We’re about to begin a series of articles that will examine how the modern church has misappropriated and misinterpreted certain New Testament verses in their attempts to invalidate the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy. However, before we begin our analysis, there are two important foundational questions we need to ask ourselves.
1) Did Paul ever contradict the teachings of Christ?
2) Did Paul ever break Jewish law (Torah)?
So let’s start with question one: Does Paul contradict Christ?
First, what does Christ Himself have to say about the Law?
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”-Matthew 5:17-19
Look, if we accept traditional church teaching that the Sabbath is done away with, optional or can be changed, we’d have to come to the conclusion that Paul contradicted Jesus. If that’s the case, then we might as well dump our Bibles in the trash.
However, we don’t have to worry about that because Paul’s teachings do not ever contradict Jesus’s teachings. The above Scriptures make it clear that until heaven and earth disappear the validity of the Law stands. He said that he came not to “abolish” but to “fulfill” the Law.
“Fulfill” does NOT mean to “finish” but to “complete”. The Greek word is “pleroo“. Any reputable concordance will tell you that “pleroo” means to “fill up” or “to accomplish”. For example, if you want your empty glass refilled with water, “pleroo” would be the appropriate word to tell a waitress at a restaurant. It literally means to fill up. When you ask your waitress to fill up your glass with water, you’re not asking her to terminate or put an end to your glass, are you? In the same sense, Jesus came to fill the Law with meaning and bring its meaning to its fullest purpose. This is what “pleroo” means.
My point is, when we come across a couple of passages that seem to imply that the Sabbath has been done away with or that we can make the Sabbath any day we choose, such an interpretation cannot possibly be correct because it would contradict Christ and the foundational principle that God NEVER changes. It would be a classic case of Biblical contradiction. We would also have a situation of the disciple challenging his master.
Can you see how ridiculous it is to have Jesus say that the Law will never be changed or abolished and then have Paul turn right around and say the opposite? Fortunately, that is not what Paul says. Let’s move on to the second question.
Did Paul ever break Jewish law?
If Paul actually taught that the Sabbath was done away with, or that God’s eternal commands concerning the Sabbath are no longer valid, then he has disobeyed Jewish Law and disregarded the very sign that God gave to Israel in the Mosaic Covenant.
Even if the argument that Jewish believers are still subject to Torah while Gentile believers are not were true (which, by the way, it is not), such a line of reasoning wouldn’t be applicable here because Paul was a super Jew.
So did Paul ever break Jewish Law or say that parts of it were now done away with? Let’s take a look at some New Testament verses.
In reply, Paul said, ‘I have committed no offense — not against the Law to which the Jews hold, not against the Temple, and not against the Emperor.’”-Acts 25:8
“After three days Paul called a meeting of the local Jewish leaders. When they had gathered, he said to them: ‘Brothers, although I have done nothing against either our people or the traditions of our fathers, I was made a prisoner in Yerushalayim and handed over to the Romans.'”-Acts 28:17
The above Scriptures make it clear that NOT ONLY did the Apostle Paul NOT go against the Law (Torah) but that he also kept the “traditions of our fathers”, meaning that he scrupulously adhered to the Jewish oral law traditions.
Let’s get something straight.
Sabbath observance was the very center of Jewish Law and life.
If Paul was running amuck telling people that it was okay to stop observing the Sabbath or the Biblically ordained feasts, he would be committing a serious offense against Jewish Law (I’m talking about the death penalty) and he would be contradicting the plain words of His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
This is the point I want you to keep in mind as we begin Scripture tear-downs of certain New Testament verses that the church has traditionally used to teach that the Sabbath is no longer valid.