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Re: 10 Reasons Why the Sabbath is Not a Ceremonial Precept [Re: Anonymous] #93750
12/22/07 04:08 AM
12/22/07 04:08 AM
Azenilto  Offline OP
Active Member 2010
Full Member
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 231
Bessemer, Ala., USA

Hi folks.

See this:

And check these links:






Now, I subscribed to the Forum of one of these sites and I transcribe below what I said there:

Speaking of pollution, how about all these ads that hackers are posting in this topic (and probably others)? I would urge the moderators to find ways of blocking these polluters, and no "carbon credit" acceptable. . .

As to what Carolyn said, I agree 100% with her. The idea of stopping everything one day a week is right, efficient and biblical. The idea is right, but THE DAY IS WRONG. The "Never on Sundays" idea may be good for a title of a Hollywood film, but not for the purposes of religious freedom for all.

Now, one thing is really worrisome: there are those religious people who are taking advantage of this world crisis to launch a "save the planet" campaign, by which they try to impose their agenda upon human society.

We have to face the common challenges that this crisis represent, but always respecting people's religious freedom.

Unhappily we know how history has this tendency to repeat itself. I heard that in Auschwitz, now a museum, there is a big poster in several languages saying, "NEVER MORE".

Oh, how wonderful if such ideal were really materialized among mankind. But the crude reality is that after Auschwitz we had Cambodia of Pol Pot fame, Ruanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, East Timor, and now Darfur. . . And if things are left alone in Iraq, shiites will do their ethnic cleasing job on minority sunis. . .

This religious campaigns we see under development in the US and other countries is worrisome, my friends, very worrisome, because behind the scenes there are vested interests of those who don't care for the small numbers of people who take seriously the ideals of stopping all secular and recreational activies one day a week, but do that according to God's command, not human convenience and dogmas of intolerant religious bodies.

May God have mercy on this poor battered planet, as well as on those faithful few who try to obey His commandment, keeping the seventh-day Sabbath, not the Sunday of pagan origin (the old dies solis--day of the Sun, of Roman Mithraism) that certain people are trying to impose as an inescapable law upon everyone.
--Source: http://www.saveoursundays.ca/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&p=275#275

A. G. Brito
Sola Scriptura Ministry
Re: 10 Reasons Why the Sabbath is Not a Ceremonial Precept [Re: Azenilto] #93770
12/24/07 09:25 AM
12/24/07 09:25 AM

A brief note about what we presented above

One of the sites listed is "celebrating" the fact that the well-known American supermarket chain Walmart (with branches already in other countries) set an internal committee to study the feasibility of closing on Sundays.

Ratzlaff & Co. Play the “One-Note Anti-Sabbatarian Samba” [Re: Anonymous] #95046
01/28/08 10:34 PM
01/28/08 10:34 PM
Azenilto  Offline OP
Active Member 2010
Full Member
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 231
Bessemer, Ala., USA

Ratzlaff & Co. Play the “One-Note Anti-Sabbatarian Samba”

The November/December edition of Proclamation! just brings much of the same stuff that we have already covered in the several articles in this series, nothing new—articles distorting the SDA doctrines and sentiments regarding the understanding of the Gospel message, beside twisting the meaning of the Bible, especially the writings of Paul, which is a dangerous enterprise in view of what Peter warns:

“. . . our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable writes, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” – 2 Pet. 3:15-17.

Two articles have as basis the text of Colossians 2:16 and the objective of their reasoning is clearly to get rid of the Sabbath commandment, which is the leitmotif of all this ministry of deceit, even though they deny that.

Besides an article by Ratzlaff on the subject, Mr. R. K. McGregor Wright contributes with an article, titled “Nailed! The Law in Col. 2:10-13”, pretending to give the correct exegesis of the text. I addressed him personally in an e-mail and stressed how he had missed the point completely. Paul in the entire epistle of Colossians not once uses the term “law”, and what he deals with in his entire epistle is not any abolition of the law, but elimination of the guilt of a sinner forgiven by Jesus. He mentions the Sabbath and other legal principles just in passing, as he refers to some extremists that were disturbing the Christian community is Colossae.

Clearly Paul is addressing a local problem, not establishing universal principles. He refers to individuals of ascetics attitudes there who were acting among the Colossians, trying to impose upon them certain strange customs, including a certain and not well-known worship of angels. Mr. Wright replied to me even making fun of this explanation, saying in his e-mail: “This assertion is a rhetorical trick often used by liberals who want to get the focus off the point at hand (such as ‘God sends sinners to Hell’) onto some subsidiary issue (such as ‘God is love’) so that the central point is avoided, but not responded to”. With that he just shows how he missed the point again. . .

However, the fact is that nowhere else Paul discusses such teachings as “worship of angels” and people who wanted to impose upon the Christian community ideas of “touch not, taste not, handle not”, which Paul labels as “commandments and doctrines of men”. He would never refer to the Sabbath or any of the other Jewish rules utilizing this kind of language, because the Sabbath was not “doctrine of man”.

Besides, this people who use Col. 2:16 as a kind of “One-note anti-Sabbatarian Samba”, reminding the famous Tom Jobim’s bossa nova composition, can’t resolve certain serious problems in their biased interpretation:

A – If Paul’s intention is to teach freedom from Sabbathkeeping, he leaves nothing in its place. He simply would be discarding the principle of a day of rest for the Christian, which would be detrimental to one’s physical and spiritual life. See that he says nothing of then adopting any other day. . .

B – If Paul mentions rules which are “against us”, and the Sabbath is one of these things, that contradicts what Jesus said, that “the Sabbath was made because of man”, thus being for his physical and spiritual benefit. We saw how a physician, who happens to be also an Evangelical pastor, Dr. Michael Cesar, as a medical doctor exalts the principle of the Sabbath as a blessing provided by God for man. So, how could it be “against us”?

C – If Paul mentions the Sabbath commandment as a mere symbol of the salvation rest in Christ, he would be considering it a ceremonial precept. Well, we have our special study, “10 Reasons Why the Sabbath is not a Ceremonial Precept”, which nor Ratzlaff or any other anti-Sabbatarian ever refuted. So, as long as it is not refuted, our arguments there prevail. This is the link that leads to the mentioned study:


D – What Mr. Wright explained to me in his brief correspondence replying my e-mail, stressing that old allegation that the Sabbath is just the symbol of our rest of salvation in Christ, would the be what is found in Hebrews 3 and 4. That we have discussed already and left well proven that it is a wrong reasoning, for very good reasons we listed in the 8th surprise, in the text above, “10 Surprises for Y. Regarding Dr. Michael Cesar’s Anti-Sabbatarian CD”.

E – If the Sabbath commandment had a mere temporary, ceremonial, meaning, since it was something so important in the Jewish life, he wouldn’t miss explaining in detail its typological character, and he would elaborate in greater detail this special meaning of that principle in chapters 7 to 10 of Hebrews, which had that objective—to show how the shadows met the reality in Christ, thus abolishing those symbolic elements of the ceremonial law.

F – We have seen in our last studies how Ratzlaff is in the “wrong way” of what has been taught by the most authoritative confessional documents of the Protestant community along the centuries. Both the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Baptists’ different confessions (like that of 1689 and the one revised by Charles Spurgeon in 1855) point to the Sabbath commandment as valid and in force to the Church. Among the text that back the expositions of this tenet they quote Gen. 2:2, 3 (the Edenic origins of the Sabbath), Exo. 20:8-11 (the 4th commandment of God’s moral law), Isa. 58:13, 14 (how to keep the Sabbath, without secular or recreational activities along the time sanctified to God) and even Jer. 17:21, 27 (God’s punishment for breaking the Sabbath). Of course they reinterpret the commandment to apply it now to Sunday (which is an error), but the ideological basis of it remains.

G – We also mentioned that even now, the most representative Evangelical/Protestant leadership in the US is engaged in promoting the 10 Commandments among the Christian community as a national basis of conduct (already attracting international attention and support). Even a campaign to establish a “10 Commandments Day”--set for the first Sunday of May--is under way, something that goes against these theories of the Decalogue not being a Christian rule anymore, as Ratzlaff and his friends allege.

H – Bro. Samuele Bacchiocchi’s study on the text represents a much superior and scholarly approach to this text, and we are pleased to reproduce it here for everyone’s consideration. I think it is all we need to shut up the new collection of sophistries that this last edition of the referred to magazine presents. Enjoy it.

Re: Ratzlaff & Co. Play the “One-Note Anti-Sabbatarian Samba” [Re: Azenilto] #95047
01/28/08 10:38 PM
01/28/08 10:38 PM
Azenilto  Offline OP
Active Member 2010
Full Member
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 231
Bessemer, Ala., USA


Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D., Andrews University

The most popular weapons used to attack the Sabbath are the following three Pauline texts: Colossians 2:14-17, Galatians 4:8-11, and Romans 10:4-5. Of these references, greater importance has been attached to Colossians 2:14-17, inasmuch as the passage explicitly speaks of Christ’s nailing something to the Cross (Col 2:14) and warns against paying heed to regulations regarding several things, including “a sabbath” (Col 2:16).

Based on these texts, the predominant historical consensus has been that Paul regarded the Sabbath as part of the Old Covenant that was nailed to the Cross.[1] Paul K. Jewett exemplifies the historical interpretation when he writes: “Paul’s statement (Col 2:16) comes as near to a demonstration as anything could, that he taught his converts they had no obligation to observe the seventh-day Sabbath of the Old Testament.”[2]

This popular view has been adopted and defended recently by former Sabbatarians. For example, commenting on Colossians 2:16-17, the Worldwide Church of God affirms: “Under the laws of Moses, the Sabbath was a law by which people were judged. But Jesus’ crucifixion has changed that. Now the Sabbath is no longer a basis for judgment.”[3] The implication is that Christians are no longer held accountable for transgressing the Sabbath commandment because it was a “‘shadow’ of things to come.”[4]

In Sabbath in Crisis, Dale Ratzlaff categorically affirms: “In every instance in the epistles [of Paul] where there is teaching about the Sabbath, that teaching suggests that the Sabbath either undermines the Christian’s standing in Christ, or is nonessential. . . . The Sabbath is said to be enslaving. Observance of the Sabbath, and the related old covenant convocations, made Paul ‘fear’ that he had labored in vain.”[5] Ratzlaff goes so far as to say that, according to Paul, “the observance of the Sabbath by Christians seriously undermines the finished work of Christ.”[6]

Did Paul take such a strong stand against the Sabbath, warning his converts against the detrimental effects of its observance in their Christian life? Did the Apostle really find Sabbathkeeping so dangerous? In what way could the act of stopping our work on the Sabbath to allow our Savior to work in our lives more fully and freely “seriously undermine the finished work of Christ”?

Objectives of This Chapter. This chapter seeks to answer these questions by examining Paul’s attitude toward the Sabbath as reflected primarily in Colossians 2:14-17 and secondarily in Galatians 4:8-11 and Romans 14:5-6. We endeavor to establish whether Paul advocated the abrogation or the permanence of the principle and practice of Sabbathkeeping.



(1) The Colossian Heresy

Paul’s reference to the observance of “Sabbaths” in Colossians 2:16 is only one aspect of the “Colossian heresy” refuted by Paul. It is necessary, therefore, to ascertain first of all the overall nature of the false teachings that threatened to “disqualify” (Col 2:18) the Colossian believers. Were these teachings Mosaic ordinances and can they be identified with the “written document—cheirographon” which God through Christ ‘wiped out . . . removed, nailed to the cross” (Col 2:14)?

Most commentators define the Colossian heresy as syncretistic teachings which incorporated both Hellenistic and Jewish elements. Such a false teaching had both a theological and practical aspect.

Theological Aspect. Theologically, the Colossian “philosophy” (Col 2:8) was competing with Christ for believer’s allegiance. Its source of authority was human “tradition” (Col 2:8), and its object was to impart true “wisdom” (Col 2:3, 23), “knowledge” (Col 2:2-3; 3:10) and the assurance access to and participation in the divine “fullness” (Col 2:9-10; 1:19).

To attain divine fullness, Christians were urged to do homage to cosmic principalities (Col 2:10, 15), to “the elements of the universe” (Col 2:8, 20), and to angelic powers (2:15, 18), following ritualistic ascetic practices (Col 2:11-14,16,17,21-22).

To gain protection from these cosmic powers and principalities, the Colossian “philosophers” urged Christians to offer cultic adoration to angelic powers (Col 2:15,18,19,23) and to follow ritualistic and ascetic practices (Col 2:11,14,16,17,21,22). By that process, one was assured of access to and participation in the divine “fullness—pleroma” (Col 2:9,10, cf. 1:19). Essentially, then, the theological error consisted in interposing inferior mediators in place of the Head Himself, Jesus Christ (Col 2:9-10, 18-19).

Practical Aspect. The practical outcome of the theological speculations of the Colossian heretics was their insistence on strict ascetism and ritualism. These consisted in “putting off the body of flesh” (Col 2:11—apparently meaning withdrawal from the world); rigorous treatment of the body (Col 2:23); prohibition to either taste or touch certain kinds of foods and beverages (Col 2:16, 21), and careful observance of sacred days and seasons—festival, new moon, sabbath (Col 2:16).

Christians presumably were led to believe that by submitting to these ascetic practices, they were not surrendering their faith in Christ but rather, they were receiving added protection and were assured of full access to the divine fullness. This may be inferred both from Paul’s distinction between living “according to the elements of the universe” and “according to Christ” (Col 2:8) and from the Apostle’s insistence on the supremacy of the incarnate Christ. “In him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col 2:9); therefore Christians attain “the fullness—pleroma” of life not by worshipping the elements of the universe, but through Christ, “who is the head of all rule and authority” (2:10; cf. 1:15-20; 3:3).

This bare outline suffices to show that the Sabbath is not mentioned in the passage in the context of a direct discussion of the Old Covenant law, as Ratzlaff claims,[7] but rather in the context of syncretistic beliefs and practices, which included elements from the Old Testament. Presumably the latter provided a justification for the ascetic principles advocated by the Colossian “philosophers.” We are not informed what type of Sabbath observance these teachers promoted; nevertheless, on the basis of their emphasis on scrupulous adherence to “regulations,” it is apparent that the day was to be observed in a most rigorous and superstitious manner.

Circumcision and Baptism. To combat the above false teachings, Paul chose to extol the centrality and superiority of Christ who possesses “the fullness of deity” (Col 2:9) and provides full redemption and forgiveness of sin (Col 2:11-14). To emphasize the certainty and fullness of Christ’s forgiveness, Paul utilizes three metaphors: circumcision, baptism, and “the written document” (Col 2:11-14).

Of the first two metaphors, Paul says: “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. And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of the flesh, God has made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses” (Col 2:11-13).

To support his contention that the Sabbath is part of the Old Covenant nailed to the Cross, Ratzlaff interprets Paul's reference to the circumcision and baptism in this passage as indicating that the Old Covenant, of which circumcision was the entrance sign, has been replaced by the New Covenant, of which baptism is the entrance sign. “Circumcision not only served as the entrance sign to the old covenant, Paul shows how it also pointed forward to Christ, yet it does not continue as a sign in the new covenant. In the new covenant baptism replaces circumcision.”[8]

The problem with Ratzlaff's interpretation is his failure to recognize that Paul is not comparing or contrasting the Old and New Covenants, but affirming the benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection through the imageries of circumcision and baptism. The imageries of circumcision and baptism are not used by Paul to discuss the Old and New Covenants, but to affirm the fullness of God’s forgiveness, accomplished by Christ on the cross and extended through baptism to the Christian. Indeed, the proclamation of God's forgiveness constitutes Paul’s basic answer to those attempting perfection by submitting to worship of angels (Col 2:18) and of the “elements of the world” (Col 2:8) by means of ascetic practices.

(2) The Written Document Nailed to the Cross

To further emphasize the certainty and fullness of divine forgiveness explicitly mentioned in verses 11-13, Paul utilizes a legal metaphor in verse 14, namely that of God as a judge who “wiped out, . . . removed [and] nailed to the cross . . . the written document—cheirographon.”

Mosaic Law? What is the “written document—cheirographon” nailed to the Cross? Traditionally, it has been interpreted to be the Mosaic Law with all its ordinances, including the Sabbath, which God allegedly set aside and nailed to the Cross. This interpretation is defended by Ratzlaff who writes: “What was the ‘certificate of debt’ or ‘decrees’ which were nailed to the cross? In context, Paul has been speaking of the old covenant. Was the old covenant ‘against us’? We should remember from our study of the old covenant that one of its functions was to act as a ‘testimony’ against Israel if they sinned . . . (Deut 31:26). The cursing associated with the broken law and the ability of the law to condemn were both taken away when Christ was nailed to the Cross. ‘There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Rom 8:1).”[9]

This interpretation has several serious problems. First, the wrong assumption is made that the Old Covenant was “against us.” If that were true, God would be guilty of establishing a covenant that was against His people. Could a gracious, redeeming God do such an unjust thing? What was against the people was not the covenant, which is God's commitment to save, but their sins, which were exposed by the Law. The reason there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1) is not because Christ nailed to the Cross “the ability of the law to condemn,” thus leaving mankind without moral principles, but because God sent “his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh . . . in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom 8:3-4).

Even more serious is Ratzlaff's misinterpretation of the “written document” that was nailed to the Cross. He interprets this document to be the Old Covenant including the Sabbath, which God allegedly set aside and nailed to the Cross.[10] This popular and traditional interpretation has largely been discredited by modern scholarship for at least two reasons. First, as Eduard Lohse points out in his commentary on Colossians, “in the whole of the epistle the word law is not used at all. Not only that, but the whole significance of the law, which appears unavoidable for Paul when he presents his gospel, is completely absent.”[11]

Second, this interpretation detracts from the immediate argument designed to prove the fullness of God’s forgiveness. The wiping out of the moral and/or ceremonial law would hardly provide Christians with the divine assurance of forgiveness. Guilt is not removed by destroying law codes. The latter would only leave mankind without moral principles.

The validity of these comments is acknowledged even by Douglas R. De Lacey, Professor of New Testament at Cambridge University and contributor to the scholarly symposium From Sabbath to the Lord’s Day, which is largely a response to my dissertation From Sabbath to Sunday. De Lacey writes: “Bacchiocchi lays great stress on the fact that the term nomos [law] is entirely absent from Colossians, and although his own interpretation at times fails to convince, he is surely right in his conclusion that this passage cannot be interpreted as stating that the Mosaic law itself was ‘wiped out’ in the death of Christ.”[12]

Record Book of Sin. The meaning of cheirographon, which occurs only once in Scripture (Col 2:14), has been clarified by recent studies on the usage of the term in apocalyptic and rabbinic literature.[13] The term is used to denote the “record book of sins” or a “certificate of sin-indebtedness” but not the moral or ceremonial law. This view is supported also by the clause “and this he has removed out of the middle” (Col 2:14). “The middle” was the position occupied at the center of the court or assembly by the accusing witness. In the context of Colossians, the accusing witness is the “record book of sins” which God in Christ has erased and removed out of the court.

By this daring metaphor, Paul affirms the completeness of God’s forgiveness. Through Christ, God has “cancelled,” “set aside,” and “nailed to the cross” “the written record of our sins which because of the regulations was against us.” The legal basis of the record of sins was “the binding statutes,” or “regulations” (tois dogmasin), but what God destroyed on the Cross was not the legal ground (law) for our entanglement into sin, but the written record of our sins.

By destroying the evidence of our sins, God also “disarmed the principalities and powers” (Col 2:15) since it is no longer possible for them to accuse those who have been forgiven. There is no reason, therefore, for Christians to feel incomplete and to seek the help of inferior mediators since Christ has provided complete redemption and forgiveness.

We conclude, then, that the document nailed to the Cross is not the Law, in general, or the Sabbath, in particular, but rather the record of our sins. Any attempt to read into this text a reference to the Law or the Sabbath lacks contextual and linguistic support.

[To be continued in the next frame]

Re: Ratzlaff & Co. Play the “One-Note Anti-Sabbatarian Samba” [Re: Azenilto] #95048
01/28/08 10:40 PM
01/28/08 10:40 PM
Azenilto  Offline OP
Active Member 2010
Full Member
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 231
Bessemer, Ala., USA

[Continued from previous frame]

(3) Approbation or Condemnation of Sabbathkeeping?

Having refuted the theological speculations of the Colossian false teachers by reaffirming the supremacy of Christ and the fullness of His redemption (Col 2:8-15), Paul turns to some practical aspects of their religious practices, saying: “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. These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (Col 2:16-17).

Warning Against the Sabbath? Historically, this passage has been interpreted, as stated by Luther, that “here Paul abolished the Sabbath by name and called it a bygone shadow because the body, which is Christ himself, has come.”[14] Ratzlaff interprets the passage along the same line, saying: “The context makes it clear that Paul is against those who are trying to force the Colossians to keep the Sabbath and other old covenant convocations. They are to allow no one to make them feel guilty for not observing them.”[15] He interprets the statement “Therefore, let no one pass judgment on you . . .” as a warning from Paul against the five mentioned practices, which include the Sabbath.[16]

This interpretation is wrong because in this passage Paul warns the Colossians not against the observances of these practices as such, but against “anyone” (tis) who passes judgment on how to eat, to drink, and to observe sacred times. The judge who passed judgment is not Paul but the Colossians false teachers who imposed “regulations” (Col 2:20) on how to observe these practices in order to achieve “rigor of devotion and self-abasement and severity to the body” (Col 2:23).

Douglas De Lacey, a contributor to the scholarly symposium From Sabbath to the Lord’s Day cited earlier, rightly comments: “The judge is likely to be a man of ascetic tendencies who objects to the Colossians’ eating and drinking. The most natural way of taking the rest of the passage is not that he also imposes a ritual of feast days, but rather that he objects to certain elements of such observation.”[17] Presumably the “judge” wanted the community to observe these practices in a more ascetic way (“severity to the body”—Col 2:23, 21); to put it bluntly, he wanted the Colossian believers to do less feasting and more fasting.

Approbation of the Sabbath. By warning against the right of the false teachers to “pass judgment” on how to observe festivals, Paul is challenging not the validity of the festivals as such but the authority of the false teachers to legislate the manner of their observance. The obvious implication, then, is that Paul in this text is expressing not a condemnation but an approbation of the mentioned practices, which include Sabbathkeeping.

It is noteworthy that even De Lacey reaches this conclusion, in spite of his view that Paul did not expect Gentile converts to observe the Sabbath. He writes: “Here again (Col 2:16), then, it seems that Paul could happily countenance Sabbathkeeping . . . However, we interpret the situation, Paul’s statement ‘Let no one pass judgement on you,’ indicates that no stringent regulations are to be laid down over the use of festivals.”[18]

Troy Martin, Professor at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, comes to the same conclusion in a recent article published in New Testament Studies. He writes: “This essay provides evidence that the Pauline community at Colossae, not the opponents, practices the temporal schemes outlined by Colossians 2:16. . . . This investigation into the function of the list in Colossians 2:16 indicates that the Colossians Christians, not their critics, participate in a religious calendar that includes festivals, new moons, and sabbaths.”[19]

It is encouraging to see scholars finally recognizing that, contrary to the traditional and popular interpretation advocated by people like Ratzlaff, Colossians 2:16 is not the death knell of Sabbathkeeping in the New Testament but, instead, a proof of its Pauline approbation. Why does Ratzlaff totally ignore the conclusion of Prof. De Lacey (and others), though he uses the symposium as the major resource for his own book? Most likely because he does not want readers to learn about anything that contradicts his anti-Sabbath interpretation of Colossians 2:16. This methodology is hardly reflective of responsible scholarship which requires the examination of opposing views before presenting one's own conclusions.

(4) The Manner of Sabbathkeeping

What is the nature of the “regulations” promoted by the Colossians false teachers regarding food and festivals, including the weekly Sabbath? Regretfully, Paul gives us only few catch phrases such as “self-abasement and worship of angels,” “rigor of devotion . . . severity to the body” (Col 2:18, 23) and their teachings—”Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (Col 2:21). These catch phrases indicate that the regulations did not derive from the Levitical law since nowhere does the latter contemplate such an ascetic program. Though the designation of the festivals is Jewish, the motivation and manner of their observance stems from pagan syncretistic ideologies.

Eduard Lohse perceptively notes that “In the context of Colossians, the command to keep festival, new moon, and Sabbath is not based on the Torah according to which Israel received the Sabbath as a sign of her election from among the nations. Rather the sacred days must be kept for the sake of ‘the elements of the universe’ who direct the course of the stars and also prescribe minutely the order of the calendar . . .

The ‘philosophy’ made use of terms which stemmed from Jewish tradition, but which had been transformed in the crucible of syncretism to be subject to the service of ‘the elements of the universe.’”[20]

In the ancient world there was widespread belief that ascetism and fasting enabled a person to come closer to a deity and to receive divine revelation.[21] In the case of the Colossian “philosophy,” the dietary taboos and the observance of sacred times were apparently regarded as an expression of subjection to and worship of the cosmic powers (elements) of the universe.

Paul’s warning against the “regulations” of the false teachers cannot be interpreted as a condemnation of Mosaic laws regarding food and festivals, since what the Apostle condemns is not the teachings of Moses but their perverted use by Colossian false teachers. A precept is not nullified by the condemnation of its perversion.

Shadow of the Reality. Paul continues his argument in the following verse, saying: “These are the shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (Col 2:17). To what does the relative pronoun “these” (ha in Greek) refer? Does it refer to the five practices mentioned in the previous verse or to the “regulations” (dogmata) regarding these practices promoted by the false teachers?

In a previous study, I argued for the former, suggesting that Paul places dietary practices and the observance of days “in their proper perspective with Christ by means of the contrast ‘shadow-body.’”[22] Additional reflection caused me to change my mind and to agree with Eduard Lohse that the relative pronoun “these” refers not to the five mentioned practices as such, but rather to the “regulations” regarding such practices promoted by the false teachers.[23]

A Reference to “Regulations.” This conclusion is supported by two considerations. First, in verse 16, Paul is not warning against the merits or demerits of the Mosaic law regarding food and festivals, but against the “regulations” regarding these practices advocated by the false teachers. Thus, it is more plausible to take “the regulations” rather than the actual practices as the antecedent of “these.”

Second, in the verses that immediately follow, Paul continues his warning against the deceptive teachings, saying, for example, “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement . . .” (Col 2:18); “Why do you submit to regulations, ‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’?” (Col 2:20-21). Since what precedes and what follows that relative pronoun “these” deals with the “regulations” of the Colossian “philosophy,” it is most likely that Paul describes the latter as “a shadow of what is to come” (Col 2:17).

The proponents of the Colossian “philosophy” presumably maintained that their “regulations” represented a copy, which enabled the believer to have access to the reality (“fullness”). In such a case, Paul is turning their argument against them by saying that their regulations “are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (Col 2:17). By emphasizing that Christ is the “body” and the “head” (Col 2:17, 19), Paul indicates that any “shadow” cast by the regulations has no significant value.

In the light of the above indications, we conclude that what Paul calls a “bygone shadow” is not the Sabbath but the deceptive teachings of the Colossian “philosophy” which promoted dietary practices and the observance of sacred times as auxiliary aids to salvation.

(5) The Sabbath in Colossians 2:16

The “regulations” advocated by the Colossian “philosophy” had to do not only with “food and drink” but also with sacred times referred to as “a festival or a new moon or a sabbath” (Col 2:16). Commentators agree that these three words represent a logical and progressive sequence (annual, monthly, and weekly), as well as an exhaustive enumeration of sacred times. This interpretation is validated by the occurrence of these terms in similar or reverse sequence five times in the Septuagint and several other times in other literature.[24]

Some view the “sabbaths—sabbaton” as a reference to annual ceremonial Sabbaths rather than the weekly Sabbath (Lev 23:6-8, 21, 24- 25, 27-28, 37-38).25 Such a view, however, breaks the logical and progressive sequence and ignores the fact that in the Septuagint the annual ceremonial Sabbaths are never designated simply as “sabbath” (sabbaton), but always with the compound expression “Sabbath of Sabbaths” (sabbata sabbaton). Indications such as these compellingly show that the word “sabbaton” used in Colossians 2:16 cannot refer to any of the annual ceremonial Sabbaths.

Weekdays. The plural form “Sabbaths” (sabbaton) is used in Scripture to designate not only the seventh-day Sabbath but also the week as a whole (Greek Septuagint on Ps 23:1; 47:1; 93:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; Acts 20:7). This fact suggests the possibility that the term “Sabbath” may refer to weekdays as a whole.[26] The latter view harmonizes better with the sequence of the enumeration which suggests yearly, monthly, and weekly festivities.

A similar sequence, though in reverse order, is given by Paul in Galatians 4:10 where he opposes a strikingly similar teaching which included the observance of “days, and months, and seasons, and years.” The fact that the Galatian list begins with “days” (hemeras, plural) suggests the possibility that the “Sabbaths” in Colossians may also refer to weekdays, in general, rather than to the seventh-day Sabbath, in particular.

Assuming for the sake of inquiry that the “sabbaths” in Colossians do refer to or include the Sabbath day, the question to be considered is this: What kind of Sabbath observance would the false teachers advocate? The data provided by Colossians are too meager to answer this question conclusively. Yet the nature of the heresy allows us to conclude that the rigoristic emphasis on observance of dietary rules would undoubtedly be carried over to Sabbathkeeping as well. The veneration of “the elements of the universe” would also affect the observance of the Sabbath and of sacred times, since it was commonly believed that the astral powers, which direct the stars, control both the calendar and human lives.[27]

We know that in the pagan world Saturday was regarded as an unlucky day because of its association with the planet Saturn.[28] In view of the prevailing astral superstitions associated with the days of the week, any Sabbath observance promoted by the Colossians’ ascetic teachers—known for their worship of the elements of the world—could only have been of a rigorous, superstitious type. A warning against such a superstitious type of Sabbathkeeping by Paul would have been not only appropriate but also desirable. In this case, Paul could be attacking not the principle of Sabbathkeeping but its perverted function and motivation which adulterated the ground of salvation. This conclusion is confirmed by two other Pauline passages (Rom 14:4-5; Gal 4:10) to be considered now.

[To be continued in the next frame]

Re: Ratzlaff & Co. Play the “One-Note Anti-Sabbatarian Samba” [Re: Azenilto] #95049
01/28/08 10:41 PM
01/28/08 10:41 PM
Azenilto  Offline OP
Active Member 2010
Full Member
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 231
Bessemer, Ala., USA

[Continued from previous frame]



(1) The Sabbath in Romans

The Sabbath is not specifically mentioned in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. However, in chapter 14, the Apostle distinguishes between two types of believers: the “strong” who believed “he may eat anything” and the “weak” who ate only “vegetables” and drank no wine (Rom 14:2, 21). The difference extended also to the observance of days, as indicated by Paul’s statement: “One man esteems one day as better than another, while another man esteems all days alike. Let every one be fully convinced in his own mind” (Rom 14:5).

Many Christians maintain that the weekly Sabbath comes within the scope of this distinction respecting days. They presume that the “weak” believers esteemed the Sabbath better than other days while “the strong” treated the Sabbath like the rest of the weekdays. For example, the Worldwide Church of God uses Romans 14:5 to argue that “Paul did not teach Gentile Christians to keep the Sabbath. He actually told them that the Sabbath was not an area in which we should be judged.”[29] “That is because something had happened to change the basis of our relationship with God . . . the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because of that, the Old Covenant laws came to an end. Days are no longer a matter for judging behavior.”[30] In a similar vein, Ratzlaff concludes that “The ‘days’ mentioned in this chapter [Rom 14:5] that some ‘regard’ and ‘observe’ over other days, are probably Sabbath days, although the evidence is not conclusive.”[31]

No Reference to Mosaic Law. Can the Sabbath be legitimately read into this passage? The answer is “No!” for at least three reasons. First, the conflict between the “weak” and the “strong” over diet and days cannot be traced back to the Mosaic law. The “weak man” who “eats only vegetables” (Rom 14:2), drinks no wine (Rom 14:21), and “esteems one day as better [apparently for fasting] than another” (Rom 14:5) can claim no support for such convictions from the Old Testament. Nowhere does the Mosaic law prescribe strict vegetarianism, total abstinence from fermented and unfermented wine,[32] and a preference for fasting days.

Similarly, the “strong man” who “believes he may eat anything” (Rom 14:2) and who “esteems all days alike” is not asserting his freedom from the Mosaic law but from ascetic beliefs apparently derived from sectarian movements. The whole discussion then is not about freedom to observe the law versus freedom from its observance, but concerns “unessential” scruples of conscience dictated not by divine precepts but by human conventions and superstitions. Since these differing convictions and practices did not undermine the essence of the Gospel, Paul advises mutual tolerance and respect in this matter.

That the Mosaic law is not at stake in Romans 14 is also indicated by the term “koinos—common” which is used in verse 14 to designate “unclean” food. This term is radically different from the word “akathartos—impure” used in Leviticus 11 (Septuagint) to designate unlawful foods. This suggests that the dispute was not over meat which was unlawful according to the Mosaic Law, but about meat which per se was lawful to eat but because of its association with idol worship (cf. 1 Cor 8:1-13) was regarded by some as “koinos—common,” that is, to be avoided by Christians.

A second point to note is that Paul applies the basic principle “observe it in honor of the Lord” (Rom 14:6) only to the case of the person “who observes the day.” He never says the opposite, namely, “the man who esteems all days alike, esteems them in honor of the Lord.” In other words, with regard to diet, Paul teaches that one can honor the Lord both by eating and by abstaining (Rom 14:6); but with regard to days, he does not even concede that the person who regards all the days alike does so to the Lord. Thus, Paul hardly gives his endorsement to those who esteemed all days alike.

Sabbathkeeping: For “Weak” Believers? Finally, if as generally presumed, it was the “weak” believer who observed the Sabbath, Paul would classify himself with the “weak” since he observed the Sabbath and other Jewish feasts (Acts 18:4, 19; 17:1, 10, 17; 20:16). Paul, however, views himself as “strong” (“we who are strong”—Rom 15:1); thus, he could not have been thinking of Sabbathkeeping when he speaks of the preference over days.

Support for this conclusion is also provided by Paul’s advice: “Let every one be fully convinced in his own mind” (Rom 14:5). It is difficult to see how Paul could reduce the observance of holy days such as the Sabbath, Passover, and Pentecost to a matter of personal conviction without ever explaining the reason for it. This is especially surprising since he labors at great length to explain why circumcision was not binding upon the Gentiles.

If Paul taught his Gentile converts to regard Sabbathkeeping as a personal matter, Jewish Christians readily would have attacked his temerity in setting aside the Sabbath law, as they did regarding circumcision (Acts 21:21). The fact that there is no hint of any such controversy in the New Testament indicates that Paul never discouraged Sabbathkeeping or encouraged Sundaykeeping instead.[33]

No Hint of Conflict. The preference over days in Romans presumably had to do with fast days rather than feast days, since the context deals with abstinence from meat and wine (Rom 14:2, 6, 21). Support for this view is provided by the Didache (ch. 8) which enjoins Christians to fast on Wednesday and Friday rather than on Monday and Thursday like the Jews.

Paul refuses to deliberate on private matters such as fasting, because he recognizes that spiritual exercises can be performed in different ways by different people. The important thing for Paul is to “pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Rom 14:19).

If the conflict in the Roman Church had been over the observance of holy days, the problem would have been even more manifest than the one over diet. After all, eating habits are a private matter, but Sabbath-keeping is a public, religious exercise of the whole community. Any disagreement on the latter would have been not only noticeable but also inflammatory.

The fact that Paul devotes 21 verses to the discussion of food and less than two verses (Rom 14:5-6) to that of days suggests that the latter was a very limited problem for the Roman Church, presumably because it had to do with private conviction on the merit or demerit of doing certain spiritual exercises such as fasting on some specific days.

In the Roman world there was a superstitious belief that certain days were more favorable than others for undertaking some specific projects. The Fathers frequently rebuked Christians for adopting such a superstitious mentality.34 Possibly, Paul alludes to this kind of problem, which at his time was still too small to deserve much attention. Since these practices did not undermine the essence of the Gospel, Paul advises mutual tolerance and respect on this matter. In the light of these considerations, we conclude that it is hardly possible that Sabbathkeeping is included in the “days” of Romans 14:5.

(2) The Sabbath in Galatians

In Galatians, as in Romans, there is no specific reference to the Sabbath. Paul does mention, however, that some Galatian Christians had themselves circumcised (Gal 6:12; 5:2) and had begun to “observe days, and months, and seasons, and years” (Gal 4:10).

In many respects, the polemic in Galatians 4:8-11 is strikingly similar to that of Colossians 2:8-23. In both places the superstitious observance of sacred times is described as slavery to the “elements.” In Galatians, however, the denunciation of the “false teachers” is stronger. They are regarded as “accursed” (Gal 1:8, 9) because they were teaching a “different gospel.” Their teaching that the observance of days and seasons was necessary to justification and salvation perverted the very heart of the Gospel (Gal 5:4).

Pagan Days or Sabbath Day? The question to be addressed is whether the “days” (hemerai—Gal 4:10) observed by the Galatians were superstitious pagan holidays or the biblical Sabbath day. Some scholars argue on the basis of the parallel passage of Colossians 2:16, where “sabbaths” are explicitly mentioned, that the “days” mentioned in Galatians were the Biblical seventh-day Sabbaths.[35]

Ratzlaff affirms categorically this view saying: “We have a clear reference to the seventh-day Sabbath in this passage [Gal 4:10] for the following four reasons. (1) The context of the book of Galatians, including chapter 4, is dealing with those ‘who want to be under the law.’ (2) Paul’s use of ‘elemental things’ usually, if not always, refer to that which is contained in the old covenant. (3) The Galatians were observing days, months, seasons, and years, thus placing themselves back under the old covenant law. (4) These convocations are listed in order.”[36]

Comparison of Colossians 2:16 and Galatians 4:10. The fundamental problem with Ratzlaff’s four reasons is that they are based on gratuitous assumptions rather than on a careful analysis of the context. In the immediate context, Paul reminds the Galatians that in their pre-Christian days they “were slaves to the elemental spirits of the universe” (Gal 4:3). The “elemental spirits—stoikeia tou kosmou” have nothing to do with the Old Covenant since the Mosaic Law was unknown to the Corinthians in their pagan days. Most scholars interpret the “elements” as the basic elements of this world, such as the earth, water, air, and fire, or pagan astral gods who were credited with controlling human destiny.[37]

The context clearly indicates that Paul rebukes the Galatians for turning back to their pagan days by reverting to their pagan calendar. Thus, the issue is not their adoption of Jewish Holy Days but their return to observing pagan superstitious days. Paul makes this point rather clearly: “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were in bondage to beings that by nature are no gods; 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 beggarly elemental spirits, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years! I am afraid that I have labored over you in vain” (Gal 4:8-10).

Two recent articles by Troy Martin, published in New Testament Studies and the Journal of Biblical Literature, make a significant contribution to the understanding of the passage under consideration. Martin points out that the time-keeping scheme found in Galatians 4:10 (“days, and months, and seasons, and years”) is clearly different from that found in Colossians 2:16 (“a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths”). He shows that while the list in Colossians 2:16 is unquestionably Jewish, because the temporal categories of festival, new moon, and Sabbaths are characteristic of the Jewish religious calendar, the list in Galatians 4:10 of “days, and months, and seasons, and years” “describes a pagan calendar unacceptable to Paul and his communities.”[38]

Martin reaches this conclusion by examining not only the time structure of pagan calendars,[39] but especially the immediate context where Paul condemns the Galatians’ attempt to return to their pagan practices (Gal 4:8-9) by reverting to the use of their pagan calendar. “As the immediate context clearly states, Paul is worried that he has labored for the Galatians in vain since they have returned to their former pagan life as evidenced by their renewed pre-conversion reckoning of time. Because of its association with idolatry and false deities, marking time according to this pagan scheme is tantamount to rejecting Paul’s Gospel and the one and only true God it proclaims (Gal 4:8-9). Galatians 4:10, therefore, stipulates that when the Galatians accepted Paul’s Gospel with its aversion to idolatry (Gal 4:8), they discarded their pagan method of reckoning time. . . . A comparison of these lists demonstrates that the Gentile conversion to Paul’s gospel involves rejection of idolatrous pagan temporal schemes in favor of the Jewish liturgical calendar.”[40]

[To be concluded in the next frame]

Re: Ratzlaff & Co. Play the “One-Note Anti-Sabbatarian Samba” [Re: Azenilto] #95050
01/28/08 10:42 PM
01/28/08 10:42 PM
Azenilto  Offline OP
Active Member 2010
Full Member
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 231
Bessemer, Ala., USA

[Continued from the previous frame and conclusion]

Gentiles’ Adoption of Jewish Calendar. Troy Martin’s conclusion, that the Gentiles’ conversion to the Gospel involved the rejection of their pagan calendar built upon the idolatrous worship of many gods and the adoption of the Jewish religious calendar which had been transformed by Christ’s coming, represents in my view a significant breakthrough in our understanding of the continuity between Judaism and Christianity.

Paul’s time references clearly reflect his adoption of the Jewish religious calendar, though modified and transformed by the coming of Christ. For example, in 1 Corinthians 16:2, Paul recommends a fund-raising plan for the Jerusalem church consisting of laying aside at home some money kata mian sabbaton, that is, “every first day from the Sabbath.” The fact that Paul refers to the first day of the week by the Jewish designation “first day from the Sabbath,” and not by the prevailing pagan name dies solis—Day of the Sun, reveals that he taught his Gentile converts to regulate their lives by the Jewish calendar.

In the same epistle, Paul builds an elaborate argument based upon the festival of Passover and unleavened bread in order to exhort the Corinthians, “Let us keep the festival” (1 Cor 5:6-8). The whole argument and exhortation to keep Passover would have been meaningless to the Gentile congregation of Corinth unless Paul had taught about the Jewish religious calendar. In the light of these considerations we conclude, with Martin, that “although the temporal references in Paul’s letters are sparse, 1 Corinthians provides strong evidence for the Pauline adoption of the Jewish practice that marked time by festivals and Sabbaths.”[41]

The Christian adherence to the Jewish calendar is especially evident in the book of Acts. Repeatedly, Paul proclaims the Gospel in synagogues and in the outdoors on the Sabbath (Acts 13:14, 44; 16:13; 17:2). In Troas, Paul speaks to the believers on the first day from Sabbath (mia ton sabbaton) (Acts 20:7). “The portrayal of Paul in Acts,” as Martin points out, “supplies clear evidence that Christians mark time by segments of festivals and Sabbaths.”[42] This conclusion is clearly supported by Colossians 2:16 where we find the standard Jewish nomenclature of annual feasts, monthly new moons, and weekly Sabbaths.

The fact that Paul taught his Gentile congregations to reject their pagan calendar, where the days were named after planetary gods and the months after deified emperors, and to reckon time according to the Jewish religious calendar, does not necessarily mean that he taught them to practice Jewish religious rituals. The Romans themselves replaced just before the origin of Christianity their “eight day week—nundinum” with the Jewish seven-day week and adopted in the first century the Jewish Sabbath as their new day for rest and feasting, without the concomitant adoption of the Jewish rituals.[43] By the same token, Paul taught his Gentile converts to reckon time according to the Jewish religious calendar without expecting them to practice the rituals associated with it. A good example is Paul’s discussion of the new meaning of the feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread in the light of Christ’s event (1 Cor 5:6-8).[44]

Superstitious Motivation. Our preceding discussion shows that the temporal categories of Galatians 4:10 (“days, and months, and seasons, and years”) are pagan and not Jewish, like the list found in Colossians 2:16. To argue, as Ratzlaff does, that the Galatians were observing the Old Covenant Holy Days means to ignore the immediate context where Paul speaks of pagan temporal categories to which the Galatians were turning back again.

The Galatians’ observance of pagan sacred times was motivated by superstitious beliefs in astral influences. This is suggested by Paul’s charge that their adoption of these practices was tantamount to a return to their former pagan subjection to elemental spirits and demons (Gal 4:8-9).

Paul’s concern is not to expose the superstitious ideas attached to these observances but to challenge the whole system of salvation, which the Galatians’ false teachers had devised. By conditioning justification and acceptance with God to such things as circumcision and the observance of pagan days and seasons, the Galatians were making salvation dependent upon human achievement. This for Paul was a betrayal of the Gospel: “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace” (Gal 5:4).

It is within this context that Paul’s denouncement of the observance of days and seasons must be understood. If the motivations for these observances had not undermined the vital principle of justification by faith in Jesus Christ, Paul would only have recommended tolerance and respect, as he does in Romans 14. The motivation for these practices, however, adulterated the very ground of salvation. Thus the Apostle had no choice but strongly to reject them. In Galatians as in Colossians, then, it is not the principle of Sabbathkeeping that Paul opposes, but rather the perverted use of cultic observations, which were designed to promote salvation as a human achievement rather than as a divine gift of grace.


Several conclusions emerge from this study of Paul’s attitude toward the law, in general, and the Sabbath, in particular.

First, the three texts (Col 2:14-16; Rom 14:5, Gal 4:10) generally adduced as proof of Paul’s repudiation of the Sabbath do not deal with the validity or invalidity of the Sabbath commandment for Christians but, rather, with ascetic and cultic practices which undermined (especially in Colossians and Galatians) the vital principle of justification by faith in Jesus Christ.

Second, in the crucial passage of Colossians 2:16, Paul’s warning is not against the validity of observing the Sabbath and festivals as such but against the authority of false teachers to legislate on the manner of their observance. Implicitly, Paul expresses approval rather than disapproval of their observance. Any condemnation had to do with a perversion rather than a precept.

Third, Paul’s tolerance with respect to diet and days (Rom 14:3-6) indicates that he would not have promoted the abandonment of the Sabbath and the adoption of Sunday observance instead. If he had done so, he would have encountered endless disputes with Sabbath advocates, especially among Jewish Christians. The absence of any trace of such a polemic is perhaps the most telling evidence of Paul’s respect for the institution of the Sabbath.

In the final analysis, Paul’s attitude toward the Sabbath must be determined not on the basis of his denunciation of heretical and superstitious observances which may have influenced Sabbathkeeping, but rather on the basis of his overall attitude toward the law.

The failure to understand that Paul rejects the law as a method of salvation but upholds it as a moral standard of Christian conduct has been the root cause of much misunderstanding of Paul’s attitude toward the law, in general, and toward the Sabbath, in particular. May this study contribute to clarify this misunderstanding and allow us to discover, with Paul, that “the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully” (1 Tim 1:8).


1. For a brief historical survey of this interpretation, see Samuele Bacchiocchi, “Paul and the Sabbath,” in From Sabbath to Sunday (Rome, 1977), Appendix, pp. 339-343.

2. Paul K. Jewett, The Lord’s Day: A Theological Guide to the Christian Day of Worship (Grand Rapids, 1971), p. 45.

3. “The Sabbath in Acts and the Epistles,” Bible Study prepared by the Worldwide Church of God and posted in its web page (www.wcg.org, September, 1998), p. 2.

4. Ibid.

5. Dale Ratzlaff, Sabbath in Crisis: Transfer/Modification? Reformation/Continuation? Fulfillment/Transformation? (Applegate, California, 1990), pp. 173-174.

6. Ibid., p. 174.

7. Commenting on Colossians 2:14,15, Ratzlaff writes: “What was the ‘certificate of debt’ or the ‘decrees’ which were nailed to the Cross? In context, Paul has been speaking about the old covenant” (note 5, p. 156). This cannot be true, because in the context Paul refutes the Colossian heresy by affirming the fullness of God’s forgiveness.

8. Dale Ratzlaff (note 5), pp. 155-156.

9. Ibid., p. 156.

10. Ibid., pp. 156-161.

11. Eduard Lohse, A Commentary on the Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon (Philadelphia, 1971), p. 116. In a similar vein, Herold Weiss emphasizes that in Paul’s argument (Col 2:8-19), the law “plays no role at all” (“The Law in the Epistle to the Colossians,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 34 [1972]: 311).

12. Douglas R. De Lacey, “The Sabbath/Sunday Question and the Law in the Pauline Corpus,”
From Sabbath to Lord’s Day. A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Investigation, ed. Donald A. Carson (Grand Rapids, 1982), p. 173. Emphasis supplied.

13. For a lengthy list of commentators who interpret the cheirographon either as the “certificate of indebtedness” resulting from our transgressions or as the “book containing the record of sin,” see Samuele Bacchiocchi, From Sabbath to Sunday. A Historical Investigation of the Rise of Sunday Observance in Early Christianity (Rome, 1977), Appendix, pp. 349-350.

14. Martin Luther, “Wider die himmlischen Propheten,” in his Sämtliche Schriften, ed. by Johann Georg Walch (1890), vol. XX, col. 148.

15. Dale Ratzlaff (note 5), p. 163.

16. Ibid., pp. 161-162.

17. Douglas R. De Lacey (note 12), p. 182.

18. Ibid., emphasis supplied.

19. Troy Martin, “Pagan and Judeo-Christian Time-keeping Schemes in Galatians 4:10 and Colossians 2:16,” New Testament Studies 42 (1996), p. 111.

20. Eduard Lohse (note 11), p. 155.

21. For texts and discussion, see G. Bornhamm, “Lakanon,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel (Grand Rapids, 1967), vol. 4, p. 67; also J. Behm writes in the same Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, IV, p. 297: “The Greeks and Romans knew that abstention makes receptive to ecstatic revelations.”

22. For a discussion of Colossians 2:17, see Samuele Bacchiocchi, From Sabbath to Sunday (note 1), pp. 356-357.

23. Eduard Lohse (note 11), p. 116.

24. See the Septuagint on 2 Chron 2:4; 31:3; Neh 10:33; Ezek 45:17; Hos 2:11. Also Jub 1:14; Jos. Ber. 3:11; Justin, Dialogue with Trypho 8:4.

25. See, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary (Washington, D. C., 1957), vol. 7, pp. 205-206.

26. This is the view of Nobert Hugedé, Commentaire de L’Epître aux Colossiens (Paris, 1969), p. 144. On the plural usage of “Sabbaths” to designate the week as a whole, see Eduard Lohse (note 11), pp. 7, 20.

27. Günter Bornhamm emphasizes this view when he writes: “Paul mentions New Moon and Sabbath (Col 2:16), days, months, season, and years (Gal 4:10), i.e., in each case days and seasons that do not stand under the sign of the history of salvation, but under the sign of the periodic cycles of nature, i.e., corresponding to the movement of the stars” (“The Heresy of Colossians,” in Fred O. Francis and Wayne A. Meeks, eds., Conflict at Colossae, SBL Sources for Biblical Study 4, 1973, p. 131).

28. Texts and discussion are found in Samuele Bacchiocchi, From Sabbath to Sunday (note 1), pp. 173f. and 243.

29. “Paul and the Sabbath,” Bible Study prepared by the Worldwide Church of God and posted in its web page (www.wcg.org, September, 1998), p. 1.

30. “The Sabbath in Acts and the Epistles,” Bible Study prepared by the Worldwide Church of God and posted in its web page (www.wcg.org, September, 1998), p. 2.

31. Dale Ratzlaff (note 5), p. 169.

32. The Nazarite’s vow included abstention from all grape products (Num 6:2-4). This, however, was a temporary and voluntary vow. Some, such as Samuel (1 Sam 1:11) and John the Baptist (Luke 1:15) were Nazarites for life. But we have no record of a person taking the vow voluntarily for life. Perpetual vows were taken by parents on behalf of children. The Rechabites led a nomadic life in tents and abstained from all intoxicating drinks (Jer 35:1-19). For a study on the Biblical teaching regarding the use of alcoholic beverages, see Samuele Bacchiocchi, Wine in the Bible (Berrien Springs, Michigan, 1989). My study shows that the Bible disapproves of the use of fermented wine but approves the consumption of unfermented wine, commonly called “grape juice.”

33. Paul K. Jewett wisely acknowledges that “if Paul had introduced Sunday worship among the Gentiles, it seems likely Jewish opposition would have accused his temerity in setting aside the law of the Sabbath, as was the case with the rite of circumcision (Acts 21:21)” (note 2), p. 57.

34. For texts and discussion, see Samuele Bacchiochi, From Sabbath to Sunday (note 1), p. 254.

35. See, for example, Willy Rordorf, Sunday: The History of the Day of Rest and Worship in the Earliest Centuries of the Christian Church (Philadelphia, 1968), p. 131; C. S. Mosna, Storia della Domenica dalle Origini Fino agli Inizi del V. Secolo (Rome, 1969), p. 183.

36. Dale Ratzlaff (note 5), p. 165.

37. For a discussion of scholarly views regarding the meaning of stoicheia, see Samuele Bacchiochi, From Sabbath to Sunday (note 1), pp. 344-345.

38. Troy Martin (note 19), p. 119. See also idem, “But Let Everyone Discern the Body of Christ (Colossians 2:17),” Journal of Biblical Literature 114/2 (1995), p. 255.

39. For a discussion of the pagan calendar, see also E. J. Bickerman, Chronology of the Ancient World (Ithaca, New York, 1968), pp. 70-79.

40. Troy Martin (note 19), pp. 117, 119.

41. Ibid., pp. 108-109.

42. Ibid., p. 109.

43. The Roman adoption of the seven-day planetary week just prior to the beginning of Christianity is discussed at some length in Samuele Bacchiochi, From Sabbath to Sunday (note 1), pp. 238-251.

44. For a discussion of the observance and meaning of Passover/Unleavened Bread in the New Testament, see Samuele Bacchiocchi, God’s Festivals in Scripture and History: Volume 1: The Spring Festivals (Berrien Springs, Michigan, 1995), pp. 75-77.

A. G. Brito
Sola Scriptura Ministry
Re: Ratzlaff & Co. Play the “One-Note Anti-Sabbatarian Samba” [Re: Azenilto] #95051
01/28/08 10:54 PM
01/28/08 10:54 PM
Azenilto  Offline OP
Active Member 2010
Full Member
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 231
Bessemer, Ala., USA

An Additional Reflection

Let’s imagine a hypothetical situation, inspired in this theory that the Sabbath was ended as a commandment for the Christian community in some time, not clearly defined in history.

George is a dedicated carpenter, a specialist in building fine furniture units. His reputation of a good and careful professional brings him lots of orders to different works and his schedule is full, with many important people in town placing orders with him. He doesn’t want to disappoint all these good people and does everything he can to finish their orders in due time.

But then he becomes a Christian and thinks of attending church every Sunday, dedicating this day to physical and mental rest, besides going to church and dedicating himself to religious activities on that day. One day, the pastor in his church presents a study explaining that the Sabbath commandment is an old fashioned institution for the Jews only, the Christians having nothing to do with. Since the Sabbath was just a symbol of our rest of salvation in Christ, one who confesses Jesus as Lord and Savior should not keep the Sabbath, for that would be a denial of his experience of salvation.

George was very impressed with that, and since he had so many orders to complete, he decided to work on Sundays also, just reserving the nights to go to church. He checked with the pastor about that, and he assured him that it was okay. The important thing was that he kept in touch, not missing the Sunday evening services. Of course there was also a subtle point there—if he made more money working this extra time that would mean greater gains, and a fatter tithe and higher offerings to the church. . .

Anyway, George engaged in his professional activities, not missing the Sunday night meetings. Some of his Sunday School friends missed him and even tried to convince him to not skip their regular meetings, but he explained he had a full load of work to carry out, and, besides, he had learned that keeping a day to God would be a Sabbath, which would be detrimental to his Christian witness. If he dedicated a day to God, as was the custom of Israel, he would not be confirming that he found the rest of salvation in Christ.

His explanation seemed to make sense to the others, and nobody insisted with him about that anymore. And George kept on working seven days a week, just having his rest at night, going to church on Sunday nights and, occasionally, a few other nights during the week.

But one day, he felt weak and seemed especially touchy with his relatives. His wife didn’t like to see him working so hard, seven days a week, and told him to rest on Sundays. “No, I can’t for two reasons”, he explained. “First, my work load is really big and I have all this good people to serve with their order, and the deadlines are tight. Second, I learned with the pastor that I can’t dedicate a day exclusively to religious activities, because that would be a denial of my experience of resting in Christ’s salvation”.

So, he kept on with his regimen, but his condition, both physically and mentally, were just getting worse. He acquired an ulcer, and tried to resolve it taking over-the-counter medicines. But his immune system also was affected, and one night, as he was in the Church, he felt very weak and collapsed to the floor.

It was a big scare to his relatives and friends, and soon he was on a hospital bed. He was examined, and the doctor told his folks that his ulcers had gone wild, his general health was in a very poor condition, and his system was not ill prepared to face a flu epidemics in the region. Thus, to complicate things, he had contracted pneumonia and with all the other negative things in his health condition, he would not be able to survive.

George was told that he had not taken good care of his health, not giving attention to what the doctor had told him. That left all his relatives and friends very disturbed, but as he approach his last moments, he said to them all: “Well, my dear ones, I know that I am going to die soon, but tell the pastor that I followed faithfully his instructions. I didn’t keep a Sabbath but, instead, worked every day, because I didn’t want to deny my experience of salvation, which the Sabbath symbolizes, as the pastor taught us”.

Well, so George gave away his last breath, but he was consistent with what he had learned from his pastor. If someone says he was wrong to not save one day a week for resting remember that he was being consistent, and using his “Christian freedom” to not do that, concerned with avoiding this “Jewish Sabbath” thing.

Does that make any sense? How about whoever hides under the name Mr. Joseph River, who writes an article with an “Appeal to Adventists”, tell us what he thinks about that little story? Was George submitting to the plumbline?

A List of Pertinent Studies That Help Better Understand the Subjects and the Objections

Some of these studies, all based on the Bible, can be accessed on pages 1 and 2 of this series. Whoever wants to get information of where to find all of them please contact me through the e-mail indicated in my Profile.

* 10 Dilemmas of Those Who Deny The Validity of The 10 Commandments as Christian Norm

* 10 Reasons Why the Sabbath Is an Institution That Precedes the Sinai Event

* 10 Points for Reflection on the Continuity, Not Rupture, of the Decalogue as Norm of Christian Conduct

* 10 Anti-Sabbatarians’ Arguments and the Difficulties They Face In Their Theses


* The Balaam Factor

* Did the law end with John the Baptist?


* 10 Reasons Why the Sabbath is Not a Ceremonial Precept





* 10 Questions About the Sabbath for Anti-Sabbatarians to Think Seriously About

* 10 Main Reasons That Discredit the Observance of Sunday

* 10 Questions on the Theory of “Everydayism” -- (For reflection and possible answers by those who teach that there is no more “specific” Sabbath day to observe, just keep “every day”, or “any day”, to the Lord)

* 10 Serious Difficulties For the Advocates of Either Sunday Keeping or the “Nodayism/Anydayism/Everydayism”

* 10 Questions Regarding the Supposed Limitation of the Gentile Christians to Obey Only the “Noachian Laws”, Not the 10 Commandments -- (Some serious reflections for our Messianic-Jew friends)

* 10 Reasons Why the Sabbath Is the Most Important Commandment of the Decalogue

* 10 Questions The Anti-Sabbatarians Seem Incapable of Answering


* 10 Questions on Christ’s Attitudes Regarding the Sabbath

A. G. Brito
Sola Scriptura Ministry
Re: Ratzlaff & Co. Play the “One-Note Anti-Sabbatarian Samba” [Re: Azenilto] #96900
03/14/08 04:32 PM
03/14/08 04:32 PM
Azenilto  Offline OP
Active Member 2010
Full Member
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 231
Bessemer, Ala., USA

Are Seventh-day Adventists Afraid of Galatians?

The last edition of Proclamation! Magazine (Jan./Feb. 2008) brings a collection of more stories of disgruntled and/or disoriented Seventh-day Adventists who give their “testimonies” of how they “discovered freedom” (which means normally freedom from having to keep a Sabbath day and to care for the dietary laws, never referring in that sense to any of the other NINE commandments of the same law the Sabbath principle is part of).

But there is an article by ex-SDA professor Desmond Ford about his favorite subject, which is the Sanctuary doctrine, in which he criticizes the traditional SDA position without offering any better solution to the problems that Dan. 8:14 would present. He himself, in his thick book about his discussions on the matter, recognizes that this is one of the most difficult texts in the Bible for due interpretation. But it seems that the solution to the problems, which he doesn’t offer in the article, didn’t attract the attention of other scholars also preoccupied with the verse, so his simply criticizing doesn’t prove constructive at all. No real contribution for the “ideal” interpretation of this text, that stemming from his “rebellion” has led the Bible scholarship to adopt it, that I know of.

Well, the work of criticizing, destroying, defaming is always much easier than to build something better.

Anyway, in a final footnote, Mr. Ford and his wife Gillian are introduced as “sabbatarians”. That is interesting. . . So, Ford (who has authored very good material, even a whole book, defending the Sabbath institution), is used by Ratzlaff when what he says is convenient to him, but how about to suggest that his articles on the Sabbath and the validity of the Ten Commandments as the norm of Christian conduct be also used in future Proclamation! issues?

Now, let’s analyze one of these testimonies by former Adventists, like one authored by a certain Royce Earp. At certain point he presents this allegation:

What I read in Galatians changed my life. As an Adventist I had always believed that the commandments had been in place before the earth was made and that we are still under the law. But in Galatians Paul very clearly states that the law was given 430 years after the promise given to Abraham (Gal. 3:17), and he says that the law was put into place until the seed (Jesus) had come (Gal. 3:19). In Gal 3:19 he even says why the law was put into place; “It was added because of transgression.” If Paul were here today he might say, “You foolish Adventists! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, of by believing what you heard? . . . Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?”

This man is either very misinformed about the SDA official teachings, or very forgetful of what he learned along his years as a Seventh-day Adventist. Or, else, he knows the truth about our real teachings and sentiments regarding these matters but isn’t interested in what that is, for it would be an “inconvenient truth” to him. Well, if the latter is the case, then we have another situation of regrettable intellectual dishonesty on his part, as we see so often among critics of Seventh-day Adventism, those whom the Baptist apologist Walter Martin called “straw analysts”.

Now, if the Apostle Paul were here today, he wouldn’t be so concerned about what Seventh-day Adventists teach regarding this subject of law and grace, because if he had to criticize us regarding that, there would be lots of important Evangelical/Protestant scholars along the history of the Protestant Movement he would have to confront in the same fashion as imagined by this confused former SDA.

A little further down he continues showing his ignorance of not only SDA doctrine, but of what is taught by important instructors and thought-forming Christian leaders and pioneers. We have already seen some of these. Says he additionally:

The Adventists teach that the law is separated into ceremonial, civil, and moral laws, and this artificial division is the reason they keep some of the law and not all of it. Once again Paul is very clear about these issues. First, he says in Eph. 2:15 that the law is the commandments and regulations. (. . . by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations). He does not separate the law into three divisions. Second, he repeats Moses’ words in Deuteronomy when he says in Gal. 3:10, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law”. So on what authority do Ellen White and the Adventists say tat they can decided to keep only part of the law? I even did a Bible search on the computer looking for the words ceremonial, civil, and moral followed by the word law. They are non-existent.

Well, the Unitarians could use the same computer resource to look for such words as Trinity, personality of the Holy Spirit and not finding any of them, thus thinking of refuting our Trinitarian convictions. And how about such words so often used in religious material, such as theocracy, omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, millennium? They are all absent from the Bible . . .

Mr. Earp ignores that much before SDA’s began preaching the gospel as an organized church, the “division of the law” was already normally taught by the Reformers. Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and, later, Wesley clearly spoke of “moral law” and “ceremonial law”. And that is clearly thus defined in the Westminster Confession of Faith (of 1647), the Baptist Confession of Faith (of 1689, later revised by Charles Spurgeon in 1855 with small changes), the 39 Articles of Religion of the Church of England (official confessional document of Anglicans and Methodists, issued in 1571) and practically all the most important Bible commentaries authors, such as Albert Barnes, Matthew Henry, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, et alii.

But since he mentions Galatians, giving the impression that Seventh-day Adventists teach it wrong, or neglect even reading it, how about analyzing the important text of Gal 3:24, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith”.

Let’s start with John Calvin’s commentary regarding that text and its immediate context:

. . . for what end did sacrifices and washings serve but to keep the mind continually fixed on pollution and condemnation? When a man’s uncleanness is placed before his eyes, when the unoffending animal is held forth as the image of his own death, how can he indulge in sleep? How can he but be roused to the earnest cry for deliverance? Beyond all doubt, ceremonies accomplished their object, not merely by alarming and humbling the conscience, but by exciting them to the faith of the coming Redeemer. In the imposing services of the Mosaic ritual, every thing that was presented to the eye bore an impress of Christ. The law, in short, was nothing else than an immense variety of exercises, in which the worshippers were led by the hand to Christ.

That we might be justified by faith. He has already said that the law is not perfect, when he compared it to the training of childhood; but it would make men perfect if it bestowed upon them righteousness. What remains but that faith shall take its place? And so it does, when we, who are destitute of a righteousness of our own, are clothed by it with the righteousness of Christ. Thus is the saying accomplished, “he hath filled the hungry with good things.” (Luke 1:53.)

25. But after that faith is come. This phrase has been already considered. It denotes the brighter revelation of grace after that “the vail of the temple was rent in twain,” (Matthew 27:51,) which, we know, was effected by the manifestation of Christ. He affirms that, under the reign of Christ, there is no longer any childhood which needs to be placed under a schoolmaster, and that, consequently, the law has resigned its office, — which is another application of the comparison. There were two things which he had undertaken to prove, — that the law is a preparation for Christ, and that it is temporal. But here the question is again put, Is the law so abolished that we have nothing to do with it? I answer, the law, so far as it is a rule of life, a bridle to keep us in the fear of the Lord, a spur to correct the sluggishness of our flesh, — so far, in short, as it is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that believers may be instructed in every good work,” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17,)— is as much in force as ever, and remains untouched.

In what respect, then, is it abolished? Paul, we have said, looks at the law as possessing certain qualities, and those qualities we shall enumerate. It annexes to works a reward and a punishment; that is, it promises life to those who keep it, and curses all transgressors. Meanwhile, it requires from man the highest perfection and most exact obedience. It makes no abatement, gives no pardon, but calls to a severe reckoning the smallest offenses. It does not openly exhibit Christ and his grace, but points him out at a distance, and only when hidden by the covering of ceremonies. All such qualities of the law, Paul tells us, are abolished; so that the office of Moses is now at an end, so far as it differs in outward aspect from a covenant of grace. – (Underlined highlights added.)

Source: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom41.iii.v.vi.html

And let’s see some of other Bible commentaries regarding this subject:

Albert Barnes:

The Law performs the office of the ancient pedagogue, to lead us to the teacher or the instructor. That teacher or instructor is Christ. The ways in which the Law does this may be the following:

(1) It restrains us and rebukes us, and keeps us as the ancient pedagogue did his boys.

(2) The whole law was designed to be introductory to Christ. The sacrifices and offerings were designed to shadow forth the Messiah, and to introduce him to the world.

(3) The moral law - the Law of God - shows people their sin and danger, and thus leads them to the Saviour. It condemns them, and thus prepares them to welcome the offer of pardon through a Redeemer.

(4) It still does this. The whole economy of the Jews was designed to do this and under the preaching of the gospel it is still done. People see that they are condemned; they are convinced by the Law that they cannot save themselves, and thus they are led to the Redeemer. The effect of the preached gospel is to show people their sins, and thus to be preparatory to the embracing of the offer of pardon. Hence, the importance of preaching the Law still; and hence, it is needful that people should be made to feel that they are sinners, in order that they may be prepared to embrace the offers of mercy. . .

John Wesley:

[The law] was designed to train us up for Christ. And this it did both by its commands, which showed the need we had of his atonement; and its ceremonies, which all pointed us to him.

Matthew Henry:

. . . the terrors of the law are often used by the convincing Spirit, to show the sinner his need of Christ, to bring him to rely on his sufferings and merits, that he may be justified by faith. Then the law, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, becomes his loved rule of duty, and his standard for daily self-examination. In this use of it he learns to depend more simply on the Saviour.

This latter comment is in good harmony with Luther’s reasoning in his classical “Treatise Against the Antinomians”, where he not only calls the 10 Commandments “God’s Law” in its first lines, as asserts the importance of preaching the law to lead people to repentance, after presenting his protest against some who implied he had rejected the Ten Commandments as a Christian rule of conduct.

Certain phrases in italics [but for book titles] and bold in the original where all made as normal type; also the interspersed footnote numbers within the text were not included:

“I wonder exceedingly, how it came to be imputed to me, that I should reject the Law or ten Commandments, there being extant so many of my own expositions (and those of several sorts) upon the Commandments, which also are daily expounded, and used in our Churches, to say nothing of the Confession and Apology, and other books of ours. Add hereunto the custom we have to sing the Commandments in two different tunes; besides the painting, printing, carving, and rehearsing them by children, both morning, noon, and evening; So that I know no other way than what we have used, but that we do not (alas!) as we ought, really express and delineate them in our lives and conversations. And I myself as old as I am, use to [have it for my custom to] recite them daily, as a child, Word for Word; so that if any should have mistaken, what I had written, he might (seeing and feeling as it were, how vehemently I use to urge these Catechetical exercises) in reason have been persuaded to call upon me, and demand these or the like questions. What? Good Doctor Luther, dost thou press so eagerly the ten Commandments, and yet teachest withal, that they must be rejected? . . .

[To be concluded in the next thread]

Re: Ratzlaff & Co. Play the “One-Note Anti-Sabbatarian Samba” [Re: Azenilto] #96903
03/14/08 04:41 PM
03/14/08 04:41 PM
Azenilto  Offline OP
Active Member 2010
Full Member
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 231
Bessemer, Ala., USA

[Conclusion of previous thread]

“Verily, I have taught and still teach, that sinners must be moved to Repentance by the preaching & pondering of the sufferings of Christ, that they may see how great the wrath of God is against sin: and that it cannot be otherwise expiated but by the death of the son of God. . . . But how doth it hence follow, that therefore the law must be taken away? I find no such inference in my Logick; and I would gladly see or hear that Logician, that would demonstrate the truth of this conclusion. When Isaias saith, chapter 53, I have smitten him for the sins of my people; I pray tell me; here Christ’s sufferings are preached, that he was smitten for our sins: Is the Law hereby rejected? what is the meaning of these words: For the sins of my people? Is not this the sense of them: Because my people have sinned against my law, and not kept the same? Or can it be imaginable, that there should be any sin, where there is no law? Whosoever abrogates the law, must of necessity abrogate sin also. If he must suffer sin to be, he must much more suffer the being of the law. For the Apostle saith: Rom. 5: Where no law is, there is no sin. If there be no sin, then Christ is nothing. For why died he, if there were no law nor sin, for which he ought to die? Hence you may see, that the Devil intends, by this Ghostly Gambold to take away, not so much the law, as Christ, the fulfiller of the law.

“For he knows too well, that Christ may quickly & lightly be forgotten: but the law being engraven in the bottom of the heart, it is impossible to raze it out, as you may observe in the complaints, which are uttered by the blessed Saints of God in the Psalms, that are not able to undergo the wrath of God: which can be nothing else by the lively preaching of the law in their consciences.

The preaching of the Law necessary both before & after conversion

Let me therefore beseech you (Good Mr. Doctor) to continue, as hitherto you have, in the pure doctrine, and to preach, that sinners can, and must, be drawn to Repentance, not only by the sweetness of grace, that Christ suffered and died for us, but also by the terrors of the Law. For when they pretend, that we must follow but one kind of Method in teaching the Doctrine of Repentance (to wit, that Christ suffered for us) lest all Christendom should deviate from the true and only way; this is little to the purpose. For it is our duty to improve all manner of means (such as are divine Menaces, Promises, Punishments, Blessings, and whatever helps we can) to bring men to Repentance: I mean, by all the Precedents in the word, to bring them to the acknowledgment of sin, and of the Law.

The Law preached with Christ’s sufferings, for the preaching thereof, terrifieth more

I conclude therefore, that the Law, will we, nill we, must be preached, if we mean to preach Christ, though we should not use the word Law. For, do what you can, the conscience will be terrified by the Law, when it is told, that Christ was to fulfill the Law for us, at so dear a rate. Why therefore should any go about to abolish it, when it cannot be abolished? Yea, when by the abolition of it, it is the more firmly established, and deeper rooted? For the Law terrifies far more dreadfully, when I am told, that Christ the Son of God must necessarily satisfy the same for me, than if without Christ, and such great torments of the Son of God, it had been preached to me, with bare threatenings. For in the Son of God, I really see the wrath of God, which the Law declares but verbally, and with far less operation and efficacy.

Luther additionally comments in the same document about the many sectarians he had to confront along his experience as a Reformer, highlighting the “antinomians”.

In the footnotes, the compiler adds an interesting information (note 4): “Contrary to this, Towne the Antinomian saith we are freed from the Moral Law or Decalogue, with all its authority, dominion, offices, and effects. So [likewise] Saltmarsh, free grace, p. 140”.

The first note in the footnotes by the editor explains:

“This edition of Luther’s treatise ‘Against the Antinomians,’ is excerpted from Samuel Rutherford’s ‘Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist,’ (1648), part II, chapter XI, pages 69-80, where it is translated from the High Dutch in its entirety. The reader may wish to compare the text to a more recent translation available in Luther’s Works (American Edition), volume 47, pages 107-119, the text of which he will find to be in agreement with that which is provided here. Underlined headings are marginalia provided in Rutherford’s ‘Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist,’ whereby he seeks to direct the reader to make applications and comparisons with regards to the Antinomians of his own day, which are no less relevant at the present time. All footnotes are provided by Rutherford, saving only numbers 1, 2, and 10, provided by the present editor.”

Oh, by the way, the 430 years later (when the law was given at Sinai, after the Abrahamic pact)—Gal. 3:17—doesn’t mean that there was no God’s law before these four hundred something years, for even Abraham was a faithful and obedient servant of God’s laws, statutes and commandments (Gen. 26:5). As a Bible Moody Institute scholar explains:

“We should not suppose that the Ten Commandments were entirely new enactments when they were proclaimed from Sinai, for the Hebrew word torah is used in such previous passages of the Old Testament as Genesis 26:5; Exodus 12:49; Genesis 35:2 and 13:9; 16:4, 28; 18:16. [Genesis 4:26; 14:22; 31:53 are cited for the principle of the third; Genesis 2:3 and Exodus 16:22-30 for the fourth; Genesis 9:6, for the sixth; and Genesis 2:24 for the seventh.] The Decalogue may therefore be regarded as the full and solemn declaration of duties which had been more or less revealed previously, and this public enunciation took place under absolutely unique circumstances. We are told that the ‘ten words’ were spoken by God’s own voice (Exod. 20:1; Deut. 5:4, 22-26); and twice afterwards ‘written on tables of stones with the finger of God’ (Exod. 24:12; 31:18; 32:16; 34:1; 28; Deut. 4:13; 5:22; 9:10; 10:1-4), thus appealing alike to the ear and eye, and emphasizing both their supreme importance and permanent obligation”. – William C. Procter, Moody Bible Institute Monthly, October 1933, p. 49. [As quoted in Bible Readings for the Home, Mountain View, Cal, Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1967, p. 283].

What Paul is saying is that the promise of the pact with Abraham at the beginning of the promise made to him, up to the time of the law’s solemn proclamation at Sinai--to serve as basis of this covenant extended to Israel--there is a span of 430 years, and this establishment of the Sinai covenant doesn’t annul the promise made to the patriarch. On the contrary, it is the natural development of God’s plan to have the Messiah coming through his seed.

As to the question of salvation by faith, nothing changed, for Israel also was saved through faith in the coming Messiah, as the offerings and other rites instituted at the Sinai covenant had the purpose of pointing forward to.

Now, one more point within the epistle of Galatians, that some people think is a “torture” to Seventh-day Adventists. Everybody knows how the phrase “under the law” is often used negatively to characterize those who defend the observance of the Sabbath commandment. Now, how about a brief analysis of this expression, as we find it in the Galatians epistle? Let’s see how Paul articulates this question in Gal. 5:16-25:

“I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that, ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit”.

What do you have here? A contrast between those who are “led by the Spirit” and those who are “under the law”. Now, the ones “led by the Spirit” produce those fruits listed in vs. 22ss. In contrast, those who are NOT “led by the Spirit” do what? They are the ones who practice all those sins listed in vs. 19-21. Then, contrary to the common interpretation of anti-sabbatarians, those who are “under the law” ARE NOT whoever obeys it, but the ones who commit sin. They are “under the law” in the sense that it condemns them.

Now, when we compare that with what we read in Rom. 8:3-8, what do we find there? The language is very similar: the ones who are not led by the Spirit are those who live according to the flesh. Then, we read in vs. 8 and 9:

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God”.

The language of “NOT subject to the law of God” is clearly related to sinners, not those who obey the law. The latter are contrasted with the ones who live according to the flesh, not led by the Spirit. For these last ones are those who display in their lives, “the righteousness of the law”, because they “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (vs. 4).

And what “law of God” would that be, but the one that in the context Paul himself identified as that he served with his mind (Rom. 7:25), and the one (holy, just, good, spiritual—vs. 12, 14, 22) that brings the precept “ye shall not covet”—vs. 7, 8?

Thus, in harmony with Romans, the clear message in Galatians 5:16-25 is in perfect agreement with our teachings regarding obedience to the law of God, so why should Seventh-day Adventist fear to read and base their faith on what Paul has to teach us in his epistle to the Galatians?

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as well as the Seventh-day Adventist Church
from the local church level to the General Conference level.

Maritime 2nd Advent Believers OnLine (formerly Maritime SDA OnLine) is also a self-supporting ministry
and is not part of, or affiliated with, or endorsed by
The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland
or any of its subsidiaries.

"And He saith unto them, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matt. 4:19
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