Short Conversations: Seventh Day Adventists on the Sabbath

New World Encyclopedia

Warning: This piece covers a lot in little time, consider reading passages referenced.


Why do you keep Sunday as the Sabbath instead of Saturday? Christ fulfills the type and shadow of the Sabbath as the eternal rest bringing salvation (Matt. 11:28–29, Heb. 4:1–11). The day wasn’t changed but rather perpetuated as anyone who accepts Christ enters rest as long as they believe (Heb 4:7–11). Jesus never lied or committed adultery or murder but “broke” the laws which foreshadowed him. For example, by touching dead or ceremonially unclean people (Luke 8:40–56; Lev. 15:25; Lev. 21:1) and breaking Sabbath (John 5:18) by telling the blind man to carry his mat when carrying a load is forbidden on the Sabbath (Jer. 17:21–23).

The Father and Jesus worked on the Sabbath (John 5:17–18). The Sabbath was primarily about rest in ways such as not leaving your tent and avoiding lighting a fire (Ex. 16:29, 35:3), not about attending church or a synagogue as synagogues didn’t even exist until after the law was written. John 5–10 structurally covers four Jewish festivals Jesus fulfilled, first of which is the Sabbath then Passover, Hanukkah and Firstfruits. Gathering for worship and resting are different.

Nowhere does the New Testament say to stop keeping the Sabbath. Jesus broke it (John 5:18). Let no one condemn you concerning observing Sabbaths Col. 2:16–17. Don’t esteem one day holier than another Romans 14:5. Don’t focus on observing special days, months and years Galatians 4:9–11. Jesus fulfilled the Sabbath (Heb. 4:1–11) and other things fulfilled in Hebrews are not binding on Adventists – temple, festivals, high priest etc. Even, circumcision before the law was an “everlasting covenant” (Gen. 17:13) and the bronze basin in the tabernacle a “statute forever” (Ex. 30:21), yet the New Testament teaches of the ultimate fulfilment of these in Christ (Galatians 6:15, Hebrews 8–9).

Colossians Sabbaths were part of festivals not the weekly Sabbaths. The weekly Sabbath is a festival. Leviticus 23:2, “you shall keep my festivals” mentioning weekly Sabbath (v.3) followed by other festivals. Multiple passages in the OT mention the Sabbath and the New Moon festival together (eg. 2 King 4:23, Lam. 2:6, Is. 1:13, Hos. 2:11). Colossians 2:16–17 differentiates the Sabbath from general “festivals”. The weekly Sabbath is the cornerstone of the whole Sabbath system (Lev.23). Also Heb 4:1–11, Gal. 4:9–11, Romans 14:5.

Why would you keep 9 of the 10 commandments but not 10? Unlike the other commandments, the Sabbath was the sign of the Mosaic covenant (Ex. 31:17) similar to Noah’s rainbow (Gen. 9) and circumcision for Abraham (Gen. 17) . Suzerain vassal treaties such as the Mosaic covenant tended to include a seal or sign near the middle (Sabbath is fourth and sign of covenant). Under Galatians 3:15–20 Mosaic covenant ended when a new seed (v.19), Jesus, replaced it and we now have the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2) or of love and faith. Jesus never refers to the decalogue as a stand alone authority.

The most important OT laws Christ mentions aren’t in the decalogue (Matt. 22:36–39). Lists of people who won’t inherit the kingdom of heaven not once include people who don’t keep the Sabbath but include breaking laws outside the decalogue such as by fornication or sorcery, even in Revelation which is supposedly all about Saturday v Sunday worshippers (1 Cor. 6:9–11, Gal. 5:19–21, 1 Tim. 1:9–10, Rev. 21:8, 22:15)!

Jesus redefined God’s law on a mountain in Matthew 5 as the true and better Moses, showing us how to be perfect (Matt. 5:48), yet never even mentioned the Sabbath despite referring to adultery, murder, oaths, divorce and reconciliation. The 10 commandments of the covenant written on stone as per Exodus 34:1–28 (as noted by Christine Hayes but not all scholars agree), contain festivals which Adventists don’t even keep.

The early church never gathered on Sundays. Weekly collections for the saints or deposits into a common church treasury and communion occurred on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:1–2; Acts 20:7) without a single explicit instance of communion or collections on the Sabbath or second, third, fourth or fifth day of the week making the first day of week reference noteworthy. Despite what Adventists repeatedly falsely allege, Sunday gatherings were commonplace well before 300AD, Emperor Constantine or a Papal Edict. Ignatius mentions “Lord’s day” as a different day from Sabbath day in 110 AD approx. 20 years after Revelation 1:10 mentions it, while Letter of Barnabas (130 AD), Letter to Diognetus (AD.80–200), Justin Martyr (AD. 150), Irenaeus (183–186AD), Clement of Alexandria (190 AD) and Tertullian (200 AD) support the view of either a perpetual Sabbath ushered in by Christ or regular Sunday or Lord’s Day gatherings. Tertullian remarked, “ it is a well-known fact.. we make Sunday a day of festivity (Ad Nationes 13).” More here.

The final elect keep the commandments of God in Revelation 12:17 and Matthew 24:20 while God’s future kingdom keeps the Sabbath in Isaiah 66:23/ Ezek. 46:3. The explicit commandments in the New Testament are to believe in Jesus and love one another (1 John 3:23; John 13:34; Gal. 6:2) with the moral principles laid out in Matthew 5 on the Sermon on the Mount when Christ redefined the law. Matt 24 refers to the second temple which existed in Jesus’ time (v.1–3)and its destruction taking place within one generation of Jesus in a setting which closely followed the Sabbath (Matt. 24:1–3, 32–35). Isaiah 66:23 (Irenaeus interpreted this as eternal fulfilled Sabbath in 190 AD) mentions the New Moon festival with the Sabbath, why don’t you observe that as well? Christ fulfilled Sabbaths and New Moons (Col. 2:16–17) and the temple mentioned in Ezek. 46 which were all shadows of Christ (Hebrews).

Paul kept the Sabbath by preaching in the synagogue weekly (Acts: 18:4–6). This is a descriptive passage not a prescriptive one. Paul was kicked out and attended for evangelism (Acts 18:5–6). Adventists don’t evangelise in synagogues weekly. Paul lectured in Tyrannus lecture hall for months on end after this (Acts 19:9–10), do you follow this too? The synagogue was a later invention which came after the law and prophets.

Mary and the disciples kept the Sabbath as per Luke 23:56. This was before the old covenant was abolished (Heb. 8:13) as Christ had not yet risen or ascended to heaven to inaugurate his kingship as head of the New Covenant. They also kept the Passover in Luke too, why don’t you observe that?

The Sabbath was before the law. Adam was never commanded to keep the Sabbath nor is the word Sabbath mentioned in Genesis or any evidence of any man keeping it. Jesus claims the Father never stopped working (John 5:18). The seventh day had no morning and evening unlike the other six (Gen.1–2). It foreshadows something greater and represents God making the earth his resting or dwelling place (Ps. 132), Eden his cosmic temple (Ezek. 28, 47). The punishment for collecting Manna varied from punishments for Sabbath breaking after law was introduced (Exodus 16:28 v 35:2). The Mosaic covenant (Gal. 3:15–17) is not eternal and was not given to Abraham and Jacob (Deut. 5:3). It was only for a time until Christ as fulfilment, the true offspring of Abraham came as per Galatians 3:19.

Colossians 2:17 These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

Find rest in Christ.




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