Q: The Sabbath is not mentioned in any of the lists of evils or lists of virtues in the New Testament. Doesn’t this suggest that the Fourth Commandment is no longer in force?

A: It is a mistake to view the New Testament as a “systematic theology” or “statement of beliefs” or “creed” compiled by the apostles for the purpose of providing church members with an exposition on all the laws, commandments, and doctrines of the New Covenant. The church already had access to the Old Testament, and believed it to be “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

One reason the Sabbath is rarely mentioned in the epistles is that there was no conflict over which day to keep, or whether to keep it. At first, the church was entirely Jewish. Aside from the Samaritans, who were also Sabbathkeepers, the earliest non-Jewish Christians were people biblical historians describe as “God-fearers.” They were gentiles who, though uncircumcised, worshiped the God of the Hebrews. Many of them first heard the gospel while in the synagogue on the Sabbath day (see Acts 13:14-16, 26,38-45; 14:1; 16:13,14; 17:24; 18:4). Thus, the church, from its foundation, was a Sabbath-keeping church.

The silence of the New Testament epistles on the subject of the Sabbath, if anything, supports the Sabbathkeepers’ position. Had the church with its Jewish leaders, thousands of Jewish converts, and growing number of God-fearing gentiles not been keeping the Sabbath, it is extremely doubtful that we would find such silence in the New Testament. Surely the Pharisaic believers who caused such a stir over circumcision (Acts 15) would have vigorously and loudly voiced their objection had the early Christians abandoned the Sabbath. Yet, no such objection is recorded in the New Testament.

Large sections of the Old Testament make no mention of the Sabbath, though we know that the Sabbath was in full force and was being observed during the times those sections were written. Therefore, New Testament silence on this subject by no means indicates that the apostles and early Christians regarded the Fourth Commandment as obsolete.

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