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The Sabbath

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(C) Copyright by Massimo Franceschini

These are parts extracted from a correspondence between me and a Seventh-day Adventist. 

Hy,

The point of our discussion was whether we should continue observing the Sabbath day on Saturday, even after the resurrection of Jesus, or if there was a change in this observance. I will attempt to show that there was a change. 

In Hosea 2:1-11 he is talking about the apostasy of Israel, and here the Lord is speaking of what will happen in the future. The Lord Himself says in verse 11, "I will (future tense) cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons and her Sabbaths." Here the Lord Himself declares that at some point in the future, because of the apostasy of Israel, the Sabbath day will cease. If somebody wants to say that this is not what He means, I disagree because I am not bending the scriptures at all. This is what He actually said. Therefore, what I now need to do is try to show when this change occurred.

In Luke 22:17-20 we read, "And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, take this (imperative) and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you I will not drink of the fruit of the wine until the kingdom of God shall come. And He took the bread and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, this is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, this cup is the new testament."

Here we read that Jesus declared that He was instituting a new testament which was replacing an old, previous testament. It was at this point that the disciples received the commandment to observe the Lord's Supper, however, there is no mention about which day it should be observed. Fortunately the Bible give us the means to aid us in our understanding. In Matthew 18:16 we are told "that in the mouth or two or three witnesses every word may be established." (see also II Corinthians 13:1, Hebrew 10:28, and John 8:13-18.) 

If we believe in the Bible then we should be able to support our ideas through what is written in the scriptures. Therefore, we have to find places in the New Testament which talk about the subject of the Sabbath day and Sunday, which is the first day of the week, and see what they have to say about these two days. 

As a side note, in a booklet published by the Seventh-day Adventist church, it is written that Constantine, the Roman Emperor, was the first to make Sunday the official day of worship. Supposedly he was a worshipper of the sun, and it is from this that we get the name "Sun" day. But this can't be true because in Italy at that time, they didn't speak English but Italian. In Italian the name for the first day of the week is Domenica, which comes from the Latin Dominus, which in English means "the Lord." Thus Dominus day literally means "the Lord's day." Interestingly, that it is the same expression John used in Revelation 1:10. So, we see that there is biblical evidence for this name rather than just pagan historic evidence. 

But let's see what the Bible itself has to say about whether we should worship on the seventh day (Saturday) or on the first day of the week (Sunday). When the saints met together, one of the things they always did was to partake of the Lord's Supper in commemoration of His atonement. When looking at the scriptures, we should not add or subtract from what they declare. Instead, we should accept what they say. 

The Seventh-day Adventist church quotes several scriptures in Acts where it is states that Paul often went to the synagogues to preach the gospel (see Acts 17:2-4, 18:4). Does this mean that Paul and other Christians went there in order to partake of the Lord's Supper and to collect their offering money? If that is so, then it would seem very strange to me that the Jews were there also taking the bread and wine in remembrance of Christ's sacrifice. Even worse, I find it rather strange that the Jews would even allow the Christians to worship Jesus in their synagogue. Knowing the Jews, they would have probably stoned Paul and all the other Christians along with him for such a blasphemous act. 

The reason why Paul (not the Christian community) went into the synagogue on the Sabbath, was, as the scriptures say, so he could "reasoned with them out of the scriptures." In other words, he was trying to convert them, and the best time and place was on Saturday when they met in their synagogues. That explains the two or three scriptures which are used to support the idea of meeting on Saturday. Now I will show from the scriptures those which support my beliefs.

In John 20:19-23 we read, "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews. Then came Jesus and stood in the midst, and said unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said He showed unto them his hand and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when He hath said this, He breathed on them, sand saith unto them, Receive the Holy Ghost." 

I would imagine that this was a very special occasion for them. They not only saw the Lord alive after His death but they also received the Holy Ghost. This event occurred on the first day of the week when the disciples were assembled. 

In Acts 20:7 we read, "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow." It is said by the Seventh-day Adventists, that they were assembled on that day to break the bread because of the departure of Paul, but that doesn't make any sense. If they had met on the Sabbath, the day before, they would have been no reason to also break bread in commemorating the Lord's Supper on Sunday as well. But, either way, I can count this as my first witness from the Bible in which it is clearly written that the Christians came together on the first day of the week to worship. 

In I Corinthians 16- 2 we read, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him." If they assembled on Saturday, the day before, they could have collected the offering on that day, as the Seventh-day Adventist do now. However, if the church is suppose to collect the offerings on the first day of the week, then they are performing this collection differently from the way the Bible says. On the other hand, if they assembled on Saturday it would have been easier to collect the money on the same day than to gather together on a separate date. This is my second witness from the Bible that on the first day of the week they were collecting offerings, as all the churches do now, excluding yours which collects their offerings on the last day of the week. However, all churches, including yours, collect offerings on the day they meet together to worship. 

In 1 Corinthians 11:20-33 Paul sets forth the rules for the partaking of the Lord's Supper. However, he didn't mention the day when they did this, but he does describe the way in which people should take it. To me this is important because the Christians wouldn't have been eating the Lord's Supper in the synagogues, nor would they be collecting their offerings money. This is my third witnesses from the Bible. And in doing so, I didn't add or subtract anything from the scriptures I quoted. And they clearly showed that the Christians met to take the Lord's Supper on Sunday, the first day of the week. 

Quoting scriptures before the time of the resurrection has no meaning because the change in days happened after the resurrection. Therefore, "Domenica" (Sunday) was chosen to remember the Lord's day when He rose from the grave, just as John mentioned in Revelation. 

You quoted Romans 14:5 which says, "One man esteemeth one day above another." However, this actually supports my position because it shows that there was a discussion about this change at that point in time. Only the Jews kept the Sabbath, and the Gentiles had very few special days which they observed. If that is the case, then why would there be these kinds of questions? This argument was being made around 50 A.D., but, according to you, Constantine made this change in 313 A.D. If that is so, then why was there this discussion about days in the time of Paul if there hadn't been any change until Constantine? 

Another interesting scripture is found in Acts 2:1-4 which reads, "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place (gathered). And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance."

Here we see that the Christians were all gathered in one place on the day of Pentecost and they received the Holy Ghost. What makes this scripture so important is because the day of Pentecost follows the Sabbath (see Leviticus 23:15-16). This is my fourth scripture in defense of my position.

Another interesting thing is that in the Greek version it has the word "Sabbath" in place of "the first day of the week," especially when it follows the old Sabbath day (Saturday) (see Matthew 28:1, also in Mark 16:2 Mark 16:9 Luke 24:1 John 20:1 John 20:19 Acts 20:7 I Corinthians 16:2). But in the original text there is written "Sabbath" 2 times.

We have also historical evidence, to support the fact that Sunday was the day when Christians gathered together to worship Christ, which therefore refutes the theory that it was Constantine who introduced Sunday as the day of worship. This evidence is found in the letter of Ignatius to the Magneians, writing in 101 A.D. He wrote that during his time the believers kept the first day of the week more holy than any other day. That would exclude Saturday as being the most holy day. Justin, the Martyr, in his First Apology, written in 140 A.D.wrote the same thing (1:67). Clement of Alexandria in Book 7, chapter 12, written in 193 A.D. wrote the same, as did Origin in book 3, chapter 23, written in 201 A.D.

There's a so-called pseudepigraphal work called the Epistle of Barnabas which purports to have been written by Barnabas, Paul's missionary companion. It's not part of the Biblical canon, though, so naturally it's not as "authoritative" as a New Testament book, but it is known to have been written at roughly the same time as the latest books of the NT books (around 100 - 150 AD).

Barnabas 13:9 reads, "Lastly he says to them, I cannot stand your new moons and your Sabbaths. Consider what he means by it: the Sabbaths, he says, that you now keep are not acceptable to me, but only those which I have made, when resting from
all things I shall begin the eighth day, that is, the beginning of the other world." [and, of course, the 8th day is the same as the 1st day]


Hy,

I want to thank you again for your kindness in writing me back. When I wrote to your church's web site they promised that a bible specialist would write back to me in 3 to 4 days. After a week went by and nobody answered my comments, I took that to mean that they couldn't. It appears that when I asked a question concerning the main doctrine of your church in a different way than normal, they don't know how answer it. In fact, I had to write them two more times before I received an answer from you, and you are not who I was writing to. Even at that, your first answer avoided providing me answer from the New Testament, although you did quote quite a few scriptures from the Old Testament,.

Concerning your second letter, I again challenged you to provided evidence for your position from the New Testament and again you avoided the question of where and when the first Christians met to worship and partake of the Lord's Supper. In your letter you said you didn't know anything about where they met, but this is important. If they met in the synagogue of the Jews on Saturday, it would have been impossible for them to worship as Christians. In your second letter your answer to that was, "The Sabbath is as old as man," but that doesn't explain my question. 

I don't want to offend you, but even that answer is not completely right. The word Sabbath doesn't appear in the Bible until the Book of Exodus, which was two thousands years after Adam was created. When God first speaks about the seventh day, He doesn't give that day a name. This is an important point. Can you quote me one scripture before God gave the ten commandments, that shows people were keeping the Sabbath? You can't, because there is none. And if people did worship God on the Sabbath from the days of Adam, then why did the Lord have to explain to Moses to worship on the Sabbath, if, like you say, they already knew about this law? 

Since it was Moses who wrote the first five books of the Bible (known as the Pentateuch), he certainly could have given us insights about whether Abraham, Isaac Jacob, Noah Enoch and all the other holy men of God before him kept the Sabbath. Then why did the Lord have to explain everything to Moses about the Sabbath if all the Patriarchs had kept it? You wrote to me saying, "without there being a word in the Bible about this which would certainly be one of the greatest events that the world has ever known." If that is true, then how come there is no mention of the Sabbath day from Genesis to Exodus? 

Regarding Hosea, you quoted me someone's commentary to prove your point, but a commentary is nothing more than the opinion of a man. If I took a commentary from another religious faith, it would offer a different opinion of what Hosea meant. A commentary might be useful for obscure prophesies, but here the statement is so clear that there is no need for a commentary. Instead, what you are trying to do is change the meaning of the scripture because you can accept what it actually says. 

You quoted Matthew 19:16-19 and I want to thank you for pointing that out to me because it helps prove my point. Jesus Himself quoted the Law of Moses saying,: "Thou shalt not murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother: and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," but notice He didn't say anything about keeping the Sabbath day holy!
If this is so important, how come Jesus Himself forgot to quote the greatest of all the commandments? 

If you say that just because Jesus didn't mention this one law doesn't mean that we shouldn't keep all the laws of Moses, then we should also be offering animal sacrifices as well, just as the law of Moses requires. But even that is not a valid argument, because if keeping the Sabbath is one of the greatest commandments, and is so important, surely Christ would have thought to at least make mention of that fact. 

Anyway, I really appreciated talking to you and I respect your religious beliefs. If you want add any more comments to our correspondence, you are welcome to do so. The Bible will remain the same for me and you, but if you want to give me some more explanations, please don't give me the commentary of some man based on human opinion because I will not accept them. To me, the most important thing is to respect the opinion of others. As far as I'm concerned, you can worship on Saturday, eat nothing but vegetables and do everything you want, because I am not your Judge.

Good by from Massimo.

Today 9/27/01 a reader named Gary Cross wrote me a long and boring e mail which was trying to point out this from his own words:

"Conclusion

Since God never changed or abolished His law, it still stands today with the expectation that men of honor and truth will be obedient to Him. Yes, God’s law is still valid, He still expects His children to obey it, not for salvation or justification but because we love Him and want to serve Him."

James 2:10
10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all. 
Galatians 3:10
10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

Galatians 3:24
24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 

Galatians 3:25
25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Please if you know him make sure that he will perform sacrifices like the Hebrews, I mean lambs sacrifices and all the rituals connected. I wonder if this guy is aware of the atoning sacrifice that Jesus did.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 May 2010 10:41  

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