Sabbath: The Apostles and the Law

Read for This Week’s Study: Rom. 3:31, Rom 6:15, Acts 10:9-14, John 15:1-11, James 2:1-26, Heb. 3:7-19, Jude 5-7.


Memory Text: Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good (Romans 7:12, NKJV).

With so much evidence for the continued validity of God’s law, why do so many Christians argue against it?

First, some (as we have seen) look at certain New Testament texts that condemn a false understanding of the law’s function but conclude that the problem is with the law itself. As a result, they claim that the Ten Commandments are not obligatory for those under the New Covenant.

Second, others are so convinced that the Sabbath is not binding on Christians that, in order to justify this position, they claim that all the commandments have been crucified with Jesus on the cross.

Third, some argue that the other nine commandments are in effect but that the fourth, the Seventh-day Sabbath, has been superseded by Sunday, which is kept in honor of the resurrection of Jesus.

Numerous problems exist with all these positions. This week we’ll look at the attitude of Christ’s apostles concerning the law, because surely if it were to have been nullified or modified after Christ’s death, the apostles would have known something about it.

*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, June 14.



Sabbath: The Apostles and the Law — 28 Comments

  1. It's very interesting the thought that just entered my mind - no where in the Bible were we asked to memorialize Christ's death and resurrection, not even His birth. Instead we were commanded to keep the Seventh-day Sabbath holy. No where do we see where even those who walked with Him memorialized His birth, His death nor His resurrection. However, what we see is that they use these poignant moments to point us to the intimate reason why He came to earth - to redeem us from the sins that entered into this world by the first Adam, to show us how to live by obeying the commandments given to Moses, to reveal to us that this world is not our final home, but He has gone to prepare a better place for us and He will come again to receive us unto Himself. It's even more interesting that there are so many churches whose foundational beliefs rests upon some of the apostles, but the question remains, do they really follow the example of these apostles who, though they fell short sometimes, still followed the example of Christ - one such example was to keep the seventh-day Sabbath holy. I pray we will continue to surrender our hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit so that He and only He can teach us and guide us into all truth. Happy Sabbath!

    • I do not agree that we are not commanded to memorialize Christ's death. Christ himself instituted a memorial - the Lord's supper. Paul in 1Corinthians 11:26 says, as often as we eat the bread and drink (from) the cup, we do show the Lord's death till He come. However, it is true that we are not asked to remember His birth, yet Christians make such a big deal of the so-called Christmas.

    • Weren't Christ's death and resurrection memorialized in the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread and First Fruits? The Sabbath was also listed in Leviticus 23 - these are My feasts says Yahweh.

      • The Jewish festivals did not "memorialize" the death and resurrection of Christ. They *prefigured* the ministry of Christ.

        When Christ came, He fulfilled what the feasts prefigured, and thus the feasts no longer had the same significance, even though the Hebrew Christians continued to keep them as part of their culture for many years.

        The Sabbath, on the other hand, began in Eden and did not "prefigure" anything particular in Christ's life. It always was a day of special rest and communion with the Creator, and that need for rest and communion did not cease with the cross.

        • Inge, I understand that Jesus died on Passover, was in the grave on Unleavened Bread, rose on First Fruits and sent His Spirit on Pentecost. Would you be able to tell me how He fulfilled the last 3 feasts - Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles? Thanks

  2. I don't understand how so many people who profess to love Christ can blatantly disobey Him.

  3. To me there is a fourth reason. “In that He says, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13 NKJV). Most Christians seem to feel that the Ten Commandments along with the sanctuary services are the old covenant, therefore, they conclude that the writer of Hebrews is saying that all of that legal stuff has been done away with.

    I believe most Seventh-day Adventist do not agree with that way of thinking. An neither do I, for the following reasons:

    1. The law is not the covenant. The promises are the covenant and it is those promises that man made at Sinai that is “becoming obsolete” not the law which is eternal.

    2. The sanctuary services are not part of the old covenant as most think they are. The old covenant was ratified in Ex 24:6-8 then in verse 9 Moses along with some others went up on the mountain to God for the second time and while up there God gave Moses instructions for building the sanctuary and procedures concerning offerings.

    The first time Moses went up to the Lord was right after God gave Israel the Ten Commandments and during that time (Ex 20:22-24:2) God basically enlarged upon the Ten Commandments. He also gave instruction that three times a year all males were to appear before the Lord to keep a feast to the Lord, unleavened bread, harvest, and ingathering (Ex 14-17). No other instruction was given beyond that until after the ratification ceremony.

    Therefore, Heb 8:13 didn’t abolish either the Ten Commandment law or the laws concerning the sanctuary. Theologically the sacrificial services that pointed to the promised Messiah were no longer applicable after the cross but even Paul had no problem taking up vows (Acts 18:18) or offering sacrifices and other rituals involved with vows (Acts 21:23-26).

    The only time Paul argues against any of the rituals is when they were considered mandatory in order to be saved (Acts 15:1-2).

    • Tyler,
      When was the Old covenant terminated, and what was the evidence of same?

      Also can you reconcile Hebrews 9:1-10 with your statement about the sanctuary services not being part of the first (Old) covenant? In fact it is useful to consider the entire chapter, and perhaps chapter 10 as well?

      What was the blood of ratification of the Old Covenant about?

    • Question: How is it possible that Hebrews could conclude that the legal stuff was done away or not done away with when there was no legal stuff (concerning God)to begin with? All of these lessons and the arguments for or against the law are based on Roman/imposed/rules/exactions. When we view God's law as a design template, the picture of God changes and we can be transformed.

      • Interesting perspective here Larry. Would you like to expand on that second sentence a bit? I am just not sure what you mean (My problem not yours). Perhaps a couple of examples would help.

  4. In my many years of talking to people most believe in the Old Testement , most believe in the ten commandents, most just chose to worship on Sunday. I do believe there will come a time when many will join us on the Seventh-day. I hope we will be ready to accept them with open arms.

    • I believe that most lay Christians probably don’t give it much thought until they are asked about it. Most simply go along with the crowd but certainly don't think it is ok to murder or steal. For those thinkers among them they need reasons for doing what they do and they get their reasons from the many books that have been published over the years that tell them that even though the Christian should abide by the Ten Commandments in principle minimally at least one of them was abolished at the cross and that we are actually no longer under them. To them Christ has put in its place a new law of love that is explained in the New Testament rather than all that Jewish stuff.

  5. We keep the seventh day not merely because of the Law, but because we love the Lord, and want to be with him through eternity. We embrace our Creation rest and it can be the happiest day of the week. Although the majority of SDA's have not adopted the Jewish friday night "welcoming the Sabbath" rituals, I think we should. Then again, not as ritual but through love, as a Bride waiting for the Groom, to spend a Holy day with our Saviour.

  6. The 7th day was blessed and sanctified in creation. There is nowhere in the scriptures where the blessing of the seventh day was removed.

    THE ESSENCE OF THE SABBATH IS REST. However the 4th commandment does not mention rest at all...The command is to abstain from work.

    The Sabbath is not a law, it is a gift from God in creation. The 4th commandment is intended to govern our behavior on that day; but the day itself is not the law...The 7th day Sabbath is forever

      • The Lord introduced the Sabbath to Israel before they got to Sinai. He tested them on it and many went out on that day looking for manna.(Ex.16:23-30!). This is the Sabbath the Lord told them to remember!

        • Could it be He reintroduced the Sabbath to them,I fail to believe that the Jacob and his family who went down to Egypt were not knowledgeable of the Sabbath then could God accuse Israel of disobeying the Seventh Day Sabbath before it was proclaimed from Mt Sinai Ex.15:.26.16:25-29.

    • Could the rest of the Sabbath command considered a pause in time.or as a lawyer in court declare, I rest my case, Jesus seems to be very busy on the Sabbath Day, getting the point out, it's good to do good on the Sabbath, healing those who were sick. saying that the Father Himself works. and He is our example.

  7. Why Three angels message is not accepted by Christians in spite of it's authenticity although agreed upon ? Thousands of issues raised for not obeying the fourth commandment. Surprisingly they're raised by protestants !! Is their claim to be under grace and not under law Justified ?

    • Are you speaking about SDA Christians or Christians as a whole who reject Rev 14:6-14. We, SDA have that commission to obey it ourselves, as well as to tell others about the coming judgment and the wrath of God. Many rest their fate on a merciful and loving God, but He also has another side; wrath and judgment.

  8. Please can some one help me to explain what these text mean; Col 2:14-17 and Gal 4:10 what does Paul mean here?

    Thank you.

    • In Col. 2:14, the "handwriting of ordinances" (cheirographon) that was against us and was wiped out, removed, nailed to the cross can't be the Decalogue. The wiping out of the moral law would hardly provide Christians with the divine assurance of forgiveness, the immediate context of the text. Guilt is not removed by destroying the 10 commandments. The term law (nomos), moreso the whole signigicance of the law, which appears unavoidable for Paul when he presents the gospel, is in fact completely absent in the entire epistle. Cheirographon occurs only once in Scripture (Col. 2:14), and is clarified by recent studies to mean "record book of sins" or a "certificate of sin-indebtedness", and not the Mosaic law. This view is in harmony with the immediate context which affirms the fullness of God's forgiveness. Through Christ, God has "cancelled," "set aside," and "nailed to the cross" "the written record of our sins which because of the regulations was against us." The legal basis of the record of sins was "the binding statutes," or "regulations", but what God destroyed on the Cross was not the legal ground (law) for our entanglement into sin, but the written record of our sins.

      By destroying the evidence of our sins, God also "disarmed the principalities and powers" (Col 2:15) since it is no longer possible for them to accuse those who have been forgiven. There is no reason, therefore, for Christians to feel incomplete and to seek the help of inferior mediators (Col 2:8, 18) since Christ has provided complete redemption and forgiveness.

    • David, the two texts you mention do not refer to the same issue. The sanctuary system was not "against us," because it prefigured the ministry of Christ. So that is not what Paul referred to. Giovanni has given an excellent explanation of the "handwriting against us."

      Let's look at Gal 4:10 in context:

      8 But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. 9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.(Gal 4:8-10)

      Context is always important. Paul is clearly referring to converted Gentiles, because he refers to a time they did not know God but served false gods. And now, it seems they have somehow been beguiled to observing days, months and seasons and years in the same manner that they served false gods. Since he explains no more, we can only guess what he means. He could be referring to their listening to the Judaizers who taught the necessity of keeping the Jewish ceremonies connected to the sanctuary services - as in feast days, seasonal feasts, the nonthyl new moon feast and the year of Jubilee. But it is also possible that they reverted to some heathen observances.

      The fact that Paul refers to some folks who "courted them," supports the conclusion that they listened to the Judaizers who followed him around wherever he introduced the gospel. (See Gal 4:17-18) If they had reverted to heathen feasts, it wouldn't be on the basis of someone "courting them," but of their own sliding back into old customs.

      Always read context - the verses before and after, the whole chapter and the whole book, to get a good understanding of what the writer's concerns were.

    • In addition to the other commentators on the issue, my thoughts are as follows - please note that EVEN IF it were possible for one to diligently observe the ten commandments like the rich young ruler did (Matt 19:16-22)there would still be something missing for an entrance into heaven. Acceptance in Jesus Christ is a GIFT, and does not come through OBSERVANCE. The LAW and /or the scriptures (whether the ceremonial or the 10 commandments) 'confine all under sin' as a tutor - in other words, they tell us that we are HOPELESS sinners on our own, but then they bring us to Christ, who justifies us by faith. Paraphrased from Gal 3:19-25.
      My point: Let the law (and indeed all scripture! Gal. 3:22) do its work - show us how much of sinners we are; but let's on the other hand accept the free gift of grace.

  9. David
    Regarding Gal 4:10 Vol 6 of the Bible Commentary pg 967 says that Paul refers to the 7 ceremonial sabbaths and the new moon ceremonial system. Further down it says the 7th day Sabbath was instituted at creation before the entrance of sin and about 2500 yrs before the ceremonial system. And still further down it says..If the 7th day Sabbath subjects a man to bondage, then the Creator Himself entered into bondage when He observed the world's 1st Sabbath. Hope that helps

  10. The blotted out laws are Mosaic laws mentioned in the book of Deuteronomy which prohibited people who had physical disabilities from attending services of God

    • Francis, the Bible doesn't say that any laws are blotted out. In the KJV we read about the blotting out of "the handwriting of ordinances that was against us." (Col 2:14) The NIV more appropriately translates the text as "having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross." Col 2:14 NIV.

      PLease see Giovanni's comment for an excellent explanation of the text.

      • Inge,
        While the idea of the charge being cancelled/blotted out seems plausible we have comments by EGW which indicate the law was blotted out, such as in Signs of the Times, September 4, 1884 -

        "But there is a law which was abolished, which Christ “took out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” Paul calls it “the law of commandments contained in ordinances.” This ceremonial law, given by God through Moses, with its sacrifices and ordinances, was to be binding upon the Hebrews until type met antitype in the death of Christ as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. Then all the sacrificial offerings and services were to be abolished. Paul and the other apostles labored to show this, and resolutely withstood those Judaizing teachers who declared that Christians should observe the ceremonial law."

        The relevance of Daniel 9:27 is also to be considered. Separately both ideas of (1) the law being blotted out and (2) our sins being nailed to the cross have merit. We probably should not make one dispose of or render unnecessary the other.


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