(You can find Chapter І here:
CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE ADVENTIST DOCTRINES
A. The teaching for the Sabbath and Sunday
The Adventists consider that from the stony scrolls only the ten commandments, which they call moral ones, are still valid out of the Law of Sinai (Codex Sinaiticus). All the other rules of the Law are defined as ceremonial and thus are not mandatory in New Testament times. The fourth of the moral commandments concerns the Sabbath and, according to them, we sin if we disobey it. But “…whoever keeps the whole Law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10), i.e. Christians will not be saved, because of their systematic and purposeful breaking of that commandment (just as the ones who break some of the others - “idolaters, adulterers, thieves…will not inherit the kingdom of God”- I Corinthians 6:9-10). However paradoxically this could sound to Adventists, the Christians keep perfectly the New Testament Sabbath, while their movement doesn’t do it the right way, since it had set aside only a single day for God’s ministry.
According to the Adventist doctrine, the Sunday began to replace the Sabbath in the period from 70 AD to 135 AD.[*] Adventists associate the confirmation of the Sunday as the day for worshipping God with the Catholic church, in which the ”spirit of the Antichrist…try to change the set times and the law” (I John 4:3; Daniel 7:25).
Since there is no direct explanation of the question about the Sabbath and the Sunday in the New Testament, we shall use all the relevant verses to see to what conclusions they would lead.
І.The perfect fulfillment of the biblical Sabbath
The Christians make a substantial theoretical mistake in their view of the New Testament Sabbath, that’s why all of their attempts to influence the Adventists draw blank at this point. They consider that the fourth commandment of the Decalogue dropped out. Most of them forget, that this happened only literally, but not spiritually. The spiritual Law is a reflection of the holy character of the Lord, that‘s why it is perfect, immutable and eternal. The life and teaching of Christ are in complete concordance with this law and are given to us as an example to follow. The Law of God was presented to bring into the light the sin of men, to help us comprehend that we cannot fit its requirements by ourselves and to lead us to full and unconditional repentance. It was Christ only, who fulfilled the law and bore the guilt of our transgressions on the cross. God imparts into us His righteousness through grace (undeserved mercy) because of the faith, that we have decided to follow. After all mentioned so far, we can conclude that the Gospel sets us free from the punishment of the law, but not from the duty of obeying it.
Let’s take heed of the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:17-19: “Do not think, that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the law, until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” He says He didn’t come to abolish, but to fulfill all the rules of the Law and the predictions of the prophets. We are also appealed to keep even the smallest commands of the whole Law of Moses. Jesus said also: “It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law” (Luke 16:17). The justice, i.e. the righteousness of the Lord will reign in the new heaven and earth, which is based on the perfect “law” of love, according to which Christians are living nowadays (II Peter 3:13).
But Jesus talks about a perfect accomplishment of the Law. Let us get a glance at the two commandments, mentioned here, first: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago “Do not murder and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement”. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement. Again, anyone who says to his brother “Raca”, is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says “You fool”will be in danger of the fire of hell.” And “You have heard that it was said ”Do not commit adultery”. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28). Obviously Jesus teaches us to abstain not only physically from committing such things, but also spiritually (and it seems that the latter is even more important).
[*] “Is the fourth commandment valid for the Christians” p.11
From the whole context of the New Testament we can resolve how are we to keep spiritually the commands of God (Exodus 20:1-17). The first commandment is: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of
out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” Stephen
accused the Israelites, that even though they have carried the tabernacle of
God through the desert, they have followed other gods in their hearts (Acts
7:42-43; Amos 5:25-27). (The Lord blamed them incessantly through the Old
Testament prophets because of this). Jesus says He is going to tell to some of
His followers, who claimed to have done great things in His name :“I never knew
you. Away from Me, you evildoers!”(Matthew 7:22-23). He also answered the
Pharisees, who were hypocrites but considered only God as their father: “You
belong to your father, the devil…He was a murderer and…a liar” (John 8:41-44).
Apostle Paul tells that anyone distorting the Good News, has fallen apart from
Christ (Gal. 1:6-9). This is to say, that a man can be in the temple (the
church), pray to God and read His Word, but if he still commits some of the
things listed above, he serves another god. For we were set free by Christ (the
same way as God had delivered the Israelites from Egypt) from the slavery of
sin and of devil, so that we should no longer follow the desires of our flesh,
but do His will (Romans 8:2; Hebrews 2: 14-15; I Peter 4:2). The second
commandment: “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything
in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not
bow down to them or worship them …”, was paid attention, too. In Revelation
9:20 it is said that there will be people unto the end who will bow down before
the idols. A. Tozer wrote some interesting reflections on this topic: “Let us
be attentive not to adopt, in our pride, the false understanding that idolatry
includes bowing down before visible objects only and that civilized people are
free from it. The very nature of idolatry is in the keeping of certain thoughts
about God, which are unworthy for Him. It begins with mentality and can occur
where no evident worship exists. “For although they knew God, they neither
glorified Him as God, nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile
and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1: 21). The worshiping of
idols, made in the image of people, fowls, beasts and reptiles, appeared
afterwards. But these series of decadence started out in mentality. The false
understanding of God is not only the source of the. If we place dirty ideas of
idolatry, they are idolatrous by themselves.”[*] If we place anything higher
than God - mother, father, wife, children and even our own lives (Matthew 10:
37), if we consider money almighty (Col. 3:5) and so on, we also turn into
idolaters. The third commandment says: “You shall not misuse the name of the
Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His
name.” Jesus added: “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the
day of judgement for every careless word they have spoken” (Matthew 12:36). We
are not allowed to pronounce God’s name without any reason, or to make fun of
it, since "God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." (Gal.
6:7). Some even preach in vain the Word of God, as they contrive through their
deeds more for God’s name to be blasphemed among the unbelievers (Romans 2:24).
The fourth commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days
you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the
Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or
daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien
within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the
sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the
Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” In the book of prophet Isaiah we
are told how this command is to be obeyed: “If you keep your feet from breaking
the Sabbath, and from doing as you please on My holy day, if you call the
Sabbath a delight and God’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not
going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you
will find your joy in the Lord…” (Isaiah 58:13-14). We are commanded not to
indulge ourselves on this day, but to devote it to God. The New Testament says:
“But seek His kingdom and these things will be given to you as well” (Luke
12:31). We are called toward total devotion to God in all we do. (The New
Testament Sabbath will be explained in a while). The fifth commandment concerns
our relations with our closest ones: “Honor your father and your mother, so
that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you”. We are now
still obliged to honor our parents and take care of them: “Children, obey your
parents in the Lord…”(Eph. 6:1-3; Col. 3:20), “If anyone does not provide for
his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith
and is worse than an unbeliever.” (I Tim. 5:8). Through our attention toward
them we also testify our obedience to God: “…we have all had human fathers who
disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more we should submit to
the Father of our spirits and live!” (Hebrews 12:9). Egypt
[*] “Knowing the Holy God” , p. 12
[*] “Knowing the Holy God” , p. 12
“You shall not murder”, says the sixth commandment. We can murder someone not only physically, but spiritually as well, by hurting him with our words and acts and by contributing to his loss of belief. This is much more serious, since it leads to the spiritual death of a person, i.e. to his/hers separation from God. Whoever commits such things, puts himself in danger of the “fire of hell” (Matthew 5:21-22). Moreover, we have led the Son of God to miserable death ”…and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Just as it was stated very precisely: “it were not the nails, that held Jesus on the cross, but our sins”. The seventh commandment says: “You shall not commit adultery”. Jesus explained unambiguously that any sexual relations outside the family are sin, as well is the imaginary desire for such things (Matthew 5:27-28). In Old Testament times, God had many time accused the Israelites of spiritual adultery, i.e. that they had committed adultery by following other gods (see Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, etc.). James tells us in his message: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God” (James 4:4). The eight commandment requires: “You shall not steal”. The theft includes beside the misappropriation of someone else’s belongings, the exploitation of one’s labor (physical or intellectual) with no proper payment: “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you…Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.”(James 5:1, 4). We steal from God as well, when we do not give away the necessary time, labor and money for ministry, when we are negligent to His work and so on. ”Will a man rob God? Yet you rob Me. But you ask: ”How do we rob you?” In tithes and offerings…” (Mal. 3:8). “A curse on him who is lax in doing the Lord’s work!" (Jeremiah 48:10).
The ninth commandment is: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor”. Any false presentation of the things in the reality, which purposes a conscious misleading of other people, is a lie. In such a manner, we can attempt to manipulate other people, to derive some benefits from them, to present ourselves in a misguiding light and so on, but the liars will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Revelation 21:27; 22:15). We may also try to cheat God about the true motivation of our acts, thinking that He doesn’t see our hidden thoughts and intentions. Apostle Peter told Ananias and Sapphira: “You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:1-10). The last tenth commandment is to prevent us from the temptations at their very beginning. It says: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” The coveting often becomes envy of material things, official position, talents, respect, etc., which belong to someone else. Deeply in our hearts we wish we could have them as our own. Anyone, aspiring to unlimited power, seizes God’s sovereign government over the whole world. The Antichrist will be a person, who will ascribe to himself an acknowledgment as a god, i.e. almighty. (As we can see, the last six commandments do also concern our relationship with God). So far, we can come to the conclusion, that the literal keeping of the law and the ten commandments is not enough, but we should aim at their perfect spiritual fulfillment.
Jesus pointed out some examples from the rites of the Israelites as well: “Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24). The ceremonies were to lead them to some spiritual truths. What are in this case the offering, the priests, the altar, the temple, according to the New Testament teaching? “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasant to God - this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1). The old person in us ought to die (to be offered as a sacrifice), so that the new one may resurrect, i.e. we have to deny our lives in order to do God’s will. At the end of his life, Apostle Paul says: “I am already being poured out like a drink offering” (II Tim. 4:6). Our spiritual ministry in the field God had settled for us, is like a pleasant offering at His altar. We all are God’s priests (I Peter 2:9) and the work we do was defined as a ministry (Romans 15:16). The temple of Jerusalem exists no longer, but we, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house - the body of Christ, which is the temple of God (I Peter 2:5; Revelation 21-22). In other words, the ritual commandments are still valid as well, but in their perfect spiritual sense.
Jesus also reminded those commandments, which had to bring justice: “You have heard that it was said, ”eye for eye and tooth for tooth” (Matthew 5:38). These are the juridical rules in the Law of Moses, which relate to the civil, the criminal, the contractual and the hereditary law. These community relations are to exist in future, too; though in the
they will not base
on punishment, but on the mutual aid and love toward the others. kingdom
Some people think that if we are justified through faith only, then we are free from the Law. There was a group of “Christians” in Paul’s times (the so-called “antinomians”) who used to think that the more they sin, the more God’s grace toward them, is revealed. They misinterpreted his words: “When sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:20). But he answers them: “Someone might argue “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases His glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?”Why not say - as we are being slanderously reported as saying and some claim that we say - ”Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is deserved” (Romans 3:8). And finally he concludes his reflections thus: ”Do we, then, nullify the Law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the Law!” (Romans 3:31).
Apostle John tells as well, that whoever loves God, strives to keep His commandments and whoever loves his neighbor, will not commit any evil to him (I John 2:4-5; 3:10-11). “Therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law”, resumes Paul (Romans 13:10). Just as our lawyer V. Valchanov has said: “The spiritual law is a revelation by God of that kind of relationships, which is based on love”.[*]
We finally conclude that the New Testament considers a perfect spiritual law, that we fulfill as a result of our faith and that takes its sources from love. It creates an exquisite order and harmony in the relationship between God and people.
What law then, was told to have faded and have been “nailed to the cross”? “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John” (Matthew 11:13; Luke 16:16), “…by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law” (Romans 7:6), “…the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations” (Eph. 2:15), “…having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us, He took it away, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14). All these quotes show that the old, literal form of the Law of Moses - the covenant of Sinai, has been removed.
Therefore the Old Testament is taken away in Christ (II Corinthians 3:14) and is replaced by a new eternal covenant (Hebrews 13:20), in which the very inner nature of the things is revealed. ”For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another” (Hebrews 8:7), in other words everything in the Old Testament (including the Sabbath - commandment), have had something wrong or incomplete. But “the old has gone, the new has come” (II Corinthians 5:17). It was also written, that the old wine is to be kept in old wine-skins, and the new wine – in new, i.e. the two covenants are separated (independent), although their spiritual contents are in unity (Matthew 9:17; Luke 5:37-38).
In this sense we have to search the meaning of the perfect keeping of the Sabbath in the light of the New Testament. (After "everything has become new", the fourth commandment ought to be understood in a new way as well. It’s impossible that, while all the other commands have a new - larger and deeper spiritual interpretation, this one could remain in its literal form only.) The Sabbath commandment in the Law of Moses has two sides: first, the Sabbath is a day for serving God. And second, it is a weekly feast, on which special sacrifices are offered in the temple.
Let us take a look now on the way these two aspects of its keeping are presented in the Christianity.
Firstly, the Sabbath as a ministry
God had commanded the Israelites to do all their works in the six days of the week, and on the seventh day (which is the Sabbath) to walk not in their own ways and to follow not the desires of their own hearts, but to have a holy congregation, i.e. to dedicate this day to ministry to God (Exodus 20:8-11; Isaiah 58:13).
The author of the letter to the Hebrew Christians (who was most likely Paul), have explained them how this commandment is to be kept perfectly now. He points them an example out of their history: “For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day” (Hebrews 4:8). At the siege of
, God had commanded the Israelite
armies to walk round the city for seven days, the priests walking amidst with
the Ark of the Covenant and ram-horn trumpets. The last day they had to make
seven laps, to blow loudly the trumpets and to overtake the city after the
walls fell down (Joshua, chapter 6). It doesn’t say neither on what day the
siege had began, nor when did it finish. But the very fact they walked round
for seven days is to show that it included the Sabbath as well. If Joshua had
given them rest on this day, the Sabbath would remain and the Lord would not
have to talk to them of another day. However in the Psalms of David, He
appoints one day - “today”, saying through the Holy Spirit: “Today, if you hear
His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7; Psalm 95:7-8). Every day
can be “today” and if one hears His voice, he is to respond right away, no matter
at what time he will be called. That’s exactly what the Old Testament example
from the conquest of Jericho
tells us - God commands the Israelites to go round (i.e. to serve) on each of
the seven days. His people had been obliged at every time, to obey Him and
preserve His commands. It was with a certain purpose, when at the very entrance
in the promised land, Joshua was given the following directions: “Do not let
this book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so
that you may be careful to do everything written in it…” (Joshua 1:8). Jericho
[*] “Bible and Law. The Law of God” p.53.
[*] “Bible and Law. The Law of God” p.53.
Let us see the way this plea was fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ, Who was given to us as the perfect example for ministry: “Here is My Servant, whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and He will proclaim justice to the nations.” (Matthew 12:18; Isaiah 42:1-4). Jesus used to go round preaching the Good News incessantly, with no rest. In the days of the week He was talking in towns and villages and even outside them, and on the Sabbath day He entered the synagogues, where all people were gathered together. He was healing the sick ones, casting demons away, doing miracles and wonders every day, including the Sabbath. (The Apostles used to do the same, even after His ascension. Paul later did the same as well). But our Savior obeyed His Father in everything, so He said: “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will, but to do the will of Him who sent me” (John 6:38).
We shall discuss the healing of the sick man, who had stayed at the pool of
for 38 years (John 5:1-20). When He
was accused by the Jews of disregarding the Sabbath, He answered: “My Father is
always at his work to this very day, and I too, am working”. When God made
the world - the invisible one (the Heavens) and the visible (the Earth and the
Universe), there reigned a perfect order - love, peace and beauty. Everything
was in a perfect harmony, according to both physical and spiritual laws. The
creation was “very good” - complete and perfect (Genesis 1:31). His
interference was no longer necessary and so He rested (Genesis 1:2-3). The
sin invaded the heavens first, through Lucifer’s rebellion (Ezekiel 28:15), and
then – the material world at the transgressing of Adam (Genesis, chapter 3).
Because of sin, the whole creation was subordinated, physically and
spiritually, to the slavery of decay (i.e. of destruction) and weakness (Romans
8:19-22). The astronomers talk about colliding galaxies in the Universe, about
star groups falling apart, about bursting stars. In the earthly environment all kinds of
phenomena appear - storms, floods, earthquakes, volcanic activity, etc. Evil
reigns over the world - violence, robberies, diseases and death. That’s why God
had began “working” again, after the fall of man, on the realization of His
great plan for the salvation of mankind through the sacrifice on the cross of
our Lord Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:14-15). But He also helps us to overcome our
daily physical and spiritual weaknesses, so that we may come to look like His
Son and inherit His kingdom (Phil. 2:13; Romans 8:29; Col. 1:13). God will
remove the evil in the end (the unrighteous ones will be judged and thrown in
the fire of hell), He will destroy this creation and will make new heaven and
earth, where the righteous will live. Then He will enter His eternal rest (I
Corinthians 24:28; Revelation 20:10-15; chapters 21 and 22). Bethesda
While Jesus was healing, it was a creative act - repairing the structure of the impaired organs in the human body, so that they could function normally again. The example, mentioned above, was not an incidental case of healing on the Sabbath day - let us recall the case of the crippled woman (Luke 13:10-17), the man with a shriveled hand (Matthew 12:9-14), the man born blind (John, chapter 9), and perhaps there were still many others, which were not described in the Gospels (John 21:25). The mentioned diseases did not necessitate an urgent interference. It was possible to wait in order not to break the Sabbath, if God really had rested on this day. But Jesus said: “…It is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work “ and “…whatever the Father does, the Son also does” (John 14:10; 5:19). It is also written, that the Holy Spirit has taken part in His acts: “for God gives the Spirit without limit” (John 3:34). Through the Spirit of God, Jesus used to cast demons away and did wonders and miracles as well (Matthew 12:28).
Those of the heavenly creatures, who are faithful to God, serve Him incessantly, too. The seraphs keep shouting day and night: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty…” (Revelation 4:8; Isaiah 6:3), and the cherubs are always standing before His throne (Ezekiel, chapters 1 and 10). The archangels and their armies keep fighting against satan and his powers (
1:9; Rev. 12:7-9). (The chief
prince Michael fought with no rest the demonic prince of the Persian kingdom
for 21 days - Dan. 10:13). The angels, being ministering spirits, are
incessantly sent to help the ones, who will inherit the salvation (Hebrews
1:14). They are not quite likely to rest on the Sabbath day and leave us
unprotected, since “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for
someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8) - he doesn’t admit any rest rules for this day
for sure. Judah
Concerning the Christians, the question is: how are they to keep the New Testament Sabbath in relation to their ministry to God? There is in the Gospels an exclusive example (Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5). On a Sabbath day, while Jesus was walking through the fields with His disciples, they were picking ears of wheat, grinding them with their hands and eating. They were doing a thing, forbidden to be done on this day by the Law, since their first act was in fact reaping, the second - threshing, and the third - milling of the wheat. The Pharisees didn’t miss the chance to accuse them. Jesus did not disprove their claim, that the letter of the Law was not preserved, but rather reminded them the case with David and his men, who had eaten of the consecrated breads (I Samuel 21:1-6). Only the priests had the right to eat them, as they were ritual. But the main purpose of bread is to keep people alive. If David and his soldiers did not eat of the bread, they would have died from hunger (or would have been captured by their enemies and killed because of their exhaustion). They had used the bread as life-saving, for the Law was given first for the welfare of man and its second meaning is ritual, i.e. symbolical. In the same way, the Sabbath was given to the welfare of the people “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”, for we have been created for God. That’s why Jesus said, that being a Son of Man, He is also Lord of the Sabbath, i.e. He can do on this day what is most useful for the people.
In this occasion, our Lord mentioned another important thing: ”Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? I tell you that one greater than the temple is here.” In all the days of the week, including Sabbath, the priests used to slay and prepare the animals, settle the fire and offer sacrifices. As we have already mentioned, according to the New Testament all Christians are priests and are to serve God in His temple - the Body of Christ, i.e. the church, day and night. At another place, Jesus reminded the Israelites, that even according to the Law, the ministry to God ought to be incessant. When it happens to be the seventh day (if it is the eight one after the birth), when a child is to be circumcised, they take him to the priests to do the ritual, although thus the Sabbath is broken (John 7:22-24).
Since Jesus first called His disciples, they used to stay with Him all the time (so was He with them - “to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Once a wealthy young man said he had kept the commandments to love his neighbors and asked what more does it it take to inherit eternal life. And He answered him: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me!” (Matthew 19:16-22; Luke 18:18-24). These words concern us, too (though it is not always necessary to sell our belongings), but we should not be addicted in our hearts to what we have, so that we can be at His disposal any time: “those who have wives should live as if they had none…those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them” (I Corinthians 7:29-31). The incessant following of the Lord represents in fact, the requirement for perfect New Testament preserving of the fourth commandment, which is hard for everyone to fit. Paul the Apostle told this by the words: “He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord” (Romans 14:6). The one who keeps each day of the week, keeps it to serve the Lord, and who doesn’t, goes his own ways, i.e. goes after the intentions of his own heart. (Will thus some of the Adventists be surprised, if God declares to them that they have never kept the Sabbath the way they ought to). An unknown author said: “It is great to die for Christ, but it is still greater to live for Him every day”.
Jesus did not blame His disciples for doing work on the Sabbath day by picking, grinding and eating wheat-ears. (He had to be the first to condemn them for breaking the law, being the holy God Himself). That’s why, if we do some work to satisfy our vital necessities, but in the whole context of our ministry to God, then we do not break the Sabbath. But if we strive to getting richer or living better in this world, and are not grateful for what we have, we serve no longer God, but ourselves and finally we shall fall apart from the belief (I Tim. 6:8-10). The Gentiles’ Apostle has given us another example for this: “…these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions” (Acts 20:34). He and his companions have worked tirelessly to provide for their ministry everything needed: “nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you.” (II Thessalonians 3:8). Any labor of ours is to be for God’s sake in our being Christians: ”Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart” (Eph. 6:6). After the example of our great High Priest we ought to devote our whole lives to ministry toward God - all we do is to be in fulfillment of His will and to His glory: “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Finally, the Lord rebuked the Pharisees on their hard-heartedness: “If you had known what these words mean ”I desire mercy, not sacrifice”, you would not have condemned the innocent”. The Israelites had hardened their hearts and had offered sacrifices without mere understanding that all the rules of the Law were only projections of the rules of love to God and the neighbor. The fourth commandment reveals its nature in the love towards God, which produces in us the eagerness to be with Him forever and to obey Him in everything; and in the love toward our neighbors, which makes us compassionate and ready to help them at any time.
But if we cannot keep even the Law of Moses by ourselves (which is just a shadow of what is in Christ), is it possible then to fulfill this perfect spiritual law, written down on “tables of flesh”, i.e. in our hearts (Ezekiel 11:19-20; II Corinthians 3:3)? The Apostle says: “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13). That is why we have to be always guided by the Holy Spirit ”because those who are led by the Spirit of God, are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). He is the one who produces His fruits in us - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and enables us to “walk in the Lord” (Gal. 5:22; Genesis 5:24).
Moses made the tabernacle after the pattern he saw on the mountain (Exodus 25:40). This tent was made as a model of the heavenly temple (Hebrews 8:4-5), which is spoken of in Psalm 8:6, Isaiah 6:1, Rev. 11:19; 15:5-8. In other words, the Old Testament form of ministry was a shadow of the things in heaven now, which will exist to the end of this world. The New Testament ministry, however, is eternal and will go on in the future heaven and earth. Apostle John talks about the holy city of
descends from heaven: “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God
Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the
moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its
lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring
their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will
be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.
Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or
deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
(Rev. 21:22-27). From these verses we learn that the gates of the new
Jerusalem will always be open and the nations will keep bringing their most
precious gifts in it. The Old Testament's
fourth commandment is a symbol of the New Testament's “Sabbath”, which
will always remain as an incessant worship and ministry to God. Jerusalem
Secondly, the Sabbath as a festival
In Leviticus, chapter 23, the Sabbath was pointed out as the first one of the Lord’s feasts: “The Lord said to Moses: ”Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ”These are my appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.
There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord (Leviticus 23:1-3).
All the feasts had a ritual character, whose meaning was revealed in the New Testament. For example, the Passover symbolized the shedding of the blood of the Lamb of God in redemption of our sin (Lev. 23:4-8; I Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 9:22). The first fruits had to be offered on the day after the Sabbath. Christ was resurrected on this day, so it is said that He is the first fruit of the dead ones, and at His return the ones who belong to Him, are going to be revived the same way (Lev. 23:9-14; I Corinthians 15: 20-23). Pentecost is the feast of weeks. The details in its description symbolically show the pouring down of the graceful gifts of the Holy Spirit over the Christians (Lev. 23:15-22; Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:1-4). The feast of trumpets is likely to have the meaning of the resurrection and the Rapture of the believers (Lev. 23:23-25; I Corinthians 15:51-52; I Thessalonians 4:16-17). The Day of Atonement - the day when the Jews were to confess their sins. This prophecy concerns the Great tribulation, when the whole nation of
will repent (Lev. 23:26-32; Zech. 12:10; Rev. 1:7). The feast of Tabernacles,
after the gathering in the crops - points out toward the final purpose, when
the God’s people will be at rest and will enjoy the salvation of God (Lev.
23:33-44; Psalm 16:11; Hebrews 4:10; Revelation, chapters 21 and 22). Israel
The Sabbath had its ceremonial meaning as well, since it was connected to the ministry in the temple. On it the replacement of the consecrated bread took place: “Take fine flour and bake twelve loaves of bread…Set them in two rows, six in each row, on the table of pure gold…This bread is to be set out before the Lord regularly, Sabbath after Sabbath…” (Leviticus 24:5-8). Special sacrifices were also appointed for this feast: ”On the Sabbath day, make an offering of two lambs a year old without defect, together with its drink offering and a grain offering of two- tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil. This is the burnt offering for every Sabbath, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering.” (Numbers 28:9-10).
What is the meaning of the rest on the festive Sabbath day? In Hebrews 4:9-10, this aspect of its spiritual nature was revealed to us as well. “There remains, then, a Sabbath- rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest (through faith), also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.”
“God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all”- He is absolutely holy (I John 1:5). The holiness is lack of sinfulness, so God has got a perfect peace, i.e. concerning Himself, He is in rest. But the world is ruled by the evil - the physical and the spiritual order in it have been shaken. That is why since the fall of man until the final triumph of good, God is in active work concerning the world, which is to end up with the destruction of the old and the creation of the new world.
Because of our sinful nature, our inner harmony is broken, as it is written: “There is no peace, says the Lord, for the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22; 57:21). But if we have been purified through faith in the blood of His Son, God imparts into us His righteousness (holiness) and we have a perfect peace in Christ (Eph. 2:14-22; Phil. 4:7). So, when we start to believe, we enter His spiritual rest (Hebrews 4:3).
However some may ask: “Aren’t we God’s fellow workers and take part in His activity (I Corinthians 3:9)? Haven’t we, then, the necessity for some physical rest, too?” We are not getting weaker in spirit, as we are one with God (I Corinthians 6:17) and His grace acts within us (I Corinthians 15:10), but our flesh, which is ruled by a sinful law (Rom. 7:23), needs rest. Our Lord told His exhausted disciples: “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Matthew. 26:41). But at what time is this rest to take place? It is written in the Old Testament: “There is a time for everything” (Eccl. 3:1). If a man is led by the Holy Spirit, He will give him not only strength for all works, but also – time for physical rest. But as we are commanded to keep telling the Good News to the non-believers incessantly: “Preach the Word, be prepared in season and out of season” (II Tim 4:2), i.e. to collaborate (work along with God) for their salvation, we ought to be always in a ministry. Therefore, the physical rest, which the Holy Spirit will give us, can be at any time, not on Sabbath only. On this day (just like all the other days), we can serve Him or rest (according to His will), being His priests. (If the Adventists disagree, let them ask themselves: "When did the Old Testament priests rest?")
The New Testament sense of the Sabbath rest has been clearly explained by a lot of Christian authors, so it would be of no use to discuss it again. We shall quote Dimitar Hristov here as the one who probably went to the deepest into this matter with his book: “The Sabbath problem”:
“1. A conclusion about the Sabbath problem from Hebrews 4:9
This verse says: “There remains, then, a Sabbath - rest for the people of God”.
It is well known that each verse from the Bible should not be taken to examination independently, out of its context and isolated, but together with the verses coming before and next to it, as well as in the light of the whole Bible. The explanation of the verse, given above, is in accordance with a number of biblical texts, related to the Sabbath question, which are taken to consideration further in this monograph.
If we trace out the Apostle’s thoughts from verse 1 to 11 in chapter 4, we shall see that:
- God had promised people to enter His rest; though not everyone will reach to it (verse 1).
- in order to enter God’s rest, it is necessary the Word of God and the Good News, which we have heard, to combine to faith within us (verse 2).
- The believers enter the God’s rest (verse 3).
- God’s rest began after God had finished His works at the very beginning (the Creation) of the world (verse 3). Therefore, every day now is one of the days of this rest, for the Creation is a completed work – it is not still going on…
- The time when God had rested from all His works, was called “seventh day” (verse 4).
- God’s rest, i.e. the seventh day, is not just a period of time, but a state as well, in which people can either enter or not (verse 5).
- The Lord has given people the opportunity to enter His rest and some really will. The ones, who heard first the message, i.e. the Jews, did not enter God’s rest (except for the faithful ones - Deuteronomy 1:35, 36, 38; I Kings 19: 18, etc., and many of the Jews who accepted Jesus), because of their lack of faith (verse 6). So, if some remain to enter God’s rest, they can belong to any race; this rest is accessible to people from all nations (Matthew 22: 1-10; Romans 11:11, 15, 25).
- For these other people, i.e. the nations from all over the world, God has appointed as a day for rest every day -“today”. They can enter God’s rest any day, if they do not harden their hearts when they hear the gospel, but believe in it (verse 7).
- And so, each day can turn into this “other day” (verse 8), which the Lord has set for the believers to enter His rest.
- That’s why for God’s people, i.e. for the ones who believe in the Word of God and the Good News of the New Testament, “remains a Sabbath - rest” (verse 9).
- What is the sense of this Sabbath - rest for the New Testament believers? The believer rests from his own deeds, entering a status, like the one of God (verse 10). And the status of God is one of holiness. Therefore the holiness or the freedom from sin is the one who gives us the true rest. It is the one who leads us into the “God’s rest”. “Without holiness, no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
- How can we enter this rest? – We understand once again, that this can be through faith only (verse 11). We are justified and saved (i.e. enter God’s rest) through faith and not through deeds (II Corinthians 5:21; Rom. 4:5; Phil. 3:9; Gal. 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). Our faith, which is both condition and prerequisite to this, is based on the redeeming death of Christ. It is a complete work, as well as the creation is a complete work, on which God’s rest is based (Genesis 2:2; Exodus 20:11). The analogy is evident.
The sincerity of our faith though, is to be confirmed by our deeds (James 2:17, 21, 25). Is the literal keeping of the Old Testament commandment a deed, which confirms our faith and obedience to the Word of God? – No! It is rather an expression of disobedience - we do not believe the clear and explicit words of the Holy Scriptures, that the Old Testament has passed away and has been replaced totally and perfectly by the New Testament (Hebrews 8:6, 7, 13; II Corinthians 3:6, 14). We don’t believe the clear and categorical words of the Bible, that the Sabbath is a mark of the Old Testament, too (Exodus 31:13, 16, 17; Ezekiel 20:12, 20). The eagerness for literal keeping of the Old Testament Sabbath commandment is a partial return to the requirements of the Old Sinai Law, given to the fleshly heirs of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Exodus 19:8; 20:1, 2; 24:3, 7; Lev. 26:42, 46). Claiming the Sinai Sabbath commandment as obligatory for the Christians is in contradiction with the words of Jesus Christ in Luke 5:38, that ”new wine must be poured into new wine-skins”. Altogether, this statement of the Adventists is in contrast to the letter and the spirit of the New Testament books.
Conclusion: The Word of God teaches that: “The righteous will live by faith” (Rom. 1:17). When we put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, we give Him our sinful burden and earthly troubles (Matthew 6:30-34; 11:28, 29; I Peter 5:7; Eph. 2:14-22; Phil. 4:7) and we shall thus get a life of godly peace and consolation (Sabbath rest) – Jesus gives His children peace, comfort and rest every day. This spiritual rest of the New Testament believers (“the spiritual
”) has its Old Testament
shadow in the Hebrew physical weekly Sabbath rest (Col. 2:16, 17). The true
superb good for us (Heb. 10:1) is the spiritual and not the physical
rest. It can be achieved only through faith, that leads us into a holy
life, into holiness. In this spiritual, but not in the literal meaning, the
Sabbath commandment is valid and important to the Christians. In order to
enter God’s rest in heaven, i.e. to reach the salvation of their souls and the
eternal life, they ought to live in the peace of Christ every single day
through the grace of the Lord and to be led by the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:14).
In the light of the New Testament the Sabbath commandment no longer requires
the observing of a certain day, but a constant life in the Lord by spirit, by
grace. The “Sabbath rest” is not a weekly rest for the body, but a daily
spiritual rest. Israel
In addition, we’ll give the explanation of Hebrews 4:9, which we find in the book “Our Love” by archimandrite Seraphim, 1958,
p. 116. On the basis of the Greek original, it discusses what kind of “Sabbath
rest” this verse is speaking about: Sofia
“…But if we look in the Greek original for this verse (Hebrews 4:9 – author's note/D.H.), we shall understand that it doesn’t speak at all about the Saturday in its common sense, since the noun Saturday has not been used (in Greek- “Sabbath”- author’s note/V.V.), but a rather different word - “Sabbathismos” (sabbatarianism). This sabbatarianism does not mean some rest on the seventh day of the week, but a completely different thing – rest in the heavenly
The interpreters, even the protestant ones, are united on the opinion that here
sabbatarianism means that spiritual peace, which Jesus Christ has brought for
the believers, saying: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I
will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle
and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls!” (Matthew
11:28-29). This is the kind of Sabbath rest Hebrews 4:9 speaks about, about a
rest in a high spiritual sense. The converted Hebrews were called to reaching
this graceful rest in this chapter of the Epistle. The Sabbath rest from the
Old Testament was only a pale foreshadow of this blessed spiritual calmness in
the New Testament, which is given to the ones, consecrated and redeemed through
the cross of the Savior.” kingdom of Christ
As we know, a huge number of persons, rules, events, rituals and things from Old Testament times are symbols or foreshadows of Jesus and His redeeming work, of New Testament things. For Christ, by example, many Old Testament symbols can be listed. One of them is the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:3). The circumcision of the flesh was a symbol for the circumcision of the heart (Rom. 2:29).
symbol for the world with its sinful lusts. The Exodus of the Hebrews out of Egypt was a
shadow of the bringing out of the New Testament believers from the world and
the hostage of sin. Hagar and Sarah are symbols of the Old and the New
Testament (Gal. 4:24), so Ishmael and Isaac – of the Old Testament Hebrews and
the New Testament believers (Gal. 4: 28). The ark of Noah is a symbol of the
salvation through faith, and the flood - of the destruction of the earth
through fire (II Peter 3:6-7). The breaking of the first original “tables of
the covenant” (Exodus 32:19; Deuteronomy 9:9, 11, 17) is a symbol of the
transitiveness of the Law (Hebrews 7:12). The Old Testament Law is a “shadow of
the good things that are coming” (Hebrews 10:1). One of these good things
coming, is the peace, which people get, when they respond the invitation of
Jesus Christ in Matthew 11:28, 29: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and
burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”. It
would be strange and inexplicable, if the peace of souls from and in Christ,
named also ”the peace of God” or “the peace of Christ” (John 14:27; Rom. 5:1;
Phil. 4:7; Col. 3:15), had had no Old Testament symbol. By researching the
books of the Old Testament, we cannot find an example or symbol more
suitable to the peace of God for the human soul than the Old Testament Sabbath
rest ( Egypt
.2:16, 17). Whoever disagrees, may point another symbol, more appropriate and
convincing, of the peace Christians receive through faith in Christ. Col
2. A conclusion about the Sabbath problem on the basis of Romans 14:5.
This verse says: “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind”.
Out of any doubt, this concerns the respecting of one day of the week more than another day or the equal respect for all the days. This evangelical principle can be spread over days, which are celebrated only once a year - one man may consider some day of the year special as an annual feast - public, church or personal, a birthday for instance. Evidently, this principle points out the freedom Christians have in choosing what days and feasts they will regard as more important than the others in the week or in the year. This principle is in a total contradiction to the letter of the Old Testament Law – Exodus 20:8-11; Leviticus, chapter 23. If the Sabbath commandment of Sinai was obligatory in the literal sense in the New Testament time, Paul would not dare to write this verse.
Romans 14:5 gives a Christian the right to choose any day of the week for rest and worshipping to God. He may choose the Saturday as well – but not because of the Sabbath commandment from Sinai, it would be up to his own choice, absolutely free. He is to be “fully convinced in his own mind” in doing this and to act in a perfect faith and conviction (Romans 14:22, 23). If he had chosen voluntarily (and not by a command) the Saturday or any other day of the week to have a rest, he won’t be burdened by the heavy load of the Old Testament Sabbath commandment…
(In the Roman church there was a number of Jewish Christians as well, which can be seen from the regards Paul sent to his fellow-countrymen, according to the letter to the Romans, chapter 16. After the coming of Christ the rules of the Law had lost their validity, but the keeping of the Sabbaths, the New Moon, the religious feasts and so on, was to testify about their belonging to the Jewish nation. Freedom was given to all, to keep their national or personal feasts, which did not offend the Christian belief, in order to prevent the Jews from trying to impose their rituals, and the gentiles from forbidding them to preserve their traditions. The ones, who regarded all days as equal, were encouraged for doing the right thing as well, because we have to stand always rightly before God. Thus, we can resume, that there was no obligatory rule for regarding a certain day more than the others, for sure. –author’s note/V.V.)
3. A conclusion about the Sabbath problem on the basis of Galatians 4:9-11.
This text says: “But now that you know God – or rather are known by God – how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.”
This text (Gal 4:9-11) shows that the teachings of observation of days, months, etc. are “primitive teachings” – they originate from the time before Christ. The Apostle characterizes them as “weak and miserable”. Such teachings about the observation of days (the Sabbath), months (new moons – Numbers 10:10; 28:11-15), times (feasts – Leviticus, chapter 23) and years (the Sabbath year and the jubilee – Lev. 25:2-13) were obligatory to the Old Testament believers. Paul rebukes the New Testament believers from
for turning backwards to
these teachings, to which they wish to be enslaved again (verse 9). They are
ritual, carnal rules. These teachings don’t correspond to the Gospel. They are
contrary to the freedom, which Christ has given to us (John 8:32; Gal. 5:1). Galatia
The evangelical belief, the Christian life, the worshipping God have two sides – an outward, visible, ritual and an inner one - hidden, spiritual. The Old Testament ministry and worship had many commanded rituals. They were an outward, visible expression of the faith and hope in God of the Old Testament believers, of their love and obedience to Him. The Samaritan woman did not understand what was the right place for the believers of her time to worship God – in
or on the
mountain. Jesus told her: “God is spirit and His worshipers must worship in
spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Jerusalem
Indisputably the observing of days and feasts is a ritual or material expression of our faith. It is comparatively easy to achieve, except if associated to some very strict requirements. The inward worship to God “in spirit and truth” is the difficult and exalted one in the Christian belief. The difficult thing is to turn to Him from the bottom of one’s heart, the deep and sincere repentance, the purity of heart (the clear conscience), the constant caution to one’s thoughts, words and acts, the incessant prayer to our Creator, the strong faith, trust and hope in God under any circumstances, especially when we are going through big temptations. The difficulty is to achieve the blessings in Matthew, chapter 5, “the fruit of the Spirit” in Gal. 5:22, 23, the love in I Corinthians, chapter 13, I John 3:18; John 13:34; 15:12, to their full extent. The difficult is to rejoice sincerely with the ones who rejoice, and to weep from our hearts with those who weep (Rom. 12:15). The difficult is to reach a consecration of our person (Hebrews 12:14). The prerequisite and the beginning of the whole spiritual growing up of the believer, is to be born again (John 3:3, 5). The “new creature” is the important one in the life of a Christian, not the observing of bodily rules (Gal. 6:15).
The conclusion from Gal. 4:9-11 adds to the one from Rom. 14:5, which we have already come to. In New Testament times, if the believers observe a certain dayes., they do it of their own will, of their own decision and not because of some commandment in the Holy Scriptur The commandment fixes strict and, sometimes impossible to fit, conditions. The celebrating of a day for God is to bring us joy. The strict commandment brings no joy, but fear and trouble. As we can see from the evangelical books, the Christians ought to live not in fear, but in joy and with a free spirit (John 8:32; Gal. 5:1). For some believers, however, it may still be hard to familiarize and cope with the conditions of the New Testament freedom. That is why they seem to prefer the thing, they are already used to - to live under the guidance and the custody of the strict ritual rules for observation of days and feasts, for eating and non-eating, for keeping of certain church traditions and so on. In this way they seem to feel some satisfaction with doing something for God and with the explicit and canalized form of their Christian activity.
8. A conclusion about the Sabbath problem on the basis of Colossians 2:16
In the New Testament books of the Bible we can find three evangelical texts, that directly disprove with no need for any interpretations, the statement that the Old Testament Sabbath commandment was obligatory for the Christians. These texts are: Romans 14:5; Gal. 4:9-11 and Col. 2:16. The two of them we have already discussed in p. 2 and 3. Now we will pay attention to the third verse – Col. 2:16. It says: “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day”.
From this verse we can clearly see, that the believers in
Frygia – Asia Minor, were blamed for things,
which they ate or drank, as well as for festivals, New Moons and Sabbaths,
which they did not observe. Doubtlessly the rebukers were converted Hebrews,
who still kept the Law. Acts 15:1, 5, 24 talks about the same disturbers in the
church in .
We understand from these words of Paul, that the gentiles, converted to Christ
in Antioch ,
were advised by him to feel free from the Old Testament rules for eating
and drinking, festivals, New Moon celebrations and Sabbaths. What kind of
Sabbaths is Paul talking about here? The defenders of the Sabbath claim, that
this concerns not the weekly Saturdays, but annual feasts – Sabbaths (from
Leviticus, chapter 23). We think that this statement of theirs is simply a
“clutching at straws” in order to defend their opinion on the Sabbath problem. Colossae
Let us compare Col. 2:16 to II Chronicles 2:4, Ezekiel 46:4, 6, 11. It is apparent, that Paul has only quoted from those biblical verses in the reverse order the phrase “festivals or New Moons or Sabbaths”. Do these verses, when speaking about burnt offerings on the Sabbaths, mean the festival Sabbaths from Leviticus, chapter 23 or the weekly Sabbaths from the Sinai Law? If we compare it to the Numbers 28:9, 10, we shall see that for the weekly Sabbaths burnt offerings have also been commanded. Furthermore the weekly Sabbaths were regarded as more important than the festive ones. So we have no grounds to accept that the weekly Sabbaths were disregarded in the phrase ”festivals or New Moon celebrations or Sabbaths”.
…But there is something about this verse, which is sure and indisputable. It is the fact that Paul did write under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit did know, beyond any doubt, that this Epistle was going to be a part of the New Testament books, canonized and obligatory for all Christians in all the centuries, even until now. It is impossible for this message, being a Godly statement, to bring obscurity and uncertainty to the believers and to contain ambiguous phrases. It is inadmissible to think, that it may mislead us to committing a sin by disregarding the Sabbaths, if their observation was obligatory in New Testament times. Any normal person, any unprejudiced believer throughout the centuries, up to now, thinks about the weekly Sabbaths whenever he hears the word “Sabbath”. Even children know this word’s meaning, as they learn the days of the week in their very youth.
There are words in every language, which have several meanings – usually a main or basic one and the others - additional or derivative. For example the word “eye” has its basic meaning of a biological organ. An additional or derivative meaning of this word is the hole of a needle. When we mention the word “eye”, we think mainly about its basic meaning (translator’s note: In the original text in Bulgarian the example is with the word “tooth” – basic meaning as a biological organ; additional meaning as a mechanical element). It’s the same with the word “Sabbath” or “Sabbaths”. Its basic or normal sense concerns the weekly Sabbaths (Saturdays).
The word “Sabbath” was used 60 times in the books of the New Testament (according to H. M. Wriggle). 59 of them speak doubtlessly about the weekly Sabbaths. When they blamed Jesus of having healed sick people on Sabbath days, it was about the weekly Sabbaths and not some annual festival – Sabbath (Luke 13:10-16). When Jesus said He was the ”Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:28), we understand the weekly Sabbath, not some annual feast – Sabbath. It is illogical and unconvincing in this case, to claim that the 60th place – Col. 2:16, concerns annual festivals, named “Sabbaths” and not weekly Sabbaths or even all Sabbaths - weekly and annual. (If the Holy Spirit did not clearly explain in the context, that at this place, as an exclusion, the word “Sabbath” means “annual feasts” from Leviticus, chapter 23, then we conclude that this is about the weekly ones, as it is in the whole New Testament – author’s note/V.V.)
Let’s get back to the statement of the defenders of the Sabbath, that in this verse in Col. 2:16 the word “Sabbath” or “Sabbaths” concerned the annual festivals from Leviticus, chapter 23. If we read attentively this chapter, we comprehend that the word “Sabbath” was used twice in verse 3, meaning the weekly Sabbath, twice in verse 32, meaning the Day of Atonement in the tenth day of the seventh month; in verse 38 – it says the plural “Sabbaths” with the sense of the weekly Sabbaths (the Sabbaths of the Lord). The other festivals, described in this chapter, though resting days also, were never named “Sabbath”, although the word “Sabbath” means rest”.
Let the defenders of the Sabbath point out where in the Bible the word “Sabbath” was used to mark an annual feast, except Lev. 23:32. We don’t know such a test so far. Their statement on the meaning of the word in Col. 2:16 is evidently tendentious and far-fetched. They deliberately overstate the meaning of the word “Sabbath” in relation to annual feasts and depreciate its meaning, related to the weekly Sabbaths. In some older publications they also point out tendentiously the ”great” significance of the singular or plural form of the word “Sabbath” in Col. 2:16. This was, in their opinion, to show that it concerned the annual festivals – Sabbaths. But the facts are different: there are 52 weekly Sabbaths in the year and only one Day of Atonement, named “Sabbath” in Lev. 23:32. And more to that, as we have already said, Lev. 23:38 talks about the weekly Sabbaths in plural. Other places in the Bible mention the weekly Sabbaths in plural as well – Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:12, 20. Finally, the plural form may admittedly speak for both weekly and annual festive Sabbaths. Leviticus, chapter 23 begins to list the feasts of the Lord (verse 2), with the weekly Sabbaths namely (verse 3). They were placed first. Therefore we have no right to overlook the weekly Sabbaths while mentioning the festivals of the Lord, as well as the word “Sabbath”. At the end, we have to say also that if one compares the Bulgarian and some foreign versions of the Bible, he could conclude that in Col. 2:16 it is not a definite singular or definite plural form.
(If Paul the Apostle considered Sabbaths = festivals, then his words would have contained unnecessary tautology: "…do not let anyone judge you by…or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or festivals". After he had already mentioned “festival”, it is obvious that at the end of the sentence he speaks about the weekly Sabbaths. Why the Adventist theologians refuse to admit such a simple thing, but leave no stone unturned in order to distort the evident sense of this verse in their interpretations? – author’s note/V.V.)
We have already set apart too much place to discuss Col. 2:16. Some authors find this verse so important to the solution of the Sabbath problem, that they take it to a heading to their works. Col. 2:16 shows us that the observation of the Sabbath commandment and the Sabbath day in New Testament times amidst the converted gentiles, was not obligatory as early as the time of the Apostles. The appearance of this verse is imperative. The Sabbath defenders, in condemning the other Christians for not observing the Sabbath day, offend this clear evangelical command. As we know, the disobedience to any commandment of God, which is obligatory for us today, is a sin.
For what reason was the Law given to the Israelites?
The Lord did announce the Hebrews only to be His people, set apart from all the other nations on the earth (Exodus 33:16; II Samuel 7:24). He made His covenant with them on the
and gave them His Law (Exodus
19:5; Deuteronomy 4:13, 14). The Sabbath was defined as a “sign of the
covenant” (Exodus 31:13, 16, 17; Ezekiel 20:12, 20). The Law of Moses has
always been the outlook of the Jewish nation. It has helped the nation to be
preserved since its beginning until nowadays, though the Israelites have been
scattered among all the nations for nearly 2 000 years. This nation has a
peculiar role in the plan of God for the mankind (Rom. 9:4,5; 11:12, 15) and
although they were temporary cast away because of their unbelief (Rom.
11:17-25), at the end of the times they will be accepted again (Micah
2:12;Romans 11:26). But the obligatory power of the Law passed away after the
coming of the Messiah, and so did the ”sign of the covenant”, i.e. the Sabbath
commandment (II Corinthians 3:14). mountain of Sinai
Let us turn again towards D. Hristov to explain us the purpose of the giving of the Sabbath: “According to the bible texts in Exodus 31:13, 16, 17; Deuteronomy 5:15 and Ezekiel 20:12, 20, the Lord has given the Sabbath or Sabbaths to the Israelites only to keep them, sanctify and celebrate them, with this fourfold purpose:
- To recognize Him, the Lord, as their God (according to Ezekiel 20:20).
- To remind them that He is the Creator of the Universe (according to Exodus 31:16, 17).
- To make them know that He is consecrating them (according to Exodus 31:13 and Ezekiel 20:12).
- To remind them that they have been slaves in the land of Egypt and the Lord has brought them out of it with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm (according to Deuteronomy 5:15).
The Sabbaths, which the Lord has given to them with this fourfold purpose in order to learn to know Him as God, Creator, Consecrator and Savior, have lost their significance with the coming of Christ. The New Testament believers gain an intimate knowledge of God – the Father as their God, Creator, Consecrator and Savior not through the weekly Sabbaths any more, but in a much clearer and perfect way – through Jesus Christ, the Son of God (John 14:9, 10; 17:19; Romans 4:25; Hebrews 1:2, 3; 10:10). In this sense and for this reason the Sabbath was only a shadow of what was to come, i.e. of Christ (Col. 2:17), and the Old Testament Sabbath rest was a symbol of the comfort, which Christians get through faith in the Savior (Matthew 11:28; John 14:27; Phil. 4:7). That is why if we turn back to the letter of the Old Testament Sabbath commandment, we depreciate the graceful work of Christ and the more superior way of the New Testament (John 14:6; Hebrews 8:6, 7). Thus we are coming to the danger of being condemned by Hebrews 10:29 (see John 12:48; Rom. 2:16; I Corinthians 4:5).
There are certain circumstances, which make it impossible for the gentiles to observe the Sabbath commandment literally according to the Law of Moses. At the first place we can list some geographical reasons. The peoples living in colder areas, where the temperatures are too low during the winter, will freeze if they don’t make fires (Exodus 35:3). Beside this the Laplanders, Eskimos, etc. who live beyond the Frigid Zone simply couldn’t celebrate every weekly Sabbath from sunset until the next sunset, since there the sun doesn’t set beneath the horizon for several days after June 22nd, and doesn’t appear at all for the same time, at the beginning of the winter - the 22nd of December. D. Hristov points out another detail: “Let us see what will happen if some ship or plane crosses the 180th meridian at the very moment when days shift there – to the West of the line, the Saturday turns to Sunday for instance, and to the East of it, the Friday turns to Saturday. While crossing from the West towards the East, people in the plane (or the ship) will have two consecutive Sabbath days, and the ones, crossing it in the opposite direction, will miss the Saturday and go directly from Friday to Sunday in this six-days week.
We can see from these examples that the accounting of the Sabbath day, as well as any other day, is conditional because of the spherical shape of the earth’s globe. However we cannot admit that the salvation of the human soul may depend on such geographic conditions in the accounting of the days…”
Secondly, the observation of the Old Testament Sabbath hinders the human progress. It would be impossible for people, working on foreign-going ships, spaceships, atomic power-plants, enterprises with uninterrupted production processes, etc., to stop their work on the Sabbath day. Such an act would surely lead to accidents, failures and even calamities. Then all the people, who have such jobs, would have no chance to get saved. (The change of job would not solve the problem because other people would have to take their places, who would be doomed to spiritual death, too). That would mean that God did not think of the people, laboring for the general good (for example, the ones in hospitals, firemen, police forces, etc.), and even treats them unfairly, so that they can’t get into the kingdom of heaven. How then the Apostles could claim: ”The Lord …not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”, “…who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (II Peter 3:9; I Tim. 2:4)?
Thirdly, there is no way for the ritual requirements and punishments, associated with the Sabbath commandment, to be fulfilled. We have already mentioned that on this day the consecrated breads were replaced and two additional lambs for burnt offering were used together with the daily sacrifice (Lev. 24:5-8; Numbers 28:9-10). Are the temple, the priests and the sacrifices to be restored in order to give us the chance to fit all the requirements, concerning this weekly feast? Further more, it was commanded in the Law that the people who don’t observe the Sabbath, should perish (Exodus 31:14; 35:12). Isn’t it possible for some insane “prophet” to appear and to order a certain fanatic Adventist movement to kill everyone, who works on this day (there is a number of such cases in history)?
The Adventists theoretically claim, that a man is saved “through faith only”. But Christians have noticed many times that they practically attempt to do the “deeds of the Law”. They obviously misunderstand it and that is why we are going to try to explain it simply. In Acts 15:1-5 it is said that some Jewish Christians (the so-called “legalists”), used to teach the gentiles that they cannot be saved unless they become circumcised. So in their opinion, man can be saved not through faith in Christ only, but through keeping of the Law as well. The discussion on this problem was written down by Paul in many of his letters, but most of all, in the letter to the Galatians. He had brought the Good News there himself first, and had established the local churches (Gal. 4:13). He used to explain the believers everywhere, that the Law remains valid in its spiritual sense only: “A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical….and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code” (Rom. 2:28-29). The legalists did come to him wishing to impose the literal observation of the commandments as well (Gal. 1:6-9; 3:1-3). In his letter, Paul tells his spiritual children: “If you wish to keep one single commandment in its material sense, you will have to fulfill the whole Law of Moses, since it is an unbreakable unity” (Gal. 5:3). For the accomplishing of the circumcision, for example, the priests are necessary, and they are also associated with the temple and with the whole sacrificial ritual system. The problem was quite substantial and so it was discussed at the Apostolic Council in
. Under the
guidance of the Holy Spirit, a decision was made that from the list of physical
rules of the Law, the gentiles were to observe these few things only: “to
abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of
strangled animals and from blood“ (Acts 15:20, 29). The Sabbath question is
absolutely analogical. If the Adventists wish to observe it completely,
according to the Code of Sinai, they ought to fulfill all the requirements,
related to it as well – prohibitions, rituals, punishments and so on. We have
already said that the rule of the circumcision was bigger than the Sabbath
commandment (John 7:22-24). It is the same with the spiritual aspect - without
a “circumcised heart”, i.e. a sincere devotion to God, any Sabbath ministry
would be only formal. And after the circumcision remained valid in its
spiritual sense only, this concerns even more the smaller Sabbath commandment. The
evangelical teaching was absolutely set apart from the Old Testament Law. The
gentiles’ teacher says categorically: “You who are trying to be justified by
law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Gal.
This is why we are going to emphasize again that the obligatory literal observation of the Old Testament Sabbath commandment, leads to the returning to the Law of Moses and falling away from the grace, that was given to us in Christ Jesus.
The Law in the history of mankind
The Lord has made us in His own image, in His likeness. What would have happened if we had remained in His Love, creating supreme good? Would the commandments of the law have been necessary then? The man knew and loved the only true God and no other gods. So he would not have made himself idols to worship. Because of his respect to the Creator, he would have pronounced His name only when needed and in a complete reverence. The serving to God would have been incessant – all the acts would have to be in fulfillment of His will and to His glory. The family love would have led to a big respect toward the parents. Love is life-giving, it does not impair, commits no evil, murders not. When two people are truly in love with each other, they do not commit adulteries. The theft would have been impossible, for everything would have been common possession. When we love the others, we never tell lies to them. Man was given all the precious things on the earth in abundance and he could covet nothing more. As we can see, when love toward God and our neighbor fills the human hearts, the Law is totally idle. When the man took the forbidden fruit, he did not die physically, but spiritually, since he fell apart from God (Genesis 2:16, 17; 3:24). Only the conscience remained in us to tell between good and evil. It is guided by such principles: “do to others what you would have them to do to you” ; Matthew 7:12). Furthermore, the whole creation testifies about(Acts 15:29[*] its Creator, to Whom we are to give an account (Psalm 19:1-4). All the people have always had this general revelation, so they remain with no excuse (Romans 1:20; 2:14, 15). Abraham and his heirs were chosen to be God’s own people (Genesis 12:2; Exodus 33:16). They got special revelations as well – Abraham was given the one about the justification through faith, and later, Moses was given the law (Genesis 15:6; John 1:17). However man cannot do good apart from his Creator (John 15:5). The carnal law of egoism, hatred and pride has the power over him (Romans, chapter 7). The Sinai covenant laid our transgressions bare, but it could not consecrate anything (Gal. 3:19; Hebrews 7:19). The Lord Jesus Christ came to purify us from every sin, to grant us the love of God again and to restore the lost paradise to us (Matthew 26:28; John 15:9; Col. 1:13).
[*] See this verse in the Bulgarian Synodical version of the Bible.
[*] See this verse in the Bulgarian Synodical version of the Bible.
After the creation of the world, the Lord said He had rested from all His works. His rest though, was not because of some fatigue, rather it means seizing of His creative activity (see note 8). After the words of an author: ”He felt satisfaction with the creation, so He blessed and sanctified the seventh day”. The texts in Genesis 2:2, 3: “by the seventh day God…rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creation that He had done”, is narrative, not imperative (i.e. it is not a command). The man needed not to be reminded to keep one day only for God, because he had lived totally in the presence of God and all he was doing, was the best according to His will (Genesis 2:15). Adam, apparently, did not sin while working in the garden on Sabbath days, otherwise he would have been forbidden to labor on this day. The only commandment which he got, was: “…You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but thou must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16, 17). After he disobeyed it, the man was set apart from God and cast away from heaven. He was told to till the ground with sweat on his brows, with no limitation on which days he should work or rest. This is the comment of prof. Totthew Koev to this verses: “It is true, that ”The Lord God took the man in the garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). These words show that labor was blessed by God and that Adam and Eve did work as early as the fall. But we ought to distinguish between the labor before and after the fall of man. Before the sin the first human couple used to contemplate on God with their pure spiritual eyes. The work used to give them heavenly satisfaction instead of fatigue and need for rest. Being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), Adam and Eve reflected the work of God in their creative work (i.e. they did not get “exhausted and weak” as well – author’s note). The punitive character of labor was a result of the fall of man: “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of you life. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food.” (Genesis 3:17,19). After such an exhausting labor, rest is necessary, but this still doesn’t mean it ought to have been on the Sabbath day. If it was on this day, then after the words “all the days”, would have to be written “except for the Sabbath”.[*]
All the people on Earth - the righteous Abel, Seth, Enosh, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc., as well as the unrighteous ones, did have no other judge beside their own conscience. There is not any biblical text, from which we could make a conclusion that before the Law was given, the fourth commandment had already existed.
During the time of Egyptian slavery, the Hebrews have been obliged to do the hardest work (Exodus 1:8-14). If they had to have an obligatory Sabbath day – rest, they would have broken it systematically in relation to their constant pressure of work (since the Pharaoh did not take to his mind the laws of their God not in the least – Exodus 5:2). Moses never mentioned such a thing, which is to show us that they did not regard such a weekly feast. Only after the Lord led them out of
Egypt and gave them the manna in the , they received for the first time an
object lesson about the way they were to keep the Sabbath (Exodus, chapter 16).
(This would not have been necessary, if they had known this rule before). A bit
later, the Sabbath was enlisted as one of the commandments of God. We shall
turn to the same author again: “When and why in the Old Testament age, was in
fact the observing of the Sabbath by the Israelites established? In
consideration of the topic under discussion, the answer to this question is
very important. Moreover it was clearly given in the Old Testament: ”The Lord
our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. It was not with our fathers that the
Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today.
The Lord spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain…And He said:
“I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of
slavery….Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has
commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh
day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God…Remember that you were slaves in Desert of Sin and that
the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an
outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the
Sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:2-6, 12-15). We can see quite clearly in these
words that the commandment of the keeping of the Sabbath day was: 1) a command
concerning only the Israelite (Hebrew) nation, which was the people of God
before the coming of Christ; 2) it was given to them after their bringing out
of Egypt; 3) it was to remind them forever that they were slaves in Egypt and
that they were brought out of there by God and not by themselves (verse 15) and
4) it was a sign (seal) of the covenant (sacred alliance) between God and the
Jewish people after the bringing out of the slavery.[**] Egypt
In consent with the aforementioned reflections, we can categorically judge, that from the very creation of man until the bringing out of the Israelites from
was no commandment for a Sabbath-day rest, but this was introduced as late as
the Sinai Covenant. Egypt
[*]“Faith and life” p. 398.
[*]“Faith and life” p. 398.
[**]“Faith and life” p. 399.
Even after the Resurrection and the Ascension of the Savior, the Jewish Christians have gone on holding to all the rules of the Law of Moses, although it was not valid anymore (see Acts 21: 17-26). They have done this not as a requirement to be saved, but to declare their belonging to their race. After the destruction of
, the Jews have
been scattered among all the nations worldwide, but have managed to preserve
their national identity through their traditions. At the end of times, God
gathered them back in their motherland, since they have a very important role
to play in the last events, described in the Revelation. Jerusalem
The conclusions we’ve made about the two spiritual senses of the New Testament Sabbath commandment, have been splendidly confirmed in the work “Stromati(a)” of St. Clement of Alexandria (194 AD): ”From the very Scripture we learn that God had given the circumcision as well not as a work of righteousness, but rather as a sign, through which the heirs of Abraham can be recognized. (The forefather of the Hebrews was first justified through faith, and then accepted the circumcision as a seal or a sign for the righteousness through faith – Rom. 4: 9-12 – author’s note/V.V.). For it is said: “Then God said to Abraham…Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Me and you” (Genesis 17: 9-11). He talks to the Hebrews likewise concerning the Sabbath: “You must observe My Sabbaths. This will be a sign between Me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.” (Exodus 31:13). And so these rules were given as signs. The circumcision of the flesh was to be a symbol of the spiritual one, since according to the Apostle, we have undergone “not a circumcision done by the hands of men but…the circumcision done by Christ” (Col. 2:11), and the prophet says: “Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer” (Deuteronomy 10:16). Thus the Sabbaths taught people to get used to serve God every day. For the Apostle Paul says: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered” (Rom. 8: 36), i.e. we have devoted ourselves to God and serve Him at any time, walking in our faith while abstaining from every greed, we gain and own no earthly treasures. Besides, the Sabbath also points out the peace of God after the Creation, i.e. the
in which by beginning to serve God, man gets comfort and takes part in His
supper.” Kingdom of God
ІІ. The Sunday – a symbol of the new Creation
The first day is related to the creative principle. The heaven and earth were made on this day, and later on – all that is in them as well (Genesis, chapter 10). However, after the fall of man, the old creation was subordinated and handed over to destruction (Rom. 8:20-21). But the Lord planed an act of redemption for the whole Universe, which was fulfilled through the Savior’s death on the cross (John 3:16). With His resurrection, the renewal of everything was started (II Corinthians 5:17). God revived us together with Him and made us to become the first fruits of the new Creation (Eph. 2:5-7; James 1:18). At the end, He will make a perfect world, inhabited by all the righteous creatures (Rev. 21:1-7).
The greatest event, which set the beginning of the new world, was prophesied in the very Psalms: “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will also rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay”, ”O Lord you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit” (Psalm 16:9-11; 30:3). Another place says: “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118: 22-24). Christ is the Stone the builders rejected (I Peter 2: 4-8). But He became the cornerstone and the church was built on Him (Eph. 2: 20, 21). On the “day”, when our Lord resurrected, we have to rejoice and jubilate, for He overcame the death, hell and the devil. As it is written: “who had destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light”, “Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?” , “by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is , the devil” (II Tim. 1:10; Hosea 13:14; Hebrews 2:14). An old Passover song says: "Let all the nature rejoice: The heavens should rejoice righteously, the earth should jubilate and the whole visible and invisible world should celebrate, for Christ, the eternal justice, resurrected from the dead."
What day the official Christian worship has been carried on?
The Adventists think that if Christ and the Apostles visited the synagogues on Sabbath days, this certainly means that they approved the worshipping on Sabbath. That is why the first Christians, according to them, used to get together on the Sabbaths.
Our Savior lived at the end of the Old Testament age, when all of the Israelites have gone regularly to the synagogues, where on the Sabbath day the Law of Moses was read. So it is not strange that He used for His preaching the assembly of the believers (Matthew 4:23; John 18:20). All the other days, the Lord taught the people at any place – in towns and villages and in the countryside. He used to spend the important annual feasts in
speaking the “Gospel of the Kingdom” to the people who gathered there. (Does
this mean that we are also to observe the Jewish religious traditions – see
John 2:13-23; 5:1-47; 7:2-39; 10:22-42; 12:12-50, etc.) Jerusalem
At the beginning, after His ascension, the disciples went daily to the temple and the synagogues, preaching repentance and forgiveness for sins in the name of Christ (Acts 2:46-47; 3:1-26; 5:12-14, 42; 6: 7-10). They were later forbidden to spread out their belief by the chief priests and after the tragic murder of Stephen by the furious adversaries of the Christianity, the disciples stopped visiting the Jewish religious centers and began to assemble at their homes only (Acts 4:18; 5:40; 7:60; 12:12-17).
When Apostle Paul entered a certain town, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath days first, since he had to bring the Good News to the Jews at the first place. But after he was cast away from there by the opposition-minded, he established a new church with all of the believers (Acts 13:14-52; 14:1-7; 16:13-15; 17:1-17; 18:4-21; 19:8-10).
In all the similar occasions, mentioned in the New Testament, it concerns the worshiping according to the Jewish religion, to which Jesus and the Apostles were invited as guests to read the Scriptures and preach. There is no hint in all of these passages that Christian assemblies got together on Sabbath days also.
There are, however, a number of texts saying directly or indirectly what day the Christians did celebrate. When Jesus resurrected, in the morning of the first day He revealed Himself to the women who brought the spices, in the afternoon – to the two fellow-passengers on the way to Emmaus, and in the evening – to all of his disciples who were gathered together in a room (Matthew 28:1-9; Luke 24:13-32,33-42). By His second appearance in eight days, on the Sunday again, He confirmed this day as the time for the Christian worshipping (John 20:26-29). The fact that the pouring down of the Holy Spirit on the Pentecost when the church was established and given power, happened on a Sunday too, is significant. (Acts 2:1-4; see Lev. 23:15, 16).
The Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians: “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come, no collections will have to be made.” (I Corinthians 16:2). Why did he point out the first day and no some other day of the week? It is obvious that Paul didn’t know when exactly he would come, but their general assembly was to take place on the Sunday. For this reason, they had to bring with them what they had set aside in order to give it to him personally and not to start to gather their gifts then. (We know from Acts 11:27-30 that at this time there was a severe famine in
Evidently, the Apostle was in a hurry to send the gifts to Jerusalem and to get
them distributed out to the ones in need – I Corinthians 16:3,4).
There is a text, which shows with an absolute certitude on what day did the Christians gather to worship: “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people, and because he intended to leave next day, kept on talking until midnight.” (Acts 20:7). The Adventist theologians strive eagerly to dim the clear sense of this verse and to ascribe it a completely different meaning. They say that it concerns an additional meeting on Saturday evening after the sunset (when the first day had began), because Paul had to depart the next morning. As they try to put this passage to discussion, we shall scrutinize in its whole context. The Apostle had been for seven days in
Troas (verse 6). If he had to depart in such an
emergency, he could have ordered all people from the church to be notified to
get together so that he may tell them his directions, and then leave for immediately
(verse 16). But let us suggest that the Christians from the town and the
environs were not able to get together during the week. In such a case, to the
opinion of the Adventists, they would have had to be assembled on the Sabbath
day. Will our opponents be able to answer the following questions? Why isn’t it
written then that the worship of the church took place on the seventh day? The
beginning of the sentence in Acts 20:7: “On the first day of the week we came
together to break bread…”, seems to mean a regularly repeated act. For what
reasons could the believers miss the light part of the Sabbath-day and make
their assemblies as late as the evening? There were not persecutions all over
the country yet in this period, so they did not have to hide and commune during
the nights. But even if it was so, the worship would have had to take place on
the Friday night, in the dawning of Sabbath (the Apostle would have had more
time for his trip thus too). What did the Christians celebrate in the evening,
at the dawning of the first day? The resurrection of Jesus happened at sunrise,
so it would be logical that they should have conveyed their worship on the
Sunday morning exactly. In this way things are put in their proper places –
Apostle Paul was discussing with the disciples and teaching them all day long
(perhaps with short breaks), and he continued until midnight. He was giving his
last directions to the churches at the end of his third missionary journey,
because none of them would see him again (verses 17-38). Jerusalem
We shall conclude that the Christians observe perfectly the New Testament Sabbath by living a devoted life in continuous ministry to the Lord and find their spiritual peace in it. They worship the Lord on the first day of the week according to the example given us by the church of the Apostles. The Sunday rapturously reminds us of the resurrection of Christ by which the victory over the death was announced, and symbolizes the new creative principle of spiritual and physical change of the whole creation.
We have good reason to think that Adventist historians deliberately manipulate their followers about the teaching of the early church concerning the Saturday and Sunday. They do not quote objectively and completely the most important writings on this topic by the Christian authors from the period after the Apostles, but give mostly their own interpretation of their works which is in many cases, false or distorted. We shall adduce here short passages from the works of the Church Fathers from the beginning of the 2nd to the middle of the 4th century, so that each reader may make his own mind on this question.
At the end of his life, the Apostle John was in charge of the churches in Asia Minor. Because of his activity in the years around 90-100 AD, he was sent into an exile to the island of Patmos. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him in a vision there and gave him messages to some of these churches (Revelation, chapters 1, 2, 3). But none of them contains an accusation that the Christians have disobeyed “the most important commandment” by changing the weekly worship from Sabbath to Sunday (according to the Adventists this has happened between 70 and 135 AD).
We say the mentioned above because there is, in addition, a preserved document by his disciple St Ignatius Theophorus, in this time – bishop of the church in Antioch (which was also in this region). In his Epistle to the Magnesians (107 AD), he says: “Each loving Christian is to regard the day of the resurrection (Sunday) as a feast of the Resurrection of Christ, the most glorious of all the days…Let us not give in to the fallacies of strange teachings and old stories, which are useless. For if we live keeping to the old Jewish law, we shall thus show that the grace did not touch us. So let the one who was brought up in the old law and later came to the light of the new hope, abandon the observation of the Sabbath and regard the Resurrection (the Sunday), settled by the death of Christ and which revealed to us the life in Christ.”
Another (independent) source says also that the Christians have gathered together on Sunday morning. The procouncil Plinius (governor Pliny) the Younger writes in a letter to the emperor Trayan (in 106 AD ): “The Christians have the habit of gathering together on a certain day before sunrise and singing to Christ as to a God. This day is the eight one, when Jesus Christ has resurrected”.
In the “Epistle by the Apostle Barnabas” (120 AD), chapter 14, we can read: “That is why we keep overjoyed the eight day, namely the day on which Jesus resurrected from the dead”.
“Apostolic directions” (125 AD), vol. VII, chapter 30: “On the day of the Lord keep gathering together, thanking to God and telling how were you benefited by Him in Christ…Gather in the house of God on the day of the Resurrection of Christ…go to the temple on the day of the Lord because of the teaching of the devotion and to the remembrance of His resurrection”.
From some works by St Justin Martyr (which have been confirmed by Eusebius as well), we comprehend that he celebrated the Sunday as early as the time when he had lived in Ephesus, i.e. before 135 AD (he moved to Rome later). In his “First apology” (155 AD) to emperor Antoninus, chapter 67, he says: “What was not obligatory from the beginning, is not obligatory now in Christ as well. If circumcision was not necessary until the time of Abraham and the Sabbath – until the time of Moses, then now when, by the will of the Father, the Son of God Jesus Christ was born sinless by a virgin, they are not necessary either…But Sunday is the day when all of us assemble to worship, since it is the first one, on which God had made changes in the darkness and the substance – He created the world, and our Savior Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead ones on the same day. Because He was crucified on the day before the one of Saturn (Saturday), and on the day following it, which is the day of the Sun (Sunday), appearing to His disciples, He taught them these things, which we have presented to you as a food for reflection”.
The same church mentor says in his book “A conversation with the Jew Tryphon” (165 AD), while mentioning the names of Adam, Abel, Enosh, Lot and Melchizedek that: “All these righteous men, though they did not observe the Sabbaths, did please God”. He asks at another place: “Is there anything else, my friend, about which you could condemn us except for not living according to the law, not circumcising ourselves like your forefathers, and for not observing the Sabbaths like you do?”
St. Irenaeus of Lyons says shortly and clearly in his work “Against the heresies” (203 AD), vol. IV, chapter 30: “Abraham believed in God with no circumcision and no Sabbath”.
Tertullian, “Versus The Jews” (223 AD): “Since the Lord has placed Adam with no circumcision and observation of the Sabbath, He had favor to his son Abel who did sacrifice offerings with no circumcision and no Sabbath – observing, either. He mercifully accepted what Abel had offered Him pure-heartedly and rejected the sacrifice of Cain who consecrated it in a wrong way. This same God saved from the flood Noah and his family with no circumcision and observation of the Sabbath. Even the righteous Enosh was taken out of this world with no such things. He didn’t taste death and pointed out that even without the yoke of the Law of Moses, it is possible to please God. Even Melchizedek, the priest of the Almighty God, was introduced into the ministry without circumcision and Sabbath-observation.”
St Peter of Alexandria (311 AD), rule 15: “We celebrate the Sunday as a day of joy because of the Resurrection which happened on it”.
Eusebius of Caesarea (340 AD), vol. I, chapter 4, mentions while talking about the Patriarchs: “They had neither circumcision, nor observed the Sabbath, like us… such things are not for the Christians”.
The church councils express best the opinion of the Christians in that time. The twentieth rule of the First Oecumenical Council, which took place in the town of Nic(k)ea (325 AD), says: “Because some people kneel down on Sundays and on the Pentecost, so in order to have a total unity in everything in all the parishes, the holy council determines the days mentioned above for prayers and worship to God”.
Later on the local council in Laodicea (343 AD), enacted by its 29th rule: “Christians are not allowed to imitate the Jews and to celebrate the Sabbath, but they are to work on this day. Being Christians, they are to observe the Sunday.” (Contrary to the opinion of some Adventist authors, the Pope was neither present, nor sent delegates to this council.)
From all said thus far one can understand that the teaching about the Sabbath and Sunday has its grounds in the New Testament and was observed as early as the appearance of the Christianity and remained immutable in the church until today. (The Adventist claims that it was imposed by the Roman Catholics not before the 4th century and spread throughout the world, have no reason at all. As we have already said in the first chapter, there was never a papal supremacy over the whole church).
We shall conclude with the confession of the former Adventist preacher D.M. Canright, who was once a high-rank person in their society in the United States: “After I had accepted the seventh day and had preached it widely for a quarter of a century, I am content that it was only a fallacy and the blessing from the Lord does not come along with its admission. Like thousands of others, when I embraced the Sabbath, I was thinking that all the reasons were on one side so clear and complete that no man could have cast the Sabbath away and still remain honest. I was only surprised that not all the people saw and accepted them.
After I have observed the seventh day for 28 years; after I was more convinced than thousands of others who keep it; after I’ve read the Bible more than 20 times; after I‘ve searched up to my limits, every single text, line and word, which had even the slightest relation to the Sabbath problem; after I’ve come through them in original and many versions and translations; after I’ve dug into dictionaries, concordances and interpretations; after I’ve read piles of books on the question pro and con; after I’ve read every single line by the Church Fathers on this topic and after I’ve written myself several works in favor of the seventh day which satisfied my brothers; after I’ve seen the fruits of the observation of the Sabbath day; after I’ve taken to consideration all the data in fear of the Lord, I finally made up my mind that the facts are versus the observation of the Sabbath day.”[*]
Many Adventist leaders are perfectly aware of the unsoundness of a number of their teachings, but they still maintain them because of their commitment to this church, their job and material status. Thus they confirm a fallacy in the minds of their followers, which leads them away from the Christianity. But let’s point them out, that in this way they run the risk to lose not only the salvation of their followers, but their own as well (their responsibility before God will be even bigger than the one of those, who listen to them). More and more of the ordinary members of this movement begin asking themselves nowadays to what extent their doctrines and practices are trustworthy in the light of the New Testament. So it is our friendly advice toward the Adventist leaders to turn to the Christian positions – this is the only way to prevent cataclysms in their church and to save their followers.
(In the second part of the book we shall discuss the rest of the heretic doctrines of this movement – the Eschatology (2300 days, the investigative judgment, interpretation of the Revelation), the teaching of the unconscious state of the souls after death, the destruction of the wicked ones in the lake of fire, the sinful nature of Jesus Christ, etc.).
[*] “Sabbath and Sunday in the light of the Holy Scripture” p.69.
[*] “Sabbath and Sunday in the light of the Holy Scripture” p.69.
 The rule concerning the Sabbath was one of the Ten Commandments written by God personally, that are the base of the Law of Moses. The first four of them regulate the proper relations between God and man and the other six – the moral relations among the people. In our survey, we’ll show that in the New Testament the spiritual nature of all the commandments from the Sinai Code, including the Sabbath, has been revealed quite clearly. (There are two very important spiritual dimensions of the fourth commandment which are still of significance for the Christians).
 The laws of nature were settled and meant to maintain the structure of the Universe. Their breaking would lead to chaos and disorganization in the material world. It is the same with the laws of God, but in the spiritual domain. In a vertical plane they define the right relations between God and man, and in the horizontal – the relations among people. What is going to happen if some commandment, for example from the Decalogue, is broken? Granted, the first one could allow worship to other gods. Each one of them would have different (often totally contradictory) requirements, which would be impossible to fit. Or if the 9th commandment changed to “give false testimony”: if we give one another false and untrue information, no act or work with a purpose would be possible to be done. And a commandment stating ”murder” would lead to the destruction of mankind – people would kill each other (even if one of them survived at the end, he would have to die with no heirs, too). The reader can make up his own conclusions about the consequences of the disobedience to the rest of the commandments. In other words, breaking of the law leads to evil only, and keeping to it contributes to the benefit of man. We can see that the establishing of any spiritual order in the society and the creation of anything good, just and beautiful would be impossible without it. (We shall explain further in the text that this concerns not only the spiritual nature of the commandments on the two plates of stone, but also the whole Law of God).
 However, when someone creates pictures, monuments, etc., expressing scenes from the heavenly or earthly life as works of art, this isn’t still an idolatry. The Lord had commanded Moses to embroider the curtain in the temple with heavenly cherubs and also to place two cherubs of pure gold on the altar, which stood on the top of the Ark of the Covenant. But if someone begins to hold in special honor such images and objects, consider them as an object to worship, ascribe them miraculous abilities, this already makes him breaking the commandment.
 The commandments, related to different rituals, were also said to be eternal (see the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, etc.). The ceremonies revealed in a spiritual sense the justice and mercy of God – crime, punishment, redemption and forgiveness. Their pictures and symbols had to help the Old Testament believers to understand the salvation through the sacrificial “Lamb”. In this sense they are a shadow, which passes away, but their eternal immutable nature still remains – Christ (Hebrews 10:1-10). In general, the whole Law of Moses was named an “eternal covenant” (Deuteronomy 5:29), but the eternal in it was not “the letter” – the rules, but rather “the spirit” – the principles of love toward the neighbor and God.
 The Adventists divide the Old Testament law in two parts – “moral” (the ten commandments on the plates of stone) and “ceremonial” - all the rest of them. We think that such approach is incorrect – nowhere in the Bible can such a division be found. Let us take for granted this point for a moment, though. The Adventists claim that the “moral” law is still valid and the “ceremonial” has fallen away. Then the priest and the Levite have done nothing wrong by passing round the hurt person and not helping him (the parable of the good Samaritan), for they did not break any of the ten commands (Luke 10:30-35). Then Jesus would have no absolute reasons to distinguish the “sheep” from the “goats”, since the latter may have never done anything good to the ones belonging to Him, but have not sinned also, according to the “moral” commandments (Matthew 25:31-46). Such sins like egoism, pride, treachery, heartlessness, ungratefulness, lack of self-control, love of money, drunkenness, etc., are not mentioned in the Decalogue as well, but they are discussed in the New Testament (II Tim. 3:2-5). The two appeals for love toward the neighbor and God are listed in the “ceremonial” commandments and so they ought to have fallen away or to be only “shadows” (Deuteronomy 6:5; Lev. 19:18). All this is to show that the division mentioned above, even if we consider it only a conditional one, is inadmissible.
From Biblical point of view the moral can be defined as “norms, which determine the behavior of the person toward God and the society”. The Creator of the Universe has settled certain moral principles to maintain the justice and order. Every conscientious creature is responsible before Him for observing them in his life.
The ceremonies (the rituals), which the priests in the temple were accomplishing – the offering of the sacrifices on the altar, the incense, the purifications, the washings and so on, were in relation with the ministry to God, so they can be included in the list of the first four commands. All the civil, ethical, judicial, hygienic, etc. norms were given to the benefit of man and so they contrive to the normal life in the society – they belong to the second six commands. The inner content of these two groups of rules crystallizes in the eternal spiritual commands: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength”, “love your neighbor as yourself” (Deuteronomy 6:5; Lev. 19:18). The Law of Moses is a wholeness (it is unified and indivisible) – this is the “covenant” which God has made with the Israelites on the mountain of Sinai. “The New Testament” in the blood of Christ is also an entity (unified and indivisible).
In this way the whole Old Testament literal form of the law has fallen away (not only the “ceremonial rules”) and has been replaced by a new perfect form, which is in fact its spiritual nature, and remains in the eternity. Apostle Paul himself says that he is not under the “Jewish” law, but he is not without a (“spiritual”- author’s note) law concerning Christ (I Corinthians 9:20-21). At another place he says: “…He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter (i.e. the Old Testament – author’s note) but of the spirit; for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life” (II Corinthians 3:6).
 If we carefully survey the content of the Old Testament, we shall see that the revealing of the deeper spiritual compound of the Commandments, has started already at that time (as well as the salvation through faith only). In the New Testament all this was made systematic and summarized and the very spiritual nature of things was completely and entirely brought out (compare Genesis 15:6 – Gal. 3:8/ Genesis 17:10; Deuteronomy 10:16 – Rom. 2:28, 29; Col. 2:11/ Deuteronomy 6:5; Lev. 19:18 – Luke 10:27/ Joshua, chapter 6 – Hebrews 4:8; see also the explanations we have given about the spiritual sense of the Decalogue, the ritual commandments, etc.).
 Did Jesus break the Sabbath by telling this man to take his mat (Jeremiah 17:21-22)? Under the walls of Jericho the priests were carrying the Ark of the Covenant on the Sabbath as well, thus expressing the glorious presence of God. The paralytic also took his mat to glorify God – to show in the eyes of everyone his miraculous healing.
 The rest described here is not due to fatigue, but is associated with the seizing of the creative work of God “…The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.. He will not grow tired or weary” (Isaiah 40:28).
 In the beginning of Genesis the creative activity of God was expressed in two different directions. To begin with, the creation of the earth (and of the Universe later) out of nothing. And secondly, the arrangement of the formless and empty earth and creation of the highly organized systems of the living creatures – the plants, the animals and the man. Most believers think that, perhaps, the Lord had made figures out of clay and then had given them life (and obviously concerning the water creatures, He had to make figures out of this liquid). However such an opinion is wrong, since the percentage parts of the chemical elements in the compound of the living organisms, does not correspond exactly to the one of the elements in the content of soil and water. All this is to show that God has simply “taken” the atoms of the necessary elements and “arranged” them in the complex molecules of the organic and mineral substances, simultaneously “forming” their bodies from them. (It would be more adequate to say that He had commanded and this happened – Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 14, 20, 24, 26; Psalm 33:9).
When Jesus was healing, He was also “arranging” regularly the biological structure of the impaired cells, tissues, organs and systems, so that they could function again, i.e. recover. In the occasion with the man born blind – John 9:1-7, it is even possible that some part of the ocular system was missing and that God had “made” it out of clay (otherwise he wouldn’t have had to use “creative material”). Therefore whenever He made miracles, Jesus was doing the same work every day as in the days of the creation (he “worked” or “labored”).
 If the Adventist teaching about the Sabbath was correct, Jesus would have had to tell the chronically sick people: “God rests on this day and I likewise am not working. So listen to My words which will grant you eternal life, and after the Sabbath is over, I am going to heal you.”
 God had allowed people to eat from the vineyards and the cornfields of their neighbors, only to satisfy their hunger (Deuteronomy 22:24-25). But no activities, associated with harvesting and threshing were allowed on the Sabbath day, so formally the acts of the disciples looked like doing work on this day, which was a reason for their adversaries to blame them (Exodus 34:21).
 God also sees our motives to do certain things. In this case, David and his men strived to survive in order to serve God. In II Chronicles 26:16-23 another case is described of breaking the law. The king Uzziah wanted to be a priest as well, i.e. he wanted to have a ministry, which was not to be assigned to him. His act looked quite like the one of Lucifer who wanted to be something more than “anointed as a guardian cherub” (Ezekiel 28:14; Isaiah 14:12-15). That is why Uzziah was punished with leprosy and was taken off the throne for his pride like Satan was cast away from heaven (Isaiah 14:15; Luke 10:8; Rev. 12:9).
 If something has been made for man, then he is lord over it. For instance, the Earth was created for man and he had to rule over everything on it (Genesis 1:28). (Strictly God is Creator and a sovereign Lord over the whole creation, and we are only householders over all that is entrusted to us.)
 The treatment of food was also forbidden on the Sabbath day (boiling, baking), lighting of fire, gathering wood, carrying loads and generally doing any kind of work (Exodus 16:21-30; 35:3; Numbers 15:32-36; Nehemiah 13:15; Amos 8:5; Jeremiah 17:21-22).
 Jesus did not observe the Sabbath according to the views of the priests and the Pharisees, so they kept discussing: “This man is not from God for he does not keep the Sabbath” and had the desire to kill him because of this: “For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath…”, “So from that day on they plotted to take his life” (John 9:16; 5:18; 11:53). But if He had broken even one only point of the Law, He would have been guilty of sin and could not have become our Redeemer. “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). And if His own life did not belong to Him (i.e. if He was sentenced to death), He could not have offered it as a ransom for our salvation. However we know this isn’t true. He asked the Jews: “Can any of you prove Me guilty of sin?” (John 8:46). Even His worst enemies could not present any proof that He had never committed anything wrong. His disciples testify also: “…in Him is no sin”, “…a lamb with no blemish or defect”, “…who had no sin” (I John 3:5; I Peter 1:19; II Corinthians 5:21). Therefore Jesus as a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek kept perfectly the Sabbath in a new way. Not to the Old Testament letter, like some attempt to keep it even nowadays, but in the spirit of the New Testament time by serving God constantly (let us recall the acts of the Israelites at the walls of Jericho). We are to do the same, being priests of God, for He has given to us an example to follow.
 If the ancient Hebrews had had the right to feed, water and take care of their animals every day (furthermore – even to strive to save them in cases of danger on the Sabbath day), then we are obliged to help our neighbors at any time to a much bigger extent. The Adventists might think about this, as they are ready to take their animals out of the pit, but not to come to help to their neighbors on this day, just like them. “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:11-12). If we let God work in us according to His will, what we daily do will be only for good – to lead everyone to repentance (Eph. 2:13; James 1:17; Rom. 2:4).
 For what reason is the heavenly temple (with the ark of the covenant in it) going to remain until the Day of Judgment, while the Old Testament ministry has passed away on the earth (Rev. 11:19)? We can understand from the Scriptures that all the non-believers will be resurrected then and will be judged by the law, by their works (Rev. 20:11-15). But Christians are not “under law, but under grace” for their sins are forgiven and they “will not be condemned, but have crossed over from death to life” (Rom. 6:14; John 5:24). They will take part in this judgment but as judges together with Christ (John 5:22; Matthew 19:28; I Corinthians 6:3). In the new Jerusalem there will be no temple, because all of its inhabitants will be righteous and the perfect “law” of love will be written down on their hearts.
 Here are the symbols for these rituals:
Jesus told the Jews: “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread from heaven…This bread is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:32, 51).
The exchange of the two covenants, as well as the one of the animated and the spiritual body (I Corinthians 15: 42-49), i.e. the old and the new bread, has happened while He was in the grave on the Sabbath day.
The offering of the lambs points out to the sacrifice of the “Lamb of God” and the bread – His body.
 When we get new spiritual bodies we shall probably get no tired anymore.
 The whole context of the passage in Hebrews 3:7-19; 4:1-11 says, that: “there remains one Sabbath-rest” for the Christians in the heavenly kingdom. The Hebrews used to keep a lot of weekly Sabbaths, but nonetheless they did not enter the rest of God because of their lack of faith. The faith is credited to us as righteousness, on the basis of which we enter the rest of the Salvation. (author's note/V.V.)
 In some later publications, the Adventists admit that this may concern the weekly Sabbaths, but they add also that the Colossians were not to be blamed for not observing the Sabbath according to the directions of the Rabbis. (These were additional prohibitions for what was not to be done on this day, written down by the elders). I.e. the direction, according to them, was saying: “Let no one blame you for not keeping the human directions in relation with the fourth commandment. You have to observe the Sabbath only after what was told to you in the Decalogue.” But if Paul meant such a thing, he would surely have made it clearer through the context or somewhere in his Epistles. In the sentence “festivals”, “New Moon celebrations” and “Sabbaths” are placed at the same level. This is to show that the gentiles ought not to keep the rules of the law, concerning them. They were not to keep the Jewish traditions either.
Likewise Gal. 4:10,11 is interpreted: “You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you”. They claim that the “days” (i.e. the Sabbaths) were charged with some Jewish-style keeping of the law by worshipping angels and heavenly bodies. Apostle Paul advised the Galatians not to keep the Sabbath in this way. But what meaning are the “months” (the New Moons), the “seasons” (the festivals) and the “years” (the jubilee years) charged with, then? As a disproof we can quote the same arguments as the mentioned above.
The Hebrew Christians who used to insist that the gentiles had to keep the law of Moses, would not dare to require also keeping of the traditions of the elders, since Jesus had already categorically denied them – Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13. Generally, in the books of the New Testament the defenders of the circumcision are not mentioned to have taught that any orders outside the law were to be kept. If it was so, they would have been attacked for sure at the Apostolic council because of this too. The verses in chapter 15: 1, 5, 21, 24, 28 and 29 reveal clearly that only the Old Testament law was a question for discussion.
(Some say that if the problem of the Sabbath was not taken to discussion at the council, then the gentiles are likely to have kept it and there was nothing to be disputed on this topic. However Acts 15:5 says that the converted ones from the Pharisees had insisted not only that the gentiles were to be circumcised, but that they were to keep the whole law as well. When the leaders of the Christian church discarded the rules of the Law (except for a few things) as unnecessary for the gentiles, they have also rejected the need for literal keeping of the fourth commandment (Acts 15:6-29). /Paul has had disagreements with his adversaries not on the circumcision only, but also on the keeping of the Sabbath – see the comment to Rom. 14:5; Gal. 4:9-11 and Col. 2:16. In this way all of the disagreements were set clear by the conclusions of the council/).
 Today’s heating could be by electricity, steam, gas, etc., but in all cases someone would have to work every day to maintain it.
 On the basis of a biblical study in 1855 by J. N. Andrews the Adventists decided to sanctify the Sabbath from the sunset on Friday until the sunset on Saturday (like the ancient Hebrews did).
 If we know that someone has stolen a lamb and still we eat it together with him, aren’t we turning into breakers of the law, too? The same way the Adventists use every single day the different good things of contemporary life – electricity, water-supply, heating, transport, etc., while at the same time they condemn the ones who labor on Sabbaths. How is the Lord going to look at their hypocrisy?
We shall give them an example as food for reflection. An Adventist family lives in a village where there is no church. With their own car they get to the next town on Friday evening to worship. But on their way back, the car gets out of order. What will they do? Will they remain on the road for 24 hours until the Sabbath is over and then fix the car? Or perhaps they will wait until some unbeliever comes and repairs it (taking thus the sin on himself)? Would they help other people in such a need themselves? Life offers many situations like this one, how do they manage with them?
 One can say “We ought to observe only those requirements for the Sabbath, which are listed in the Decalogue”. But that is not true! The rest of the commands are associated with these ten and explain more clearly the way they have to be observed. For example, we may have found some livestock of our neighbor, which has been lost. We can tell ourselves: ”We have not stolen it, anything that is found is ours, therefore we shall keep it.” Nevertheless there is an additional explanation to the law “Do not steal”, which obliges us to give it back: “If you see your brother’s ox or sheep straying…be sure to take it back to him…” (Deuteronomy 22:1-3). Otherwise it is as if we have stolen it, i.e. we have broken the command not to appropriate anything, which belongs to someone else. It’s the same way with the Sabbath. All of the directions related to it have to be accomplished, otherwise it will be broken.
(Dear Adventists, don’t trust your “theologians” blindly! Open up your Bibles and see for yourselves that there are a lot of other commandments like Deuteronomy 22:1-3 in the Law of Moses, which are not “ceremonial” at all).
 In the judicial system if the punishments, related to the breaking of a certain rule, get removed, it would turn into a recommendation only. The Old Testament Sabbath will be likewise deprived of sense, if the punishments listed by the law in case of its breaking, are not valid anymore.
Unfortunately, the worst expectations are being met – the so called "reconstructionists" are ready to execute anyone, who does not obey the requirements (including the commandment of the Sabbath) of the Law of Moses: http://kosmos-21.blogspot.com/2011/07/blog-post_22.html
 Deuteronomy 27:26 says categorically that we cannot obey some of the commandments of the law while breaking others: “Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this Law by carrying them out”. The brother of the Lord James confirms: “For whoever keeps the whole Law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10).
 The Adventists surely think that they please God more by attempting to observe some things from the Law – they keep the Sabbath, they eat only clean animals, they give a tithe and so on. But let us remind again that we are either saved by “works according to the law”, or by “faith in Christ”. Both ways are not possible to work simultaneously, being totally incompatible. Apostle Paul talks about the Hebrews: “…but Israel who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works.” (Rom. 9:31, 32).
 In the beginning the Adventists claimed that the ten commandments of the Decalogue were valid as early as in the Garden of Eden. Later they changed their mind by saying that God had only put them “in principle” in Adam and Eve. But what they mean by the words “in principle”, no one still knows.
 Imagine that there is a strong friendship between you and some other person. He invites you to guest, but he gives you certain directions: “When you come to my house, you should not steal anything, you should not kill my children or commit adultery with my wife”. How will you feel after such warnings? In love there is no need for any rules for abstaining from evil, since it does good only. Any law of this kind only destroys and kills it. “We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for law-breakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful…” (I Tim. 1:19).
 We don’t know for sure how long were the “creative days”, described in Genesis, chapter 1. (We don’t claim here that it has taken millions of years for some kind of “theistic evolution” to happen, since it is in contradiction with the Biblical story of the Creation). We can talk about a twenty-four-hour period only after the fourth “creative day”, when the sun, the moon and the stars were created.
Let’s see what had happened in the sixth “creative day”, described in Genesis 2:7-25. In the beginning of the day, God created Adam and made him till and care for the garden of Eden. The man had to spend certain time with the animals in order to name them according to some of their special features (like some contemporary tribes, living closer to nature, still do).If we consider that only a few thousand terrestrial vertebrates were named, for 12 hours (the part of the day when there is light), our ancestor couldn't have possibly named all of them. For a certain period of time, the man communicated with these creatures and saw, that no one of them could be his aide. Then the Lord let the man fall asleep and made Eve out of his rib, Adam came to love her and so the creation was completed. In this way we see that a “creative day” is not equal to an earthly 24-hour-period. (The days on Earth are a transfiguration of the "creative days", but this does not imply that they are of similar duration.)
About the last seventh “creative day” it was never said to be completed (it is not said that “there was evening, there was morning”), i.e. it was meant to be endless. So the rest after the creation, blessed and sanctified by God (“the Sabbath”) is the sinless state of physical and spiritual peace, harmony and order, in which the perfectly created world dwelt.
The conclusion, which we can make from all up to now, is that Adam and Eve did not observe the Sabbath as a period of 24 hours, but have rather lived in God’s peace incessantly (i.e. in a state of innocence), until they broke the command not to eat of the forbidden fruit.
(Because of the redemption, we enter God’s rest too and we celebrate an eternal Sabbath. Just like St John Chrysostom have said joyfully: “…you would say that Christ has destroyed such a great good (the Sabbath). Not in the least, He has rather made it greater…There was no longer need to celebrate a single day for the ones, who have been commanded to celebrate all life long…So what’s the necessity of the Sabbath for the one, who celebrates eternally and lives in heaven? Let us celebrate continually, keeping away from evil. That’s the sense of the true feast.” – Works, part 39, p. 289.)
 God justifies the ones who have walked according to the law of their conscience (Rom. 2:12-16). Via it, we can understand when we are doing good or evil to our neighbor, but we can get no rebuke for not keeping the Sabbath. Therefore the Old Testament righteous people have been justified even without the literal observation of the fourth commandment of the Law of Moses.
The text in Rom. 2:14-15 also says that there will be gentiles who will be saved because they have obeyed their conscience. But they will be justified if they had been led by it continuously all their lives (not on certain days only), i.e. in some way they have also kept perfectly in a spiritual sense the Sabbath commandment.
 Is the text in Matthew 24:20 to be interpreted as a direction for the observation of the Sabbath? We shall quote a part of the book by the orthodox author G. Ibrishimov “The Sabbath and the Sunday in the light of the Holy Scripture”, p. 48: “ …the words of Jesus Christ “Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath” don’t mean that the Sabbath was to be observed, since then the winter as a period of time was to be observed too. And what’s more, the winter was placed first and the Sabbath comes next. St Mark when narrating this case, doesn’t even mention the Sabbath. He repeats the words of the Savior: “Pray that this will not take place in winter”(Mark 13:18). Jesus Christ mentioned the winter and the Sabbath not to signify that they are to be observed, but rather as obstacles for flight.
He has spoken these words, because the Hebrews were in danger. In 70 AD at the attempt for rebellion of the Jews, the Roman army invaded Judea and besieged Jerusalem on a Sabbath day. At this time there was a feast in the city and about 2 mln of Jews were gathered together, according to the Hebrew historian Joseph Flavius. It was Sabbath and the city gates were locked, so no one could flee. The siege was hard and long. The same historian tells that whoever tried to run away through the city walls, was captured and crucified. The whole vicinity was covered with crosses of crucified Hebrews. It was a horrible view. The food was over and the people were starving. A woman driven mad with hunger slaughtered her child, baked it and had already eaten the half of it before her crime was disclosed (Deuteronomy 28:57). This terrified the inhabitants of the city and the gates were opened. Jerusalem was conquered and burnt down and the temple was razed to the ground, so that in it there was not left a stone standing (Matthew 24:1, 2). A big part of the people was murdered, and the ones who remained alive, were captured and sold in slavery.
The converted to Christ Hebrews remained untouched by this calamity. According to the church historian Eusebius of Caesarea, they were warned by a revelation and moved beyond the river of Jordan in Pella.
Two things were hindrances for escape from this calamity – the winter and the Sabbath day. The winter was hindering since the refugees would have nowhere to hide because of the cold weather. The Sabbath was a hindrance too, as the gates of the city were locked on Sabbath days and no one could flee from the city (see Nehemiah 13:19).
These were the two impediments, which Jesus had meant by saying: “Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath”, and not the observation of the Sabbath.
 The Church Fathers also talk about the tradition of gathering the gifts on Sunday. St Justin Martyr, for example, wrote in his “First apology” (155 AD) to emperor Antoninus in chapter 67: “On the day called the day of the sun (Sunday), the ones living in the towns or the region gather together, and the writings of the Apostles are read, as far as the time allows. And whoever wants to do good and have the desire to, give away according to their will, and what is thus gathered is given to be kept by the deacon, who helps orphans, widows, the ones in need because of an illness or some other reason, the ones who are in prison and the strangers dwelling among us, i.e. he takes care of everyone in need”. This practice has been preserved until nowadays, that is why the gathering of the gifts in the Christian churches takes place on the Sunday mainly.
(We are attempting to prove every Christian teaching on the basis of the New Testament. The quotations outside the Scriptures which we have used, may testify to something (for example about the maintenance of a certain theory or practice by the church through the ages), but have not the power neither to confirm, nor to disprove some biblical doctrine).
 The phrase “breaking of bread” is obviously related to the Lord’s Supper, since it is mentioned that Apostle Paul ate his dinner later (verse 11). The Adventists say that if the chronology of the death of Christ and His resurrection is to be observed, then this ought to take place on Thursday evening. The first Christians though, used to celebrate these two events together. The wine and the bread symbolized the death on the cross of “the Lamb of God”, and the Sunday – His resurrection (I Corinthians 11:23-26; Luke 24:1-8).
We have other data from the first centuries as well, which mention this Christian tradition. For example, Victorinus of Pyctivia (Pettau) says in his work “The creation of the world” (300 AD), p.48: “On the day of the Lord (the Sunday) we come up to the bread (the Eucharist), by giving thanks. That’s why we have to fast strictly on the Friday in order to claim that we keep no Sabbaths as the Jews. The Lord Himself, the master of the Sabbath, talks about it through His prophets, that His soul abhors it and that He has canceled it through His body”. It is sad that only a few churches take the Lord’s Supper every Sunday nowadays.
 When did the Hebrew Christians worship God? The Scripture does not answer directly to this question, but we can think this way: 1) The day, pointed out by God for the Christian congregation in the New Testament, is Sunday; 2) They had to keep the Sabbath, being Jews (otherwise their fellow-countrymen would have the right to kill them with stones – Exodus 31:14; Numbers 15:32-36). Therefore they are most likely to have rested on Saturday and gathered to worship on Sunday.
Our reflections are confirmed by the early Christian writers. St Ignatius for instance, in his letter to the Magnesians (107 AD), wrote: “We celebrate no longer the Sabbath but we live in the Lord, for our life is in Him. The ones who lived by the ancient order, seized to keep the Sabbath as well, after they began to live the life of the resurrection…It would be absurd to confess Christ and to live Jewish-like.” (We can conclude from these words that the Hebrew Christians have “seized to keep the Sabbath” as late as his time, if there was no explanation that the mentioned above had happened right after they have “began to live the life of the resurrection”, i.e. about 30 AD when this great event did happen).
Eusebius confirms the same in his church history (340 AD), vol. II, chapter 24: “They – the Jews who accepted the Christianity, keep the Sabbath and the rest of the rules like all the Jews, but keep with us the day of the Lord also as a remembrance of His resurrection”.
 Some think that the Sunday has taken the prerogatives of the Old Testament Sabbath. In our opinion this is completely wrong. It is as if we are recovering the fourth commandment of the Law of Moses, but in a distorted form, i.e. we observe it on the first day of the week – a statement with no Biblical grounds whatsoever.
 It is true that some catholic theologians claim that their church had settled the Sunday as the day for worshiping God. We find such statements quite unsound for these reasons: first, the Sunday was pointed out as such a day in the very Holy Scripture – Acts 20:7. Secondly, even in the first centuries when the church was still not separated into different denominations, all the authors testify that the Christian worship took place on the first (eight) day. (There are sources from the 4th century and later who mention, that in some churches worship happened on both Saturday and Sunday, but Acts 20:7 does not support such a practice.) The Catholic church could claim that it has created also the teachings about the Trinity, the godly and human nature of Jesus and so on – will the Adventists deny them then? Thirdly, if someone dares to subtract or add something to the Holy Scripture, this would be for the sake of his own doom (Rev 22:18,19).
The following question could arise: "shouldn't the the 4th commandment be strictly obeyed, as are the other commandments in the Decalogue?" But we can answer to such an objection that after we serve God all the days, these include the Sabbath, as well. Since we are constantly in God's rest, this includes the Sabbath too. What is changed, is only the day for the official ministry to God. Let's reconsider once again on on what purpose: the Sabbath witnesses for the primordial Creation and is a sign of the Old Testament i.e. the Sabbath is gone with the passing of the latter. The Sunday shows the new Creation, that starts with the resurrection of Christ, the spiritual renewal of every person, which belongs in Him. It ends with the creation of the eternal and intransitive perfect world.
 The “convicted” followers of Ellen White do their best to hide from the contemporary Adventists those of her “revelations”, which compromise her most. She had said, for example, that there is a people of three-meter-high men, observing the Sabbath, on Jupiter (a letter to Mrs. Truesdale from 27 January 1891). However, in her time, it was still not known that there is no solid surface on this planet (its mantle consists of liquid and metallic hydrogen). Beside this element, its atmosphere contains helium, methane, ammonia, ammonium sulphide and water vapour. Its effective temperature is about 150 degrees below zero, which makes it unfit for life. The space drill “Galileo” , which reached it on the seventh of December,1995, examines the planet in details and no civilization is found on it thus far (the astronomers would doubt the mental state of a person, believing in such a thing). After all said up to now, if one still goes on trusting that Ellen White was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we could say about such people only “your blood be on your own heads” (see Ezekiel 3:16-21; Acts 18: 5-6).
1. The Bible – the Holy Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament
2. Charles C. Ryrie, Basic theology (Sofia: Veren, 1997)
3. E. Cairns, Christianity through the centuries (Sofia: New man, 1998)
4. W. MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary – New Testament (Sofia: Veren, 1993)
5. A. W.Tozer, The knowledge of the Holy (Sofia: New man, 1993)
6. Josh McDowell, Don Stewart, The deceivers (Sofia: DAR Association, 1993)
7. P. Rogozin, The secret of the Revelation (Plovdiv: Logos and Rema, 1998)
8. D. Mitev, Adventism in a critical light, (Sofia: Bolid, 2000)
9. I. Petev, T. Koev, D. Kirov, Faith and life (V. Turnovo: St Cyril and St Methodius, 1994)
10. G. P. Ibrishimov, Sabbath and Sunday in the light of the Holy Scripture (St. Zagora: St Annunciation Orthodox educational center, 1993)
11. D. Hristov, The Sabbath problem (Sofia: Bulgarian God’s Church, 1992)
12. N. Nikolov, Adventism or… (Sofia: published by the author, 1993)
13. B. Assenov, The religions and cults in Bulgaria (Sofia: Poligraph Ltd Pernik 2300, 1998)
14. Seventh – day Adventists believe…(Sofia: Interpress – 67, 1991)
15. A Concise Adventist encyclopedia (Russe: Interfin, 1994)
16. E. G. White, Autobiography (Sofia: Keeper of the truth publishings, 1996)
17. M. Golubich, History of the Christian church (Sofia: New Life, 1999)
18. E. White, The events of the last days (Sofia: New Life, 1997)
19. R. Coon, A gift of light (Sofia: New Life, 1998)
20. E. G. White, Selected news, vol. 3 (Sofia: Reformatory movement of the Adventists of the seventh day, 1994)
21. V. Valchanov, Bible and Law. The Law of God (Svetra, 1995)
22. W. Warren, Is the fourth commandment valid for the Christians (Sofia: New Life)
23. N. Nikolov, M. Kalinkov, Astronomy (Sofia: University Publishing House St Clymenth of Ochrid, 1998)
24. J. Muirden, Stars and Planets (Plovdiv: Hermes, 2000)
25. M. Marinov, S. Stanev, I. Caracholev, Yogi (Sofia: Medicine and sports, 1982)