it being wrong just to dine with an uncircumcised, and now the converted heathen with their ignorance in biblical practices wanted to worship together with them.
But even if this wasn’t the harlotry they were speaking of and they were mentioning the seventh commandment and we found one of the ten commandments in the Jerusalem council, we have to question what happened to the other nine commandments? For instance, they said to «abstain from meat offered to idols» but did not say anything about any other ritual tied to idol worship. Or to not have any other god than the God of the Bible, just to not eat what was sacrificed to them? This isn’t a command from the ten commandments. This is at best an explanatory to a commandment, but not itself the commandment.
The many making the assumptions that the only think a pagan Christian have to keep is those listed by the Jerusalem council may have misunderstood something very important.
At this time of the council, the Jewish rituals were still practiced. The Jewish temple still stood and continued as before. This is made evident when Paul later returns to Jerusalem and they tell him to take part in a ritual cleansing in the temple. (Acts. 21,20–21) They were eager to prove to their Jewish brethren and family that they continued all the Jewish practices even though they believed in Jesus. It’s understandable considering Jesus never told them not to, and instead, Jesus showed great respect for the Jewish system even asking people He had healed to show themselves to the priest with the accompanying sacrifice:
«And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.» (Mat.8,4)
He also said: “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:
All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. (Mat 23:1-3)
The logic was not far off considering that they had sacrificed for hundreds of years now knowing it had all been a symbol of Christ pointing to His death, and now taking part was a remembrance of that same event. And so they did not see it contradicting, whether performed before the cross or after, they both were to point to Christ and the only real way to salvation. However in the letters to the Hebrew, they are told that these sacrifices are no longer needed after Christ died on the cross, rather they would take away the focus of salvation through Christ, giving many Jews a false sense of security. The ritual laws were therefore now hindering Jews for feeling the need of atonement through the blood Christ, thinking their sacrificial system was good enough for salvation. Some tried to combine them, thinking salvation was in both. When the heathen was converting some even tried to make them adopt all these practices as they thought they were still needed. And so many of Pauls letters address this problem.
Paul went before the others, him being a Pharisee by education, to teach them in several of his letters, that these laws in many ways ended up competing with the cross. In the end, the Jewish Christians stopped sacrificing and doing the rituals tied to the temple service. However, at the time of the Jerusalem council, they still partook in many of the rituals. These rituals seemed, because of their state, of no point, as even an unnecessary burden, to place upon heathen. The heathen had to focus on ridding themselves of idol practices and thinking. The apostles still kept them to reach their Jewish brethren, not to be saved by them, and those who traveled around to the new Christian saying they had to partake in order to be part of the congregation they considered to be wrong. Peter addressed this in the council argument that God sent him to the house of a converted and they got the Holy Spirit even though they were not circumcised. So, therefore, they concluded if God didn’t hold back His Spirit to them when they were uncircumcised it meant there was no need for pagans with a different background to start.
It’s important to understand that circumcision, which was debated, was what any pagan had to do in order to be part of the Jewish ritual system. If someone wasn’t circumcised they could not dine with a jew or take part in any of the rituals. Even the Passover, no uncircumcised could join in that meal together with the Jew, and Jesus was the fulfillment of the Passover lamb. So some thought in order to take part in Jesus, God’s lamb, circumsion was needed.
“And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof” (Exo.12,48).
And so this is why some claim the converted pagans had to be circumcised in order to be part of the “family”, as the stranger always had to be in the past.
That this is what the matter was about is evident when the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, long after the council, tells Paul to partake in a cleansing ritual at the temple that involved animals sacrifice and they say:
“As touching the Gentiles which
belief, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication” (Acts.21,25)
Here it becomes clear that the matter was tied to the Jewish ritual services. However, as the council had concluded, if they followed the above requirements that involved cleansing themselves from the specific pagan customs, they could take part in the Jewish-Christian worship gatherings, although not in the Jewish. Even though Peter had been in the Jerusalem council and part of them deciding the pagan-Jesus believers didn’t have to be circumcised to take part in the Christian congregation, he still struggled with his decision later. Paul is very upset with Peter when he writes:
“But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation” (Gal 2:11-13).
The reason the Jerusalem council is so misunderstood is that we have little concept today of the struggle that was then.
Even when it came to food, many feared to eat that which was made by the pagan-Christians as they were not learned in all the rules and regulations that the Jews had added to God’s law. Paul also addressed this in his letters (Rom 14:2). Many think Peter, in the vision given him, was told to eat unclean animals. But the cloth with animals contained both clean and unclean and Peter regarded the clean as unclean because of contamination. It was a metaphor of then Jewish thinking. It’s in Peters response:
“But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean” (Act 10:14)
The word unclean means it’s against the laws but the word “common” is the Greek “
“And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common” (Acts.10,15)
Note that God does not say that which is “unclean” is cleansed, but that which Peter called “common”. Peter knew this wasn’t about food when he explained the meaning of the vision:
“And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean” (Act 10:28)
Peter doesn’t say he learned from the vision that he could now eat pork, but he said God had shown him he would not be unclean by visiting these converted heathens and that he should not view them which has turned to God as unclean. But today, taken entirely out of context, Christians think God gave Peter the vision so he would no longer follow the health laws of the Bible. Cornelius was a heathen, but followed the religion of the Jews: “A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house” (Act.10,2) He was clean, and Peter was not allowed to call either him or himself unclean by the
Back to the Council:
Right after the original Jerusalem Council, Paul went to Antioch where he informed everyone of the verdict of the council, for the new believers to stay away from the practices of the heathen. Actually, all the things listed in the council’s letter was tied to heathen practices that they wished they would abstain from. As they felt the union with such believers defiled the congregation. Besides that, they said, they would place on them no burden. Meaning no additional requirements from them personally in order to take part in the new family. As they conclude, in the Council, after listing all the things tied to heathen practices:
«For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.» (Acts.15,21)
Sabbath IS mentioned in the Council as the day they can envolve in knowledge, and that there were preachers of the law in every city available to share the truth on that day. In other words,
But the converted heathen did not go to the synagogue? In the beginning, they actually did. The properly converts went inside and some waited outside so it could be preached to them as well. There were no churches
“But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.
And after the reading of the law and the
prophetsthe rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.
Then Paul stood
up,and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience…. And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besoughtthat these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and RELIGIOUS PROSELYTES [converts] followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God” (Acts.13,14-16 & 42-43)
“And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God” (Acts 13,44)
In harmony with the
“And on the
sabbathwe went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither” (Act 16:13).
“And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures” (Act 17:2)
“And he reasoned in the synagogue every
sabbath,and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks” (Act 18:4)
The pagan worshipping with the Jews is in this one verse called «religious proselytes», meaning converts. In order for a convert to be accepted as part of the Jewish congregation, they had to be circumcised and follow all the customs. Or else they would still be considered «unclean». This was the controversy that caused the Jerusalem council in the first place. It sounds strange today, but it was a real question back then. That is why Peter didn’t want to go dine with Cornelius and why he was so surprised they got the Holy Spirit even though they were not circumcised. And God had to teach Peter through the vision that he could commune with Christ followers who weren’t circumcised. Now, in the Jerusalem council, the idea of separation of worshippers was rejected. It had been practiced in the temple and during holidays and in their congregations, but now the wall between them was torn, and both circumcised and uncircumcised could dine and worship together in the name of Christ.
The problem back then is misinterpreted because modern and middle age scholars compared it to a different time and conflict than the one they faced. Also, it was about power and position and the need to separate from the Jews. In a way, many Christians turned it all upside down. The council which was meant to unite the converts with the Jewish-Christian congregation was suddenly used to call Jews and their traditions as unclean instead. The church council in Laodicea in the 300s actually forbade Christians from feasting with Jews or from taking part in any of their traditions (See footnote 1). Everything was turned upside down and the meaning ruined, as these verses were used to create separation rather uniting the converts to “Israel”. Now they claimed, Jews who believed in Jesus, had to convert to pagan customs in order to be part of their congregation. The more modern interpretation of the Jerusalem council is in many ways built on the old Catholic ideas and laws and is the main reason it’s misunderstood even by protestants today who look upon Christians keeping the original Sabbath as “not real Christians” or “unclean christians”.
The idea that The Jerusalem Council rejected God’s moral laws, even His ten commandments, for these four commandments mentioned in the council, is in a way an absurd interpretation of the council.
And if they had done this, they would have acted in contrary to Christ own words and the entire law and prophets. All accusations against them back then would have been correct indeed. Jesus was taking away the separation, not creating one. If indeed pagans and Jews were from this moment to keep two different laws in order to be right with God, then a separation was created at this council, not a union. What remained for a complete union was for the Jews to realize they didn’t have to continue the sacrificial laws, and they did once the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and they were prevented from continuing.
Jesus warned ahead to the very apostles who were later sitting in that Council:
Jesus also showed no respect for the idea that the Sabbath was no longer valid from the time of the council that took place around 48 AD. For when Jesus spoke of 70 AD He said for them to pray that they don’t end up in a situation that causes them to break the Sabbath (Mat.24:20). If it was nailed to the cross why would Jesus say this about the future? Would the council make Christ word about the future of no effect? Of course not. Was the sabbath nailed to the cross for pagans but not for Jews? How would that work? Jesus said that His blood was the blood of the covenant and that it was confirmed on the cross. Anything added to the covenant or removed, had to be proclaimed by Christ Himself before His death. If the moral law was no longer required to keep after the cross, Jesus would have told them. God always let people know throughout Bible history, He never left them to guess His requirements or expectations. It was never left to man to make laws or abolish them. Those who did was in the Bible considered rebels. The leaders in Jeremiah’s day did, God said they were false prophets. Kings did, God said He would take from their descendants their throne. No man could remove God’s requirements but God Himself. That is why the law was placed inside God’s throne here on earth. It’s not something that is the matter of interpretation or guesswork based on a letter someone sends someone that can mean one thing or another. If there were no longer requirements to keep God’s law, God would have directly through Christ informed them beforehand and there would be no cause to doubt.
The New Testament tries to break down the idea that there is one salvation for Jews and another for Christians. Paul tries to explain this over and over again in his letters. That there is only one name to be saved by. Peter proclaimed it so bravely:
«Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.» (Act_4:12)
All Jewish traditions and laws could not change that. Without
Paul uses the image of a tree in his letter to the Romans. The tree is Christ and the roots, the law
Paul said everyone is one in Christ.
«There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus» (Gal_3:28)
It was always supposed to be this way. When known Biblical heathen people such as Tamar, Rahab and Ruth converted they became part of the Jewish line, the family tree leading to both David and Christ. In fact, God Himself said that any stranger who would keep the Sabbath and honor Him as God were to be welcome to His mountain and His house of prayer:
«Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.» (Isa 56:6-7)
No separation, not two different religious practices. Just one, and that one that united them was honoring the Sabbath and the covenant. Not one covenant for converted pagans and one for Jews, not one Sabbath for converted pagans and one for Jews. But converted would become one in God’s family by adopting God’s Sabbath and the covenant.
The Sabbath was in the old testament a sign they had turned to the only true God and it would make them part of God’s family. Choosing another “sabbath” then the one God sanctified means Christians are excluding themselves from the real congregation of God. That the Sabbath in the New Testament would be a wall separating the Jews and converted heathens are therefore not in harmony with the God of the Bible and His wishes to unite them. The
A sacrifice or a sacrificial law was an act done to atone for
So Jesus, when talking about Rome encamping Jerusalem around 70 A.D tells them to pray their flight won’t be on the Sabbath, as that would place them in a difficult situation. Jesus sees the Sabbath still being important even then. He shows no knowledge of the Sabbath being nailed to the cross.
Lastly, another argument against them omitting the Sabbath (even though they didn’t as they mentioned it as a day of learning) in the Jerusalem council is the words they used:
«to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things…»
Notice the word BURDON. Would keeping the Sabbath holy be a burden if it was kept according to the Bible requirements? According to the laws tied to the Sabbath, they could not call the sabbath day a burden without dishonoring it. Calling the Sabbath a burden was tied to sin and disobedience.
God says through the prophet Isaiah:
«If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour Him …» (Isa.58,13)
The Sabbath was to be called a delight, a happy day of communion. A spiritual feast with the Lord. Those who claimed otherwise was in disfavor with God.
«Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit? ….Shall not the land tremble for this, and every one mourn that dwelleth therein? and it shall rise up wholly as a flood; and it shall be cast out and drowned, as by the flood of Egypt.» (Amos. 8,5 & 8)
«And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the LORD, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein» (Jer 17:24)
Everything that was a burden had to be laid down on the Sabbath, so that the Sabbath would NOT be a burden.
God says it’s sacrilegious, blasphemous to disregard the Sabbath. God even said that Israel, that they had fallen away when they polluted the Sabbath:
«they polluted [to profane/wound] my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them …withdrew Mine hand, and wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted [to profane/wound] in the sight of the heathen…» (Ezek.20,22)
God didn’t want His sabbath to be profaned in the sight of the heathen. The Sabbath was a witness to them of God’s identity, and that witness was ruined. No Jew with respect for himself in the time of the Jerusalem council would call the Sabbath “a burden” they didn’t want to place upon the heathen.
It’s clear from the setting of the meeting that they are just giving additional advice on how to handle the union of heathen converts and Jews together. No Jews, even those converted to Jesus, would want to dine with a heathen who still ate of a sacrifice that had been made to idols, or animals that had not been slaughtered in a kosher way. Many of the converted still had families they dined with who did this. And in order to bring the two together, the heathen had to at least consider doing these requirements, although they did not have to be circumcised to dine or even worship on the Sabbath with their fellow Jewish believer.
For those who have deceived millions abolishing God’s law using the Jerusalem council as their defense lack evidence and knowledge of Christ mission and His identity, but also about the controversies of the first Christian assembly.
When the idea that God’s law was no longer valid was first presented, new scriptural verses were used to confirm this, dragging even more verses out of its context. When you start interpreting “evidence” wrong, every new evidence will be interpreted to fit with the already chosen understanding.
We will look at two such places. And please remember that the Bible warns us that Satan would use scripture and even Christ name to deceive people, and so part of his mission is to distort the meaning of the Bible so that people will stay in opposition to the truth. (2.Cor.11,14-15) Peter even said especially Paul’s letters are being twisted already in their day.
“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.Pet.3,16)
This can explain why a first-century church would not even receive John, Christ beloved apostle who had known Jesus personally, into their congregation. The controversy started early. The apostle John writes:
“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. …neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.” (3.Joh.1,9-10)
Not only would he not receive the apostle himself, but cast out anyone who would. What was so provoking about the apostle Jesus even entrusted his mother to, that he would not be received in a Christian church? Pagan converts had already started to reject God’s law. John said:
“He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1.Joh.2,4)
John was rebuking people who claimed the name of “Christ” while rejecting God’s law. And this church mentioned in his third letter would not even receive him or his bretheren. Did not John know the true gospel? Did not John know Christ? Peter knew Paul was a devoted believer respecting God’s law but he saw how his words were misinterpreted even then which is why he made the warning.
One of the things misinterpreted is found in Pauls letters to the Galatians where he writes:
«But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.» (Gal 4:9-11)
For those who are “unlearned”, as Peters puts it, in the law and the prophets and Christ’s own words regarding His mission, it seems at first glance that Paul is annoyed with anyone keeping Biblical holy days like the Sabbath. Which is odd considering the New Testament shows us Paul keeps them himself. Even trying to keep track on all of God’s times so he can keep them. (See Act_18:21, Act_20:16, Act_20:6, 1Co_5:8 )
Some think he is saying to the Galatians that keeping God’s times lead to captivity, that it’s bad, and that we are free from such things now. It almost sounds like it leads to perdition to keep the Sabbath or any of the Lord’s feasts.
However only by placing the verses in context, it reveals something different. The verse before the two just quoted, clears it up:
«Howbeit then, when YE KNEW NOT GOD, ye did service UNTO THEM which by nature are NO GODS.» (Gal 4:8)
The Galatians were of pagan origin and they had previously served other gods. In fact, they had not even known the God of the Bible before hearing the gospel according to Paul in this verse. He continues:
«But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how TURN YE AGAIN to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be IN BONDAGE?»
They cannot turn again to Biblical times and the Sabbath when they never observed them in the first place. Paul is here speaking of the customs of the pagans, their holy days and their practices. The Galatians had, while still proclaiming Christ name, turned back to pagan practices and mixed them with their newfound faith. Maybe feeling pressured by family and friends as not taking part often lead to rejection by their loved ones. This is what Paul is criticizing. We know historically this is what happened with the Christian church early on, they mixed the feasts and times of the pagan religion with the Jewish-Christianity in order to remove the Jewishness out of the faith. Christians to this day still do what Paul called bondage, they keep previously pagan seasons and times and feasts. Church traditions were to mix the two and many Christians keep church traditions before the Bible and God’s laws. But it gets worse they claim they are free when they do it, and that those who keep God’s sabbaths are the ones in captivity. The meaning has been turned around. The devil is very clever with his deceptions. That which is of God is now considered a sin and bondage and that which is from his invented religions is now considered freedom – all in the name of Christ.
However, God said it was a pollution of His Sabbath to call it anything but holy and honorable. Anyone calling God’s sabbath bondage is profaning it like God previously said. But the verses in its context clearly show Paul is talking about Christians keeping pagan “times”.
Another misunderstood letter is in Pauls letter to the Colossians:
«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: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.»
Didn’t Paul just “judge” in respect of “moon” and “times” to the Galatians saying they were in bondage? Is he now contradicting himself? No, this time he says “sabbath days”. He was judging them when he was talking about pagan times, but when he know speak of God’s times he says: “Let no man therefore judge you”. Judge: Return to old pagan times. Not judge: Things related to God’s times. Very simple.
Those who twist the scripture against God’s laws claim Paul says no one can judge you for BREAKING the Sabbath. But is that what Paul is saying? Continuing reading reveal the matter of conflict. The meaning appears to be the opposite. That those who DID keep Gods sabbath days were the ones who were unrightfully judged. Why? Because they didn’t keep it after the requirements of men.
He continues to speak of people worshiping angels, and «intruding into those things which he hath not seen» (verse 18). He then continues:
«Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.» (Col.2,20-23)
Paul here clears up his meaning perfectly when he says «after the commandments and doctrines of men», he is not speaking about the commandments of God, but that of men. He is not saying the Sabbath is a commandment of men, he knows it is not. He says the rules and regulations of eating on these times are commandments of men. Some converted heathens were refused to take part in the meals and were judged for keeping them. Some converted Jews were criticized for not following the Jewish rituals tied to these times. We know historically that the second-temple period Jewish sect called the Essenes did have a strange angel adoration and they also claimed it was a sin to eat meat, and eat of the Passover lamb, even to partake in a Passover meal. There were many “man-made” rules coming from different Jewish groups in those days and some of them converted to Christ and continued trying to make their ideas a law for the first Christians. Paul did not want a Christian “
They were not let anyone judge them in questions that had no foundation in scripture. They could keep the times with good conscience without having the burden of all of the man-made additional laws. Many felt the heathen converts had no right to take part in any of the Jewish feasts as they were not circumcised. Still, to this day, Jews claim heathen are not to keep the Sabbath, contrary to God’s own words, and judge those who do.
Still to this day many rules and regulations are added to God’s times regarding eat and drink that is not founded in the original law.
No place in these verses does Paul say he speaks about those who judge them that DO NOT keep Gods sabbaths, more it seem like he is trying to separate what is of God and what is of men. And he is proclaiming that these things belong to Jesus as they testify of Him. They are not Jewish property, they belong to Christ as they all pointed to Him. God addressed the Jews coming up with the ideas that the Sabbaths are only for them in Isaiah:
“Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it …Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off” (Isa 56,2-5)
And so it was not the first time the Jews had pulled this attempt to separate the Sabbath to themselves. Now Paul has to tell the believers, like God once did, to not let anyone judge them for keeping God’s times.
Jesus did the same regarding the Sabbath when He was here on earth. He provoked the Pharisees and all their man-made laws tied to for instance the Sabbath. And he broke their additional laws in such a degree that He was condemned to be a Sabbath breaker:
«Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man [Jesus] is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day» (Joh 9:16 ).
Jesus was judged as a sabbath breaker when He was in fact keeping it in harmony with God’s law (Joh.15,10). Jesus met their accusations by saying He, the son of man, was the master of the Sabbath. It’s the same argument Paul makes in his letter when he says: «or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ». Paul ties the sabbaths to Christ and the rest that is to come. The laws he says to not be judged by, is according to himself:
«after the commandments and doctrines of men»
God’s sabbaths are not after the commandments and doctrines of men, and so we need to separate the two, as probably was Pauls intention with his words in the first place. The law of God
«What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.» (Deu 12:32)
This struggle was so great Paul even warned his friend Titus about it:
“For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, especially they of the circumcision: ….Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth” (Tit.1 10& 13-14).
Paul is constantly criticizing the Jewish traditions that have no fundament in the Bible or the law. When it comes to the law and the prophets (there was no new testament when Paul wrote this) Paul gives the opposite testimony:
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2Ti 3:16-17)
In other words: Jewish self-made commandments are bad, and God’s law and words to the prophets
We can either interpret Paul to be in harmony with the law or to be in violation of it. If he is in violation, the rest of the Bible warns us against men such as Paul. But how we choose to read it will reveal what we desire the truth to be. Would we rather, as the Galatians Paul gave a reproof, keep old gentile customs together with Christ name or will we keep God’s times instead without letting anyone judge us for it saying it’s just for the Jews? Shall we be judged by the world «in respect of an
In those days there were Jewish groups who were so strick at what they could and could not eat, far surpassing the laws in Leviticus, that they would rather eat grass then something that might have been in contact with something unclean. Or that a pan had been used for unclean things so they could not accept anyone’s hospitality even if the host gave them “clean meat”. The exaggeration in the keeping of God’s requirements caused ridicule and fanatism and pictured God as a dictator looking for faults rather a loving caring Father. In the letter to the Colossians Paul says:
«Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?» (Col 2:20-22)
Paul isn’t even here speaking of the things the bible forbids to eat, but things that man themselves have commanded not to eat. We never find Paul criticizing God’s law, we can only find him criticizing the traditions and laws of man. Unfortunately, because the worker of Satan has «transformed as the ministers of righteousness» Satan has found a way to make the Bible seem to attack God’s laws. (2.Cor.11,14) He is still the serpent sitting in the tree convincing man that it’s harmless to eat, that it’s harmless to break God’s command. He has convinced hoards of Christians that they will be free if they break them, that they are elevated above Gods law and therefore need not to keep them. Just like he said to Eve she would be
You won’t find the Sabbath abolished any place in the Bible, no prophecy of it being abolished, nothing about it being abolished in the New Testament either. You won’t find a single place where it is changed to another day or called
Lastly, when the word «The Lord’s day» is used in the book of Revelation it is, according to scripture, but one day, the original Sabbath. No other day is called the Lord’s day in the Bible. Sunday does not exist as a holy day in the Bible.
Not one verse calls God’s Sabbath abolished. And even if Paul had claimed so, the rest of the Bible would call him a liar. Paul was not a lawgiver and had no power to abolish laws. Nor did the Jerusalem Council, neither did they claim to. They only tried to guide and unify the believers so that they could worship together…. on the Sabbath! They wanted the Gentiles to be “clean” from idol practices before joining in the togetherness.
I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye
needsgo out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company,if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an oneno not to eat. ( 1Co 5:9-11)
Did the Jerusalem council say heathens didn’t have to keep Sabbath? No. They didn’t address the ten commandments, maybe because it hadn’t crossed their minds at the time that someone might think we now were free to break God’s moral law in Christ name.
But it happened.
Now you can be free from these lies and let no one judge you for going back to the apostolic faith and become one of those who will resist the beast and his mark in the end days, “here are the patience of the saints, here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus”. (Rev.14,12)
(Note: Example of “touch not..” after “commandments of men” in regards to God’s feasts)
It is not lawful to receive portions sent from the feasts of Jews or heretics, nor to feast together with them.
It is not lawful to receive unleavened bread from the Jews, nor to be partakers of their impiety.
“Christians must not judaize by resting on the [Jewish] Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honoring the Lord’s Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema (excommunicated) from Christ.
(Laodicean Council (363–364 AD):
“Instead of THE SEVENTH DAY, AND OTHER FESTIVALS appointed by the old law, the church has prescribed THE SUNDAYS AND HOLY DAYS to be set apart for God’s WORSHIP, and these we are now obliged to keep in consequence of God’s commandment, instead of the ancient Sabbath.” (The Catholic Christian Instructed in the Sacraments, Sacrifices, Ceremonies, and Observances of the Church By Way of Question and Answer, RT Rev. Dr. Challoner, p. 204)
“… Christians should seek recognition of SUNDAYS AND THE … HOLY DAYS as LEGAL holidays” “… for rest and divine WORSHIP.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2000, pars. 2188 and 2187)
“Q. Has the [Catholic] church power to make any alterations in the commandments of God?
“A. … INSTEAD OF THE SEVENTH DAY, AND OTHER FESTIVALS APPOINTED BY THE OLD LAW, THE CHURCH HAS PRESCRIBED THE SUNDAYS AND HOLY DAYS TO BE SET APART FOR GOD’S WORSHIP; and these we are now obliged to keep in consequence of God’s commandment, instead of the ancient Sabbath.” (The Catholic Christian Instructed in the Sacraments, Sacrifices, Ceremonies, and Observances of the Church By Way of Question and Answer, RT Rev. Dr. Challoner, p. 204; my comment inserted within brackets)