The Sabbath, according to many contemporary theologians, was abolished by Jesus Christ. The scripture that these theologians use, in their attempt to eliminate God’s seventh-day Sabbath, is Colossians 2:13-17. In this text, the Apostle Paul makes reference to “handwritings” or a “written code” that was nailed to the cross. Paul then adds that, because of this, we are not to be judged regarding food, drink, feasts/festivals, new moons or sabbaths.
This passage establishes right up front, in verse fourteen, that it was ordinances, requirements, a code or a note (depending on your translation), that was nailed to the cross, not God’s Ten Commandment law. The Greek word Paul used is “dogma”, and it is never translated as law, laws, commandment or commandments in the entire New Testament, not even once! Also, this word, and its Old Testament equivalent word, is never used to refer to the Sabbath commandment, which God included in His Ten Commandments, in the entire Bible, not one single time!
In view of these biblical facts, it is virtually certain that the reference to “sabbaths”, in verse sixteen, is not referring to the fourth commandment concerning the seventh-day Sabbath. Serious Bible students know that there were other types of sabbaths mentioned in the Scriptures related to various other Jewish feasts and other requirements, as part of the Jewish ceremonies. Certain days involved with the Feast of Tabernacles, the Blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement, were also referred to as “types of sabbaths”, as well as “special sabbaths” for the land (Leviticus 16:31; 23:24-32; 24:39; 25:2-6). It is a virtual certainty that these “ceremonial sabbaths” are what Colossians is referring to, especially due to the related references to festivals/feasts, food, drink and new moons. These four related references are from the ceremonial laws, and not from the Ten Commandment moral law. Not one of the Ten Commandments deals with festivals/feasts, food, drink or new moons. Therefore we know for sure that four out of the five items mentioned in Colossians 2:16-17, as being shadows or symbols of things to come, which reach their substance and fulfillment in Christ, are strictly “ceremonial law” items, and have no connection to the Ten Commandments. Considering this context, isn’t it obvious that the fifth item (the sabbaths), also being referred to as a symbol or shadow in Colossians, would surely be a reference to the special “ceremonial law” sabbaths previously mentioned, rather than the moral law Sabbath contained in the Ten Commandments?
This becomes even more certain in light of these five items, in verse sixteen, being referred to as “shadows” or “symbols” of things to come concerning Christ, because the ceremonial laws did indeed point forward to, and were fulfilled by, Jesus Christ. Most people would agree that these various Jewish ceremonies, feasts and special days related to these events, have all been fulfilled in Jesus Christ and terminated. However, this is not the case with God’s moral law contained in the Ten Commandments. The Sabbath of the Ten Commandments is not a “shadow” or “symbol” pointing forward to something. It is a memorial of God’s completed creation of this world, which points “backward”, not forward.
To try to eliminate the Sabbath of the Ten Commandments using this text in Colossians, you have to intentionally ignore the context of this passage, and purposefully disregard all of the biblical statements concerning the institution of the Sabbath in Genesis, and the inclusion of it in the Ten Commandments; furthermore, as previously mentioned, you have to deliberately ignore the fact that the word Paul uses in verse fourteen, “dogma”, is never translated as “law” or “commandment”, and is never used in connection with the Ten Commandment Sabbath in the entire Bible. In other words, you have to be willing to be 100% biblically and contextually unfaithful.
However, even if one insists that the seventh-day Sabbath commandment is being referred to, in defiance of the overwhelming biblical evidence I’ve presented, several significant points can still be made which prove that the Sabbath has not been changed or eliminated. In this passage, Paul simply said not to “judge” others, concerning these sabbaths he referred to. This text does not say that the Sabbath has been changed from Saturday to Sunday, but only that we should not judge others regarding these sabbaths. And, even if the Bible is telling us not to judge concerning the Sabbath, does that mean that it’s ok to disobey God and break His Sabbath commandment? In Romans 2:1-2, Paul says we are not to judge the sinners listed in Romans 1:22-31. This list includes idolaters, murderers, liars, adulterers and haters of God. Therefore, if not judging concerning the Sabbath means that it’s alright to break it, then, to be consistent, when we’re told not to judge all these other sins in Romans chapter one, it would also mean that it’s alright to do all of those things. Obviously that is not the case.
Another significant point can be made from the position of common sense, sound judgment and logic. Is it reasonable to disregard multitudes of Sabbath texts throughout Scripture because of one “somewhat challenging text” in Colossians? What if we did that with the multitudes of verses in the Bible that tell us to love one another? Should we disregard all of these “love texts” because of one “challenging text” in Luke 14:26, where Jesus tells us that we must “hate” our parents, children, spouses and siblings if we want to be His disciples? Would it be reasonable to disregard all of the love passages, because of this one “challenging text” in Luke 14:26? Of course not! Instead, we find a reasonable answer to the one challenging text.
A similar application of this principle would also be the doctrine of justification by faith. We know that numerous scriptures tell us that we are justified by faith, and not by works. However, in James 2:21-25, we’re told that Abraham and Rahab were justified by their works. Do we disregard all of the “justification by faith” texts because of this one challenging text in James, which refers to being justified by works? Absolutely not! Instead we once again find a reasonable explanation for the one challenging text, rather than ignoring the numerous passages endorsing justification by faith. The same principle applies to the Sabbath. We also do not disregard the nearly 200 Sabbath passages in the Bible, but rather find a reasonable explanation for the one “allegedly” challenging text in Colossians. And, I have already given that reasonable explanation. In fact, it is more than just a reasonable explanation; it is the only possible explanation for any “honest” Bible student who considers the biblical context of these verses, the other biblical passages that refer to the Ten Commandment Sabbath throughout the Bible, and the original Greek words used by Paul in this Colossians text.
It is also significant that the author of Colossians is the Apostle Paul. Why? Because, according to the Bible, Paul himself kept the Sabbath (Acts 13:42-44; 17:1-2; 18:4). Was Paul practicing the “do as I say, but not as I do” game? That is very unlikely.
Jesus Himself kept the Sabbath as His custom, and He said that He was “Lord of the Sabbath” (Luke 4:16; Mark 2:28). He also stated that He had not come to “destroy the law”, and He added that, until heaven and earth will pass away, not even one “least little bit” of God’s law will change or disappear (Matthew 5:17-18). And, the seventh-day Sabbath commandment is part of God’s Ten Commandment law; it is the fourth commandment, to be exact. So, according to Jesus Christ, the Sabbath has not been changed or abolished.
The Psalms state that “every one” of God’s righteous judgments endures “forever”, or, as the NIV translation renders this text, that “all” of God’s righteous laws are “eternal” (Psalm 119:160). If all of God’s laws are eternal, and the seventh-day Sabbath commandment is undeniably one of those laws; then the seventh-day Sabbath is also “eternal”, and obviously was not changed or eliminated.
Psalm 119:152 states that God’s testimonies were founded “forever”, or, as rendered by the NIV translation, that God established His statutes to last “forever”. Once again, the seventh-day Sabbath is unarguably one of God’s statutes. Therefore, the seventh-day Sabbath was also established to last “forever”! It has not been abolished or changed.
In Psalm 119:111, the Psalmist proclaimed that he had taken God’s testimonies as a heritage “forever”. The Hebrew word used for testimonies is “eduwth”. According to “Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance”, this Hebrew word refers to the “Ten Commandments” as being a solemn, divine charge or duty. In other words, Psalm 119:111 is literally stating that the solemn, divine charge of the Ten Commandments is a heritage “forever”! And, as stated before, the seventh-day Sabbath is undeniably one of the Ten Commandments. Therefore, the seventh-day Sabbath commandment is also a solemn, divine charge and a heritage “forever”.
In Psalm 119:44 the Psalmist declared that he would keep God’s law continually, “forever and ever”. The Hebrew word used for law in this text is “torah”, which, according to “Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance”, especially refers to the “Decalogue”, which is the Ten Commandments. According to this Scripture, the Ten Commandments were to be kept continually, “forever and ever”. Therefore, the seventh-day Sabbath commandment, which is indisputably one of the Ten Commandments, was also obviously intended to be kept continually, “forever and ever”.
To view a complete listing of the 18 most common excuses/reasons used by Sunday proponents for ignoring the Sabbath commandment, and a list of the scriptures which refute these excuses, read my article titled “Sabbath” on this website.