Shabbat (Sabbath) is mentioned over 170 times in
the Bible, one-third of those in the Brit Chadashah or New Testament. Genesis 2:3
blessed the seventh day and separated it as holy"
as the final act of Creation. The Sabbath has been the Sabbath for thousands of
years since creation, and the holiness of the Sabbath day remains, whether we acknowledge
it or not.
The seventh day is the only day
with a name and is referred to as Shabbat (Sabbath) in the Bible.
Sunday is always referred to as the first day of the week and Friday the
sixth day of the week. None of the other days of the week are called
Shabbat in Hebrew.
Our calendars tell us that Saturday is the
seventh day of the week and Sunday the first day. Observant Jews still celebrate the
Sabbath on the seventh day. Why? Because God blessed and sanctified it.
Before God gave the Torah at Mount Sinai, he
re-emphasized the weekly cycle by giving manna to the Israelites six days of
the week, but not on the
Sabbath day (Exodus 16:14-26). The weekly Sabbath is also mentioned in the Ten
the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for God."
When Israel was dispersed (Diaspora) all
over the world, Gods timepiece went with them. The Sabbath is a reminder to all
nations that God is the Creator.1
Yeshua (Jesus) taught his followers,
"Shabbat was made for mankind,
not mankind for Shabbat" (Mark
2:27). It is a day created, blessed and given by God, not just to Adam and Eve or
the Jews, but to all mankind. It was intended as a blessing for all.
Purpose of the Sabbath
Many people today do not believe in
creation, choosing instead theories of evolution. Such wrong beliefs would disappear if
people remembered the Sabbath. The Sabbath continually focuses our attention back to our
Creator and his re-creative power in our lives. In the tempestuous turmoil of our lives,
the Sabbath is a refuge where man may enter. The Sabbath is a time of detachment from the
world and an attachment to the Spirit of God.2
The Sabbath is the catalyst that keeps
mankinds relationship with the Creator a priority. All the frustrations of this
present world would be dispelled if man would find fellowship with the God of the Sabbath,
who made the Sabbath for mans spiritual renewal.3 It is a time for
communion between the Creator and his creation.
you hold back your foot on Shabbat
from pursuing your own interests on my holy day;
call Shabbat a delight, Adonai's holy day,
worth honoring; then honor it by not doing your
or pursuing your interests or speaking about them.
If you do, you will
find delight in Adonai.
I will make you ride on the heights of the land
and feed you
with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob,
for the mouth of Adonai has spoken."
Creator of the Sabbath
The Bible teaches that Messiah created Shabbat.
"In connection with him were
created all things - in heaven and on earth... Also he is head of the Body, the Messianic
was with God in the beginning. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing
made had being" (John
1:2-3). Yeshua said he was
"Lord even of Shabbat" (Mark 2:28).
The fourth commandment reads,
"For in six days, Adonai made
heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested.
This is why Adonai blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for
himself" (Exodus 20:11). All
four underlined verbs are in the past tense, indicating that the resting and separating
took place at the same time as the making and blessing. In Exodus 20:9-11 the seventh day
is already called the Sabbath. It did not become the Sabbath 2500 years after the creation
of the world.4
Early "Christian" Sabbath
The first followers of Yeshua were
Jewish, and known within Judaism as the Nazarene sect. They also observed the
Sabbath. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote their biblical accounts approximately
60 C.E., almost 30 years after Yeshuas resurrection and ascension. The Book of Acts
was written 30-40 years after Yeshua. All these writers speak familiarly of Shabbat as an
existing institution. In fact the Sabbath is mentioned throughout the New
one verse states that Yeshua or his apostles abolished or changed the Sabbath.
1. Yeshua, per his custom, went to the
synagogue on Shabbat and taught and the listeners were amazed at his teaching. (Mark
1:21, 6:2; Luke 4:16).
Yeshua healed on Shabbat to demonstrate the day was to be a blessing for mankind,
not a burden (Matthew 12:11-12; Mark 3:2; Luke 13:14-16; John 5:16, 9:16).
3. Yeshua warned
"pray that you will not have
to escape in winter or on Sabbath" referring to a future prophetic event (Matthew 24:20).
4. The disciples rested during Shabbat while
Yeshua was in the grave, and they went to the tomb on the first day of the week (Luke
5. It was Pauls custom
to preach on Shabbat to both Jews and Gentiles, most often
in the synagogues (Acts 13:14, 13:42, 16:13, 17:2, 18:4, 18:11).
Sabbath Became Forgotten
History reveals that the
Sabbath became forgotten by most Christians for two key reasons:
The first reason was anti-Judaism. During 66-70
C.E. the Roman legions of Vespasian and Titus, in response to Jewish rebellion, destroyed
Jerusalem and the Temple, killing about 1.2 million Jews.5
Likewise, the Roman Emperor Hadrian, in 132-135
C.E., sought to exterminate the Jewish people.6 He resolved to destroy Judaism
by outlawing circumcision, observance of the Sabbath, and the celebration of Jewish
These persecutions resulted in a dispersion (Diaspora)
of the Judean Jewish population throughout the known world. There were persecutions of
Messianic Jews by the Romans, and many of the non-Jewish believers began to drop or change
religious practices that would identify them with Judaism. Eusebius includes a statement
in his Life of
Constantine from the Church
Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E.,
"Let us then have nothing
in common with the Jews, who are our adversaries... avoiding all
participation in the false conduct of the Jews."
Later the Church Council of Laodicea in 364
shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday, the Sabbath, but shall work on that day; but
the Lords day they shall especially honor, and, as being Christians, shall, if
possible, do no work on that day. If, however, they are found Judaizing, they shall be
shut out from Christ."
The councils of the Church were anti-Judaic,
and they made it heresy for Christians to observe the seventh day Sabbath.
The second reason, mixing Christianity with pagan
religions. In 313 C.E., the Roman
Emperor Constantine I issued the Edict of Milan, making Christianity the official state
religion of Rome. Unfortunately the Romans, along with the Egyptians and Greeks, already
had pagan religions that included sun deities.
In ancient Egypt there was the cult worship of
the sun-god Ra. The Greeks worshiped a sun-god, Phoebus Apollo.8 And the
Roman Emperor Aurelian (270-275 C.E.) sought to unite old and new religions through
the worship of a sun-god. He even proclaimed himself the vicar of that deity on earth.9
Remnants of pagan sun worship are seen today in various rites and celebrations of summer
and winter solstices.
The Emperor Constantine I, a convert to
Christianity, was no exception to sun worship. In 321 C.E. he ordered all work to cease
throughout the Roman empire, in proper observance and celebration of the venerable day of
the sun.10 By replacing the biblical Sabbath with
"sun" day observance, Constantine made Christianity more acceptable to the pagan religions
within his realm.
"The Sabbath was
gradually lost by a church
determined to separate itself from all
things labeled as
Jewish. This loss
paved the way for the Dark Ages." 11
Fifth century church historian Socrates
"Almost all the churches in the world
celebrate the sacred mysteries on the Sabbath of every week, yet the Christians of
Alexandria and Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this."
Another church historian writes,
"Down even to the fifth century the observance of the
Jewish Sabbath was continued in the Christian church, but with a rigor and solemnity
Statements Supporting Sabbath Observance
who accept the Bible as the only rule of faith and religion, should by all means go back
to the observance of the Sabbath. The fact that they do not, but on the contrary observe
Sunday, stultifies them in the eyes of every thinking man. We Catholics do not
accept the Bible as the only rule of faith. Besides the Bible we have the authority
of the Church, as a rule to guide us... We accept her change of the Sabbath to Sunday...
It is always somewhat laughable, to see Protestant churches, in pulpit and legislation,
demand the observance of Sunday, for which there is nothing in their Bible."
Catholic Church Extension Society 14
may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line
authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance
of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify."
James Cardinal Gibbons, Roman Catholic
Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of
Had she not such power, she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first
day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there
is no Scriptural authority."
A Doctrinal Catechism,
Roman Catholic 16
"Nowhere in the Bible is it stated that worship should be
changed from Saturday to Sunday... Now the Church... instituted, by Gods authority,
Sunday as the day of worship. This same Church, by the same divine authority, taught the
doctrine of Purgatory long before the Bible (New Testament) was made. We have, therefore, the same
authority for Purgatory as we have for Sunday."
Things Catholics Are
Asked About 17
God established two blessings at Creation,
marriage and the Sabbath. The Sabbath is not a shadow of Messiahs death. It
was not abolished at his death any more than marriage. In fact, Isaiah the prophet, in
chapter 66, states the Sabbath will continue forever.
Does non-observance of the
biblical Sabbath make a person free in the Messiah?
In most of Christianity, disregard of the fourth commandment has become a symbol of
liberty, while any disregard of the other nine commandments (i.e. idolatry,
adultery or murder) are labeled sin.
In fact there is a tendency among
Christians to label seventh day Sabbath observance as legalism. This is ironic,
because it is on the Sabbath, that we learn to cease from our work and rest in
Yeshuas work for us (Hebrews 4:9).
The first day of the week is mentioned only eight times in the New Testament
and five of those times are speaking about the resurrection day of Yeshua. No where
does the Bible state that the
first day of the week is the Sabbath or that the Sabbath is changed from Saturday to
Sunday. The other three texts are below.
“on the first day of the week we came together to break bread, and Saul
stayed to midnight.”
Breaking bread is exactly that – eating a meal. It
does not mean its the Lord’s Supper (or a Passover meal). The first day begins at sundown at
the close of the Sabbath
for the separation of Shabbat. Today, we would say they had a Saturday night meal
at the close of the Sabbath.
1 Corinthians 16:2
"on the first day set aside a
sum of money and save it up so that when I come, no collections will have to
be made.” This says nothing about a
public worship meeting or congregational service in which offerings are to be
brought. Saul (Paul) is asking the believers to collect a special
relief offering for the needy believers living in Jerusalem. So
he, himself a Pharisee (Acts 23:6),
asks the believers to bring their offerings after the Sabbath. Why?
Because Jeremiah 17:21-22 states this,
is what Adonai says: 'If you value your lives, do not carry anything on
Shabbat or bring it in through the gates of Jerusalem. Do not carry
anything out of your houses on Shabbat, and do not do any work. Instead,
make Shabbat a holy day."
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.”
This is the only reference in the New Testament to the "Lord's Day." Isaiah 58:13
calls Shabbat the "Lord’s Holy Day.” Many assume that the "Lord's Day"
mentioned in the New Testament is Sunday
because Christians call the first day of the week the "Lord's
Day." Nowhere in the New Testament is the "Lord’s Day" ever referred to as being
Sunday or the first
day of the week. There are no statements in the entire Bible
(Genesis to Revelation) transferring Sabbath observance to the first day
of the week.
God has not given us the option of
choosing which Sabbath day pleases us. Rather, he gave mankind a specific day.
Many Christians believe and teach that Saturday is the "Jewish Sabbath" and
Sunday is the "Christian Sabbath." However, the Bible only designates one
day of the week as the Sabbath. The Bible does not teach there are two weekly
Sabbaths. The Scriptures clearly indicate that the weekly Sabbath is the
The word "Sabbath" occurs
over fifty times in the Gospels. The Gospels are not merely historical books, though
they contain history; nor are they merely biographies of Yeshua, though they contain His
biography. Rather, they are theological handbooks that the early church used to
promote salvation through the Messiah and teach doctrine to believers, including the
doctrine of the Sabbath. 18
Yeshua attempted to turn
from rabbinical legalism of Sabbath observance, not from the Sabbath
itself. Paul wrote,
circumcised means nothing, and being uncircumcised means nothing; what does mean something
is keeping God's commandments"
(1 Corinthians 7:19).
The Sabbath no more belongs exclusively to Jews
than Yeshua does to Gentiles. The Catholic Churchs admitted transfer of
Sabbath observance to Sunday is unquestioned and accepted by most Christians today.
In view of this, is it biblically correct to observe Sunday in lieu of the seventh day
Sabbath? Do you worship and honor God as your Creator, the giver of the Sabbath?