Jesus is Our Sabbath

Jesus is our Sabbath, our Day of Rest.  He is the fulfillment of the Law. For he said, 
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17 (ESV)  Therefore it says: 
“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:30–31 (NIV)   Our righteousness and holiness are to be found in Jesus alone; and in his labors that fulfilled the law we can find our rest. 

That is why it says of Jesus, For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 
“Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”  Hebrews 4:8–11 (ESV) In other words, if you want a true Sabbath rest, then you will rest in Jesus and his fulfilled work of the cross, because the Old Covenant had failed to bring the people of God into a complete rest, but was a sign of what was to come. 

So, the question I have for your is this: Are you more holy or more righteous if you worship the Lord on one day or another?  Clearly not, for neither Noah or Abraham are recorded as having a Sabbath day of rest, but both were accounted righteous before God, even before the Law, the Torah, was given. Abraham was accounted righteous by faith, as Paul says, and Noah was found to be righteous and blameless in his generation (Gen. 6:9). 

 Before the Torah and before the covenant with Abraham, we have a covenant made by God with all the nations in Noah. It is for this reason that when Paul went before the Apostles in Jerusalem, he was not told to insist upon the Sabbath among the gentiles (or circumcision), but to walk in the covenant of Noah:   
“For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” Acts 15:28–29 (ESV)

Indeed, it would have been hard to insist upon a Sabbath rest for Christians in a secular empire, where slaves and employees were required to work 7 days a week.  Such a setting would have made obedience to the Sabbath impossible.  It is for this reason that Christians would gather early in the morning or late at night, when they were free from their duties. 

Paul is even more stringent in his approach, warning against sowing argument and division in the Body of Christ over such things as the right day to worship. 
“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” Colossians 2:16–17 (ESV),  and 
“One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.”Romans 14:5–6 (ESV)  Paul clearly declares liberty of conscience in regard to the day of worship, and so should we, lest we become divisive in our walk with our fellow believers. 

You have said that you following a Torah observing church, but the Torah is not just the 10 Commandments, it is the whole Law, the 5 books of Moses. As such, not only Saturday worship, but food laws and beard, hair, and robe tassels are part of that law.  However, again, going back to Noah,  whereas the Hebrews were instructed not to eat certain foods, Noah was given every food: 

Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. 

“Whoever sheds the blood of man, 
by man shall his blood be shed, 
for God made man in his own image.”  Genesis 9:3–6 (ESV)

This is again why the Apostles did not insist on Torah Kosher food laws, but reminded them to abstain from strangled food which would have its life blood in it.  Again, those who want to reinstitute Kosher regulations are clearly violating what the scriptures say on multiple occasions: 

And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) Mark 7:18–19 (ESV) 

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.1 Timothy 4:1–5 (ESV)

Here we see that reinstituting Kosher food laws is contrary to the New Covenant in Christ who made all foods clean, and may indeed be a deceitful spirit and a doctrine of demons.  

So, what was Jesus’ attitude towards the Sabbath? Clearly, he honored it, as it says
“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.”  Luke 4:16 (ESV)   However, he also rejected the misappropriation of the Law used  to bind people up in legalism and judgment, which was not the purpose of the Sabbath. The Sabbath was made to set people free, and so, he was in conflict with the spirit of religion that condemned him for healing on the Sabbath, and he used scripture as a precedent declaring freedom from the way the Law was being misused:

One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” 

Mark 2:23–28 (ESV)

 If the Law binds rather than frees, then it has been misused to enslave.  As Lord of the Sabbath, again, He says He is our Rest, and the fulfillment of the Sabbath is in Him. That is, if we trust Him to be our righteousness. But Paul says, if we look to follow the Law, we are actually looking to our own performance before the Law, and it offers no salvation:

“For all who rely on works of the Law (Torah) are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Galatians 3:10–12  

“Now before faith came, we were held captive under the Torah, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the Torah was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Galatians 3:23-26

Now, does this mean that the moral requirements of the Law are no longer valid? As Paul says, “by no means.” For the moral law preexisted the Torah: Noah was told the penalty for murder was capital punishment. Righteousness required also honoring God with your substance, lifestyle, and reverence. For we are called to be a Holy People, and Jesus summed this up with by saying “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36–40  

Love of others forbids adultery, sexual immorality, dishonor, theft, murder, and Love of God forbids idolatry, but requires us to put God first above all.  We are called to be Holy in all our ways, as Peter says, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14–16 (ESV)   But holiness goes beyond the letter of the law, it includes the attitudes of the heart, which Jesus pointed out. And no man can escape the depravity of the heart except by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us and gives us the Lord’s righteousness as a gift, whereby he gradually conforms us to the likeness of the Son. 

Furthermore, the number 8 is significant in Hebrew. Being raised on the 1st day of the week, Jesus made all days Holy as we should live in them, not by one day a week, but every day.  Jesus was raised on the 8th day, which is the number in Hebrew of new Creation, for there were 8 people on the Ark when the world was cleansed and made new.  On the eighth day, every newborn male was circumcised, signifying the cleansing from the world and new relationship to God.  So also, on the eighth day, Jesus has sanctified all days by his resurrection from the dead, therefore, every day should be holy unto Him. Keeping the Sabbath on Saturday may fulfill the letter of the Law, but keeping the Sabbath every day fulfills the spirit of the Law. 

Now as to the issue you raised: “And we have become convinced and saddened that we were not observing the Sabbath, where the church, beginning with the change in Roman law by Constantine outlawed the Sabbath and replaced it with Sunday “resurrection day” or the “1st day”. There is a lack of historical understanding here.  Constantine did not outlaw Sabbath worship and there was no penalty for worshipping on the Sabbath.  He did not even create a Sabbath day on Sunday, but created a civil day of rest each week, just as we create holidays like Memorial Day, or a 5 day work week. And there was no civil penalty for not worshipping on Sunday:

Here the article inserts the edict from the source Codex Justinianis lib. 3, tit. 12, 3: “On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or for vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost. (Given the 7th day of March, Crispus and Constantine being consuls each of them for the second time [A.D. 321]”)

In point of fact, however, the Christians had regularly been meeting on Sunday as the Lord’s Day, as is clear in scripture, since it was a day to celebrate the resurrection: 

It is well documented that the early church adopted Sunday as their day of worship. Acts 20:7 speaks of this, “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people …” and 1 Corinthians 16:2, “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.”  

The practice of Sunday worship among Christians was widespread well before Constantine. For a more in depth look at this issue,  I advise these sites among others: and 1.2Early Christianity.  When Constantine made Sunday a civil day of rest, it allowed the majority of Christians, who were already celebrating on Sunday to gather together more freely.  In other words, he chose that day because Christians were already worshipping on that day, not to impose it against their customs. In fact, Constantine did not have authority over the bishops in their role as leaders of the church and instructions on days of worship.  

Constantine, as emperor, only had jurisdiction over civil observance of the day of rest. Constantine did not have authority within the church to designate or change the day of worship.  In fact, Constantine helped stop the persecution of Christians by making Sunday a day of rest, so they could not be singled out for discrimination by a mostly-pagan populous.”

The idea that Constantine imposed Sunday worship and banned Sabbath worship, which was still practiced among the Jews and some Jewish Christians, is just false. Rather, he allowed what was already common practice among the church to be protected.  This is proved by the earliest writings of the church, starting circa 86 A.D. 

Ignatius (appointed by Peter as Bishop of Antioch) in the IX chapter of his letter to the Magnesians in 110 A.D. writes:

“If they who were concerned in old things, arrived at a newness of hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living according to the Lord’s day, by which our life sprung from him and by his death (whom certain persons deny)…we have been made his disciples, let us live according to Christianity.”

Barnabas (named in Acts 14:14, who was an apostle and the companion of Paul) writes in the XV chapter of his Epistle in 120 A.D.

“Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day, also, on which Jesus rose again from the dead.”

Justin Martyr (one of the first Christian apologists) wrote in the LXVII chapter of his first apology in 140 A.D.

Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness, made the world; and Jesus Christ our savior , on the same day rose from the dead.”

The Didache (considered by all major scholars to be the most authoritative historical writing on early Christianity outside the Bible) stated in 80-90 A.D.

“And on the day of our Lord’s resurrection, which is the Lord’s daymeet more diligently.”

Don’t just take our word for it though.  See for yourself, by googling, or visiting your local library and learn exactly what the first Christians thought about Sunday vs Saturday observance.  Note well, how everything written both before and after 325 AD. unequivocally states that Christians observed Sunday.

So, in conclusion, from the earliest days of the New Covenant in a New Creation, the Christians would gather on Sunday to celebrate the Resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. It was not a day imposed upon the people of God by Constantine or any other emperor. With practice and later church councils and the Roman church,  there may have been a pejorative push to worship on Sunday and discount those who maintained a Saturday worship, because religious legalism crept into the organized church. However, that assumption only came about because the church had already practiced the worship of God on Sundays for centuries.  And going back to a Saturday Sabbath, and insisting on it as the only right way to worship God violates both the spirit of the law and sows needless division into the Body of Christ.  By contrast, we are to honor one another regardless of which day one chooses as his day of worship. 

9 thoughts on “Jesus is Our Sabbath”

  1. I’m in full agreement with what you’ve written here in this post. Just out of curiosity, what branch of Christianity would have opposed what has been the traditional day of Christian assembly for worship? I’m aware of the Seven Day Adventist and more recently the Back to our Hebrew Roots Movement. Are there others?

    • Hi Bob, I am not sure that what I am seeing is an organized movement. I am seeing Gentile Christians being influenced by Messianic congregations, who tend to try to combine Torah observance with faith in the Messiah. We have had a couple of families our church leave to follow “Torah observing” churches, and that is the reason I wrote this piece. I have no issue with those who want to worship on Saturday as opposed to Sunday, but don’t like the spirit of legalism that often attends those who want to make it a doctrine. Is there an organized “Back to the Roots” movement?

      • I’m not sure about it being a true movement, but read about it some where that it involved the same sort of things you described about Gentiles attempting to become like Messianic Jews. We had a now deceased area Baptist preacher who met with other Christians on Saturday to celebrate Shabbat, and then preached at a local small Baptist church each Sunday. He also spent a lot of time dwelling on the Torah. He dodged a question when asked by my wife whether he thought non Christian Jews were saved. It makes me wonder whether these folks are familiar with the letter to the Hebrews or Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia.

        • I do think it is important to rediscover our Hebrew heritage and it much of the N. Testament is hard to understand without the historic context, the meaning of the festivals, etc. The Gospel of John is full of Jesus referring to himself as the fulfillment of the festivals, but you miss some of it if you don’t know that the Light and the Water were part of Tabernacles. To honor that heritage is not a problem. But if it becomes any type of legalism, then we have a problem. It seems that some are being drawn to the “safety and security” of the law because of the times of chaos we are living in, thinking that somehow that will provide security against the flood of wickedness.

          • I agree that it is necessary for us to understand the background of the Old Covenant in order to fully appreciate the context of much of Jesus’s teachings. What bothers me is when it seems that some present day believers seem to want to repeat the Galatian heresy, with it’s legalistic requirements to replace or supplement Jesus’s finished work on the cross.

          • Agreed! Bob, I think you read my book, right? In the first chapters I show how Paul relates religious legalism to witchcraft, as false apostles tried to ensnare new Christians into kosher laws and circumcision Pardoned or Paroled? ?

  2. No Jefferis, I haven’t read your book, but I believe the Holy Spirit is leading us to the same conclusions. We have communicated in the past regarding your vision of the collapse of the Washington monument, and how that lined up with a dream that my wife had. We are fellow citizens of the Lone Star State. We live up in Central Texas, about 40 miles East of Waco. I believe your still down in Wimberly ?


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