Gentiles and the Sabbath


"To be intellectually honest, we must pursue the truth, even when continuing along familiar paths might feel more comfortable." From To Be A Jewish Woman by Lisa Aiken

The question is often asked, "I’m a gentile, do I have to keep the Sabbath?" In the spirit of the above mentioned quote, we will pursue the topic of Gentiles and the Sabbath.

Here are the main reasons given by the Church for not keeping the Sabbath on the Seventh day of the week.

    1. "Let no man judge you concerning keeping of holy days, Sabbaths, new moons or festivals."
    2. Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday, the first day of the week.
    3. Today, no one knows which day is the true Sabbath.
    4. Early believers met together to break bread on the first day of the week.
    5.  "Sunday represents the ‘eighth day’ for Christians."
    6. We are no longer under the law, for "Christ was the end of the law".
    7. Yeshua "fulfilled the law".
I will address each of these points as we proceed.

The majority of the concepts against Sabbath observance by the church community can be addressed swiftly and easily with a short but concise history lesson.

The date on which the church changed its day of worship cannot be pinpointed. Many would like to believe that the Apostle Paul changed it, but this can be proven historically inaccurate. It can be established that the church made the changes to its stance on the Sabbath post second century. The following information was gathered from the Internet URL: http://www.websfrontpage.com/biblestudies/Bible%20Studies/125/lesson101.htm
Notice!!! Using these quotes does not constitute an endorsement for this WEB site or other information contained therein.

    All things whatsoever that it was duty to do on the Sabbath, these we have transferred to the Lord's day.
    Eusebius's Commentary on the Psalms, in Migne, Patrologia Graeca, Vol. XXIII, col. 1171

    WHAT DID SYLVESTER, BISHOP OF ROME, 314 A.D. TO 337 A.D.,  DO FOR THE SUNDAY INSTITUTION BY HIS "APOSTOLIC  AUTHORITY"?
    He officially changed the title of the first day, calling it the Lord's day.
    Historia Ecclesiastica, by M. Ludovicum Lucium, cent. 4, cap.10, pages 739, 740, edition Basilea, 1624

    WHAT DID THE COUNCIL OF LAODICEA DECREE IN 364 A.D.?
    Canon 29. Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday [Sabbath], but shall work on that day; but the Lord's day they shall especially honor.
    A History of the Councils of the Church, Charles Joseph Hefele, Vol. II, page 316

    HOW LATE DID CHRISTIANS KEEP THE SABBATH?
    Down even to the fifth century, the observance of the Jewish Sabbath was continued in the Christian church.
    Lyman Coleman's Ancient Christianity Exemplified, chapter 26, sec.2

    HOW GENERALLY DOES THE HISTORIAN SOCRATES, WHO WROTE ABOUT THE MIDDLE OF THE FIFTH CENTURY, SAY THE SABBATH WAS OBSERVED BY THE CHRISTIAN CHURCHES OF HIS TIME?
    Although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the Sabbath of every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, refuse to do this.
    Socrates's Ecclesiastical History, book 5, chapter 22

Taking into account that the New Testament writings were done in the first century, we can conclude that the authors of the New Testament had no desire to change the day of worship from Sabbath to Sunday or they would have clearly given this commandment.

The purpose of the Sabbath day is quite revealing.

The rabbis tell us the Sabbath day is a miniature picture of olam habah (the age to come) when Messiah will be king and there will never again be inequity or want. The Sabbath is also how we know we are worshipping the G-d of Creation, because He created for six days and rested on Shabbat (the seventh day). In Judaism, we are counted as sons when we do what the father does.

    (1 John 3:8-10 KJV)  "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. {9} Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. {10} In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother."
And how do we know what sin is?
    (1 John 3:4 KJV) "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law (Torah): for sin is the transgression of the law. "
Now to address the points of argument.

    1.  (Colossians 2:16)  "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:"

Colossians 2:16 is most often taken out of context and used to prove that the Sabbath has changed and that it doesn’t matter what day you worship on. The fact is that this verse proves that the Colossians were keeping the Sabbath, holy-days, moons and watching their diet, and that there were some Jews accusing them that they were not observing these things properly. Now notice the conclusion to this dialogue.

    (Col 2:20-23 KJV)  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, {21} (Touch not; taste not; handle not; {22} Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? {23} Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
Verse 22 specifically states that they were being bothered by the doctrines of men. It does not say by the commandments or doctrines of G-d. Men were accusing the Colossians of improperly keeping the Sabbath. Paul said, "Let no man therefore judge you in …" To use this verse as a proof that Christians may keep any day they wish is ludicrous and out of context.  Think about when this book was written. ~80CE. When did the Churches first stop observing the Sabbath on Saturday? After 364CE. Sabbath observance was not being addressed, nor was the Torah being challenged here. The only thing being challenged here are the ordinances and commandments of men. Only ignorance or blatant rebellious contention for the Torah and G-d’s authority can be blamed for using this verse out of context this way.
    2.  Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday, the first day of the week.
It is easy to prove that Yeshua rose from the dead before sunrise the first day of the week. John’s account of the resurrection is as follows.
    (John 20:1 KJV)  The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
Notice the word day is italicized. This means that the translators added the word to the text in attempt to clarify text which may otherwise seem vague. In this case it causes the mistaken understanding that it was daytime. The text however states "… it was yet dark…". Remember that the Jewish day begins at sundown. Therefore "The first … of the week…" comes at sundown, not at sunrise.

An interesting parallel can be found in Matthew’s reference to the same time period.

    Matthew 28:1  "In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre."
Notice again the word day is italicized. When did the two Marys come to the sepulcher? In the end of the Sabbath. This was closer to Saturday evening than Sunday morning.
    3.  Today, no one knows which day is the true Sabbath.
The statement is pure bologna. We know that the weekly calendar has not changed in the number of days per week nor in shifting of the days of the week in any way since the time of Yeshua, and He kept the correct one. The days were renamed from One, Two, Three, … Shabbat, to Sunday, Monday … Saturday, by the Roman Emperors. Sunday replaced day One, etc., and it has been that way ever since. Additionally, Jews everywhere have been keeping the Seventh day Sabbath since they left Egypt.
    4.  Early believers met together to break bread on the first day of the week.
This statement is true, however what does it mean to "break bread"? Most misunderstand this to mean observing the "L-rd’s Supper" but they do not realize that the "L-rd’s Supper" was a Passover Seder and the early church understood this. They always broke bread when they ate. Bread did not come sliced as it does today. Only recently do the majority of people buy bread from the grocery. In Biblical days bread was baked at home and freely shared among friends and relatives.
 
    5.  "Sunday represents the ‘eighth day’ for Christians."

While this statement could be used to justify worshipping on a new day, doing so is out of context and has no basis in Scripture. We still have to do something with the commandment "Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy." Nowhere in Scripture is a command given to change the law of the Sabbath.

    6.  We are no longer under the law, for "Christ was the end of the law".
This verse, found in Romans 10:4, is a very bad translation for today’s English. It worked very well in King James’ day but is totally misunderstood in today’s language. The Greek word which was translated "end" is telos meaning "the point at which we are aiming". Telos is part of the root from which we derive "telescope" because it allows us to see more clearly the distant point. The Hebrew word "Torah" has the same meaning so we could accurately translate this misunderstood verse, "Messiah was the Torah of the law" meaning that He lived a life without sin and thereby proved that mankind can keep the Torah.
    7.  Yeshua "fulfilled the law".
He did not destroy the Law, He kept it. He was precisely what the law spoke about. The greatest fulfillment was when he made it possible for you and I to keep it more perfectly (John 1:12).

Conclusion:

The first century congregations scattered across Europe and the Middle East, including all of the gentile congregations kept the Sabbath day holy, observed the holy-days, kept the dietary laws and even recognized the festivals of the new moons of Judaism. They did not convert to Judaism and were therefore not required to obey the Oral Traditions of the rabbis which put greater strictness of regulations on the Jewish believers. The Torah, however, was observed (Isaiah 56) and resisted the powerful forces of change until at least the middle of the sixth century. It is incumbent on us to resume the place of being Torah observant in our gentile congregations that the G-d of creation may be exalted. I call out to the gentile churches "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. {5} For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. (Rev 18:4-5 KJV)