Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 17, 1955

Reasons For Not Observing The Sabbath

Thomas Allen Robertson, San Bernardino, California

The sabbath day belonged to the Mosaic dispensation, and to it alone. Under the Patriarchal age there was no command to observe the sabbath, no example of its being observed, and no penalty for breaking it. Moses declared, "The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day." (Deut. 5:3.) Under the law of Moses there was a command to observe the sabbath, examples of its observance, and severe penalties for its violation. Under the Christian dispensation, or gospel age, there is no command for sabbath observance, no example of it, and no penalty for breaking it. The sabbath was a sign between God and Israel. (Exodus 31:13-17.) It was given to commemorate the deliverance of Israel from the land of Egypt, (Deut. 5:15; Exodus 20:2) and, hence, has no significance to any one but the Jews.

The sabbath is mentioned some half dozen times historically in the book of Acts, but never with any reference to Christian observance of it. In the gospel there are repeated references to it, but always with reference to the Jewish observance of it. Not one time is it ever hinted that this shall be a part of the gospel of Christ, or have any place in the church which he came to build.

The Law Ended At The Cross

The entire Mosaic covenant, of which the sabbath was a part, ended at the cross of Christ. The Lord himself said, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." (Matt. 5:17, 18.) After he had arisen from the dead, he said to the disciples, "These are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me." (Luke 24:44.) Thus Christ taught that he was to fulfill the law and bring it to an end; he then states that he had fulfilled it. When the apostles went forth preaching, guided by the Holy Spirit, they declared that the law had ended at the cross of Christ. Paul wrote, "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 cross." (Col. 2:14.) Also, "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace." (Eph. 2:15.) And again, "Wherefore, my brethren, ye are also become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that ye should bring forth fruit unto God." (Rom. 7:14.) But how do we know Paul was talking about the Ten Commandment law? We know this because he goes on to specifically state one of these Ten Commandments as a part of the law he has in mind: "Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." (Rom. 7:7.)

Repeated In New Testament

All of the commandments of the Decalogue are repeated in the New Testament and are made a part of the gospel of Christ except the fourth. The first commandment is repeated fifty times; the second is found twelve times; the third is found four times; the fourth is NOT found even one time; the fifth is found six times; the sixth is repeated six times; the seventh is found twelve times; the eighth is recorded six times; the ninth is found four times; the tenth is found nine times. Is it not strange that the fourth commandment, the sabbath command, is left out of the gospel of Christ entirely if it is as important as some would have us believe? God did not want it, and did not include it, in his New Covenant.

Fifty-Nine Sabbaths

We are told by the sabbath-observers that the sabbath is mentioned fifty-nine times in the New Testament, hence, must be binding upon Christians today. If this be true, then the temple services, circumcision, sacrifices, and the passover all still binding. The temple is mentioned 115 times, circumcision is mentioned 55 times; sacrifices are mentioned 38 times; and the passover 28 times. If one is binding by reason of its being mentioned, then all these are binding for the same reason.

Women Rested On The Sabbath

It is urged that "the women rested" the day after the crucifixion; hence, they kept the sabbath. That is true; they did. But we must keep in mind that Christ had not yet ascended into heaven neither had he sent the Holy Spirit to guide into all truth. The church had not yet been established. In fact, at that time Christ had not yet been raised from the tomb. But where is the passage that shows Christians ever observed the sabbath after the church was established? There is none such!

Although those who would observe the sabbath say the first day of the week is of little importance, let us notice these facts about it: (1) Christ arose from the dead upon the first day of the week. (Mark 16:9.) Hence, he was declared to be the Son of God with power on that day. (Rom. 1:4.) (2) Christ regularly met with his disciples on the first day of the week after his resurrection and prior to his ascension. (John 20:19-29.) (3) Pentecost always came on the first day of the week. (Lev. 23:15, 16.) Hence, it was on the first day of the week that the church was established (Acts 2), the Holy Spirit began his mission of converting, the gospel terms of salvation were first announced, three thousand guilty souls heard the gospel, believed in Christ, repented of their sins, and were baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:37-41), and were pardoned by the newly crowned king. (4) The New Testament church regularly assembled upon the first day of the week to worship God in spirit and in truth. (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Heb. 10:25, 26.)

These items are of little importance to those who are blinded by a theory. But to those who desire to follow the New Testament pattern their message is clear and definite.

New Things

Under the new covenant, the one for which the old covenant was removed (Heb. 10:9, 10), we find a new institution — the church of Jesus Christ; new initiatory rite — knowing obedience to the gospel of Christ; new feast — the Lord's Supper observed upon the first day of the week (Acts 20:7); new covenant — the last will and testament of Jesus Christ (Heb. 9:15-17); and a new day — the Lord's day. (Rev. 1:10.) Let us serve God in the newness of the spirit and not in oldness of the letter.