Which Day is the Bible Sabbath?

Samuel Smith



You are welcome to another edition of Insights from God's Word, a Bible study programme that is committed to sharing God's Word by allowing the Bible to speak for itself.

In this edition, we continue with our series on The Sabbath Question. The topic for this study is: Which day is the Bible Sabbath? Beloved, from our previous studies, we have established from Scripture that the Seventh - day Sabbath which is enshrined in God's Ten Commandments Law, is still relevant and binding upon God's people even today (James 2:8-12; Revelation 12:17; Revelation 14:12).

With this fact established, one question that I believe many of you following this series will also want to find an answer to is this: Which day is the Bible Sabbath? The Bible gives an explicit answer to this question. In the book of Exodus, we read the following from the very finger of God: "But THE SEVENTH DAY is the sabbath of the Lord thy God..." (Exodus 20:10; Capital Emphasis Added).

As you can see friends, the Bible establishes the Seventh day as the Sabbath. The origin of the Sabbath dates back to the creation of our world. From Genesis 1, we learn about how God created our world in six literal days. The Lord then rested on the Seventh day, blessing the day and setting it apart for holy use (see Genesis 2:1-3).

Beloved, it is important to note that God did not give any name or label for the days of the week. He only referred to them as the first day, second day, third day, fourth day, fifth day, sixth day and the seventh day; according to the order of things He created, and how He rested (see Genesis 1 and Genesis 2:1-3). The only day in the week which was later ascribed a definite name is the Seventh day. This was basically because God had rested on the day, and asked mankind to do likewise (see Exodus 20:8-11; Mark 2:27-28). Thus, the seventh day became known as the Sabbath which literally means "rest day".

From our study so far, the Bible has made it clear that the Seventh day is the Sabbath (see Exodus 20:10). Yet, some important questions that beg for answers are these:

1) Which day is the Seventh day? Is it Saturday, Sunday or some other day?

2) Can we be certain which day is the Seventh day today when all seven days in the week are labelled with diverse names in the various languages of the world?

Friends, there are so many things that have been incorporated into our world system today to confuse people in regard to the correct reckoning of days in the weekly cycle. For instance, both Saturday and Sunday are regarded as weekends in most parts of the world today. Our modern calendars seem to have bought into this system of two different weekends. Some calendars today begin reckoning the sequence of days in the week with Sunday as the first day and Saturday as the Seventh day. Others begin with Monday as the first day and end with Sunday as the Seventh day?

But beloved, the fact of the matter is that, of the seven days in a week, there is only one Seventh day or weekend, if you wish. What this means is that one of the weekends which is followed by some calendars today is not correct. Now, to ascertain which day is the true Seventh day, we need to move beyond the calendar; for we cannot base our reckoning of days on something that has proven to be less authoritative as the calendar.

Friends, one authoritative source where we can discover which day is the actual Seventh day of the week is through approved scholarly dictionaries. When we open various approved scholarly dictionaries, the overriding evidence is that the Seventh day is Saturday. Let's consider what some dictionaries / encyclopaedias of merit say about Saturday:

i) Saturday - "The day of the week after Friday and before Sunday" - Cambridge Learners Dictionary

ii) Saturday - "The seventh day of the week, following Friday" -

iii) Saturday - "seventh day of the week" - Encyclopaedia Britannica

iv) Saturday - "the day of the week following Friday and preceding Sunday. Saturday is the seventh and therefore last day of the week..." - Wikipedia

Beloved, even though the dictionaries and encyclopaedias are clear that the seventh day is Saturday, we cannot base all our argument on that. As Bible students, we need to go beyond the dictionaries and find out whether God's Authoritative Word has got some information that will help us to clarify the issue of which day is the seventh day, and hence the Sabbath of the Lord.

As we go through the passages of Scripture, two events that give us wonderful insights into our topic today is the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. From Luke's account of these two events, we read the following: "23:50 And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just:

23:51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.

23:52 This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.

23:53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.


23:55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.

23:56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; AND RESTED THE SABBATH DAY ACCORDING TO THE COMMANDMENT.

24:1 NOW UPON THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

24:2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

24:3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

24:4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:

24:5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

24:6 HE IS NOT HERE, BUT IS RISEN: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,"

(Luke 23:50-56; Luke 24:1-6; Capital Emphasis Added)
Friends, this account of the death and resurrection of Jesus give us amazing details about the fact that our Saturday is actually the seventh day Sabbath in Scripture. From the texts we just considered from Luke 23 and 24, we gain the following insights:

i) From Luke 23:54, we learn that Christ died on the preparation day. It is important to note that Luke referred to the day Christ died as "the preparation" because the Israelites had to prepare themselves for the upcoming Sabbath day. This preparation day is what is popularly known in Christendom as Good Friday. It was the day our Lord died on the cross, paying the penalty for our transgression against the Law of God.

ii) From Luke 23:54, we read the following: "And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on." Besides the clear statement that Christ died on the preparation day, the disciple Luke, as if wanting to make a point, followed this clear statement with the phrase: "and the sabbath drew on". Friends, this phrase clearly establishes the fact that the Sabbath day is the day just after the preparation day or Friday, if you wish. We are told by the disciple Luke that the women who followed after Joseph to see the sepulchre of Christ, rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment (see Luke 23:56). Throughout Christendom today, the day which immediately follows Good Friday is known as Holy Saturday. The Scripture makes it clear that during this Sabbath, our Saviour rested in Joseph's new tomb (see Luke 23:53, 55).

iii) From Luke 24:1, we read the following: "NOW UPON THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them" (Luke 24:1; Capital Emphasis Added). Friends, this first day was such a beautiful day. It was the day our Saviour resurrected from Joseph's new tomb, showing Himself victorious over the grave (review Luke 24:1-6). This first day of the week, in which our Saviour resurrected, is popularly referred to as Easter Sunday in Christendom.

At this point, I want us to do some logical reasoning. According to Luke, the Sabbath (Holy Saturday) followed the preparation day (Good Friday). Hence, the seventh day Sabbath cannot be any other day but our Saturday. Moreover, if Christ resurrected on the FIRST DAY of the week (review Luke 24:1-6); which is EASTER SUNDAY; then it follows logically that SUNDAY cannot be the Seventh-day in Scripture. It is the first day, not the seventh day, as any good scholarly dictionary will confirm.

Friends, despite these irrefutable proofs that the Seventh-day Sabbath is our Saturday, and must be thus honoured, other Christians will still want to justify their keeping of Sunday by making use of various New Testament passages. At this point, I want us to examine some various New Testament texts that are usually utilised by such folks:

1) The first day of the week is mentioned only eight times in the New Testament. Six of these eight references of the first day give account of the glorious resurrection of Christ (see Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Mark 16:9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1; John 20:19).

2) Many in Christendom today refer to the disciples meeting in John 20:19 as the first Sunday worship service. However, there is nothing in the text to suggest that the disciples had changed their day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. In fact, the text shows clearly that the disciples gathered together that Sunday evening for fear of the Jews. The disciples hid themselves from the Jews as they entertained fears that the fate of their beloved Master might soon be their portion.

3) From Acts 20:7, we encounter another first day Bible reference. The text reads: "And upon the first day of the week, when THE DISCIPLES CAME TOGETHER TO BREAK BREAD, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight" (Acts 20:7).

Beloved, there is no hint in this text that suggests a change of God's holy day from the seventh day to the first day. The Bible rather makes it clear that the disciples had gathered together to break bread. As the disciples ate, Paul preached unto them (see Acts 20:11). It is important to note that the "breaking of bread" in this context refer to the usual practice whereby the disciples ate together. This practice of "breaking of bread" (eating together) was not done only on Sundays but on other days as well (see Acts 2:44-46).

4) From 1 Corinthians 16:2, we encounter the last first day reference in the New Testament. From 1 Corinthians 16:1-3, we read the following: "16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.

16:2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

16:3 And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem."

(1 Corinthians 16:1-3)
Friends, the facts in these verses are very clear. Paul basically ordered the believers in Corinth (just as he had given order to the churches in Galatia), to do their part individually to assist their poor brethren in Jerusalem. In fact, this misinterpreted text does not even suggest a public worship or gathering (see 1 Corinthians 16:2), so as to even warrant a discussion of whether the gathering took place on the first day of the week or not.

It is important to note that the gathering of contributions for the poor saints at Jerusalem was normal practice. In the book of Romans for instance, we come across the account of certain brethren who sent a similar contribution to relieve the poor saints at Jerusalem through the apostle Paul. We read this account from Romans 15:25-26 as follows: "15:25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.

15:26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem."

(Romans 15:25-26)
Beloved, the scriptural texts above are very clear. The issue in 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 also have nothing to do with a change of the Sabbath time from the Seventh day to the first. Besides all the various misinterpreted verses of Scripture in relation to the first day, it is sad to also learn that many of God's children who have asked why their church worship on Sunday instead of the Sabbath have been taught to believe that the Christian Church worship on Sunday in honour of the resurrection of Christ. The truth is that you may read the entire New Testament and will not find any place where Christ or the apostles gave such a command. On the contrary, Christ and the apostles gave us a guiding example by keeping holy the Seventh-day Sabbath (see Luke 4:16; Matthew 24:20; Acts 17:1-2; Acts 13:42-44; Acts 16:13; Acts 18:4).

Friends, from the scriptural and other scholarly passages we have reviewed in this study, it is clear that the Seventh day, the Sabbath of the Creator God is our Saturday. With this truth now established in our minds, the million dollar question that now begs for an answer is this: If the Bible does not teach that God's holy Sabbath day has been changed from the Seventh day to the first day, then why is it that the majority of Christians in our world today worship on Sunday; the first day of the week; instead of Saturday, the true Sabbath? The answer to this question will form the content of our next study. Don't miss it.

Exhortation: Beloved, it is very important that we know which day is the actual Bible Sabbath. For in several portions of Scripture, the Lord has claimed the Sabbath as His own special day and filled the day with blessings that come upon those who hallow it. From Isaiah 58:13-14, we read about such a promise of blessings:"58:13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on MY HOLY DAY; and call the sabbath a delight, THE HOLY OF THE LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

58:14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."

(Isaiah 58:13-14; Capital Emphasis Added; see also Exodus 20:10)
In this passage, the Lord refers to the Sabbath as MY HOLY DAY and THE HOLY OF THE LORD. From Mark 2:28, Christ pronounced the following concerning the Sabbath: "Therefore the Son of man is LORD also of THE SABBATH" (Capital Emphasis Added). When we compare the texts from Isaiah and Mark above, it is very clear that the Sabbath is the Lord's day and not Sunday or any other day; for it is the Sabbath that the Lord claims to be His own special day.

Friends, as the apostle John celebrated the Sabbath on the prison island of Patmos, the Lord revealed Himself unto him. For he wrote: "10 I was in the Spirit on the LORD'S DAY, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last" (Revelation 1:10-11). It is my prayer that even as the early disciples of Christ hallowed the Sabbath day, you will also do same today, and receive the rich blessings that come upon those who keep the Lord's Day holy.

In our next study, we will consider the topic: If the seventh day is the true Sabbath of the Lord, why does the majority worship on the first day today? The Bible study references for this study are Matthew 24:20, Luke 23:55-56, Daniel 7:25 and Acts 20:29. Please do well to go through these passages before the next study is released.

Stay blessed and keep shining for King Jesus.


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