Colossians 2, new moons and sabbaths and an email exchange with a friend.

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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I was not looking for this, but a friend desired my position on Col 2 and the Sabbath. So I wrote:


1. Feast days, 2.New moons, and 3.Sabbaths:

New Covenant Theology adherents often put forth Colossians 2:16 as a proof against the abiding obligation to maintain a “Christian Sabbath” – called “The Lord’s Day” in the New Testament. After all, both Romans 14 and Colossians 2 tell us not to honor one day above another. Therefore, the first day of the week has no special place among our worship. It seems pretty cut and dried, right?

Wrong! Colossians 2 and Romans 14 are not adequate proofs to prove the abrogation of the 4th Commandment. The sabbaths spoken of in Colossian 2 are part of the ceremonial law and not the moral law.

The Jewish ceremonial calendar had many New Moon and sabbaths other than the weekly Sabbath. Colossian 2 speaks of these special ceremonial “holy days” - not the weekly Sabbath, which is part of the Decalogue (God’s summary of his moral law).

This is vital! The phrase used in Colossians 2:16, “feast days…new moons…sabbaths,” is a technical phrase. It is a specific phrase relating to the ceremonial laws of the Old Covenant. It is specifically used in the OT, to designate specific ceremonial events - and is nowhere used in reference to the weekly Sabbath. By using this phrase in Colossians 2, Paul is clearly referring to the ceremonial Sabbaths and not the Sabbath that is commanded in the Decalogue.

Hosea 2:11, clearly referring to the ceremonial aspects of the Old Covenant, contains this same three-part formulation of “feast days, new moons…sabbaths” that is also found in Colossian 2:16. This three-part phrase refers to the special feast and Sabbath days in the Jewish calendar. It is not referring to the weekly Sabbath. Likewise, I Chron. 23:31; 2 Chron 2:4; 8:13; 31:3; Nehemiah 10:33, and Isaiah 1:13-14 all contain this common phrase, again clearly referring to ceremonial law and not the weekly Sabbath.



So, he wrote back this rebuttal:


All of the passages you have quoted above can be interpreted to be speaking about the ordinary weekly Sabbath. Rather than being a redundant technical phrase, it makes the most sense that they are referring to special Jewish days that happen yearly, monthly, and weekly. If you read Numbers 28-29 you’ll even see God giving Israel specific instructions regarding the sacrifice of lambs for the daily sacrifices, the weekly sacrifices on the Sabbath, the monthly sacrifices during the new moons, and at the yearly feasts. This is the interpretative framework for understanding all the passages you referenced above. Read all of them in their context with Numbers 28-29 as their background.

1 Chron. 23 passage in its context beginning with v. 27. David, being a King in Israel who had personally copied the Torah, is giving the Levites instructions as to their regular duties as ministers. In verse 30 he tells them, “And they were to stand every morning, thanking and praising the LORD, and likewise at evening...” This was their daily duty. Then, in verse 31 he tells them they are also to do this same thing weekly, monthly, and yearly when burnt offerings are offered: “and whenever burnt offerings were offered to the LORD on Sabbaths, new moons, and feast days, according to the number required of them, regularly before the LORD.” Notice it says “regularly.” God had established a regular pattern for which burnt offerings would be given (cf. Num. 28-29). These happened daily and on special days weekly, monthly, and yearly. The passages you referenced in 2 Chron. 2:4; 8:13 show the exact same thing.

Look at the passage you referenced in 2 Chron. 31:3, “The contribution of the king from his own possessions was for the burnt offerings: the burnt offerings of morning and evening, and the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths, the new moons, and the appointed feasts, as it is written in the Law of the LORD.” Where is it written in the Law of the LORD (i.e. the Torah)? It is found in Numbers 28-29 which make it clear that the ordinary weekly Sabbath is being spoken about.

Also, if you’ll notice in Isaiah 1:13-14, Sabbath is even in the singular, which according to your own logic in interpreting Col. 2:16 obviously is speaking about the ordinary weekly Sabbath.

Brother, it seems careless to say that this phrase is “nowhere used in reference to the weekly Sabbath.” I’m going to repeat my argument from the letter:

I believe that Paul is speaking here about the ordinary weekly Sabbath and not a special festival because there are multiple times in the Old Testament where the plural Sabbaths is used to describe the ordinary weekly Sabbath (Leviticus 19:3; Ez. 20:12,13,16, 20, 21, 24; 22:8, 26). So, in essence Paul is saying that no one is to judge anyone else because they don't observe the special days that happen yearly (festivals), monthly (new moons), and weekly (Sabbaths). In the Old Testament, again and again, you see the Lord talking about the yearly, monthly, and weekly days in this exact same way (1 Chronicles 23:31; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 8:13; 31:30; Nehemiah 10:33; Hosea 2:11).



I really don't have time to engage a topic. But, what is the best way for me to reply? I have not brought up this issue, but he wants to talk about it deeply. So, I feel constrained to defend my views.



Was my first written response in error?

Is his rebuttal right?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
THen,

I wrote further:


A Jewish Rabbi, such as Paul, would know this phrase well, and would be intimately familiar with its ceremonial connotations. The weekly Sabbath is not being removed here, but only the ceremonial system of feasts and holy days.

Plural sabbaths

Paul’s very grammar in Colossians 2:16 shows that he is not speaking of the abrogation of the Sabbath. In Colossians 2:16, Paul uses the plural in reference to “sabbaths.” He does not refer to the weekly Sabbath (singular), but many sabbaths (plural). Paul is referring to ceremonial sabbaths and not the weekly Sabbath.



Why wasn’t Paul clearer? If he meant yearly or ceremonial sabbaths and not the weekly Sabbath why didn’t he specify this?

Probably because he didn’t feel that he had to! He was being clear to his first-century audience by 1. his use of a well-known technical phrase (feast days, new moons and sabbaths), 2. his use of the plural for sabbaths, 3. his context of speaking – asserting that the ceremonial aspects of the old covenant are being done away with (i.e. and focusing on this ceremonial aspect of the law specifically).

and

Paul saw no need to say, “Remember, I am not speaking of the weekly Sabbath here.”



To which he responded:



I wonder how well-known a technical phrase found in the Old Testament would have been to a congregation made up entirely of Gentiles? Contrast the way Paul describes the Colossian Christians’ former manner of life (1:21; 27; 2:11-13) as Gentiles with those of God fearers such as Cornelius, who had a knowledge of the OT Scriptures. Copies of the OT were very scarce and kept in Jewish synagogues. Although Colossae may have had a synagogue (as far as I know this is unknown), only Gentile God-fearers, proselytes, and Jews would have had access to these Scriptures. So, rather than expecting the Colossian Christians to be aware of a technical OT phrase, it seems more reasonable to me that they simply would have been aware of when Jews went weekly for their meetings and how they celebrated new moons and festivals, along with being aware of what Jews ate since they all shared the same marketplace. As a result, they would have been aware of Judaism as outsiders rather than as those within the camp. Comparatively, in India, Hindus can only tell you generalizations about the Koran and Islamic theology, but they know all about the cultural peculiarities of Muslims - what they do and do not eat, when they go to the Mosque, etc.
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
Sounds like he is less wanting to know your position or wondering what you think, and more trying to convince you you're wrong and he's right.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Ha, yep, that very often happens.... praise God for the evangelistic spirit, but I wish I was not the anticipated convert.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
You did a great job, Pergamum, on your initial explanation.

Email said,
...it makes the most sense that they are referring to special Jewish days that happen yearly, monthly, and weekly.

Right off the bat, the Sabbath was not a "Jewish" day. The Fourth Commandment, like all the ten commandments are moral, perpetual commandments binding on all men in all generations.

It was and is for all mankind.

Mark 2:27

27And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
Does the email writer really believe that the Ten Commandments were only for one group of people?

(This even before we get to it being an ordinance of creation-)
 

Rich Koster

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
You did a great job, Pergamum, on your initial explanation.

Email said,
...it makes the most sense that they are referring to special Jewish days that happen yearly, monthly, and weekly.

Right off the bat, the Sabbath was not a "Jewish" day. The Fourth Commandment, like all the ten commandments are moral, perpetual commandments binding on all men in all generations.

It was and is for all mankind.

Mark 2:27

27And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
Does the email writer really believe that the Ten Commandments were only for one group of people?

(This even before we get to it being an ordinance of creation-)

Many "churches" teach a distorted moral law. They make the Decalogue a particular law for a particular people... visible Israel. They ignore the fact that the Decalogue is for all men, for all time, and it was built into creation by the Creator. The guy in the OP is arguing from the distorted teaching that is unfortunately common in many main line "evangelical churches". In my past, I was taught this by several pastors/elders, until I started studying for myself. If God set the example by resting from his works (in the Genesis account), I believe I should follow the example of my Heavenly Father as well as his instruction.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Email said,

All of the passages you have quoted above can be interpreted to be speaking about the ordinary weekly Sabbath. Rather than being a redundant technical phrase, it makes the most sense that they are referring to special Jewish days that happen yearly, monthly, and weekly. If you read Numbers 28-29 you’ll even see God giving Israel specific instructions regarding the sacrifice of lambs for the daily sacrifices, the weekly sacrifices on the Sabbath, the monthly sacrifices during the new moons, and at the yearly feasts. This is the interpretative framework for understanding all the passages you referenced above. Read all of them in their context with Numbers 28-29 as their background.

Numbers 28-29 speaks of special offerings on the sabbath, not the sabbath itself. It is not saying once a week have a "sabbath" as if that were the ceremony. (Remember sabbath means "cease").

It is saying on certain sabbaths do certain ceremonial offerings such as a lamb, flour or grain offerings.

Big difference.

Another way to look at this is, what about the other part of the fourth commandment- work six days. Is he saying that was ceremony too? Is he saying that was only for Israel (working six days)?

Pergamum, you've got this beat on seven sides both biblically and logically, without even getting to paragraph two of the email yet!
 
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KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Perhaps tell him that if his beliefs are true, he better not go to church on Sundays because that would be celebrating a 'tradition' and therefore hypocrisy.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
The email said,

1 Chron. 23 passage in its context beginning with v. 27. David, being a King in Israel who had personally copied the Torah, is giving the Levites instructions as to their regular duties as ministers. In verse 30 he tells them, “And they were to stand every morning, thanking and praising the LORD, and likewise at evening...” This was their daily duty. Then, in verse 31 he tells them they are also to do this same thing weekly, monthly, and yearly when burnt offerings are offered: “and whenever burnt offerings were offered to the LORD on Sabbaths, new moons, and feast days, according to the number required of them, regularly before the LORD.” Notice it says “regularly.” God had established a regular pattern for which burnt offerings would be given (cf. Num. 28-29). These happened daily and on special days weekly, monthly, and yearly. The passages you referenced in 2 Chron. 2:4; 8:13 show the exact same thing.

Nobody denies that there was a regular pattern for sin offerings in the Old Testament- and a whole body of ceremonial law given to establish it. These (imperfect) sin offerings all pre-figured Christ's once-and-for-all perfect sacrifice.

Yes, those ceased, as did the function of the Temple and those specific jobs of the Levites doing them. It would be abominable to offer them today in light of the perfect sacrifice of our Lord (to which these all pointed). They were designed to be temporary, because the sacrifices were imperfect.

Once again, this really has nothing to do with "remembering" (God resting in Creation), "ceasing" (from our ordinary labors), and "working" (six days)- which is the Fourth Commandment.


I believe that Paul is speaking here about the ordinary weekly Sabbath and not a special festival because there are multiple times in the Old Testament where the plural Sabbaths is used to describe the ordinary weekly Sabbath (Leviticus 19:3; Ez. 20:12,13,16, 20, 21, 24; 22:8, 26). So, in essence Paul is saying that no one is to judge anyone else because they don't observe the special days that happen yearly (festivals), monthly (new moons), and weekly (Sabbaths). In the Old Testament, again and again, you see the Lord talking about the yearly, monthly, and weekly days in this exact same way (1 Chronicles 23:31; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 8:13; 31:30; Nehemiah 10:33; Hosea 2:11).

The issue is not really singular or plural- the issue is what is the commandment.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
You've got to remember too that the Jewish typology associated with the weekly Sabbath falls away and is transformed by Christ, whereas the typolgy given to Man continues.

(a) The Sabbath and the Week given to Adam before He fell was typical of entering into God's rest from creating. Adam had the Covenant of Works Probation to fulfil and the Creation Mandate to fulfill, together with Eve and their offspring.

Adam and Eve before the Fall rested by faith continuously in God as Creator, Sustainer and Providential Governor. On the Sabbath they entered the rest that God had already entered as Creator in a special way.

The specially revealed time period of the Week and the Sabbath were tokens to Adam and Eve and all mankind of their eventual full eschatalogical rest.

After the Fall if Adam and Eve believed they also rested in God as their Saviour by faith, from day to day.

(b) A new typology of the Sabbath was given to Israel, in addition to the Adamic typology. One of the accounts of the 10C, in Deuteronomy, indicates that the Sabbath was also given to Israel to remind them of their freedom from bondage i.e. it was a Sabbath when they emerged from the Red Sea.

A typology of Redemption from Egypt was added to the typology of the Old Creation. As they travelled through the desert, the Sabbath and the Week reminded them of the typological eschatalogical rest of Canaan.

Once they reached Canaan those with faith knew that this was only a type of the full rest. Apart from anything else they still kep to the Week and the Sabbath in Canaan because they were still looking forward to a better rest.

(c) In Christ, the Resurrection, First Day of the New Creation and First Day of the New Redemption is on the first day of the Week, hence the change of day.

The First Day of the Week is also appropriate because the New Creation and New Redemption has started in our hearts in principle by the New Birth, and we are in the "already...............not yet" looking forward to its completion.

But between now and the end of the world, although Christ has completed the Probation of the CoW for us, the Creation Mandate is not completed, and we as men for whom the Sabbath was made, still need the specially revealed Seven Day Week, and First Day of the Week Sabbath on which our Saviour-God rested from His work of New Creation and True Redemption, by which to oraganise our work, play, rest and worship.

At the Eschaton work, play, rest and worship will be rearranged, under the overall purpose of us entering fully into the rest that our Saviour-God has already entered.

In the meantime we rest in Him by faith continuously and each week are invited and commanded to enter His rest in a special way.

So in a sense we don't keep the Old Covenant Sabbath, and we shouldn't keep the Saturday Sabbath as that would indicate that God hadn't come in Christ and done a New and Greater work. But the 4th Commandment covers this New Day just fine, as does the fact that the Sabbath was made for Man.

Is your friend a man?
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Hebrews 8:6

6But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

We do indeed have a "better" covenant in the New Testament.

Believers, Jew and Gentile, no longer have to observe the ceremonial law as a standard of righteousness as did the Old Testament Saints.

But God has commanded His creatures to rest and prioritize worship of Him one day, work six days. It's not an option, and it's part of a standard summarily comprehended in the Ten Commandments by which all men will be judged.

Glory be to God, and His Son Jesus for that!
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
It may be worthwhile attempting to point out that this person is interpreting a text of Scripture in isolation from the book of Scripture. Randy has a good quotation in his signature from William Symington to the effect that we should seek to be on the side of Scripture and not simply to have Scripture on our side. If all days are the same, (1) why did God bless and sanctify the seventh day of the creation week? (2) Why did the Lord personally and immediately command the remembrance of one day in seven in connection with the perpetual, moral duty He requires of all men? (3) Why did the prophets call for a specific delight in the Sabbath day in opposition to ceremonialism? (4) Why did Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath, continue to press the true spirit of Sabbath observance, insisting that the Sabbath was made for man? (5) Why did Christ specifically choose the first day of the week upon which to appear to His disciples? (6) Why did the apostles engage in and exhort to specific actions of worship and service to be done on the first day of the week? (7) Why did the apostle John, at the close of the New Testament revelation period, specifically designate one day of the week, "the Lord's day?" When all that the Bible has to say on the Sabbath question has been taken into consideration it will be clear for anyone who has eyes to see that all days are not to be regarded as the same.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
A detailed, but readable resource for understanding this, including the day of the week are GI Williamsons, Lectures on the Sabbath.

It deals with all the standardized arguments made against the Sabbath, including those made in your friend's email, looks at the Biblical warrants carefully, logic, even the witness of church history.

http://www.nethtc.net/~giwopc/LecturesontheSabbath.pdf
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I believe my blog entry addresses his complaints.

Some Reformed Baptists on the Sabbath Concerning Colossians and Hebrews - Blogs - The PuritanBoard

There are two sections I posted on that would be beneficial I believe.

1. The Old Testament prophesies the abrogation and cessation of the Sabbath under the New Covenant.

2. The Old Testament prophesies the perpetuity and continuation of the Sabbath under the New Covenant.

There is also a quote by Robert Martin concerning the Greek in the Hebrews 4 passage that points to a weekly sabbath keeping also.

It might help you some Pergy.
 
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