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Should Christians Keep the Sabbath?

"Christ defends the plucking of the ears of grain on the Sabbath" Marten van Valckenborch (1535-1612)
by Doug Becker, Pastor of Theology
This week, in our journey together through the Gospel of Matthew, we will be entering chapter 12, which begins with accounts of two conflicts between Jesus and the Pharisees regarding Sabbath observance. In the first, Jesus defends his disciples, who are caught picking grain on the Sabbath, by citing scriptural examples that challenge the Pharisees’ assumptions, and by declaring himself to be “Lord of the Sabbath” (v. 8). In the second, he reminds us that God’s command to keep the sabbath does not negate doing good to one another. In neither of these, however, do we have a direct indication of whether or not Jesus’ followers, living in light of his cross and resurrection, are to continue to keep the sabbath. Here, I will give my understanding of the Bible’s answer to that question.

It is important to remember that Christians are not unanimous about this issue. As we will see, this was even the case in the early church under the leadership of the apostles. Regardless of where we find ourselves on the diverse spectrum of perspectives on Christians and the sabbath, we should all heed Paul’s advice to a church dealing with this very thing: “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Rom 14:5). Our opinions and practices should come from a thoughtful engagement with Scripture on this topic, rather than a desire to justify a particular lifestyle or adherence to certain church traditions.

One complicating factor is that sabbath observance is bound up in the larger discussion of what role Old Testament law is supposed to play in the life of the Christian. This is, without a doubt, one of the most difficult areas of biblical theology.[1] Nevertheless, failure to grapple with this more general question will inevitably lead to distortion when attempting to apply Old Testament commandments, such as the sabbath, to life in the kingdom of the Messiah. Before heading into this territory, we will first consider the New Testament passages that bear directly on the question of sabbath observance.

 Direct New Testament Evidence

 The natural place to begin is in the various interactions Jesus has with the Jewish leaders over sabbath observance.[2] However, these are not particularly helpful in determining whether Christians are bound to keep the sabbath, since none of them seem to address this question, either directly or indirectly. Instead, these confrontations generally concern what is and isn’t lawful to do on the sabbath, focusing instead on the misplaced moral priorities of the scribes and Pharisees and their misunderstanding of Jesus as one who is under, rather than over, the moral law of God. Nor are we helped by noting that Jesus and his disciples attended the synagogue on the Sabbath, and even observed it as a day of rest, since it does not follow from this observation that Christians must do likewise. Such an argument would be akin to maintaining that Gentile (or even half-Jewish) Christians must submit to circumcision because this is what Paul required of Timothy (Acts 16:3), or that we should offer temple sacrifices since Jesus gives this as the context in which one might remember that he has a conflict against his brother (Matt 5:23–24). What can be gleaned from these passages is the insight that Jesus presents himself as “lord of the sabbath” (Matt 12:8; Luke 6:5), elaborated further perhaps in Jesus’ teaching in John 5:19–47. Hopefully, what this implies will become clearer in the ensuing paragraphs.

 More relevant to our question is the account of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. Here, Paul and Barnabas are sent to Jerusalem from Antioch in order to get the apostles and elders to respond to the claim by members of the Jewish (Christian?) community that Gentile believers had to be circumcised in order to be saved (v. 1). Once in Jerusalem, it becomes evident that some Pharisees who had become believers agreed with this perspective and were insisting, not only on circumcision, but on much broader adherence to the entire “law of Moses” (v. 5), which in this cultural context most certainly included sabbath observance—something about which Pharisees were particularly meticulous. Alongside eating unclean food, ignoring the sabbath was the worst kind of covenant disloyalty conceivable.[3] The conclusion of the council, delivered by James, is essentially that the pharisaic believers were wrong, and that the only things that Gentile believers should be required to observe from the law was avoidance of “the defilement of idols,” sexual immorality, the meat of strangled animals,[4] and the consumption of blood.

 The rationale behind why these particular stipulations were chosen is not entirely clear, but the most likely explanation is that they have something to do with not offending the sensibilities of the Jewish people among whom the Gentile Christians lived and worshiped. “They were . . . the minimal requirements that would allow continued fellowship between Gentiles and scrupulous Jews (whether Christian or as yet unbelieving).”[5] It is also often frequently pointed out that these requirements bear striking similarity to the rules given for sojourners living among native Israelites in Leviticus 17:10–18:30, including the order in which the commands occur (of course, these would not have been the only laws sojourners had to keep in Israel). Another suggestion is that this amounted to the avoidance of pagan feasts.[6] Whatever the reasoning, Sabbath observance is interestingly not mentioned here, in the context where the specific question is whether or not Gentile believers are required to keep the law, and this in a cultural context in which sabbath observance was absolutely central to any worship of the God of Israel.

 Next, we turn to Romans 14:1–15:13. Here, Paul explains how we ought to navigate relationships between Christians who disagree on moral “gray areas.” For the early church, this would have been, at least, things such as the consumption of meat offered to idols, drinking alcohol, and Sabbath observance, all of which are mentioned in this text (see also 1 Corinthians 8–10, though there those in question are most likely Gentile Christians, not Jewish ones as here). In this passage, Paul contrasts the opinions of “the weak in faith” (v. 1) over against those of “the strong” (15:1). The former are those who have not yet developed maturity in their thinking with regard to the freedom we have in Christ and its proper use. The strong are those who have. It is virtually certain that Paul is identifying the “weak” here with Jewish Christians who were struggling with persistent adherence to the law of Moses, and judging those who understood that such allegiance had been superseded by Christ’s fulfillment of the law.[7] The concluding remarks in 15:8–13 are clearly aimed reaching harmony between Jews and Gentiles within the church, and Paul’s use of terms such as “common” and “unclean” in describing the weak’s position in 14:14 are lifted directly from Old Testament categories. Paul addresses issues that were common for Jews living among Gentiles—the avoidance of meat that could not be confirmed “kosher” (vv. 1–4, 6, 15, 17, 21) and wine that may have been used as libation offerings to pagan gods (vv. 17, 21).[8] This, of course, was the approach of Daniel and his friends during the exile in Babylon (Dan 1:8–16).

 In verse 5, Paul gives opinions regarding the sabbath as yet another example of such disagreements: “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike” (v. 5). It is clear that he is referring to weekly sabbath observance, although he may have in mind other special holidays as well. Schreiner observes, “Most commentators agree that the sabbath is included here since the sabbath is the most prominent day in the Jewish calendar.”[9] Paul’s entire discussion is very insightful, but note that he does not say that those who observe the sabbath are right, and that those who “esteem all days alike” need to realize they are in sin. Rather, he presents those who do not observe it as the “stronger,” and offers advice on how not to cause division in the body of Christ over the issue.[10]

 Paul’s comments in Galatians 4:9–10 are also relevant: “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.” As with Acts 15 and Romans 14, the cultural context—not to mention the specific heresy prominent in the Galatian churches that was specifically about requiring Christians to keep the law of Moses—place it virtually beyond question that he has weekly sabbaths in mind here.[11] One caveat to our use of this text, however, is that we should not infer from it that all Christians who feel the need to keep the sabbath are in the kind of peril described in Galatians. Rather, the problem addressed here appears to be that these things were being held out as prerequisites for salvation, or at least as warning signs that they are in danger of treating them as such. So Galatians 4 is only somewhat relevant to the matter at hand.

 This is in line with what Paul tells the Colossian church in Colossians 2:16: “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath.” Here the reference to the seventh-day sabbath is of course even more obvious. Along with Old Testament food regulations, festivals, and new moons, the sabbath is called a “shadow” of the “substance” that has come in Christ, and those who do not realize this are not adequately understanding the fulfillment of such things that has come in Christ.[12] Lincoln comments, “That Paul without any qualification can relegate Sabbaths to shadows certainly indicates that he does not see them as binding and makes it extremely unlikely that he could have seen the Christian first day as a continuation of the Sabbath.” Commenting on all three passages in Paul, he concludes, “When Sabbath observance was not being imposed on Gentiles as necessary for full salvation and did not form part of any syncretistic teaching, Paul evidently tolerated it but regarded those who practiced it as adolescent and not yet mature in Christ.”[13]

 Given these considerations, it makes sense to note also that nowhere in the New Testament do we find any direct command for Christians to keep the sabbath, nor any hint that Jesus or the apostles view it as binding on Christians. If it were simply a matter of the command not being reiterated in the New Testament, a decent case could be made to the contrary. After all, God doesn’t need to repeat himself. However, in view of the three passages we have seen in Paul, especially Romans 14 and Colossians 2, and in view of the strange silence of the Jerusalem Council, we have reason to believe that, for the Christian, sabbath observance is optional at best.

 But What About the Ten Commandments?

 Standing against this is the very good point that sabbath observance is the fourth of the Ten Commandments. The obvious merit of this argument is that at least eight of the other commandments are regarded by Christians as ethically obligatory and are practiced as such (i.e., it is sin to break them). The exception to this would be the second—the command against carved images. Part of this, no doubt, is owing to ambiguity as to what exactly is forbidden by the second commandment. And of course, there have been some enclaves of Reformed Christians who have taken it quite seriously, while other branches within Christendom pay it wanton disregard. Nevertheless, the fact that many of us don’t really know what to do with the second commandment is no real problem for those who would argue for sabbath observance on the basis of its presence in the Ten Commandments.

 What is a problem for this view, however, is that there is no biblically sound way of singling out the Ten Commandments as somehow different from the rest of the law of Moses when it comes to its applicability to Christians. Whatever happens to the rest of the law in light of its fulfillment in Christ happens to the Ten Commandments as well. True, the Ten Commandments are given a place of prominence—they are uttered and written by God himself and are the first stipulations of the covenant, and they are cited as primary (though not ultimate) by both Jesus and Paul. But this does not obscure the fact that they are still part of the Sinai Covenant, and any attempt to single them out for special treatment is arbitrary and without biblical basis. The same is true of attempts to categorize various laws as moral, civil, and ceremonial and to uphold or discard them by virtue of their placement under this schema.[14] Both approaches impose categories that the text itself does not make and are therefore probably incorrect.

 We should also note that anyone practicing sabbath observance on the basis of its presence in the Ten Commandments ought to be doing so on Saturday. Exodus 20:9–11 explicitly focuses the command to rest on the “seventh day.” There is no indication in the New Testament that a shift has taken the place, moving the day of rest to Sunday, occasional references to “the Lord’s Day” and to Christians gathering “on the first day of the week” notwithstanding (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:12; Rev 1:10). Keeping the Sabbath, in the strict biblical sense, means resting from one’s work on Saturday.

 Two similar arguments in favor of sabbath observance for Christians are likewise problematic. The first of these is an appeal to the sabbath as a creation ordinance. Creation ordinances are institutions established by God at creation, prior to mankind’s fall into sin, and are therefore applicable to all humanity. Most prominent among these are the sanctity of both work and marriage. It is argued that God’s rest on and consecration of the seventh day in Genesis 2:1–3 represents the establishment of the sabbath as yet another creation ordinance. Indeed, in Exodus 20, when it is given as the fourth commandment, verse 11 explicitly patterns sabbath rest after God’s rest in creation.[15] The merit of this argument is that it sidesteps the issue of Christ’s fulfillment of the law, since even if the entire law of Moses were abrogated, the creation ordinances still remain.[16]

 However, whether or not the sabbath is a creation ordinance is not as obvious as some think. Any appeal to the seventh day in Genesis 2:1–3 must also acknowledge that there is no indication in the text itself that God intends his act of seventh-day rest to be extended to mankind, especially with the force of a morally-binding command. On the face of it, then, the claim that this passage makes the sabbath a creation ordinance seems clearly an example of eisegesis—reading into the text what is not actually said in an effort to get it to say more than it does. Rather, our intent should be exegesis—reading out of the text what the author intended to communicate. Moreover, aside from the most general statements about Abraham’s obedience to God’s “commandments” (e.g., Gen 26:5), nowhere are we told about sabbath observance until it is established in Exodus 16. In fact, Ezekiel 20:11–12 seems to say (or at least strongly imply) this very thing.[17] Our intent should be to ground our theology in Scripture, not in assumptions designed to bolster predetermined conclusions, especially with respect to doctrines that are nowhere taught in the Bible. For this reason, I find attempts to categorize the sabbath as a creation ordinance less than convincing.[18]

 One further argument in favor of sabbath observance for Christians also deserves mention. Exodus 31:16 calls the sabbath “a covenant forever” (or “an eternal covenant”). Does not this language testify to the enduring nature of the sabbath commandment for all people at all times? Probably not. The Hebrew word translated in the ESV as “forever” need not imply that something extends literally into eternity (although sometimes it can). There are many clear examples in the Old Testament where the word simply means “a long time,” “a duration” (Exod 21:6; Deut 15:17; 1 Sam 1:22; 27:12; Isa 51:6) or “in perpetuity” (e.g., Exod 21:6; Isa 42:14; Jer 2:20).[19] This point is actually clearest when we consider two other things that are called “a covenant forever” (Heb. berît ʿôlām): circumcision (Gen 17:13) and the bread of presence in the tabernacle/temple (Lev 24:8). While it is true that this designation does sometimes mean something that literally last or endures “forever,” such as the rainbow as the sign of the covenant of Noah (Gen 9:16), both the bread of the presence and circumcision demonstrate beyond question that the phrase does not conclusively prove that God will never set such institutions aside. This is even clearer when we expand the examples to include things that are called “statutes forever” (Heb. ḥuqqat/ḥōq ʿôlām), a more common expression than “covenant forever.” Just to give examples from the book of Exodus alone: the Passover (Exod 12:14, 17, 24), the priestly vestments (Exod 28:43; 29:9), the priests’ possession of the wave offering’s thigh (Exod 29:28), and the priests’ washing as part of their service (Exod 30:21). For this reason, I would suggest that the phrase regarding the sabbath in Exod 31:16 is better rendered by translations like the KJV, NKJV, and the NET’s “perpetual covenant,” or the NIV’s “lasting covenant,” in preference over the ESV’s “covenant forever.” Similar and even identical language is commonly used of things that have passed away with the coming of Christ.

 The Sabbath Under the Law’s Fulfillment

 Any effort to formulate a biblically-informed Christian understanding of Old Testament laws, the sabbath included, must take seriously statements such as those we find in the following texts:
 Romans 6:14: “You are not under law but under grace.”

 Romans 7:4: “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.”

 Romans 10:4: “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

 Galatians 2:19: “For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.”

 Examples could be multiplied. Clearly, the New Testament perspective, enunciated time and time again, is that Christians are not “under the law,” but “under grace.”

 What then, is the ethical standard for the Christian? Does being under grace mean that there is no longer such a thing as sin for the believer in Jesus? Clearly the answer is no, for there are many things commanded of us in the New Testament, and several passages explicitly deny this (e.g., Rom 3:8; 6:1–2). It is helpful to consider Paul’s perspective, which he reveals in 1 Corinthians 9:20–21: “To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.”

 Several features of this passage are very helpful. First, notice how Paul reiterates that he is not “under the law,” which clearly refers to the law of Moses. In other words, we are no longer under the jurisdiction of the covenant of Moses, for which the Sabbath functioned as its sign. As already noted, this would include the Ten Commandments. Second, when Paul says that he “became as one outside the law to those outside the law,” he immediately clarifies that this does not mean that he engaged in sin. After all, for Paul, “neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God” (1 Cor 7:19).[20] Rather, he says that he is under the authority of another law, which he here calls “the law of Christ.”

 When Jesus was asked about the “greatest commandment,” he listed two, which are inextricably linked (1 John 4:20): “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. . . . And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments, depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt 22:37–39). That last statement is very important. There is a sense in which all that is contained in the law of Moses and in the Prophets is summed up by the ethic of love towards God and love towards one another. This is reiterated by Paul who says, in Rom 13:8–10:

 “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

 It is interesting to note that the Ten Commandments are essentially structured to reflect this two-pronged approach. The first four deal with our love for God, and the final six deal with our love for other people (although there is also overlap, e.g., allowing servants to keep the Sabbath is loving towards servants).

 It is important to remember that the New Testament holds the Old Testament law in extremely high regard. Jesus did not come to abolish it, but to fulfill it (Matt 5:17–20). “The law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Rom 7:12). The law of Moses is an expression of God’s will on a wide range of topics. However, it does this within a context that differs significantly from the sphere in which the Christian lives. There are serious cultural differences between the thirteenth century BC and the first century AD, to say nothing about the twenty-first century AD. There are political differences between an Israelite theocracy and other forms of government—the Roman Republic, pagan monarchies, communist regimes, and yes, even democratic republics such as our own. There are differences between an agrarian economy in which land is (supposed to be) held in perpetuity by families, clans, and tribes, compared to capitalist, socialist, and feudal societies. And, most importantly, there are significant ethical shifts that have taken place in light of Christ’s fulfillment of the law—his ushering in of its ultimate purpose and inauguration of all to which it prophetically pointed. This includes the making of all foods clean (Mark 7:19, Acts 10), the accomplishment of final and perfect atonement, and the bringing about of realities of which the law was but a shadow.

 The law of Moses can be mined for God’s will on a variety of matters. A good example of this would be 1 Corinthians 9:9–12, where Paul applies Deuteronomy 25:4—“You shall not muzzle and ox when it is treading out the grain”—to the obligation churches have to provide materially for those who labor among them in the gospel (see also 1 Tim 5:18). But we must do so with wisdom, governed by the supreme “law of Christ,” which means love towards God and love towards one another. It’s not always obvious how to do this. The principles behind some laws are more obvious than others.

 Another key element of Christian ethics is that we need to be led by the Spirit, and the fruit he brings about in our lives. Romans 7:6 says, “We are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” This does not mean that we no longer serve God through obedience; rather, we do it according to a new master, the Spirit of God. That is why Paul refers to Christians as those “who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (8:4).

 The greatest degree of clarity comes from Galatians 5. In this passage, Paul once again states that “the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (v. 14). And if our aim is to “not gratify the desires of the flesh,” then we must “walk by the Spirit” (v. 16), for “if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (v. 18). After listing “the works of the flesh,” he then gives the “fruits of the Spirit”—those virtues that the Spirit of God creates in our hearts so that we are driven by delight in God and love for his Son, rather than merely the threat of punishment, or a desire to attain blessing through works of the law.

 When it comes to the Sabbath, then, it seems that passages like Acts 15, Romans 14, and Colossians 2 give us sufficient indicators to say that it is not ethically obligatory for Christians in the strict sense. However, when we apply the ethic of Jesus to the sabbath, I think we can say that if we have a desire to observe a day of rest, patterned after the wisdom and goodness of God, and motivated by love for God and one another, we are free to do it. (Note: this would not actually be a “sabbath” unless it is a Saturday.) But if we are not able to do so, it is not sin. Rather, sin creeps back in when we are no longer walking in love—perhaps when I have made work my idol so that I don’t trust God enough to rest. Likewise, if our desire to motivate others to observe a day of rest is because we love them and want what is best for them, then it is good to nudge them in that direction, not because God requires it of them. What he requires of them is love, and we can only discern when we are walking in love by being honest with ourselves and others.
   [1] For a good introduction to the various perspectives, see Greg L. Bahnsen et al., Five Views on Law and Gospel, Counterpoints: Bible and Theology (Grand Rapids: 2010).
   [2] These include the disciples picking grain (Matt 12:1–8; Mark 2:23–28; Luke 6:1–5), the healing of a man with a withered hand (Matt 12:9–14; Mark 3:1–6; Luke 6:6–11), the healing of the woman with a disabling spirit (Luke 13:10–17), the healing of the man with dropsy (Luke 14:1–6), the healing of the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1–17), and the healing of the blind man (John 9).
   [3] Josephus, Jewish Antiquities xi.346.
   [4] That is, animals whose blood had not been drained.
   [5] Max B. Turner, “The Sabbath, Sunday, and the Law in Luke/Acts,” in From Sabbath to Lord’s Day: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Investigation, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982; repr., Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1999), 117–18.
   [6] Ben Witherington III, The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids/Cambridge: Eerdmans; Carlisle: Paternoster, 1998), 461–64.
   [7] Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 828–32; Thomas R. Schreiner, Romans, BECNT 6 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 708–10; Dunn even suggests that Jewish butchery may have been eradicated in order to aid the decree of Claudius in AD 49, in which many Jews were expelled from Rome (see Acts 18:2; James D. G. Dunn, Romans 9–16, WBC [Dallas: Word, 1988], 801).
   [8] The issue cannot be that these Jews were making these things prerequisites for salvation, since here he urges peace between the two factions, rather than declaring the weak’s position to be an anathema false gospel, such as he does in Galatians.
   [9] Thomas R. Schreiner, Paul: Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2001), 322. Examples of “most scholars” would include Moo, 842; Dunn, 804–6; C.K. Barrett, The Epistle to the Romans, rev. ed., BNTC (London: Continuum, 1991), 238–39; Colin G. Kruse, Paul’s Letter to the Romans, PNTC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), 515; D. R. de Lacey, “The Sabbath/Sunday Question and the Law in the Pauline Corpus,” in Carson, From Sabbath to Lord’s Day, 182; Robert H. Mounce, Romans, NAC 27 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1995), 252. Their reasons are not limited to the one Schreiner puts forth. See also his own commentary (Romans, 714–16).
   [10] Although he does not specifically identify the one who observes the day as “weak” and the one who does not as “strong,” as he does with the issue of meat in verse 2, we can be quite sure that this is what he means (Moo, 841–42). But even if we are unconvinced on this point, it is still true that Paul does not instruct sabbath observance.
   [11] F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Galatians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, NIGTC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), 206; James D. G. Dunn, The Epistle to the Galatians, BNTC (London: Continuum, 1993), 227; Timothy George, Galatians, NAC 30 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1994), 317; Douglas J. Moo, Galatians, BECNT 9 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2013), 278.
   [12] Douglas J. Moo, The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon, PNTC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 222.
   [13] Andrew T. Lincoln, “From Sabbath to Lord’s Day: A Biblical and Theological Perspective,” in Carson, From Sabbath to Lord’s Day, 368.
   [14] See Christopher J. H. Wright, “The Ethical Authority of the Old Testament: A Survey of Approaches: Part I,” TynBul 43.1 (1992): 101–20; and idem, “The Ethical Authority of the Old Testament: A Survey of Approaches: Part II,” TynBul 43.2 (1992): 203–31.
   [15] Deuteronomy 5:15, by contrasty, grounds it in God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt.
   [16] Such would be the logic behind laws that prohibit even non-Christian businesses from operating on Sundays.
   [17] Paul K. Jewett, The Lord’s Day: A Theological Guide to the Christian Day of Worship (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), 16.
   [18] Some further arguments can be found in David T. Williams, “The Sabbath: Mark of Distinction,” Themelios 14, no. 3 (1989): 97–98.
   [19] David J. A. Clines, ed., The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew, vol. 6 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2008), 301; Ludwig Koehler et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 2: 798–799.
   [20] While it could be argued that “commandments of God” is a reference to the law of Moses, and thus to the Sabbath law, this is unlikely, given Paul’s broader teaching on the relevance of the law for the Christian life. Further, understanding the phrase as referring to the law of Moses would turn the verse into a tangled ball of nonsense, since circumcision is certainly commanded as part of “the law.” Rather, “the commandments of God” refer to Paul’s instructions to his churches, as we can see in 14:37: “What I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.” See Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians, PNTC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 313.




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