Dear Reader, please say a prayer asking God's Holy Spirit to be your ONLY Guide before continuing! In this Blogsite let's take a serious look at Paul's treatment of the Sabbath and Sunday. Did he really change the Sabbath Commandment? Did he actually reverse the words of Jesus and say we are commanded to, "Break that Least [Sabbath] Commandment, and teach others to do so also" (see Matt.5:17-19). If Paul tampered with the words of Jesus in any way, wouldn't that make him one of the "false prophets" Jesus repeatedly warned us about? Of course we know absolutely that Paul was a God's true Prophet! So what happened?!?
Reader Be Warned!!
Colossians 2 is quoted as Paul's scathing rebuke against Sabbath observance. A simple reading of Colossians 2 will raise doubts that this is so, and a careful examination reveals that it is Paul's most scathing rebuke against Sabbath Abolishers, Law Annullers, and Teachers of Anomia.
How did Paul really deal with Jesus' saying we CANNOT break even a "Least Commandment" and we CANNOT "TEACH" others to do so also? Let's carefully look and see:
Colossians 2:14-17 "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; And, having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man, therefore, judge you in meat (food), or drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, of the sabbath days, Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ."
Anti-Sabbath promoters will say, "Ya see! There it is! The Sabbath Commandment is abolished!" Honest Pastors, however, struggle with the fact that Jesus said, "Till Heaven and Earth pass, not a jot or tittle shall pass from the Law." Honest Christians know that Jesus said, "Whosoever shall break one of these least Commandments, and teach men so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matt.5:18-19).
If Jesus hadn’t said the above, we might have a tiny excuse to ignore one of the 10 Commandments—NOT REALLY; Not even a little bit! Paul made it perfectly clear in his letter that he was only addressing Man-Made stuff. He also made it perfectly clear that if Christ said something, we absolutely must never ignore it!
The entire statement in its context shows this to be Paul’s most scathing rebuke against Sabbath-abolishers. He’s addressing MAN-MADE traditions. Underscore MAN-MADE. The words he used appears to say he is also addressing those trying to enforce Jewish holidays that were a "shadow of things to come." Underscore, "shadow of things to come" because Sabbath abolishers wish Paul hadn't included this in his text. If God institutes a celebration pointing forward to an event, when the event is past, the purpose for the holiday is over. If someone tries to revive that holiday, then that day also becomes man-made and NOT a command from God.
Rebuking MAN-MADE is the theme of everything Paul wrote in Colossians 2. Is Sunday observance Man-Made? Even passionate Sunday keepers admit that Sunday observance is man-made with NO Command from the Lord. Thus Paul’s rebuke CANNOT be directed at the Sabbath of the Commandment—the Commandment written in stone with the very finger of Christ Himself. Paul's warning is at anything and everything that is NOT a Commandment from God, which includes Sunday replacing the Sabbath. Hear Paul's words: "And this I say, lest any MAN beguile you with enticing words" (Vs.4). Man did not beguile us with the Sabbath Commandment, Christ Himself wrote it with His own finger!
"Beware lest any MAN spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of MEN, after the rudiments [customs] of the world, and not after Christ" (Vs.8). There's the key! The Sabbath was designed at Creation, "After Christ!" Christ wrote it with His own finger! Is the Sabbath Commandment "vain deceit," "man made philosophy," "customs of the world," or "beguiling words?" Paul wrote, "Wherefore, if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, are you subject to ordinances (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using) after the commandments and doctrines of MEN" (Vss.20-22). Is Sabbath a doctrine of men? How obvious does this need to be?!?
Paul is actually saying: If anyone tries to beguile you, deceive you, or force upon you, MAN-MADE commandments, MAN-MADE doctrines, MAN-MADE traditions, MAN-MADE customs, MAN-MADE restrictions, or anything MAN-MADE, don’t let him do it! You only need to obey what comes from Christ. If Christ wrote it, DO IT! If man says it, you have a choice. If it seems good, you can do it, if not, you can ignore it!
How Sabbath-abolishers use Paul's letter is unbelievable, but they do, and they're successful because their listeners do not examine the passages.
The Sabbath was and is a Memorial of Creation—a Memorial of things past; instituted in the Garden of Eden (Gen.2:2-3), and it will be kept after God destroys earth and creates a New Earth (Isa.66:22-24). The Sabbath memorializes that Jesus is the Creator of our entire Universe and that is why Satan passionately hates it. He wants that job!
How did Paul address anti-Law promoters (which would include anti-Sabbath promoters) of his day? Scripture twisters were just as hard at work in his day as they are today. He wrote the following concerning Scripture Twisters, past, present, and future:
"And not rather, as we are slanderously reported, and as some affirm we say, Let us do evil that good may come? Whose damnation is just" (Rm. 3:8). "What then? Shall we sin [break a Commandment], because we are not under the Law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey, whether of sin [annulling Commandments] unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness" (Rm. 6:15-16). "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the Law; for sin is the transgression of the Law." (1Jn.3:4). "That they might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2Thess. 2:12). Please note, the above harsh words are from John and Paul, not this Author!!
Esteeming One Day Above Another
"One man esteemeth one day above another; another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth a day, regardeth it unto the Lord, and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it" (Rom.14:5-6).
Is Paul saying, Keep the Sabbath if you like—disregard it if you like—change it if you like, and, observe no day at all, if you like? If so, is he disputing Jesus, and even himself? If this is what he's saying, wouldn't he be one of the, "False Prophet" Jesus warned us about?
Is Paul Teaching us to BREAK that LEAST COMMANDMENT !?!
Of course we know better! But all but a very few Christians believe it!?!
Let's Fix This Problem!! Correct this Confusion!!
We can all stop the madness and stop having the Bible appear to contradict itself! If we agree that Paul is referring to temporary Jewish celebration days, or, if we understand that he's referring to new holidays invented by misguided Christians, Sunday for example, then his message makes perfect sense and he’s NOT annulling the words of Jesus! If, however, the popular view that the Sabbath is annulled, then Scripture contradicts Scripture, Paul disputes Jesus and we're all in a heap of trouble!?!
It should be clear that Paul is saying if Jewish Christians want to regard these days as sabbaths, they should be allowed to do so, but don't force it on others, especially Gentile Christians. Also he is especially warning the Colossians, the Romans, and us, NOT to force Church members to attach sacredness to any MAN-MADE day, no matter how noble the reason.
Church History says that approximately 70 years after Paul wrote this letter, the congregation at Rome was conducting sunrise services on Sunday mornings. Even if some in the Church at Rome had begun conducting these Sunday services before Paul wrote the Roman letter, the warning was valid. Sooner or later the sunrise service promoters attempted to persuade the whole Church to "esteem" Sunday as sacred, exactly what Paul commanded should NOT happen. Paul’s letter fits perfectly and should have stopped the Sunday movement. There'd be no harm in Sunday sunrise services, as long as God’s Law was not changed, and no mandatory sacredness attached to Sunday. A weekly memorial service at sunrise every Sunday would be wonderful. When the Church began to apostatize, Sunday had a dual purpose.
First, former Sun worshipers began joining the Church still having attachment to their former object of worship and the day commemorating it. These new converts were not truly converted, thus they brought with them many of their Pagan practices.
Second, the Christians were extremely annoyed because the Jews were constantly harassing them, thus getting rid of what they considered a Jewish Day seemed appropriate. But, was it only a Jewish Day?
History records that this very Roman Church was the first Christian Church that attempted to drop Sabbath sacredness and replace it with Sunday observance. A man named Justin joined the Roman Church midway into the 2nd century. He was a former Plato philosopher and Sun worshipper. He wanted to eradicate Sabbath observance and replace it with Sunday. Justin completely ignored Paul’s warning about "esteeming" a day as holy and forcing others to do so also. Justin also ignored the words of Jesus about the "least Commandment". The other members at the Roman Church went along with Justin ignoring Paul and Jesus. Paul wrote the following to the Ephesians: "I know this, that after my departure shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them" (Acts20:29-30).
If the Reader is a Pastor, you might wonder how do deal with what we present here. Pray about it, and remember the words of Jesus: "Whosoever shall break one of these least Commandments, and TEACH MEN SO shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matt.5:19).
Paul's Last Trip to Jerusalem
The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem hated Paul because he left their ranks and joined the Christian Church. On his last trip to Jerusalem they vowed to kill him. The Roman officials in Jerusalem rescued Paul and sent him by night to Caesarea. After two years Paul was given an opportunity to defend himself. Paul's words to Felix are a resounding rebuke to those claiming Paul had been rejecting the Sabbath and teaching that Sunday was the Lord's Day. He said, "Neither against the Law (Nomos) of the Jews, neither against the Temple, nor against Caesar, have I offended in anything at all" (Acts25:8). He also said, "To the Jews have I done no wrong at all, as thou very well knowest" (vs.10). That word "Law" Paul used was "Nomos," which means the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath Commandment. Could Paul have said this if he'd spent the past 30 years teaching that the Sabbath was annulled and replaced by Sunday?
Example of Paul and the Sabbath
Following is an example of how Paul dealt with the Sabbath and Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas went to Antioch in Pisidia and on the Sabbath the Jewish leaders invited them to speak in their Synagogue. When he finished and the Jews left, "the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath" (Acts13:42). If ever there was the perfect opportunity for Paul to instruct these Gentiles about Sunday being the "Lord's Day," this would have been perfect. If the popular view that the Sabbath was over when Paul began his ministry, and it was replaced by Sunday, is there any possibility that Paul would not have informed these Gentiles that there was no need to wait another week? Why not meet tomorrow, especially if the Christians in Antioch were already meeting? According to many Preachers and Teachers promoting Sunday observance, the Christian Church had already been assembling on Sunday for about ten years at that time. True Bible students actually know better.
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Your Brother in Christ
Walter C. Martin Jr.
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