New Testament Sabbath Keeping

How do we enter the sabbath rest? Is it found in the seventh day, or elsewhere?Sabbath Rest – Analysis of Hebrews 3 and 4
Page Created: March 15, 1996

The Message of Hebrews 3&4:is this:

“The Sabbath Day without the Christian Rest is nothing. The Christian Rest, with or without the Sabbath Day, is everything.”

It is amazing how one set of verses seem to prove opposite sides of an argument. In my discussions with Sabbath Day keepers, I find the text of Hebrews chapters 3 &4 to be such a passage. I once viewed these verses as “proofs” of a 7th Day observance in the New Testament Church. Now I view them otherwise. Here is why.

Hebrews 3&4 are written, not with the purpose of proving a day, but with the divine purpose of propounding the saving virtue of faith. Why don’t you read chapters 3&4 before we begin….

Have you read them?… Okay, here are some points that jump out at me.

The beginning of Chapter 3 is the declaration of the supremacy of Christ vs. Moses. The WCG in times past limited that supremacy to say Christ had the right to do away with the sacrificial and ceremonial laws. Well, I hope we can agree that Christ also had the right to do away with the 10 commandments, because II Cor 3 clearly states that is what He did.

Some will “panic” and say “but if He did away with the 10 commandments, you’re saying He did away with the law and so you’re saying we can commit adultery and murder now too.” Those attributing this reasoning to those who “do away with the Sabbath” are as incorrect in their conclusions as are those , lets say, who insist a Sabbath keeper is denying faith in Christ.

But allow me to get back to the point for a moment. Hebrews 3&4 are addressing the item of saving faith, not the 7th day Sabbath. One would do well to read through them in entirety as they read this so they can see the consistency of what I’m saying here.

3:19 states clearly “So we see that they could not enter in BECAUSE OF UN-belief.” Lack of faith prevented them from receiving the gracious promise of God.

The statement in 4:1 which says, “Therefore, since a promise of rest (Katapausis) remains…” shows us that the Katapausis spoken here is not the Holy Land — since later Israel did receive that promise. As a matter of fact, at the time of the authorship of Hebrews they were still there.

4:2 Points us back to Faith as the issue of discourse. “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as them; but the word which they heard DID NOT PROFIT them, NOT BEING MIXED WITH FAITH in those who heard it.” This is the point of contrast being made with OT types and the NT reality — One era had faith granted to it, the other did not.

4:4 Reads “God did Katapauo on the seventh day…”. This indicates the actual act of God as katapauo. The writer is discerning that the importance of the act of God is to be found in Katapuo, not in the act of “sabbatismos” or “sabbaton”. In times past we attributed the sabbath to the creation rest as though they are equals. Yet is it not plausible to consider that the
katapauo is greater than the “sabbaton”? Here, the writer is fixed on expounding the katapausis, not giving serious concern to the “sabbaton”.

We now come to the scriptures in question in Sabbath debates, Hebrews 4:8 says “For if Joshua had given them rest (Katapauo), then he would not have afterward spoken of another day.”

Here is a thought I find interesting: “Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua…”(Josh 24:31). This tells us that the “Sabbaton” was kept under Joshua, but yet Hebrews tells us the Israelites still had not entered into that Rest (Katapausis) which God is desirous that we enter into. It becomes apparent that the creation rest was not fulfilled in the Sabbath Day.

So we must note:

The Sabbath Day did not fulfill the Katapausis Rest ordained from creation, and, The entrance into the Holy Land did not fulfill the Katapausis of creation.

4:9 “There remains therefore a REST for the people of God.” (Strong’s – 4520 – Sabbatismos — “the repose of Christianity,rest.” NOTE: “SABBATH DAY” is “Sabbaton” in Greek. Yet this term was NOT used. No where does the Writer place a plug here for the 7th DAY. If he wanted to say “there remains a sabbath DAY” he would have used “Sabbaton”) Also, in light of his assertion that the sabbaton did not fulfill the katapuasis, it seems unlikely that the writer is saying we are to keep the sabbath to gain entrance into the katapausis. They are not synonymous ideals and nowhere is there reference to indicate one is dependent on the other. After all, God was able to katapauo without a Sabbath Day.

The Sabbatismos is the Christian’s rest in Christ, not his rest in a day. It takes diligence to kill the old man, daily mortifying the deeds of the flesh. Hence verse 11, “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest”. Only through faith in Christ do we have the mastery over the flesh. This is totally substantiated in Romans 5-8.

The Sabbath Day DID NOT fulfill the requirement of FAITH needed to enter into the Katapausis. God wants us to enter into His Katapausis, the Sabbath DAY was to facilitate that, not to replace it.

4:10 “For he (the person) who has entered into God’s Rest (Katapausis — the very word used at creation, that KATAPAUSIS was sanctified in the 7th day, now it is sanctified in Christ) has himself also ceased from his works (of the flesh) as God did from His work (of creation). This verse shows the creation rest is to be viewed as a type, not as a commandment. We rest not
“because” God rested, but “AS” God rested.

4:11 “Let us be diligent to enter THAT Rest (Katapausis, not Sabbatismos), lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience” Note: The Sabbath Day was kept in the wilderness, and in Joshua’s time. Remember they killed Sabbath breakers under Moses? Israel was obedient under Joshua. They inhabited the promised land.

The only thing they lacked which prevented them from entering the KATAPAUSIS ordained at creation was FAITH!

Practical Results of Seventh Day Theology

Sabbatarians seem to place a higher emphasis on the Sabbaton than God displays in His NT writings. It is NOT the defining issue of true Christianity in the NT, yet most sabbatarians indeed have it in their minds that a “True” Christian will stand out by virtue of Sabbath DAY Keeping. Whereas Jesus said “BY THIS they shall know you are my disciples, if you have love one for another”.

I found myself evaluating who is a “TRUE CHRISTIAN” by “who keeps the Sabbaths, tithes, meats, etc”. It was a small thing to see someone pour out their life in love and service and then say “Jesus, love isn’t a good enough criteria for me to tell who is TRUE, he/she doesn’t keep the Sabbath, so they cannot fully be your disciple.” In this we TRANSGRESS OUR LORD. Where is our FAITH??

I no longer view the Sabbath DAY as holy because to do so contradicts the word of our Lord. “By THIS shall all men know you are my disciples if you have love one for another…” Do you find yourself saying Jesus’ criteria is NOT enough? Are you lacking the FAITH in His Word to enter into His Rest??

The Sabbath Day without the Katapausis Rest is nothing. The Katapausis Rest, with or without the Sabbath Day, is everything. Faith leads us to fulfill the Katapausis Rest, This is the message of Hebrews 3&4 as I see it.

Please, send me your view! That is what discussions are all about!

Author’s Note – 2/22/09: It was later that year that the Lord healed my wife through the power of deliverance and the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit manifest in the church today. www.perfectinglove.com/ourstory www.perfectinglove.com/ThanksgivingAndPraise When that happened, I saw the ‘motor’ that drove the engine. The power of deliverance takes us back to the age of innocence of the original sabbath rest and also delivers us from the power of the Pharoah, Satan, who has held humanity in bondage. The true Sabbath is kept when the burden of sin is not carried by us 7 days a week – even if we are ‘resting’ on one of them specifically.

What do YOU think?

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Comments

  1. lookinforacity says:

    Very good post TIM, here are the bookends to your scriptures in Heb.

    Mat 11:28-30
    28) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
    29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
    30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

    Heb 3:11
    So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)

    Heb 3:18
    And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?

    Heb. 4:1-11
    Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come
    short of it.
    2) For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
    3) For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
    4) For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
    5) And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
    6) Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
    7) Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
    8) For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
    9) There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
    10) For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
    11) Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

    Rev 14:13
    And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

    JIM

  2. I agree with the last post, very good words :O

    We call ourselves Christian’s, which are by definition, followers of Christ. Christ kept the Sabbath and was Lord of it. He was accused of breaking it by doing the Lord’s work, healing and picking up something to eat. This is not labour, and also excluded cooking, just like the original guidelines in the OT (not lighting a fire on the Sabbath day). Therefore Christ kept the Sabbath as His Father’s will was clear to Him. If we are followers of Christ, Christians, we will follow His example, and go on to bear the cross..

    One note about the OP: It seems plain that you regard the Sabbath rest and the Sabbath day as two different things. But how can you experience the Sabbath rest without a day? Could it be that you are suggesting that we make experience the Sabbath rest when we have a break in our labour? You said that the Sabbath day facilitated the rest, if you push the day away, then what will facilitate it? Your own will? You stated that God sanctified the 7th day and made it holy. The bible at no point states that God retracted this, and so we must conclude along with all other texts, that the 7th day is STILL Holy.

    Baptism is a symbol, and the earlier sacrificial law was a symbol that pointed to Christ. The Sabbath day, is a time when we fellowship with believers having travelled to meet each other and share generously with each other and those that have need, we are able to share in our faith and glorify our Lord and Saviour, it is a day to praise God and do His will.

    There is no big intellectual challenge to being a Christian, it’s following Christ. Well, that is a challenge 😀

    • Timothy Luke says:

      Have you ever given a burden to the lord in prayer and found yourself picking it up as soon as you have finished in prayer? Have you ever walked with the weight of sin, fear, rejection, anger, spiritual oppression on the sabbath day? What about the burden of a chronic illness, have you endured sabbath day after sabbath day with one? If so, you have kept the sabbath day, without partaking of the Sabbath rest.

      The sabbath day can of course be a joyous time, and I am glad you are so blessed by it. In all things, my main concern is that we do not bind burdens on one another that scripture releases us from, as Paul admonishes regarding the keeping of days. In your heart, do not consider a person as not belonging to Christ due to what day they attend church services. If you can receive the brotherhood of believers who do not “keep the sabbath day holy” by 7th day rest, you shall do well and find there is a greater fellowship to be had.

  3. If people say we should separate Sabbath keeping and faith,that is wrong,by knowing that i have faith in Messiah [Christ] i have to do something,that is what i believe must be seen taking place.

    We cant keep sabbath without faith in Christ like wise we cant have faith in Christ without keeping all the Ten commandments including the fourth one that is sabbath.
    In Ezekiel 20:11-13. Jesus said he has kept His father’s commandment,which were they if there was no sabbath there,and as His Jesus custom were He was going to the synagogue on sabbath which was one of the Ten commandments.
    So no separation.

    • Timothy Luke says:

      I agree totally with this. I kept the fourth commandment as an act of my faith, and then the Lord revealed a much greater meaning to the observance of this commandment that made the observance of a day irrelevant. Paul himself tells us that we are not to quibble about keeping one day above another (read Romans 14), and so he too recognized the irrelevance of asserting a day above the dictates of one’s faith. I keep the sabbath in the power and victory of the cross over sin and strongholds and ensuing sicknesses of life. This victory empowers my Christian walk 7 days a week. If your faith tells you to keep the 7th day above the others, I release you to it, just as Paul admonishes 7th day keepers to release all other Christians to worship on whatever day they are convicted to do so. You will note that Jesus’ and Paul’s examples of synagogue attendance are both tied to custom, rather than the keeping of the commandments. This is a vital distinction I have noted as I came out of 7th day theology.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is an interesting topic. Keeping Sabbath should be separated from salvation based on faith in Jesus Christ.

    Jesus said, 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. ( Matthew 5:18). why did you say he did away the sabbath? Your own knowledge contradicts to what Jesus said clearly and plainly.

    Most contingent argument is based on whether keeping sabbath is leading us to the salvation. As I stated in the first sentence, these two must be separated. We are saved by our faith in Jesus Christ. Keeping God’s law is to obey him and follow him and be near him, for a better resurrection.

    Hebrew: 11: 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is an interesting topic. Keeping Sabbath should be separated from salvation based on faith in Jesus Christ.

    Jesus said, 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. ( Matthew 5:18). why did you say he did away the sabbath? Your own knowledge contradicts to what Jesus said clearly and plainly.

    Most contingent argument is based on whether keeping sabbath is leading us to the salvation. As I stated in the first sentence, these two must be separated. We are saved by our faith in Jesus Christ. Keeping God’s law is to obey him and follow him and be near him, for a better resurrection.

    Hebrew: 11: 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.

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