I am often asked this question by sincere Christians. Their inquiry stems from their personal interactions with the Holy Scriptures where, at least for the Israelites, ongoing Shabbat observance seems to be presumed. However, usually Christians do not ask the Jewish Shabbat question (How must I keep Shabbat?) but rather they ask the Christian Shabbat question (On which day must I worship?).

These concerns are caused by the western mindset that prizes the corporate (joined) worship that occurs for most Christians one day per week, usually on Sundays. Coming out of this mindset, a Christian logically asks on which day he or she must worship to be pleasing to God in Christ: Sunday or Saturday? For a Jew, however, even for the one steeped in western culture, this is never the question. For the Jew, “corporate” worship is an everyday practice and not a once-per-week occurrence. A Jew prays a lengthy set of prayers 3 times per day, often in the company of other Jews. This is why observant Jews wouldn’t drive to a place of worship 15-40 minutes away (as most Christians do), but would only attend something local. Not only must the synagogue be reached by foot on Shabbat (when driving is off limits), but it also must be very near for everyday community functions.

On Shabbat, Jews engage in some worship activities which differ from regular daily worship, but most prominently, they cease from the creative life in which they engage during the rest of the week. (For example, a Jew can read but must not write on Shabbat, charging his or her creative strengths to be unleashed during the six days of work). This central Jewish idea of the once-per week physical, emotional, and psychological rest is almost completely absent in Christian practice, where emphasis is placed on worship.

Committed and involved Christians often come out of Sunday feeling physically tired from one or two services and possibly even a church related function. Obviously, this description is not at all universal and does not apply to all Christian practice, but I think it is a fair characterization of the general tendency in Christian communities. The words of Jesus that, “a man is not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath is made for a man” (Mark 2:27) would then make perfect sense in their own Jewish context. (For my thoughts regarding Gentile Christian observance of the Feasts of the Lord, please, click here).

Humans, for thousands of years, divided times and seasons differently. The week as a period of time did not always exist, and a week did not always contain seven days. The seven-day week was one of the great gifts that was established by the God of Israel and given by the divine-human culture of Israel to the entire world. That is to say, whether the Christian worships corporately with others on the first day of the week (Sunday) or on the seventh (Saturday), he or she already worships in accordance with the Jewish seven-days-per-week cycle, with or without recognizing it.

Obviously, there is a lot more to this discussion, but this is where any responsible thinking should begin.

BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

112 COMMENTS

  1. “a week did not always contain seven days”
    Great observation. The naturally-occurring and easily observable spans of time would be daylight, dark, a “day”, half-month, month, and year.
    I suppose a quarter-month might be observed and correlated to a seven-day cycle, but there would be no reason to do so.

    • I mean “no reason to do so” except if we were told by someone (YHVH) to make special recognition of that span of time (a repeating seven day “week”). Thus, his people were set apart from the worshipers of creation who did not acknowledge him.

  2. God set aside a day as a remembrance that He is our Creator. He commanded we share that Day of Rest with Him as a Holy day. He picked the 24 hour period and said it was to be celebrated every 7th day. Jesus kept the same day. Never changed.

  3. It shouldn’t matter what faith or religion anyone is. God created Shabbat and all who descend from the first human Adam, should honor the Creator’s day of rest.

      • He comprendido que lo primero que aparece en las Sagradas Escrituras Gen 1:1 es el conteo del Tiempo, ya que hasta aquí solo Eternidad existía, pero las Escrituras nos hablan de una segmentación en esta Eternidad, Una segmentación establecida por El Creador, y Solo su Tiempo es VERDADERO…

        I have understood that the first thing that appears in the Holy Scriptures Gen 1: 1 is the count of Time, since until now only Eternity existed, but the Scriptures speak of a segmentation in this Eternity, a segmentation established by The Creator, and Solo Your Time is TRUE …

      • 1 more question, my last for the day. Lol. But do you think that this Rest that both Covenants are referring to, Do you think that in worship that this type of rest is Possible of entering into by Holy Spirit enabling us thru the Word of God?

        • It’s entirely possible, but not necessarily. Worship and rest aren’t really that intimately related. Worship is something we should do at all times, but rest is what we should do one day a week. But yes, worshiping in the Spirit can also be done in rest.

  4. It’s time to build the Third Temple so Father can come home and tell us himself. The High Priest will give one answer, and the world will know. Have you read 1 Sam 2:35? You have just heard from the Faithful Preist. Still waiting on Elijah, though. Rev 11.

    • I see nowhere in the Bible where it actually says there will be a third temple built? I do read in Ezekiel about the rebuilding of the temple, which Ezra and Nehemiah did?? No, did they not? Far as I know there is no need of another temple?

      • Your article talks about a day of worship not a day of rest.

        Matthew 12:9-14 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” 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? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep!,

        That sounds like work to me if you rescue a sheep that has fallen into a pit. Another thing to consider is NOT every able bodied persons that work have a Saturday or a Sunday off.

        • John 5:18 18For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God

        • There’s a difference between needing to do something like rescue an animal, verses paying for tickets and attending a football game. The concept is about departing from worldly things for one day.

      • So basically God is saying like the Land needs a Cease, our whole being needs a Cease, so that a Revitalization happens?
        Also I apologize for all my Gentile verbal Expressions of the Lord. I hope their not offensive.

  5. Todos los días debemos vivir para Dios, el señor dijo venid a mi los trabajos y cargados y yo los haré descansar. Quien acepto a Cristo entro en el descanso verdadero. Todos los días son para él.

    Every day we must live for God, the Lord said come to me you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give them rest. Who accepted Christ entered into true rest. Every day is for him.

    • Hi John, I agree that every day is for Him – He died for us, so we live for Him – but of course someone who rests as if it were Shabbat every day is not holy; he is lazy. 🙂 God gave the Shabbat for a rest once per week to remember the Creation and the Creator.

  6. JESUS said, the sabbath is for man, NOT man for the sabbath. We can work ANY six days, and Sunday is NOT the first day of the week. This is based on jesus rising on Sunday, but there was an extra sabbath that week and Jesus rose OVERNIGHT Saturday.

    • Hi Bernie, thank you for posting. So, you wrote that Sunday is not the first day of the week (about which Merriam-Webster would disagree). Did you mean to say that the resurrection was not on Sunday? Anyway, thank you for reading the article!

      • So .. if anything, Jesus rose on the 7th day before 6pm, which makes indisputable sense since He’s God and rested on the 7th day.

    • Although it may not be clear which day of the week Jesus was crucified, it is clear from Scripture that Jesus was first seen on the first day of the week, early dawn, by the women; later that same day, by the disciples on the way to Emmaus, also by Simon Peter (Luke 24:1,13,36) Several witnesses see Him and recorded by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, on the first day of the week. Resurrection , even if the evening or sometime during the night, still seems to be first day of the week, reckoning by Jewish time keeping. I really do not understand how a sabbath resurrection makes sense Scripturally.

      • I believe Jesus rose on early hours (what we call Sunday) first day of the week. This would be in keeping with God’s pattern and the mystery of the Eleph Tau found in Geneisis 1:1 God is all about repeating patterns and lots more!

    • Jesus was placed in the tomb late on the Passover with the next day being the First day of Unleavened Bread an Annual Sabbath. The next day the women purchased and prepared their spices. Then rested on the weekly Sabbath. Raised before Sunset on the Sabbath. NOT ON 1st day

      • Days start at sunset to sunset. By today’s calendar Passover started Tues. Night. Jesus in the grave before sunset ending wed. Thur. annual sabbath, Friday a work day For buying and preparing Spices. Saturday sabbath. Women came to tomb While it was yet dark. Friday evening was on the SABBATH.

  7. Great article. Hashem is worshipped everyday, including Sunday.

    Problem is with Christians who don’t rest on the Sabbath. It is sometimes easy to forget that Yeshua gave the Sabbath to man (meaning all, not exclusively to Jews) for resting.

  8. Shalom Dr Eli

    Allow me to ask the correct question. How must I keep the Sabbath? Today, I went to church with the purpose of worshiping Hashem, but I came home exhausted. I did not experience rest.

    Regards
    Thandu

    • The Bible says to rest from all forms of work on the seventh day, and to focus on God as our Creator and Redeemer. This can take many forms, like strolling outdoors, studying the Bible together or enjoying a festive meal, but this is the Spirit of the Sabbath.

  9. I teach my church that Sunday can never be the Shabbat because according to my research is that all days in Hebrew are numbered day 1, day 2 etc. Shabbat is abnormal with a name as Shabbat, GOD’s rest day for all.

  10. IMPORTANT: Dr. Ili, There are conflicting starting points for the Sabbath. Sunset to sunset? Or at dawn. Both claim to derive the answers from Gen.1

    What Do you say the scripture says? A short Biblical text list to clarify the controversy will be helpful to many I am sure.

    • Thank you Jose for the question. Jewish tradition begins and ends the day at sundown, and this is derived from not only Genesis 1 (which puts evening first), but also from Lev.23:32, Neh.13:19. Even the Gospels speak of the [sabbath] day beginning at sundown, e.g., John 19:31,41. I hope that helps!

  11. The real reason for the day to worship given by God, was stated that he created the Jews to be the subjects to God that would keep times and dates forever. Not one day has ever been lost. Sundown Friday until Sundown Saturday as it is written.

  12. “The words of Jesus that, “a man is not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath is made for a man” (Mark 2:27) would then make perfect sense in their own Jewish context.

    Jesus taught to rest/have full faith in His finished work at the cross, not our works.

  13. But to the Son he says “Your throne, O God endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice. You love justice hate evil….. Therefore, O God, your God has anointed you,…… HEBREWS 1 VERSES 8..9. To Jesus from God.

  14. Dr Eli. You headline caught my attention, ” Gentile Christians”. In all of your writings, you never mistake by naming the Jewish-followers of Yeshua “Christians”. Any specific reasons? In Acts 26:29, Paul says….”and altogether such as I am”… Perhaps, Paul’s confirmation that he is indeed a Christian.

    • Hi Thandu, It is a matter of history, scripture and definitions. The term “Christian” did not exist until the Jesus movement was quite advanced, so it would be anachronistic to call the first followers “Christians”. Secondly, based on the three times that it appears in scripture, it appears arguably to be a pejorative that nonbelievers invented and used, not what believers called themselves. And finally, because of church history, the term today refers predominantly to wonderful believers that are unfortunately largely disconnected from the Jewishness of the Messiah and NT. But you are welcome to disagree.

    • I’ve two quite contrasting thoughts in line with this I would hope for some insight on (or please direct me to a study on them?)…I’ve recently noticed that the “halakhah” translates as “path/way”….Is it more likely the early Jesus movement were called “followers of the way” because of “halakhah” observance or the rumoured “third way” (not exclusively Hillel or Shammei) that Jesus brought?

      And speaking of Jesus…I always considered one meaning of the resurrection to be a “rest from works” (or the “works based contract”) for becoming tahor/clean…Meaning we now walk every day in His rest as opposed to one day a week?

      I’m not disputing Shabbat observance, however, no one looks at the concept of a day off and thinks “that’s the worst law” haha I’m just wondering: if Jesus poked into the heart of some of the 10 (Exodus 20) words, maybe there’s more to the heart of ALL of them?

      • 1) The Way (Acts 19.9,23;22.4;24.14) in Greek, Aramaic, and Latin refers to a path/track/trail, and is not etymologically related to halakhah (as religious laws that govern your way of living). Other texts (cf. Deu.5:33;10.12;30.16;Isa.42:24;Zech.3:7;CD 20.18;1QS 9.17–18) provide the background for using the term “the way” (haDerekh). 2) There is definitely more to the 10 commandments than meets the eye. But Heb.4:10 is likely referring to the millennial rest which is typified by the seventh-day rest. “Good works” never saved anyone, as they still don’t, but good works are certainly a secondary evidence of having faith (Heb.10:24).

        • Thank you for that response Dr Eli! It is very helpful, but while discussing Hebrews 4, verses 3-7 (specifically verse 7) couldn’t it be read as an opposition to a millenial interpretation? “Today” seems quite current and immediate a statement? While the end of verse 3 seems to clarify/solidify other NT commentary regarding what “has always been true”, but was rather revealed in the present age through Christ on the cross…

          I understand it as being never intended for us to strive or achieve salvation/forgiveness of sin through a “works based contract”; it was always about God’s character and our resting in the works that He has prepared for us…So Christ made this manifest for us to understand and enter into TODAY for those who believe?

          Maybe I’m misunderstanding or misreading something?

          • Verse 7 is a call to faithfulness, to be unlike the disobedient generation (v.6). I hear you repeating, “rest in his works” (v.10). This is Yeshua (not us, yet) resting in heaven from His earthly ministry work (just as God rested from His work of creation), and we (v.11) should strive (in obedience) to enter that same rest [by running the good race]. But if “rest in his works” is the believer’s part, then does that mean the believer refrains from “obedience” which is belief and good deeds (in opposition to vv.2,6,7,11) because of all the works of Jesus?

  15. Fantastic! God should be worshipped daily. (Our daily bread) The Sabbath rest (designated by God as the 7th day) cannot be changed by man. Romans 14:5 underscores observance can be any or all. The Sabbath from the beginning was the 7th day (and God rested.). “Ingraftees” should Sabbath rest also.

    • Hi Susan, thanks for commenting. Hey, did you know that Romans 14 isn’t talking about Sabbath? For context, food or eating is repeated in 8 verses and judging one another in 6 of them. Rom.14:5 is more likely referring to people judging others for their choice of fast days (there were two main customs). You would probably agree that as an observant Jew, Paul probably wouldn’t entertain a discussion about changing the Sabbath. 🙂 Let’s keep studying this!

  16. Hi Dr Eli. Your explanation makes sense. So, I believe that Paul wanted Agrippa to be like him in a sense of Agrippa being also the follower of the Way just as Paul was.

  17. Thank you. Did misunderstand Romans; however I was, though clumsily, saying the Sabbath is, and always has been the 7th Day. I was agreeing wholeheartedly with your article.

  18. There are no gentile-christians, There are Christians and not-christians.
    And there were lot of humans outside the Adam-family.
    I heard, the 7-day-week originated from Babylonia (or even earlier), and the seventh day was unfortunate, so it was no day for work.

      • Second: At the time of his killing Abel Kain was the only member of the incest Adam-and-Eve family.
        And he needed a mark for not be slain by “whoever finds me” – so there were obviously other humans outside.
        And later there are increasing numbers of men and daughters ….

        • Why couldn’t Cain have been thinking of later descendants that would come from Adam and Eve that would avenge Abel? And Incest? Adam and Eve were genetically identical (except for gender, of course) and they were genetically perfect; no genetic load. Therefore, there would be no problem or danger in their sons marrying sisters or nieces. (Adam basically married his rib, after all).

          • Remember the “rib”-question…
            Look at the Law: Father-daughter, brother-sister, father’s widow-his son, and so on. Genetics are irrelevant. Cain marrying his sister, far from god’s presence? Not lawful, incest – if.
            Simple solution: Adam’s family was only a tribe inter many others in this region.
            Occam’s Razor.

          • I am not the one introducing something additional that needs cutting away by Occam’s Razor; rather your position does. And also, prior to Mt. Sinai, didn’t Abraham marry his half-sister without an iota of rebuke? Whether modern genetics serves as an adequate explanation or not, the laws about marrying non-direct-line kin did not apply before Sinai.

  19. The Ten Commandments are clear, it’s the seventh day. No amount of blah-blah-blah can change that. The seventh day points back to creation and the creator behind it, not the first day. The first day was not blessed. The week did not change from the time of Jesus. Case closed.

  20. I rest on Saturday, which fellow Christians find odd. I already told them that going to church is work for me. I cannot rest on Sunday unless I stay home. They can get very offended by this, but I heard from the Lord personally that He wants me to rest.

  21. I’m a 7th Day Adventist Gentile Christian and we honour and observe the Sat Shabbat. So do 7th Day Baptists and some Catholic churches now have worship services on Sat for Christians who want to keep the biblical Sabbath. Shalom

  22. You have no idea how often I’ve opened your blog and read a post that answers a question I’ve been praying over… G_d is so good! Thank you for being so open to the leading of the Holy Spirit…

  23. There’s nothing specifically Jewish about resting on the Shabbat. Gen2:2f happened long before the birth of Israel and Yeshua said “The sabbath was made for man” (Mk2:27) – not for Jews only!

    “Pray without ceasing.” (1.Th5:17) is for all Christians while Gathering unto God is commanded to Israel in Lev23:3.

  24. Not observing the Sabbath is one of the beefs I have with Christians. When Luther created the split from the Roman Catholic Church, he and the fellow leaders cherry-picked which beliefs of the Catholic Church they would adopt or reject. Unfortunately, they rejected everything Jewish, because of their Jewish hatred.

  25. I am aware of most points of view regarding Sabbath. Scriptures teach that Sabbath is on the quarters of the moon. History teaches that Saturday and Sunday are humanized Biblical Sabbath’s.

    Gen.1:14-18 teaches that each day and year and appointed time must be determined with the sun and moon.

  26. Dear Doctor Eli could you expand more for Christians who aren’t too knowledgeable with Jewish prayers about which are the prayers that Jewish people do every day?

  27. First, is ‘Shabbat Shalom’ ‘happy weekend’ or ‘happy Saturday?’
    Regarding Mishael’s ‘all who descend from the first Adam,’ what about the ‘new creation’ (2Cor. 5:17, 1Pet. 2:9) of ‘all who descend from the second/last Adam?’

  28. I like to keep it biblical….so Luke 4.16 says Jesus kept the 7th day sabbath..and as I walk in his footsteps…I do the same. the choice that we must make is to follow His example..or go against scripture and follow what we like. simple choice.

  29. As a Gentile Christian, I have taken Isaiah 11 v 10 and Mathew 11 v 28 and Hebrews 4 v 7 which leads me to conclude a new name for the day of rest called “TODAY” confirmed by John 4 v 24 exemplified by thief on cross. Dr Please help.

    • Allegorical interpretations of the Bible are fine, only if they conform to the plain meaning of the Bible. Sabbath is a plain meaning issue. Yes, Yeshua is our rest, and yes, the coming millennium will be a fulfillment of the Sabbath type, but those spiritualized interpretations do not nullify the plain teaching that God wants His people to rest on Shabbat and spend it with Him.

    • To me it sounds like the place is Yerushalaim. It may be the place of Jeshua’s dead, tomb, Israel or even place in heaven. But I see nothing about sabbat. It is about the place of his rest. J4:24 means that jews need to keep shabbat because R obliged.

  30. Who have accepted Torah into his heart loves to keep shabbat. Hineh yamim bayim ne’um-Adonaj wekarati et-beit Yehuda weet-beit Yisrael Brit Chadasha, (…) ki zot habrit asher echrot et-beit Yisrael: Achare hayyamim hahem ne’um-Adonaj nattatí et-Toratí be qirbam we’al-libbam ekhtovená wehayiti lahem lelohim wehema yihyu-li le’am!

  31. When Christians say, they don’t need to keep Shabbat because this was for Jews & the OT is4Jewes too, I usually quote Ezechiel 11:19-20 because this is the goal to keep Torah. Also Exodus 31:14 says whoever does not keep Shabbat must die… So it is mortal sin.

  32. Many gentile Christian go to church and worship on Sunday and then claim to keep the seventh day sabbath. They however break and disregard the sabbath laws in many ways. Including traveling these long distances to church, taking and paying on public transport, utilizing services provided by sabbath breakers

    • They do not break anything if they have Christ in their heart and worship God. They are not obliged to keep shabat. This is not issue, the main idea is to keep rest and keep relations with God and friends. They cannot affect behaviour of unbelivers.

  33. Can someone please enlighten me how the sabbath should be observed. And if sabbath laws are still relevant for believers shouldn’t we be observing all the sabbath statute including punishing sabbath breakers. Because If the punishment for breaking the sabbath is abolished it’s an indication that sabbath changes have occurred

    • How to keep Shabbat gets complex because different groups, historically and today, understand it differently. Basically, rest (avoid working or other common things), do good, study the Word, and remember God through His creation and redemption. The focus of the death penalty is not punishment, but the transgression’s severity. Only the appointed elders (Sanhedrin) could administer it, and only within Israel, and still they rarely did. There has been no recognized Sanhedrin for 1600+ years therefore it simply cannot be biblically administered today. The Torah has not changed. The circumstances have.

  34. Just curious why nobody is referring to Acts 15 where the same question (religious status of gentile followers) was addressed and answered by the early church.

    • Do you have in mind Acts 15:21 where it provides the reasoning for placing only those four fundamental requirements on those “of the nations turning to God” (brand new believers, not seasoned believers) in that it explains that Moses (God’s Word) is preached in every city in synagogues on the Sabbath? The disciples made their judgment because the new believers would continue to learn and grow as they attended the local synagogue. Is that what you are referring to?

    • Acts 15:24 doesn’t mention Sabbat but circumcision as a need for salvation: “some who went out from us have TROUBLED you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, ‘You MUST BE CIRCUMCISED and keep the law,’” See, no one here is saying you MUST be circumcised or MUST to keep torah.

  35. I asked Brother Darrell at a Pocono, Pa. Sunday worship circa 1990 about what he does for the Sabbath during the racing season. (He’s a driver/car owner-turned-announcer) He said that he goes to his church on Wednesdays for worship and to help out; Sundays in off-season.

  36. I’m sorry but readiing the comments and replies took me to that place in Roman 2:25-29. The Jewish converts were trying to put a yoke on the Gentile converts. Christ came to fulfill the lasw for us, because we couldn’t. Everyday should be a sabbath day in the Lord.

    • Sabbath is for resting, Emily, right? If someone treats every day like a sabbath, that is not holy; that is lazy! 🙂

      • TY for your reply! God created the Sabbath because He rested on the Sabbath and made it holy! So now, answer me this! If everyone is now under the new covenant of grace, Jews and Gentiles the same….does that mean we all need to observe the Sabbath?

    • Emilly, do you agree with me that the Word of Lord is valid forever and ever? There are some commandmets saying they are valid forever [o:lam], see Ex 12:14,17&31:13-16 children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.

    • I don’t really think rest&relationship is a yoke. There is a basic exceptation from a man who proclaims “I love God” or even if Christains call themself “nation of God” or “children of God”. That is faith&loayality to God’s commandments. How long are you Christian?

  37. And when I said that everyday should be a sabbath day in the Lord; I meant “spiritual rest” in the Lord everyday, 24×7. 🙂

  38. Hebrews 4 is what we need to focus on here. Jesus is Sabbath rest. We may take a day of rest it won’t do any harm Romans 14;5,6. We are not bound to observe the Sabbath.

  39. Dr Eli My job many times has me on a full one or two week rotation where I work 7 or 14 days then have the same off. In fact my occupation as a pilot seldom have a Mon. to Friday work. So what should be done about the Sabbath

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