The Sabbath Breaker: A Book Review

Teaching of the TzadikimOnce it happened that the Master and his disciples walked in the holy city of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day when they encountered a man blind from birth. Our Master spat on the ground, made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to the man’s eyes. Then he told the man, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.” The man went and immersed, and miraculously, he could see.

To heal the man, Jesus spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle. Mixing two substances to form a third is a form of work that Jewish law prohibits on the Sabbath day. Jesus smeared the mud on the man’s eyes. Applying a salve or medicine by means of smearing is also considered a form of work prohibited on the Sabbath day. It is a violation of the Sabbath. He sent the man to immerse himself. At least by conventional definition in traditional, Jewish interpretation, immersions are not done on the Sabbath. This single healing incident from the Gospels potentially involves three Sabbath violations.

The Pharisees claimed, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath” (John 9:16). Vocal critics of the Master insisted, “He is a Sabbath breaker.”

Do we appreciate the gravity of this allegation?

-D. Thomas Lancaster
from “Introduction: This Man Breaks the Sabbath” (pg 7)
The Sabbath Breaker: Jesus of Nazareth and The Gospels’ Sabbath Conflicts

This is Lancaster’s latest book published by First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) and, like a number of Lancaster’s books, leverages material previously published in volumes of the Torah Club and issues of Messiah Journal. A great deal of valuable information on topics of intense interest to Christians both in the church and within the Messianic community, is “buried” within much larger documents. In order to make this information more readily accessible, FFOZ is taking material on specific subjects from these “tomes” and refactoring it into several smaller, self-contained books. Lancaster’s The Sabbath Breaker is one such book.

The focus of Lancaster’s book is rather narrow, so don’t imagine it will answer questions such as “Was Sabbath changed from Saturday to Sunday,” “Should Gentile Christians keep the ‘Jewish’ Sabbath and if so, how,” or “Should Messianic Jews keep the Sabbath in the same way as non-Messianic Jews.” The book’s entire focus is to address whether or not Jesus broke the Sabbath and if he didn’t, then how can we explain why he was criticized by the Jewish religious authorities for healing on Shabbat, gleaning with his disciples on Shabbat, and telling other people who were not his disciples to carry and to immerse on Shabbat?

Christianity tends to believe that Jesus did break the Shabbat in order to show us that he had cancelled all of the Shabbat restrictions and Shabbat itself, as part of his “nailing the Law to the cross,” setting us free from the Law and putting us under the Law of Grace.

As you might imagine, Lancaster dismisses the traditional Christian interpretation out of hand and frankly, so do I. But then how can this be explained? Was Jesus “cancelling” the halachah of the Pharisees? Was it indeed permissible Biblically to glean on Shabbat, to heal on Shabbat, to carry on Shabbat, and to immerse on Shabbat? Were the Pharisees adding unreasonable man-made burdens and was Jesus correcting them and rebuking the Pharisees? Or was it more a matter that the Pharisees thought they were upholding the Biblical way to keep Shabbat (and after all, they wanted to kill Jesus for healing on Shabbat, so they were obviously sincere), and Jesus was just interpreting the Bible better?

How about none of the above:

For many Bible readers, this distinction may be too obscure, but if missed, the reader also misses the message of all the Sabbath stories in the Gospels. The essential message is not that Jesus has cancelled the Sabbath or that the rabbinic interpretation of Sabbath is illegitimate. The Sabbath-conflict stories instead communicate that acts of compassion and mercy performed to alleviate human suffering take precedence over the ritual taboo. The miraculous power by which Jesus performs the healings only serves to add God’s endorsement to Jesus’ halachic, legal rationale.

Did Jesus’ disciples break the Sabbath in the grain fields? Yes. But they were justified in doing so because their need took precedence over the Temple service, and the Temple service took precedence over the Sabbath. Therefore Jesus declared them guiltless and told the Pharisees, “If you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless” (Matthew 12:7).

Did the Master break the Sabbath when he healed on the Sabbath day? Yes. Would fixing a car break the Sabbath? Of course it would, and by the same standard so does fixing a human body. Nevertheless, the Master justified doing so because compassion for his fellow man took precedence over the Sabbath.

-Lancaster, pg 61
“Chapter Seven: At Dinner with the Sages”

blind2That’s a more or less “in a nutshell” explanation of how Jesus did break the Sabbath, but at the same time, each event of Sabbath breaking was justified because of a higher halachic standard.

That’s not the full description of course, and you’ll have to read Lancaster’s book to get all the answers. Not including the footnotes, the book is about 135 pages long, so you should be able to get through it pretty quickly.

The book is divided into three sections:

  1. Sabbath Conflicts in the Synoptic Gospels
  2. Sabbath Conflicts in the Gospel of John
  3. The Thirty-Nine Prohibited Forms of Work

The first two sections focus on different explanations (or the lack thereof in the case of John’s Gospel) for Jesus’s apparent “Sabbath breaking” activities. The quote from Lancaster above is a nice summary of the first section. The second one presents some problems, which Lancaster readily admits, such as Jesus telling the man he healed in John 5 to “take up your bed and walk.” (John 5:8). While the content of the book up to this point (pg 65) confirms that Jesus did break the Sabbath by healing but that chesed (lovingkindness or compassion) takes precedence over Shabbat (it’s more involved than that, but you’ll have to read the book to get all the details), carrying is considered a form of Melachah, or a type of work that involves creation and mastery over our environment (a concept that has to be understood to grasp Lancaster’s major points in his book), and this is forbidden on Shabbat, at least in modern times in Orthodox Judaism.

That brings up the issue of whether or not the Thirty-Nine Prohibited Forms of Work can reasonably be applied to First-Century normative forms of Judaism, and that’s a big if. Lancaster addresses this question in his book and seems convinced that an earlier, less formalized version of this halachah was in existence in the day of Jesus’s ministry on earth. The reader will have to decide if this is credible from their own understanding, but capable arguments can be made either way.

Part two which reviews the healings of Jesus in the Gospel of John departs from the legal and even mechanical explanation of his Sabbath breaking activities and the fact that he told a man to do something that also breaks the Sabbath remains a mystery. It is interesting though that after initially criticizing the man for carrying on Shabbat, once they find out that a healing was done on Shabbat also, the Pharisees lose all interest in the man carrying and seek out the healer instead.

Part three is Lancaster’s description, in some detail, of the thirty-nine melachot or types of work that are forbidden on Shabbat. This may be the part of the book most readers will blow past as irrelevant, even if they are Messianic Jews or non-Jews who observe some form of Shabbat, but I think that would be a mistake.

Protestant Christianity does not consider Sabbath a concept worth consideration or if they do, they simply believe that going to church on Sunday fulfills the fourth commandment out of the ten. Grace makes all things permitted on the “Sabbath” so no one has to struggle to confine their behavior, separating the mundane from the sacred on one day of the week.

Christians who are Sabbatarians including those who are involved in the Hebrew Roots or Messianic Jewish movements, for the most part, tend to create their own “halachah” or methods of Shabbat observance, either as individuals or as individual congregations. I would be willing to wager that there are few if any standards for Sabbath observance that encompass large collections of congregations, unless those groups adhere to a set of halachot established by an umbrella group that has adopted Shabbat observance behaviors from another, normative form of Judaism.

sabbath-breaker-lancasterWe all want to believe that Jesus can be our guide to correct Shabbat observance (assuming we value Shabbat observance) and that God has an objective set of standards for how Shabbat is to be kept (and like Lancaster, I’m not going to get into who should keep Shabbat). However the Melachot were derived from Torah (Lancaster’s book provides those specifics as well) so they weren’t just dreamed up out of someone’s imagination. If you believe in an objectively established Sabbath and (again, assuming you believe you are either required to keep the Sabbath or voluntarily choose to do so out of personal conviction or for other reasons) that there are objective standards for keeping Sabbath, then the third part of Lancaster’s book, if you can believe it is reasonably connected back to the first two parts, may actually be your roadmap for how a Jesus-following Sabbath keeper should keep Sabbath.

In The Sabbath Breaker, Lancaster takes a decidedly different approach to looking at Jesus and his “sabbath breaking” behaviors, acknowledging that he did break the Sabbath, not to cancel it, but to uphold it and to illustrate that there are circumstances wherein it is permissible to break the Sabbath for a higher purpose. Jesus himself, according to Lancaster, is not the higher purpose: human beings are. After all, “Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

146 days.


23 thoughts on “The Sabbath Breaker: A Book Review”

  1. I have attended a shabbaton seminar that examined the supposed shabbat-breaking events, which identified detailed halakhic justifications for each of the actions that Rav Yeshua defended. The conclusion was that neither he nor his disciples violated shabbat, but that their accusers simply chose to ignore features of halakhah that would permit or excuse these events. I regret that I cannot cite any publication outlining the material presented at this seminar, nor can I reproduce its analysis here. However, it is not uncommon for accusers to focus on viewpoints that cast their victims in the most negative possible light, while ignoring or dismissing exculpatory views. This is why fair trials ensure that there is a competent defence council to counter the prosecutor’s assertions.

  2. Our job as disciples is to defend our Master. Our simple objective with this book was to “to exonerate an innocent man.” The larger message of the book is in the closing lines, “Compassion for one’s fellow human being takes priority. Alleviating human suffering should be sufficient canse to set aside ceremonial functions. This principle illustrates our Master’s greatest teaching about the precedence of love.”

    James, thank you for the kind review. I also want to express my gratitude for your devotion our our King and his Kingdom.

  3. You’re welcome, Boaz. We haven’t had much time to “chat” lately so I’m hoping we’ll be able to spend a little time together catching up on things in Hudson in a few weeks. I can only imagine you’ve been exceptionally busy devoting yourself to the purposes of the Kingdom yourself.

    PL, it’s too bad that there aren’t any materials from the shabbaton seminar you mention since it sounds like that information would benefit a good many of us. I don’t think Lancaster was trying to cast Messiah in a negative light, but was offering his understanding of the Master as “an innocent man,” who values “compassion for human beings” even above the Sabbath. If that wasn’t clear in my review, then I apparently failed in communicating both my intent and the focus of Lancaster’s writing.

    1. I appreciate very much Lancaster’s intent and yours, to exhonorate Rav Yeshua and his disciples. I only regret that his method is to diminish halakhah and justify its violation by invoking higher principles. If this is unnecessary because no actual violation occurred, because halakhah of the time already included recognized interpretations of Torah that permitted these actions, then both halakhah and Rav Yeshua are exhonorated, and the accusers are not then to be viewed as the only ones caring about obedience to HaShem.

  4. Not sure why a very (the most?) popular point of view should be “dismissed out of hand” – as I understand the phrase “refused completely, without thought or discussion”. I think there is plenty of supporting evidence that the practice was yet another religious tradition on its way out by that time and definitely out after the resurrection. Then I have maybe just never had this explained to me well enough.

    “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind… Why do you pass judgment on your brother?” (Romans 14:5-10).
    “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you … with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are the shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17).

    I’ll confess my ignorance here: What exactly was the point of the sabbath was it not just a day or rest?

    How is that included when jesus gives us the new commandment that superseded and fulfilled all the others “love the Lord your God with all your hear soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself”

    I’m not trying to argue here, but I cant help but take a little offense at the phrase out of hand when there is so much scripture that lends itself to the viewpoint.

  5. Proclaimliberty: you’ll need to see the book to honesty critique Lancaster’s view. He in know way diminishes halakah–but rather shows (and supports with references) the utilization of halakah in Yeshua’s approach to proper Sabbath keeping.

  6. In Judaism, Pikuach Nefesh (Hebrew: פיקוח נפש) describes the principle in Jewish law that the preservation of human life overrides virtually any other religious consideration. When the life of a specific person is in danger, almost any mitzvah lo ta’aseh (Command to not do an action) of the Torah becomes inapplicable. quote from George Robinson Essential Judaism. Rav Yeshua was not breaking halakah, rather He was teaching us the higher standard of loving your neighbor to such standards, at all cost. I so enjoy D T Lancaster’s writings on understanding Scripture, as do I most enjoy and endorse the work of First Fruits of Zion, with Boaz Michael. Blessings to you all!!

  7. It is a very good book and, as usual, I appreciate Daniel’s perspective.

    Unfortunately Christians, as a rule, don’t understand the significance of Sabbath and so they can dismiss it “out of hand” as you say. What is so sad is that by saying he cancelled it, or abolished it, they are declaring him a false Messiah. This too is missed by Christianity, or they’d never say such a thing.

    It’s a law that one has to pay for the food they take from a grocery store, and the owner couldn’t survive if he didn’t uphold that law. However, if he suspended “the rules” and out of compassion gave a hungry person a loaf of bread, most would say it was the “right” thing to do. But no one would think he never expected anyone to ever pay for anything again.

  8. Rich,

    “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind… Why do you pass judgment on your brother?” (Romans 14:5-10).

    It seems to me the point of Romans 14 is that we should not judge our brothers for holding different, non-salvation endangering opinions. I’m not convinced this passage is about keeping Sabbath or keeping keeping kosher. It’s about worrying about our own conscience and not condemning our brothers for a different opinion.

    As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Romans 14:1, 10, 12, 13, 19 ESV)

    “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you … with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are the shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17).

    Here again, let us look at this in the greater context of the passage:

    See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:8, 11-14, 16-23 ESV)

    Paul is not arguing for believers not to keep the holidays or the Sabbath. He is not even encouraging believers who already don’t. It seems to me they have been dealing with a group who are encouraging asceticism, denying pleasure to attain a higher spiritual plateau.

    The believers would have seen the Sabbath, the New Moon, and the other biblical holidays as time of rejoicing since they point toward their newfound hope: Messiah. The ascetics would have been telling them to avoid pleasure or at least observe the holy days in a different manner: not eating food, not drinking wine, etc. Asceticism destroys the whole point of these days of rejoicing: Messiah’s Kingdom was soon to come. The ascetics believed pleasure and, indeed, the physical world was evil. The spiritual alone was good. However, we should see that God gave us the pleasures of this physical world as blessings when received with thanksgiving to God, the Creator of this material world.

    Finally, Rich, with regard to the new command that supersedes the Law, I would encourage you to study Deuteronomy 6:

    “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. (Deuteronomy 6:4-6 ESV)

  9. “…and one more thing.”
    – Steve Jobs

    In reading your post again, Rich, I saw your reference to loving your neighbor. Here is the source of that quote:

    “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:17, 18 ESV)

  10. “I only regret that his method is to diminish halakhah and justify its violation by invoking higher principles. If this is unnecessary because no actual violation occurred, because halakhah of the time already included recognized interpretations of Torah that permitted these actions, then both halakhah and Rav Yeshua are exhonorated, and the accusers are not then to be viewed as the only ones caring about obedience to HaShem.”

    ProclaimLiberty, I read the book. Lancaster shows that Yeshua indeed relied on, as you said, “recognized interpretations of Torah that permitted these actions”. No violations have occurred – all the setting asides of some Shabbat commandments were justified within the limits halacha of the day. John 5:8 is also mentioned and is noted by Lancaster as not readily explained (but then again, John is a much later work than the synoptics, and may reflect multiple authors / revisions / according to many scholars).

    Granted, the higher principles to set aside any halachic regulation are very limited in nature – most having to do with life and death situations, and human pain and suffering. Some modern messianics who are ignorant or dismissive of the halacha may seek to establish their own “higher principals”, however far-fetched, to justify setting aside just about any law. For example, “fellowship” may be called a “higher principle” to justify going to a restaurant on Shabbat or eating non-kosher food with friends who do not keep kosher.

  11. @Rich: Here’s the problem:

    For six days you may perform melachah, but the seventh day is a complete Sabbath, holy to the L-RD … it is an eternal sign that in six days, the L-RD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.

    -Exodus 31:15-17

    To the degree that God says the Shabbat is an eternal sign, it’s hard to justify that it was “on its way out.” Also, if we are to believe that Jesus lived a completely sinless life and in total accordance to the Law, then he could not have violated Shabbos. To do so would be a grave sin and he would be liable for the death penalty.

    Sheldon seems to have answered you with alternate explanations to Romans 14 and Colossians 2.

    @Dan R: Except I don’t think Pikuach Nefesh applies, since the people Jesus healed weren’t in mortal danger. Some had been disabled for years and even decades. They wouldn’t have died if they would have waited one more day to be healed. You’d have to go back to Lancaster’s explanation to justify why Jesus healed on the Shabbat, although he did so in such a public and flagrant way, it seems as if he was also doing so to make a point.

    @Everyone: I’m deeply gratified that my book review has gotten so much attention, although I think it’s really the topic of Shabbos and Lancaster’s book that is the “big draw.”

  12. “I don’t think Pikuach Nefesh applies, since the people Jesus healed weren’t in mortal danger. ”

    Correct, it doesn’t. However, modern halacha says that a doctor who is on general duty to save lives of those in mortal danger (as most emergency room doctors would be) may also treat those whose life is not in immediate danger.

  13. Yes, I saw that in Lancaster’s book, but can we take the modern halachah and reasonably retrofit it into Yeshua’s world 2,000 years ago?

  14. “Yes, I saw that in Lancaster’s book, but can we take the modern halachah and reasonably retrofit it into Yeshua’s world 2,000 years ago?”

    Yes and no – clearly many of the principals were already established but became elaborated and codified later on. The question we have to ask, however, how much of the halacha of the day universally accepted among all sects? At the same time, Orthodoxy holds that the Oral Law has been passed down from long ago, from Moses. So, it’s hard to argue from the traditional Jewish point of view that it was very different two thousand years ago.

  15. Most Christians and probably more than a few Jewish people don’t accept Orthodoxy or the traditional Jewish point of view, so that won’t be much of a “sell” them. I’m also a little hesitant to anachronistically apply modern halachah to ancient situations. At church last Sunday, we studied Acts 11 and in Sunday school class, modern Christian missionary concepts were anachronistically applied to Barnabas, Paul, and the Jewish and Gentile population of ancient Syrian Antioch with wild abandon. I’m not saying you’re wrong, Gene. I’d just like to be cautious.

  16. @Sheldon, “It seems to me the point of Romans 14 is that we should not judge our brothers for holding different, non-salvation endangering opinions. I’m not convinced this passage is about keeping Sabbath or keeping keeping kosher. ”

    I’m wild with curiosity here (not sarcasm) is not keeping the sabbath a “salvation issue” as you put it? Because it would seem from the way you described it that it is. Thats condemning a whole lot of people that love the Lord in so much as I can see. Also the passage clearly mentions sabbath as something to not be judgmental about so I’m curious how you can take it out so comfortably?

    This is something I have tried to understand over the years at various times – I once had a close friend who was seventh day adventist, and he tried explaining to me why keeping the sabbath was the seal of a saved Christian. I just never could get it, there are so many passages that outline the path a man must take to be saved and absolutely none of them (that i’m aware of) include keeping the sabbath. You guys are all much more studied and learned than I am so it seems there is just something I’m not getting.

    Also this puzzles me if keeping the sabbath is a “salvation issue” Acts 21:

    18On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, 21and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children OR WALK ACCORDING TO OUR CUSTOMS.

    (Other translations say or forsake the teaching of Moses, clearly its all on the table)

    25But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.”

    It seems to me that these are the issues the jewish church were most concerned with if keeping the sabbath was that big of an issue wouldn’t it be listed here?


    Your point about eternal is well taken. I’ll have to look at that some more and think on it.
    One thing you said confused me a little. Did you actually say that Jesus might have sinned while on earth? If he did what significane would His death and resurrection have?

    Im actually going to read the first five books again over the next month or so hopefully some of this will become a bit more clear

  17. @Sojourningwithjewsruth

    “Unfortunately Christians, as a rule, don’t understand the significance of Sabbath and so they can dismiss it “out of hand” as you say. What is so sad is that by saying he cancelled it, or abolished it, they are declaring him a false Messiah.”

    No i’ll be the first to say that I dont get the significance. To my way of thinking it’s a day of rest but I cant pretend to know all the intricacies of the sabbath where they came from or who they relate to. I kind of take issue with the notion that Christians as a rule dismiss the significance out of hand. I think if there is anything I have proved by bringing up scripture and discussing is that I have actually given it a lot of thought and that the case still isn’t closed in my book.

    Be that as it may,

    I dont get the connection between saying it has been fulfilled/cancelled/abolished how it makes him a false messiah. Perhaps you could elaborate.

    I have heard so far that as well as it being a salvation issue, clearly there is a lot of significance here to you guys that I am just not getting.

  18. Hi Rich,

    If I suggested that Jesus sinned, it was certainly unintentional and I apologize for any confusion I caused. No, of course Jesus did not sin, by definition. Relative to his activities on Shabbat, he was accused of sinning by various Pharisees and scribes, and the point of Lancaster’s book is to exonerate Jesus as innocent of any wrongdoing. The question then is how to explain why Jesus wasn’t sinning when it appeared to some of the other Jewish religious authorities that he was. Jesus himself gives explanations, but we sometimes have difficulty in understanding and interpreting them (and other portions of the Bible as well).

    My personal opinion, which seems to be close to Lancaster’s, is that Jesus not only observed the Sabbath, but all of the other commandments of the Torah as well, thus being sinless. The book’s scope is limited so it makes no attempt to say who should observe the Shabbat today or how they should observe it. Generally, religious Jews observe a Shabbat rest, and how they observe it depends on which branch of religious Judaism they adhere to. There are a number of non-Jews in the Hebrew Roots movement, as well as other Sabbatarians (such as the Seventh-Day Adventists you mentioned) who believe Christians *must* observe the Saturday Shabbat as well. This part is a little dicey since it depends on how you understand Genesis 2, the various parts of the Torah that say Shabbat is an eternal sign between Israel and God, and what you think Acts 15 means.

    There are probably some intermarried Christians (like me) who keep whatever Shabbat observance their Jewish spouse keeps, either for the sake of peace in the marriage or because Shabbat has become a voluntary expression of their faith (as opposed to a Biblical obligation for Gentile Christians).

    I wish my wife was more observant of Shabbat because I find it to be a very beautiful way to honor God, from the blessings the wife recites upon lighting the Friday Shabbos candles, to the Havdalah farewell to Shabbat and welcoming in the secular week on Sunday night.

    I don’t think that keeping or not keeping the Shabbat will affect the salvation of one who is a disciple of Christ, but if I had to render an opinion, I believe keeping the Shabbat for a Jewish person, believer or not, is part and parcel of the Jew’s relationship with God. In ancient times, if a Jew did not observe the Shabbat and refrain from all of the types of work forbidden on Shabbat, it resulted in the death penalty. That is no longer the case, but such a consequence shows us that Shabbat observance for the sons of daughters of Jacob is no small thing.

  19. Rich,

    I’m sorry my post to you has caused confusion. I most certainly was not saying that Shabbat is a salvation issue. For a Jew not to keep Shabbat is a sin. For anyone to lie is a sin. Sin is a salvation issue. Praise God, Messiah died to cleanse us of the stain of sin!

    I am not “dismissing out of hand” that the topic was using the example of the Sabbath. What I was pointing out was that the passage was not making a ruling regarding whether or not to keep Sabbath. Paul was saying that we each have to stand before the judgement seat alone and for ourselves. If we judge our brother wrongly, we have sinned. If we counsel him wrongly, we have sinned and we have encouraged him to sin. If we point out the sin of our brother to others, we have committed the sin of slander.

    Honestly, I believe the concept of not keeping Sabbath wasn’t even a thought in the minds of the first and second generations of disciples. There may have been a distinction, however, between Jew and Gentile in how it was kept.

    Hope this clears things up a bit.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.