Back to Alphabetical Index | Back to Chapter Index


Q. When was the Sabbath revealed to humanity?

A. In order to answer this question, we must go back to the very beginning  of  the Genesis record and  review  the  circumstances surrounding the creation of Adam and Eve and the nature of their relationship with their Creator.

Adam and Eve

After  God  created Adam and Eve, he placed them  into  a  garden (Gen.2:8-9)  where he protected them and provided for all  their needs. Adam was to tend the garden and eat its produce (Gen.2:15-17).  Adam  had no occupation, trade, or profession; he  did  not have  to work for a living, nor did he have to work to  acquire wealth.  God provided all of his needs, and all that Adam needed to do was tend the garden.

Adam  and Eve had free use of everything in the garden with  one exception;  they  were  not to eat of the  Tree  of  the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen.2:16-17).

As long as they obeyed this instruction they had no knowledge  or understanding of sin (Rom.7:7). Paul says, "But sin is not imputed  when  there is no law" (Rom.5:13); therefore,  prior  to their disobedience, Adam and Eve were sinless individuals because they had no knowledge of the law.

After  they  disobeyed God by eating the forbidden  fruit,  three  things happened to them:

1. They  gained the knowledge of  good and evil (Gen.3:22). Consequently,  they  became aware of the  Law of  God  (Rom.3:20; Gen.4:1-7),  which includes the Sabbath commandment.

2. They  became  aware  of the penalty  for  violating  the  law (Rom.6:23).

3. They  were evicted from the garden and told  that  they would have to work for a living (Gen.3:17-24) and that God  would no longer provide for their needsCthey would have to  work to  sustain their life and acquire wealth.

Because Adam and Eve had no knowledge of God's law before they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they had no knowledge of the Sabbath while they  remained under God's care in the garden. But, after being expelled from the garden,  they  had to work for a  living (Gen.3:17-24), and because  the law had been revealed to them, the Sabbath  commandment applied to them and their descendants.  For a complete study of  the  garden experience of Adam and Eve, see our  study paper "Genesis 3."


Q. May a Christian keep any day of the week as the Sabbath?

Some people quote Romans 14:5 as proof that a Christian may  keep any day of the week as their Sabbath? Did Paul say it was permissible for a person to replace the Sabbath day with any other day on  which they wanted to worship? Or, are people  reading  something into the Bible that is not there?

A. In order to answer the above question, we must first  see  if Paul kept the Law of God:

"But this I confess unto you,  that after the way which they call heresy,  so worship I the God of my fathers believing all  things which are written in the law and the prophets" (Acts 24:14 KJV).

Here, we find Paul being accused of heresy by the Jews because he was following Christ.  His rebuttal to this accusation is that  he still  believed  everything  contained in the  original  covenant with national Israel, including the seventh-day Sabbath.

There is no question that the apostle Paul respected the  laws of the   covenant that still had value for Christians.   He  worshiped  on  the  Sabbath  with Jews  and  Greeks   (Acts  18:4,9; 17:1,10,17), he spent the  days of Unleavened Bread at  Philippi (Acts 20:16), he was hurrying to Jerusalem to observe Pentecost  (Acts  20:6), he assumed a Nazarite  vow  at  Cenchrea (Acts 18:18), he purified himself at the temple to prove that  he lived  in observance of the law (Acts 21:24), and he had  Timothy circumcised (Acts 16:3).

Because  Paul observed the Sabbath as instructed by the law,  it  is not logical that he would teach others that it was permissible  to pick any day of the week as the Sabbath.

Was Romans 14:5  really speaking of the Sabbath?

"One  man esteems one day above another:  another  esteems  every day  alike.   Let every man be fully persuaded in his  own  mind" (Rom.14:5 KJV).

Notice that the Sabbath day is never  mentioned in this verse.  If Paul had been giving  permission to call any day the Sabbath, he would have been more  direct and  given much more detail. All he said was that some  individuals  feel  that one day is better than another, and  to  some individuals, one day is just like another, and that each individual must make their own decision regarding the day they choose. Verse 6, explains what Paul is speaking of in verse 5:

"He that eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks" (v6).

What Paul says in verse six, sounds very much like something that someone would say prior to eating a meal, as they thanked God for the food he has provided. Notice he went on to say:  "He that eats not, to the Lord he eats not, and gives God thanks."

Once in a while, a person finds it necessary to fast and pray in  a time  of great spiritual or physical need, either for  themselves or  for  others.  This is what Paul refers to. The  one  who chooses  not to eat is fasting, but he also gives thanks to  God. In verses 5 and 6,  Paul  refers to a person choosing a day on which to  perform a food fast. This day would only be a special day to the one who chooses to fast on it. This day has nothing to do with the Sabbath observance.


Q. Are there certain occupations, professions, or  trades  that may legally be performed on the Sabbath without violating it?

A. The answer is  yes and no, depending  on what God's law clearly allows and does not allow and the person's motivation for doing the work.

It should be obvious that some types of occupations, professions, and trades are not ones that are beneficial to a Christian lifestyle.  However, it is conceivable that almost all physical  work under certain circumstances could be considered  spiritual  work for a short time.

There are a number of clear scriptures that give guidelines  as to what kinds of occupations, professions, and trades may or may not  be performed on the Sabbath.

For a child of God to pursue any type of work on the Sabbath dictates  that they consider their actions and attitudes very  carefully.

The Priesthood

It is clear that the priests that officiated at the tabernacle and  later at the temple were required to work on the Sabbath  and the annual festivals in order to perform their duties.  However, this  work was being done for a spiritual purpose and  was  commanded  by  God to be performed.

The Ministry

The ministers of the early church also labored on the Sabbath. They preached  sermons,  healed the sick, and performed other normal ministerial duties on the Sabbath. This is how they earned  their living. However, this work was considered spiritual work just as the priesthood's work of labor was considered spiritual work.

The Medical Profession

Those in the medical profession earn their living from caring for the  sick and injured, but does  God allow for the sick  and  injured to be cared for on the Sabbath? The answer is yes,  because it is the compassionate and loving thing to do.

Civil Service

Q. Would it be permissible to be employed in police  work,  fire protection, or as a soldier on the Sabbath?

A. In  ancient  Israel and during Christ's time,  there  were  temple guards and soldiers whose function it was to protect  life and property.  It is obvious that without these types of  professions no one's life or property would be safe; therefore, they  are  a necessary part of this world.

God  understood that there was a need for these  occupations  and professions  and made allowance for them (2.Kgs.11:19;  Neh.4:22-23).  Guards did not cease to perform their  duties  on  the Sabbath (Neh.13:15-21), nor did soldiers (Matt.27:62-66).

Before  the ministry of Christ, we see  John  baptizing  people because they had repented and wanted to follow God:

"Then  came  also publicans to be baptized, and said  to  him Master, what shall we do? And he said to them, Exact no more than that  which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of  him, saying, what shall we do? And he said to them,  Do  violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content  with your wages" (Lk.3:12-14 KJV).

John  was the son of a priest of God and  was preparing the  way for  Christ's ministry, but he did not tell the soldiers to  quit their occupation; he  told them to be just and fair in performing their  duty. At that time in history, it was lawful to be  a  soldier.

As  the early church began to preach the gospel and God began  to call  many to become his sons, we see a number of accounts  where those  in  civil service were called to  repentance  and  baptism (Acts  8:26-38,  10:1-4;34-48; 16:23-36).  We are not  told  what happened  to  these individuals after their baptism,  but  it  is clear  that none were required to quit their jobs before baptism.

Work on the Sabbath

Obviously,  there  are  a number of  problems  concerning  Sabbath observance that  must be resolved by those whose  occupation  or profession sometimes makes it necessary for them to work on  the Sabbath.

If a person  is engaged in work that is not in violation of the law  of the  Sabbath  (e.g., humanitarian work or  protective  services), that  person must still observe the letter and the spirit of  the law; therefore, there are a  number of questions that  must  be resolved:

Because  of  these  and other questions concerning  work  on  the Sabbath,  some may decide to make a change in the way  they  earn their living.

Because each of these  work situations has its own unique  set  of problems  and circumstances, each must be dealt with on an  individual  basis,  and each must be resolved so that a person  has  a clear conscience in their relationship with God the Father  concerning the Sabbath.


Many ask if Sabbath observance is required for salvation?  As  we shall  see, the answer really depends upon the person  doing  the asking. Before one can answer this question correctly, one should really  decide  whether or not  they truly want to obey God  or  are just looking for an excuse not to obey God.

A Christian is a  person who has done the following thing:

As  a  result of receiving the holy spirit, one   will  have  the desire to obey God, especially when shown new truth.  But, to say a  person is not a  Christian because he does not understand  or keep the  Sabbath is to make a judgment that only  God  has  the prerogative to make.

There is absolute proof that God wants us to observe the  Sabbath and  his other laws, because observing these laws is good for  us (Deut.30:15-19).  There  is  also absolute proof  that  God  will destroy  those  who will not follow his way of  life  (1.Jn.3:4).  God  is extremely fair, just, and merciful with humanity,  but  he does demand obedience:

"Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to  him it  is sin" (Jms.4:17 Para.).  

Herein lies a basic spiritual  principle:  If a person knows what is good and righteous and  chooses that which is ungodly and evil, sin is imputed to  that  person, and the  performance of sin requires that the death  penalty  be administered to that person (Rom.6:23).  

The  answer to the question of whether or not you  must  observe the seventh-day Sabbath to obtain salvation can be answered by asking yourself four  questions:

1. Do I understand what the Sabbath is and what it symbolizes?

2. Do I understand that God commands it to be observed?

3. Do  I   understand  that breaking the Sabbath is  a  sin  and punishable by eternal death unless repented of and covered by the blood of Christ?

4. Do  I understand  that repentance means  to  stop  practicing sin?

If the answer is yes to the above questions, Sabbath observance is a requirement for your salvation. No one can earn  salvation  by  keeping the Sabbath, but one must keep it in  order  to maintain a good relationship with God.

God  will not condemn us for what we do not know or   understand.  Salvation is an individual matter between you and the God Family,  and not between you and some other person.  Your salvation  is your responsibility (Phil.2:12), and  God  holds each individual responsible for their own salvation.

No  one can earn salvation by keeping the Sabbath commandment  or any  other law of God. Salvation cannot be earned, it is  a  gift from  the Father, which he gives through the sacrifice  of Jesus Christ.  However,  obedience to the law of God is a part  of  the terms and conditions of a person's agreement with God the  Father. Therefore,  a person will not receive salvation unless they live up  to their part of their covenant agreement with God.

For  those who do not understand the Sabbath, it is not  required that they keep it for salvation  only because they do not understand. However, it would seem highly unlikely that a person could come to repentance and be given the holy spirit of  God  without understanding  the Sabbath, which is a part of the  Ten  Commandments.   However, this is God's decision to make, and not  man's.  Here again, one is only judged for the spiritual  knowledge that one possesses.

However,  this  does not mean that a person will not  suffer  the consequences  of  breaking  God's physical  and  spiritual  laws.  Blessings  come  from obedience to his laws, and  penalties  come from breaking them.  His laws are empirical and without  dependence  upon  humans for their enforcement.

A Deadly Mistake

A deadly mistake in regard to obedience and disobedience is being made  by  many whom God has called.  Some do not  yet  understand that  spiritual knowledge from God must be acted upon positively by the recipient.  God the Father and Jesus Christ are  extremely serious about our salvation.  They are so serious that they  have placed  the powers of the universe at the disposal of those  who are called to salvation.

The calling of individuals to salvation is not a game to be taken lightly—it is a life or death matter. No one who is unwilling to obey God's rules of conduct will enter his eternal habitation.   For  those who obey, there is  salvation  and  eternal life; not salvation through works, but salvation through Christ. For those who do not obey, there is death and dishonor.

God  will not be mocked.  Those who wish to destroy the law  will be destroyed by it.  Those who say that  the Sabbath is not for  modern  man should remember that God says he  is  the  same yesterday, today, and forever. See Heb.1:12; 13:8.


Some  wonder how the Sabbath relates to the spirit world  and  if the Sabbath law is binding upon it.

"In  the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And  the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the  face of  the  deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face  of  the waters" (Gen.1:1-2 KJV).

The  process by which this physical dimension of time  and  space came  into  existence dictated that the spirit-energy of  God  be used. The Creator God defined this transfer of spirit-energy into a physical creation as his work. He said that he performed  this work  for six days (Ex.20:11) and then ceased from this  work  on the seventh day of his creative process:

"And  God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold,  it  was very  good. And the evening and the morning were the  sixth  day" (Gen.1:31 Para.).

Here we see the physical creation completed; however, this is not the end of God's creative process for the benefit of humanity.

It  is  important to understand that the Sabbath  did  not  exist before the creation of humanity, and that it was created  specifically  for humanity (Mk.2:27). This holy time, which  belongs to  God, pertains  to  humanity's physical  environment, and is as a spiritual bridge between God  and humanity (worship and spiritual growth).

Creation of the Seventh Day

"Thus  the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the  host of  them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he  had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had  made.  And God blessed the seventh day, and  set  it  apart: because  that in it he had rested from all his  work  which  God created and made" (Gen.2:1-3 KJV).

Since  God  had already completed his physical  creation  in  six days, what was the work that ended on the seventh day?

It was the work of creating the Sabbath, which  was ended on the seventh day (Mk.2:27).

The English word 'rest' that is used in Genesis 2:2-3 is  translated  from the  Hebrew word 'shabat', which means  'cease',  'desist', and 'rest'.  

It is obvious from scripture that God does not need to rest  from physical  labor  as  humans  do, because  he  never  gets  tired (Isa.40:28).  God  ceased his work because it was  finished,  not because he was tired or obeying his law concerning the Sabbath.

Sabbath Made for Humanity

The spiritual and physical dimensions of existence are two  completely  different  things. The weekly Sabbath is only a  day  of rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation for humans.

"The  Sabbath  was  made for man, not  man  for  the  Sabbath" (Mk.2:27 NIV).

The  Sabbath  rule concerning work does not apply to  the  spirit world,  because the Sabbath was not made for it. The Sabbath  was made to benefit physical humans.

The  Father,  Jesus Christ, and the Angels perform  work  on  the Sabbath;  however, this work is not in violation of  the  Sabbath law that prohibits work,  because the law of the Sabbath does not apply to them. It only applies to physical beings doing  physical work.


There are basically two questions that are most often asked  concerning food and the Sabbath:

Q. How much cooking may be done on the Sabbath? And, is it permissible to purchase a meal in a restaurant or  food from a market on the  Sabbath?

A. As  we know, a person must  eat on the Sabbath day just like on any other day of the week; therefore, food  must be  prepared.  Most food preparation can and should be done  on Friday (preparation day). But it is not wrong to warm food or do a small amount of food preparation on the Sabbath (Ex.12:16).

Remember  the instruction is to cease from one's normal  work  on the Sabbath. If cooking is how one makes their living six days a week, one should not cook on the Sabbath. If cooking is  a part  of one's  daily household duties, then one should take a break  from this type of activity, or at the very least, minimize the  amount of  effort involved in food preparation by preparing most  of  it before the start of the Sabbath.

Q. Is it permissible to purchase a meal in a restaurant or  food from a market on the  Sabbath?

A. The instructions concerning the Sabbath include preparing for its observance. Biblical and historical evidence clearly show that a part of this preparation concerned the preparation of food to eat on the Sabbath (Ex.16:23-30; Mk.15:42-42).

If  God ruled this world and all people observed the  Sabbath  in the   letter  and the spirit of the law, this  problem  would  not exist; however, this is not the situation today.

Q. If  for some  reason a person is away from home or  traveling  on the Sabbath and without the means to prepare food, should  a  person fast on the Sabbath?  Or may food be purchased?

A. Clearly if one continually makes a practice of purchasing food  on the Sabbath without any forethought or effort to prepare for one's meals, it would be a violation of the Sabbath. However, there may be circumstances that prevent meal preparation before the Sabbath; therefore, it would seem to be  a  matter  of conscience whether one purchases food or not. What one person might find acceptable, another may not find acceptable.