Can we Choose the Day we Observe as Sabbath?


Detailed Video of this Study

"Can we Choose the Day
we Observe as Sabbath?"

The following verse in Romans 14 is often cited as a reason for keeping the Sabbath on a day of our own choosing, or at least choosing the day in which we personally begin a 7 day week.

Romans 14:5 - One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
6 He who observes the day, observes it to Yahweh; and he who does not observe the day, to Yahweh he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to Yahweh, for he gives Yahweh thanks; and he who does not eat, to Yahweh he does not eat, and gives Yahweh thanks.

So is this scripture in Romans 14 justifying the idea that that as long as you work on six days and rest on the seventh, you are observing the Sabbath commandment? In other words, is the 7 day cycle that you might see on a calendar not necessarily a reflection of what Yahweh established in Genesis? Can we then "Pick one day out of seven" and observe it as a Sabbath?

Let’s start from the beginning. In Genesis 2, it is written:

Genesis 2:1-3 - Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.
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And on the seventh day Elohim ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.
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Then Elohim blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which Elohim had created and made.

Adam, being created on the 6th day, would have enjoyed the Sabbath with Yahweh on the 7th day of creation week...and listened as Yahweh blessed and sanctified that 7th day and rested from the work which He had done. Thus, after the Sabbath Adam would have begun his work in the garden and would have worked for 6 days just as Yahweh did...then rested on the 7th just as Yahweh did.

Notice that Yahweh didn't just create a "6 days you work, 7th you rest" concept. He also set in motion a 7 day week for Adam to participate in. Adam would not have been able to choose when to begin working and resting. It was already chosen for him.

Later in history, Jacob's descendants lost track of the Sabbath day, so Yahweh had to make known to Israel His Sabbath:

Nehemiah 9:13-14 - "You came down also on Mount Sinai, And spoke with them from heaven, And gave them just ordinances and true laws, Good statutes and commandments.
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You made known to them Your holy Sabbath, And commanded them precepts, statutes and laws, By the hand of Moses Your servant.

So how did He make known to them His holy Sabbath? Did He tell them to just keep one day out of seven or did He again create a 7 day week and expect them to live within it?

Before the 10 commandments were even given in Exodus 20, Yahweh “made known to them His Sabbath in Exodus 16. He again instituted the Sabbath as a specific day during a specific 7 day context when He gave the manna for 6 days, and withheld the manna on the 7th day:

Exodus 16:23-30 - Then he said to them, "This is what Yahweh has said:`Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to Yahweh. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.'"
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So they laid it up till morning, as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it.
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Then Moses said, "Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to Yahweh; today you will not find it in the field.
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"Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, there will be none."
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Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none.
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And Yahweh said to Moses, "How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?
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"See! For Yahweh has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day."
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So the people rested on the seventh day.

It was in this context that He gave the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. There was no question in the mind of Israel as to whether or not there was a specific Sabbath day during a specific 7 day pattern that Yahweh established. Yahweh rained down Manna for 6 days, and offered a double portion on the 6th day so that they would not go out to gather Manna “on the Sabbath.” They would have observed it, all on the same day, and in the same way that I do. When an Israelite tried to work on the specific day that Yahweh said to rest, he was put to death (Numbers 15). No one was allowed to choose when to begin their own workweek.

He set this pattern in motion for 40 years. Actually they did this for longer than 40 years, but the expectation was that this would continue to be the pattern after the 40 years. When explaining to Israel how to count to the day of Pentecost, He said:

Leviticus 23:15-16 - And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed.
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`Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to Yahweh.

If the Sabbath wasn't necessarily on a specific day, within the context of a specific 7 day week that Yahweh Himself established, there would have been no set Sabbath to begin their count from. And there would have been no specific day after the 7th Sabbath to pinpoint and identify the day of Pentecost. It's all predicated on Yahweh having established a 7 day week, that He is expecting us to live in and observe, with the final day of that week being identified as "the Sabbath." He even had them doing special offerings on the Sabbath:

Numbers 28:9-10 - `And on the Sabbath day two lambs in their first year, without blemish, and two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour as a grain offering, mixed with oil, with its drink offering--
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`this is the burnt offering for every Sabbath, besides the regular burnt offering with its drink offering.

If there wasn't a specific day in a specific 7 day week pattern that Israel was still participating in, there would have been mass confusion as to when to do the special sacrificial offerings that were commanded to be done on the Sabbath.

Later in the book of Nehemiah, there were people trying to bring things into Jerusalem to sell them... on a specific day identified as "the Sabbath"

Nehemiah 13:15 - In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions.

If it was permissible to just pick one day out of seven, this would not have been a problem at all. After all, some people might have been keeping the Sabbath on a different day altogether and they may have wanted to buy something.

But instead, if you keep reading here, you'll see that Nehemiah shut the gates and threatened to harm those who spent the night around the wall so they could sell their wares on the Sabbath. None of this would make any sense unless Nehemiah believed that there was a specific day on a 7 day recurring cycle that every Israelite was expected to identify as "the Sabbath"

This continued to be a practice in the first century:

Luke 4:16 - So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.

Luke 23:55-56 - And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid.
56
Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.

Again, a specific day within the context of a 7 day week that Yahweh Himself established. Then we see the apostles followed the same pattern:

Acts 13:14 - But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down.

Acts 17:1-2 - Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.
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Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,

Acts 18:4 - And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.

If the Sabbath were not on a specific day in the context of a specific week that Yahweh Himself established, there would have been no specific day of a specific week that scripture would identify as “the Sabbath.” From one end of scripture to the other, there is zero indication that anyone was permitted to choose which day He would keep as the Sabbath. We see a consistent pattern all through scripture from Genesis to Revelation that there was a seven day week that Yahweh established from the very beginning, and as a reflection of Yahweh's image and memorial to His creation, Adam and every human being on the planet is expected to submit themselves to that cycle that Yahweh established in the very beginning...where He identified a specific day in that 7 day cycle as "the Sabbath."

We know that the Messiah rose from the dead on the 1st day of the week because scripture records it happening. If anyone could decide when the first day of the week actually was, we have no real timeframe of when the Messiah ascended into heaven. For scripture to say it happened on the first day of the week would be useless. Whose first day of the week was it?  Was it Peter's? or maybe Matthew who recorded it? It would be useless information unless there was intended to be a fixed 7 day week that Yahweh Himself established and all of the world is to abide by.

That 7 day cycle has not changed since the Messiah walked the earth. We have records of 3 Roman historians saying that the Jewish people observed the Sabbath on the day that the Roman Historians identified as the "day of saturn" or as we know it today.. "saturday."

One of them was Frontinus, a Roman Soldier who lived from c. 40 CE to 103 CE, wrote book on military strategy called Strategematicon in 84 A.D. In it, he writes:

"The deified Augustus Vespasian attacked the Jews on the day of Saturn, a day on which it is sinful for them to do any business." Frontinus Stratagem 2.1.17.

So the Sabbath day hasn't been lost.

After the 70 AD invasion, Jews were scattered all over the world. In order for the Sabbath to have been changed between then and now, all the Jews around the globe would have to have woken up one day and simultaneously changed their Sabbath to a different day. All without a trace of evidence.

Besides, Christianity was quite certain to have kept track of the first day of the week, so that they could keep their "Sunday." History shows that the 7 day cycle has not changed since the first century. And since the Messiah kept it on the correct day, along with the Jews, I don't have to go back any farther than that.

So looking again at Romans 14:

Romans 14:5 - One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
6 He who observes the day, observes it to Yahweh; and he who does not observe the day, to Yahweh he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to Yahweh, for he gives Yahweh thanks; and he who does not eat, to Yahweh he does not eat, and gives Yahweh thanks.

In light of all that I've shared, there is no way that Paul was claiming that one could keep the Sabbath any old day. That would fly in the face of what Yahweh established as a precedent in every single scripture up to that point. The precedent is that Yahweh invented the 7 day week, and He expects us to follow that seven day pattern so that we can rest on the day that our Father in Heaven said to rest.

Now, besides all these things, there are several reasons why I believe that this verse cannot even be talking about the Sabbath in the first place. They are:

·         There is no mention of the Sabbath in this chapter, or anywhere in the book of Romans.

·         The Sabbath would not qualify as the kind of commandment where a person could decide for themselves whether they want to "esteem one day above another."

·         It would disregard other passages in the book of Romans such as Romans 8:7 which says "the carnal mind is enmity against Elohim; for it is not subject to the law." Thus, unless we want to be "at enmity" with Yahweh, we would need to keep the law that tells us to observe the Sabbath.

·         This chapter is said to be about 'doubtful things'. Commandments of Yahweh are not doubtful things, especially when Yahweh writes them with His own finger.

·         The alternative to esteeming one day above another is to esteem "every day" ("One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day"). If this were talking about the Sabbath, it would mean that every day is potentially a day of rest and we would not be ever be able to work at all!

In order to believe that Romans 14:5 is talking about the Sabbath, you would have to inject it into the text, based on a preconceived belief. We cannot use Romans 14:5 alone as our basis for setting aside the Sabbath.

So looking again at Romans 14:5...

Romans 14:5 - One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
6 He who observes the day, observes it to Yahweh; and he who does not observe the day, to Yahweh he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to Yahweh, for he gives Yahweh thanks; and he who does not eat, to Yahweh he does not eat, and gives Yahweh thanks.

When this mentions the observance of days, does it tell us what kind of days it is talking about? No.

It doesn't say "Sabbath." Thus, we should not emphatically say "Sabbath" either. We must remember that we are listening to what is nearly the equivalent of one side of a phone conversation.

So again, we need to look at other scripture and see if we can determine the best possible answer.

One possibility would be that it is referring to days that are not commanded, but are extra biblical holidays such as Purim, or Hanukkah. But this doesn’t solve the problem of potentially “observing every day.” (the word “alike” is in italics, and thus not in the Greek at all.)

Another possibility is that it's in reference to avoiding the eating of meat on certain says of the week due to the pagans offering sacrifices on certain days. Historically there were 40 days throughout the year that the Romans observed as pagan festivals. Thus, there would be a greater likelihood that the meat in the marketplace would have been flooded with food offered to idols. Thus, some may have chosen to avoid eating food from the meat market during certain days of the year, just so that they would be more assured that the meat is not offered to an idol.

Let’s explore this possibility by taking a closer look at the underlying Greek text.

Romans 14:5 - One person esteems one day above <3844> another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
6 He who observes the day, observes it to Yahweh; and he who does not observe the day, to Yahweh he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to Yahweh, for he gives Yahweh thanks; and he who does not eat, to Yahweh he does not eat, and gives Yahweh thanks.

The word translated "above" in "one day above another" can actually be translated "from" as in "one day from another."

3844 παρά para {par-ah'}
Meaning:  1) from, of at, by, besides, near
Origin:  a root word; TDNT - 5:727,771; prep
Usage:  AV - of 51, with 42, from 24, by ... side 15, at 12, than 11,

Notice that there isn’t any other instance where this word is translated “above.” Only here in Romans 14, where traditional theology may very well have impacted the translators word choice, is it translated “above” in the NKJV. Based on context, the word “from” seems like a logical choice. There is no indication in the definition or in its usage in other scripture, that the word means “above” at all.

Romans 14:5 - One person esteems one day from another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
6 He who observes
<5426> the day, observes <5426> it to Yahweh; and he who does not observe <5426> the day, to Yahweh he does not observe <5426> it
. He who eats, eats to Yahweh, for he gives Yahweh thanks; and he who does not eat, to Yahweh he does not eat, and gives Yahweh thanks.

Now let’s look at the word translated “observe.”It's from Greek word #5426 in the Strong's Lexicon:

5426 φρονω phroneo {fron-eh'-o}
Meaning:  1) to have understanding, be wise 2) to feel, to think 2a) to have an opinion of one's self, think of one's self, to be modest, not let one's opinion (though just) of himself exceed the bounds of modesty 2b) to think or judge what one's opinion is 2c) to be of the same mind i.e. agreed together, cherish the same views, be harmonious 3) to direct one's mind to a thing, to seek, to strive for 3a) to seek one's interest or advantage 3b) to be of one's party, side with him (in public affairs)
Origin:  from 5424; TDNT - 9:220,1277; v
Usage:  AV - think 5, regard 4, mind 3, be minded 3, savour 2, be of the same mind + 846 2, be like minded + 846 2, misc 8; 29

Notice that the word is most commonly translated “think” or “regard.” Nowhere else is it translated “observe” and “observe” isn’t even in the definition of this word.

Thus, translating things as “regard’ it says:

Romans 14:5 - One person esteems one day from another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
6 He who regards the day, regards it to Yahweh; and he who does not regard the day, to Yahweh he does not regard it. He who eats, eats to Yahweh, for he gives Yahweh thanks; and he who does not eat, to Yahweh he does not eat, and gives Yahweh thanks.

If things are translated this way, we would have a situation where some disciples may have made the distinction to go ahead and buy meat from the marketplace on certain days, while others would just avoid eating meat from the marketplace every day. Some regarded or would “think” of the days that sacrificed meat would be in the marketplace, while others did not.

Paul said that each person would have the freedom to do what his conscience dictates. One would eat vegetables only, while another would feel like they had the freedom to go ahead and buy meat because they did not think of the idol.

Additional support of this is found later in the chapter where in verse 21 it says:

Romans 14:21 - It is good neither to eat meat <2907> nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.

Now the word translated "meat" here is in reference to a sacrificed animal.

2907 κρέας kreas {kreh'-as}
Meaning: 
1) (the) flesh (of a sacrificed animal)
Origin: 
perhaps a primary word;; n n
Usage: 
AV - flesh 2; 2 

So those who regarded the day, did so to Yahweh because they wanted to honor Yahweh by not thinking of the idol. Those who didn't regard the day, did so to Yahweh because they didn't think about the idol at all…thus honoring Yahweh. Some ate the meat and gave Yahweh thanks, while others didn't eat the meat and gave Yahweh thanks. One’s conscience and weaknesses would dictate which would be appropriate to the occasion. 

This was a major issue in the first century. Consider the similar situation in Corinth: 

1 Corinthians 8:4-7 - Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other Elohim but one.
5
For even if there are so-called mighty ones, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many mighty ones and many lords),
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yet for us there is one Elohim, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Master Yahushua Messiah, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.
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However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 

Compare this to what Paul said in Romans 14:1

 Romans 14:1 - Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.

 Later in Corinthians, Paul advised: 

1 Corinthians 10:25-28 - Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience' sake;
26 for "the earth is Yahweh's, and all its fullness."
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If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience' sake.
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But if anyone says to you, "This was offered to idols," do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience' sake; for "the earth is Yahweh's, and all its fullness."

 So it wasn’t wrong to eat an animal Yahweh created, “for the earth is Yahweh’s and all its fullness.” But if it would cause someone else to stumble and cause them to think that you believe the earth belongs to the idol, it was best not to eat it.  

Now in Rome, there at least 10 temples, compared to just one in Corinth. I'm sure it was a little harder to find the meat sources in Rome.. so some, being weak in faith, might eat only vegetables. Thus, the vegetarianism mentioned in Romans 14:2… 

Romans 14:1-6 - Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.
2
For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.
3
Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for Elohim has received him.
4
Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for Elohim is able to make him stand.
5
One person esteems one day from another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
6
He who regards the day, regards it to Yahweh; and he who does not regard the day, to Yahweh he does not regard it. He who eats, eats to Yahweh, for he gives Elohim thanks; and he who does not eat, to Yahweh he does not eat, and gives Elohim thanks.

So the context of Romans 14 is eating, not Sabbath observance. Whatever we believe about Romans 14:5, we cannot obtain "Sabbath" from the text itself. We would have to personally INJECT the Sabbath into the text rather than getting it from the text itself. That's pretty flimsy argument to base one's argument on.

The Sabbath HAS ALWAYS BEEN, from the book of Genesis, to the book of Exodus, to the book of Numbers, to the book of Nehemiah, to the NT time period.. ALWAYS been in the context of a 7 day week that Yahweh Himself established.  

To inject the Sabbath into Romans 14 is not only a flimsy argument, but also one that cannot be supported from any other scripture in the bible.  

So to answer the original question at the outset of this study, CAN WE CHOOSE THE DAY WE OBSERVE AS THE SABBATH?

The clear answer I am seeing from scripture is this: The Sabbath day has already been chosen for us. I say, let's remember it, rejoice in it, and keep holy the day that was made holy in the very beginning..

Our Father in heaven is calling us to collectively rest, and gather together on His holy day. Let's set aside the traditions of men, and cleave to the words of our Father in Heaven, just as He inspired them. Accept no substitutes. His is the original and best!

So let's walk in His image and rest on the 7th day of the week that He Himself created!

Is the Sabbath for today?

Does it matter which day we observe the Sabbath?

How should we keep the Sabbath?
Roman Catholic and Protestant confessions about Sunday
Recapping the facts

 

 

 

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