Faith Fellowship Church

Remember to observe the Sabbath Day by keeping it Holy.

The instinct for a weekly day of rest and worship is woven into the fiber of every nation and race.  And small wonder—God made it so “in the beginning”.  The Divine rhythm of a healthy life is six days of labor and one day of rest.

Sabbath—God’s Holy Day

Text Box: THE INSTITUTION OF THE SABBATH(Genesis 2:2-3).  
The earth was a formless mass, “waste and void”, desolate and empty, covered with dense watery vapors.  But the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”  In six days, God brought order out of this chaos, making it fit for habitation.  Then god crated man on the sixth day, after preparing everything man would ever need for his physical well-being.
But man, created in the image of God, is a spiritual being.  He needs more than physical comforts.  So, god established a religious institution for his spiritual well-being—the Sabbath.
Analysis of Genesis 2:2-3:
FACT-the blessing and sanctifying of the                                       seventh day.  FACTOR-God, the Creator.  REASON-God “rested” on that day.  PURPOSE-to make the seventh day the Sabbath.  (Note:  In Hebrew, a little untranslatable word—”eth” signifies that the word following it is the definite and direct object of the verse.  It occurs here before “the seventh day” and before “it”, thus showing that it was the seventh day which was set apart and given a special “blessing”.
The week is an arbitrary division of time.  The earth moves in relation to no heavenly body in a cycle of seven days.  This seven-day cycle has never been lost (see Genesis 7:4,10; 8:10,12; 29:27) Nations both ancient and modern have this seven-day week, and two-thirds of them call the seventh day “Sabbath”.
Mark 2:27-”The Sabbath was made”-it had its origin in a distinct act.
For Whom Was the Sabbath Made?
Mark 2:27, “The Sabbath was made for man.”  The Greek uses the generic term, “anthropon”-the race for mankind.
Was the Sabbath created just for the Jews?  What nationality was Adam?  He lived at least 2,000 years before Abraham, the forefather of the Jews.  True, the Sabbath was committed to the Jews (cf. Nehemiah 9:12-14) “made know to them your holy Sabbath”), just as the Scriptures, monotheism, and the prophecies were committed to them-to keep for the world.  But the Jews have no monopoly on the Sabbath any more than they have on Christ, who according to the flesh was a Jew.
Creations birthday-Genesis 2:2-3;Exodus 20:8-11.
Sign that God, the Creator, is our Covenant Lord-Ezekiel 20:12,20.
For man’s well being-Mark 2:27.  Man requires rest, physical and mental.  Experiments have shown that man lives longer and accomplishes more when he rests one day in seven (cf. Exodus 31:15; 43:21).  Man needs spiritual refreshment, too.  The Sabbath gives him a time for fellowship with god, time to study God’s Word, associate with God’s people, and serve in the cause of Christ.
The Sabbath (A) Compared to the Sabbaths):
Different in time of institution:
A-At the creation, based on a weekly cycle.
B-At Sinai, based on phases of the moon.
Different application
A-Universal and eternal.
B-Local, national, temporal.
Different in position in Mosaic Code.
A-One of the 10 commandments, written by the finger of God.
B-Written in a book by Moses.
A-Kept inside the ark of the covenant.
B-Kept in a pocket on the side of the ark.
A-One of the fundamental laws of theocracy.
B-One of the ordinances.
Different in the Emphasis placed upon them in the OLD Testament
A-Death penalty for violation.  Prophets protested formalism in its observance.
B-Desecration was considered very serious.
Different in place in Jesus’ teaching.
A-He taught how it should be kept-spiritual Sabbath keeping (Matthew 12:10-12; Mark 28; John 7:22-23).
B-He did not emphasize the importance of the Sabbaths.
God’s Holy Day—Isaiah 58:13
God told Moses from the burning bush, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you stand is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).  Here He says, “keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath”-don’t trample it underfoot.  God’s presence in the day, as in the bush, makes it holy.  One may worship and commune with God better on the day in which He is present in a peculiar way.
Has the Original Sabbath Been Lost?  We can trace chronology back to Christ.  He certainly knew which day was the seventh.  From New Testament times back to the Creation, we see these three steps:  Luke 23:56, He “rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the Commandment”; which refers back to Genesis 2:2-3.  However, we need not go back further than the Exodus ad the wilderness wandering, for God designated the Sabbath by a threefold miracle connected with supplying manna every week for 40 years.  In addition, the seventh days coincide in our calendar and in the Jewish calendar, which are entirely independent.
God blessed and sanctified the seventh day, thus making it the Sabbath.  He never did this for any other day, not did He undo it for the seventh.  What God does is for all time, for God does not change.  It is interesting to note that “sanctified” is the same word used of the cities of refuge, which were publicly proclaimed.  Thus Genesis 2:2-3 seems to refer to a public proclamation-practically declaring a law for the Sabbath.  Sanctification of the Sabbath occurred at Creation, not at a later time.

In Lesson 1, we saw that the seventh day is different from the other Sabbaths.  It was the specific act of God, and it has never been lost.  Did Christ Jesus change the weekly day of rest and worship?  He had the right to do so for He not only declared Himself “Lord...of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28), but He was actually its Creator (John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2).  Since Jesus was the founder of Christianity, His attitude toward questions of Christian conduct is most important.  He is our “final sanction” for the Sabbath, for His teachings in precept and example are the highest authority.
Mark 1:21; 3:1-2;6:2a; Luke 4:16,31; 13:10; 14:1.  From these passages and others, we see that it was Jesus’ custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath.  There is no reference anywhere in the Bible that He went on any other day.
Matthew 12:9-13; Luke 13:10-17; 14:1-5; John 5:18; 9:1-16.  These verses refer to five miracles of healing which took place on the Sabbath.  Jesus considered deeds of mercy consistent with the sacredness for the Sabbath.  Evidently they were not the forbidden” your work”, nor contrary to the “keeping it holy” of the fourth commandment.
Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5.  Here we see that anything necessary to physical comfort is permissible, as long as it does not detract from one’s spiritual welfare.
Matthew 12:7, 12b; Mark 2:27.  the Sabbath is not a burden to be borne, but a day of blessing, spiritual uplift, and doing good deeds. Compare Isaiah 58:13, “call the Sabbath a delight.”
Jesus’ teaching was to purge the Sabbath of rabbinical restrictions, the “traditions of men,” and petty details-to free it from all ceremonial implications and lift it to its rightful position as a day of happiness, joy, and service.  Someone has said that Jesus did for the Sabbath what a skipper does for his ship when it comes laboring into port, unable to make good headway because its hull is covered with barnacles.  He puts her into dry dock and scrapes off the barnacles.  Jesus did not real or annul the Sabbath when He stripped it of the intolerable burdens which the ceremonialists had heaped upon it.  This is paralleled in Matthew 5:21-32, where Jesus goes beyond mere formal observance of the commandments and gets back to the principles involved.
Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5  These passages give Jesus’ authority for interpreting the Sabbath-He was not only its Creator, but its Lord as well.
Was not Jesus’ observance of an detaching the real meaning of the Sabbath a practical reiteration of the fourth commandment?
Did Jesus Abolish the Sabbath?
Matthew 5:17, “I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.”  “Fulfill” does not mean to abolish.  See Matthew 3:15; Galatians 6:2.
Colossians 2:13-17.  Christ did abolish “the written code, with its regulations, that was against us.”  But the Sabbath was not an “ordinance” nor “ against us”-it was made for mankind, for our welfare.  Since they are mentioned with “new moons” and other ceremonial shadows, the “Sabbath days” referred to in these verses must be ceremonial and ritual days, based on the phases of the moon.  They do not refer to the weekly Sabbath, which is based on the weekly cycle.  This concept is the same as the “barrier, the dividing walls of hostility” of Ephesians 2:13-16.  
Matthew 24:20.  Evidently, Jesus expected His followers to be observing the Sabbath sometime in the future-whether this refers to the destruction of Jerusalem or to the end of the age.

Lesson 1:  Origin and Early History


Jesus and His disciples observed the Sabbath.  He taught how it should be kept so that it would not be a burden but a blessing.  The true “Lord’s Day” is the day of which He declared Himself Lord:  the Sabbath.  By His example and teaching, Jesus exalted God’s holy day, the Sabbath. Since He is our “final authority,” shouldn’t we “walk even as He walked” when it comes to the Sabbath?     (1 John 2:6).


Jesus Christ and His disciples kept the Sabbath.  We read in Luke 23:56 that the Sabbath immediately following the crucifixion was observed.  Did the early church continue this practice?  We turn naturally to Paul, the outstanding figure in the history of the new Testament Church.  He had more to do with passing on the principles of the faith and practice than any other person.  Hence, if there had been any change in the weekly day of rest and worship before his death, we would expect him to have lived and taught it. 


Acts 23:6a; Philippians 3:5-6; Acts 26:5b.  Paul was a Pharisee, the strictest sect of the Jews.

Acts 13:14, 44; 16:13; 17:2; 18:4, 11  On a ten-year tour of Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Greece, Paul preached “as was his manner” on many Sabbaths specifically mentioned.

Acts 13:16,44; 14:1; 16:13,14a; 17:7,10,12,17; 18:4.  Paul reached not only to Jews, but also to Gentiles on the Sabbath.  There is no record that he met with them on any other day, or that he told them of ay change regarding the day.

Acts 25:8, 26:4-5; 28:17b; Philippians 3:6b.  From  his own testimony, we see that Paul observed the Sabbath.  Paul stated the he had obeyed the Jewish laws and had not violated his ancestor’s customs.  He would not have bothered to make such claims if he had given up the seventh day for some other day of worship.


Acts15:1-35.  The Sabbath was not a matter of dispute here.  It was not considered at this Jerusalem council, which had been called to settle similar matters of difference.

Acts 20:1.  This meeting was on “Saturday night,” since the day was reckoned from sunset, and , and it was night.  Paul spent the next day-the daylight part of Sunday-walking 19 miles across the isthmus, which he would not have done had he considered the day sacred in any way.  Rather, he would have remained at Troas for the meeting of the church-if there had been a meeting that day.  (Note that this is the only mention of any meeting on any part of the first day; and this was only incidental, a sort of “farewell reception” for Paul.)

Romans 14:5-6; Galatians 4:10-11.  Paul is discussing questions of conscience-setting forth the law of love concerning doubtful practices:  eating meat offered to idols, drinking wine, observing ceremonial das.  The Galatians had taken up all the ceremonial practices of the old covenant  Since there is no record anywhere of any differences concerning the day of the Sabbath, Paul could not have had this in mind.  Instead, these verses refer to the feast days, the “new moons.”

Ephesians 2:1-6.  There is no record of the Sabbath being a divisive question.  Since it was not an ordinance al all, the “barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” refers to the Jewish ceremonial system.  Jew and Gentile are one in Christ without observing theses ceremonies.

Colossians 2:13-17.  Evidently, from the list, the “Sabbath days” here are those based on the phases of the moon-the ceremonial days, not the weekly Sabbath.  The latter was not an" ordinance” nor a “shadow of things to come,” as the ceremonial days were.

Acts 13:42-44.  The Gentiles evidently observed the Sabbath.  They did not ask Paul to preach “tomorrow,” or “next Lord’s day,” or “next first day,” but “the next Sabbath.”  Paul evidently did not know of any change, or he certainly would have taken advantage of this opportunity to instruct these Gentile converts in this matter.  The next Sabbath" almost the whole city” gathered to hear him1 Corinthians 16:2.  The one time Paul mentions the first day of the week he gives it no title of sacredness.  He does not set it apart as a day of public gathering, or as a day f worship to commemorate any event.  Instead, he designates it as a day of bookkeeping and laying aside the tithe” at home” so that no last-minute collection would be necessary when he visited.


Paul, a Pharisee, observed the Sabbath, preaching too both Jews and Gentiles on that day.  The Sabbath was not a matter of difference– there was no thought of any change.  He never include the weekly Sabbath when discussing the old system abolished by Christ.  There is no record that Gentile Christians were instructed to keep another day.  The only worship meeting held on any part of the first day was on “Saturday night”, and then Paul spent that “Sunday” walking 19 mines to Assos.  The only time Paul mentions the first day, he refers to it as a day of business, not as a day of worship.  The argument from silence must be considered with caution, but we must conclude that Paul did not violate ”the customs of our ancestors” or the “law of the Jews.”  If he had, the Jews-who were watching him closely, trying to find fault-would certainly not have let the substitution of the first day fro the seventh go unchallenged!  Paul was a Sabbath keeper, and he never lived or taught anything else.  The seventh day was the weekly day of rest and worship for the New Testament Church.



We infringed on this lesson a little in discussing Paul’s observance of the Sabbath, but we just go a little further into the subject.  If the first day of the week had replaced the Sabbath as the weekly day of rest and worship-either by command or example of Jesus Christ or any of His apostles-it should have held a prominent place in the New Testament.  It would have been considered sacred, the regular day of worship.  Just what is the status of the “first day of the week” in the New Testament?  As we examine the records, we find the phrase used just eight times: six times when referring to the discover of the Resurrection, once in connection with the meeting of Christians on the eve of that day, and once when referring to first days in general.  In all, just two specific first days!


Luke 23:56-24:3; Mark 16:1-2.  The Sabbath just preceding the Resurrection was observed by Jesus’ followers.  The next day, the first day of the week, they came to the tomb to anoint His body-to work!  They found the tomb empty!

John 20:1; Mark 16:9. (Note:  Scholars tell us that in Mark 16:9, “early” qualifies “appeared” and not “rose”.  Mary, Peter, and John found the tomb empty on the first day of the week, and thought that Jesus’ body had been stolen.  Later, Jesus appeared to Mary.  She went and told the others that she had seen Him, but they “did not believe it” (Mark 16:11).

Matthew 28:1.  The Greek opse literally means “late.”  The American Standard Version, which is the most exact translation, translates it correctly:  “Late on the Sabbath day.”  The Revised Standard Version is in error on this point, translating opse as “after.”  The Englishman’s Greek Testament and the Riverside Cambridge both have it “late.”  Lamsa’s Gospels from the Aramaic” has In the evening of the Sabbath day.”  Some of the “modern versions,” like Goodspeed’s, incorrectly translate it “after.”  The problem is in the phrase “as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week.”  How could it be dawning” in the late afternoon?  Two things clear up this seeming contradiction.  First, the day began and ended at sunset.  The new day began when the sun went down.  Second, while the word “dawn,” epiphosko, is used to describe the appearance of light in the early morning, it also has the meaning of beginning or approach.  In Luke 23:54, it has this sense and is translated, “drew on”-”It was the day of the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on” (ASV).  The Riverside Cambridge New Testament gives the true meaning in Matthew 28:1, translating, “Late on the Sabbath as the first day  was drawing near.  The English mans Greek Testament has it, “Now late on the Sabbath, as it was getting dusk toward the first day of the week.”  The fists day of the week could not be “dawning” in the late afternoon of the Sabbath, but since the first day began at sunset, it could be “drawing on” or approaching.  This visit of the women “to look at the tomb” was toward evening on the Sabbath day.  They found the tomb empty.  Late on the Sabbath day the tomb was empty-Jesus was gone!! 

Note that all these references pertain to the same day of the week, and that the Resurrection is not described, or the time it occurred.  Only the discover of the empty tomb is mentioned.


John 20:19 with Mark 16:10-14 and Luke 24:11, 36-37.  This is the first tie the resurrected Jesus appeared to His disciples, who were behind locked doors for fear of the Jews.  They were not gathered to celebrate the Resurrection, for they did not believe that Jesus had risen.  There is no significance to the day; it was just the earliest opportunity He had to prove to the disciples that their leader was alive.

John 20:26.  “A week later” may possibly mean the following Sunday, but this is doubtful (Cf. Matthew 17:1 with Luke 9:28.  It might have been Monday or Tuesday.)

Lesson 2:  Christ and the Sabbath

Lesson 3:  The Sabbath in the New Testament Church



Lesson 4:  The First Day of the Week in the New Testament





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