Way of Essenic Studies
In the very early history of the Church, the first Christians observed the seventh day Sabbath on the weight of Biblical evidence such as Acts 3:1; 5:27-42; 21:18-26; 24:5; 24:14; 28:22), and practiced the Jewish custom of observation of the Sabbath from Friday's sunset to Saturday's sunset.
New Testament Basis for Sabbatarianism
Keeping the Seventh Day Sabbath (from Friday's sunset to Saturday's sunset)
Some Christians today continue to keep the seventh day as the Sabbath day of rest. Some of the New Testament reasons for this are as follows. From Mark 2:28 and Matthew 12:8, the statement made by Jesus, "the Son of Man is the lord of the Sabbath," indicates for some, that Sabbath keeping is central to following in the Way of Christ.
It is apparent that Jesus kept the seventh day Sabbath and this day
should therefore be recognized as the true Sabbath. Further, in
reference to the future destruction of Jerusalem, Christ states in
Matthew 24:20, "And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on
the Sabbath" indicates that Christ expected the Sabbath to be kept
subsequent after His death.
On the weight of Hebrews 4:8-11, the Sabbath remains a Christian Holy
Day, and Sabbath-keeping is an abiding duty as prescribed in the
fourth commandment. The gospel of Luke states in Luke 23:56 that when
the body of Christ was being prepared by His followers, they rested
on the Sabbath before finishing their work.
Another consideration can be given to Biblical Typology. This is
taking into consideration stories told in the Bible that have
happened, and how that same story might show relevance at a much
later time such as "creation week" and the seventh day of rest.
While a clear mandate is given for the Sabbath in Exodus 20:8-11 and
Deuteronomy 5:12-15, the closest passage to a command for Sabbath-
keeping in the New Testament is found in Hebrews 4:9. In that passage
is found the word "sabbatismos."
The Authorized Version (King James Version of 1611) and New King
James Version and several others render that word as "rest." The
American Standard Version of 1901, New American Standard Bible 1995
Updated Edition and several other translations somewhat more
correctly render that word as "Sabbath rest."
But a few, such as the Darby translation, transliterate the word
as "Sabbatism". Its literal translation is "Sabbath observance", and
the Scriptures, translated by The Institute For Scripture Research,
render it as such, while The Bible in Basic English gives the equally
literal "Sabbath keeping".
In regard to taking Sabbatismos literally, Professor Andrew T.
Lincoln, in his symposium From Sabbath To The Lord's Day, states "The
use of sabbatismos elsewhere in extant Greek literature gives an
indication of its more exact shade of meaning. It is used in
Plutarch, De Superstitione 3 (Moralia166A) as Sabbath observance.
There are also four occurrences in post canonical literature that are
independent of Hebrews 4:9. They are Justin, Dialogue with Trypho
23:3; Epiphanius, Adversus Haereses 30:2:2; Martyrium Petri et Pauli
1; Apostolic Constitutions 2:36:2. In each of these places the term
denotes the observance or celebration of the Sabbath.
This usage corresponds to the Septuagint usage of the cognate verb
sabbatizo (cf. Ex. 16:30; Lev. 23:32; 26:34; 2 Chron. 36:21). Thus
the writer to the Hebrews is saying that since the time of Joshua
an "observance of the Sabbath rest has been outstanding."
The literal translation then of Hebrews 4:9 is "Therefore a Sabbath
observance has been left behind for the people of God." Further, the
internal evidence of the preceding verses would indicate that the
Sabbath observance mentioned in this verse is indeed the seventh day
In verse 8, the Hebrew writer states, "For if Joshua had given them
rest, he would not have afterward spoken of another day." On first
glance in our English translations, that word "another" would give
the appearance of a different day.
However, in the Greek, there are two words that
mean "another". "Heteros" means "another of a different kind",
while "allos" means "another of the same kind". The word used in
Hebrews 4:8 is "allos", indicating a Sabbath day of the same kind as
referred to in Hebrews 4:8-5, that is, the seventh-day Sabbath.
In verse 7, the Hebrews writer uses the term "certain day". The Greek
word for "certain" is "tis". It is clearly referrencing a specific
day, and not the general thought of an eternal rest. The force of
Hebrews 3:11-4:11 then seems to be saying that because Christians
look toward the eternal rest of heaven, the type or shadow of the
earthly Sabbath rest still remains, or is "left behind", literally,
for Christians to observe.
This is significant, in light of the greater context of the book of
Hebrews, which deals with the entire Aaronic priesthood and its
methods of worship as found in the Old Covenant being supplanted by
the Melchizedek priesthood of Jesus.
As the Hebrews writer states in Hebrews 12:27, "And this word, Yet
once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as
of things which have been made, that those things which are not
shaken may remain."
While it is true that several times the apostles also met on the
first day of the week, there is disagreement as to whether they were
continuing into the first day (Saturday evening) after having already
been gathered for the Sabbath.
That would have been the beginning of the first day (Saturday
evening, or any day of the week after a High Sabbath) when some
activities would have begun that had not been allowed on the Sabbaths
such as preparing a meal, collecting money, and planning for travel.
In addition, in the book of Acts, also believed to be written by
Luke, meeting on the Sabbath is referred to eight times. Generally
the religious festivals, new moons, and accompanying high sabbaths of
Leviticus 23, Numbers 28-29, Isaiah 1:13-14, Hosea 2:11, Ezekiel
45:17 and Colossians 2:16-17 were continued to be observed, as can be
seen in such passages as Acts 18:21, 1 Corinthians 5:8, 2 Peter 2:13,
Jude 1:12, and Acts 27:9.
Sabbatarians believe the seventh day Sabbaths are to be fulfilled and
to misuse this practice is condemned by Isaiah and Hosea. There is
other evidence in the New Testament that the seventh day Sabbath is
to be observed and it practice is relevant even to the present time.
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