THIS WEEK'S FEATURED PROGRAM
Watch Friday Nights at 9 pm (EST)
Episode 361: Does Romans 14 Eliminate The Sabbath Day
THE NEW TESTAMENT DOES NOT MENTION ANY ALTERATION OF THE SABBATH DAY
One can read through the entirety of the New Testament and find no mention of any alterations or cancellations of the Sabbath Law. None! Some will agree with this statement but, say with the exception of one verse, this is true. An in depth investigation of these verses will reveal the real truth. What is Romans 14:4-5 really all about?
Romans 14:4-5 NKJV 4 Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. 5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
What was Paul telling the Romans? Was he telling them that it is all right to choose any day you want as your Sabbath? Certainly not! (Notice that the Sabbath is not even mentioned in Romans 14:4-6). Paul is talking about not judging each other. Paul is giving a lesson in Christian tolerance. He is certainly not talking about choosing any day you wish to become the Sabbath or doing away with the Sabbath altogether. Having had the experience of starting churches, that idea is certainly not workable. If you start a new congregation, and tell those who show up they can each choose on which day the Sabbath meeting will be held, there will be nothing but confusion. Some meeting on one day and others meeting on another day will not work. Paul did not and could not have started new churches in such a manner. So what is the issue of tolerance involving. It is the fear of meat offered to idols sold in all the butcher shops of Rome.
Romans 14:1-2 NKJV 1 Receive one who is WEAK in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.
Note that the weak believer is the one who is afraid of the meat in the city. They probably thought they were the purest and strongest believers. These vegetarians were convinced that meat sacrificed to idols would be like worshiping at pagan alters. So they became forced vegetarians. Other believers who are more informed, knew better and ate clean meats. Some former pagans really feared the meat and the attractions of their former pagan lifestyles. Even some Jews who were purest, wanted to avoid the contamination of pagan meats. Paul says be tolerant of each other and do not argue over non-essential issues. Note I Cor chapters 8-10.
Romans 14:3-4 NKJV 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. 4 Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
Paul is saying emphatically do not despise each other over issues of food and drink. He is not talking about which day is the Sabbath or letting anybody abrogate the Sabbath Law. Paul is talking about which day to FAST ON and this was debated among Jews and Proselytes as to which days were best. We see that the Pharisees fasted twice during the week. What days did they choose and why were Issues among Jews?
Luke 18:10-12 NKJV 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men--extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'
The very religious Jews and Proselytes apparently debated as to which days to skip probably two meals, to make themselves righteous. None would have fasted on the Sabbath Day for it is a FEAST DAY. Jews believe in having food on that day and plenty of it.
Leviticus 23:2-3 NKJV 2 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. 3 'Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
Further, remember no apostle had yet come to Rome when this letter was written. That is the reason for this basic letter. They would all be Jews or proselytes to Judaism who had learned about Christianity at the various feasts in Jerusalem. Paul wanted to encourage them to be loving and kind to each other and try to get along until he came in spite of differences they might have with each other. He was speaking about fasting, their personal preference for when to fast for best affect. They would all be committed Sabbath keepers. Note Paul's procedures in starting churches.
Acts 13:42 And as they went out, they besought that these words might be spoken to them the next sabbath. 43 Now when the synagogue broke up, many of the Jews and of the devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas; who, speaking to them, urged them to continue in the grace of God.
If the church had mysteriously switched the Sabbath to the worldly day of the sun god wouldn't Paul have said why don't you gentiles meet me tomorrow on Sunday.
44 And the next sabbath almost the whole city was gathered together to hear the word of God.
Paul did not say you pick the day we meet because many of us have for years switched to the day of the sun god or whatever day you like they are all the same to God anyway.
THE POWERFUL ARGUEMENT FROM SILENCE
Paul's letter to the Jewish believers and Jewish proselytes in Rome would have been read by people who would never have considered that the Sabbath law was even up for discussion. They would have understood it as a letter regarding which days to fast on and related food issues. Because we come from a Sunday keeping world, people search the Bible looking f or evidence of the change in the Sabbath. The Roman believers would have had no such problem. If the Sabbath had ever been altered a long and controversial discussion would have occurred. No such justification for any change is found in the NT. IF CONGRESS HAS NOT CHANGED THE LAW then the current law is still in affect. Nothing in the New Testament cancels the Sabbath law.
If the New Testament Church had been involved in conflict and held a grand conference to make an exception just for gentiles like regarding circumcision for adult gentiles, there is no way the the changing of the Sabbath would go unnoticed in scripture. Christ kept the annual and weekly Sabbaths and so did Paul.
Luke 4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and he entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up to read.
Jesus kept the Sabbath both weekly and annual ones even at the risk of his life.
John 7:10 But when Jesus's brethren were gone up unto the feast, then went he also up, not publicly, but as it were in secret.
Paul had all the gentile brethren keeping the Sabbath. They heard the law read on the Sabbath.
Acts 15:21 For Moses from generations of old hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath.
Christ said in Matt. 5:17-18 that he did not come to do away with the law which includes the Sabbath law.
Matt. 5:17 Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
If there were no God who has assigned the Sabbath as His sign it would not matter which day we keep holy. But there is a God and it matters to Him and it is good for us to stay close to him by worshiping Him every Sabbath. How can we hope to stay close to Him if we don't give Him our time every week as He plainly says we are to do?
Ex 31:13 Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily ye shall keep my sabbaths: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am Jehovah who sanctifieth you.
When the Sabbath is abandoned, a church organization becomes apostate and has given up the link to the true God of the Bible, the seventh day Sabbath. People know you by the Sabbath you keep.
TOLERANCE DOES NOT MEAN LAWLESSNESS
Tolerance obviously does not mean lawlessness. However we should learn to tolerate variations of opinions and especially with regard to food. We should use our energies in getting along with each other. Avoid arguments over such issues. Help others especially the weak with encouraging words. Paul is reminding us they belong to Christ not us. Do not criticize another's servants. God's kingdom is much more than food and drink. WE DO NOT NEED TO ARGUE OVER THE ISSUE OF USING RESTAURANTS ON THE SABBATH. Those of us who are strong need to lend a hand to the weak. Our greater knowledge is for service not status. Note Romans 15:1-3. Some issues should be handled in such a way as to allow the weak to grow into truth but never pressure them. This would of course not include which day to show up for services.
Romans 15:1 Now we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 3 For Christ also pleased not himself; …