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The Sabbath is mentioned about one hundred and forty-five times in the whole Bible (KJV), in the Old Testament the Sabbath is mentioned about ninety times and in almost all the texts it is an instruction to Israel to keep the Sabbath holy.

Exodus 31:12 NASB

12 Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 13 “Now as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You must keep My Sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, so that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.

Exodus 35:1-3 NASB

35 Then Moses assembled all the congregation of the sons of Israel, and said to them, “These are the things that the Lord has commanded you to [a]do:

2 “For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy day, a Sabbath of complete rest to the Lord; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. 3 You shall not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.”

But in the New Testament, it is mentioned about fifty-five times and in almost every text it is used as an index or marker of the cycle of the week as well as relative to an event that took place

Matthew 12:1 NASB

[a]At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat

Luke 6:7 NASB

7 Now the scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him [d]closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse Him.

I picked randomly the above texts but it seems most of them only refer to the Sabbath relative to the events that were taking place. There seems to be no clear instruction to keep the Sabbath in the New Testament. But many churches do teach that Christians are to keep the Sabbath.

So what is the Biblical Basis for Christians keeping the Sabbath?

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There are some Sabbath-keeping churches. The most obvious is the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but there is a list of them.

The following quotations were taken from the Seventh Day Baptists website. This church has approximately 45,000 members, and was created in 1650.

Similarly to the Seventh-day Adventists, the Seventh Day Baptists also hold that the Ten Commandments are part of the moral law of God, and they apply to Christians today.

The Ten Commandments are an expression of God’s very nature and will, which is unchangeable. Jesus Christ did not come to change even the smallest portion of the moral law (Matthew 5:17-18). Some say that Christ changed the Sabbath from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week. That would require a change in the law. The moral law says that “the seventh day is the Sabbath” and not the first day of the week. In no place does the Bible tell us of this change in the law from the seventh to the first day of the week.

The Creation

They understand that the Sabbath is part of the Creation:

God created the heavens and the earth. Though the creation of the heavens and earth was complete on the sixth day of creation, there was one thing yet to be created, the Sabbath.

From Genesis 2:1-4 and Genesis 2:2-3, they understand that

  1. God rested on the seventh day, Sabbath.
  2. God blessed the seventh day, Sabbath.
  3. God sanctified or made holy the seventh day, Sabbath.

One thing worth to note is that Genesis does not mention the word "Sabbath". Despite this, Seventh Day Baptists find clear the Sabbath was established in Genesis.

The Law

From the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:11, they understand that:

  1. God tells us that the seventh day is the Sabbath.
  2. God commands us to remember the Sabbath day.
  3. God commands us to keep the Sabbath holy.
  4. God commands us to rest on the Sabbath.
  5. “Sabbath to the Lord” is a day dedicated to Him.

They keep the Sabbath holy because "The Fourth Commandment goes on to tell us why". According to their interpretation, it all goes back to the Creation.

We are to keep the Sabbath holy and rest, because God kept the Sabbath holy and rested on that day. The Sabbath is holy because God “made it holy” at creation. We are to rest on the Sabbath because God set the example for Sabbath rest at creation.

Jesus

They understand that the Ten Commandments are the "expression of God’s very nature and will, which is unchangeable". For this reason, Christ did not change the Sabbath from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week. They also consider the main issue in the Woes of the Pharisees is due the corruption of the Sabbath.

The Sabbath was the commandment most corrupted by the Pharisees. So, it is not surprising that it was over Sabbath-keeping that Jesus would have most of his conflict with the Pharisees. The Sabbath issue between Christ and the Pharisees is never over which day to worship or over whether the Sabbath was still part of God’s desire for man. The issue for Christ was the way in which the Sabbath was being kept and the Pharisees’ attitude toward the Sabbath.

They interpret Luke 4:16, of Jesus observing the Sabbath, as an example we should follow:

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. (Luke 4:16 ESV)

The word of God tells that Jesus was a Sabbathkeeper. It was the Son of God who blessed and sanctified the Sabbath at creation by resting. This rest was the first example that Adam and Eve had in the Garden. When the Son of God became flesh, he once again set the example for Sabbathkeeping.

Early church

Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. (Luke 23:56 ESV)

Seventh Day Baptists defend Paul and Luke kept the Sabbath, following the example of Christ, for us to follow.

Some would say that the women simply had not yet been told by Jesus that the Sabbath was abolished. But remember, Luke is writing this several decades after the death and resurrection of Christ. He in no way qualifies the fourth commandment being kept by the women as something that was “done away with” or something that is “Jewish” or “passed away.” Luke simply describes their Sabbathkeeping as something “in obedience to the commandment.” Apparently Luke, the writer of the gospel, felt that the Sabbath was still one of the commandments of God at the time he wrote it.

The Gospel of Luke was probably written between 80-90 AD, and it is worth mentioning that writings from the early church in 101 AD show that Christians understood that:

Those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's day on which our life was sprung by him and his death. (Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians)

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    It hardly seems conclusive to say the Early Church observed the Sabbath based upon literally the last Sabbath before the resurrection. It's fairly common to make a distinction between pre- and post- resurrection (or pre- and post- Pentecost) for whether the law is in effect.
    – eques
    Sep 22 at 14:29

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