Whenever the question of the Sabbath is discussed, those who
do not keep it holy will inevitably appeal to Colossians as
their authority for disobeying the fourth commandment of God.
What exactly did Paul mean when he wrote:
"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or
in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath
Yes, when Paul said "Sabbath" he meant the seventh day
Sabbath - but that does not mean that Paul was canceling the
requirement for obedience to a commandment of God. What God
has commanded only God can set aside. One may search the New
Testament for a thousand years and he will not find a single
verse that says God has abrogated one "jot or tittle"
What then was Paul talking about when he said to let no man judge you in
respect of Sabbaths? When we look at this verse in its context it soon
becomes apparent that Paul was warning about the "Colossian Heresy"
which was another gospel based on asceticism and the worship of angels in
order to gain assistance from cosmic powers. The essence of this heresy
was that Christ alone was not sufficient to deliver us from our slavery to
As you will see from the following verses, Paul was warning
against three things that were being added to the gospel.
1. Traditions of men.
2. The worship of angels.
3. Submitting to doctrines of men.
COL 2:8 Beware lest
any man spoil you through philosophy and
vain deceit, after the TRADITION OF MEN of men, after the
rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
COL 2:16 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
COL 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward
in a voluntary
humility and WORSHIPING OF ANGELS, intruding into those
things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
COL 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ
from the rudiments
of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye
subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
Which all are to perish with the using;) AFTER THE
COMMANDMENTS AND DOCTRINES OF MEN?
It should be obvious that KEEPING THE
SABBATH DAY HOLY
IS NOT A DOCTRINE OF MEN!
was not doing away with God's commandment; he was warning against the
false teachers who were saying that if believers did not eat and drink the
right food and keep the festivals, new moons and Sabbaths ACCORDING TO
CERTAIN HUMAN REGULATIONS they would lose their reward.
to verse :23 below, they were teaching that without
these ascetic regulations one could not overcome the flesh:
COL 2:23 These [DOCTRINES OF MEN] have indeed
appearance of wisdom in promoting rigor of devotion and self-
abasement and severity to the body, but they are of no value in
checking the indulgence of the flesh. (RSV)
One commentator summed up these verses by saying:
"We conclude then that in verse :16, the warning is not
against the Sabbath, festivals and dietary laws as such, but
rather against those who promote these practices as
indispensable aids to Christian perfection and as needed
protection from the "elements [evil spiritual forces] of the
world" thus denying the all sufficiency of Christ.
From Sabbath To Sunday)
really, doesn't that explanation make a lot more sense than
the notion that Christians are no longer required to obey the
fourth commandment? It is a true saying that: "The
is not nullified by the condemnation of its abuse.".
The question we need to ask is this: "Was Paul condemning the
Sabbath day, or was he CONDEMNING THE DOCTRINES OF MEN who added
ritualistic and ascetic restrictions to faith in Christ?" In
order to answer that dispute, one must look at the broad picture. There
is not a single verse in the New Testament which states that Paul taught a
new doctrine that canceled the Sabbath commandment; nor is there any record
of a controversy between the Jews and Gentile Christians over
Sabbath-keeping. If Paul had been teaching that the Sabbath commandment
had been repealed, it would have split the church wide open and he would have
had to answer the objections continuously in his epistles.
Think about it - if the Jewish believers made such a fuss about circumcision
being optional, imagine what they would have said about the Sabbath day being
At some point we must use common sense and reason to interpret what has been
written. For example, does "Let no man
judge you in meat and drink..." mean that Christians can be drunkards?
Of course not, because you know that God's word forbids
drunkenness. Well, it also forbids Sabbath-breaking!
It is only logical to assume that if God was going to cancel one of His
commandments, he would make that fact very clear. Surely, if someone
said to you: "Let no man judge you in respect of murder or
adultery" you would not assume that God
had changed His mind about those sins without solid proof. Certainly, you
would demand more evidence than one lonely verse in the book of
Colossians? Or would you?
THE CHURCHMEN vs
THE SABBATH (Romans 14)
churchmen use Romans 14:5-6 as proof that New Testament
believers no longer have an obligation to keep the Sabbath day
holy. So let us examine those two verses, just as a Judge
would consider evidence in his courtroom, and then decide
whether or not they testify against Sabbath keeping. Paul
"One man esteemeth
one day above another: another
esteemeth every day alike. Let very man
persuaded in his own mind.
He that regardeth
[observeth] the day regardeth it unto
the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day,
to the Lord
he doth not regard it. He that eateth,
eateth to the
Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that
to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God
The Judge would ask: "Where is the Sabbath mentioned in
those verses?". The Sabbath is not
mentioned there, or in the
entire book of Romans! No court in the land would allow verses
that do not mention the Sabbath to be used as evidence in an
argument against the Sabbath - so why should we?
You see, Paul could not have been talking about keeping the
Sabbath day holy because obedience to God's law is not
optional. It is ludicrous to suggest that any of the Ten
Commandments can be disobeyed "unto the Lord". Think of the
absurdity of saying "He that stealeth, to the Lord he stealeth;
and he that stealeth not, to the Lord he stealeth not."
What then was Paul talking about? He was talking about fast
days. The whole 14th chapter of Romans is about food and how
people's beliefs about eating should not be interfered with.
The fast days could be observed according to each believer's
conscience. A man could eat -or not eat, keep the day - or not
keep it. It is as simple as this: Each man could observe FAST
DAYS, or not observe them, according to his own convictions.
He that does not eat, regards the day.
He that eats, does not regard the day.
The "days" that Paul was referring to were the traditional
fast days mentioned in Zechariah 7:5-6. The Gentile Christians
in Rome did not
keep them because they had no cultural interest
in the anniversary fasts that were observed during the Jew's
captivity in Babylon. 1
Even the Jews themselves had different convictions about the
observance of those days - because those fasts were never
commanded by God.
After the captivity (when the temple was being rebuilt) the
men of Bethel also
wondered if they should observe these fasts
unto the Lord. For example, they asked Zechariah: "Shall I
weep in the fifth month and abstain, as I have done these many
years?" (Zech 7:2-3.)
When you read Zechariah's answer, notice the striking
similarity of his words with those of Paul to the church at Rome ...
Zechariah 7:5-6 "...When ye FASTED and mourned in
the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years,
AT ALLFAST UNTO ME, even to me [The Lord]?
And when ye did EAT, and when ye did drink, did ye
not EAT FOR YOURSELVES, and drink for yourselves?"
Romans 14:6-7 "He that regardeth
the [fast] day
regardeth it UNTO THE
LORD; and he that regardeth not
the day, to the Lord
he doth not regard it. He that
EATETH, eateth to the
Lord, for he giveth God thanks;
and he that EATETH
NOT, to the Lord he eateth not,
and giveth God thanks.
For none of us LIVETH TO HIMSELF, and
no man dieth to
If you were the Judge in the case of the CHURCHMEN VERSUS
THE SABBATH, would you be willing to say that Paul had cancelled
one of the commandments of God based on the evidence you find in
the 14th chapter of Romans?
In our opinion, the evidence from Romans and Zechariah
demands a verdict for Sabbath observance. The church must obey
the Fourth Commandment - that is the only decision that will
uphold the Law of God.
These are the four
traditional fasts that were mentioned
in the book of Zechariah:
1. (The fast of
the fourth month) In remembrance of the
breaking of the wall of Jerusalem.
2. (The fast of the fifth month)
In remembrance of the
burning of the temple.
3. (The fast of the seventh month) In remembrance of the
killing of Gedaliah, which
completed the dispersion.
4. (The fast of the tenth month) In remembrance of the
beginning of the siege of Jerusalem.
See - Jer 52:6, Jer
52:12-13, 2 Kings 25:25, 2 Kings 25:1
It is of interest to
note that those dates commemorate the
judgments of God upon a people who refused to keep the
Sabbath Day holy. (See Jer 17:19-27)