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Rethinking the Sabbaths

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In a previous article (Passover, Crucifixion, and The Lord’s Day…) I had not found any evidence that Constantine had changed the day of worship from Saturday / Sabbath to Sunday; only that he had changed the names of the days according to his pagan beliefs. 

Later, while comparing the scriptures from the KJV to Young’s Literal Translation (YLT) I noticed something disturbing that I have been researching now for some months.  Young’s Literal Translation does not agree with the KJV (nor any of the other English translations) for the day of Christ’s resurrection.

Matt. 28:1, “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.” (KJV)

Matt. 28:1, “And on the eve of the sabbaths, at the dawn, toward the first of the sabbaths, came Mary the Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre,” (YLT)

This difference occurs in all of the gospels.

Mark 16:1-2, “And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. (KJV)

Mark 16:1-2, “And the sabbath having past, Mary the Magdalene, and Mary of James, and Salome, bought spices, that having come, they may anoint him,  and early in the morning of the first of the sabbaths, they come unto the sepulchre, at the rising of the sun,“  (YLT)

Luke 24:1, Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.”  (KJV)

Luke 24:1, And on the first of the sabbaths, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bearing the spices they made ready, and certain [others] with them,” (YLT)

John 20:1, The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.  (KJV)

John 20:1, And on the first of the sabbaths, Mary the Magdalene doth come early (there being yet darkness) to the tomb, and she seeth the stone having been taken away out of the tomb, (YLT)

Young’s Literal Translation is a word-for-word translation from the original Hebrew and Greek texts.  This makes it choppy to read alone, but an excellent companion to understand the context and subject matter of the original languages.  I have come to rely upon it more and more as it clarifies many of the mistranslations in other English versions.   The differences that I have found in other verses between the KJV and Young’s were mostly because of misunderstandings due to preconceived beliefs of the translators. In other words, they imbedded their beliefs and biases into the translations by selecting the English word that would best convey their understanding of the scripture.

The Hebrew word for sabbath means to stop, to cease or to keep, as when God ceased creation and rested on the seventh day.  Because of this, it began to be used by the Hebrews essentially as a seven count of something, and usually seven days, or a week.  We see references to sabbath years, a group of seven years in Lev. 25:8.  There were seven perfect sabbaths between the feast of unleavened bread and Pentecost. (Lev. 23:15) There were seven months of feast days, or sabbath days.  Collectively, the Hebrews endowed the word with a more fuller sense than just that of the last day of the week.

The translators of the English text made an assumption that the original language meant “first of the week.”  This was and is as bad a practice as all of the Catholic priests who, during the centuries, felt free to alter the Latin Vulgate in favor of what they thought the scriptures really should have said. 

So, the first question to ask in this study was the meaning in Young’s of “the first of the sabbaths”.

After the Passover at evening on 14 Nissan was the feast of Unleavened Bread on 15 Nissan.  These days were also sometimes called sabbaths because they were feast days / holy days according to the law.  After the annual sabbath feast of Unleavened Bread, which as a calendar day could fall on any day of the week, the regular sabbath day of rest (Saturday) would be observed for 7 sabbaths to count to the 50th day for the wave offering and the first fruits; Pentecost and Sunday.  (Lev. 23:1-20.)  Therefore, after the sabbath feast days had passed, the “first of the sabbaths” must be a reference to the first of the seven regular sabbaths counted to Pentecost.

When Christ was crucified as the Passover Lamb, on 14 Nissan, the next day was the feast of Unleavened Bread, and then some time passed before Mary went to the sepulcher on the first regular sabbath / Saturday day of rest.  The next question then is how much time passed?

Jesus told that wicked generation the sign in Matt. 12:40:

” For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (KJV)

If we are to keep strictly to the scriptures, I believe we must quit making an accommodation for the Catholic church doctrine.  Jesus said three days and three nights.  So, if Mary came to the sepulcher at dawn on the first of the seven sabbaths counting to Pentecost, then we count backwards three nights and three days.  The first regular sabbath morn was preceded by Friday night (Night 3).  Count Friday as Day 3, Thursday night as Night 2; Thursday day as Day 2; Wednesday night as Night 1; and then Wednesday was the crucifixion day, or Day 1. (Inclusive Jewish count.)

According to the sign, Jesus was crucified on Wednesday, and resurrected before dawn on Saturday, or the next regular sabbath day. 

This would mean that Christ was crucified in 31 A.D., not 30 or 33 A.D. as that was the only year of these with a Wednesday Passover.  Although, some early references are to 32 A.D., and also to the 4th year of the 202nd Olympiad, which could have been in either 30, 31, or 32 A.D.  But, this is another paper.   And, a Wednesday crucifixion day also literally completes the “mid-week” prophesy of Dan 9:24-27 when Christ would be cut off.

The Roman Catholic Church admits to changing the Sabbath day of worship to the Lord’s Day on Sunday.

From the Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine:

Q. Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
A. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea, (AD 336) transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday….
Q. Why did the Catholic Church substitute Sunday for Saturday?
A. The Church substituted Sunday for Saturday, because Christ rose from the dead on a Sunday, and the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles on a Sunday.
Q. By what authority did the Church substitute Sunday for Saturday?
A. The Church substituted Sunday for Saturday by the plenitude of that divine power which Jesus Christ bestowed upon her!
—Rev. Peter Geiermann, C.SS.R., (1946), p. 50.

From the Catechism of the Council of Trent:

The Church of God has thought it well to transfer the celebration and observance of the Sabbath to Sunday!     –p 402, second revised edition (English), 1937.  (First published in 1566)

And, from the Augsburg Confession:

They [the Catholics] allege the Sabbath changed into Sunday, the Lord’s day, contrary to the decalogue, as it appears; neither is there any example more boasted of than the changing of the Sabbath day. Great, they say, is the power and authority of the church, since it dispensed with one of the ten commandments.    —Art. 28.

The Council of Trent met 25 times from 1545 and 1563.  It was dominated by Jesuits, using deceit and deliberate delay, they avoided the king’s command to include the Reformers and their Received Text.  The Jesuits prevailed in their arguments for tradition to be upheld above the authority of the scriptures through archbishop of Rheggio’s sermon, in which he argued that the church had power to change the commandments because by its power alone the church had already changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.  (See Archbishop of Reggio’s Sermon)

The Jesuits won the argument, and imbedded traditions of men over the authority of the scriptures, thereby further alienating the RCC from the word of God.

So, it does appear that the RCC officially and formally changed the day of worship from the sabbath day to a the first day of the week, a day that Constantine had renamed as Sunday.  But, this was a formality only, as the then current practice of the early Christians were already worshipping on Sunday.

Their Sunday worship on the first day of the week was in following with some of the practices of the apostles.  It can be seen in the writings of the early Christian “fathers” such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Ignatius who spoke against the Judaizers and cautioned against Jewish manners of old customs of idleness who were perceived as not following the spirit of the teachings of Christ and the apostles. Eusebius stated that the Christians had transferred the sabbath to the first day of the week, Sunday, because of establishment of the church on Pentecost, and the breaking of bread on Sunday.  (Acts 21-42; 20:7)   

Did the early Christians and apostles make a mistake in abandoning the sabbath?

Rom. 13:8-10, “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.  For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

Matt. 5:17, “ Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.  (KJV)

It is Jesus’ love for us that fulfilled the law and the prophets.  His sacrifice for us, to pay the sins for all those that are baptized into His name, that we are to pay forward.  He forgives us when we repent of our sins.  We are to practice this same love, and in so doing the law of God is fulfilled.

Col. 2:16-17, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:  17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.  (KJV)

All of the scriptures must work together.  Many problems come because the scriptures are parsed, and taken out of context.  One such is Matt 5:18:

“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.” (KJV)

I have discussed the meaning of the OT phrase “heaven and earth” in a previous post.  (Click on “more stories” to see “Heaven and Earth Have Passed Away”.) Heaven and earth referred to the covenant between God and Israel in the Old Testament.  God and Israel…. heaven and earth… the promise between the two.

Let’s critically examine the fourth commandment in Ex. 31:1-17:

Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.

14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.

17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. (KJV)

Remember the rules for studying God’s word.  Identify who is speaking to whom, identify the time period, identify any sequence of events, and keep to the subject matter. 

God was speaking to Moses telling Moses what to say to the children / tribes of Israel. The fourth commandment was a sign between God and the children of Israel throughout their generations.  This was a commandment under the old covenant.  The time period was of the Mosaic covenant given to the tribes of Israel after the exodus from Egypt.  The subject is the covenant between God and the children of Israel.

Ex. 31:16-17, ” and the sons of Israel have observed the sabbath; to keep the sabbath to their generations [is] a covenant age-during, 17 between Me and the sons of Israel it [is] a sign — to the age; for six days Jehovah made the heavens and the earth, and in the seventh day He hath ceased, and is refreshed.’ (YLT)

Young’s translation makes it clear that this commandment was for the tribes of Israel to the end of their generations…. “age-during”….as long as the covenant between God and the tribes of Israel, or the children of Israel.. the fleshly tribes of Israel endured.

When did that covenant with the tribes of Israel cease?   One of the many things that Christ came to do was to fulfill the OT prophesies, of which was the end of that Mosaic sacrificial covenant and it’s sacrificial temple.  The fleshly, earthly tribes of Israel are no more.  God scattered the power of those people in A.D. 70.  The Israelites had been His holy people until they rejected Him, constantly turning from Him to worship idols. 

God maintained the land of Judah for the sole purpose of the manifestation of His son on earth to fulfill those prophesies and annull the old covenant. 

Heb. 7:18, For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.” (KJV)

Heb. 8:8-9,  For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:  Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.“  (KJV)

The new covenant, the new heaven and earth is between God and spiritual Israel, and was established beginning at the cross of Christ and finalized at the destruction of Jerusalem and that old temple in A.D. 70.  Spiritual Israel are all those who have put on Christ through baptism, and are of the spiritual seed of Abraham.  We keep His commandments now through our love of Him, and love of our fellow man, just as His love paid the price for all of us.  (Matt. 22:36-40)

Do you want to bind the old covenant on to the new?  Do you want to worship Him just on the sabbath / Saturday?  Under the new covenant, every day is a day in which we should be living for Him.  Every morning we wake up is another opportunity to do His will, and to tell someone else of the promised rest to be found in Christ.  (Heb. 4:1-11)

At this time, I believe the scriptures show that Christ was resurrected early before dawn on a Saturday. I believe that the early Christians began a practice under the apostles of breaking bread and preaching continually, including on Sundays. No matter what the Catholics teach, at this point in my understanding, under the new covenant, I do not believe that God will disdain any time of worship that we give Him, whether it be Saturday, Sunday, or Wednesday evening.

Rom. 14:5, ” One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. (KJV)

All bold emphasis is mine.  See other posts under “more stories” for the evidences of fulfilled prophesy.  All posts are also at  Other sources:

Tradition, The Council of Trent

Did the Catholic Church Change the 1o Commandments

Archbishop of Reggio’s Sermon

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