8 factors from Paul on Sabbath, ethics pt. 12

8 factors from Paul on Sabbath, ethics pt. 12 October 9, 2022

Some believe Sabbath is a practice, a spiritual discipline so to speak.
Therefore an actual day of observance is beside the point.

Mark Caldicott | mcsc1995 | sundial | 10.24.16 | open source Pixabay

1. we’ve got calendar issues

There is ongoing speculation about the ebb and flow of the calendar at the time of Paul’s writing. Perhaps talks about a calendar based on the solar year, rather than the lunar calendar, are already underway in the times.

Whatever the case may be, and whatever debates Paul could be addressing in the community of faith, there seems to be some clarity about the Sabbath. With what we now know looking back, the Sabbath is basically the equivalent of our Saturday. According to the custom, the new day actually begins at sundown. So the Sabbath is each Friday night until sundown Saturday.

In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Romans xiv.5; NLT

2. the Sabbath or The Lord’s Day?

Paul declares people can choose different days. 

We typically regard Sunday as our day of rest because of Christian tradition. There are a couple early historical traditions offering a reason why.

It’s generally confirmed there is a reverence for Sunday, as The Lord’s Day, the day of the week of the Resurrection. Worship on The Lord’s Day seems natural.

Secondly, there is very practical reason Sunday could be celebrated. As stated in a previous article Paul launched into metros to establish the church.

No singular Christian group needs to rule the whole ekklesia, ethics pt. 10

To take a quick, deep dive, there is language in both Testaments revealing a mystery not quite solved.

When Jews are often listed before Gentiles, is it because of their order of appearance in Christ’s salvivic plan, or are there other factors?

3. esteemed in Greco-Roman society

One of the reasons Paul has a foothold in the metros is practical from a sociology perspective. The work ethic and tenacity of the Jews over the centuries make them respectable citizens of any city.

In fact, many people cannot even afford an identity, a citizenship, much less a genealogy.

Jews often welcome other people to the table in varying degrees, from members of the household to the God-Fearers we see throughout the NT.

Because there seems to be a profound respect for them, their tenacious work-ethic, their honesty, etc., they become key players in town. The Jews are highly esteemed in the aNE.

In fact, the synagogues are often in a central location, or at least a well-known location.

4. a Rabbi of Rabbis

With this tidbit of sociological background info for the times, one can see why Paul would have in-roads in about any Greco-Roman metro. Furthermore, he really is trained by a Rabbi of Rabbis.

Therefore, the belief is the teachings of Paul are generally accepted and welcomed on the Synagogue grounds.

He would more than likely choose Sunday so as to not interfere with Sabbath practice.

Of course Paul has a side-hustle and evangelizes in the market square as well. However, practically speaking as a trained Jewish expositor, he has a hall pass in the Synagogue to step into about any office he wants.

When there is little opposition, Paul’s teachings are supplementary. Remember, Christianity is considered a sub-sect of Judaism throughout most of the NT times.

5. Saturday, Sunday, or another Sabbath?

There is some side debate, and I do mean side debate, about Sabbath today.

Some believe it is not necessary for Christians, because it’s regarded as a Hebraic custom.

Some believe Sabbath is a practice, a spiritual discipline so to speak. Therefore an actual day of observance is beside the point.

There are actually some who believe the 10 Commandments are summed up in the way God covenants with Noah, all except for Sabbath. Since many nations have crafted similar societal ethics since the time of Noah, some believe his covenant is binding for the whole world. Whereas, the Sabbath is binding for the people of God.

To attempt to contradict any of these ideas if futile, since academic writings have already addressed these and more.

6. my point is simple, and I believe Paul’s point is

To understand Scripture, one must pay attention to what is being said vs. what is not being said (cataphatic vs. apophatic Theology).

Nowhere does Paul ever command us to stop observing a Sabbath practice.

Nowhere does he even command us to stop observing a day of rest.

In other words it’s permissible for men to choose other days. Paul is not saying to stop from observing a day of rest. He is simply opening the door for other possibilities. 

7. is Sunday a Sabbath for ministers?

On Sunday are Pastors resting who may lead a class, preach, and minister at the altars?

Does going out to eat with parishioners after or between services count as time off?

What about multiple services on Sundays?

Is Sunday a day of rest for Pastors and staff, or a 10-12 hour workday?

What if church contracts bound Pastors and staff to take a day off each week?

What Paul is saying is that one can pick a day of rest. However, by not giving us the chance to opt out, he is actually emphasizing Sabbath.

8. how can one be so sure?

You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Romans xiv.5.b; NLT

To be “fully convinced” or “fully persuaded” means that we bear the full load of the decision (NLT, KJV). It is the idea of carrying or bearing the complete understanding of the decision.

Paul is not only arguing that we should have convictions, but that we should bear the full weight of why we are convicted.

The decisions here are outside of the scope of Scripture, so it is a matter of conviction (see previous writings).

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