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DEFENDING  THE  BRIDE

 

  

 

 

THE  OLD COVENANT AND  ITS  SIGNS

 

We saw above how there are two signs of the Old Covenant, circumcision ( Genesis 17:11) and the observance of the Sabbath ( Exodus 31:13.)   However, when the Old Covenant completed its usefulness and passed away so did the signs.  Circumcision is no longer an obligation,  Galatians 5:2   "Now I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you."

Honoring the seventh day of the week is also no longer binding.  Saint Paul states that the legal demands of the Old Covenant are canceled and explicitly mentions the Sabbath as one of these.  We read how Christ  "…having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross…  Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath." Colossians 2:14-16  The festival, new moon, and Sabbaths are references to the yearly, monthly, and weekly observances of the Mosaic calendar. Therefore the whole Jewish festal calendar including the Sabbath is no longer binding.
 

    The Mosaic calendar is found in Numbers 28 and 29.   This terminology, "Sabbath, new moon, and festival," is used there.  Numbers 28: 10, 14   "Each sabbath there shall be the sabbath holocaust  …14 … This is the new moon holocaust for every new moon of the year."  NAB   Since our word for month comes from the word for moon it is sometimes translated as "month."  This Bible passage then goes on to list the major feasts of the year, Passover, Feast of Pentecost (Weeks), New Year’s Day, Day of Atonement, and Feast of Booths (Tabernacles).  Then it concludes with  Numbers 29:39   "These are the offerings you shall make to the LORD on your festivals…"  NAB  The festivals are the yearly holy observances in the Mosaic calendar.  Instead of  "festivals" it is sometimes translated as "feasts."


Exodus 31:16  "Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the sabbath, observing the sabbath throughout their generations, as a perpetual covenant."  This is applicable to the people of  Israel, the Jews, the people of the Old Covenant, whereas Christians are living in the new age, and they are the New Israel, therefore it does not apply to them.  There is a similar requirement concerning circumcision as an "everlasting covenant," but it is also not applicable to Christians.   Genesis 17: 11-13    "You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.  …both he that is born in your house and he that is bought with your money, shall be circumcised.  So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant."     There are other examples of perpetual ordinances that are no longer binding in Exodus 29:9 and 30:8 and Ezekiel 46:14-15.

CIRCUMCISION AND BAPTISM

Just as Jesus gave us the New Covenant He also gave us new signs for it.  A person entered the Old Covenant by circumcision, whereas the rite of initiation into the New Covenant is Baptism.
 

    The prophet Ezekiel foretold how God would regenerate His people through a baptismal ritual.  Ezekiel 36:16-27  "…(25)  I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, …A new heart I will give you… And I will put my spirit within you…"  In the book of Romans, chapter 5:12 - 6:8,  Saint Paul relates how because of original sin everyone in Adam’s family, that is all mankind, is separated from God.  In order to be righteous we must get out of Adam’s family and into Christ’s family and he says that this is accomplished through Baptism.  Romans 6:3-8  "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.   …if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him."   Acts 2:38   "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."  RSV   John 3:3-5   "Jesus answered and said to him,  ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’  … Jesus answered, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.’ "   NAB

Matthew 28:18-19   "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…"  Galatians 3:27-29  "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ."  Circumcision has been replaced by Baptism.  Saint Paul speaks of this parallel in Colossians 2:11-12   "In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ;  and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead."

 

SABBATH AND THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK - THE LORD’S DAY

Just as circumcision, a sign of the Old Covenant, has been replaced by a new way to enter into God’s Covenant we also have a new holy day.  It is the Lord’s day, which is the first day of the week.
 

    We can see that the term "the Lord’s Day" is a reference to the eighth or the first day of the week by examining the early writings of the church.  In each instance where the context clarifies the day of the week, "the Lord’s Day" is always the first day of the week. This still holds true even for the apocrypha.  (For example, see the Gospel According to Peter Chapter  9, written in  150  AD.  Unlike the Jews, Christians recognize Jesus as their Ruler and Lord.  The first day of the week is called the "Lord’s Day," because it exemplifies Him as Lord.  On that day He defeated death and conquered the Prince of darkness.
    John 12:31  "Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out;"

This day replaces the Sabbath for the day especially consecrated to God by the community’s worship.  Christians celebrated their worship service in each others homes. Acts 2:42-46  "And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…  breaking bread in their homes…"   We can see in the New Testament the beginning of this substitution of the first day of the week for the seventh day that the Jews had honored.   Acts 20:7  "On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and he prolonged his speech until midnight."  Here we see the two basic elements of Sunday worship which have been followed by the Church to this day:  1) the breaking of bread, which designates the celebration of the Lord’s Supper (Catholics call it the Mass); and  2) the sermon.
 

    Seventh Day Adventist argue that the phrase "On the first day of the week" modifies when Paul intended to depart on the following day since he had preached beyond midnight.  They claim that the Christians had actually met on the Sabbath.  Adventists believe that the King James Version of the Bible is the most authoritative.  It reads in Acts 20:7  "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight."  KJV   According to ENGLISH  GRAMMER  AND  COMPOSITION  by John E. Warriner, published by Harcourt, Brace and Company, on page 331 it instructs that a writer should "Place phrase and clause modifiers as near as possible to the words they modify."  On page 335 it instructs writers to place modifying phrases either at the beginning of the sentence or at the end in order to clarify that they definitely modify the nearest applicable word or phrase as opposed to leaving the phrase in the middle of the sentence and leaving doubt.  Therefore, if one admits that the authors of the King James Version used correct English, then one must conclude that the phrase "And upon the first day of the week" must modify the clause "when the disciples came together to break bread."

The same indication that the Christians came together on the first day of the week is also found in Saint Paul’s writings. 1 Corinthians 16:2   "On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that contributions need not be made when I come."   Saint Paul thought that the most opportune time to collect funds for the poor was when they gathered for their celebration of the Lord’s Supper -the Mass.

Saint Luke must have had a special purpose for mentioning that they "gathered" on the "first" day of the week in Acts 20:7.  This is evident because no where else in Acts, with one exception, does he list the date or the day of the week that this or that momentous missionary journey began, or this or that significant event happened.  This implies that Luke was intending to convey the special significance that the "first" day of the week had come to represent.  His only exception is when he states that Paul or some other missionary went to the synagogue on the Sabbath.  Their purpose for going there on the Sabbath was to get a large audience to preach to.   The Jews had not assembled there to celebrate a Christian service.
 

    Saint Paul was always willing to meet people on their own ground in order to win them for Christ. 1 Corinthians 9:19-20 "…I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more.  To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law I became as one under the law—though not being myself under the law—that I might win those under the law."  Many Jews converted, but many also rejected them and kicked them out of the synagogue.  See Acts  14:1-6 and 17:1-9.  Jesus had prophesied in John 16:2 that they would be kicked out.

The Council of Jerusalem, see Acts 15, passed a law for Gentile converts to Christianity.  This Council which was presided over by Saint Peter, with the other Apostles attending, exempted the Gentiles from the law of Moses with a few exceptions.  However, the observance of the Sabbath was not listed as one of those exceptions that would still be binding on them.

When Jesus was asked what a person had to do to enter heaven in Matthew 19:16-22, he listed the commandments, but he did not mention the Sabbath.
 

    Ten Commandments :  How they are numbered

    An Adventist might object that this passage does not explicitly mention what they would call the first four and what they call the last commandments.  Therefore, they might reason, that Jesus just assumed ones obedience to the first four commandments that deal with our relationship with God.

    First, in order to clarify the different methods in which the commandments are numbered, a few points must be mentioned.  Protestants traditionally separate the commandment, "Exodus 20:2-3  "I am the Lord your God… (3)   You shall have no other gods before me,"     and the command in verses 4 through 5,    (4) "You shall not make for yourself a graven image…(5) you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God…"  [RSV],  and they count them as two commandments, whereas Catholics consider making worshipping graven images a violation of the first commandment and therefore, part of it.  Catholics count all of this as the first commandment. See
     Catechism of the Catholic Church CCC # 2083 - 2140

    Protestants traditionally group together  "you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife"   with the prohibition against coveting "his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s," as one commandment, whereas, Catholics count them as two.  It should be noted that the numbering of verses is not in the original manuscripts - actually the originals are no longer in existence, but the oldest copies that we have which are copies of copies of copies of the originals, do not have them.  Therefore, the numbering of them is not inspired.   They were added after the invention of the printing press in order to facilitate that process.

    It probably would be a lot easier for a man to forgive his neighbor who just used his brand new lawnmower against his explicit prohibition to do so, than it would be for him to forgive another neighbor who raped his wife.  Both sins are evil and wrong, but the second is much more serious  (Cf. 1 Jn. 5:16-17),  and so Catholics count prohibitions against them as two different commandments.

    Notice that we are not talking about stealing. We are talking about inappropriate desires that could lead to borrowing or raping. Would it be easier for the husband to remain living next door to the neighbor who borrowed his lawnmower or remain next to the one who raped his wife ?  These are completely two different issues, and thus counted as two different commandments. 
    Also, see Jimmy Akin article on Numbering 10 Commandments

    Contrary to the Adventist position that the commandment against violating the Sabbath was just assumed it should be noted that the other 9 commandments are mentioned in other texts but nowhere can we find Jesus’s affirmation of the Sabbath commandment.  In this discourse in Matthew, besides explicitly stating most of the commandments, Jesus paraphrases the following commandments.   Matthew 19:17  "There is only One who is good,"  [NAB] is a paraphrase of the first commandment, or the first two, counting as Protestants do.  His words in   Matthew 19:19  "You shall love your neighbor as yourself,"  [RSV] is a paraphrase of the last two.

    Jesus also repeats these commandments in other Bible passages:
    Matthew 4:10  "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve."    Mark 12:29-30  "…The Lord our God, the Lord is one;  and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…"

    Against taking God’s name in vain we read Matthew 5:33-34  "Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.’   But I say to you, do not swear at all; not by heaven, for it is God’s throne;"  NAB      An oath is more than a promise because an oath means to invoke God’s holy Name. Cf. Heb. 6: 13-17. Therefore, to take a false oath was to take God’s Name in vain.  VINE’S  EXPOSITORY  DICTIONARY  defines oath as   "HORKOS (o{rko" , (3727)) is primarily equivalent to herkos, a fence, an enclosure, that which restrains a person; hence, an oath. The Lord’s command in Matt. 5:33 was a condemnation of the minute and arbitrary restrictions imposed by the scribes and Pharisees in the matter of adjurations, by which God’s Name was profaned."

    And against coveting Christ also said;  Matthew 5:28   "But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."   RSV

    Matthew 5:40  "…and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well;"  RSV   Luke 14:33  "So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple."   Cf. Lk 12: 13-15,   Mat. 6: 24-33

    Therefore, Jesus mentions all ten commandments except the Sabbath.  The Sabbath which is a sign of the Old Covenant is no longer binding under the New Covenant.

Saint Paul rebukes the Galatians for reverting back to their Jewish customs and observance of feast days of the Mosaic calendar as if they were still binding.  Galatians 4:9-11  "…but now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and destitute elemental powers? Do you want to be slaves to them all over again?  You are observing days, months, seasons, and years.     I am afraid on your account that perhaps I have labored for you in vain."   NAB
 

    A reference to Sabbath (7th day), new moon (monthly), and festive (yearly) feast days of the Mosaic calendar.  Colossians 2:14-16 "…Therefore let no one pass judgment on you … with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath."


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7.  CHRIST  HONORS  THE  FIRST  DAY: 

 


Sabbath Article Index

1.  JESUS’  AUTHORITY:
2.  PURPOSE  AND  MEANING:  
3.  BETTER  SEVENTH DAY  PREFIGURED: and TYPES: 
4.  TWO  ASPECTS: 
5.  COVENANT: 
6.  FIRST  DAY  OF  THE  WEEK: 
7.  CHRIST  HONORS  THE  FIRST  DAY: 
8.  NEW  CREATION: 
9.  EARLY  WRITERS  of  the Church 

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