The Reformation Sabbath Controversy Settled

Would you slander the entire Reformation, all of the Reformation Fathers, and the 100s of millions of martyred Protestants who gave their lives, simply to uphold a desire to impose the Hebrew or Saturday Sabbath on the New Testament church? God was not surprised, His Reformation Witnesses accomplished exactly what He wanted them to; exactly what He foretold they would; They did not fail!

Now I believe that God gave the Hebrew nation a lunar calendar in the Exodus by which they kept the Sabbath, and history reveals that the Jewish people switched to the Roman Saturday Sabbath somewhere between the 4th and 12 centuries. I personally don’t believe that the New Testament Church is required to keep any of the Hebrew Sabbath Statutes or Laws. Christians are not compelled nor prohibited from meeting or resting on any particular day whatsoever. I believe the New Testament is quite clear on the matter.

I will turn to the linked subject article first. I see the misuse, twisting, and out of context use of footnote and bible references quite often, esp. in futurist books and websites as here. So I looked over the article and the references.

Note the following examples:

  1. “To quote another authority, Dr. White, Bishop of Ely:” in which reference to “Carolastadius” is assumed to be Karlstadt. It may or may not be, but the mention is so obscure as to render it inconsequential, and I can find no confirmation of any dispute between Karlstadt and Luther regarding the sabbath in the same book or anywhere at all. James Wylie was very thorough in his History but makes no mention of any such. I tend now to think the whole thing is made up.
  1. The (Sears’ Life of Luther, pages 401 ,402) quote is not even about the Sabbath, but a controversy over the elements of the Lord’s supper, which I was already aware of from Wylie’s History Of Protestantism – which controversy I believed Luther to be in error (yes he was a fallible man).

It is true that Luther questioned both books, James and the Revelation at the beginning of his reform, but after some few years accepted the entirety of the scripture we hold today. Also he and Karlstadt mended their relationship some time later, and Luther disputed many of the quotes by others as misstatements, that arose out of the controversy they did have . Andreas Karlstadt afterward “went to Basel as minister of the university church and Professor of Hebrew and Dean of the university”

None of the other quotes have anything to do with a supposed Sabbath controversy between the two, but cleverly inserted in this article seem to be relevant.

I believe that the near slander of Martin Luther is unwarranted. I’m sure that he gave as much or more thought to the issue as any of us (and certainly more than the neglect or compromise that he is accused of), and in the end simply came to the same conclusions as have I and many Reformers since; and we all agree with Paul on the issue: “Let no man judge you...” (And it does seem appropriate that the RCC would claim and condemn the Reformation on the only issue which they are told explicitly not to judge on, and claim that on “scripture alone” – which was opposed to the insertion of the Papacy and its authority “over” scripture, and not to the positive adoption of all of the Hebrew laws and statutes).

Does anyone really believe that had not Reggio raised this issue in the exclusively Catholic Council of Trent, or if the Protestants had adopted a Saturday Sabbath, anything would have been different? Would the Pope have said, “My goodness – they are keeping the 7th day, perhaps we should reform and step down!” Can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit? If God had wanted it, then it would be God who failed – not so! I have no doubt that the Reformers would have done it if God had wanted it, and any accusation otherwise may only stem from pride and self-righteousness or simple error.

Consider the New Testament Scripture:

Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth 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 eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. (Rom 14:4-6)

Here I have a second witness:

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or the sabbath:
Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body of Christ.
(Col 2:16 -17)

“And this the rather because these things were shadows of things to come (Col_2:17), intimating that they had no intrinsic worth in them and that they are now done away. But the body is of Christ: the body, of which they were shadows, has come; and to continue the ceremonial observances, which were only types and shadows of Christ and the gospel, carries an intimation that Christ has not yet come and the gospel state has not yet commenced. Observe the advantages we have under the gospel, above what they had under the law: they had the shadows, we have the substance.” Matthew Henry

“but the body is of Christ: or, as the Syriac version reads it, “the body is Christ”; that is, the body, or sum and substance of these shadows, is Christ; he gave rise unto them, he existed before them, as the body is before the shadow; not only as God, as the Son of God, but as Mediator, whom these shadows regarded as such, and as such he cast them; and he is the end of them, the fulfilling end of them; they have all their accomplishment in him: and he is the body of spiritual and heavenly things; the substantial things and doctrines of the Gospel are all of Christ, they all come by him; all the truths, blessings, and promises of grace; are from him and by him, and he himself the sum of them all. The allusion seems to be to a way of speaking among the Jews, who were wont to call the root, foundation, substance, and essence of a thing, גופא, “the body of it” .. John Gill

The article also neglects to reveal that the Sabbath was NEVER commanded until the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt, and that it was never even demonstrated by any of the patriarchs before that;

And also neglects to reveal that at the only time that the Holy Spirit did address what were “necessary things” that the gentile Christians should be bound to as regarding the Law of Moses, the Sabbath is conspicuously left out by the very Hebrew Apostles:

Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. (Act 15:24-29)

And some will say, “What about the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments?” Again you will find every one of those commandments upheld in the Pauline and other Epistles, Except for the one that is again conspicuously absent.

… and I will leave it at that.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Gal 5:1)

This Article written by Nicklas Arthur and may only be shared in whole or part with attribution and a link to it.

One thought on “The Reformation Sabbath Controversy Settled”

  1. This from an antagonist:
    Argument 1: Paul is writing in the present tense, not past tense. If meat and drink and holydays and new moons and sabbath were (past tense as you and all others insist) shadows, and Christ was (past tense as you and all others insist) the fulfillment, as all Christians insist, then why did not Paul write in the past tense? Because he didn’t intend or mean to write in the past tense, but the present!!! And that’s precisely the way I read it and interpret it and apply it. Have all the prophetic feasts of the Lord been fulfilled? What about the feast of trumpets? The feasts of the Lord are NOT all yet fulfilled. That’s why Paul wrote in the present tense. These are shadows indeed of things that have already been fulfilled in Christ. But not all is yet fulfilled.
    Even the Sabbath is prophetic. Are we now at rest? NO! Our rest is yet to come. And every weekly Sabbath is a foretaste and reminder of the promise of that Sabbath rest when Satan will be bound and we will be in our Savior’s presence. The Sabbath is to be kept just as God made it in the Garden.

    Answer: For all of those unregenerate in Christ the shadow still exists – all they see is the shadow; even the elect see the shadow, but know the fulfillment because they have presently entered into His rest. If the word were written in the past tense, then it would not be true.

    Mat_11:28  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29)  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

    There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. (Heb 4:9-11)
    Argument 2: We, the body of Christ, are not to be judged by Christ rejecting Jews and the world about these things. Only the body of Christ is to be the judge of meat and drink and holy days and new moons and Sabbath, and to BE judges until ALL be fulfilled.

    Answer: Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or the sabbath:
    Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body of Christ.

    We would have to reconstruct these verses thus:
    Let no man therefore judge you but the body of Christ, in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or the sabbath,
    which are a shadow of things to come;

    However, the modifier “but” is not correct. The correct modifier would be “other than” or “except” – which is in plenty use in the Greek NT, or it would read: Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or the sabbath, which are a shadow of things to come, “except for” (or “other than”) the body of Christ.
    Contrarily, the modifier “but” inserted where it is, is the correct one for the historical church understanding. If it were rendered: “except for” (or “other than”) the body of Christ, then there would be no debate. But the differences between “except” and “but” even show up and are numerous even in the Greek text.

    Notwithstanding all of the grammatical difficulties, if the “body of Christ” were the exception from the “no man” indeed: then we would certainly find at least one explicit second second witness to clarify the obscurity of the text in this matter. But there is not even one. All of our other witness on the direct and indirect (addressing the keeping of Jewish statutes, days, and diet) topic confirm the rendering as set forth by Henry, Gill, the Reformation Fathers and the Bible as exposed in the article above.


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