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#1.4 BECAUSE THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH KEPT THE SABBATH DAY

This bible study uses a Greek Unicode font and is printable.

Greek Word Study on 4521 σάββατον sabbaton Sabbath.
Hebrew Word Study on 7676 שַׁבָּת shabbat Sabbath.
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#1.41 Saul found Christians in the synagogues

ACTS 9:1-2
1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest,
2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

ACTS 22:19 (Paul)
19 And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue, those who believe in you:

ACTS 26:9-11 (Paul)
9 I indeed thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
11 And I punished them often in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even to strange cities.

Note: Where did Saul go to look for Christians to capture? to "every synagogue," (Acts 22:19; 26:11). Why? because in those days Christians were still observing the Sabbath commandment, and he knew that he would find them in the synagogues on the Sabbath days. This is scriptural proof that the New Testament church kept the Sabbath day.

#1.42 The early Jewish Christians were "zealous of the law"

ACTS 21:20
20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said to him, You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are who believe: and they are all zealous of the law:

Note: Looking at the context, the "thousands of Jews" who believed, who were also "all zealous of the law:" (Acts 21:20), were at Jerusalem, where the twelve apostles stayed during the dispersion after the persecution of Stephen (Acts 8:1). These thousands of Jewish believers then, were under the teaching of the twelve apostles, so how could they be breaking the Sabbath commandment and be "zealous of the law" at the same time? The scripture says after Pentecost, "they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine" (Acts 2:42), and this scripture (Acts 21:20) shows that not only did the apostles themselves keep the Sabbath commandment, but they taught others to keep it also, just as Jesus had told them (Matthew 5:19; 28:20). Nowhere in the New Testament after the death of Jesus was any Christian, Jew or Gentile, persecuted for not keeping the Sabbath day.

#1.43 Ananias was "a devout man according to the law"

Greek - Acts 22:12-13 - English
ἀνανίας δέ τις ἀνὴρ εὐσεβὴς κατὰ τὸν νόμον μαρτυρούμενος ὑπὸ πάντων τῶν κατοικούντων ἰουδαίων 12 And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews who dwelt there,
ἐλθὼν πρός με καὶ ἐπιστὰς εἶπέν μοι Σαοὺλ ἀδελφέ ἀνάβλεψον κἀγὼ αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ ἀνέβλεψα εἰς αὐτόν 13 Came to me, and stood, and said to me, Brother Saul, receive your sight. And the same hour I looked upon him.

Note: Ananias is described here as, "a devout man according to the law," and "having a good report of all the Jews" who dwelt at Damascus. The word translated "devout" (Gr. εὐσεβὴς, Gtr. eusebes) is also used of Cornelius (Acts 10:2), one of his faithful soldiers (Acts 10:7), and is translated "godly" (2 Peter 2:9). It means pious, earnestly religious, or simply faithful and obedient. So how can anyone be described as, "a devout man according to the law," and be a Sabbath breaker at the same time? How can he also have "a good report of all the Jews" at Antioch, if he did not keep the Sabbath day? They were very much against Jesus (Luke 13:14; John 5:16-18; 9:16), and against his disciples (Matthew 12:2; Mark 2:24), when they accused them of breaking the Sabbath, so it would not be possible. This shows that Ananias was not only a faithful believer in Jesus, but also a faithful Sabbath keeper at the same time, and confirms that early Jewish Christians kept the Sabbath commandment.
In conclusion, this whole section has now given much evidence that the early church was continuing to observe the Sabbath day. This being so, remember that all of the apostles were Jews, and all of the early church were Jews, until Cornelius and his household became believers (Acts 10:44-48). Look at the covenant they had with God:

(Exodus 31:16-17) "Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant."

It was the death penalty for breaking it (Exodus 31:14-15), so there is no way that they would exchange the Sabbath day for Sunday, as a day of gathering together for worship, ministry, and prayer. If there had been any official change of day for the church, the apostles would have both taught it and practised it; but they did neither.

#1.44 James wrote to Jewish Christians who met in the Synagogue on the Sabbath day

Greek - James 2:2 - English
ἐὰν γὰρ εἰσέλθῃ εἰς τήν συναγωγὴν ὑμῶν ἀνὴρ χρυσοδακτύλιος ἐν ἐσθῆτι λαμπρᾷ εἰσέλθῃ δὲ καὶ πτωχὸς ἐν ῥυπαρᾷ ἐσθῆτι 2 For if there comes to your assembly1 a man with a gold ring, in fine clothes, and there comes in also a poor man in filthy clothes;

Note: The word translated assembly1 (Gr. συναγωγὴν, Gtr. sunagogen) is a form of the regular word for "synagogue" in the New Testament, and it is translated "synagogue" 55 times out of 57 occurrences. A better translation would have been, "For it there comes into your synagogue". James was writing to, "the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad" (James 1:1), and so to the Jewish believers who had gone to other countries. It is generally accepted that James was the first book of the New Testament that was written, and that it was at least fifteen years after the resurrection of Jesus (probably more). Regular meetings in the synagogues were held only on the Sabbath day (Acts 13:42-44). Therefore this is strong evidence that the Jewish believers were still observing the Sabbath day long after Jesus was resurrected.

#1.45 James Taught Jewish Christians to Keep the Whole Law

JAMES 2:8-11
8 If you fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, You shall love your neighbour as yourself, you do well:
9 But if you have respect of persons, you commit sin, and are convicted of the law as transgressors.
10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
11 For he who said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if you commit no adultery, yet if you kill, you have become a transgressor of the law.

Note: The law that James was talking about here was the ten commandments, the first four being based on love for God, and the latter six being based on love for our fellow man, "you shall love your neighbour as yourself," (James 2:8). This is confirmed by the discussion (James 2:11) of the sixth commandment, "You shall not kill" (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17), and the seventh commandment, "You shall not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18). So when he talks about "the whole law" (James 2:10), is he ignoring the first four commandments? No, not when Jesus so clearly said that loving God was the "first and great commandment." (Matthew 22:38). So if offending in one point makes us guilty of all (James 2:10), that puts Sabbath breakers equal to murderers, adulterers, idolaters, etc., doesn't it? The Devil also knows that offending in one point makes us guilty of all, and that is why he works so hard to stop Christians from keeping the Sabbath day.

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