Sabbath: Saturday, Sunday, or not?

About 10 years ago, I dealt with the issue of Saturday sabbatarianism as I journey out of Seventh-day Adventism. I studied, research, debated, spoken about in symposiums, cried, poured my heart out into this subject. I’ve spoken through emails with theologians and pastors like Dale Ratzlaff, Clay Peck and read their respective books. I read the works of famous sabbatarians and former sabbatarians in the area of theology like Dr. Desmond Ford and Robert Brinsmead. I prayed, journeyed and decided.

Ten years fast forward, I moved on and outgrown that issue. And, instead of joining holy huddles, debating about all these non-essential topics and becoming spiritual obese, I decided I need to flex my spiritual muscles and honor and give glory to Jesus by following his important instruction before he left – to make disciples.

These days, however, I’m attracted again to talk about that theological issue, this time with the other end of the pendulum – the Sunday Sabbatarians. Sunday sabbatarianism, for those who might ask, is a belief that Sabbath observance was transferred from Saturday to Sunday. I don’t really want to dive into it as my energy’s best placed in other things. But since this topic is dear to my heart, let me deal with it anyway.

I know the arguments used by Sunday sabbatarians, but I’ve not talked with anyone before – until now. One thing I realized, refuting Sunday sabbatarianism is far EASIER than refuting Saturday sabbatarianism. Here’s why:

1. The Bible NEVER said that the Sabbath was transferred from Saturday to any day, much more to Sunday. Never. How easy can that be?

2. Now, for a Sunday sabbatarian to justify his belief, he has to use two twisted approach:

a) Make a lot of assumptions. For instance, they would assume that “sabbatismos”, a unique kind of sabbath mentioned in Hebrews 4 is a DAY. Nowhere do we see that though. Not in the context around the verses nor the context of Hebrews as a book. Hebrews talks about how everything in the Old Covenant was fulfilled and pointed to Jesus.

b) They will appeal to tradition. They would argue that since the early church worshiped on Sundays, therefore, it must be the new Sabbath. Wrong. First of all, the early church did not claim that Sunday is the new sabbath ACCORDING to the Bible. Some church fathers claim that Sunday is the “sabbath” for Christians just so to differentiate it from the Jewish sabbath. But this claim is not based on clear instructions from the Bible. Secondly, I respect Christian traditions, but I don’t use it to go above what the Bible did or did not say. Otherwise, I’ll just be a Roman Catholic and make traditions part of my irrefutable belief system.

Old Covenant sabbath?

Together with Adventists, a Sunday sabbatarian actually agrees that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Covenant practices. What they missed though is the opportunity to be true to that statement. What a Sunday sabbatarian will do is insist on adopting an old covenant practice of observing a sabbath DAY but then also insist that it has been changed to Sunday to be “new covenant-friendly”. In this regard, the Seventh-day Adventist is even more consistent than a Sunday sabbatarian. At least, the Seventh-day Adventist holds on to true Biblical sabbath and tries to explain that it remains as the Christian sabbath. The Sunday sabbatarian, however, not only adopted an old covenant practice, it even tries to add something to the Bible!

The verdict

For Christians, is Saturday the sabbath day? No. The Jewish sabbath at its very essence is the very center of Jewish laws, identifying the Jews as a people. It has its very special purpose. (see. Exo. 20 and Deut. 5). The old covenant, to which the ten commandments are part of, fulfilled it’s requirement in Jesus.

Is the sabbath then transferred to Sunday for Christians to observe? No. Nowhere in the Bible do we see such important doctrine. You will have to twist the scriptures and hide under intellectual arrogance to prove that such a doctrine exist.

What, or who, then is the Sabbath? Jesus. He is our rest (Matt. 11:28). He is the way, the truth and the life. He is the fulfillment of the law. He is to be worshiped everyday through our life (Rom. 12). He is “sabbatismos”, the new sabbath mentioned in Hebrews 4. Jesus is our Sabbath, everyday.

The question for both camps is not actually what day is the Sabbath day for Christians. The real question is what has changed from the Old Covenant to the New that makes the sabbath in its real essence and intent become more than just a day.

Physical rest and weekly meetings

I still believe that the principle of a sabbath day of rest is a good practice. In fact, Saturday is STILL my physical sabbath rest. On that day of the week, I got to sleep in until 10 am and be with the family for the whole day. Sunday is NOT my physical sabbath day as this is one of the busiest day of my week. And honestly, Sundays are not the days where I feel closest to God. Yes, I got to serve him and corporately worship Him on Sundays, but I’m more technical on Sundays than any other days. However, everyday, that 30 minutes in a day when I’m quiet in the presence of God, is my heaven on earth. Those moments when I got to be quiet and listen to him, worship him with his words and sometimes with a song or two. Those time of the day when I got to exercise my trust and dependence on him. When I got to worship him through the way I let him live in me and I living out his life.

While I hold that sabbath is everyday, Christians should choose a day, most of which chose Sunday, Christians in the middle east choose Friday, to be their corporate time to meet together and worship God as this is what the Bible instructed us to do.

  • http://www.dreamluverz.com dreamluverz

    Nice explanation you have here :) There's also a good article about this by Doug Batchelor amazing facts "advindication" .

  • http://www.dreamluverz.com dreamluverz

    Nice explanation you have here :) There's also a good article about this by Doug Batchelor amazing facts "advindication" .

  • Prudy Verzo

    Great presentation!

  • Prudy Verzo

    Great presentation!

  • http://www.facebook.com/arnoldgamboa Arnold Gamboa

    Doty, this discussion is actually aimed not on Saturday sabbatarians (Adventists) but more for Sunday sabbatarians. For Adventists, there's a whole lot of other discussions involved as far as the issue of the sabbath is concerned.

  • http://www.facebook.com/arnoldgamboa Arnold Gamboa

    Doty, this discussion is actually aimed not on Saturday sabbatarians (Adventists) but more for Sunday sabbatarians. For Adventists, there's a whole lot of other discussions involved as far as the issue of the sabbath is concerned.

  • Israel D. Canasa

    Am I right if I summarize this post like this? "If the bullet can kill a giant, it should be enough to kill a midget."

    Adventists can't help but react since it's the same bullet that is being fired upon them. Don't be surprised if it tickles us. :)

  • Israel D. Canasa

    Am I right if I summarize this post like this? "If the bullet can kill a giant, it should be enough to kill a midget."

    Adventists can't help but react since it's the same bullet that is being fired upon them. Don't be surprised if it tickles us. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/arnoldgamboa Arnold Gamboa

    Hi Israel. I actually do not mean "don't bother reading this since this is not for you anyway". Not at all. I'm just trying to lay down the frame of reference when I wrote this article. You can't place everything in one page, so I have to focus on one audience to be effective.

    Nonetheless, you can comment with anything if you like. You're welcome, of course ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/arnoldgamboa Arnold Gamboa

    Hi Israel. I actually do not mean "don't bother reading this since this is not for you anyway". Not at all. I'm just trying to lay down the frame of reference when I wrote this article. You can't place everything in one page, so I have to focus on one audience to be effective.

    Nonetheless, you can comment with anything if you like. You're welcome, of course ;)

  • http://www.danielabbey.com dan

    good post dude. funny how some people misunderstand this issue and mistakingly think sunday is somehow the new sabbath. there is no new sabbath! you are correct in that the sabbath has been abolished and we are not to be judged according to so-called special days (Colossians 2:16). and while sunday is not a “sabbath day” in the OT sense (or even a NT sense), the Bible does make an implicit case for sunday being a day of worship and celebration. john macarthur recently preached on “The Lord’s Day” and gave many wonderful, compelling, and Biblical reasons why it’s good that we worship and fellowship on a Sunday.

  • http://www.danielabbey.com dan

    good post dude. funny how some people misunderstand this issue and mistakingly think sunday is somehow the new sabbath. there is no new sabbath! you are correct in that the sabbath has been abolished and we are not to be judged according to so-called special days (Colossians 2:16). and while sunday is not a “sabbath day” in the OT sense (or even a NT sense), the Bible does make an implicit case for sunday being a day of worship and celebration. john macarthur recently preached on “The Lord’s Day” and gave many wonderful, compelling, and Biblical reasons why it’s good that we worship and fellowship on a Sunday.

  • http://www.networkingcreatively.com CreativeNotice

    This is awesome man. Keep it up. Jesus is our Sabbath rest; that by resting in Him we are renewed daily with the knowledge of His life and grace in us.

  • http://www.networkingcreatively.com CreativeNotice

    This is awesome man. Keep it up. Jesus is our Sabbath rest; that by resting in Him we are renewed daily with the knowledge of His life and grace in us.

  • http://twitter.com/CarolineStancza Harrison Strike

    Love your blog, i need some time to think about this. I have just got interested in blogging and hopefully i am able to do so

    Follow me on Twitter

  • http://twitter.com/CarolineStancza Harrison Strike

    Love your blog, i need some time to think about this. I have just got interested in blogging and hopefully i am able to do so

    Follow me on Twitter

  • SDA

    I was excited that someone finally got the “Seventh Day” thing correct until you said Jesus is the Sabbath. It is true, Jesus is our rest, our refuge, and our redeemer. But GOD SPECIFICALLY mentioned ,” Remember the SABBATH DAY (JESUS is not a day) to keep it holy.” Exodus 20 (Emphasis Added by me)
    Another piece of evidence, “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, [from] doing thy pleasure on MY HOLY DAY (again JESUS is not a day)…” Isaiah 58:13

  • Anonymous

    @92c943b27aec68e24bf6e153789bd465:disqus Yes, of course. God said remember the Sabbath day. But He also said, ”

    Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it shall be PUT TO DEATH.”
    http://bible.us/Exod35.2.ESV Do you do that too?

  • SDA

    Of course not! We both want to honor God, right? But source is completely unreliable (I mean no offense in any way). The KJV is the closest to the real translation of the Bible. I ask you to search in any of your bibles that are not KJV and look for Matthew 18:11. See what it says and that could be enough proof that other versions are unreliable. I never knew of the Sabbath before but was I put to death? No! It never says anything about death in the REAL Ten Commandments. I just hope you would accept this though…