The Sabbath Day Verses the

First Day of the Week


The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)



Below are brief answers to three questions frequently asked by Sabbatarians. It must be observed that the questions are skewed or slanted to their particular point of view instead of benign religious questions for which biblical answers are sought. We do not discount the sincerity of whoever worded the questions; however, it is possible to be sincerely mistaken (i.e., for one's conclusions or beliefs to be unsupported by the biblical evidence).


#1 Where in God's word does it say that God changed His Holy Sabbath day from the 7th day to the 1st day?


Respecting question #1, God, at different times, has given mankind three different religious systems of law: Patriarchy (beginning with Adam and Eve), Judaism (for the Israelites, beginning with Moses through the cross of Christ) and Christianity (through the present). Judaism superseded and replaced Patriarchy (for the Israelites). Christianity superseded Judaism (for the Israelites) and Patriarchy (for non-Israelites), so that everyone now living and who ever shall live as long as time remains is amenable exclusively to Christianity. No one today is amenable to any part of Judaism or Patriarchy. Some (but not all) items under either Patriarchy or Judaism have been reinstated under Christianity; however, the Sabbath Day, which is the seventh day of the week, has not been reinstated in the New Testament or in Christianity as a holy day, a day of rest or as a day of any special significance.


New Testament Scripture repeatedly affirms that the Old Law has been replaced with the New Law or Covenant or Testament. Consider these passages: "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace" (Ephesians 2:15). "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 following passage that applied initially to first century Jews who were reluctant to acknowledge that Christianity replaced Judaism applies equally to religious people today who likewise are reluctant to acknowledge the full impact of Christianity's replacement of Judaism:


“Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away” (2 Corinthians 3:6-16).


When Sabbatarians decide to accept that Christianity has fully replaced Judaism, the veil will be removed from before their faces, too, and they will no longer be Sabbatarians.


The writer of Hebrews throughout that volume contrasts Judaism with Christianity. Hebrews 8:6-13 speaks of the Old and New testaments and reminded first century Hebrew people that the prophet Jeremiah (31:31-34) had prophesied the replacement of Judaism with Christianity.


“But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrew 8:6-13).


All or most Sabbatarians acknowledge that the New Testament or Christianity has superseded even Judaism. However, Sabbatarians hedge their admission by claiming that the cross of Christ removed what they call ceremonial law (e.g., animal sacrifices) but that it has not displaced what they call moral law (e.g., the Ten Commandments). The Bible does not represent the Old Testament as comprised of two distinct segments called ceremonial law and moral law.


An additional New Testament passage respecting the replacement of the Old Testament with the New Testament specifies some of what has been replaced with the New Testament by quoting one of the Ten Commandments. "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet" (Romans 7:6-7).


Clearly, the entire Old Testament, including the Ten Commandments, has been replaced with the New Testament. Since to keep the Sabbath Day holy is one of the Ten Commandments that has been replaced, Old Testament commandments respecting the Sabbath Day are no longer valid or in force today. Keeping the Sabbath Day holy could only be applicable today if it were reinstated in the New Testament, which it has not been reinstated. Essentially the other nine commandments have been reinstated, but to keep the Sabbath Day holy has not been reinstated in the New Testament.


#2 Where does it say that the 1st day of the week is now a rest day instead of the 7th?


Regarding question #2, it has been established already in the foregoing that the Sabbath or seventh day has no significance under Christianity since (1) it is part of the Old Testament that has been replaced with the New Testament, and (2) nothing respecting the Sabbath or the seventh day of the week has been either reinstated or implemented in the New Testament. Regarding question #2, all that remains to address is whether the New Testament construes the first day of the week as a day of rest. No, the New Testament does not describe the first day of the week as a day of rest.


The writer of Hebrews used the word "rest" to refer to Canaan in the days of Joshua and Moses (Hebrews 3:11, 18). The same inspired writer holds out a rest for Christians, too, but Christians will cease from their labors as God ceased from his creative labors on the seventh day when Christians enter the counterpart of Canaan, which is heaven (Hebrews 4:1-11). There is no day of the week under Christianity that is a day of rest comparable to the Sabbath or seventh day associated with rest under Judaism.


#3 Where does it say God blessed or sanctified the 1st day in place of the 7th day to make it holy?


Respecting question #3, the significance of the first day of the week is obvious from several facts contained in the New Testament. (1) Jesus resurrected from the grave on the first day of the week (Mark 16:9). (2) The Lord's church began on the first day of the week; Pentecost, the day on which the church began, was seven Sabbaths plus one day (50 days) after the Passover, which means Pentecost was on the first day of the week (Acts 2:1-47). (3) The church assembled for worship, including observance of the Lord's Supper and taking up a collection, on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Hence, the Lord's Day under the New Testament (Revelation 1:10) is obviously the first day of the week.


Following the apostle Paul's statement to the Colossians that the Old Law has been nailed to the cross of Christ (2:14), he wrote to them that they ought to refrain from practicing those things, and being criticized for practicing things, from which they have been delivered when the Old Law was removed. Included in the list of things from which they were delivered and that should no longer characterize them was special attention to the Sabbath Day and holy days. "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" (Colossians 2:16-17). The Sabbath Day is not authorized for those living under Christianity.

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