The Sabbath truth is the most controversial and yet eye opening topic today. This topic concerns ‘the Sabbath vs. Sunday’ issue and is one of the most emotionally charged subjects now facing the Christian Church. We have an adversary that is desperate to stop people from discovering the real Sabbath truth and it is something you will most likely not comprehend until you understand all the facts and how it relates to Bible prophecy. Our position is: We cannot trust the traditions of men, for this is not safe, nor in mere human opinions, for they often contradict each other. Instead we hope you feel the same way as we do in that we want to know what God’s Book actually says, and above all, what Jesus Christ Himself taught, for we accept His pure teaching as our final authority.
We recognize that true Christians exist within many denominations; both Sabbath keeping and Sunday keeping. It is not our desire to judge motives, or to decide destinies, but to candidly examine “What says the Lord?” about this vital subject. For the record, we fully accept Paul’s doctrine that “by grace are you saved, through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Yet in the very same book Paul also declared, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right: Honour your father and your mother…” (Ephesians 6:1-2). Here Paul quoted the 5th Commandment (see Exodus 20:12) and told Christian children to obey it. But in this document our focus will be the 4th Commandment, which states, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8). The key question is: Should Christians obey this Commandment, too?
In the following document we hope to prove from the Bible alone, buttressed by supporting quotations from recognized historical sources, that:
1) The Bible Sabbath is on Saturday, while Sunday is “the first day of the week” (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1-2, etc).
2) The New Testament is silent about Sunday being set aside in honour of Jesus Christ’s resurrection.
3) The Sabbath is not Jewish, but belongs to God (Exodus 20:10).
4) Jesus Christ regularly kept the Sabbath (Luke 4:16), taught much about the Sabbath (Matthew 12:12; 24:20), and clearly stated that He is “Lord even of the Sabbath day” (Matthew 12:8).
5) Jesus Christ never mentioned “the first day of the week” even one time. He taught nothing about it.
6) There is no biblical authorization for the change of the Bible Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.
7) The Sabbath continues after the cross (Luke 23:54-56) and was kept in the book of Acts by both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 13:42-44; 16:13).
8) God made the Sabbath at the beginning of the world (Genesis 2:1-3) before any Jews existed, to be a blessing to all people. Most importantly, it is a special sign that Jesus Christ is the true Creator of heaven and earth (see John 1:1-3, 10; Colossians 1:16; Exodus 20:11; Ezekiel 20:12).
9) Bible prophecy and history both testify that the Roman Catholic Church changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. Daniel 7:25.
10) Rediscovering the Sabbath of Jesus Christ is part of Bible prophecy in the end times (closely compare Revelation 14:6-7 with Exodus 20:11).
We encourage you to read this document carefully and to follow the example of the noble Bereans who “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
The Sabbath originated at the creation of the world: Genesis 1 and 2 reveal that God made our world in six days, “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Genesis 2:1-3. Thus God rested upon, blessed, and sanctified the seventh day of the week as a memorial of creation. He didn’t rest upon the seventh day because He was tired or weary, but as an example for man whom He had just created in His own image. Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day (Genesis 1:26, 27), and thus the seventh day would have been their first, full day of being alive in the Garden of Eden. And what a joyful day it was! Their first day was to be a day of grateful rest, so that they could focus on the goodness of their Creator who had just formed them, apart from their own works. Thus the Sabbath day, from the very beginning, points to rest, not works.
The fourth Commandment (Exodus 20:8-11): After the fall of man, God wrote the Ten Commandments on two tables of stone with His own finger (see Exodus 31:18). The Ten Commandments reveal “His will” (see Romans 2:18) for every descendant of Adam and Eve. The fourth Commandment states:
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11 NKJV.
Of all the Ten Commandments, the fourth is the only one that starts with the word, “Remember.” Because of the supreme importance of remembering our roots (that we didn’t evolve, but were created “in the image of God”), the Lord wants to make sure that we don’t forget the seventh day Sabbath. The reason for the Commandment goes back to creation week. If any of the Commandments could be changed (which they can’t), surely it wouldn’t be the only one God told us to “Remember” and not to forget!
Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath: “As his custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day [Saturday].” Luke 4:16. Luke wrote that this was Jesus Christ’s regular “custom,” which means He would have kept over 1500 Sabbaths during the 33 years He walked this earth.
The Sabbath remains after the cross: After Jesus Christ died, His followers “rested the Sabbath day ACCORDING TO THE COMMANDMENT.” Luke 23:56. Thus “the Commandment,” meaning the fourth Commandment (see Exodus 20:8-11) was still in force after the cross. Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D., almost forty years after Christ’s crucifixion. Looking ahead to that time, Jesus told His disciples that they should pray that their “flight be not in winter, NEITHER ON THE SABBATH DAY.” Matthew 24:20. Many years after Christ’s resurrection, Luke wrote, “And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river.” Acts 16:13. Thus Luke, who was a Gentile, and Paul, who travelled with him, kept the Sabbath day holy far from Jerusalem, in Philippi, which was Gentile territory. See also Sabbath in the New Testament.
The Sabbath will continue forever: The Sabbath will continue, even into eternity, for Isaiah wrote that even in “the new earth ... from one Sabbath to another, shall ALL FLESH come to worship before me, says the Lord.” Isaiah 66:22-23. This is what God says, not man. We should trust His Word first and foremost.
Jesus Christ is “Lord even of the Sabbath day”: This is perhaps the most important part of The Sabbath. Speaking to a group of hostile religious leaders, a young Galilean Rabbi boldly declared, “For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.” Matthew 12:8. By identifying Himself as “Lord even of the Sabbath day,” Jesus of Nazareth was, in reality, revealing to His astonished hearers that He Himself was the One who originally made planet Earth in six days, and rested on the seventh day. The New Testament is very clear that Jesus Christ is not just our Savoir, but is also our Creator. Notice carefully:
“All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that has been made.” John 1:3
“He [Jesus] was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.” John 1:10
“God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 3:9 KJV
“For by Him [Jesus] all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:16
Thus Jesus Christ is our Creator. The One who created, rested. Thus the Sabbath Commandment, when correctly understood in the light of both the Old and New Testaments, points to Jesus Christ as the Maker of all life. The Good News is that our Creator has become our Savoir. Our Maker died for us (see 1 Corinthians 15:3).
The following is an exhaustive examination of every New Testament verse that mentions “the first day of the week [Sunday]”
1) Matthew 28:1: “In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week.” Here two different days are mentioned. One is “the Sabbath,” and the other is “the first day of the week,” or Sunday, which followed the Sabbath. Jesus Christ rose from the dead on Sunday, but Matthew reveals that this did not transform Sunday into the Sabbath.
2) Mark 16:1-2: “When the Sabbath was past ... very early in the morning the first day of the week.” The resurrection of Jesus on Sunday morning was glorious. Super-glorious! Yet there is no evidence that this made Sunday sacred. Did the cross make Friday sacred? As in Matthew 28:1, Sunday came “when the Sabbath was past,” that is, the day after the Sabbath.
3) Mark 16:9: “Jesus was risen early the first day of the week.” Sunday is simply called “the first day of the week.” The “week” began in Genesis. God made the world in six days, then He “rested on the seventh day ... blessed the seventh day and sanctified it.” Genesis 2:2-3. God ordained “the seventh day” as His Holy Day, not “the first day of the week.
4) Luke 24:1: The women went to the tomb on “the first day of the week” after “they rested the Sabbath day according to the Commandment.” Luke 23:56. This verse is enlightening. These were Christian women who loved Jesus. They kept the Sabbath after the cross. Luke was a Gentile who wrote this about 28 years after the resurrection. Again, as Luke states, the Sabbath was still there, and these Christian women were keeping it “according to the Commandment” found in Exodus 20:8-11. These verses prove that the Sabbath continues after the cross, and that the Sabbath is not Sunday.
5) John 20:1: Mary came to the tomb on “the first day of the week.” As in Matthew, Mark and Luke, John simply gives a narrative account of the resurrection of our Lord on Sunday.
6) John 20:19: On “the first day of the week” (late Sunday afternoon), the disciples “were assembled” behind shut doors. Why? “For fear of the Jews.” This was not a worship service. They were scared. They had not believed the reports from the women that Jesus had risen. Mark 16:9-13. They were worried that the Jewish authorities might burst in, accuse them of stealing their Lord’s body, and then arrest them. Then Jesus revealed Himself as the risen Lord. Yet in His teaching, He did not mention Sunday.
7) 1 Corinthians 16:2: “Concerning the collection for the saints” (vs. 1). The context and other Scriptures reveal that Paul was raising a “collection” for needy believers in “Jerusalem” (vs. 3) during a time of famine. See Acts 11:27-30; Romans 15:25-26. Notice carefully: On “the first day of the week” (Sunday), “let every one” (individually), “lay by him” (the original Greek literally means, “at home”), “in store” (in storage), a certain amount. The words, “by him in store,” reveal that this was to be done by the believers in their homes. The “first day of the week” was ideal for the Corinthians to look back on the previous week, examine their finances, and set aside a weekly contribution. This would then be gathered and made ready for Paul, “that there be no gatherings when I come.” Paul was going to pass through Corinth. He wanted the money ready for him to pick up. This was an emergency situation and not their regular practice, for Paul had to give them “orders” to do what they were not normally used to doing (vs. 1). Paul said nothing here about a Church service or the resurrection.
8) Acts 20:6-13: This passage is often misused to support Sunday observance, but it doesn’t. This was Paul’s last meeting with a small group of believers in “Troas” (verse 6). The meeting took place at night (20:7-8) on the “first day of the week.” Biblically, the day begins at sunset. Genesis 1.5, 8; Luke 23:54, etc. Therefore this meeting took place on a Saturday night. The New English Bible says, “On Saturday night.” That night Paul preached his farewell sermon, “ready to depart the next day [on Sunday morning].” At “daybreak” (verse 11), while Luke “sailed” (verse 15), Paul walked 25 miles “to Assos” (verse 14). Thus Paul travelled many miles that Sunday. He had been in Troas for “seven days” (vs. 6). Simple math reveals that Paul arrived on the previous Sunday, stayed for a week, and conducted his last meeting on Saturday night, which would have been right after the Sabbath. Significantly, the Book of Acts mentions “the first day of the week” only once(in Acts 20:7), yet “the Sabbath” is mentioned 11 times(see Acts 1:12; 13:14, 27, 42, 44; 15:21; 16:13; 17:2; 18:4). A careful study of Acts 20:6-13, the “Saturday Night in Troas, Sunday Travel to Assos Text” is proof that Paul did not keep Sunday holy.
Summarizing the New Testament Evidence
1) Sunday is simply called, “the first day of the week” in the New Testament and means the first day after the Sabbath. See is the Sabbath Saturday or Sunday or who changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday for more detail.
2) Jesus Christ Himself never mentioned Sunday, not even one time!
3) Not once is Sunday set aside as a holy day in honour of the resurrection.
4) In Matthew, Mark and Luke, Sunday always comes “after the Sabbath.”
5) The Holy Spirit only teaches what Jesus Christ taught. John 14:26; 16:13-14. Because Jesus never mentioned Sunday, the Holy Spirit will not teach it.
6) After His resurrection, Jesus told His disciples to teach only what He had “commanded” them. Matthew 28:20. Because Jesus never mentioned Sunday, the apostles could not have taught it.
7) Sunday cannot be part of the New Covenant because it began after Jesus Christ’s blood was shed. After death, it is impossible to “add” to a covenant. Galatians 3:15. See also the New Covenant.
Gentiles keep the Sabbath in Antioch: In Antioch, Paul “went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day.” Acts 13:14. Jews and Gentile converts to Judaism worshipped there (verses 16 and 26). After preaching the gospel, “the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.” Verse 42. These Gentiles were already Sabbath-keepers (because they were converts to Judaism), and after they received Jesus Christ they wanted to hear more “the next Sabbath.” Paul didn’t say, “Sunday is now the Lord’s Day!” Instead, “speaking to them, [he] persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.” Verse 43. These Sabbath keeping Gentiles were now “in the grace of God” as believers in Jesus Christ. Paul told them to “continue” in this grace, which they did all week. Then “the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.” Verse 44. That Sabbath day, Paul preached only “the word of God,” not man’s traditions. Obviously, the Sabbath had not been changed, and those Gentiles in Antioch who were now believers in Jesus Christ were keeping it.
The Sabbath and the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15): A Jerusalem council led by the apostles was organized to discuss “this question ... this matter” of “circumcision” and “the law of Moses.” Acts 15:1-2, 5. The Sabbath itself was not debated or even discussed. The Church decided that the Gentiles were “saved ... through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 11) and thus they did not need to be circumcised. Yet to avoid offending the Jews, they were given certain restrictions. Verses 19-20. At this early date in Church history, believing Gentiles were still worshiping with the Jews in their synagogues “every Sabbath day.” Verse 21. Thus, verse 21 proves that the “Sabbath day” was not abrogated by the Jerusalem Council. Rather, it was reiterated without dissent as the biblical day of worship for both Jews and Gentiles.
A Sabbath keeping Church begins in Philippi: Luke and Paul delivered “the decrees” of the Jerusalem Council and entered Greece to “preach the gospel.” Acts 16:4, 9-10. In Philippi, Luke wrote that “on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side.” Acts 16:13. There was no synagogue there, but it was still the Sabbath. A Gentile named Lydia, “whose heart the Lord opened ... was baptized, and her household” (16:14-15). This was the beginning of the New Testament Sabbath keeping Church of Jesus Christ in Philippi. “The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians” was written to this Church.
A Sabbath keeping Church begins in Thessalonica: Paul entered a synagogue in Thessalonica and for “three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead.” Acts 17:1-3. Thus Paul preached the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the Sabbath day. He did not mention Sunday. Many “devout Greeks” believed. Verse 4. This was the beginning of the New Testament Sabbath keeping Church of Jesus in Thessalonica. “The First Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians,” and “The Second Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians,” were penned to this Church.
A Sabbath keeping Church begins in Corinth: Then Paul “came to Corinth” and “reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.” Acts 18:1, 4. “He continued a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.” Verse 11. Again, Paul didn’t preach the traditions of men, but only “the word of God.” “Many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized,” including “Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue” (vs. 8). Crispus was a Sabbath-keeper who became a leader (see 1 Corinthians 1:14) in the New Testament Sabbath keeping Church of Jesus Christ in Corinth. “The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians” and “The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians” were written to this Church.
A Sabbath keeping Church begins in Ephesus: Paul “came to Ephesus” and found “certain disciples.” Acts 19:1. As usual, “he went into the synagogue, and spoke boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.” Verse 8. This was obviously on the Sabbath days, as in Antioch, Corinth and Thessalonica. Many rejected his preaching, so Paul finally “separated the disciples.” Verse 9. He continued there “by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.” Verse 10. Those who received the Lord became the nucleus of the New Testament Sabbath keeping Church of Jesus Christ in Ephesus. “The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians” was written to this Church.
Paul was NEVER accused of Sabbath-breaking by Jews: Eventually, Paul was arrested in the Temple in Jerusalem. Acts 21. At his trial before the Sanhedrin, even the Pharisees admitted, “we find no evil in this man.” Acts 23:9. Before Felix, Paul testified, “so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.” Acts 24:14. Before Festus he declared, “to the Jews have I done no wrong.” Acts 25:10. Before Agrippa, “I continue to this day ... saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come.” Acts 26:22. “The prophets and Moses” did not predict that “Sunday keeping should come.” Finally, Paul spoke to the Jews in Rome, “persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.” Acts 28:23. During all of his trials, the Jews never once accused Paul of breaking the Sabbath. Why not? Because he never did!
The New Testament Churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth and Ephesus were all Sabbath keeping Churches composed of Jews and Gentiles who believed in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul planted all of these Churches by preaching only “the word of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 19:10.
Jesus Christ never mentioned Sunday.
1) “The seventh day is the Sabbath.” Exodus 20:10
2) Jesus Christ knew: Jesus “went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day.” Luke 4:16.
3) 105 Languages: In over 100 languages the name for the day that we call “Saturday” is “the Sabbath.” For example, “Saturday” in the Spanish language is “Sabado,” which means “the Sabbath.” In Italian, it is “Sabbato,” which also means “the Sabbath.” In Russian it is, “Subbota.” In Polish, “Sobota,” etc. Interestingly enough, in Ghana the day for Sunday, literally translated, means “White man changed this day!”
4) The Calendar: The calendar changed once, in 1582, from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar. Thursday, October 4, was followed by Friday, October 15. This change did not affect the weekly sequence. Most calendars still show Saturday as the seventh day.
5) The biblical sequence of the crucifixion weekend: Jesus died on a day we call “Good Friday,” which was the day before the Sabbath. See Luke 23:46, 54. When the sun went down, the woman rested on “the Sabbath day according to the Commandment.” Luke 23:56. Jesus rose on Sunday, “the first day of the week.” Luke 24:1, 6.
6) Ask any Jew: Jews have been keeping the same Sabbath from sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday night for over 3000 years.
7) The World Book Encyclopaedia: “Sabbath ... It comes on Saturday, the seventh day of the week.”
8) Webster’s Dictionary: “Saturday: the 7th day of the week.” “Sunday: the first day of the week.”
Would God say, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” if it was impossible to discover which day we should remember?
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