Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 10, 1963

Waterloo For The Adventists

L. A. Mott, Jr.

Some passages of scripture are especially powerful for the purpose of refuting error. The one passage which seems strongest to me as an argument against the Adventist position on the sabbath is Col. 2:14-16. On some passages they can twist and turn and squirm. But there is absolutely no Sabbatarian explanation which cannot be easily blown to pieces. The following article is intended to give an answer which cannot be gainsaid to the position that the sabbaths (or sabbath) mentioned in this text are the yearly sabbaths.

The text reads as follows in the American Standard Version: "....having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us and he hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross: having despoiled the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man judge you therefore in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day or a new moon or a sabbath day: which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ's."

The argument is clear: That bond of ordinances which had to do with such matters as meat, drink, feast days, new moons, and sabbath days was nailed to the cross. It is no longer binding upon us. Hence, we are to let no man judge us with respect to such matters. Sabbatarians condemn as sinners all who will not keep the sabbath. Paul says, "Let no man judge you in a sabbath day." We should stay with Paul and refuse to submit to such judgment.

But then, of course, the Adventists tell us that this is not the weekly sabbath at all; it refers to the various annual sabbaths of the Jews. To hear the Adventists talk one would think there must be just dozens of these annual sabbaths. Actually, if you will use your copy of Young's concordance you will see that the Hebrew word which is used in the passages concerning the weekly sabbath is only applied to one yearly holy day, namely, the annual atonement.

But what are these yearly sabbaths that Sabbatarians talk so much about? A. N. Dugger said they are given in Lev. 23. (The Porter-Dugger Debate, 33) Roy B. Thurmon listed the Passover and Pentecost (The Sabbath Today, 55) Carlyle B. Haynes mentions "seven annual sabbaths" and refers us to Lev. 23. (From Sabbath to Sunday, 20) David F. Smith mentions the passover, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Day of Atonement as "three typical ones." (The $200 Text, 25) All right! With that before us, let us proceed to shoot this foolishness full of holes.

My argument will be based upon the study of two words which occur in Col. 2:16: heorte, which is translated "a feast day" (ASV) or "an holy day" (KJV), and sabbata. The particular form of the latter word occurs here is sabbaton. First, your attention is directed to the fact that all First, your attention is directed to the fact that all of the holy days listed by the Sabbatarian authors above are discussed in Lev. 23. In that chapter they are repeatedly referred to as "feasts" (verses 2 4,6, 34, 37, 39,41,44). Notice particularly verses 37 and 38. They are the feasts of the Lord besides the sabbaths of the Lord. Thus, these "feasts" are distinguished from the "sabbaths."

Second, notice that the word heorte "denotes a feast, festival." (W. E. Vine) This is the word which is used over and over again in the New Testament to refer to those annual feasts which our Sabbatarian friends have in mind. Get your concordance and look up the passages. Luke 2:41 22:1 John 6:4, and 13:1, all of which refer to the passover, and John 7:2 which mentions of the feast of tabernacles, are particularly clear on this. The point is that when the New Testament makes reference to those annual "sabbaths" the word which is used to describe them is heorte, not sabbata.

Third, the word sabbata is used repeatedly in the New Testament when reference is made to the weekly sabbath. The very form which occurs in Col. 2:16, sabbaton, is used in Matt. 28:1, Luke 4:16, Acts 13:14 and 16:13 In addition, sabbaton is the very form used in, of all places, Ex. 20:8, 10 (in the Greek translation of the Hebrew of course): "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." (see Grimm-Thayer, page 566) I wonder which sabbath day the Lord had in mind there.

From all of the above, it is clear that Paul mentions both the annual Jewish holy days and the weekly sabbath in Col. 2:16. But the yearly sabbaths come under the heading of heorte, feast days, or holy days. Sabbata is distinguished from these in the text. Sabbata is the word which is used over and over in the New Testament for the weekly sabbath. There is no reason for taking it in any other sense here.

As has been pointed out by D. M. Canright, brother W. Curtis Porter, and many others, Paul is evidently following a pattern for the listing of the Jewish holy days which is observed through the Old Testament. The pattern is established in Numbers 28 and 29. The daily ritual is described (28:3-8), then the weekly — the sabbath (28:9,10), the monthly (28:11-15), and the yearly — the passover, etc. (28:16ff) Now watch how this catalog of the holy days is followed in 1 Chron. 23:30, 31: morning and even (daily), sabbaths (weekly), new moons (monthly), and set feasts (yearly). Compare 2 Chron. 2:4, 8:13, 31:3, Neh. 10:33, Ezek. 45:17, and Hos. 2:11. Paul simply follows this method of cataloging the holy days. Hence, in Col. 2:16 we have: "a feast day" (yearly), "a new moon" (monthly), and "a sabbath day" (weekly). It is clear that all of these holy days were abolished at the cross. Neither the sabbath, nor any of the others, is binding upon us now.

— 1254 Enota Drive, N.E., Gainesville, Georgia