'They Went Into The Synagogue
On Sabbath Day'
GOD'S MESSAGE/July 2011
Please advise me with regard to the verses Luke 6:6; 4:16; Mark 6:1-2; Acts 13:13-14, 42-44; 16:13; 17:2; 18:4 in which it is taught that Jesus and the apostles "went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day." Furthermore,Christ pronounced in Mark 2:27, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath."
Whose Sabbath is this that Christ Jesus and the apostles were observing? Had Christ made His own Sabbath?
San Diego, CA, USA
The Sabbath being referred to in the verses you quoted is none other than that which God commanded to the ancient Israelites as a sign of His covenant with them (Exod. 31:16 [ The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant.]; Deut. 5:1-3 [1 Moses summoned all Israel and said: Hear, O Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. 2 The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. 3 It was not with our fathers that the LORD made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today.], 12-14 [12 "Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 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 ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do.]; Mal 4:4 [4 "Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.]) They were to observe the Sabbath to commemorate their deliverance from bondage in Egypt, hence it was exclusive to the Israelites as it was they who became slaves in Egypt (Deut 5:15, Today's English Version [ Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and that I, the LORD your God, rescued you by my great power and strength. That is why I command you to observe the Sabbath.] ). Observance of the Sabbath includes strict prohibition on doing one's work on the 'seventh day' that even kindling of fire (Exod. 35:3 [3 Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day."]) and cooking (Exod. 16:23 [23 He said to them, "This is what the LORD commanded: 'Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.' " ]) were forbidden, let alone plowing and harvesting (Exod. 34:21 [21 "Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest. ]).
The biblical verses you listed in your letter do not teach that Christ and the apostles observed this Sabbath for that matter. Though these do state that Christ and the apostles went into the synagogue on Sabbaths, the verses themselves clarify their purpose in going there--'to teach' (Mark 6:2 [2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. "Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! ]; Luke 6:6 [6 On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled.]), to speak" (Acts 13:14-16 [14 From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue rulers sent word to them, saying, "Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak." 16 Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: "Men of Israel and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! ]; 16:13 [13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. ], to preach (Acts 13:42 [42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath.]), and to reason with people (Acts 17:2 [2 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures,]; 18:4 [4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. ]). During the Sabbath, the Jews in Christ's time would gather in the synagogue, hence Christ and the apostles made use of such oppurtune times to preach the gospel to many people.
The biblical accounts of Jesus' healing the sick on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:11-13 [11 He said to 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? 12 How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." 13 Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. ]; Luke 13:10-17) and His disciples working on that day (Luke 6:1-5 [1 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. 2 Some of the Pharisees asked, "Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?" 3 Jesus answered them, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions." 5 Then Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." ]) all the more show that the observance of the Sabbath was not their practice. In fact, Christ was even accused by Sabbath observers of being "not from God" for not obeying the Sabbath law (John 9:16).
The incident in which Jesus declared "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for he Sabbath ... the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath" even more underscores His consistency in not keeping the Sabbath law. Jesus then was defending His disciples who plucked the heads o grain in the fields on the Sabbath:
"Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. And the Pharisees said to Him, 'Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?' But he said to them, 'Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priest, and also gave some to those who were with him?' And he said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath'" (Mark 2:23-28, New King James Version).
Christ being "the Lord of the Sabbath", only means that He is above it and is not bound by it, as He Himself demonstrated in his actions. But by observing the Sabbath, did Christ and His apostles violate any of God's laws? No, for it was God Himself who had put an end to the observance of the Sabbath (Lam. 2:6; Hos. 2:11, TEV)
Proving that such a law has no longer been in effect in the Christian Era, the apostle Paul teaches us this concerning the Sabbath: "Let no one criticize you in matters of food or drink or for the observing festivals, new moons or the sabbath. ... These doctrines may seem to be profound because they speak of religious observance and humility and of disregarding the body. In fact, they are useless in overcoming selfishness" (Col. 2:16, 23, Christian Community Bible).
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