CHAPTER VI B
THE NEW COVENANTAL SABBATH
B. THE SABBATH IN THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH
(a) The sabbath from Pentecost Sunday to Paulís first journey to Rome
After the previous section on the sabbath during the thirty odd years between the birth and ascension of Jesus Christ, attention must now be given to the sabbath during the next thirty years, from ten days after Christís ascension or Pentecost Sunday to Paulís first journey to Rome in 60 A.D.
The root of the New Testament Church is, of course, found before205 her anointment by God the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday. But as that part of her history overlaps the previous account of the development of the sabbath already given above, this present section of the sabbath in the New Testament Church will take its point of departure from the Pentecost Sunday of Acts 2:1. Only it must not be forgotten that the Church existed before then, and that First Day (Sunday) observance was already firmly rooted in the circle of the disciples by virtue of their congregational gatherings and the Christophanies on (at least some of) the first days of the seven weeks immediately prior to Pentecost.
As God the Father created light on the first day of the terrestrial creation week; as God the Son of righteousness and the Light of the world, proclaimed the principial re-creation of the world in His resurrection on the first day of re-creation week; so too did God the Holy Spirit anoint His Sunday-keeping Church with power on what was also almost certainly206 the first day of the week ó the day of Pentecost.
There had, of course, been warnings that the Holy Spirit would descend and when He would descend207. Apart from the prophecies of the Old Testament207 and those of Jesus Christ208, Jesus, Who possessed the Spirit without measure, had entered Jerusalem amidst joy and gladness as the Spirit-anointed Davidic king on Palm Sunday209. The next Sunday, again a day of joy and gladness, the Spirit of Holiness raised Jesus from the dead and declared Him to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead; and He, the Spirit, was Himself breathed out onto Christís overjoyed disciples on that same Sunday210. And precisely seven weeks later He descended in power to baptize the Church with fire on Pentecost Sunday, making that day one of joy and gladness too211.
So it is that both Christís resurrection and His Spiritís descent took place on the first or "eighth" day of the week. And just as all the Old Testament "seven-day" rituals ó the Saturday sabbath, the Passover, the sabbath year, etc. ó were fulfilled in Christís death and seventh-day rest of death in the tomb, so too were all the Old Testament "eighth-day" rituals ó circumcision, the first day of the unleavened bread, the first and the eighth days of the Feast of Tabernacles, the feast of trumpets on the first day of the month, all ritual cleansings on the eighth day, the jubilee year and of course the fiftieth (7 X 7 + 1) day of Pentecost212 ó precisely fulfilled in Christís new life on Resurrection Sunday the first day of the week and in Christís outpouring of His life-giving Spirit on the first day of the eighth ( 7 + 1) week after the Passover, Pentecost Sunday.
"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place" (Acts 2:1). Just as the disciples had been "gathered together" (probably in the upper room) on the first Resurrection Sunday213, the next or second Sunday (John 20:26), and very probably every following Sunday as well214, so too were they "with one accord in one place" ó probably also in the same "place", the upper room ó on the eighth Sunday of Pentecost.
While they were gathered together [no doubt for communal prayer and Scripture meditation or instruction215] on that eighth Sunday, "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 . . ." (Acts 2:2-4a). A prior phase of the Day of the Lord had arrived on the first day of the week on Resurrection Sunday, the Lordís day, when the Lord Jesus Christ, risen as the Sun of righteousness with healing in His wings came to His temple (Church) ó that was the new Day which God would create, the Day of the Lord, the Day of God the Son. And now a further phase of the Day of the Lord arrived "when the day of Pentecost was fully come", that eighth Sunday, the Lordís day, when the Lordís Spirit suddenly came to His temple (His Church in the upper room) and burned like an oven with tongues of fire ó that too was the new Day which God would create, the Day of the Lord, the Day of the Lord God the Holy Spirit216.
On that Pentecostal Feast of the Firstfruits of the harvest in Old Testament times, two baked loaves and animal sacrifices had to be offered to the Lord as a burnt offering, as an offering made by fire, and "when the day of Pentecost was fully come" on that eighth Sunday after the Passover Sacrifice, the disciples were "baked" into one loaf, one Church, as a burnt offering unto God by the fire of the Holy Ghost, as it were. The Church was fused together in the crucible of fire217.
After the visible and audible descent of God the Holy Spirit into His temple, the Pentecost Sunday Church congregation, outsiders were amazed yet doubtful as to the significance of this epoch-making occurrence (Acts 2:12). So the Apostle Peter raised his voice and preached the Pentecost Sunday sermon, preached the Word of God at nine oíclock in the morning218, the germ of the Churchís "morning service". This occurrence, said Peter, "is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: ĎAnd it shall come to pass in the last daysí, saith God, ĎI will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh . . . before that great and notable Day of the Lord come" (Acts 2:16-20). The day of Pentecost, the day of the Lordís Spirit, declared Peter, is itself eschatological and points to the final coming of the cosmic Day of the Lord.
Yet, Peter goes on to say that neither that same day of the Lordís Spirit nor the still coming cosmic Day of the Lord are independent of the first Lordís day, the day of the Lordís resurrection. For it is of Christ "Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death", it is of Christ that David spoke in Ps. 16 with the words: ". . . Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to Me the ways of life; Thou shalt make Me full of joy . . ."; for David, "seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption". "This Jesus", continued Peter, "hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear". It is in the light of these tremendous themes that Peter had just a few seconds previously declared: "ĎAnd it shall come to pass in the last daysí, saith God, ĎI will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh . . . before that great and notable Day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the Name of the Lord shall be saved"219.
About three thousand souls called upon the Name of the Lord and were saved on that day of the Lordís Spirit, Pentecost Sunday. And they that received the Word of God then preached by Peter, "were baptized, . . . and they continued stedfastly in the Apostlesí doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:41-42). It was on Pentecost Sunday, on a Sunday or "the Lordís day", that those three thousand converts experienced those benefits. For on that momentous Lordís day they heard the Lordís Word, were baptized into the Lordís resurrection life220, continued in the Lordís doctrine, enjoyed fellowship with the Lordís people221, celebrated the Lordís Supper222 and offered the Lord their prayers.
It was seen223 that Resurrection Sunday was characterized as a day of joy and gladness by the revelation of the Living Lord Jesus Christ through His appearance, through the preaching of His Word, through the breaking of the bread in His Supper and through the congregation of His children. Summarizing the occurrences on Pentecost Sunday, similar characteristics are seen: it too was a day of joy and gladness224 characterized by the revelation of the Living Spirit of the Lord through His appearance, through perseverance in prayer, through the Spirit-filled preaching of His Word (Acts 2:1, 14-40), through the Spirit-discerned commemoration of the Lord's resurrection (Acts 2:1, 24-36) and His Supper225 and the administration of baptism (Acts 2:1, 38, 41), and through the Spirit-controlled congregation of His children226. And these factors would (and should!) also characterize all the subsequent Sunday meetings of the Church too, as the outpoured Spirit thenceforth led His Church according to His will227.
After Pentecost Sunday, the disciplesí joy and gladness increased as they continued in doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers. Many wonders were performed by the Apostles, the spirit of communal togetherness in fellowship and in material possessions was very high, and they not only continued daily with one accord in the temple228, but they also broke bread from house to house229, eating their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people, while the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved (Acts 2:42-47).
The disciples continued to evangelize the Jews230 in the temple228 and especially in the adjoining porch of Solomon231, as well as in private houses229, preaching the risen Christ232 as the fulfilment of the Abrahamic covenant (Acts 3:13, 25; 7:2f), and preaching the necessity of repentance before the advent of the full consummation of the (Eighth) Day of the Lord, the Day of Judgement233,
Particularly of note is Peterís address to the rulers and elders of Israel, in which he refers to Christ and His resurrection as "the Stone which was set at nought by you builders, which is become the Head of the Corner" (Acts 4:8, 10-11). For this reference is an indirect quotation of the Resurrection Psalm, Ps. 118, verse 22, the next two verses of which clearly establish the importance of Resurrection Sunday with the words: "This is the Lordís doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made [cf. Mal. 3:17; 4:2-31]; we will rejoice and be glad in it." Here the joy and gladness which ultimately prevailed amongst the Christians on Resurrection Sunday and which characterized the Christians on Pentecost Sunday (and which should characterize every Lordís day!) is emphasized yet again234.
Apart from evangelizing the Jews, however, the disciples also gathered regularly for their own spiritual edification235, probably meeting chiefly236 in the "upper room" where Christ had sealed the covenant with the institution of the sacrament of the Lordís Supper, where He had appeared to His congregated disciples on Resurrection Sunday and again on the Sunday "eight days later", and where He had poured out His Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday after they had been congregating there in prayer and meditation of the Scriptures for the previous ten days238. There in the "upper room" the disciples would thenceforth assemble especially on the Lordís day, the first day of each week237, to break bread238, to pray and to meditate on and receive instruction from Godís Word239, and to help the poor amongst their own numbers240, which latter service soon led to the institution of deacons241 and ultimately to regular gifts for the poor Christians, towards which gifts contributions were made each Lordís day, each Sunday, on the first day of each week242.
When persecution of the Christians at Jerusalem broke out in 31 A.D.243, however ó especially under Saul the Pharisee244 ó the disciples were scattered abroad, taking their Sunday observance with them, and preaching the Word everywhere throughout Judaea, Samaria, Phoenicia, Cyprus, Antioch and even unto Damascus245, at which latter place Saul was converted to Christianity and baptized in 32 or 33 and thereafter went to Tarsus in 36 AD.243, after which persecution "the churches (had) rest ("eirene") throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort ("paraklesis") of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied" (Acts 9:31).
At this time "house-churches" were established throughout the land, as for example at Lydda and Saron and Joppa, from which latter place the Apostle Peter left for Corneliusí house in Caesarea (Acts 9:35-43; 10:1-24) on what some consider246 was probably the old Jewish Saturday sabbath, If this is correct, it is indirect evidence that these "house-churches" were not conducting religious meetings on Saturday but on Sunday ó for otherwise Peter would accordingly have delayed his departure for Caesarea until at least Sunday in order to have first attended the Saturday meeting(s) in Joppa. But, as things were, if it was indeed a Saturday on which he left for Corneliusí house, it is clear that Peter ignored the Jewish "sabbath dayís journey" regulations247 by travelling the thirty-two miles248 from Joppa to Caesarea on Saturday (Acts 10:9, 23) and preaching the Word of God to Cornelius and his household on the next day, the first day of the week, on which Lordís day they would then have been baptized, and on which Sunday a supplementary outpouring of the Pentecost Sunday descent of the Spirit would then have occurred (Acts 10:24-48).
In about 45 A.D., approximately fifteen years243 after the death of Christ, the Lordís half-brother James wrote his Epistle in Jerusalem to the "twelve tribes which are scattered abroad" (James 1:1). Writing to his brethren in the "Lord of glory" (James 2:9, 11), James warned them against committing sin by transgressing the law (James 2:9, 11), and enjoined them rather to keep "the royal law according to the Scripture", "the perfect law of liberty" (James 2:8; 1:25; 2:12). This "royal law" is embraced, argued James, in the Scripture: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (James 2:8). To show that he, James ó as did his half-brother, Jesus Christ249 ó hereby meant nothing less than the Ten Commandments [including the Fourth on sabbath observance!], he added: "For He that said, ĎDo not commit adulteryí, said also ĎDo not killí" (James 2:11); having just stated ó for the benefit of those first century Antinomians who might have argued [as some of their modern counterparts do] that only Nine of the Ten Commandments were still in force, the weekly sabbath as such having been Ďnailed to the crossí ó that "whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10), and stating two chapters later that "he that speaketh evil of his brother [that is, he that transgresses the Ninth Commandment!], judgeth his brother, and speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law", adding that "if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge", whereas there is only "One Lawgiver, Who is able to save and to destroy", and so "who art thou that judgest another", that transgresseth the Ninth Commandment (James 4:10-11)?
The thrust of Jamesí argument is inescapable: the royal law is the Ten Commandments, the law of the royal Messenger of the covenant and the Lord of the Sabbath which He Himself gave at Sinai and which He taught and lived out during His earthly life, and which must hence be kept by the justified children of the covenant as the permanent rule of their lives too.
However, before it is objected by Seventh-Day Adventists that James here means that the Saturday sabbath and not the Sunday Lordís day must be kept, it must in the first place be remembered that the supralapsarian Edenic "Sunday"250 quite antedated the infralapsarian Mosaic "Saturday", and that James has not one word to say about Saturday in his Epistle. To the contrary, and in the second place, the Sunday sabbath is rather implied in His reference to the "Lord of glory" (James 2:1), for the Lord Jesus Christ Himself it was Who claimed to have started to enter into His glory, His eternal sabbath rest, on Resurrection Sunday251. Then again, James reminded his addressees that the Lord had begotten them to be "a kind of firstfruits of His creatures" (James 1:18), that is to say, the product of His new creation [created in principle on Resurrection Sunday and Pentecost Sunday252].
Again, and in the third place, James frequently refers to "the last days" and to "the coming of the Lord" which "draweth nigh", for "the Judge standeth before the door" (James 5:3, 7, 9); which coming of the Lord began in principle on Resurrection and Pentecost Sundays. The implication is clear: the sabbath day which the (by Jesusí resurrection) justified Christian is required to keep ó together with the other explicitly or implicitly mentioned Commandments of the Decalogue253 ó is the day of "the Lord of glory", the Lordís day, the eighth day of the week, the microscopic symbol of the Eighth Day of Godís creation week, the Day of the Lord. For as Hodge254 declares: "If the deliverance of the Hebrew from the bondage in Egypt (cf. Deut. 5:12f) should be commemorated, how much more the redemption of the world by the Son of God. If the creation of the material universe should be kept in perpetual remembrance (cf. Ex. 20:8f), how much more the redemption of the world by the Son of God".
Two years later243, Paul returned from Tarsus to strengthen the Christian congregation at Antioch for a whole year long, during which time they almost certainly met for worship each Sunday255, and after which he thence set out on his first missionary journey in the following year, 48 A.D.243.
On this his first missionary journey, ultimately arriving in Pisidia, Paul "went into the synagogue on the sabbath day", that is, on the old Jewish Saturday sabbath (Acts 13:14), not in order to observe the old Saturday sabbath256, as the Seventh-day Adventists rather incorrectly maintain257, but to preach to the unconverted Jews how the covenants with Abraham, Moses and David (Acts 13:18, 22, 26) had all been fulfilled in the Saviour Jesus Christ (Acts 13:23), explaining no less than four times that God had raised Him up from the dead (Acts 13:30, 33, 34, 37), and warning them to repent and believe on Him and be justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses (Acts 13:39).
When the Jews left the synagogue, the Gentiles, apparently thinking that Paul and his party (who had themselves just come out of the synagogue) were some sort of Jewish sect, requested that the same message might be preached to them258 on the next sabbath. Not only waiting until then, however, Paul and his party, in addition to agreeing thereto, immediately spoke to the many Jews and religious proselytes that followed them, entreating them to continue in the grace of God259.
On the next Jewish Saturday sabbath, almost the whole city gathered to hear the Word of God (Acts 13:44). Again availing themselves of such a fine opportunity for evangelization, Paul and Barnabas again preached Christ, the "Light of the Gentiles"260, which this time led to their persecution and expulsion from the Pisidian city. No doubt the Jews and Judaizing Hebrew Christians thenceforth confused the Gentile Christian converts by falsely persuading them that together with circumcision261 Saturday sabbath observance was also essential to salvation; erroneous ideas which Paul was later to refute by personal disputation (Acts 16:3,6; 18:23) and by Epistle262.
Arriving in Iconium some eighty miles to the east263, Paul and his party went into the synagogue and spake in the same way264 as had been done in the previous city; although this was, of course, not necessarily265 on a Saturday sabbath. Speaking boldly in the Lord (Acts 14:3), they escaped being stoned by fleeing to the city of Lystra some twenty miles to the south, and thence a further twenty-five miles266 south-east to Derbe (Acts 14:8-21). Then, returning by the same route, they ordained elders in every church and ultimately departed for Jerusalem to attend the Apostolic Council on the subject of the Gentilesí obligation to keep the law of Moses (Acts 14:23, 28; 15:2, 4).
The Apostolic Council of 49 AD.243 had been convened to refute the Pharisaical doctrine then becoming prevalent even in certain Hebrew Christian circles that the Gentile converts could not be saved unless they were circumcised after the manner of Moses (Acts 15:1, 5, 24). It is important to note that the moral law or Ten Commandments in general and the institution of the sabbath ordinance in particular were not at all at issue in the Councilís deliberations, seeing that these matters were all of (pre-)Mosaic origin and the Council was only convened to deal with circumcision; and even then, circumcision only in its Mosaic phase267.
In its pronouncement, the Council declared that it had no command to circumcise (Acts 15:24b). It did, however, seem good to the Holy Ghost, and (therefore!) also to the Council, to require certain "necessary things" from the Gentile converts (Acts 15:28), namely that they should abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from fornication (that is, from sins involving the transgression of the First, Second, Sixth and Seventh Commandments of the Decalogue respectively!) ó all matters which, like the sabbath (involving the Fourth Commandment), were of pre-Mosaic origin. For they were all enjoined to all men in terms of the Noachic covenant of common grace268, if not even earlier.
Far from being set aside by the Council, the ancient Noachic and even Edenic institution of the sabbath is rather implicitly upheld thereby ó upheld together with269 the other expressly re-enjoined Noachic prohibitions with which it was primordially associated.
Paul commenced his second missionary journey after the Council in 49 A.D.243, which journey was undertaken partly to publicize the Councilís letter of advice to the Christians in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15:23-27) and partly to visit the mission churches and to edify them in the faith (Acts 15:36). Having passed throughout Phrygia and Galatia and Mysia (Acts 16:6-7), Paul and his party (including a promising young convert named Timothy) arrived in Troas (Acts 16:8), establishing a congregation there if it had not been done so previously270. Then they set a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day via Neapolis to Philippi, the chief city in that part of Macedonia, where they went to the riverside outside the city on the Jewish Saturday sabbath (Acts 16:11-13). Here again, their motive was not to conduct their own religious observance of that day, as the Seventh-day Adventists maintain257, but rather to witness concerning the risen Christ to the Philippian Jewesses who were accustomed to gather there for their Saturday sabbath prayers271, one of whom, Lydia, was baptized with her household (Acts 16:14).
Having also baptized the Philippian jailer and his household many days later (Acts 16:18, 30f), they gave further encouragement to the household of Lydia and all the brethren (Acts 16:40), and then departed via Amphipolis and Apollonia for Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue (Acts 17:1). "And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three (Saturday) sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead"272. Whereupon some of the Jews and a great multitude of the devout Greeks believed the gospel (Acts 17:4, 6, 10), resulting in the establishment of the "church of the Thessalonians" (1 Thess. 1:1), which was itself, like its founders, soon persecuted273.
Ultimately driven out of Thessalonica by Jewish fanatics, Paul first went to Berea, where he preached Christ in the synagogue (Acts 17:10, 13) [which was, of course, not necessarily on the sabbath day265], and [leaving Silas and Timothy behind274] thence to Athens, where he preached his famous address on Marsí hill, linking the eighth day of the week (Resurrection Sunday, the Lordís day) with the Eighth Day of Godís creation week (the Day of Resurrection, the Day of the Lord), by stressing that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the assurance that He was ordained by God to judge the world in righteousness on the appointed Day (Acts 17:22, 31).
Departing for Corinth in 50 AD.275, Paul "reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks"276. When the Jews began to blaspheme, however, "he departed thence", that is to say, he departed from the synagogue, but still continued to preach the gospel, apparently in the house of one Justus, "one that worshipped God", whose house adjoined the synagogue (Acts 18:7). As more and more believed and were baptized, turning from heathendom or Judaism to the risen Christ, including Crispus the head of the synagogue who embraced the Christian faith with all his house, Paul remained in the city a full year and six months, residing with two Christian refugees from Rome called Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:2), teaching the Word of God among them (Acts 18:5-11). The Corinthiansí breach from Judaism was even sharper than their breach from heathendom277, and doubtless the new congregation immediately started to meet for their religious exercises on the first day of the week as the weekly memorial of Resurrection Sunday on which their Saviour had risen from the dead278 as soon as they had abjured heathendom or been banished from the synagogue and its Saturday sabbath279, if not before.
During his stay at Corinth in 50-51 A.D.275, when Silas and Timothy arrived with news from Macedonia, Paul reacted by writing an Epistle to the church of the Thessalonians, to the brethren in the capital city of Macedonia280. He was saddened to hear of their persecution (I Thess. 2:14; 3:3), but delighted to hear of their exemplary generosity (1 Thess. 1:7; 3:6; 4:9), which latter probably pointed to their diaconal contributions on the first day of the week [which Paul had almost certainly even then arranged at Corinth, as elsewhere281], on the Lordís day282, particularly seeing that they had such a lively expectation of the coming of the Day of the Lord and the coming of Godís Son from heaven, Whom He had raised from the dead283. The congregation was apparently faithfully commemorating the Lordís resurrection and the Lordís coming again in the Lordís Supper on the Lordís day284, the Christian sabbath day of rest, yet not all its members were labouring sufficiently during the other six working days of the week285, perhaps as a result of a too next-worldly spiritualistic and dematerialized eschatological sabbath doctrine286.
After the delivery of the above Epistle, and the Thessalonian reaction to it, Paul wrote them a second communication with a similar content [i.e., their persecutions, their generosity, their "wonít-works" and their eschatological expectations287], adding the eschatological sabbath blessing that God would recompense His afflicted saints with "rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven"288. The two Epistles also refer explicitly or implicitly to several289 of the Ten Commandments, and therefore, by implication, to the Fourth Commandment concerning rest too.
At approximately the same time275, Paul also wrote to the "churches of Galatia"290, warning them against those "of the Jewsí religion" who would pervert the gospel of Christ by insisting that the Gentile converts be circumcised291 and keep the Mosaic law292, including the observance of "days and months and times and years" ("hemeras paratereisthe, kai menas, kai kairous, kai eniautous")293. By this phrase Paul patently meant the observance of Saturday sabbath days. the Jewish new moon feasts of the months, the Paschal and other ceremonial festive times and the jubilee and sabbath years ó in short, the whole sabbatical system of Israel including the weekly Mosaic sabbath294 ó and Paul concluded that on account of their legalistic observance of these feasts, all his labours to convert the Galatians to the risen Christ had been in vain (Gal. 4:11).
The "Saturdayness" of the weekly sabbath had indeed been fulfilled in Christís "Saturday" rest in the tomb on that day, and abolished and superseded by His "Sunday" entry into the eternal sabbath rest of eternal life; but precisely the latter event implied that the sabbath as such had not been abolished, but had now become a new creature through Christís resurrection295. For although the Mosaic dispensation of the everlasting covenant and its weekly Mosaic sabbath and ceremonial law had indeed been disannulled in the death of Christ when He hanged on Calvaryís tree (Gal. 3:13-15), the pre-Mosaic everlasting covenant and its weekly sabbath and moral law as such, had not. For this pre-Mosaic covenant (in its Abrahamic form) was confirmed before Moses in Christ, so that the Mosaic law, which only came four hundred and thirty years later, could not disannul it (Gal. 3:16-18; 4:24). The Mosaic law and its sabbath was added much later as a schoolmaster to bring the true believers unto Christ, so that they might be justified through faith in Christ; but after that faith had come, the true believers were no longer under a schoolmaster, for they were now all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:19, 24-26).
But if the justified Christians were Christís (as indeed they were), then they were ipso facto the seed of the Abrahamic covenant too (Gal. 3:29), and accordingly obliged to fulfil the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2), which He Himself implicitly revealed to Abraham who foresaw His day296. For as Abrahamís seed, the Christians had become new creatures (Gal. 6:15) by being baptized into Christís death and resurrection297, and they thereafter awaited the coming of the Great Day of the Lord when "in due season we shall reap"298. All indications within the Epistle299 and later indications specifically appertaining to the Galatians outside the Epistle300, show that the "churches" of Galatia observed the Fourth Commandment (on the Christian Sunday), even as they most certainly observed the rest of the Ten Commandments301.
In 51 A.D.275, Paul and his party left Corinth and arrived in Ephesus with Priscilla and Aquila, where he entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews (Acts 18:18-19), but quickly departed in order to be able to keep the coming feast302 in Jerusalem. And thereafter, he also spent some time in Antioch (Acts 18:22).
Starting on his third missionary journey in 52 A.D.275, Paul went all over the country of Galatia and Phrygia and strengthened all the disciples there303. While in Galatia, Paul ordered all the members of all the Christian congregations there to lay by special contributions (for the poor believers in Jerusalem) on the first day of the week according as God had prospered them (I Cor. 16:1-2) ó a clear indication that they were regularly observing Sunday the first day of the week as the Christian sabbath304. For Paul did not then order them to meet on that day, but merely to lay by their contributions thereon, which thus shows that the day itself was being observed for religious meetings before his arrival there during his third missionary journey when he made the arrangement regarding their special contributions.
Meanwhile Priscilla and Aquila who had apparently remained behind at Ephesus when Paul returned from Corinth to Jerusalem at the end of his second missionary journey, had succeeded in winning some brethren more fully to the Lord (including the learned Apollos), while still continuing to attend the Jewish synagogue yet while also holding a Christian congregational meeting in their own house305. When Paul arrived there again from Galatia and Phrygia, he promptly went into the synagogue and preached Christ boldly for three months; but when some of the Jews became hardened and disobedient and persisted in speaking evil of the Christian way, Paul departed and separated the disciples from the Jews, holding daily discussions ó and hence also Sunday meetings ó in the school of Tyrannus for two years long (Acts 19:8-10). This separation marked the final parting of the ways between the Synagogue and the Church, between Saturday and Sunday, between the Jewish and the Christian sabbath. Henceforth there are no further Biblical records even of Christian evangelization of the Jews during the Saturday sabbath meetings of the latter in their synagogues306.
During his two-year stay amongst the members of the church at Ephesus307, Paul wrote his First (extant) Epistle to the Corinthians308 in about 53 A.D.275 in which, amongst other matters, he constantly emphasised the importance of the resurrection of the Lord and the resurrection of all flesh on the Day of the Lord309. This emphasis culminates particularly in the fifteenth chapter of the Epistle310, which chapter commences by recollecting the various (Sunday?!) Christophanies of the risen Christ from Resurrection Sunday onwards, and which then goes on to stress the futility of faith in Christ if He be not risen; for if He be not risen, neither will the believer rise from the dead.
As in Adam, the covenant-breaker, all die, so shall all too he made alive in the Second Adam, the covenant-keeper ó first Christ Himself as the first born from the dead (on the Lordís day), then those who belong to Him at His coming (on the Day of the Lord). Whence the believer is now always to abound in the work of the Lord (which work includes labouring for six days every week and resting in the Lordís resurrection on the Lordís day), and which work includes contributing towards collections for poor saints upon the first day of the week, 1 Cor. 16:1-4. It is most instructive to note how smoothly I Cor. 15 on Christís Sunday resurrection on the (first) Lordís day and Christís seedís resurrection on the (Last) Day of the Lord runs into I Cor. 16:1-4 on regular Sunday observance on the Lordís day as the memorial of the first Lordís day and as the prophecy of the Last Day of the Lord.
But what exactly does I Cor. 16:1-4 teach? In this vital passage Paul enjoined the Corinthians: ó "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gathering when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me."
Firstly, it is clear that this "collection for the saints" was part of "the work of the Lord" mentioned in the immediately preceding verse in which the Corinthians were to be "always abounding"311. Hence even though the collection mentioned was a special one destined for the saints in Jerusalem and which Paul would send to Jerusalem when he presently arrived at Corinth (I Cor. 16:1-8), it presupposed regular collections as a work for the risen and coming-again Christ in which the Corinthians were "always" to abound.
Secondly, it is clear that this collection for the poor saints of Jerusalem was to be accumulated over a period of time312 by regular personal contributions set aside bit by bit on the first day of the week. It has been variously suggested that these regular weekly contributions (towards the ultimate gift of the special collection for the Jerusalem saints) were arranged: i) by individual church members every Sunday in their own homes where they were kept for many weeks and only collected by the church once and for all just before Paul arrived313 ii) by such members who first arranged their partial contribution towards the collection each Sunday at home and then brought it to the congregational meeting on the same day, and continued doing the same each Sunday, the church keeping the increasing collection money until Paul arrived314 or iii) by setting aside their contribution for the first time at the church meeting every Sunday when the regular collection was taken and kept by the church officers until Paul arrived315. But whichever of these three possibilities was then indeed the case ó it being considered that the second is the most probable316 ó it is nevertheless indisputable that Paul enjoined that these contributions were to be made on no other day of the week than Sunday, the first day of the week.
This unquestionable fact, thirdly, raises the question: Why were the contributions towards this special collection to be made specifically on Sunday? Certain Seventh-day Adventist scholars317 have argued that the previous day, Saturday, which they consider to have been the holy sabbath day in Christian church circles even after the resurrection of Christ, was altogether unsuitable even for such "book-keeping" measures as laying by in store towards a congregational collection for poor saints ó although the old Saturday sabbath was not considered unsuitable for such works of mercy by the Old Testament318, by Christ the Lord of the Sabbath (cf. Matt. 12:12) or even by the legalistic Jewish traditions!319. Besides, this Seventh-day Adventist argument begs the whole question. For Paul does not enjoin that contributions be laid by on any day except Saturday, but he requires that they be laid by specifically on Sunday, and not on Monday etc., to Friday.
Surely such a laying by on Friday would have "desecrated" the Saturday sabbath (if such had still been observed) just as little as a laying by on Sunday? And Friday would have been an even more convenient day than Sunday for laying by a contribution intended for a weekly or ultimate320 Saturday church collection on the next day321. But if, as the Seventh-day Adventists themselves suggest322, this laying by was only at home, and not in the weekly church meeting at all, why were the individual Christians required to lay by their contributions at home precisely on Sunday? May it not be, that having engaged in hard labour323 for six days in the week, the day of rest was the only day left on which they were able to lay by them in store? In which case, of course, Sunday, "the first day of the week", and no other day, would be the day of sabbath rest. And if so, is it not likely, that the individual Christians laid by them in store for this most worthy cause precisely on Sunday, the day of rest, according as the Lord had prospered them during the previous six days of labour; laid by at home on Sunday, to bring their contributions immediately thereafter to the Sunday congregational meeting where it could be "stored" by the church officers week by week, as an ever-increasing collection, so that there need be no collecting when Paul arrived, but the whole finished collection may be sent by him with the Corinthian delegates to Jerusalem?
For Paulís injunction that the Corinthians lay by them in store towards the collection for the saints in Jerusalem ó lay by specifically on "the first day of the week", Sunday, and on no other day of the week than that ó presupposes some special reason why he should choose precisely Sunday and no other day for that purpose. Clearly, he wished them to set aside their gifts systematically week by week so that there should be no inconvenient and hasty collections or ingatherings324 when he finally came to Corinth. For he intended to depart from Ephesus via Macedonia for Corinth probably not less than seven weeks later, and hence intended to arrive in Corinth not until at least a few months after writing the Epistle325. But why should Paul insist that the Corinthians ó a congregation consisting of both converted Jews and converted Gentiles, the one group converted from keeping the old seventh day of the week, and the other group converted from holding no day of the week at all ó lay by towards the Jerusalem collection on no other day than every326 Sunday for at least the next few months until Paul was scheduled to arrive? Clearly, there must be some compelling reason for Paulís insistence both on their laying by contributions on Sunday, and for their laying by contributions on Sunday. For Paul had previously326 insisted on both the contributions being laid by and on their being laid by on Sunday not only in "the church of God which is at Corinth", but also in "the churches (plural!) of Galatia"; and he was even then insisting as he wrote his First (extant) Epistle to the Corinthians that these contributions be laid by each Sunday by the Christians not only in Galatia and Corinth as previously, and as he was then re-enjoining the Corinthians to do, as he wrote, but that these contributions should also be laid by each Sunday by "all that in every place call upon the Name of Jesus Christ", thus ordaining this practice "every where in every church"327, ordaining it under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost and therefore as a Commandment of God328. But why?
The only explanation for this "catholic" injunction to all Christians everywhere to lay by for the poor saints of Jerusalem specifically on Sunday, is that all Christians everywhere were in the habit of laying by for their own local poor brethren on every Sunday too329. But again, why were all Christians everywhere doing this precisely on Sunday? But before this question can be answered, one must pose the prior question: what kind of a collection ("logia")330 were they taking for their poor saints? And when I Cor. 16:1-4 is compared with II Cor. 9:12 where such collections are called a "service" ("leitourgia") from which the idea of liturgical service or congregational divine worship is derived, and when I Cor. 16:1-4 is further compared with I Cor. 16:17 and II Cor. 9:5, it is seen that Paul expected the Corinthian collection delegates to Jerusalem (I Cor. 16:3), apparently Stephanus and Fortunatus and Achaicus to whom he had previously spoken personally about the matter, to store the Corinthiansí collection in their own hands331, thus indicating a Sunday-contributed congregational collection compiled during liturgical worship. And it is submitted that the only reason why individual Christians everywhere were enjoined to contribute towards congregational collections specifically on Sundays, is that those congregational collections for the poor themselves were taken specifically on Sundays, as the Bible seems to imply in many places from Pentecost Sunday onwards332, thus clearly pointing to weekly Sunday congregational meetings (and collections) in all places where the New Testament Christians gathered, and therefore at Corinth too, probably at the same time when the Corinthians assembled "into one place" to "eat the Lordís Supper" (I Cor. 11: 20) on "the Lordís day" (Rev. 1:10) to "shew the Lordís death till He come" (I Cor. 11:26) on the Day of the Lord.
Summarizing, the First Epistle to the Corinthians knows nothing of the old Saturday sabbath, but, as it explicitly or implicitly enjoins every single one of the Ten Commandments333, and as it abounds with references to the Lordís death, the Lordís Supper, the Lordís resurrection on the Lordís day, the Lordís coming again on the Day of the Lord and also mentions the universal obligation on Christians everywhere to contribute towards the collection for their poor specifically on the first day of the week or the Lordís day, it is clear that that day, Sunday, was then being observed universally by all Christians as the day of rest in terms of the Fourth Commandment, for "circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the Commandments of God" (I Cor. 7:19). For although Paul himself is free from the Jewish (ceremonial) law, he is "not without (moral) law to God", being "under the law to Christ" (I Cor. 9:20-21). And seeing that Paul subjects himself to the moral law of Christ, it necessarily follows that he also subjects himself to that particular part of the law of Christ known as the Lordís day or the Christian sabbath.
Leaving the Ephesians in 54 AD.275 after probably explaining to them the significance of Resurrection Sunday and almost certainly of Pentecost Sunday325, Paul arrived at Troas where he preached the gospel for a while, thus no doubt on the Sunday sabbath too334, but where he had no rest335 in his spirit, because he had not found his fellow Christian worker Titus there, as he had expected. The faithful observance of the Sunday day of rest does not automatically guarantee rest in oneís spirit, for even Sunday is not the ultimate goal of the sabbath. Like the Saturday sabbath before it, the Sunday sabbath too, though more so and as a more advanced stage of progressive revelation, points eschatologically to its final goal and fulfilment in the Day of the Lord when there will be no more restlessness of spirit (Rev. 21:4), but when Christ the Lord of the Sabbath will be all and in all (Col. 3:11).
Taking leave of the brethren at Troas, Paul departed for Macedonia (Acts 20:1) whence he wrote his Second (extant) Epistle to the Corinthians in about 55 A.D.275. In that Epistle, Paul implied336 that the moral law of Godís covenant, which was broken by Adam and Eve337 [and which, of course, included the Sabbath Commandment], was to be written on the believerís heart by the Spirit of the Lord (II Cor. 3:18). Paul also explicitly stressed, amongst other things, the importance of the nexus between: Godís creation of shining light on the first day of creation week; His shining in the heart of the converted believer to give him the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; His physical resurrection of Christ on the first Lordís day; and His physical resurrection of the believer on the Day of the Lord338. Consequently the believer was to be spiritually resurrected unto good works between that first Lordís day and the last Day of the Lord (II Cor. 5:15), which works must almost certainly have included Lordís day congregational meetings and Sunday diaconal contributions for the relief of the poor and therefore the sanctification of the Sunday sabbath according to the Fourth Commandment, as certain other of the Ten Commandments were again enjoined in this Second Epistle, all of which had been enjoined in the First Epistle339.
Leaving Macedonia, Paul went to Corinth where he remained for three months (Acts 20:2-3) and whence he wnote his Epistle to the Romans in 56 AD.275, to which congregation Priscilla and Aquila had again returned (Rom. 16:3-4). and which Epistle contains some statements of importance on the subject of the sabbath.
It is not known who established the church at Rome, but it does seem likely that its founders were Hebrew Christians340, particularly oonsidering the great emphasis in the Epistle on justification through faith without the works of the law (Rom. 3:28). Yet the (moral) law as such, although the observance thereof ó by virtue of the weakness of human flesh ó cannot justify man in the sight of God, is never disregarded as the rule of sanctification after justification. To the contrary, the law is not made void through faith, but rather established thereby (Rom. 3:21); it is holy and just and good and spiritual (Rom. 7:12, 14, 16); it is to be delighted in inwardly and served with the mind (Rom. 7:22, 25): and it is to be fulfilled by loving oneís neighbour as oneself (Rom. 13:8-10). For the (moral) law is not of Mosaic origin, but its righteousness goes back to Abraham and even to Adam who under the influence of Satan transgressed the covenant of works341. Thus it is that Christ as the Second Adam kept the covenant of the (moral) law by crushing the head of Satan in our place342, by being delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification, being declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead (Rom. 4:25; 1:4).
This being the case, together with the Epistleís explicit or implicit enumeration of all Ten343 of the Commandments except the Fourth relating to sabbath observance, but in the light of the Epistleís thirteenfold emphasis upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead [on the first Lordís day]344 and its sixfold emphasis on His coming again in wrath and glory [on the Last Day of the Lord]345, it is truly astounding that some writers have adduced Rom. 14:1ó15:1 as authority for the proposition that the Sunday Lordís day is not an obligatory ordinance in the New Testament Church346. The passage runs : ó
"Him that is weak in the faith receive ye . . . For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs . . . One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day (alike). Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth (it) unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard (it). He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. . . . For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living. . . . It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, (nor anything) whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. . . . We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves."
The above passage understandably pleads for the demonstration of Christian charity on the part of the "strong" Christian towards "him that is weak". The strong Christian eats all things whereas the weak Christian only eats herbs (Rom. 14:2); the strong "esteemeth one day above another", whereas the weak "esteemeth every day alike"347. Every man is to be fully persuaded in his own mind, for "he that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord, and he that regardeth NOT the day, to the Lord he doth NOT regard it" (vv. 5-6). As every Christian, both weak and strong, shall stand before the judgement throne of Christ to give account of himself to God (vv. 10-12), he that is strong ought to bear the infirmities of him that is weak rather than to condemn him for his weakness (Rom. 15:1; 14:10); for Christ died and rose [on the first Sunday Lordís day!] and lives again as Lord both of the dead and the living [throughout the never-ending Eighth Day of creation week which began in principle on Resurrection Sunday].
Even if these "non-esteemed days" were indeed weekly Sunday sabbaths ówhich they were not ó but even if they were, even if these Sundays were not esteemed as such by "weak" Christians, their "non-estimation" ó which non-estimation is textually disputed348 ó is certainly not advocated by Paul, but rather regarded as a sign of spiritual "weakness" in their lives349. For Godís Word does not here teach that every day is alike, but that the weak Christian "esteemeth every day alike", Rom. 14:5. And if for this reason certain weak Christians were to disregard the Lordís day, strong Christians like Paul should set a good example to them precisely by esteeming that day, rather than judging the weaker brethren for whom Christ nevertheless died and rose on His first Lordís day, seeing that all Christians shall one day stand before the judgement seat of Christ to give account of themselves on the Day of the Lord.
It is, however, almost inconceivable that any Christian, however weak, should not esteem the weekly memorial of the day on which his Saviour was "declared to be the Son of God with power . . . by the resurrection from the dead"350. And it is equally inconceivable that Paul, in previously writing the First Epistle to the Corinthians from Ephesus in 53 AD.275, should then as previously326 have commanded the weekly Sunday contributions towards congregational collections to all the churches of Galatia and Corinth with the apparent acquiescence of Priscilla and Aquila [who were then with him in Ephesus and now in the congregation at Rome and whom Paul now greeted from Corinth in his Epistle to the Romans only three years later in 56 A.D.351], if he really was teaching that "every day (is) alike", for Paul actually enjoins such (Sunday) contributions in his Epistle to the Romans too352. It was the weak Christian, not the strong Christian like Paul, who "esteemeth every day alike", but even then the expression does not necessarily imply sabbath desecration. For when the manna in the wilderness was gathered at "a certain rate every day", all the Israelites "gathered it every morning; yet when some went to gather it on the sabbath, the Lord of the Sabbath chastised: "How long refuse ye to keep My Commandments and My laws?353.
So Rom. 14 cannot successfully be employed by the Antinomian to refute compulsory "Sunday" sabbath observance amongst Christians. However, the question still remains: Which then were these "esteemed days" of Rom. 14? Possibly they were arbitrary fasting days (cf. vv. 2-4, 6-8). Possibly they were weekly Mosaic Saturday sabbaths or feast days which some Hebrew Christians at Rome were keeping and condemning other Christians there who did not do so, cf. Col. 2:16. Or possibly they were heathen Roman holy-days still kept by some of the gentile Christians354. Or perhaps they were Christian commemorative days like Good Friday ("the days of unleavened bread") or Pentecost which "strong Christians" wished to observe354a. But whatever days they were, they were not the Christian Sundays, and the verses are no authority for the wilful transgression of the Lordís day or Christian (Sunday) sabbath as part of the imperishable moral law which is itself described in the book of Romans as "holy and just and good and spiritual"355.
Returning from Corinth back through Macedonia in 56 AD.275, Paul was thenceforth accompanied by a number of Christians from Greece and Asia who were probably the delegates of their various congregations entrusted with the task of delivering the special collections contributed towards each Sunday for the poor saints at Jerusalem356. After these delegates went on ahead of Paul and Luke357 to Troas, where they waited for them, Paul and Luke waited at Philippi until "after the days of the unleavened bread"358 ó thus doubtless for the reason of commemorating with and instructing the Philippian Christians [as Paul had no doubt previously done with regard to the Ephesian Christians325] as to the great significance of the Easter anniversary of Resurrection Sunday on the first Sunday after the Passover, and the lesser anniversary of the second Sunday after the Passover when Jesus had appeared to all the disciples (including Thomas) for the second time one week later at the end of "the days of the unleavened bread". Then, leaving Philippi only "after the days of the unleavened bread", thus perhaps on a Tuesday, Paul and Luke sailed for Troas to join the Jerusalem collection delegates waiting for them there, "and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. 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 . . ."359
If, as suggested above, Paul departed from Philippi on a Tuesday [being a day or so after his commemoration of the anniversary of Christís Resurrection on the first Sunday as well as after his commemoration of the second Sunday after the Passover there one week later], he would have reached Troas in five days360, thus on the next Saturday, and would then have "abode seven days" there [that is, stayed there for six days after doubtless attending the weekly congregational meeting on the day after his arrival, the third Sunday after the Passover], and then, after361 the seven daysí abode was fulfilled one week later, Paul would have attended and preached his farewell sermon at the regular congregational meeting on the fourth Sunday after the Passover362, and then left for Assos on the following day363, as indicated in the first part of Diagram XVI below: ó
DIAG. XVI: SUGGESTED DIARY OF PAUL BETWEEN EASTER AND PENTECOST SUNDAYS, 56 A.D.
The datings in Diag. XVI are, of course, only advanced as a probable hypothesis. Yet the hypothesis is highly probable. For the fourth Sunday in the diagram, "the first day of the week", is a fixed point (Acts 20:7a) in its relation to the immediately preceding "seven days" (Acts 20:6c); the "seven days" are thus fixed in relation to the immediately preceding "five days" (Acts 20:6b) and the "five days" are fixed as having commenced "after the days of the unleavened bread" (Acts 20:6a), which in their turn lasted precisely seven days (Lev. 23:5-8).
As regards the Sundays succeeding the fixed point of the fourth Sunday after the Passover mentioned in Acts 20:7, it is clear from Acts 20:16 only nine verses later, that Paul was hastening to arrive in Jerusalem before Pentecost [which fell on the eighth Sunday after the Passover, Lev. 23:5-16]; and it is equally clear from Acts 21:4 that he again tarried precisely "seven days" (just as he had previously done at Troas, Acts 20:6c) before the arrival of Pentecost Sunday. With these indisputable facts as a framework, the "missing links" of the rest of the above hypothesis fall easily and naturally into their predetermined datings, and it can hardly be doubted that the hypothesis ideally matches all the facts.
It is not surprising that Paul spent a full week ó probably from one Sunday meeting to the next ó in the company of his brethren at Troas whom he had left so reluctantly361 rather more than a year previously275. And at the end of his latter week-long sojourn there "where we abode seven days", "on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached to them, ready to depart on the morrow"359. This valuable piece of information and its context are so important to the subject of the sabbath, that they must now be examined very closely.
Firstly, it should be observed that Paul waited a whole week at Troas, even though he was hastening to be at Jerusalem by the day of Pentecost, Acts 20:16. The implication is clearly that he waited those seven days in order to be able to attend the regular gathering of the disciples there on the first day of the week372.
Secondly, it should be observed that the disciples did not come together on the first day of the week simply so that Paul could preach to them before his departure, as some claim373. If the sole purpose of the gathering was to hear the Apostle preach his farewell sermon to the congregation, this was something that could have been done at any time during his previous weekís sojourn there. From the Seventh-day Adventist point of view, one would expect such a sermon to have been preached to the congregation on the previous day, Saturday, and for the hastening Paul to have sailed from Troas at sunset on Saturday or dawn on Sunday. Yet there is no trace of this, nor indeed of any Saturday meeting whatsoever. Rather does the whole context teach that Paul simply and incidentally availed himself of the opportunity to preach to the congregation "upon the first day of the week when the disciples (as usual) came together to break bread" ó and not specifically to hear Paul.
Thirdly, the attempt by some374 to render "en te, mia1 ton sabbaton" by "on Saturday night" instead of by "on the first day of the week", is not only text-critically impossible375 but also absurd as a translation376. It represents a rather poor and very prejudiced attempt to try to prove that "the first day of the week" at that time officially commenced at sunset on Saturday rather than at midnight between Saturday and Sunday, or at dawn on Sunday. Of course, even if the mistranslation "on Saturday night" were accurate ó which it is not ó it would still establish Sunday observance (albeit from sunset Saturday to sunset Sunday), and so would still prove quite unusable to Seventh-day Adventists whose sabbath celebrations and breaking of bread terminate on the sunset before "Saturday night". But whatever hour of the day then marked the commencement of Sunday does not justify rendering a totally inaccurate "translation" of the undisputed Greek text of Godís most holy Word. To render the above phrase "on Saturday night" is just as absurd as to render it "at midnight" or "at dawn on Sunday". The only correct translation ó irrespective of the dayís time of commencement ó is "on the first day of the week", as the phrase is always elsewhere translated377.
Fourthly, proceeding from the third point above ó it would seem from the passage as a whole that "the first day of the week" was demarcated from the midnight between Saturday and Sunday to the midnight between Sunday and Monday, or perhaps from dawn on Sunday to dawn on Monday rather than from sunset on Saturday to sunset on Sunday. Certainly, one would almost expect the midnight to midnight demarcation, not only in the light of the particulars surrounding Resurrection Sunday378, but especially considering that Troas was a Roman colony possessing the Jus Italicum and which therefore certainly followed the Roman midnight demarcation as a colony379. It is clear that the congregation at Troas met for worship at night well after sunset, for "there were many lights in the upper chamber where they were gathered together" (Acts 20:8). Seeing that "the disciples came together to break bread" in "the upper chamber", and seeing that there is no instance whatsoever in Scripture of religious meetings on Saturday night after sunset, it is reasonably certain that the disciples at Troas gathered on Sunday nights perhaps even before and certainly after sunset, even as their risen Lord had appeared to His Emmaus disciples on Resurrection Sunday and broken bread with them in the late afternoon, and long after the sunset of "the same day at evening, (still) being the first day of the week", had congregated with the Jerusalem disciples in the upper room380.
It is, of course, quite true that the disciples at Troas actually broke bread after the midnight of that first day of the week when Paul preached to them, and thus technically on Monday morning. But this was on account of Paulís unanticipatedly long speech which he continued ("pareteinen": cf. the Afrikaans [S. African] translation: "gerek" "stretched") until midnight, after which the breaking of the bread was again delayed by the unexpected fatal accident and miraculous recovery of the young man Eutychus (Acts 20:7-11). Certainly the congregation did not gather with the intention of breaking bread in the small hours of Monday morn! All indications in the context show that the congregation intended to break bread before that midnight as they undoubtedly did on all previous and subsequent first days of the week, and from the Seventh-day Adventistsí point of view, with their sunset to sunset demarcation, the bread actually was broken on that occasion on what they consider to have been the very middle of Sunday. Yet the mere mention of midnight (as the "turning point" between evening and the "break of day", [that is, the next day (Acts 20:11)]) in connection with that first day of the week, is highly significant and seems to indicate a midnight demarcation of the time of commencement and termination of the Christian Sunday itself.
The fact that Paul preached in an artificially illuminated room "upon the first day of the week", "ready to depart on the morrow" and that he actually did depart at "the break of day", at the break of the next day of the week, abundantly disproves the Seventh-day Adventistsí sunset to sunset demarcation of the day. For if they were correct, Paul would not have departed on the morrow of the next day after the first day of the week, but later on the same first day of the week. Cf. too Acts 16:25, 35.
Fifthly, although the disciples came together to break bread upon that particular first day of the week as opposed to the other days of that week, the text does not necessarily imply that bread was broken upon the first day of every week. The text does of course indicate that the Lordís Supper, when observed, was usually381 observed on a Sunday, but the text does not claim that the sacrament was observed every week on Sunday. This may, of course, then have been the case; but it cannot be proved to have been so, and so it is certainly not obligatory to do so every Sunday in our times, for it should be remembered that there is no trace of the Supper being held on the second Sunday meeting, at the gathering one week after the Lordís resurrection (John 20:26). Even were the Supper not held at every Sunday meeting, then, contributions were certainly made for the poor on each Lordís day, and the Word of God was then indeed preached382.
Sixthly, although Paul preached his sermon amidst the many lights of the upper chamber on what was almost certainly Sunday night, the text does not teach that the meeting as such only started after sunset. Seeing that he (unexpectedly) continued after midnight even until daybreak on Monday, it is quite possible that the actual gathering of the disciples took place long before sunset on Sunday, and perhaps even on Sunday morning, with the intention of concluding their regular worship first, and then (perhaps after a suitable break or breaks for refreshment). to listen to Paulís sermon and break bread at the end of the dayís devotions. The opinion that no Sunday morning meetings took place in New Testament times conflicts with the patent fact that the disciples were congregated "the third hour of the day" or at nine oíclock in the morning on Pentecost Sunday, at which time Christís Holy Spirit descended on the disciples and the New Testament Church was formally inaugurated [cf. Christís Own resurrection very early on Resurrection Sunday morning], as well as with the fact that there are several records of such Sunday morning meetings only a few decades after the writing of the New Testament books was completed383.
Seventhly and finally, the fact that Paul waited till Monday morning before setting out on foot to travel some nineteen miles384 further to Assos385, is strong evidence that in spite of his spiritual exertions he rested physically on the previous day, Sunday. His rest on that Sunday "sabbath" was not, of course, prescribed by all the abolished Mosaic sabbatical provisions (Ex. 31:14; 35:2-3) or unauthoritative Jewish traditions (Acts 1:12), but rather governed in freedom by the Spirit of the Lord of the Sabbath, as was the case with the Edenic sabbath before the fall. It also appears very likely that the rest of Paulís party which travelled to Assos by ship did not leave Troas until after the Sunday sabbath too. It would certainly appear that they all attended the gathering on the Lordís day and probably the unexpected Monday morning Lordís Supper too. For Luke, the narrator, abode with Paul at Troas for fully seven days, ending with the "first day of the week", only after which Luke and the others "went before to ship" (Acts 20:6, 7, 13).
Summarizing then, it may be regarded as definitely established that the congregation of Troas met at a regular place of worship on Sunday each week to hear the preaching of the gospel and (sometimes) to break bread, and it may be regarded as probably established that Sunday was even then kept in a spirit of freedom as the Christian sabbath, and demarcated from midnight to midnight.
Hastening to be at Jerusalem by Pentecost Sunday386, Paul and his party left Assos by ship and, after observing the Sunday sabbath en route, probably at Miletus when he delivered his farewell sermon to the elders of Ephesus387, ultimately reached Tyre where, "finding disciples", they hence "tarried there seven days"388. In the light of their previous seven daysí sojourn at Troas in order to be able to address and break bread with the congregation "upon the first day of the week when the disciples came together", it is extremely likely that Paul and his men similarly tarried at Tyre for seven days in order to be able to share Sunday worship with the disciples they found there too. The fact that the disciples of Tyre ó apparently at the end of those seven days ó warned Paul "through the Spirit" not to go up to Jerusalem388, quite probably indicates a prophetic utterance of the Holy Spirit given in the local congregation on the Lordís day389. If so, it is extremely instructive to note that not one word is said of the Mosaic (Saturday) sabbath throughout the passage, whereas Paul and his party "tarried there seven days" until they "had accomplished those days". This all seems to indicate that they spent Sunday in religious exercises and physical rest, and that they only departed and went on their way when this had been "accomplished"390.
Leaving Tyre, Paulís party travelled through Ptolemais and Caesarea to Jerusalem, probably arriving there just in time to observe the Christian feast on Pentecost Sunday387. Thereafter, Paul was obliged to take a voluntary seven-day Mosaic vow to pacify the Jews. Gentile Christians, however, were not at all obliged to take such a vow, as was then re-emphasised391, and such a vow is in any case of no further significance than has previously been described above392.
The Jews insisted that Paul had been teaching all their co-religionists in the diaspora to forsake Moses and not to observe the Jewish customs. This was the man, they maintained, that taught all men everywhere against the law (Acts 21:21, 28). As far as the Mosaic ceremonies including the Mosaic (Saturday) sabbath were concerned, this accusation was undoubtedly well founded, and is striking evidence against the proposition of Seventh-day Adventists393 that the primitive Church kept the Saturday sabbath. Yet although Paul had ceased to observe the Mosaic law, particularly for the sake of the Gentile Christians, he himself was never without the pre-Mosaic moral law of God, but always under the law of Christ, the royal law of the Ten Commandments, which, of course, included the Fourth394.
The Jews, however, would not be pacified, in spite of Paulís voluntary seven-day vow. His arrest and trial having been secured at their instigation, Paul testified to the Jewish Council that he had been called in question concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6). Later removed to Caesarea, Paul gave similar testimony concerning the resurrection, but also concerning judgement to come on the Day of the Lord before the governor Felix395, after which he was held captive for two years from 56-58 A.D. until he appealed to Felixís successor Festus to be tried by the Roman Caesar himself 396. But before Paul went to Rome, he was again tried in Caesarea before the judgement place of King Agrippa (Acts 25:13-14, 23). During this latter trial, Paul again emphasised that he was being judged for the hope of the promise which God had made to the fathers, namely that Jesus Christ should rise from the dead (on the Lordís day), and that God should raise the dead (on the Day of the Lord) (Acts 26:6,8,23).
Having appealed to the Roman Caesar whilst on trial before Festus396, Paul was finally put on a ship for Italy in 58 AD.275, and, after being shipwrecked from midnight onwards after the shipís crew had fasted for fourteen days or two weeks of seven days (each demarcated by weekly sabbaths! )397, arrived at the port of Puteoli in 59 A.D.398, where Paul and his party "found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days"398. In the light of the data described in Acts 20:6-7 and 21:4-5 above, it seems reasonably likely that the brethren of Puteoli asked Paul to remain with them from one Lordís day to the next, no doubt desiring to hear him preach at their congregational meetings on those days398.
Leaving Puteoli one week after his arrival, Paul was transferred to Rome and delivered to the captain of the guard, but permitted to dwell by himself with a soldier to watch over him. But within three days after his arrival, Paul was testifying to the Jewish leaders at Rome who came to visit him, that he had been bound in chains for the sake of the hope of Israel ó the risen Christ399.
(b) The sabbath
from Paulís first Roman imprisonment to the death of John
During Paulís two yearsí stay in Rome in his own hired house from 60-62 AD.275, he received all visitors, "preaching the kingdom of God and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 28:30-31), and no doubt observing the Lordís day every week. It was during this period of captivity that he wrote his Epistles to the Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, and to Philemon275, which must next be analyzed to determine their significance to the subject of the sabbath.
The book of Colossians is by far the most important of these "Prison Epistles" on the subject of the sabbath. Addressed to "the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are in Colosse", it was intended to be read not only to the congregation there, but also to be read in the neighbouring church of the Laodiceans, and vice-versa, from which it may be seen that the contents of the Epistle were intended for widespread circulation and instruction throughout the churches of Asia Minor400.
The congregation of the Colossians had probably been established in about 54 AD.275 [perhaps about seven years before Paul wrote his Epistle to them275] by Epaphras401, during Paulís two-year sojourn at Ephesus some hundred miles to the west, during which sojourn the Word of God was proclaimed "almost throughout Asia" (Acts 19:10, 26). Although the congregation of Colosse consisted for the larger part of Gentile Christians402, there was also a strong element of Hebrew Christians; and as neither group had completely broken with its past, a strong Jewish-heathen-Christian syncretism, a sort of "Judaistic protoValentinianism"403 characterized by Judaistic circumcision and legalism404 and heathen gnosticism and proto-Docetism405 plagued the congregation. Both elements were disputed against in Paulís Epistle, which he wrote from the Roman prison soon after Epaphras had arrived there to report on the congregational situation (Col. 1:7-8), and both elements bear on the sabbath question.
To combat the Judaistic element406, Paul demonstrated how circumcision, holy days and prohibitions concerning the consumption of Levitically unclean foods, have all been fulfilled and abolished in the death and resurrection of Christ which they had previously prefigured (Col. 2:11-23). Limiting this analysis to the matter of holy days for purposes of the present enquiry, Paul is seen to argue that, because all the Mosaic ordinances (including the holy days) have now been blotted out and taken out of the way by being nailed to the cross of Calvary407, no Christian should now allow any one else to judge (krineto) him "in respect of a feast day [or: an holy day ó N.L.], or a new moon or a sabbath day: which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is Christís"408.
This means that the Mosaic feast days and the new moons and the sabbath days ó the Greek text is absolutely undisputed ó no longer obtain under the New Testament economy, having been blotted out, taken out of the way and nailed to the cross of Christ. Under the Old Testament dispensation they were all invaluable as fore-shadowings of Christís body which was then still to be crucified; and they then cast long shadows of the promised rising of the body of the Sun of righteousness. But now that the Sun of righteousness has bodily and fully risen with healing in His wings (Mal. 4:2), now that Christ the very Image of the things previously fore-shadowed has Himself come to light (cf. Heb. 10:1, 6-10), the shadows themselves have disappeared ó for they were only shadows all the time ó having been blotted out by the radiance of His cross and the bodily substance of His resurrection409.
Seventh-day Adventists and other rigid seventh-day sabbatarians410 rightly admit that feast days and new moons and "sabbaths" have all been abolished and nailed to the cross, but wrongly seek to exclude the Saturday sabbath from the (other) "sabbaths" of Col. 2:16 (which they regard as "ceremonial"). This they attempt to do by pointing to the distinction drawn between the two in Lev. 23:37 and 38. But this very distinction, however, only proves the abolition of the weekly Saturday (seventh-day) sabbath, as will be shown below411.
It is, of course, quite true that Lev. 23:37-38 [cf. the LXX422] distinguishes between the annual "feasts of the Lord" ("mo'adim", "heortai")412 on the one hand and the weekly "sabbaths of the Lord" ("shabbathoth", "sabbata")412 on the other, which latter weekly "sabbaths" are there specifically excepted"413 from the former annual "feasts". This distinction is even further emphasised by the fact that although on the one hand some414 of the days of these annual feasts are called Ďsabbathsí [which annual festive Ďsabbathí days may not inappropriately be described415 as the "ceremonial sabbaths"], on the other hand the weekly sabbaths ó with the exception of Lev. 23:3 to be dealt with below ó are nowhere called Ďfeastsí in that chapter, but clearly distinguished therefrom, as is also the case in other parts of the Old Testament416 ó q.v.!, which also carefully distinguish between "feasts" and "new moons" and "sabbaths" ó the identical distinction so carefully drawn by Paul in Col. 2:16.
Now as both Leviticus 23 and the rest of the Old Testament so clearly distinguish the annual "feasts" [LXX: "heortai"] from the weekly seventh-day "sabbaths" [LXX: "sabbata"], one dare have little hesitation in affirming this same distinction in respect of the same words "feasts" ["heortai"] and "sabbaths" ["sabbata"] in Col. 2:16. However, from this affirmation it necessarily follows that the annual "feasts" as well as the weekly seventh-day "sabbaths" have both been blotted out, taken out of the way and nailed to Calvaryís cross.
It is quite useless for the Seventh-day Adventists to argue417 that "sabbata" in Col. 2:16 only means the ceremonial sabbaths. For these ceremonial sabbaths they themselves415 so clearly and so correctly call "festivals" or "feast days" [or "heortai"] and thus distinguish them from the weekly seventh-day sabbaths [or "sabbata"] in their appeal to Lev. 23:37 & 38. No, the whole Mosaic law ó including the seventh-day weekly (last day) sabbath ó has been nailed to the cross of Christ, Col. 2: 9-23418.
Furthermore, the abolition of the Mosaic Saturday sabbath on the basis of Col. 2:16 is not in any way to be challenged by an appeal to texts419 such as Lev. 23:2-3, which latter text describes "the seventh day" as a "sabbath of rest, an holy convocation", as the first of the specified series of "the feasts of thc Lord; which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations". For this apparent classification of "the seventh day" or the Saturday "sabbath" (LXX: "sabbata") as one of the "feasts of the Lord" ("heortai") ó disregarding for argumentís sake the distinction drawn above in respect of Lev. 23:37-38 et al., would only mean that the seventh day sabbath would have been blotted out, done away with and nailed to the cross by virtue of its being one of the abolished "feasts" ("heortai") as well as by virtue of its being one of the abolished "sabbaths" ("sabbata") of Col. 2:16420.
A further attempt421 to salvage the seventh-day sabbath from its abolition in Col. 2:16 would attempt to distinguish between the (Saturday) sabbath ("sabbaton", singular) and the (ceremonial) sabbaths ("sabbata", plural), pointing out that it is the latter alone which are abolished by Col. 2:16ís "sabbaton" (genitive plural). But this objection cannot be sustained, even though the "ceremonial sabbaths" are nowhere in Lev. 23 referred to in the Septuagint422 by the singular form "sabbaton", and even though that singular form is sometimes used elsewhere423 as a translation of the Hebrew singular "shabbath" to refer to the Saturday sabbath. For, apart from the fact that the singular form sabbaton is but a later development of the original plural form "sabbata" (with singular or plural signification), so that "sabbata" often has the identical singular meaning as "sabbaton"424, the plural form "sabbata" (Genitive: "sabbaton") is used throughout the Septuagint to refer to the weekly Saturday sabbath425, and throughout Lev. 23 to refer to the annual "ceremonial" sabbaths as well426. All of which constitutes additional evidence that all Mosaic sabbaths ó including the weekly ones ó have been nailed to the cross.
A last attempt to break the power of Col. 2:16 is the suggestion427 that if the text forbids weekly Saturday sabbath observance, it equally forbids weekly Sunday sabbath observance. This argument, however, rests on the faulty assumption of some Seventh-day Adventists that Sunday-keepers regard their own day of rest on the New Testament Sunday as an equally "sabbatical" continuation of the Mosaic seventh-day Saturday sabbath (cf. Lev. 23:3); whereas, of course, nothing is further from the truth. If such were the basis of Sunday observance, the Sunday day of rest would naturally also be nailed to the cross together with the Saturday sabbath. But this is not at all the case. To the contrary, Sunday, the first day of the week, reaches back over the head of the Mosaic and even of the pre-Mosaic infralapsarian sabbath and connects up with the supralapsarian Edenic sabbath, the first day of the weeks of Adamís life. Sunday, the memorial day of re-creation, links up with and re-creates and perfects the Edenic sabbath, which is the memorial day of creation. For just as salvation from the fall through Christís death and resurrection does not result in a brand new creation, but rather in a cleansing from sin and a renewal of the old creation428, so too the Sunday day of rest is not a brand new institution, but rather a cleansing from sin and a renewal of the old Edenic day of rest.
Although, of course, they are comprehended under the permanently obligatory sabbath enjoined by the Fourth Commandment, it is nevertheless instructive to note that neither the Edenic day of rest nor Sunday are ever called "sabbaths" in Scripture, and that neither of them was nailed to Calvaryís cross, as were the Mosaic Saturday "sabbaths". Neither was the Fourth nor any of the Ten Commandments abolished, the substance429 of which was written on the heart of the unfallen Adam before the fall and which is even now being written on the hearts of the descendants of the Second Adam (II Cor. 3:1f) after their salvation from the fall.
The Mosaic seventh-day sabbaths are indeed "shadows" (Col. 2:16-7), shadows which remind one of the dense darkness of sin which was destined to reign "until the day break, and the shadows flee away" (Song 2:17; 4:6); but there is nothing "shadowy" about the Edenic day of rest or about the New Testament Sunday430. For the Edenic day of rest preceded all sin and all shadowy rituals to save from sin431, and the Sunday day of rest banishes both sin and shadows with the brightness of the Risen Christ. For not only have the shadows now fled away, but the Day has also broken, at least in principle: the great and dreadful Day of the Lord on which the Messenger of the covenant shall come like refinerís fire, the Day that shall burn as an oven and consume the wicked432. This eschatological significance of the sabbath was taught even in the extra-Scriptural Jewish traditions433. And it was fulfilled in principle on the first Lordís day when the Sun of righteousness arose with healing in His wings (Mal. 4:2).
From the text Col. 2:16 in its context Col. 2:9-23, then, as Kelman (op. cit., p. 217) has noted, the following things are evident:ó 1, that sabbath days are spoken of in this passage, only in so far as enactments respecting them were contained in the Jewish ceremonial law. 2, that they are spoken of, only in so far as they were shadows, or rather part of a shadow, of things to come. As opposed to the Sinaitic sabbath, the Edenic sabbath, instituted before manís fall into sin, cannot be regarded essentially as a foreshadowing of Christ Who came to save man from the fall into sin. 3, that in these two respects, the observance of them is not necessary for salvation, nor in any way binding on Christians. 4, that no observances of any kind whatsoever must be joined along with Jesus Christ the Lord of the Sabbath as the ground of a sinnerís confidence and hope before God. 5, that in any case, the words of the text have no reference one way or another, to the first day of the week, which is nowhere in Scripture specifically called "the sabbath" as such.
Having dealt with the shadowy Mosaic Saturday sabbath abolished by Christís death and resurrection, having dealt with the Judaistic heresy at Colosse, Paul next turns to deal with the Gentile heresy which equally obscured the tremendous significance of Christís resurrection and its bearing on the spiritual and physical resurrection of the believers both now and later on the Day of the Lord.
The divine Lord Jesus Christ was not merely an aeon or an angel and neither did he merely docetically appear to have risen bodily from the dead. To the contrary, argues Paul, He is the Lord God incarnate434, and was bodily resurrected (Col. 2:9-13) as the first-born from the dead (Col. 1:18; 3:1), and is even now seated in heaven on the right hand of God (Col. 3:4), whence He shall appear in glory on the Day of the Lord (Col. 2:12). This being so, the believers, who have in principle risen together with Christ in baptism through faith in God Who raised Him from the dead (Col. 2:12), are even now commanded to set their affections on things above (Col. 3:1-2).
Any suggestion that the Fourth Commandment has been abolished jointly and together with the "sabbath" of Col. 2:16, becomes very problematical in the light of the explicit or implicit references to all the other nine Commandments in the Colossian Epistle435. Why should one Commandment be abolished if the other nine remain intact? Surely the Fourth Commandment still obtains too? But whereas the above emphases on the resurrection all point to the weekly observance of the Lordís day as its memorial, the only solution seems to be that the Commandment is now to be identified with the observance of Sunday as the New Testament day of rest.
The conclusion, then, is clear. The Epistle to the congregations at Colosse and at Laodicea teaches that the Mosaic Saturday sabbath has been blotted out, taken out of the way and nailed to the cross; but that the moral law and its Fourth Commandment remains, and that the risen Christ is to be worshipped (and His Lordís day resurrection and anticipated return on the Day of the Lord is to be commemorated) when the congregation weekly meets together on the Lordís day, the first day of the week.
At about the same time as Paul wrote the above-mentioned letter to the Colossians, he also wrote the Epistle to the Ephesians, apparently also during his captivity436 in Rome, 60-62 A.D.275. Remembering that Paul wrote his First Epistle to the Corinthians (in which he mentioned that he had enjoined contributions to be made every Lordís day in all the congregations of Galatia) from Ephesus in A.D. 53, it is almost certain that the Ephesians themselves took cognizance of that Epistle even before its despatch, and quite certain that they themselves kept the Lordís day at that time, particularly as Paul was then enjoining special Sunday contributions in the east (Galatia) and in the west (Corinth).
Traces of such Lordís day observance may be found in the Ephesian Epistleís mention of Christís being raised from the dead, the believersí spiritual resurrection together with Him and their being sealed unto the day of redemption437, as well as from the fact that all the other nine Commandments ó particularly the Fifth ó are explicitly or implicitly enjoined438, implying that the Fourth still obtains and has in fact been transferred to the memorial day of His resurrection and ours at His coming.
The last two Pauline "prison letters" of this period (60-62 AD.) are Philippians and Philemon. Philippi was the first congregation in Europe established by Paul [in about 50 AD.]439, and his Epistle to the believers of that congregation was occasioned by his receipt and acknowledgement of a gift from them delivered by Epaphroditus440, which gift might quite possibly have been contributed towards by weekly Lordís day donations in the congregation441. At any rate, there is some evidence that this congregation also even then observed the Lordís day in Paulís emphasis in the Epistle on the exaltation and resurrection of Christ, on Paulís own spiritual identification with Christís resurrection, on his expectant longing of attaining to the resurrection of the dead, on his expectation of the coming of the Day of the Lord442, and on his implicit references to some of the Ten Commandments443, thereby implying the congregationís observance of the Fourth too.
Approximately at the time Paul was released from prison, the Apostle Peter wrote his First Epistle "to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia" (I Peter 1:1) in about 62 or 63 AD.275. This area of Asia (Minor) had already been evangelized about ten years previously by Paul and his helpers (Acts 19:26), as well as by Peter himself 444, and it is therefore morally certain that they were observing the Lordís day, especially in Galatia445.
Traces of such (Lordís day) observance are found in the Petrine Epistleís emphasis on Christís resurrection from the dead446 and its intimate connection with the coming Day of the Lord447 unto deliverance of the believers (I Peter 5:1, 4) and unto damnation of the wicked448, as well as to the implicit references to the some of the Ten Commandments449, thus implying the observance of the Fourth too.
The most interesting evidence of Sunday observance in the Epistle, however, is Peterís quotation from Ps. 118450 and its application to Christ as the chief Corner Stone Which the builders rejected. For Peter had connected this very Psalm (with its "day that the Lord hath made") with the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the first day of the week when (from this very Psalm) he preached one of his first sermons after the resurrection of Christ to the Jewish elders near the temple in 30 A.D.451. The fact that some thirty-three years had now elapsed since that episode ó the same number of years as the Lord lived on earth before His crucifixion and resurrection ó and the fact that Peter had just characterized the "newborn babes" who had been "begotten . . . unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" as "lively stones" built upon Christ the "chief Corner Stone"452, is surely of significance to the subject under discussion, and provides indirect evidence of the observance of the Lordís day in the ministry of Peter.
About the time Peter wrote his First Epistle, or perhaps a little beforehand, Paul was released from prison453 and soon made missionary journeys275 to Ephesus454, Macedonia455, Colosse-Laodicea456, Crete457, Nicopolis458, Troas (2 Tim. 4:13), Miletus459, Corinth (2 Tim. 4:20) and possibly also to Spain460.
Passing through Ephesus and Macedonia after his release in 62 or 63 A.D.454 ó in which territories he undoubtedly observed the Lordís day and encouraged the congregations there to do so too ó according to credible tradition Paul arrived in Laodicea, the sister congregation of Colosse456, from which he wrote his First Pastoral Epistle to Timothy461.
Timothy, perhaps originally from Derbe or Lystra462 where Paul had preached on the death and resurrection of Christ during his first missionary journey which started in 48 AD.243, and where Paul had [according to the South Galatian theory262] ordained Sunday contributions on the first day of every week441, accompanied Paul from that region onwards during his second missionary journey in 49 AD.243, and was particularly active in Macedonia463. When Paul wrote his first Epistle to the Corinthians in AD. 53275, enjoining them to make contributions regularly on the first day of the week441, he had already sent Timothy via Macedonia464 to Corinth, to remind that congregation of Paulís ways in Christ which he taught in every church465. From this it may be deduced that Lordís day observance as at Corinth was not only taught by Paul in every congregation which he himself visited, but also that Timothy was fully aware of such observance and equally involved in its propagation, as doubtless were Paulís other helpers too.
Arriving in Troas before Paul in 56 AD.275, Timothy may well have spent as many as three (Acts 20:4-7) successive Lordís days there, including of course, the one on which Paul preached when the disciples had gathered to break bread. Furthermore, the mention of Timothyís name in the Epistles to the Romans and to the Colossians466, clearly implies his acquaintance with their doctrinal contents which also deal with the sabbath question, and there is little doubt that he would practice and preach this doctrine after his ordination to the ministry467.
In the light of all the above, it is not surprising that Paulís First Epistle to Timothy, written in 63 or 64 AD.275, contains some matter of importance to the subjects of the sabbath and of the covenant. There are implicit references to Adam and Eveís transgression of the covenant and Christís fulfilment thereof in His incarnation and resurrection into glory468, whence He shall appear in "the time to come" to reward those rich in good works and to punish the hardened sinners in the Day of everlasting life which the eternal and immortal King Who dwells in inapproachable light shall bring in His Own times469.
With reference to this coming Day of the Lord, Paul enjoined Timothy to "keep this commandment without spot", namely to flee from sin and to follow after righteousness (I Tim. 6:11, 14). From a comparison of the lists of sins to be fled and the works of righteousness to be followed, it is clear that this constitutes an injunction to keep the whole moral law470, which ó although there is not even an implicit clue anywhere to the observance of the Saturday sabbath ó nevertheless obviously includes the substance of the Fourth Commandment, no doubt to be observed by gathering and worshipping on the Lordís day471. For "we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully", remarked Paul to Timothy; adding later, "If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ", and closing with the earnest injunction that he should keep that which had been committed to his trust472.
After his missionary journey to Crete (Titus 1:5, 12), yet apparently before arriving in Nicopolis473, Paul wrote his Pastoral Epistle to Titus, his "own son after the common faith" (Titus 1:4). Titus was apparently known to the churches of Galatia (Gal. 2:1, 3) [perhaps even as early as 49 A.D.474], and may therefore be presumed to have known all about Paulís injunction to them as to other churches everywhere to make contributions on the Lordís day every week475, particularly in the light of his constant journeys to and from Corinth as the Apostleís own delegate in that same (diaconal) connection476, as well as in the light of his appointment to meet the Apostle at Troas where the Lordís day was also celebrated each week477.
Paulís advice in his Epistle to Titus [circa 63 or 64 A.D.] that he "avoid . . . strivings about the law" can hardly be appealed to by the Antinomians, for his further specification in connection with that law that it is precisely "foolish questions and genealogies" which are to be avoided (Titus 3:9), militates against the suggestion that it is the moral law, the Ten Commandments, which Paul is discussing. In his advice to Titus to "be careful to maintain good works" (Titus 3:8, 14), Paul is far sooner enjoining the observance of the Ten Commandments, the Commandments of God ó as opposed to "Jewish fables and the commandments of men" (Titus 1:14). For implicit traces of the Decalogue are found in his parenetic injunctions throughout the Epistle478 ó excepting any reference to the (seventh-day) sabbath. Again, the only solution to this lacuna seems to be that the Lordís day is now the day of rest to which implicit reference appears to be made in Paulís references to the hope of eternal life, namely "that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" on the coming Day of the Lord479.
While Paul was still conducting his last missionary journeys, the Apostle Peter wrote his Second Epistle from Rome in 63 or 64 A.D.480, apparently intended not only for the addressees of his previous Epistle [the Christians of Asia Minor481], but also for "them that have obtained like precious faith with us" (2 Peter 1:1).
The Epistle is important for its endorsement of the teachings of Paul "in all his epistles" (2 Peter 3:15-16), which teachings, of course, include his doctrine of the Lordís day482. Even in his own right, however, Peter implicitly endorses some of the Ten Commandments483, thereby implying the observance of the Fourth too, and recalls his witnessing of Christís transfiguration on the mountain ó which may have been on a previous (Saturday) sabbath or Sunday484 ójust as vividly as he did the Resurrection Sunday fulfilment of Ps. 118 in his First Epistle (I Peter 2:6-8). Perhaps Peter was still thinking of Ps. 118 when he wrote his Second Epistle, for especially the third chapter of the latter is dominated by the coming of the risen Saviour on the Day of the Lord to punish the wicked485 and to usher in the eternal sabbath rest of the new earth, the eschatological Canaan486. It is for the coming of this Day that the believers are to look and unto which they are to hasten (2 Peter 3:12-13), while being mindful of the Apostolic Commandment themselves and pondering on the dire fate of the apostate who have turned from the holy Commandment which they had received (2 Peter 2:21).
About the time of Peterís death488, the Apostle Paul had himself just returned via Troas, Miletum and Corinth489 to Rome, where he was again imprisoned in A.D. 65480. From prison490 Paul wrote his last letter, the Second Pastoral Epistle to Timothy, whom he had left in charge of the churches in western Asia Minor491.
The Epistle implicitly enjoins the observance of most of the Ten Commandments492, but once again there is not even an implicit reference to the Saturday sabbath. Yet as observance of the Lordís day is implied in Paulís references to "our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light" and to the Day of the Lord when He "shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing493, it is morally certain that the Fourth Commandment lives on in the observance of the first day of the week.
At some time between 65 and 67 A.D.480 Paul was martyred in Rome under Nero494. Yet his doctrine, including his sabbath doctrine, was to survive in his writings. Moreover, although it is not certain that Paul met the evangelist Matthew495, it seems very likely that he knew Judas the brother of the Lord496 and it is certain that he knew the evangelists Mark, Luke and John497, as well as Apollos498, who quite possibly wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews499. Accordingly, it is to the writings of these men that the investigation must next be directed.
Peter died about 65 and Paul about 66 A.D. But during their lives as well as shortly before their deaths, they, who both observed the Sunday sabbath500, had been in much contact with John Mark the evangelist501.
The upper room of John Markís motherís house in Jerusalem had been a centre of Sunday observance in the early church. It was probably the same house where Jesus had instituted the Lordís Supper, where He appeared on Resurrection Sunday evening to the Apostles, where He re-appeared to them the following Sunday, and where the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Sunday of Pentecost502. It was certainly the same house in which the church gathered on each Lordís day after Pentecost and where Mark then came into intimate contact with the Apostle Peter503, with whom he was associated many years later504.
However, Mark was also associated particularly with his uncle the Apostle Barnabas505 as well as with the Apostle Paul both at the beginning506 and at the end507 of the latterís ministry. And so, as a result of his contact with the first Christians each Sunday in the upper room of his motherís house, as well as by virtue of his intimate contact with the three Apostles Paul, Barnabas and Peter, it is absolutely certain that Mark too observed Sunday as the Lordís day together with them all. This important fact must be born in mind in the following analysis of the relevant parts of his Gospel.
It is generally, accepted that Markís Gospel was the first extant one written, but the date of its commission to writing is variously estimated508. After a long period of oral transmission509 and divine preservation from all error, Mark probably put it into manuscript in Rome in about 66 A.D., the year of Paulís death one year after Markís mentor Peterís death and two years after the outbreak of religious persecution. Hence Markís inspired presentation of the facts ó including facts relating to the sabbath ó is intended to describe events in Palestine before AD. 30 as well as to encourage the persecuted Roman Christians in AD. 66.
It is noteworthy that Mark, writing to encourage and to instruct the persecuted Roman Christians in A.D. 66, not only presents Jesus as firmly upholding the Ten Commandments as the true Christian rule of life in His discussions with the rich young ruler and the Pharisees and in His injunction regarding the Great Commandment to the enquiring scribe510, but also as equally firmly upholding specifically the Fourth Commandment in His public worship on the sabbath (Mark 1:21; 6:2), His sabbath healings (Mark 1:21-31; 3:2f), His sabbath religious journey(s)511and His eating and feeding others on that day in His capacity as Lord of the Sabbath512.
However, Mark also carefully records the dawning of another day. He records the events of "Palm Sunday" when Christ triumphantly entered Jerusalem in partial fulfilment of the "Sunday Psalm"513. And he particularly records the dawning of that Great "Sunday" one week later when the Lord of the Sabbath rose again (Mark 9:31; 10:34), the precursor of the coming Day of the Lord514, the "first day of the week" which broke "when the [Saturday] sabbath was passed" (Mark 16:1-2, 9), passed forever! Not one further word does he have to say of the Saturday sabbath, and the implication must surely be that the Fourth Commandment is forthwith to be observed in respect of Christís new day.
The next extant Gospel which was reduced to writing [probably in about 67 AD.515] is that according to Matthew, who almost certainly made use of Markís record and very probably also of other traditions which have not been preserved509. Matthew was apparently a Jew516 and probably the Apostle Matthew Levi517, and he wrote his Gospel for Greek-speaking518 Jews519 living in the diaspora520.
Amidst dire threats of Roman attacks against the holy city (Matt. 24:1ff), Matthew records for his Hebrew Christian readers at least thirty-five years after Christís ascension (and for the Church of all ages), that Jesus Christ strictly kept and taught the moral law in His Sermon on the Mount, in His discussions with the Pharisees and with the rich young ruler, in the Great Commandment and, after His resurrection, by implication in His Great Commission521. For Matthew portrays Jesus as having observed and taught the entire Decalogue522 and specifically the Fourth Commandment as Lord of the Sabbath in His sabbath feedings and healings523. No definite deduction can be made from Matt. 24:20, but it would appear from the risen Christís words in Matt. 28:18-20 (very possibly spoken on a Sunday subsequent to Resurrection Sunday)524 that the Fourth Commandment is still in force even after Christís resurrection at "the end of the (Saturday) sabbath as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week" (Matt. 28:1), on which latter day the Commandment is forthwith to be observed, as the weekly signpost which points forward to that Great Day when the Lord shall drink the fruit of the vine anew with His disciples in the kingdom of His Father525.
Unlike Matthew and Mark, Luke was a Gentile Christian and a physician by profession (Col. 4:10-14), yet like Mark he had accompanied Paul in many of his missionary journeys throughout the Gentile world, doubtless observing the Lordís day together with the Apostle, as for example at Troas526.
In about 68 AD.527 Luke wrote the first of two treatises528 to an important Christian instructee called Theophilus529. This first treatise, perhaps written from Corinth530, was a declaration of the faith in Jesus Christ and a chronological account of His life which Luke had received from eyewitnesses and ministers of His Word531.
Although writing to a Gentile Christian who would have little interest in such particulars if he himself were not required to keep the Fourth Commandment (as the Antinomians falsely maintain), Luke nevertheless significantly takes even more pains than Matthew or Mark to describe Christís observance of the Ten Commandments in general532, and the Sabbath Commandment in particular533, so that Theophilus might know the certainty of those things wherein he had been instructed (Luke 1:3-4). For not only does Luke record for the instruction of Gentile Christians like Theophilus that Christ customarily attended public worship on the sabbath day (Luke 4:16; 6:6), but also that He taught534, fed (Luke 6:10, ate (Luke 6:1-4; 14:1), made religious journeys (Luke 6:10 and healed535 on that day as well.
Lukeís most interesting statement on the subject, however, is found in Luke 23:56, where he records (in AD. 68!) that the women "rested the sabbath day according to the commandment". For Luke does not state that the women rested according to the Jewish commandment, but rather according to "the Commandment" ó which Commandment must therefore have formed a well-known part of the things in which the Gentile Christian Theophilus had been instructed (Luke 1:3-4). This is surely strong evidence that the sabbath, albeit "now upon the first day of the week" (Luke 24:1) as the day of His resurrection536 which points to the Day of our resurrection537, is still to be observed by Gentile Christians like Theophilus as part of the immutable moral law of God.
Again, it is significant that Luke gives more Resurrection Sunday details than the other Synoptic writers, mentioning in detail Christís Sunday "breaking of the bread" for the Emmaus disciples and the Sunday night "gathering together" of the Jerusalem disciples, as well as the risen Christís Sunday commencement of His entry into His "glory" ó all of which facts show the importance attached to these happenings by both Gentile Christian addressor and Gentile Christian addressee in about 68 A.D.
Whereas Lukeís first treatise to Theophilus ó his Gospel ó deals with "all that Jesus began both to do and to teach until the day in which He was taken up", his second treatise ó the book of Acts ó deals with all that Jesus continued both to do and to teach through the Holy Ghost after that day of His ascension538. However, in this second treatise, probably written in about 70 AD.539, Luke was not merely able to draw on reliable oral and written tradition as his sources, as previously, but in addition thereto he also frequently accompanied Paul on his journeys540, and was also one of the "fellowlabourers" of the Apostle during the latterís first and second imprisonments in Rome541. Consequently Luke ó even as he had learned from eyewitnesses that the Lord rose from the dead on Resurrection Sunday542 ó also learned from eyewitnesses that the church was born on Pentecost Sunday543 and probably met each Lordís day thereafter, and was himself an eyewitness of the Lordís day meetings at Troas and elsewhere544, as well as to the sabbath doctrine contained in the "prison letters"545. Very probably he was also acquainted with the sabbath doctrine contained in the Epistles to the Romans546 and to the Corinthians too547. In these circumstances, it is almost certain that the Fourth Commandment [of the Decalogue which Luke mentions implicitly almost in its entirety in the book of Acts548], was regarded by Luke as having been observed by the Christian Sunday meetings which he recorded and which were attended either by himself or by eyewitnesses.
In about 70 A.D.549, Jude wrote his Epistle "to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called" (Jude 1). The writer was apparently one of the half-brothers of Jesus Christ Himself, as was James of Jerusalem550. As such he was doubtless aware of the Lordís sabbath doctrine as He practised and preached it during His earthly life.
In the brief space of the twenty-five verses which comprise his Epistle, Jude implicitly refers to more than half of the Ten Commandments551, possibly including the Sabbath Comrandment as well in his references to the prophecy of Enoch the seventh from Adam regarding the coming of the Day of Judgment, the Day of the Lord552.
Prophesying the future destruction of Jerusalem and the escape of its Christian inhabitants, the Lord Jesus Christ had warned his disciples in 30 A.D.: "But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: for then shall be great tribulation" (Matt. 24:20). The great tribulation came in A.D. 70, when the holy city was razed to the ground by the Roman armies and the refugees fled to the lands of the Gentiles.
Approximately ten years later, in about 80 A.D.553, a titleless canonical book was written from Italy554 by an unknown555 acquaintance of Timothy (Heb. 13:23) on the subject of Christís fulfilment of the Jewish ceremonial laws, which book was apparently intended to be read by sorely afflicted Hebrew Christians556.
The book, which not inappropriately later557 came to be known as the Epistle to the Hebrews, deals with the general subject of "the glory of Christ". Before dealing with its revelations specifically on the sabbath question, it will first be necessary to get the correct perspective of the Epistle as a whole on its dominant theme of Christís glory.
Chapter one opens with the statement that Jesus Christ, the eschatological Revelation of God, is the brightness of His Fatherís glory558. Ontologically, He is the express Image of Godís Person and the eternally begotten Son of God (Heb. 1:3). Providentially, He is the One Who laid the foundations of the heavens and the earth and Who upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3, 10). Soteriologically, He came into the world, purged us from our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high (after His resurrection and ascension) and is worshipped by the angels (Heb. 1:3, 6, 7).
After chapter one has described Christís glory as the Son of God, chapter two describes His glory as the Son of man (Heb. 2:6, 9, 14, 16). In chapter one He was ontologically described as the brightness of the Fatherís glory. In chapter two, He is soteriologically described ó after being humiliated for a short while to a even less glorious status than the angels for the suffering of death (Heb. 2:7, 9) ó as being again crowned with glory and honour (Heb. 2:7, 9); but this time as the Son of man557, as the Second Adam Who in His death and resurrection fulfilled the covenant which the first Adam transgressed559. Through Christís substitutionary and propitiatory tasting of the suffering of death for every man, and thereafter being crowned (as man) with glory, God thus brought many sons to glory (Heb. 2:9-10).
In chapters three and four the writer proceeds to compare the Son of manís entry into glory with manís entry into the rest of God560. The readers are again reminded [by Christís entry into His glory, and by His ascension into heaven561] that they have already been made partakers of the heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1,14). Yet this should not make them careless. To the contrary, they should heed (Heb. 3:12-4:3) the example of the dire end of those who were careless and disobedient to Moses in the wilderness, and they should be mindful of the fact that Christ is worthy of more glory than is Moses or Adam or Joshua or David562, in that He is the Son of God, the great High Priest that has (now, in His resurrection and ascension) passed through the heavens (Heb. 4:14).
In chapters five to ten the glory of Christís priesthood of the New covenant is unfolded. His priesthood is of the glory of Melchisedec, being more glorious than that of Aaron, more glorious than Levi and even more glorious than Abraham himself 563. The coming Christís eternal priesthood had been promised under covenantal oath to Abraham, to David and to Jeremiah564. It had been prefigured in the first covenant ó in the Mosaic ceremonial worship in the sanctuary and in the holy place, with "the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy seat"565. But Christís glory is greater than that of the cherubims who overshadowed the Mosaic law. For whereas the law (including its Saturday sabbath, cf. Col. 2:16) was only a shadow of good things to come, Christ is the very Image of these good things Himself; and, when He came, He took away the law of the first covenant that He might establish the second, the new and living way which He consecrated for us566.
Now the readers must worship Christ as the glorious Mediator of the New Covenant, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see The Day approaching" (Heb. 10:25); worship Him by assembling together not on the Saturday sabbath (but on the Lordís day, the precursor of The approaching Day of the Lord). For in the final chapters (eleven to thirteen), after being reminded of the great cloud of witnesses who await the glorious promise of the coming Saviour, the readers are reminded that they, the New Testament readers, have not come to Mount Sinai (and its Saturday sabbath!) under Moses the mediator of the Old covenant567, but that they have come to mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the church of the firstborn (= resurrected!) and to Jesus the Mediator of the New covenant (Heb. 12:18-24) Who is the same yesterday, today and forever568, and Whom the God of peace brought again from the dead through the blood of the everlasting covenant, to Whom be glory for ever and ever (Heb. 13:20-21).
The Epistleís constant emphasis on Christís glory raises a further most important question: Whereas Christ eternally possesses His glory as the Son of God, when did He enter into possession of His glory as the Son of man? Certainly not during His state of humiliation ó in His birth, circumcision, baptism, suffering, death and descent into hell; but surely during His stale of exaltation ó in His Lordís day resurrection569, in the Sunday outpouring of His Spirit. Luke informs us in his Gospel that Christ began to enter His glory on the Lordís day, the first day of the week570, and the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews [whom Calvin regarded as quite probably the same Luke555] indicates that Christ began to be glorified as The Son of man after His sufferings and His death when the God of peace brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ571. The Son of manís ó and therefore manís ó entry into glory, into the rest of Godís own creation sabbath, is one of the main ideas of the first four chapters of the Epistle (and the main idea of chapters three and four). Accordingly, it is to a detailed examination of these chapters ó the locus clossicus on the subject of the sabbath ó that reference must now be made.
Hebrews 3:7 to 4:11 is dominated by the one idea of Godís sabbath rest and manís entry thereinto alongside of God. Sometimes the rest is described in terms of Godís Seventh Day rest from creation (Heb. 4:3-4), sometimes it is described as the rest of Canaan after the wanderings in the wilderness572, or as the spiritual rest in the time of David573, or as the Son of manís entry into His rest of glory in which He ceased from His own works of redemption (Heb. 4:10, 14), or as the rest (in Christís work) which the believer must labour to enter into (Heb. 4:11); but in whatsoever way this great rest is described, there always remains a rest for the people of God which they are bidden to enter574.
The first of a number of points which emerge from the above, is that God rested the sabbath day from all His works (Heb. 4:4). This implies that the eternal counsel of the Triune God had been brought to objective fruition as regards creation, and that God then entered into His glorious rest therein and enjoyment thereof. However, it also implies575 that it was even then Godís purpose for Adam to enter into that rest alongside of Him by virtue of his obedience to the covenant of works; but which, when Adam failed to do so, the Second Adam Jesus Christ did in Adamís stead when He fulfilled that covenant576 and entered into that rest as man and for man when He rose from the dead on the first Lordís day and entered into His glory577.
A second point which emerges is that although Adamís progress towards that rest was cut short by sin, Godís rest as such ó as well as His invitation to man to come and share in that rest ó continued unimpaired (Heb. 4:3-6, 9). God entered His rest from all His works on the Seventh Day of creation when He rested in man His masterpiece578. That Seventh Day ó manís Day579 ó the Day without an evening or morning580 ó lasted down through the centuries, was apparently still in force in the earthly days of the Son of man before Calvary581, and is, in fact, co-extensive with the earthly history582 of manís Day and man himself 583. For the Lordís sabbath rest is His rest in man as His Own image and in manís Day584, and the Lord bids man find his sabbath rest by resting in the Lord and in the Lordís day as he seeks to enter into the eternal sabbath rest of the Day of the Lord.
Thirdly, because Godís invitation to man to enter into His rest continues in spite of manís sin, that rest is mentioned implicitly and explicitly time and again in the Old Testament. After the Exodus from Egypt under Moses, this rest was typified by the weekly sabbath585, and by the sabbath rest of Canaan which beckoned Godís people then as their eschatological reward586. But when they, like Adam, transgressed the covenant time and again587, God sware in His wrath that they would not enter into His rest588. By this He clearly did not mean the symbols of the weekly sabbath rest ("shabbath") or the earthly Canaan rest ("menoochah") ó both of which the people proceeded to enjoy under Mosesí successor Joshua (Heb. 4:8, marg.) ó but rather the deeper reality behind the symbol, namely the heavenly sabbath and the heavenly Canaan.
Fourthly, a new element is introduced when the invitation to Godís people to enter into His rest is repeated with existential urgency in the days of David589: "Today, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart, . . . as in the day of the temptation in the wilderness, when your fathers tempted Me, . . . unto whom I sware in My wrath that they should not enter into My rest"590. This shows that Joshua had not given the people rest, even though they had entered into Canaan the land of rest (Heb. 4:8, marg.). Yet as God purposed that His people should enter into the spiritual sabbath rest in the time of David (Heb. 4:6-8), He called them unto repentance in that very day ó ĎTo day".
Fifthly, after Godís repeated invitations to man to enter into His covenantal rest had been repeatedly rejected by man in the days of Adam, Moses, Joshua and David, God ó having at sundry times and in divers manners spoken in time past unto the fathers by the prophets ó spoke unto man in these last days by His Son (Heb. 1:1) ó the Second Adam (I Cor. 14:45), the Prophet like unto Moses (Acts 3:22, 26), the New Testament Joshua or Jesus591 and the Root and Offspring of David (Rev. 22:16). Jesus Christ it was Who kept the Adamic covenant, Who fulfilled the law of Moses, Who entered Joshuaís rest of Canaan, and Who ascended the spiritual throne of David. The Son of man entered into His glory after cessation from His earthly lifeís work and death on Calvary, so that now He "entered into His rest (and) He also hath ceased from His own works as God did from His"592. And He entered into His glory and His rest on that first Lordís day of Resurrection Sunday (Luke 24:1-7, 21-26. 46, 49).
Sixthly, as the Son of man has kept the Adamic covenant and now sabbaths in the rest of God, so too does God Himself now reward the covenantís Fulfiller and sabbaths in the rest of the Son of man593. For the Person and Work of the Son of man is Godís true sabbath and Godís true rest. The fulfilment of the covenant is finished and God is satisfied594. Manís Day, at least in principle, has now yielded to the Lordís Day579; the seventh-day weekly sabbath has yielded to the eighth day of the week as the microscopic symbol of Godís Eighth Day, the New Day of the Lord which He has created595 . The Second Adam (and, in principle, all His descendants and all creation, Col. 1:20) has now entered the glory, the rest, which the first Adam failed to do; and He commenced doing this in His resurrection from the dead on the first day of the (new) week, on Resurrection Sunday, the first Lordís day596.
Seventhly, even after the Son of man has entered His rest, His glory, His children are to follow Him and to do the same. "There remaineth therefore a keeping of a sabbath to the people of God"597, who must therefore strive598 to enter into that rest. The believer in the post-Calvary dispensation is nonetheless enjoined to enter into the rest of God599, even though Christ has already (in principle) done this for him.
Some would maintain that the believerís permanent rest in Christ is the end of all weekly sabbath-keeping, and mistranslate "sabbatismos" in Heb. 4:9 as "rest"600. But this destroys the whole point of the inspired authorís use of "sabbatismos" in v. 9, whereas he has used "katapausis" elsewhere601. "Katapausis" and "katapauo" in the LXX are used in respect of the (uninterrupted and therefore unrepeatable) rest of God in Gen. 2:2-3 and Ps. 95:11, but "sabbatizo" and "sabbatismos" are used in Ex. 16:30 and II Clir. 36:21 to indicate the (intermittent and therefore repeatable) keeping of a sabbath at regular intervals. Conclusion: the "sabbatismos" of Heb. 4:9, which the (saved) people of God must keep, is the INTERMITTENT AND REPEATABLE SABBATH AT REGULAR (WEEKLY) INTERVALS.
It is useless for the Antinomians to argue that as the Christianís whole life is (correctly enough!) one long sabbath rest in Christ, that therefore (an incorrect deduction!) the weekly day of rest no longer obtains. This will probably602 indeed be so when the believer actually enters into the rest of God in practice after death and after Christís second coming, but until then he is enjoined to remember that there "remains a keeping of a sabbath ("sabbatismos") for the people of God, for he that is entered603 into His rest ("katapausis"), he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His" (Heb. 4:9-10) ó and as God ceased from His works to rest after labouring for six divine working days, the implication is surely that man, His microscopic image, should observe the same hebdomadal rhythm. Moreover, as the weekly day604 of rest was observed in the days of Adam (cf. Heb. 4:4), of Moses (cf. Heb. 3:8-11), of Joshua (cf. Heb. 4:8), of David (cf. Heb. 4:7) and of Jesus (cf. Heb. 4:10, 14), there is little doubt that it is still to be observed after Christís resurrection, particularly seeing that the Holy Ghost has now "spoken of another day"605, which, according to some606, is Sunday. For although the believers, now that the shadowy Saturday sabbath has passed607, have already "entered into His rest"603 in principle, those "which have believed"608 are nevertheless still enjoined to strive "to enter609 into that rest", and to "exhort one another daily while it is called ĎTo dayí"610, but particularly "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together ó [which assemblies were held weekly on the Lordís day611) ó as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see The Day [ó the Eighth Day of the Lordó] approaching" (Heb. 10:25).
Finally, when it is considered that the New covenant has now fulfilled, superseded and abolished the Mosaic covenant612, one would almost expect the Saturday sabbath, so long identified with the Mosaic, to be fulfilled, superseded and abolished by the New covenantís Lordís day. This expectation is particularly relevant in the light of the fact that the Epistle implicitly or explicitly refers to nearly every one of the Ten Commandments613 and possibly even includes implicit references to the Fourth Commandment in terms of the New Testament sabbath (the Christian ĎSundayí or Lordís day) but not in terms of the Mosaic (Saturday) ordinance614. But as Godís moral law cannot pass away615, but is in fact to be written into the hearts of the believers in terms of the New covenant (Heb. 10:16), the only solution seems to be that the Fourth Commandment is now to be observed on the weekly Lordís day, on which day religious meetings were held616. For Sunday points back to Christís entry into His rest on His Resurrection day617, and points forward to the believerís full entry into his rest on the Day of the Lord618. Accordingly, "there remaineth therefore the keeping of a sabbath" for the people of the Lord, "for the people of God"619, in honour of "the God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus . . . through the blood of the everlasting covenant" (Heb. 13:20).
The Apostle John, the writer of the Gospel bearing his name620, had followed the Lord Jesus Christ almost from the beginning of His ministry (Mark 1:19-20), and hence was personally well acquainted with His attitude to the moral law of God including the Fourth Commandment621. John was also an eyewitness of the appearances of the risen Lord on the Sundays after His resurrection622, of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday623, and doubtless of the regular religious observance of that day of the week thereafter624. For he was with Peter alongside the temple625 when the latter proclaimed from Psalm 118 that Resurrection Sunday was the day that the Lord had made and on which there was to be joy and gladness626, and he again accompanied that Apostle to help strengthen the churches in Samaria at least a year later627.
About A.D. 49, John attended the Council of Jerusalem628, after which he is not heard of again629 until after the commencement of the Jewish war in A.D. 66, when the Christians fled from Jerusalem to Pella and John travelled to Ephesus, arriving there about A.D. 68 and staying there for many years630. It was probably631 during this time and from this place that the Apostle wrote his Gospel in about 90 AD.632, and his three Epistles in about 90 to 92 AD.633, all of which were apparently intended for readers in Asia Minor round about Ephesus634.
As the aged635 John wrote his Gospel (circa 90) a full quarter of a century after the other evangelists had written theirs (circa 65) ó and for a different purpose636, it is not surprising that he omits many facts which they mention, yet himself mentions other facts which they do not. For example, although he was undoubtedly an eyewitness of Christís sabbath synagogue attendances637 and the sabbath healings described by the other evangelists638, he does not mention these, although he does mention Christís sabbath healings of the cripple of Bethesda639 and the blind man at Siloam (John 9:7, 14-16), whereas the other three evangelists do not640.
The Gospel of John lays great emphasis on Christís conservative attitude towards the keeping of the moral law. Time and again641He counsels those that love Him to keep His Commandments, by which He almost certainly also means, amongst other things, the Ten Commandments642 which as the Pre-existent Son of God He Himself (John 1:1-3) had stamped on Adamís heart and had repromulgated to His disciples at Sinai643. Accordingly, it is useless for the Antinomians to object that Christ hereby enjoined only the observance of the New Commandment that the disciples should love one another644, for there is no tension between this New Commandment and the Ten Commandments which the same Jesus had also enjoined645. To the contrary, "He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me", and "sin is the transgression of the law" ó wrote this same John in his records of the words of Jesus646 Who was Himself the Living Law647.
But although John wrote to his readers that their Master had in AD. 30 implicitly enjoined the subsequent observance of the sabbath to all His disciples, the Apostle did not intend them to observe it on Saturday in 90 AD. Far rather did John intend them to observe it on Sunday, and hence he did not fail to lay great stress on Christís resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday, on His appearance to and His outbreathing of His Spirit upon His congregated Church that same Easter Sunday after sunset, and on His reappearance to His congregated Church "eight days later" on the next Sunday. For John would have his readers regard Sunday as the Lordís day and as the memorial of Christís resurrection648 and the descent of His Comforter Spirit649, and as the pointer to His coming again in judgement on the Day of the Lord650.
In about 90 AD. John recorded in his Gospel the life of Jesus Christ before His ascension, and in about 90 to 92 A.D. the Apostle recorded in his three Epistles the further life of Jesus Christ in His Church through His Spirit after His ascension.
Once again, the readers were repeatedly exhorted to keep Christís Commandments651 and to walk in truth652. These Commandments not only entailed love towards oneís fellow Christians653 but also a hatred of sin and a love towards God and His law, for "whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4). Indeed, "this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments", for he that transgresses the law by committing sin is of the devil, whose works the Second Adam (as the Messenger of the covenant) came to destroy654.
There can be little doubt that John expected the readers of his Epistles to keep Godís moral law, for in them he explicitly or implicitly enjoins every single one of the Ten Commandments655, with (on the face of it) the apparently solitary exception of the sabbath. But as he encourages the established Church (which then met on Sundays) to render diaconal works of charity (which were then collected for on Sundays), it seems evident that the Fourth Commandment was then being observed on Sunday, the symbolic day of both the Lordís resurrection and the final Day of the Lord. In this respect it is important to notice that John writes of "a New Commandment", because "the darkness is past, and the true Light now shineth" ó even as the light shone on the first day of creation week and again on the first day of the re-creation weeks when the true Light rose from the darkness of death656.
In about A.D. 95657, persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire broke out under the Emperor Domitian, and the Apostle John was banished to the island of Patmos to the south-west of Ephesus658, for the sake of "the Word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 1:9).
While on the island in A.D. 95, just before his death the Apostle John659 rounded off the New Testament and completed the canon of the Bible when he wrote the book of Revelation to "the seven churches which are in Asia" (Rev. 1:4) concerning the "things which must shortly come to pass" (Rev. 1:1), in which he explicitly or implicitly enjoined nearly all of the Ten Commandments660 in his parenetic instruction to the ecclesia militans, and in which he also gave eschatological glimpses of the condition of the ecclesia expectons now in heaven and the ecclesia triumphans after the final judgement on the new earth.
Regarding the members of the ecclesia militans, the present Church on earth, it is thrice stated that these are they that keep the Commandments of God661 ó which Commandments clearly include the Ten Commandments of the Decalogue662. That the thus enjoined Decalogue does not now exclude the Fourth Commandment and its hebdomadal cycle is also highly likely in the light of Johnís own observance of "the Lordís day" at least sixty-five years after Christís resurrection (Rev. 1:10), as well as in the light of the hebdomadal structure of the entire book ó for therein are mentioned seven churches, the seven Spirits, seven golden candlesticks, seven stars, seven letters, seven seals, the Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes, seven angels, seven trumpets, seven thunders, the red dragon with seven heads and seven crowns, the beast out of the sea with seven heads, the seven last plagues, seven vials, the scarlet beast with seven heads which are seven mountains, and seven kings663; in addition to the seven personages664 and the seven new things665.
It has, of course, been objected that Johnís being in the Spirit on the "Lordís day"666 does not point to Sunday observance at all667, but rather to the observance of the Saturday sabbath668. But this objection cannot be sustained. Nowhere in Godís Word is the Saturday sabbath ever called the "Lordís day" ("he kuriake hemera"), which name669 is obviously very suitable as a description of the eighth day of our week as the microscopic symbol of Godís Eighth Day of creation week, the Day of the Lord ("hemera Kuriou" ó II Pet. 3:10). The adjective in the expression ó "kuriake (-os, -on)" ó occurs in only one other670 verse of Scripture: in I Cor. 11:20 in the expression "the Lordís Supper" ("kuriakon deipnon"), which Supper was usually held on the first day of the week671. This very fact surely implies that the Lordís day ("he kuriake hemera"), was also then held on the first day of the week. Furthermore, as the day of joy and gladness of Ps. 118:22, "the day that the Lord hath made" ("hi hemera hen epoiesen ho Kurios", LXX), is unmistakably the Sunday of Christís resurrection, Acts 4:10-11, it is clear that the "Lordís day" of Rev. 1:10 is the weekly, Sunday672 memorial of this newly-made day.
This is also evidenced by the very fact that the Apostle John, who wrote thus of the "Lordís day" in about 95 AD., had gone to such pains in describing673 the events of Resurrection Sunday in his Gospel written only about five years previously, in which Gospel he never referred to the Saturday sabbath as the Lordís day674. And it is also evidenced by the uniform identification of the "Lordís day" with weekly Sunday observance in many very early documents of the post-Apostolic Church675.
However, to the Apostle John were also revealed glimpses of the ecclesia expectans676 ó the bodyless spirits of the departed Church now in heaven. The interpretation of these data is particularly difficult, but the following points clearly emerge.
Firstly, it is evident that although heaven is not the ultimate destination of the believer [ó the new earth is677] ó the believer nevertheless already there enters into his "rest" [cf. Heb. 4:10 ("katapausis")] ó or at any rate, crosses the threshold of that rest. For in heaven "the dead which die in the Lord" do indeed "rest678 from their labours"679, and their works679 do follow them. There they must rest680 or "sabbath" until the time be fulfilled that the remaining martyrs still on earth shall be killed681.
Secondly, it is clear that the sabbathing believers in heaven are conscious of the passage of time. They ask the Lord how long it will be before He ushers in the final judgement, and are informed that they should rest yet a little season until that time be fulfilled682; whereas the four beasts of heaven ó one of them representing redeemed mankind683 ó expectantly praise the thrice holy Lord God Almighty Which was and is and is to come ó to come in judgement on the Day of the Lord684. God alone is eternal685; even heaven is a part of creation and is therefore subjected to the passage of time686.
Thirdly, the sabbath of the departed saints in heaven is in part only ó for those departed saints are disembodied souls687 who await their renewed bodies on the Day of the Lord.
Fourthly, the heavenly sabbath of the departed saints is uninterrupted. There the intermittent earthly "sabbatismos" has yielded to the permanent "katapausis"688, the weekly sabbath has yielded to the eternal sabbath rest. For the four beasts (including man) "rest not day and night", but sing the Trishagion in heaven without ceasing689, and the saints in glory serve God "day and night in His temple"690.
Finally, the believerís uninterrupted heavenly sabbath consists neither of laborious toil nor of sluggardly idleness691, both of which are a result of sin. Totally removed from sin, the believerís heavenly sabbath will be one of active rest and restful activity. Rest and activity will be combined, even as God did not leave His eternal rest when He started to create and did not cease actively maintaining His creation when He rested on the Seventh Day. Negatively, the believer will totally sabbath from sin and thirst and exhaustion and suffering (Rev. 7:16-7); but positively, he will enjoy his glorious rest in God by serving and praising Him and reigning with Him and singing a new song, the song of creation and re-creation, the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb and Hallelujahs, all without ceasing692.
Yet the ecclesia expectans must still become the ecclesia triumphans, the re-embodied Church triumphant; for the church will not just stay in heaven forever. To the contrary, she is destined to inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5). When the last of Godís elect has effectively been called to repentance, the time will be fulfilled693. Then Godís Seventh Day of creation will in practice too yield to his eighth Day of new creation694; the darkness of the Day of the man of sin695 will be banished by the blinding light of the coming of the sinless Son of man on the great and dreadful Day of the Lord696. The wicked shall be cast into the lake of fire where the smoke of their torment will ascend for ever and ever, and where they will have no rest697 day or night698. There the sabbathless devil and his sabbath-desecrating children, there sin, curse, sorrow and misery will spend a restless eternity. But far removed, Godís Own children shall enjoy the endless sabbath of eternal life on the new earth ó for the earth and all its fullness, its science and its culture, will "sabbath" too ó unto all eternity699.
On Godís Eighth Day, the Day of the Lord, the covenant700 shall be perfected, and access will be given to that covenantal tree, the tree of life701. The first Adam had sought to enter into Godís rest, and failed; but the Second Adam succeeded on his behalf, when He died on that other covenantal tree of Calvary702 and started to enter into that rest at His bodily resurrection703 on that first "Lordís day" ó and all His covenantal descendants shall enter into that rest in full at their bodily resurrection704 on the last Lordís Day, the never-ending Day of the Lord. Jesus had broken the bread of the covenant on that first Lordís day (Luke 24:1, 13, 30); His disciples broke the covenantal bread on subsequent Lordís days (Acts 20:6-7) ó and they shall eat of the manna anew on the Day of the Lord705.
Between Christís resurrection and His seedís resurrection, the Seventh Day of creation is now in its evening706. Immediately ahead lies the morning707 of Godís Eighth Day, the Day of the Lord: The Eighth Day, the Day which the Lord shall "create"708 after the seventh; for its advent accompanies that of the new creation: a new heaven and a new earth, a new Jerusalem, a new Paradise and a new name709. In the New Jerusalem, sabbath will no more return but once a week710. There will indeed be consciousness of the passage of time711, but "solar time" will then have yielded to "new earth time"712. For there shall be no night ó and therefore no sunrise or sunset ó in the New Jerusalem713. For that bright Morning Star714, the Sun of righteousness and Lord of the Sabbath Himself 715 shall illumine the Holy City forever, and His people shall reign716 with the Lord of the Sabbath and serve Him for all time711, for ever717 ó serve Him without ceasing, in ceaseless yet restful activity, and in ceaseless yet active rest, unto all eternity. (Cf. too p. 58, supra.)
That will be the uttermost development and the perfect synthesis between sabbath and covenant; for there will then be free enjoyment of the Adamic covenantís tree of life718, the Noachic covenantís rainbow719, the Abrahamic covenantís kings and nations720, the Mosaic covenantís Lord of the Sabbath721 and the New covenantís Mediator or Messenger and His eternal "Lordís Day" óthe Day of the Lord722.
But the everlasting covenant will also have been fulfilled. The Triune God Who was energetically at rest before time began, will then have consummated His eternal counsel through creation and re-creation. Thenceforth He will rest dynamically unto all eternity ó rest in His Intratrinitarian Notional (Autopersonal, Interpersonal and Trinipersonal) and Essential Counsels, just as He did before creation; except that He will then also rest in His consummated creation and re-creation. Then will the Sun of righteousness illuminate His (re-)creation forever throughout His Eternal Day. For then Sunday will be fulfilled in "Sun-Day" or "Son-Day" ó the eternal Day of the Son of God, the Lord of the Sabbath Jesus Christ ó never evening, ever morning, the Eighth Day.
354a. Rom. 14:5-6 cf. perhaps Acts 12:3; 20:6, 16; I Cor, 16:8.