THE SABBATH UNDER CROSSFIRE #7
by Samuele Bacchiocchi PhD
Continued from previous page:
God did not need six days to create our solar system. He
could have spoken it into existence in a second, since His
creation was accomplished by the spoken word (Ps 33:6). But He
chose to establish a human week of seven days and to use it
Himself in order to give a divine perspective to our six days of
work and to our seventh day of rest.
This means that as we work during the six days and rest on
the seventh day, we are doing in a small scale what God has done
on a much larger scale. God's willingness to enter into the
limitations of human time at creation in order to enable us to
identify with Him is a marvellous revelation of His willingness
to enter into human flesh at the incarnation in order to become
Emmanuel, God with us.
On each of the first six days of creation God did something
that had lasting results for the human family. We would expect
the same to be true for the seventh day. Roy Gane notes: "God set
up cyclical time even before man was created (Gen 1:3-5,14-18).
According to Genesis 1:14, God made heavenly luminaries, chiefly
the sun and the moon (Gen 1:16), to mark earthly time as 'signs,'
'seasons.' i. e., appointed times, days, and years. So when
Genesis 2:3 says that God blessed and hallowed the seventh day,
this blessing and consecration could be on-going in a cyclical
sense, applying to each subsequent seventh day. In fact, the
seventh-day Sabbath provides a plausible explanation for the
origin of the week, which is not defined by the movement of
heavenly bodies." 98
Creation Sabbath and Weekly Sabbath
The emphatic threefold repetition of "the seventh day" with
its four divine acts ("finished," "rested," "blessed," and
"hallowed" - Gen 2:2-3) at the conclusion of creation indicates
that just as man is the crown of creation, so the seventh day,
the Sabbath, is the final goal of creation. Thus, the creation
Sabbath tells us not only how God felt about His creation, but
also what He planned for His creatures. G.H.Watermann makes this
point saying: "It seems clear, therefore, that the divine origin
and institution of the Sabbath took place at the beginning of
human history. At that time God not only provided a divine
example for keeping the seventh day as a day of rest, but also
blessed and set apart the seventh day for the benefit of man." 99
As God created the world in six days and rested on the
seventh day at the completion of His creation, so human beings
are to accomplish their work and purpose in this creation during
the six working days of the week and to follow the example of the
Creator by resting on the seventh day. Sabbathkeepers can find
satisfaction and fulfillment in their work and rest, because the
Sabbath reassures them that they are doing on a small scale what
God has done and is doing on an infinitely larger scale.
Earlier we noted that God "rested" on the seventh day to
express His satisfaction over his complete and perfect creation.
This idea is conveyed by the verb shabat used in Genesis 2:2-3
which means to "cease or stop working." We must not ignore,
however, that in Exodus 31:17 the creation rest of God is
interpreted as a model for human rest. Israel is called to keep
the Sabbath because "in six days the Lord made the heaven and the
earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed" (Ex
31:17). The Hebrew verb used here is "nephesh," which describes
God as being "refreshed" as a result of His rest on the seventh
day of creation.
It is evident God did not need to rest from fatigue because
"He does not faint or grow weary" (Is 40:28), yet the Bible
speaks of God in human terms (anthropomorphically) as being
"refreshed" on the Sabbath in order to set the pattern for the
human Sabbath rest. This is not the only example in the Bible
where God does something to set an example for His creatures to
Jesus asked John the Baptist to baptize him, not because He
needed to be cleansed from sin (Rom 6:1-5), but to set an example
for His followers (Matt 3:13-14). Both baptism and the Lord's
Supper trace their origin to a divine act and example that
established them. In the same way Scripture traces the origin of
the Sabbath to God's act of resting, blessing, and sanctifying
the seventh day. This is the fundamental problem with Sunday
observance. No divine act established the day as a memorial of
the resurrection. None of the words uttered by Christ on the day
of His resurrection suggest that He intended to make the day a
memorial of His resurrection.
The Blessing of the Seventh Day
The blessing and hallowing of the seventh day at creation
further reveals that God intended the Sabbath to have on-going
benefits for the human family. It would make no sense for God to
bless and sanctify a unit of holy time for Himself. The blessings
of God are outgoing, benefiting His creatures. They represent not
wishful thinking but assurance of fruitfulness, prosperity, and
abundant life. For example, God blessed the first couple saying,
"Be fruitful and multiply" (Gen 1:28; cf. 9:1; 49:22-26).
Similarly, we read in the Aaronic benediction: "The Lord
bless you and keep you" (Num 6:24). The blessing of God results,
then, in the preservation and assurance of abundant life. This
meaning is expressed explicitly by the Psalmist when he writes:
"The Lord has commanded the blessing, life for evermore" (Ps
Applied to the Sabbath, this means that God made this day a
channel through which human life can receive His beneficial and
It must be said that the meaning of both the blessing and
sanctification of the Sabbath is not spelled out in Genesis 2:3.
This is puzzling because in most instances God's benediction is
accompanied by an explanation of its content. For example, "God
blessed them [animals], saying, 'Be fruitful and multiply and
fill the water in the seas, and let the birds multiply on the
earth'" (Gen 1:22). Similarly, God said to Abraham regarding his
wife, Sarah, "I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of
nations; kings of peoples shall come from her" (Gen 17:16; cf.
9:1;17:20). Yet with regard to the blessing of the Sabbath,
nothing is said as to what such a blessing entails.
The mystery of the blessedness and sanctity of the Sabbath
begins to be unveiled in Exodus with the establishment of Israel
as God's covenant people. The day becomes now linked not only to
a finished creation but to the new nation which God has
miraculously brought into existence: "See! The Lord has given you
the Sabbath" (Ex 16:29). From being cosmological, a symbol of a
perfect world, the Sabbath has now become a soteriological-
historical symbol of God's redemptive plan for His people. Thus
the Sabbath becomes now more intimately connected with the ups
and downs of the life of God's people.
The manna story offers a starting point to understand the
nature of the original blessing of the Sabbath. Notice first
certain parallelisms between the creation and the manna
narrative. Both are divine acts accomplished according to the
seven-day structure. Both testify to the perfection of God's
activities: the daily creation was "good" and the daily portion
of the manna was satisfying (Ex 16:18). In both instances, the
creative activity ceases on the Sabbath: creation is "finished"
(Gen 2:2) and the manna ceased to fall (Ex 16:25). In both cases
God's blessings are bestowed upon the Sabbath - by proclamation
at creation (Gen 2:3) and by preservation in the manna (Ex
In the context of the aridity of the desert and of the
murmuring of the people caused by their inability to secure food,
the miracle of the preservation of the manna throughout Sabbath
stands as a most con spicuous revelation of the nature of the
Sabbath blessings, namely, God's reassuring gift of physical
nourishment and life. In order to receive the blessings of the
Sabbath, believers need to consecrate the day to God by altering
their behavior, as in the manna experience. As John Skinner puts
it: "The Sabbath is a constant source of well-being to the man
who recognizes its true nature and purpose." 100
The Sanctification of the Sabbath
Genesis 2:3 also affirms that the Creator "hallowed" (RV,
RSV) the seventh day, "made it holy" (NEB, NAB), "declared it
holy" (NKJV), or "sanctified" (NASB). Both here and in the
Sabbath commandment we are told that God made the Sabbath holy.
How did God make the seventh day holy? Since the day is not
a material substance but a unit of time, it cannot be made holy
by applying a holy substance such as annointing oil (Lev
8:10-12). The meaning of the holiness of the Sabbath must be
found in its relation to the people who are affected by its
Dale Ratzlaff argues that God did not sanctify the seventh
day as such for human beings to observe, but the "conditions of
that day were sanctified and blessed." 101 By "the conditions,"
Ratzlaff means the condition that existed on "the first day after
creation was completed." 102 In other words, the sanctification
of the seventh day refers primarily to the "conditions" of
"fellowship and communion" that existed on creation's seventh day
rather than to God setting aside the seventh day for humanity to
experience in a special way His sanctifying presence.
The problem with this interpretation is that nowhere does
the Bible suggest that the sanctification of the seventh day at
creation refers to the sanctification of the conditions that
existed "the first day after creation was completed." God did not
sanctify "conditions" but the seventh day itself.
The Meaning of Sanctification
The basic meaning of the Hebrew idea of "holy--gadesh" is
"set apart," "separated." Applied to the Sabbath, the divine
sanctification of the day consists in God's setting apart the
seventh day from the rest of the six days. It must be emphasized
that God did the setting apart, not man. The holiness of the
Sabbath stems not from those who keep it, but from the act of
God. Believers experience the holiness of the Sabbath by altering
their behavior on that day. They stop their work to allow God to
enrich their lives with His sanctifying presence.
John Skinner perceptively points out that the Sabbath "is
not an institution which exists or ceases with its observance by
man; the divine rest is a fact as much as the divine working, and
so the sanctity of the day is a fact whether man secures the
benefit or not." 103
The verbal form (Piel) of the Hebrew verb "to sanctify -
yegaddesh," as H.C.Leupold explains, "has both a causative and a
declarative sense. This means that God declared the seventh day
holy and caused it to be a means of holiness for humanity." 104
It is noteworthy that the word "holy" is used for the first time
in the Bible with reference not to an object such as an altar, a
tabernacle, or a person, but with regard to time, the seventh day
The meaning of the sanctification of the Sabbath becomes
clearer with the unfolding of the history of salvation. In
Exodus, for example, the holiness of the Sabbath is elucidated by
means of its explicit association with the manifestation of God's
glorious presence. From Mount Sinai, which was made holy by the
glorious presence of God, the Sabbath is explicitly proclaimed to
be God's holy day: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy"
(Ex 20:8). The commandment, it should be noted, not only opens
with the invitation to remember and keep holy the Sabbath (cf.
Deut 5:15), but also closes by reiterating that its holiness is
grounded in God's sanctification of the day at creation (Ex
20:11). In Hebrew, the identical verb is used in both instances.
An Experience of God's Presence
The experience of God's glorious presence on Mount Sinai
served to educate the Israelites to acknowledge the holiness of
God manifested in time (the Sabbath) and later in a place of
worship (the Tabernacle). The motif of God's glory is found in
all of these (Sinai, Sabbath, and Tabernacle) and ties them
together. The Israelites were instructed to prepare themselves
for the encounter with God's holy presence (Ex 19:10,11), when
the Lord would "come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all
the people" (Ex 19:11). The preparation included personal
cleansing (Ex 19:10, 14) and the setting of a boundary around the
mountain (Ex 19:12, 23) which was to be invested with God's
The nexus with the holiness of the Sabbath can hardly be
missed. Indeed, personal preparation and the setting of a
boundary between common and holy time are the basic ingredients
necessary for the sanctification of the Sabbath. Can one enter
into the experience of God's holy presence on the Sabbath without
making necessary preparation? Or is it possible to honor God's
presence on His holy seventh day without setting a boundary in
time that fences off personal profits and pleasures?
The meaning of the holiness of God is further clarified at
Sinai by the invitation God extended to Moses "on the seventh
day" to enter into the cloud and thus experience the intimacy of
His presence. "Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud
covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord settled on Mount
Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and on the seventh day
he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Now the
appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on
the top of the mountain in the sight of the people. And Moses
entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain" (Ex 24:15-18).
God's invitation to Moses to enter on the seventh day into His
glorious presence unveils the cryptic meaning of God's
sanctification of the Sabbath at creation. The holiness of the
Sabbath is now explained to be not a magic quality infused by God
into this day, but rather His mysterious and majestic presence
manifested on and through the Sabbath in the lives of His people.
This meaning of the holiness of the Sabbath is brought out more
forcefully a few chapters later when, at the end of the
revelation of the tabernacle, God says to the people of Israel,
"You shall keep my sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and
you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the
Lord, sanctify you" (Ex 31:13). The sanctity of the Sabbath is
now clearly equated with the sanctifying presence of God with His
people. The mystery of the sanctification of the creation-Sabbath
is now unveiled. It consists precisely of God's commitment to
manifest His presence in the lives of His people.
For six days God filled this planet with good things and
living beings, but on the seventh He filled it with His presence.
As the symbol and assurance of God's sanctifying presence in this
world and in human lives, the Sabbath represents a most sublime
and permanent expression of God's loving care.
The Permanence of the Sabbath
In the creation account, we learn that God set up the ideal
order of relationship that should govern human life. He
instituted the Sabbath, marriage, and work-three institutions
which embody principles which were later formulated in the Ten
When Adam and Even disobeyed God by eating of the forbidden
fruit (Gen 3:6), their marriage and work suffered as a result of
the curse of sin. But the Sabbath did not. "The Sabbath is not
affected by any curse resulting from the Fall. Unlike the other
two Creation institutions, the Sabbath remains a little piece of
Paradise. As such, its value is enhanced by the deterioration
around it. Now that work is exhausting, ceasing from labor on the
Sabbath provides needed rest. More importantly, now that human
beings are cut off from direct access to God, they need a
reminder of His lordship [and fellowship] even more than they did
before the Fall. 105
The Fall did not eliminate the order that God established at
creation to govern human life and relationship. Marriage and
labor have remained, though they became more difficult. In the
same way, the Sabbath has remained, though its observance is
often made more difficult by working schedules that infringe on
the Sabbath and by many personal tasks that clamor for use of the
In the light of the foregoing considerations, we conclude
that God, by resting, blessing, and sanctifying the seventh day,
created a day that would delineate the on-going weekly cycle for
human beings, and invites them to fellowship with Him in a
special way on the Sabbath day. God created the natural world by
speaking, then man by moulding him out of dust and vivifying him
with His life-giving Spirit, and the Sabbath by "sabbatizing"
By instituting the Sabbath at creation along with the basic
components of human life such as marriage and labor, long before
Israel existed, God made the day a permanent institution for the
human family (Mark 2:27). The fact that later the Sabbath became
one of the Ten Commandments does not negate its universality, but
rather supports it, since the other nine commandments are
universal principles binding upon the whole human family, not
Three main conclusions emerge from our study of the biblical
and historical witness to the origin of the Sabbath.
First, there is in Scripture an unmistakable consensus
supporting the creation origin of the Sabbath.
Second, a major and the oldest Jewish tradition traces the
origin of the Sabbath back to the culmination of creation.
Third, we find in the history of Christianity considerable
support for the Edenic origin of the Sabbath, not only among
seventh-day Sabbathkeepers but also among many Sundaykeepers. The
latter have defended the Sabbath as a creation ordinance in order
to justify Sunday as the Christian Sabbath.
The challenge to the creation origin of the Sabbath has come
chiefly from those who have adopted Luther's radical distinction
between the Old and New Testaments and between Law and Gospel.
Some former Sabbatarians have adopted this distinction, thus
arguing that the Sabbath is not a creation ordinance but a Mosaic
institution which Christ fulfilled and abolished. Consequently,
believers in the Christian dispensation are free from the
observance of any special day.
Our examination of the objections to the creation origin of
the Sabbath has shown the arguments to be based on gratuitous
assumptions. The consistent and unanimous testimony of Scripture
is that Sabbath is rooted in the creation event and marks the
inauguration of human history. This means that Sabbathkeeping is
not a temporary Jewish ceremonial law, but a creation ordinance
for the benefit of humanity. It also means, as so well stated by
Elizabeth E. Platt, that "we have our roots in the Sabbath; we
belong in it from Genesis on into Eternity in God's plan." 106
To be continued
NOTES TO CHAPTER 2
1. For an analysis of the various theories regarding the origin
of the Sabbath, see, Samuele Bacchiocchi, Divine Rest for Human
Restlessness (Rome, 1980), pp. 1-32.
2. "The Sabbath in Acts and the Epistles," A Bible Study posted
by the Worldwide Church of God in their web page (www.wcg.org,
September 1998), p.4.
3. Dale Ratzlaff, Sabbath in Crisis. Transfer/Modification?
Reformation/Continuation? Fulfillment/Transformation? (Applegate,
4. Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics (Edinburgh, 1956), vol.3, part
5. See, S.R.Driver, The Book of Genesis (London, 1943), p.18; J.
Skinner, Genesis (Edinburgh, 1930), p.38; A. Simpson, "The Book
of Genesis," The Interpreter's Bible, vol.1, p.490.
6. F.J.Helfneyer, "'oth," Theological Dictionary of the Old
Testament (Grand Rapids, 1982), vol.1, p.171.
7. Willy Rordorf, Sunday: The History of the Day of Rest and
Worship in the Earliest Centuries of the Christian Church
(Philadelphia, 1968), p.63.
8. For my analysis of the meaning of the rest in Hebrews, see
Divine Rest for Human Restlessness (Rome, 1980), pp.137-140. See
also chapter 3 of this book entitled "The Sabbath and the
9. See also Jub. 2:20-22. Such an exclusive interpretation of the
Sabbath led some Rabbis to teach that non-Jews were actually
forbidden to observe the Sabbath. For example, Simeon B. Lagish
said: "A Gentile who keeps the Sabbath deserves death" (Sanhedrin
586). Earlier, "R Jose B. Hanina said: A non-Jew who observes the
Sabbath whilst he is uncircumcised incurs a liability for the
punishment of death. Why? Because non-Jews were not commanded
concerning it" (Deuteronomy Rabbah 1:21).
10. Genesis Rabbah 11:7; 64:4; 79:6.
11. Philo, De Opificio Mundi 89. De Vita Mosis 1, 207; De
Specialibus Legibus 2,59.
12. Philo, De Decaloge 97.
13. Philo, De Opificio Mundi 89.
14. Didascalia Apostolorum. The Syriac Version Translated and
Accompanied by the Verona Latin Fragments, ed. R. Hugh Connolly
(Oxford, 1929), p.233.
15. Athanasius, De sabbatis et circumcisione 4, PG 28, 138 B.C.
For additional examples and discussion, see Samuele Bacchiocchi,
From Sabbath to Sunday (Rome, 1977), pp.273-278.
16. Constitutions of the Holy Apostles VII, 23, Ante-Nicene
Fathers VII, 469.
17. Ibid., VII, 36, p.474; cf. II, 36.
18. Jean Danielou, T the Bible and Liturgy (South Bend, IN,
19. Augustine, The City of God, XXII, 30, trans. Henry Bettenson,
(Oxford, 1972), p.1090.
20. The fact that in the creation story there is no mention of
"evening . . . morning" for the seventh day is interpreted by
Augustine as signifying the eternal nature of the Sabbath rest
both in the mystical and in the eschatological sense.
21. Augustine, Confessions X1II, 35-36. Cf. Sermon 38, PL 270,
1242; De Genesis ad litteram 4, 13, PL 34, 305. The "already" and
the "not yet" dimensions of the Sabbath rest are concisely
presented by Augustine in his Commentary on Psalm 91,2: "One
whose conscience is good, is tranquil, and this peace is the
Sabbath of the heart. For indeed it is directed toward the hope
of Him Who promises, and although one suffers at the present
time, he looks forward toward the hope of him Who is to come, and
then all the clouds of sorrow will be dispersed. This present
joy, in the peace of our hope, is our Sabbath" (PL 27, 1172).
22. In his Epistula 55 ad Ianuarium 22, Augustine explains:
"Therefore of the Ten Commandments the only one we are to observe
spiritually is that of the Sabbath, because we recognize it to be
symbolic and not to be celebrated through physical inactivity"
(CSEL 34, 194). One wonders, How is it possible to retain the
Sabbath as the symbol of mystical and eschatological rest in God,
while denying the basis of such a symbol, namely, its literal
Sabbath-rest experience? For a discussion of this contradiction,
23. Eugippius (about 455-535), for example, quotes verbatim from
Augustine, Adversus Faustum 16,29 (Thesaurus 66, PL 62, 685). Cf.
Bede (about 673-375), In Genesim 2, 3, CCL 118A, 35; Rabanus
Maurus (about 784-856), Commentaria in Genesim 1,9, PL 107, 465;
Peter Lombard (about 1100-1160), Sententiarum libri quatuor 3,
37, 2, PL 192, 831.
24. Chrysostom, Homilia 10, 7 In Genesim, PG 53, 89. Ephraem
Syrus (about 306-373) appeals to the Sabbath "law" to urge that
"rest be granted to servants and animals" (S. Ephraem Syri hymni
et sermones, ed. T. J. Lamy, I, 1882, p.542). For a brief survey
of the application of the Sabbath law to Sunday observance, see
L. McReavy, "'Servile Work': The Evolution of the Present Sunday
Law," Clergy Review 9 (1935): 273276.
25. Peter Comestor, Historia scholastica: Tiber Genesis 10, PL
198, 1065. On the development of the principle of "one day in
seven," see discussion in Wilhelm Thomas, "Sabbatarianism,"
Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church, 1965, III, p.2090.
26. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part I-II, Q. 100, 3, (New
York, 1947), p.1039.
27. Aquinas subdivided the Mosaic law into moral, ceremonial, and
judicial precepts. The moral precepts of the decalogue are viewed
as precepts also of the Natural Law; that is to say, they are
precepts binding upon all people because they are discoverable by
all through human reason without the aid of special revelation.
Cf. Aquinas (note 26), Part I-II, Q. 100, 1 and Q. 100, 3, pp.
28. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part I-II, Q. 100, 5, p.
29. See note 28. Note also that Aquinas attributes a similar
symbolic function to Sunday: "As to the Sabbath, which was a sign
recalling the first creation, its place is taken by the Lord's
Day, which recalls the beginning of the new creature in the
Resurrection of Christ" (note 26, Part I-II, .Q. 103, 3, p.
30. Thomas Aquinas (note 26), Part I-II, Q. 107, 3, p.1111.
31. See L. L. McReavy, "'Servile Work': The Evolution of the
Present Sunday Law," Clergy Review 9 (1935), pp.279f. A brief
survey of the development of Sunday laws and casuistry is
provided by Paul K. Jewett, The Lord's Day (Grand Rapids, MI,
1972), pp. 128-169. A good example of the adoption of Aquinas'
moral-ceremonial distinction can be found in the Catechism of the
Council of Trent.
32. Karlstadt's conception of the Sabbath rest contains a strange
combination of mystical and legalistic elements. Basically he
viewed the day as a time to abstain from work in order to be
contrite over one's sins. For a clear analysis of his views, see
Gordon Rupp, Patterns of Reformation, 1969, pp.123-130; idem,
"Andrew Karlstadt and Reformation Puritanism," Journal of
Theological Studies 10 (1959), pp.308-326; cf. Daniel Augsburger,
"Calvin and the Mosaic Law," Doctoral dissertation, Strasbourg
University (1976), pp.248-249; J.N.Andrews and L.R.Conradi,
History of the Sabbath and First Day of the Week (Washington, DC,
33. Luther, Against the Heavenly Prophets, Luther's Works (St.
Louis, 1958), vol.40, p.93. A valuable study of Luther's views
regarding the Sabbath is to be found in Richard Muller,
Adventisten-Sabbat-Reformation, Studia Theologica Lundensia
(Lund, 1979), pp.32-60.
34. Luther, Treatise on Good Works (1520), Selected Writings of
Martin Luther (Philadelphia, 1957), p.174.
35. Concordia or Book of Concord, The Symbols of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church (St. Louis, 1957), p.1974.
37. Augsburg Confession (note 35), p.25; cf. Philip Schaff, The
Creeds of Christendom (New York, 1919), vol.3, p.69.
38. Winton V. Solberg, Redeem the Time (Cambridge, 1977), pp.
15-19; A.G.Dickens, The English Reformation (London, 1964), p.
34; George H. Williams, The Radical Reformation (Leiden, 1962),
39. See below, note 41.
40. A valuable survey of the ideas and influences of these
Sabbatarians is provided by G. F. Hasel, "Sabbatarian
Anabaptists," Andrews University Seminary Studies 5 (1967), pp.
101-121; 6 (1968):19 28. On the existence of Sabbathkeepers in
various countries, see Andrews and Conradi (note 32), pp.
633-716. Cf. Richard Muller (note 33), pp.110129.
41. In a list of eleven sects by Stredovsky of Bohemia,
"Sabbatarians" are listed in the third place after Lutherans and
Calvinists. The list is reprinted by Josef Beck, ed., Die
Geschichts-Biicher der Widertaufer in Osterreich-Ungarn ("Fontes
Rerum Austriacarum," Wien, 1883), 43:74. For an analysis of this
and three other lists, see Hasel (note 40), pp.101-106, who
concludes: "These early enumerations seem to indicate that
Sabbatarian Anabaptists were considered to be an important and
strong group" (p.106). Cf. Henry A. DeWind, "A Sixteenth Century
Description of Religious Sects in Austerlitz, Moravia," Mennonite
Quarterly Review (1955): 51; George H. Williams (note 38), p.
676, 726, 732, 848, 408-410, 229, 257, 512.
42. Desiderius Erasmus, "Amabili Ecclesiae Concordia," Opera
Omnia V: 505-506; translation by Hasel (note 40), p.107.
43. Luther reports: "In our time there is a foolish group of
people who call themselves Sabbatarians [Sabbather] and say one
should keep the Sabbath according to Jewish manner and custom"
(D.Martin Luthers Werke, Weimer ed. 42:520). In his Lectures on
Genesis (4:46), Luther furnishes similar information: "I hear
that even now in Austria and Moravia certain Judaizers urge both
the Sabbath and circumcision; if they should boldly go on, not
being admonished by the work of God, they certainly might do much
harm" (cited in Andrews and Conradi, History of the Sabbath and
First Day of the Week [Washington, DC, 1912], p.640).
44. J.G.Walch, ed., Dr.Martin Luther sammtliche Schriften
(Berlin, 1910), vol. 20, p.1828ff. Cf. D. Zscharnack,
"Sabbatharier," Die Religion in Geschichte and Gegenwart (1931),
45. On Oswald Glait, see the study of Richard Muller (note 33),
pp.117-125. Cf. Hasel (note 40), pp.107-121.
46. On Andreas Fisher, see the treatment by Richard Muller (note
33), pp.125-130; Petr Ratkos, "Die Anfange des Wiedertaufertums
in der Slowakei," Aus 500 Jahren deutsch-tschechoslowakischer
Geschichte, Karl Obermann, ed. (1958), pp.41-59. See also the
recent study by Daniel Liechty, Andreas Fischer and the
Sabbatarian Anabaptists (Herald Press, Scottdale, PA, 1988).
47. Caspar Schewenckfeld's refutation of Glait's book is found in
S.D.Hartranft and E.E.Johnson, eds., Corpus Schwenckfeldianorum
(1907), vol.4, pp.451ff.
48. Ibid., p.458. The translation is by Hasel (note 40), p.119.
49. Ibid., p.491.
50. Ibid., p.457-458.
51. An Anabaptist (Hutterian) Chronicle provides this moving
account of Glait's final days: "In 1545 Brother Oswald Glait lay
in prison in Vienna for the sake of his faith.... Two brethren
also came to him, Antoni Keim and Hans Standach, who comforted
him. To them he commended his wife and child in Jamnitz. After he
had been in prison a year and six weeks, they took him out of the
city at midnight, that the people might not see or hear him, and
drowned him in the Danube" (A.J.F.Zieglschmid, ed., Die alteste
Chronik der Hutterischen Bruder , pp.259, 260, 266, trans.
by Hasel [note 40], pp.114-115).
52. A brief historical survey of seventh-day Sabbathkeepers from
the fifteenth to the seventeenth century is found in Andrews and
Conradi (note 32), pp.632-759. A more comprehensive and critical
study of Sabbathkeeping through the ages is the symposium Kenneth
A. Strand, ed., The Sabbath in Scriptures and History
(Washington, DC, 1982). About 20 scholars have contributed
chapters to this study.
53. R.J.Bauckham, "Sabbath and Sunday in the Protestant
Tradition," From Sabbath to Lord's Day: A Biblical, Historical
and Theological Investigation, ed. D.A.Carson (Grand Rapids,
1982), p.333. In 1618, for example, John Traske began preaching
that Christians are bound by the Fourth Commandment to keep
Saturday scrupulously. Under pressure, however, he later recanted
in A Treatise of Liberty from Judaism (1620). Theophilus
Brabourne, also an Anglican minister, published in 1628 A
Discourse upon the Sabbath Day where he defended the observance
of Saturday instead of Sunday. The High Commission induced him to
renounce his views and to conform to the established church. Cf.
Robert Cox, The Literature of the Sabbath Question (London,
1865), vol. 1, pp.157-158.
54. Cf. W.Y.Whitley, A History of British Baptists (London,
1932), pp.83-86; A. C. Underwood. A History of the English
Baptists (London, 1947), chaps.2-5.
55. Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, Seventh Day Baptists
in Europe andAmerica (Plainfield, NJ, 1910), vol.I, pp.
127,133,153. Cf. Winton U. Solberg (note 38), p.278.
56. Raymond F. Cottrell notes: "The extent to which pioneer
Seventh-day Adventists were indebted to Seventh Day Baptists for
their understanding of the Sabbath is reflected in the fact that
throughout the first volume [of Advent Review and Sabbath Herald]
over half of the material was reprinted from Seventh Day Baptist
publications" ("Seventh Day Baptists and Adventists: A Common
Heritage, Spectrum 9 , p.4).
57. The Church of God Seventh Day traces their origin back to the
Millerite movement. Mr.Gilbert Cranmer, a follower of Miller's
views, who for a time associated himself with the Seventh-day
Adventists, in 1860 was elected as the first president of a group
known first as Church of Christ and later Church of God Seventh
Day. Their 1977 report gives an estimated membership of 25,000
persons ("Synopsis of the History of the Church of God Seventh
Day," compiled in manuscript form by their headquarters in
Denver, Colorado). The 1996 Directory of Sabbath-Observing
Groups, published by The Bible Sabbath Association, lists over
300 different denominations or independent groups observing the
58. A comprehensive study of Calvin's understanding of the Fourth
Commandment is provided by Daniel Augsburger (note 32), pp.248,
59. John Calvin, Commentaries on the First Book of Moses Called
Genesis, trans. John King (Grand Rapids, 1948), p.106.
61. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans.
Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids, 1972), vol.1, p.343.
62. Ibid. Calvin summarizes the distinction between the
ceremonial and moral aspects of the Sabbath, saying: "The whole
may be thus summed up: As the truth was delivered typically to
the Jews, so it is imparted to us without figure; first, that
during our whole lives we may aim at a constant rest from our own
works, in order that the Lord may work in us by his Spirit;
secondly, that every individual, as he has opportunity, may
diligently exercise himself in private, in pious meditation on
the works of God, and at the same time, that all may observe the
legitimate order appointed by the church, for the hearing of the
word, the administration of the sacraments, and public prayer;
and, thirdly, that we may avoid oppressing those who are subject
to us" (ibid.).
63. John Calvin, Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses
Arranged in the Form of a Harmony, trans. Charles William Bingham
(Grand Rapids, 1950), pp.435-436.
64. Zacharias Ursinus, The Summe of Christian Religion (Oxford,
65. On the enormous influence of Nicolas Bownde's book, The
Doctrine of the Sabbath, see Winton U. Solberg (note 38), pp.
55-58. The book was enlarged and revised in 1606. Bownde insists
that the Sabbath originated in Eden and consequently the Fourth
Commandment is a moral precept binding on both Jews and
Christians. The latter are urged to observe Sunday as carefully
as the Jews did their Sabbath.
66. In the 163rd session of the Synod of Dort (1619), a
commission of Dutch theologians approved a six-point document
where the traditional ceremonial/moral distinctions are made. The
first four points read as follows:
"1. In the Fourth Commandment of the Law of God, there is
something ceremonial and something moral.
2. The resting upon the seventh day after the creation, and the
strict observance of it, which was particularly imposed upon the
Jewish people, was the ceremonial part of that law.
3. But the moral part is, that a certain day be fixed and
appropriated to the service of God, and as much rest as is
necessary to that service and the holy meditation upon Him.
4. The Jewish Sabbath being abolished, Christians are obliged
solemnly to keep holy the Lord's Day" (Gerard Brandt, The History
of the Reformation and Other Ecclesiastical Transactions in and
about the Low Countries [London, 1722], vol.3, 320; cf. pp.
67. The Westminster Confession, chapter 21, article 7, reads: "As
it is of the law of nature, that in general, a due proportion of
time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by 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" (Philip Schaff, The Creeds of the
Christendom [London, 1919], vol.3, 648-649).
68. Donald A. Carson, ed., From Sabbath to Lord's Day: A
Biblical, Historical, and Theological Investigation (Grand
Rapids, MI, 1982), pp.66-67.
69. R.J.Bauckham, "Sabbath and Sunday in the Protestant
Tradition," in From Sabbath to Lord's Day (note 53), p.322.
70. Willem Teellinck, De Rusttijdt: Ofte Tractaet van
d'onderhoudinge des Christenlijken Rust Dachs [The Rest Time: Or
a Treatise on the Observance of the Christian Sabbath]
(Rotterdam, 1622). William Ames, Medulla Theologica (Amsterdam,
1623), trans. John D. Eusden, The Marrow of Theology (Grand
Rapids, 1968), pp.287-300, provides a theoretical basis for
71. An earlier treatise against Sabbatarianism was produced by
Jacobus Burs, Threnos, or Lamentation Showing the Causes of the
Pitiful Condition of the Country and the Desecration of the
Sabbath (Tholen, 1627). Andreas Rivetus refuted Gomarus'
contention that the Sabbath was a Mosaic ceremony abrogated by
Christ in his Praelectiones [Lectures] (1632). Gomarus replies
with a voluminous Defensio Investigationis Originis Sabbati [A
Defense of the Investigation into the Origin of the Sabbath]
(Gronigen, 1632). To this Rivetus countered with Dissertatio de
Origine Sabbaahi [Dissertation on the Origin of the Sabbath]
72. The controversy flared up again in Holland in the 1650s.
Gisbertus Voetius and Johannes Cocceius were the two opposing
leaders in the new round. For a brief account, see Winton U.
Solberg (note 38), p.200. Solberg provides an excellent survey of
the controversy over the Sabbath in seventeenth-century England
(pp.27-85) and especially in the early American colonies (pp.
73. Willy Rordorf's book (note 7) was first published in 1962 in
German. Since then it has been translated into French, English
and Spanish. Its influence is evidenced by the many and different
responses it has generated.
74. Rordorf's denial of any connection between Sunday and the
Fourth Commandment can be traced historically in the writings of
numerous anti-Sabbatarian theologians, such as Luther (notes 34,
35); William Tyndale, An Answer to Sir Thomas More's Dialogue
(1531), ed. Henry Walter (Cambridge, 1850), pp.97-98; the
formulary of faith of the Church of England known as The
Institution of A Christian Man (1537); Francis White, A Treatise
of the Sabbath-Day: Concerning a Defence of the Orthodox Doctrine
of the Church of England against Sabbatarian Novelty (London,
1636); James A. Hessey, Sunday: Its Origin, History, and Present
Obligation (London, 1866); Wilhelm Thomas, Der Sonntag im friihen
Mittelalter (Gottingen, 1929); C.S.Mosna, Storia della Domenica
dalle Origini fino agli Inizi del V. Secolo (Rome 1969); D.A.
Carson, ed. (note 68).
75. This concern is expressed, for example, by P.Falsioni, in
Rivista Pastorale Liturgica (1967): 311, 229, 97, 98; (1966):
549-551. Similarly, Roger T.Beckwith and William Stott point out:
"Whether the Christian Sunday could have survived to the present
day if this sort of attitude [Rordorf's view] had prevailed among
Christians in the past is extremely doubtful, and whether it will
survive for future generations if this sort of attitude now
becomes prevalent is equally uncertain" (This is the Day: The
Biblical Doctrine of the Christian Sunday [London, 1978], p.ix).
76. Beckwith points out, for example, that "if Jesus regarded the
Sabbath as purely ceremonial and purely temporary, it is
remarkable that he gives so much attention to it in his teaching,
and also that in all he teaches about it he never mentions its
temporary character. This is even more remarkable when one
remembers that he emphasizes the temporary character of other
parts of the Old Testament ceremonial - the laws of purity in
Mark 7:14-23 and Luke 11:39-41, and the temple (with its
sacrifices) in Mark 13:2 and John 4:21. By contrast, we have
already seen, he seems in Mark 2:27 to speak of the Sabbath as
one of the unchanging ordinances for all mankind" (note 75, p.
26; cf. pp.2-12).
77. Beckwith (note 75), pp.45-46. Beckwith and Stott's view of
the Sabbath as an unchanging creation ordinance upon which the
observance of Sunday rests can be traced historically in the
writings of theologians such as Aquinas (partly-note 28); Calvin
(partly-notes 5962); Richard Hooker, Laws of Ecclesiastical
Polity (Cambridge, MA, 1957), vol.5, p.70,3; Nicholas Bownde
(note 65); William Teellinck, William Ames and Antonius Walaeus
(note 70); formularies of faith such as the Westminster
Confession (note 67) and the Synod of Dort (note 66); E.W.
Hengstenberg, Uber den Tag des Herrn (1852); recently by J.
Francke, Van Sabbat naar Zondag (Amsterdam, 1973); Karl Barth,
Church Dogmatics (Edinburgh, 1956), vol. 3, pp.47-72; Paul K.
Jewett (partly), The Lord's Day: A Theological Guide to the Day
of Worship (Grand Rapids, 1971); Francis Nigel Lee, The
Covenantal Sabbath (London, 1966). Lee's study, though sponsored
by the British Lord's Day Observance Society, can hardly be taken
seriously on account of its eccentric nature. He speculates, for
example, on "The Sabbath and the time of the Fall" (pp.79-81).
78. Beckwith and Stott (note 75), pp.141,143.
79. "What Do the Scriptures Say About the Sabbath? Part 1: The
Books of Moses," Bible Study prepared by the Worldwide Church of
God and posted in their Web page - www.wcg.org, September 1998),
80. Dale Ratzlaff (note 3), p. 25. 81. Ibid. p.26.
82. R.Pettazzoni, "Myths of Beginning and Creation-Myths," in
Essays on the History of Religion, trans. H.T.Rose (New York,
1954), pp.24-36. A brief but informative treatment is found in
Niels-Erik A. Andreasen, The Old Testament Sabbath, SBL
Dissertation Series 7 (Missoula, MT, 1972, pp. 174-182. For
examples of texts, see Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts,
1950 (UT krt A 206-211), pp.5,61,69,140.
83. Pritchard (note 82), p.68.
84. Andreasen (note 82), p.189.
85. Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, ET (Edinburgh, 1956), vol.3,
part 2, p.51.
86. Ibid., part 1, p.213.
87. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall. A Theological
Interpretation of Genesis 1-3 (New York, 1964), p.40.
88. Roger D. Congdon, "Sabbatic Theology," Th. D. dissertation,
Dallas Theological Seminary (Dallas, 1949), p.122.
89. "What Do the Scriptures Say About the Sabbath? Part 1: The
Books of Moses," (note 79), p.1.
90. Robert A. Morey, "Is Sunday the Christian Sabbath?" Baptist
Reformation Review 8 (1979), p.6.
91. Harold H. P. Dressler, "The Sabbath in the Old Testament," in
From Sabbath to Sunday, A Biblical, Historical, and Theological
Investigation, ed. Donald A. Carson (Grand Rapids, 1982), p.28.
92. Dale Ratzlaff (note 3), p.21.
93. Ugo Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis (New York,
94. Ibid., p.68.
95. Dale Ratzlaff (note 3), p. 24. 96. Ibid., p.22.
97. Augustine, Confessions 13, 24, 25, Nicene and Post-Nicene
Fathers of the Christian Church (Grand Rapids, 1979), vol.1, p.
98. Roy Gane, "Sabbath and the New Covenant," Paper presented at
a consultation with the Worldwide Church of God (1997), pp.5-6.
99. G.H.Waterman, "Sabbath," The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia
of the Bible (Grand Rapids, 1975), vol 5. p.183.
100. John Skinner, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on
Genesis, The International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh, 1930),
101. Dale Ratzlaff (note 3), p.24.
103. John Skinner (note 100), p.35.
104. H.C.Leupold, Exposition of Genesis (New York, 1950), p.103.
105. Roy Gane (note 98), p.6.
106. Elizabeth E. Platt, "The Lord Rested, The Lord Blessed the
Sabbath Day," Sunday 66 (1979), p.4.