What Does the Bible Say About the Sabbath?
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is the Sabbath day Saturday or Sunday according to the Bible?
- Is it wrong to work on Saturday or Sunday?
- Why do Christians go to church on Sunday instead of Saturday?
- Why don't Christians obey the Ten Commandments about the Sabbath?
- When does the Sabbath begin and end?
One of the Ten Commandments says,
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do
all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it
you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your
female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six
days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them,
and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and
made it holy. (NAS, Exodus 20:8-11)
The Sabbath day that the bible speaks about is Saturday, the seventh day of the
week (Genesis 2:2-3, Leviticus 23:2-3). The Jews have always considered a day to
be the interval from sunset to sunset, and they have always observed the Sabbath
from Friday evening until Saturday evening. Modern Jews continue the tradition of
observing a holy day of rest on the Sabbath (Shabbat in Hebrew) from sunset
Friday until nightfall Saturday. The Old Testament law prohibited doing any work
on the Sabbath, and one could receive the death penalty for breaking this law (Numbers
Jesus observed the Sabbath (Luke 4:16) and never suggested a change to Sunday. He
did, however, reject a strict legalistic interpretation of the Old Testament commandment.
He said Sabbath observance was not a duty that mankind owed to God. Rather, God
made the Sabbath as a day of rest for mankind's benefit (Mark 2:27). Jesus and His
disciples did not observe the strict Jewish rules against doing any work on the
Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-14, Mark 2:23-28, 3:1-6, Luke 6:1-11, 13:10-17, 14:1-6, John
Why Don't Christians Observe the Biblical Sabbath?
The first Christians came from among the Jews. They continued to worship as Jews
and continued to observe the Sabbath (Acts 13:14, 17:1-2, 18:1-4). But because Jesus
arose from the dead on the first day of the week, Sunday, those early Christians
called it the "Lord's Day" (Revelation 1:10), and also regularly met for
their Christian worship on Sunday (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2).
The Council of Jerusalem
When Gentiles (non-Jews) began to convert to Christianity, disputes arose about
whether the Gentile Christians had to observe the Jewish laws about circumcision,
dietary restrictions, Sabbath observance, etc. In about 49 A.D., Paul, Peter, James
and other Church leaders met at the "Council of Jerusalem" and decided, with the
guidance of the Holy Spirit, that it was not necessary for Christians to observe
the Sabbath rules and other aspects of Jewish law (Acts 15:28-29, Romans 14:5-6,
Colossians 2:16). There is more information in this article on our website:
What Does the Bible Say About the Old Testament
Political and Religious Factors
In the early centuries of Christianity, all the Christian communities of the world
were under control of the Roman Empire. Constantine was the first Roman emperor
to convert to Christianity. In 321 A.D. he proclaimed Sunday a legal day of rest
and ordered all judges, city-people and craftsmen to rest.
By this time, the Christian Church had lost contact with its Jewish roots, and
there was much hostility between Christians and Jews. Jewish Christians had been
expelled from the synagogues as heretics (John 9:22, 16:2, 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16).
This hostility may have influenced Christians to abandon Sabbath observances. In
about 363 A.D., a regional Church council in Asia Minor, the Council of Laodicea,
declared that Christians must not rest on the Sabbath (Saturday), but must work
on that day, rather honoring the Lord's Day (Sunday).
Today, most Christians follow the tradition of holding worship services on Sunday.
But some believe that Saturday, the original Sabbath day, is the proper day for
rest and worship.
Many Christians consider Sunday to be the new Sabbath day, and they believe the
Old Testament rules against working on the Sabbath apply to Sunday. However, there
is nothing in the Bible which prohibits doing work on Sunday.
The Biblical Sabbath day is Saturday, the seventh day of the week. The Ten Commandments
prohibit doing any work on the Sabbath. The first Christians were Jews who continued
to worship as Jews, but they also worshipped on Sunday, the day Jesus rose from
the dead. When Gentiles began to convert to Christianity, disputes arose about whether
the Gentile Christians had to observe the Jewish laws. The Church "Council of Jerusalem"
decided, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that it was not necessary for Christians
to observe rules about circumcision, dietary restrictions, Sabbath observance and
other aspects of Jewish law. Today, most Christians follow the tradition of Sunday