|Sabbath in Christ by Dale Ratzlaff|
There is no command to keep the Sabbath in the N.T. All the meetings in the book of Acts are in a Jewish setting. There is no instruction on how to keep the Sabbath in letters written to young Gentile churches. Sabbath breaking is never listed in any lists of NT sins. When the Sabbath in mentioned in the epistles, it is either in a negative or unimportant context. The O.T. prophets confront the gentile nations for worshiping idols, blaspheming the name of God, ruthless killing, injustice and immorality, but never for breaking the Sabbath. The Jews considered the Sabbath to be a ritual law. The Jews insisted that a Gentile staying with a Jew was to keep the Sabbath. However, if the Gentile kept the Sabbath on his own he was to be put to death. Jesus, according to John 5 broke the Sabbath and from his defense of his other Sabbath incidents it seems clear that He understood the Sabbath to be a ritual law. The entrance sign to the Old Covenant was circumcision. The continuing sign the Old Covenant was Sabbath. “Remember the Sabbath” The entrance sign to the New Covenant is baptism The continuing sign in the New Covenant is the Lord’s Supper. “Do this in remembrance of Me”
In the early chapters of the book of Acts, the first Christians were predominantly Jews. When Gentiles began to receive the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, the Jewish Christians had a dilemma. What aspects of the Mosaic Law and Jewish tradition should Gentile Christians be instructed to obey? The apostles met and discussed the issue in the Jerusalem council (Acts 15). The decision was, “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood” (Acts 15:19-20). Sabbath-keeping was not one of the commands the apostles felt was necessary to force on Gentile believers. It is inconceivable that the apostles would neglect to include Sabbath-keeping if it was God’s command for Christians to observe the Sabbath day.
A common error in the Sabbath-keeping debate is the concept that the Sabbath was the day of worship. Groups such as the Seventh Day Adventists hold that God requires the church service to be held on Saturday, the Sabbath day. That is not what the Sabbath command was. The Sabbath command was to do no work on the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8-11). Nowhere in Scripture is the Sabbath day commanded to be the day of worship. Yes, Jews in Old Testament, New Testament, and modern times use Saturday as the day of worship, but that is not the essence of the Sabbath command. In the book of Acts, whenever a meeting is said to be on the Sabbath, it is a meeting of Jews and/or Gentile converts to Judaism, not Christians.
When did the early Christians meet? Acts 2:46-47 gives us the answer, “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” If there was a day that Christians met regularly, it was the first day of the week (our Sunday), not the Sabbath day (our Saturday) (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2).