|How to Answer the Most
Popular Arguments Against the Sabbath
How often have you wished you could explain a questionable Scripture or teaching but simply lacked the understanding? When someone blind-sides you with a particular point and you cannot think of a Scriptural response, what do you do? In this series called Defending the Truth, we will give you the popular polemics, along with a Biblical explanation that refutes what is commonly used against the Truth. We pray that as you study these topics you will never again be caught off guard as you grow in the knowledge and understanding of Yahweh’s Word.
Arguments About the Sabbath and Sunday
If you ever engage in discussions with Sunday keepers about the Sabbath, you will almost certainly be called on to answer six specific passages in the New Testament. Three of these are typically used in support of Sunday as the Sabbath. The other three are cited in an effort to show that there is no need to keep the Sabbath holy.
Let us look at the first three passages used in an effort to show that Sunday is the day of rest.
THE PASSAGE IN QUESTION…
•Acts 20:7: "And upon the first day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight."
Wrong interpretation—The common idea is that Paul was holding a Sunday worship service.
Proper explanation—Note that the word "day" is italicized in the King James Version, meaning it was added by translators. The phrase should properly read, "And upon the first of the…" The word "week" in the Greek is Sabbaton, or Sabbath, Strong’s Greek Dictionary. In Word Studies in the New Testament, M.R. Vincent notes, "The noun Sabbath is often used after numerals in the signification of a week" (Acts 20:7 note). The Greek text behind this phrase, therefore, literally reads "And upon the first of the Sabbaths."
First for what? The verse refers to the first weekly Sabbath in the seven-Sabbath (seven-week) count to Pentecost. Paul was moved to give a message on this day. This occurred following a regular meal that the disciples had enjoyed on a weekly Sabbath, not Sunday.
THE PASSAGE IN QUESTION…
•1Corinthians 16:2: "And upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as Elohim has prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."
Wrong interpretation—Paul is telling the Corinthians to pass the collection plate at church on Sunday.
Proper explanation—In reality, this passsage is speaking of coming to the aid of Judean brethren who were suffering from personal distress, perhaps because of famine (see Acts 11:27-30). Notice the preceding verse, where Paul’s subject is established. He calls it a "collection for the saints," not for "church," and he has already given orders to the Assemblies in Galatia to help out the brethren in their plight.
He tells the Corinthians to store the gatherings (Greek logia) beginning with the first of the week (again, "day" is italicized and was added by translators). Paul wanted them to prepare the gifts beforehand "that there be no gatherings when I come."
In verse 3 he says he will send approved men to take the goods to Jerusalem. If this were just a monetary offering, it would take no more than one man to deliver it to Jerusalem. These, however, were laborious gatherings of foodstuffs and other essentials that were to be collected and made ready on the first of the week so that Paul could dispatch it all when he arrived.
THE PASSAGE IN QUESTION…
• Revelation 1:10: "I was in the spirit on the L-rd’s day, and heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet…"
Wrong interpretation—The term "L-rd’s day" refers to Sunday (and Sunday worship).
Proper explanation—The phrases "L-rd’s day" and "day of the L-rd" refer specifically to the day of Yahshua’s return at the final trumpet sound announcing His Second Coming. Nowhere in the Bible is there any reference to Sunday in connection with these phrases. The only passage in the Bible where the specific term "L-rd’s day" is found is here in Revelation 1:10, where it defines the day of Yahshua’s return at the trumpet sound and the awesome events that surround it.
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance lists a total of 20 passages containing the words "day of the L-rd." In each of them we find reference to the dreadful, end-time day of the Savior’s return to destroy the wicked on this earth. In none of them is any mention made to Sunday or its worship. An example is Zephaniah 1:14-15, 17: "The great day of the Yahweh (L-rd) is near, it is near, and hastes greatly, even the voice of the day of the L-rd: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness…And I will bring distress upon men…"
Amos 5:18 warns those who desire and look forward to the day of Yahweh (the L-rd), saying that it is a day of darkness and not light. Paul writes in 1Thessalonians 5:2 that the day of Yahweh will come as a thief in the night. Joel 2:31 calls it "the great and terrible day of Yahweh." Each instance speaks of the Second Coming of Yahshua. It is the exact opposite of a day of quiet, enjoyable, Sabbath rest!
Now we will deal with three passages most often cited to say that a Sabbath day is no longer necessary today.
THE PASSAGE IN QUESTION
• Romans 14:5: "One man esteems one day above another: another esteems every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."
Wrong interpretation—Whether to keep any day as a Sabbath is up to each individual.
Proper explanation—A good example of taking a passage out of context is this verse. Paul is not speaking about the Sabbath at all but about fasting. The other subject of the chapter is vegetarianism (see verses 2-3). He writes, "For one believes that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eats herbs." Then in verse 3 Paul admonishes that eating or not eating is up to the individual. The Bible in Basic English translates verse 3 this way: "Let not him who takes food have a low opinion of him who does not: and let not him who does not take food be a judge of him who does; for he has [Elohim's] approval."
The issue of keeping a Sabbath of rest does not even enter into this passage. What is being discussed in verse 5 is the practice of some who choose one day over another to fast. The next verse (6) shows that some people placed one day over another in their devotion to fasting. ("He that eats, eats to Yahweh, for He gives Yahweh thanks.") The problem was, some in the Assembly at Rome were being judged for doing so. Paul entreats us not to judge one another regarding eating or not eating, v. 13.
The summation of the chapter is in verses 20-21: "For meat destroy not the work of [Elohim]. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eats with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby your brother stumbles, or is offended, or is made weak." Nothing in this entire chapter speaks of observing a Sabbath day.
THE PASSAGE IN QUESTION
• Galatians 4:9-11: "But now, after that you have known Elohim, or rather are known of Elohim, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain."
Wrong interpretation—Yahweh has freed us from such observances as the Sabbath and Feasts, which are so much bondage.
Proper explanation—Paul is addressing a people here who had been converted to the knowledge of Yahweh. Who were these Galatians? Their name derives from "Gaul," being a Celtic people from the area of ancient France and Belgium. These superstitious pagans had settled this region of Asia Minor and Paul was apparently the first to bring the truth of the Evangel to them. Now that they have been converted, they know Yahweh and He knows them, Paul writes.
But Paul is concerned that some of them are going back ("turn again") to their old, superstitious worship, which he calls "weak and beggarly elements," verse 3. These Galatians were being indoctrinated by Judaizers and no doubt were confused. The Judaizers had come among them teaching physical circumcision and other rituals of the law, which Paul had said are not necessary for salvation. (Paul addresses those holding the Judaizers’ doctrine in Acts 4:21.) As a result of their bewilderment, some were returning to their heathen worship of the mother deity Agdistis and perhaps sacrificing humans again, as well as observing their own days, months, times, and years in place of Yahweh’s commanded observances. Notice that Paul’s comment in verse 10 refers back to verse 8: "Howbeit when you knew not Elohim, you did service unto them which by nature are no mighty ones."
Clearly, these people were returning to their old, idolatrous worship before they knew the true Yahweh. In no way is Paul bringing the Sabbath and Feasts of Yahweh into play, which are nowhere referred to as "days, months, times and years" in the Scriptures. Paul is concerned that he may have wasted his time converting these people if they go back to their former worship, verse 11. One translation renders the phrase, "turn you again to the weak and beggarly elements whereunto you desire again to be in bondage" as "back to the weak and helpless elemental false gods, whose slaves you want to be once more" (The New Testament: A New Translation).
Paul is not teaching the Galatians to reject the Sabbath, because he himself observed this commanded day of worship (Acts 13:42-44; 16:13; 17:2; 18:4). He also observed the annual Feasts (Acts 18:21; 20:6, 16).
THE PASSAGE IN QUESTION
• Colossians 2:14, 16: "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his stake…Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day, or the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Messiah."
Wrong interpretation—The laws, including the Sabbath, were nailed to the tree and the decision to keep any day holy is up to you; no one should judge you for doing so.
Proper explanation—Verse 14: When Yahshua was nailed to the tree, He brought an end to the Old Covenant system of animal sacrifices and ritual. Along with that were added laws the Jews imposed to make the law even more strict. We see this in verses 21-22: "Touch not; taste not; handle not; which are all to perish with the using; after the commandments and doctrines of men." These were not Yahweh’s laws but man’s. We see this in the phrase "handwriting of ordinances." Ordinances is the Greek dogma, meaning man-made rules and decrees. These were handwritten additions to the law meant to cause a further separation between Jew and Gentile. Four other passages use dogma and in each they refer to a man-made law or decree (see Luke 2:1; Acts 16:4; Acts 17:7, Eph. 2:15).
The question is, were Yahweh’s laws "against us"? On the contrary! Deuteronomy 10:12-13 says His laws are for our good! Psalm 19:7 tells us that the law is perfect and even converts the soul. Yahshua tells us that if we love Him we will keep His commandments, John 14:15. Paul confirms that the law is holy and just and good, Romans 7:12.
Verse 16: When Paul converted the people to the way of Yahweh, he taught them Yahweh’s laws, including the Feasts and Sabbath, which he kept as well. As happens today, people who had no understanding were criticizing the Colossian brethren for keeping these days commanded in the Scriptures. So Paul admonishes them to let "no man" judge them. As the Greek indicates, the term "no man" means any outsider. Paul tells them not to let anyone outside the faith criticize them for what they do. And that includes what they ate, which was in compliance with the clean food laws of Leviticus 11.
Notice the italicized word is—"but the body is of Messiah." Italicizing means the translators added the word is to try to make the passage clearer. But they made it worse. Without the word is, the passage suddenly becomes clear. Paul was saying, don’t let outsiders judge you about your obedience, but only the Body of Messiah should be allowed to discern these things.
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