SABBATH SERIES #1
4. Sabbath Observance Commanded!
Whilst it is possible to argue that Paul preached on the seventh day of the week only only so that he could reach those of the Jewish diaspora who still observed this 'defunct' Mosaic ordinance, it is not possible to then claim that he continued doing so to the Gentiles after there was no longer any necessity for it since the Gentiles had not previously observed a holy day. Moreover, had Paul continued in this way - preaching to Jews on the seventh day of the week and Gentiles on the first day of the week - he would rightly have been accused by the Jews of duplicity.
Preaching Sabbath to Jews and Gentiles
However, as we have seen from the evidence, Paul preached to both Jews and Gentiles on the seventh-day Sabbath. Had there been a major change - and it would have been major for the Jews - from seventh-day to first-day worship - then one would imagine that the Jewish Christians would have made a greater fuss over this than on the issue of circumcision since the former was one of the Ten Commandments written by the finger of Yahweh into stone. But they did not. There is no evidence anywhere in the New Testament of a Sabbath controversy as there would have been had such a change been made. As we shall see in other historical essays on this site, the change was made much later for political reasons.
In Imitation of Christ
However, we should not need to turn to later historical sources, helpful though these are, if we maintain that the Bible is our authoritative rule of thumb. What, though, if the apostle Paul commanded Sabbath-day observance? Wouldn't this settle the issue once and for all?
Well, he did - clearly and unambiguously. Why is it, then, that Christians have ignored it for centuries? Because they have not wanted to see it or were not allowed to see it because of priestcraft. However, our authority is not post-apostolic priests but Christ and the apostles.
To the Gentile-born Christians at Corinth, who had no exposure to the Jewish Synagogue as Jewish converts but had come out of raw paganism, the apostle Paul said:
And Paul "as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures" (Acts 17:2, KJV). This was his manner (KJV), his custom (RSV), as we have seen by ample evidence showing a total of 84 different Sabbaths Paul is shown specifically to have kept.
"Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Cor.11:1, RSV).
Christ's & Paul's Custom
Did he follow Yah'shua (Jesus) in this? Why, certainly! Yah'shua (Jesus), "as His custom was...went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day" (Luke 4:16, KJV).
It was Yah'shua's (Jesus') custom. Paul followed Him, and commanded the Gentile converts to follow him, even as he followed Christ.
The question for us today is: "Are we willing to follow in His steps?" Yah'shua (Jesus) came to set us an example, that we should follow His steps. If we, like Paul, are crucified with Christ, and He lives His life in us, Christ in us will still keep the Sabbath, for He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever! (Heb.13:8)
First Edition, 6 August 1999
Second Edition, 21 January 2013