People, think that Paul, the other apostles and the early Church changed the Sabbath day.
But what does the record of the New Testament really say?
“Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” ( Romans:7:12 ).
We have seen that Jesus Christ did not change God’s Sabbath day. On the contrary, throughout His ministry
He showed the true purpose and intent of the Sabbath. Jesus often showed that the Sabbath, and
particularly His teachings and actions on that day, prefigured the coming messianic age—the time of the
Kingdom of God—as one of healing, freedom and restoration for all humanity.
Jesus was a Sabbath-keeper. At the time of His death, His closest followers clearly observed the Sabbath, waiting until it was past to prepare His body for burial ( Matthew:28:1 ; Mark:16:1-2 ; Luke:23:56 ; 24:1). Fifty days from Christ’s resurrection, many gathered for the Day of Pentecost, one of God’s seven annual
Sabbaths or feasts observed in addition to the weekly Sabbath (Leviticus 23), and it was on that day that the New Testament Church was founded by the coming of the Holy Spirit ( Acts:2:1-4 ).
The Bible shows no evidence of any change at Christ’s death and resurrection concerning God’s Sabbaths. We see only a continuation of Christ’s followers observing them just as He had done—despite the assertions of some to the contrary.
Did Paul abolish the Sabbath?
If the Sabbath, or any part of God’s law, was abolished or changed in the early New Testament Church, we should find clear evidence of such a dramatic shift in the New Testament writings. After all, the books of the New Testament were written in the first century over a period of decades ending in the 90s, more than 60 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Many who argue that the Sabbath was abolished in the New Testament point to the apostle Paul’s writings to justify their view. But is this opinion correct? They commonly cite three passages to support that claim— Romans:14:5-6 , Colossians:2:16-17 and Galatians:4:9-10 .
To properly understand these passages we must look at each in context, both in the immediate context of what is being discussed and in the larger social and historical context influencing the author and his audience at the time. We must also be careful not to read our preconceived notions into the text. With that in mind, let’s examine these passages and see if Paul indeed annulled or abolished Sabbath observance in his writings.
First, let’s consider Paul’s own statements about God’s law. More than 25 years after the death of Jesus Christ, he wrote in Romans:7:12 , “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.” In Romans:2:13 he stated, “For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the
law will be justified.” In Romans:7:22 he said, “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.” Many assume that once we have faith in Jesus Christ, we have no more need to keep the law. Paul himself addressed this concept in Romans:3:31 : “Do we then make void [Greek katargeo, meaning ‘destroy’ or ‘abolish’] the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish [Greek histemi, meaning ‘erect’ or ‘make to stand’] the law.” Faith does not abolish the law, said Paul; it establishes and upholds it.
In Acts 24 he defended himself before the Roman governor Felix against charges of dissension and sedition brought by Jewish religious leaders. Replying to the accusations against him, he said, “I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets” (verse 14).
Two years later he again defended himself against such accusations, this time before another Roman governor, Festus. “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all,” he responded to the charges against him ( Acts:25:8 ).
Here, some 25 to 30 years after Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, Paul plainly said he believed “all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets” (terms used for the books of the Old Testament) and had done nothing against the law!
In light of these clear statements, we should expect to find equally clear instructions regarding abolition of the Sabbath, if that had been Paul’s understanding and intent. But do we?
Are all days of worship alike?
In Romans:14:5-6 , Paul wrote: “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day
alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he
who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he
gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.”
From this statement, it could appear to some that Paul is saying that whatever day one chooses to rest and worship is irrelevant so long as one is “fully convinced in his own mind” and “observes it to the Lord.” Does this mean that the Sabbath is no different from any other day or that we are free to choose whatever day we wish to observe?
To come to that conclusion, one must read it into the verse, because the Sabbath is nowhere mentioned here. In fact, the word Sabbath or references to Sabbath-keeping are not found anywhere in the book of Romans. The reference here is simply to “days,” not the Sabbath or any other days of rest and worship commanded by God.
Keep in mind that Paul, earlier in this same epistle, had written that “the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good,” that “the doers of the law will be justified,” and that he found “delight in the law of God” ( Romans:7:12 ; 2:13; 7:22). If he were saying in Romans 14 that Sabbath observance is irrelevant, such an assertion would be completely inconsistent with his other clear statements in this same letter.
What are the “days” Paul was talking about?
What are the days Paul mentions here? We must look at the context to find out. The passage in question about days in Romans:14:5-6 is immediately between references to eating meat and vegetarianism in verses 2, 3 and 6. There is no biblical connection between Sabbath observance and vegetarianism, so these verses must be taken out of context to assume Paul was referring to the Sabbath.
It is apparent that Paul wasn’t discussing the Sabbath but, rather, other days during which feasting, fasting or abstaining from certain foods was practiced.
Paul was writing to a congregation composed of both Jewish and gentile believers in Rome ( Romans:1:13 ; 2:17). Eating and fasting practices that were not clearly addressed in the Scriptures had become a point of contention.
Possibly, maquee, possibly, Since some of the Jewish Christians in Rome self-righteously criticized others ( Romans:2:17-24 ), perhaps they had become like the Pharisee who boasted, “I fast twice a week” ( Luke:18:12 ), and set themselves up as more righteous than others who were not fasting at these times. Possibly members of the church at Rome were trying to enforce fasting on particular days on other Christians there, prompting Paul’s pointed question, “Who are you to judge another’s servant?” (verse 4).
Paul appears to be setting the record straight by emphasizing that fasting is a voluntary exercise of worship not limited to particular days. Therefore, one person’s fasting on a particular day when another is eating does not make him more righteous.