Recantation... I've been wrong about the Sabbath.

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Puritan Board Sophomore
Several months ago (maybe even over a year past) I debated on this forum that the Sabbath was completely fulfilled in Christ, and that if we are in Him, then we thereby are keeping the Sabbath command.

I am now convinced that I was wrong.

I would like to thank those, who in recent weeks, on this forum, have reopened disscussion on the Sabbath. Although I chose not to participate in the disscussion, I did keep close tabs on the conversation.

Recently, I have pondered through Hebrews 3 and 4, over exactly what the author of Hebrews was trying to portray through his discourse concerning the rest unto which we are to labour to enter.

I noted the following:

1. The church in the wilderness, because of the hardness of their hearts, was not able to enter into His rest.

2. When David warned Israel (Psalm 95:8-11) in his day to harden not their hearts in the same manner as did their fathers, it was to a nation who had already entered into Canaan. Hence, if the land into which Israel had entered with Joshua were the fulfilment of the promised rest, then David's psalm would have no meaning. Why would David warn those who have already entered, that they may not be able to enter?

3. The author of Hebrews is extending the same warning to his readers (Heb 3:7-11). All to whom the author was writing were living after the first advent of Christ. Hence, the rest into which we are labour to enter (Heb 4:11), is a future rest.

4. The word translated "rest" in Hebrews 4:9, "[i:b923dbd86d]sabbatismos[/i:b923dbd86d]" is not the same as the word translated "rest" throughout this passage, "[i:b923dbd86d]katapausin[/i:b923dbd86d]. This word, according to Alfred Marshall, [i:b923dbd86d]Nestle Greek Text, Literal English Translation[/i:b923dbd86d], is "a sabbath rest".

5. The "he" in verse 10 is singular.

6. Never does the author say that either he, nor his audience, have already entered into that rest. The author says that " enter into rest" (4:3), but never that we "are entered." (I'm no Greek scholar, but from the English translations that I have, there appears to be a difference in tenses here. [b:b923dbd86d] Can someone here confirm this?[/b:b923dbd86d]).

7. The subject of verse 10 is one who is already entered into his rest; hence (per #6 above), can not be the author, nor his audience.

8. The author refers to his audience as "partakers of the heavenly calling" (3:1). The author refers to Christ as One who "is passed into the heavens(vs 14)." ([b:b923dbd86d]Help needed, I wonder if "is passed" is in the same tense (in Greek) as "is entered"?[/b:b923dbd86d])

9. This passage is littered with the "already/not yet":
a.) We are partakers of the heavenly calling, but have not yet entered into heaven (3:1, 4:14).
b.) We have "confidence...of the hope", but have not yet arrived at the end (3:6).
c.) We have the "beginning of our confidence" to which we must hold "steadfast unto the end (3:14).
d.) We do enter that rest (4:3), but must labour that we may enter thereinto (4:11).

10. Just as the Sabbath pointed to the work of God in creation, so also the "Sabbatismos" that remains points to the work of him (Christ) who is entered into his rest.

11. Since that rest to which we look forward has yet to be fully consummated, there remains for us a "Sabbatismos" in which we look back at the finished work of Christ while eagerly awaiting the final consummation of that rest.

Anyway, to the Sabbatarians on the board, thank you for your persistance. I owe much gratitude to Pipa, Chantry and Barcellos; and to the pastors of my own church who have tried to make me see these things (though, being such a blockhead, it has taken much time for it to sink into my thick skull. :banghead: ).

Primarily, I thank God who has opened my eyes. How dreadful a state I was in, denying the obligation that I have to keep His Sabbath, making the ordinance of our Lord a matter of "Christian liberty". May God be merciful, and may I, along with His church, call His Sabbath a delight!!!

As it is the law of nature, that in general a proportion of time, by God's appointment, be set apart for the worship of God, so by his Word, in a positive moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a sabbath to be kept holy unto him, which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ was changed into the first day of the week, which is called the Lord's day: and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished.
( Exodus 20:8; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2; Acts 20:7; Revelation 1:10 )

The sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering their common affairs aforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all day, from their own works, words and thoughts, about their worldly employment and recreations, but are also taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.
( Isaiah 58:13; Nehemiah 13:15-22; Matthew 12:1-13 )

[b:b923dbd86d]LBC1689 XXII:7,8[/b:b923dbd86d]

[Edited on 4-11-2004 by Dan....]


Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member

I'm thankful that you have been blessed by the work of good pastors in this day and age.

Ironically (or maybe not), the exegetical points you make are pretty much what Owen says in his commentary on Hebrews 4.

Rich Barcellos

Puritan Board Freshman
Recantation... I've been wrong about the Sabbath.

I agree with Fred. Anything I said that was convincing was borrowed. Anything that was not convincing was original.


Puritan Board Freshman
I've felt convicted on this issue... I want to keep the Sabbath.
Do any of you have any recommendations on how to "keep it holy"?

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
:amen: Dan,

For wahtever reasons, God has His purposes in mind when He changes our theology for the better. It would be nice to have all our theology starightened out, but that is not God's plan.

For Studying purposes, maybe taking a next step and reading Owen on Hebrews would be of help.
Then Edwards'm sermons.
After Owen and Edwards read Gillifan and Shepherd.

After that, you will be an authority on the subject in comparrison to most of Christendom.

Isn't it a wonderful thing to see something fresh and new?

We should pray God would be more gracious to us all.


Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks for the encouragement men.

What a blessing it was this past Lord's Day to attend in His House of worship knowing that doing such is pleasing to our Lord, and that such was ordered by Him to be an ordained means whereby He administers grace to His people!

I was unable to find Owen's commentary of Hebrews in the church library. They do have the 16 volume "Works of Owen" set, but I was unable to find anything in the index thereof about the Sabbath. So I will have to put his commentary on my wish list and purchase it sometime in the near future (I hope).

I did check out Pipa's book [i:e9c283d59b]The Lord's Day[/i:e9c283d59b] again (This is the third time I've checked out this book from the church library, maybe I should look into getting my own copy.).

Pastor Fred,

Maybe we can now say that we are 96% agreed? Coming to agreement on the fourth commandment must be worth at least 1 percentage point, don't you think???


I highly recommend that you get a hold on a copy of [i:e9c283d59b]The Lord's Day[/i:e9c283d59b] by Joseph Pipa. He expends quite a bit of time going through the proper use of the Christian Sabbath.

The Sabbath is an ordained means of grace that God has given to His people. If we will turn from doing our own pleasures and seeking our own ways on His holy day, and if we will honour Him, then God has promised that He will become our delight and that He will feed us with the heritage of Jacob (Isaiah 58:13,14). If we neglect this ordained means of grace, we do so to our own detriment.

[Edited on 4-13-2004 by Dan....]


Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I have long noticed and noted that this Board does not live on controversy but love. Not only have I benefitted from the discussion on the Sabbath, but on a great deal more discussions. But your post is one of great encouragement to me as well.

Your blessing is our blessing. Thank you for the encouragement which your admission and sincerity conveys to the faithful.


Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member

I love to see the percentage go up {humming Ps. 133 again} !

But know that I did (and would have continued) to respect you even if we only agreed 95% and you didn't come to accept the continuing validity 4th commandment.
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