Vol. 6, No. 11
Since You Asked
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Names may be included at the discretion of the Editor unless querists request their names be withheld. Please check our Archive for the answer to your question before submitting it; there are over 1,000 articles in the Archive addressing numerous biblical topics. Submit a Question to GGO.
Someone inquires respecting how to answer three questions posed by a correspondent student. The correspondent student is studying also with other religious people, from whom obviously these carefully worded questions originate. The questions are:
#1 Where in God's word does it say that God changed His Holy Sabbath day from the 7th day to the 1st day? #2 Where does it say that the 1st day of the week is now a rest day instead of the 7th? #3 Where does it say God blessed the or sanctified the 1st day in place of the 7th day to make it holy?
First, it must be observed that the questions are skewed or slanted to a particular point of view instead of benign religious questions for which biblical answers are sought. We hasten to add that no one discounts the sincerity of the correspondent student, and whoever worded the questions for him also may be sincere. However, it is possible to be sincerely mistaken (i.e., for one's conclusions or beliefs to be unsupported by the biblical evidence).
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 Judaism superseded and replaced Patriarchy (for the Israelites). Christianity superseded Judaism (for the Israelites) and Patriarchy (for non-Israelites), so that everyone now living and who ever shall live as long as time remains is amenable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, only that some (but not all) items under either Patriarchy or Judaism have been reinstated under Christianity; 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.
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.
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.
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.
A correspondent inquires "about the validity of Catholic faith" as well as the prospect of a Catholic's "salvation after this life." He then likewise asks about Seventh Day Adventist and Mormon religions, before signing himself as a "Presbyterian Christian."
The inquiry implies at least misgivings regarding the legitimacy of some religions (i.e., Catholicism, Adventism and Mormonism). Further, the inquiry presumes that Presbyterianism is a legitimate religion. The only religious authority bigger than Catholicism, Adventism, Mormonism and Presbyterianism by which anyone could ascertain legitimacy or illegitimacy in religion is the Bible.
The birthday of the New Testament church is in Acts Chapter Two. The balance of the Book of Acts plus the rest of the New Testament epistles record information about the church for which Jesus died. The Catholic Church slowly developed over centuries following the first century through apostasy that the apostle Paul predicted (Acts 20:29-30).
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:1-5)
The Roman Catholic Church crystallized in A.D. 606 when Boniface III was accepted as the first universal pope. Previously, there was more than one pope at the same time during the developing years of the apostate Catholic Church. The Catholic Church continued to evolve through the centuries (and continues to evolve). That there is significant difference between the church of the New Testament and the Catholic Church is unquestionable.
Denominational churches sprung into existence during the Protestant Reformation Movement in the 1500's. The first Protestant denomination to part company with the Catholic Church was the Lutheran Church (1529). Other denominations developed during the Reformation Movement as people departed the Catholic Church, including the Presbyterian Church (1560). The Seventh Day Adventists developed about 300 years after the Reformation Movement (1844). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) was established in 1830.
All of these churches came into existence hundreds of years after the establishment of the New Testament church. None of these churches wears any of the New Testament designations for the New Testament church (e.g., church of God, 1 Cor. 1:2; churches of Christ, Rom. 16:16; etc.). None of these churches practice the salvation taught in the New Testament (e.g., Mark 16:16). None of these churches duplicates the primitive worship of the New Testament church (e.g., singing without instrumental music in worship, Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; observing the Lord's Supper exclusively each first day of the week, Acts 20:7; etc.). All of these churches possess humanly devised creeds in addition to or instead of the New Testament alone.
How any of these churches differ from each other is irrelevant when they all differ dramatically from the New Testament church and the Gospel by which the New Testament church is regulated. No unkindness is intended, but we are obligated to speak nothing except the Word of God and to speak it in love (1 Peter 4:11; Ephesians 4:15). There were no Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons or Presbyterians in the first century; members of the church were simply called Christians (Acts 11:26).
It is still possible for one to become a Christian only (not a denominational Christian) in our century; this occurs the same way in which it occurred in the first century. When the seed of the kingdom (the Word of God, Luke 8:11) is planted in honest hearts, Christians and only Christians are harvested (1 Corinthians 3:6). The apostle Peter told believers in the first recorded Gospel sermon to repent and to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). About 3,000 souls did just that and Jesus Christ added them to his church (Acts 2:41, 47). The sincere truth-seeker will find salvation and membership in the one church over which Jesus Christ alone is the head (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4). I am more than willing to assist any sincere soul know the truth by which he can be made free from sin (John 8:32).
Someone writes, "I would like to know the biblical meaning for the number '2.'" One resource claims, "In a mystical sense, one is Unity; two, represents Unity repeated..." (McClintock and Strong). Fausset's Bible Dictionary records respecting the number two:
Two notes intensification (Gen 41:32), requital in full (Job 42:10; Jer 16:18; Isa 61:7; Rev 18:6); the proportions of the temple were double those of the tabernacle; two especially symbolizes testimony (Zech 4:11; 11:7; Isa 8:2; Rev 11:3), two tables of the testimony (Ex 31:18), two cherubim over the ark of the testimony. God is His own witness; but that witness is twofold, His word and His oath (Heb 6:13,17), Himself and His Son (John 8:18).
The number "two" appears 835 times in our English Bible (e.g., KJV). Whereas numbers in the Bible may refer in given instances to some figurative application, numbers frequently appear in the Bible in a literal sense (i.e., as counting or assessing quantity). The context in which numbers appear determines their figurative or literal use. Largely, even when the Bible employs numbers figuratively, a fair degree of conjecture or interpretation may be necessary to discern the way in which they are being used in a certain passage. One rule of hermeneutics (biblical interpretation) is that words should always be considered first in their literal sense before assigning them some figurative application (and then only for good, contextual reason).
Fausset's Bible Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 1998.
McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2000.