Must Gentiles Observe the Sabbath?

Did the apostles tell the grafted-in Gentiles that they must keep the Sabbath?


Ask FFOZOct 18, 2017

Ask FFOZOct 18, 2017


    Sabbath Kiddush cup with lit Sabbath candles and challah (Image: © Bigstock)

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Dear FFOZ,

I have recently come out of the "One Law" movement, and one thing I stressed to Christians was that they "have" to keep the Sabbath. My question is: Does Hebrews 4:9 actually teach this? —P.S.

Shalom P. —We don’t teach that Gentile Christians need to keep the Sabbath as Jews are commanded to do.

In contrast to Jews, Gentiles are free to drive to synagogue if they like. They can carry their Bibles with them on Shabbat. Jews, on the other hand, are expected not to light a flame, cook a meal, or carry even a small burden on the Sabbath.

However, there is no question that the only Sabbath the Bible presents is the Friday-Saturday Sabbath. It begins at sundown on Friday and ends after sundown on Saturday. The apostles never dreamed of keeping any other day as the Sabbath. Gentile believers who came to faith in the God of Israel through Messiah had no other holy days sanctioned by the apostles than those commanded in the Torah.

We do teach that Gentiles ought to remember the Sabbath, as the Torah commands (Exodus 20:8). They "may rest" on it, as the Torah commands (Exodus 23:12). They can even decide for themselves not to allow their cell phone to be a distraction to their experience of the holiness of the day (cf. Isaiah 56:1-8, 58:13-14).

We don’t have any examples from the New Testament that the apostles demanded that the Gentiles who came to faith in the God of Israel through Messiah were to keep the Sabbath. The writer of Hebrews was certainly not commanding the Sabbath for Gentiles in Hebrews 4:9. What we do see, however, is that the apostles expected that God-fearing Gentiles would join them in the synagogues on the Sabbath day to partake of the sanctity of the Sabbath and hear the teaching of the Torah (cf. Acts 15:21).

Shabbat Shalom!

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