When does the Sabbath Day Begin/End Revisited

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Jeff_Bartel, Oct 9, 2006.

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  1. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    The two most prominent position for the Sabbath Day start/finish is either:

    1) Midnight to Midnight (defended by Greg Price here).

    2) Evening to Evening

    and I have recently found what seems to be a third position as expounded by John Owen in his commentary on Hebrews (below):

    What other resources / arguments are available for Sabbath day beginning/ending?

    Do all of these fall under the Westminster Confession's view of the Sabbath?

  2. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    See also Brian Schwertley, The Christian Sabbath: Examined, Proved, Applied:

    And William Gouge, The Sabbath's Sanctification:

  3. PresReformed

    PresReformed Puritan Board Freshman


    I am of the opinion that the Sabbath runs from evening to evening. Thomas Shepard makes a compelling argument for this in his "Theses Sabbaticae" (volume 3 of his Works). It is available in paperback from Crown Rights Publishing.


    I'm also working on reprinting John Cotton' treatise on "The Duration of the Lord's Day" which is also very good. DV, I should have it available by the end of the month on Lulu.
  4. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    See also Dr. Francis Nigel Lee's refutation of the Seventh Day Adventist arguments for evening-to-evening observance of the Sabbath in The Covenantal Sabbath:

  5. PresReformed

    PresReformed Puritan Board Freshman

    That is a lot of verses, but none of them say midnight to midnight or anything about midnight. An evening to evening observance fits in with all those verses just as well. Shepard addresses all of these arguments. One of his most compelling arguments is that the Christain Sabbath began immediately after the last Jewish Sabbath which would've been Saturday evening. The Julian calendar or day was not observed by the Jews. Shepard goes back to creation and shows that a biblical day was always observed from evening to evening. Rome's imposition of the Julian calendar doesn't change the biblcal definition of a day.
  6. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    Thanks for the great resources so far! :up::up:

    I don't have appropriate time to read them at this moment (as I am at work), but I will later today Lord willing.

    Are both views (three views including Owen's) faithful to the WCF?
  7. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    Just a reminder. The scriptures do not mention a jewish or christian sabbath. This is a man made nomenclature. It would be like saying, the jewish decalogue and the christian decalogue or jewish marriage and christian marriage. There is only the sabbath.
  8. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Acts 20.7 does specifically reference midnight. It's an important point because it is consistent with midnight-to-midnight observance for Paul to have preached until midnight (a Lord's Day evening worship service) before "departing on the morrow" whereas the evening-to-evening position would suggest that Paul was preaching on the first and second days of the week. The other verses are highly relevant to when Jesus rose from the dead (thus instituting the Lord's Day) and make reference to the morning (before it was light) which raises the question of when the morning begins.

    Dr. Lee's position (and that of Greg Price) is that the Biblical definition of a day, and hence Sabbath observance, has always been from midnight to midnight. His argument which is extensive (spread throughout his book beginning with the section on Adam) is worth reading (I just quoted a concluding section). Others (like James Durham) hold that there was a change in the reckoning of the day as well as the day itself at the Resurrection and this not by Roman institution but by divine institution. Either way, the New Testament language that is used in connection with the events of the Resurrection and Paul's preaching until midnight, as demonstrated by Price, Lee, Schwertley, et al., are consistent not with evening-to-evening reckoning but midnight-to-midnight.

    Note: Greg Price alludes to and refutes another position that argues that the Sabbath begins at noon.

    Another point for consideration -- I'm not sure off hand which came first, Owen's statement or Vincent's -- but Owen signed an epistle to commend the exposition of the Shorter Catechism by Thomas Vincent which argues for reckoning the Lord's Day from midnight to midnight.

    Besides the question of what the Bible actually teaches, there are various practical implications for the differing views as to when the Sabbath begins and ends. One, for example, might pertain to watching the Superbowl. One view would see it as Sabbath-desecration; another would not. Another would involve whether to have church services on Saturday evening or the Lord's Day evening.

    [Edited on 10-9-2006 by VirginiaHuguenot]
  9. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

  10. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    John Brown of Haddington, Systematic Theology, Book VI, Chap. 1, p. 475:

    Lewis Bayly, Practice of Piety, pp. 163-164:

  11. jaybird0827

    jaybird0827 PuritanBoard Honor Roll

    :ditto: I was thinking of that verse, too.
  12. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Well articulated, Andrew.
  13. PresReformed

    PresReformed Puritan Board Freshman

    Paul preaching until midnight does not mean that he couldn't have preached into the next day. The reference about Jesus raising from the dead before it was light doesn't add any weight to a midnight to midnight argument either. Otherwise the reasoning would be Christ arose before daylight, therefore a day runs from midnight to midnight. This does not logically follow. I don't know of anyone that argues that the Jews did not observe the day from evening to evening. Midnight to midnighters would have to prove how the Sabbath did not only change days, but the time period too. What about those missing hours between the last Jewish Sabbath and the first Christian Sabbath? The question is where in Scripture is a day defined as anything other than evening to evening and where is a day defined as midnight to midnight?
  14. beej6

    beej6 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thank you for this discussion, I have often wondered about all three views (though I didn't know of Owen's defense of morning to evening, I have heard people espouse that view).

    For what it's worth - a tertiary source to a secondary standard - JG Vos in his commentary on the WLC says that the day ought to be reckoned as ordinary days. Specifically:

  15. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Consider William Perkins' two observations on Acts 20, from his Cases of Conscience. Also note what he says about Ps. 92.

  16. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    James Ussher, A Body of Divinitie, p. 244-245:

    William Ames, The Marrow of Theology, pp. 297-298:

  17. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    Great resources! Thanks all! I have read them, and hopefully this can be a thread that can be used to pile them up!

    I especially like the reasoning of Ames in that last quote Andrew. I have been persuaded of the midnight to midnight position for some time now, but would enjoy studying it some more. Francis Nigel Lee's work looks VERY interesting, and I have flipped through it a bit, but it will take a while for me to get through it.

    Thanks again!
  18. PresReformed

    PresReformed Puritan Board Freshman

    The Christian Sabbath doesn't begin when Christ arose. Where in Scripture is that taught? The Christian Sabbath is the first day of the week. The question is what does Scripture define a day as? The first day of creation began in the evening. Why wouldn't the first day continue to be observed that way? Was the Julian calendar day observed from creation? I have a few interesting New Testament verses that clearly imply that the day began at evening.

    In Mark 1:32, Luke 4:40, and Matthew 8:16 the Jews all began bringing their sick unto Jesus to be healed. This was in the evening as the sun was setting on the Sabbath. Why do you suppose the people were waiting for the evening to bring their sick to be healed? I believe it was because it was unlawful (according to the pharisees) to heal on the Sabbath, so they waited until the Sabbath was past.

    Another couple of verses are from our Saviour Himself. In Luke 22:34 and Mark 14:30 Jesus tells Peter that "this day, even this night" Peter would deny Him. Now unless you'd argue that Christ said this to Peter after midnight He was calling the next morning the same day as Passover evening.

    There are many more examples in Scripture to support an evening to evening day, mostly in the Old Testament, but there are others in the New. Thomas Shepard addresses all of the above arguments in his Theses Sabbaticae.

    [Edited on 10/10/2006 by PresReformed]
  19. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Some additional resources that I previously cited in another thread about Lord's Day evening worship:

  20. PresReformed

    PresReformed Puritan Board Freshman

    Theses Sabbaticae pp.234, 235

    Thesis 59. Those that would have the Sabbath begin at morning allege John xx. 19, where it is said, "that the same day at even, which was the first day of the week. Jesus came among his disciples, when the doors were shut," which (say they) was within night; and therefore the night following belongs to the day before, which was the Christian Sabbath; which place compared, with Luke xxiv. 33, does further clear up (as they say) this truth: for the two disciples who went to Emmaus, and met Christ, are said to return to the disciples when they are thus met together; which evening can not (say they) be possibly meant of the first evening before sunlight was set, because the day being far spent, (ver. 20.) and they constrained him to abide with them, (which argues that it was late,) and the distance of Emmaus from Jerusalem being sixty furlongs, or eight miles excepting a half; so that it was impossible for them to travel so long a journey in so short a time, within the compass of the first evening: hence therefore it is meant or the second evening, which was within night, which yet we see belongs to the day before. But there are many things considerable to evacuate the strength of these reasons.
    Thesis 60. For, first, this invitation our Saviour had to stay by the two disciples was probably to some repast, some time after high noon; possibly to a late dinner rather than a late supper toward the latter evening; and if so, then the disciples might easily come from Emmaus to Jerusalem before sunset within the former evening; for the words “toward evening," may be as well understood of the first evening toward two or three of the clock, as of the second; and if it be objected, that before the first evening the day could not be said to be far spent, yet if the words be well observed, no such translation can be forced from them, for the words "the day hath declined," which is truly said of any time after high noon, and therefore might be a fit season to press our Saviour to eat; as may appear by comparing this with a parallel scripture, (Judges xix. 8,9.) which is almost word for word with this place of Luke: for the Levite's father invites him to eat something after his early rising, (ver. 8,) which was too soon for supper, and therefore seems to be rather to it dinner which they tarried for until after high noon, or as it is in the original, until the day declined, (just as it is here in Luke,) and then when dinner was ended he persuades him to stay still because; the day was weak, and (as we translate it) toward evening, (as here the disciples tell our Saviour; ) and yet after these persuasions to tarry, as late as it was, he departed and came to Jerusalem before night, and from thence to Gibeah (without any miracle too) before sun was set, or the latter evening; and verily if we may give credit to topographers. Gibeah was almost as far from Bethlem (from whence the Levite came) as Jerusalem was from Emmaus; and therefore if the Levite came with his cumber and concubine so many miles before the second evening, notwithstanding all the arguments used from the day declining, and that it was toward evening, why may we not imagine the like of these disciples at Emmaus much more? who had no cumber, and whose joy could not but add wings to a very swift return to the eleven before the second evening, notwithstanding the like arguments here used in Luke xxiv. 29. And yet, secondly, suppose that they invited our Saviour to supper; yet, the former evening beginning about two or three of the clock in the afternoon, our Saviour might stay some time to eat with them, and yet they be timely enough at Jerusalem before the second evening; for suppose our Saviour staid an hour with them, or more, after two or three of the clock: yet, if a strong man may walk ordinarily three miles an hour: why might not the tidings of this joyful news make them double their pace, whether on foot or horseback, (no mention is made of either,) and so be there within an hour and half, or thereabout, before the second evening could come?

    [Edited on 10/10/2006 by PresReformed]

    [Edited on 10/10/2006 by PresReformed]

    [Edited on 10/10/2006 by PresReformed]
  21. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I agree that discovering the whole mind of God in everything is not to be downplayed. But this question, In my humble opinion, is one with which we need not be overly concerned.

    I am of the persuasion that the disruption of the kingdom (586 BC) and the captivity and return introduced significant upheaval into the Jewish calendar. The Messiah's promised coming was to set a great many things to rights, as well as changing a great many things, and eliminating a host of typological details.

    For instance, I am persuaded that not only was the Mosaic-era calendar different from the post-exilic, but I also argue that the practice of keeping days beginning at even instead of morn was an "inversion" practice begun as a result of a recognition that in the captivity their "world had been turned upside down." God himself spoke of the event through his prophets as a "reversal" of the Exodus, this sending of the people back into bondage in "Egypt" (a different "Egypt", yes, but that is how God pictured it).

    The return to the land was not a return to status quo ante. Many adjustments were made to life back in the land, but they were of such a nature as to keep the people longing for the Messiah, who would, as before stated, "set ALL things back to rights."

    It is in part because I detect these "shifts" in Jewish practice--shifts not accompanied by prescriptions (and no didactic prescriptions appear to me anywhere in the record going back to Moses) prior to Christ, that I judge this concern to be largely adiaphoric.

    [Edited on 10-10-2006 by Contra_Mundum]
  22. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    William Fenner, Treatise of the Sabbath:

  23. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Thomas Vincent, The Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly Explained and Proved from Scripture, on Q. 58:

  24. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    John Flavel, An Exposition of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism, re: Q. 57-59:

  25. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Thomas Ridgeley, A Body of Divinity:

  26. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    John Willison, A Treatise Concerning the Sanctification of the Lord's Day:

  27. beej6

    beej6 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Would anyone agree with me that "midnight to midnight" reckoning is, practically, the same as "morning to morning," wherein most of us are sleeping from midnight to sunrise?

    JG Vos in his commentary on the WLC argues for midnight to midnight as the ordinary way that we mark our days.
  28. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Thomas Boston, A Complete Body of Divinity, Vol. II, p. 559:

  29. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Alexander McLeod, The Ecclesiastical Catechism; Being a Series of Questions, Relative to the Christian Church, Stated and Answered, With the Scripture Proofs:

  30. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    John Willison, An Example of Plain Catechising Upon the Assembly's Shorter Catechism, p. 188:

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