Moody Church Media

Sunday or Sabbath?

Why do we observe Sunday, not the Sabbath?

We recognize that the Decalogue represents God’s moral law, which is omni-temporal, that is, it is applicable for not just the Old Testament era but also for the New. That being said, we believe that there is an important distinction that must be made regarding the Sabbath day.

In the New Testament, we discover that the Old Testament teaching about observing days is no longer applicable. No day of the week is more special than another according to passages such as Colossians 2:17 which expresses our freedom from such particular observances. Also, when Paul discusses the weak and strong believer in Romans 14, he alludes to the idea that adherence to sacred days is a matter of individual conscience (verses 5, 6). 

Second, the Old Testament law about keeping the Sabbath cannot be uniformly applied to New Testament believers. If we were under the Sabbath law of the Old Testament, we would have to keep the entire law, which would mean observing a host of other Sabbath regulations. We cannot artificially separate the regulations of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) from the other regulations which encompass it. For example, Old Testament believers were not to travel over a Sabbath day’s journey; they were not even to gather manna on the Sabbath, etc. If we were to observe the Sabbath we could not drive a car or purchase a meal in a restaurant on the Sabbath. Interestingly, keeping the Sabbath is nowhere enjoined in the New Testament. The other nine commandments are either referred to or expanded, but keeping the Sabbath is not mentioned after the cross. In summary, unlike the other commandments, the Sabbath command is never restated didactically.   

Third, the early church’s tradition of meeting on Sunday is recorded by Acts and by the apostolic fathers. The most obvious example of this is in Acts 20:7 where we read about early believers gathering together on Sunday. It seems therefore that the early church understood that the first day of the week better symbolizes grace (we rest and then work) than the Old Testament law (we rest because we have worked). Christ fulfills the Sabbath; we rest in Him and then work for the glory of God.

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