In Gen. 2:2,3 we read:

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 sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

If God kept the weekly Sabbath, showing thereby that Sabbath observance originated with Him, why then do Christians call it the Jewish Sabbath? How do we interpret Gen. 2:2,3 -- does it indicate that the Sabbath observed by God is the day sanctified for everyone?

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    Christians kept the Sabbath when they were Jewish but they were also meeting on Sunday because of the resurrection day. Slowly the Sabbath changed from Saturday to Sunday and they forgot about original Sabbath. Gentiles never observed Jewish Sabbath. It is just a tradition.
    – Michael16
    Apr 16, 2022 at 3:24
  • @Michael16 your comment makes no sense. Two things: you say they 'forgot about the Sabbath'. The 4th commandment starts with the word remember, I doubt they forgot it. Secondly, if the Sabbath is Jewish, why does God keep it in Eden before sin and before any Jews existed? Sunday is a tradition. Go ask the mother church and she will tell you that Sunday is the mark of her authority. Tradition, not the Bible, is the foundation for Sunday as a day of rest.
    – user58803
    Apr 16, 2022 at 8:20
  • Andries, I should say they deliberately hated and removed the Tradition of religion like Sabbath since the the mainstream or ruling Christians were deeply Marcionians who rejected the God of OT as an evil different God. The Roman Church. However its not a big deal to change the Sabbath since it's just tradition.
    – Michael16
    Apr 16, 2022 at 8:30
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    1. He blessed and sanctified it. 2. Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy . . . . by not working as a means of having a relationship with Deity . I think you are missing the whole point in favour of a legalistic attitude to an ordinance. See my answer below.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 16, 2022 at 9:39
  • @NigelJ please go see my answer about Sabbath observance and decide if I am legalistic: christianity.stackexchange.com/a/90592/58803
    – user58803
    Apr 16, 2022 at 10:01

7 Answers 7


From an hermeneutical perspective, there is no question of interpretation of this verse; sunset Friday to sunset Saturday is the sabbath day. This is obvious from the fact that several modern languages have a name for the seventh day of the week similar to "sabbath", even in very Christian countries. For instance "sábado" in Spanish.

But not all Christians call it the Jewish Sabbath; some also consider it the Christian Sabbath too (or more properly God's Sabbath).

Even the Catholic Church acknowledges that sunset Friday to sunset Saturday is the sabbath day, and take pride in the fact that it was strictly by the power of the Church that the day of solemnity was transferred from the biblical sabbath day to Sunday:

Cardinal James Gibbons affirmed Sunday observances as one of the examples of the Roman Catholic Church's sufficiency as guide:

Now the Scriptures alone do not contain all the truths which a Christian is bound to believe, nor do they explicitly enjoin all the duties which he is obliged to practice. Not to mention other examples, is not every Christian obliged to sanctify Sunday and to abstain on that day from unnecessary servile work? Is not the observance of this law among the most prominent of our sacred duties? But you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify.
— Faith of Our Fathers, Cardinal Gibbons, p. 72

See my answer to Who changed the Sabbath to Sunday according to the Seventh Day Adventists? - Christianity Stack Exchange for more details and specific references.


Male and female were created, saith Jesus, Mark 10:6, 'from the beginning of creation'.

And we see that Paul, when covering the aspects of how to, properly, conduct ourselves in regard to that facet of our own humanity, Paul says that it is a 'great mystery', Ephesians 5:32, as he applies that which God expressed in creation to what is pertinent to Christian Life in the Church.

The creation of male and female was an expression, by the Creator, of Himself and His ultimate Purpose in creation. (The physical creation not being an end in itself, but a necessary step prior to a greater revelation and an eternal state of glory.)

Christ and the Church was ever in the eye of the Creator.

Likewise, the matter of the sabbath.

From the beginning of creation, God worked six days and then rested the seventh, at rest in the goodness of what he had made.

But that 'sabbath of rest' ended, and in the 'cool of the day', the voice of the Lord God walked in the garden, Genesis 3:8. No longer at rest. Now in motion. Activity.

For the first humanity had failed of its purpose. Created spirit, created womanhood and created manhood had conspired together to live by a different means (the knowledge of good and evil) than the Creator.

Thus, there was more work to be done :

My Father worketh hitherto, and I work ... [John 5:17 KJV].

The sabbath, expressed by God in the beginning, (but not commented upon again, as such) was instituted by Moses as part of the covenant between God and fallen humanity (the seed of Adam) to set forth on earth a demonstration (by artifact and ritual and sacrificial performance) of the everlasting testament.

The sabbath sets forth the eternal rest of faith.

The setting forth of that spiritual truth, the rest of faith, was to be the job of Israel - a testimony to all of fallen humanity.

But that ritual was not the reality of the thing being signified.

The reality is entered into by faith, the writer to the Hebrews makes plain, 4:3-6 :

Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

For we which have believed do enter into rest ...

The Jewish sabbath is that enjoined upon Israel as a figure.

The reality of the figure is the resting in Christ for salvation - by faith.

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    I find your reasoning flawed. You say: Likewise, the matter of the sabbath. Yet you keep to male and female and marriage as ordained by God in Eden. You want to bring out the spiritual significance of marriage as related to eternal matters while keeping the observance of the marital ordinance to this day and yet you fail to do so after bringing out the spiritual significance of the Sabbath. According to you own logic and practice about marriage you should be keeping the Sabbath too then.
    – user58803
    Apr 16, 2022 at 9:09
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    What totally blows my mind about answers like this is their failure to account for the clear reference in the 4th commandment to God as the creator and the fact that He rested on the seventh day. If the Sabbath was indeed a mere type or figure only applicable to Jews then such an idea is clearly ripped to shreds by even a superficial reading of the fourth commandment. If He tells Jews to look to a time when there were no Jews for their concept of the Sabbath, then I cannot imagine the Sabbath as being 'Jews only', especially since He cites His own example of keeping it as authority for it
    – user58803
    Apr 16, 2022 at 9:21
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    @AndriesStander I don't follow the logic of either of these two comments. Feel free to invite me to a chat as I prefer not to discuss complex details in comment. Regards.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 16, 2022 at 9:30
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 16, 2022 at 12:05

The Sabbath commandment is about as Jewish as the rest of the 10 commandments which were all known well before their formal written record provided as Sinai - see appendix below.

And because the 10 commandments were known before Sinai, none is distinctly Jewish but all were given to all humanity. More specifically, the specific purpose of the Sabbath was to commemorate both creation (Gen 2:1-3, Ex 20:8-11, 31:16, 17) and re-creation (Ex 31:12-17, Eze 20:12, 20), that is, God’s saving power. There is nothing "Jewish" about such commemoration.

Further, in numerous European peoples and their various languages have "Sabbath" for the 7th day of the week (“Saturday”), such as: Subbota (Morduin), Subota (Permian), Szombat (Hungarian), Sabbaton (Greek), Sabato (Italian), Sabado (Spanish), Sabbado (Portuguese), Samedi (French), Sobota (Polish), etc, etc.

Numerous ancient peoples (more ancient than Jesus and the apostles) similarly preserve Saturday as the seventh day, eg, Coptic, Kabyle, Pashto, Persian, Armenian, Kurdish, Brahuiky, Turkish, Lazen, etc, etc.

There is nothing much "Jewish" about these peoples and languages.

APPENDIX - Ten Commandments before Sinai

The following (far from exhaustive) list shows that people knew of the ten commandments well before the formal giving at Mt Sinai. Indeed, we have the very general comment –

  • Gen 26:5, because Abraham listened to My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.

Commandment #1 – Worship only YHWH:

  • Gen 22:5, 24:26, 48, 52 all describe worship of the true God of heaven, YHWH.
  • Gen 35:1-4 – Jacob instructs his whole household to eliminate all foreign gods

Commandment #2 – Idolatry prohibited

  • Gen 31:32-35 – Jacob clearly understood that idolatry was forbidden.
  • Gen 35:1-4 – Jacob instructs his whole household to eliminate all foreign gods

Commandment #3 –Cursing and taking the name of the LORD in vain prohibited

  • Job 1:5 – When these celebrations ended—sometimes after several days—Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular practice.

Commandment #4 – Sabbath worship

  • Gen 2:1-3 – Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. And by the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on that day He rested from all His work. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because on that day He rested from all the work of creation that He had accomplished.
  • Ex 5:5 - And Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest [שָׁבַת shabath] from their burdens!”
  • Ex 16 also records the incident with manna and that collecting manna on the seventh-day Sabbath was forbidden

Commandment #5 – Respect for parents, elders and authority

  • Gen 28:6, 7 tells of the story of Jacob following his mother’s advice. Respect for parents is built into the very fabric of the patriarchal stories in Genesis.

Commandment #6 – Sanctity of Human life

  • Gen 4:8-12, 15 records Cain’s punishment for the sin of murder
  • Gen 4:23, 24 – Lamech realizes that he has murdered someone and will suffer consequences
  • Gen 9:5, 6 records that murder was prohibited under the ancient Noahide covenant

Commandment #7 – Adultery prohibited

  • Gen 12:10-20, 20:1-17, 26:6-11 all record “adultery narratives” in which the patriarch is (correctly) chided for almost tricking a pagan king into committing adultery
  • Gen 19 records the appalling events involving attempted pack-rape of the two angels
  • Gen 39:7-9 – Joseph calls Potiphar’s wife proposal “a great evil and sin against God”.
  • Gen 49:4 – Reuben is scalded for his sin of incest
  • Gen 34 – the story of Dinah records a heinous incident involving her defilement (plus murder and lying)

Commandment #8 – Stealing prohibited and respect for property

  • Gen 30:33 – Laban and Jacob discuss the problem of stealing of wages and property
  • Gen 31:32-35 – Laban is angry about the sin of stealing the household gods
  • Gen 44:9 – Joseph’s brother accused of stealing his divination cup.

Commandment #9 – Lying prohibited; insistence of honesty and integrity

  • Gen 4 – the story of Cain being punished, among other things for not being honest with Abel and God in his statements
  • Gen 12:10-20, 20:1-17, 26:6-11 all record “adultery narratives” in which the patriarch is (correctly) chided for lying to a pagan king about their marital status
  • In the story of Jacob, he is pejoratively called Jacob = “deceiver”, Gen 27:36.
  • Gen 37:31-33 – Jacob rebuked for lying and deception

Commandment #10 – Coveting prohibited

  • Gen 3:6 – the woman is tricked by the serpent using the sin of covetousness
  • Job 31:9, 10 – Job says he is innocent of coveting his neighbor's wife.
  • This is a great review of the Ten Commandments before Sinai, +1. I've thought about compiling a similar list of the way the NT teaches the principles & expectations behind the 10 commandments (e.g. Matt 5:21-28) Perhaps such a list already exists? I was wondering though, in your comments about Kurdish, Brahuiky, Turkish, Lazen etc. cultures, you are not suggesting their Sabbath observance predates Jewish Sabbath observance, just that it ante-dates the 1st century, correct? I.e. it is possible they were influenced by Judaism. Apr 20, 2022 at 2:47
  • @HoldToTheRod - yes this is a sensitive point - we do not have enough data to absolutely know which, if any, of these cultures celebrated the Sabbath. All we can say is that they had a seven day week where the seventh day was called "Sabbath" or a localized form of it. However, the fact such is preserved in the language suggests that some might have observed the sabbath??
    – Dottard
    Apr 20, 2022 at 2:51
  • Thanks! This brings a variety of interesting hypotheses to mind. Including--but not limited to--a) God revealed the Sabbath day independently to a number of groups, b) scattered tribes of Israel spread Sabbath traditions, c) both Israel & other cultures drew upon an older, common source. Understood that it's a sensitive topic; we don't have to dive into it here; might make for an interesting discussion at some point. I have some thoughts there, and I see that you do too. Apr 20, 2022 at 4:43

Because that's how Jewish people think about it.

In the Jewish religion the Sabbath is for the Jews, not the Gentiles. It is a serious sin for a non-Jew to keep the Sabbath. It amounts to creating a festival for yourself, which in turn amounts to creating a religion for yourself. So much so that Gentiles who are intending to convert to Judaism and wish to practice keeping the Sabbath before they convert are told to start by intentionally breaking it in a small way, so that they do not accidentally keep it fully.

I'm unable to access the references right now, but check out Mi Yodeya (Jewish Stack Exchange) on the subject. Search for "Is it discouraged or an unacceptable practice for a Gentile to keep the Sabbath?"

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    The "Jewish Sabbath" has so many rules that it's almost impossible for someone that hasn't grown up with it not to break it "in a small way" (e.g. use a light switch). Those Christians that honour God's Sabbath believe that they follow the Bible's rules, but they don't attempt to follow the teaching of the Talmud, so in practice there is no conflict. Apr 16, 2022 at 17:34

The Sabbath Day was a very conspicuous feature of Jewish life--so much so that the oral tradition in 2nd temple Judaism had built up all manner of extra rules explaining what was and was not appropriate Sabbath behavior.

The earliest Christians were Jews (it is probable that the authors of 25 of the 27 books of the NT were Jews), and they kept the Sabbath. Judaism & Christianity did not decisively separate into distinct religions until the Flavian Era (70s to 90s AD, see discussion by Edmundson here).

The practice of referring to the 7th day as the "Jewish Sabbath" versus the 1st day as the "Christian Sabbath" came about because most Christians (but not all Christians) began honoring the Sabbath on the day of the week that Jesus rose from the dead.

Two of the earliest references for treating the first day as the Sabbath day, among Christians, are:

  1. Acts 20:7 (describing events in approx. AD 57)

And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them...

  1. Justin's First Apology (written mid-2nd century)

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought (chapter 67)

After the two religious movements became clearly distinct, and their customary Sabbath observance differed by a day, it became necessary to distinguish between the two. There was a similar debate regarding the date of Passover/Easter, and whether Christians should celebrate Easter on the same day the Jews celebrated Passover. Most Christians felt this was not necessary.

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    Thanks for your answer. That reference to Acts 20:7 cannot be used in support of Sunday observance though. I have seen a study on this verse that makes it clear that the breaking of bread etc was not an indication of observing a day. Luke 23:56 says they rested on the Sabbath (7th day) according to the commandment. This they did, not because they were Jews, but because they saw how much breaking those commandments have just cost the God who rested on the 7th day in Genesis...
    – user58803
    Apr 16, 2022 at 4:35
  • From its context, Acts 20:7 is clearly not a Sunday day of rest. This breaking bread simply means having a meal together, in this case, on Saturday night following the Sabbath. No matter how one regards this meeting, it happened before the Roman Sunday started. They had arrived on the previous Sunday, stayed 7 days, and were going to depart on Sunday morning. Travel doesn't happen on Sabbaths, so Sunday morning is the ideal time to start a long trip, as it provides the greatest length of time before the next Sabbath. Apr 16, 2022 at 12:44
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    @AndriesStander and RayButterworth I recognize that this topic is controversial (otherwise the day of worship probably wouldn't remain a topic of Christian disagreement 2 millennia later). Acts 20:7 is the NT passage commonly cited by those who believe this was a worship service on the first day of the week. Whether we conclude it was in the 1st century or the 2nd, the custom was adopted of worshipping on the 1st day of the week--regardless of whether the people in question started their day at sundown, midnight, or sunrise. Apr 16, 2022 at 17:31
  • @AndriesStander "That reference to Acts 20:7 cannot be used in support of Sunday observance though" - it can and it is!! You may disagree with that interpretation but it is the common explanation in all the Christian circles I have moved in :-)
    – deep64blue
    Apr 17, 2022 at 19:15
  • Oh the irony of your last sentence ....
    – deep64blue
    Apr 18, 2022 at 9:45

In the Churches of Christ, there is but one Sabbath. It was a mandatory day of rest given, as was the rest of the Law of Moses, to the Israelite nation.

No like law was given to Christians. Acts 15 makes it very clear that we need not comply with the commandments of the Law of Moses that are found only in that Law; we are not under it, and most of us never were. It is true that we are commanded to gather for worship, and the example we are given was to worship on the first day of the week, but we are not commanded to refrain from work on that day.

Furthermore, Galatians makes it clear that any attempt to bring elements that are peculiar to the Law of Moses into our Christian worship renders that worship futile. Christians have a day of formal worship, but it is not the "Christian Sabbath", for it is not a Sabbath at all.

Therefore, we see no need to call the Jewish day of rest the "Jewish" Sabbath, for there is no other Sabbath from which it requires distinction.


Adam was created and rested (nuah) in Eden on the day six of creation. God rested (shabat) on the seventh day alone. Adam and Eve didn't make it to the seventh day in Eden because they sinned on the same day they were created. Notice that „and the evening and the morning were the seventh day” is not in the text. Unlike the first six days of creation, the seventh day had it's beginning but has no end. So the seventh day of creation is not a day but a picture of reality where God lives together with people that did not come to past.

The sabbath just like all the Old Testament feasts, the sabbath years and the jubilees were only shadows and a foretaste of that reality. The reality that materialized in the Messiah. Because of Him and in Him, we are going to enter the seventh day.

1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. (Hebrews 4)

3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21)

The sabbath day of rest was introduced in Exodus 16. It was introduced as „shabat”, a sabbath, without the definite article „ha” („hasabat”) which tells us that the Israelites did not know it before. Manna was used as a teaching device to help them to apprehend the new idea. Both manna and the sabbath were shadows of Christ. In Exodus 16:23 and 16:24 the Israelites were told to rest (nuah) the second omer of manna they gathered on the day sixth for the day seventh. So an additional portion allowed them to rest on the sabbath. Both manna and the sabbath hyperlink us back to the garden of Eden.

3 Six days you [singular – Christ] may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a sacred assembly. You [plural – believers] are not to do any work. It's a Sabbath to the LORD wherever you live. (Leviticus 23)

10 Thou shalt not plow with an ox (Christ) and an ass (believer) together. (Deuteronomy 22)

It was the Christ that carried the wood to Golgotha. He finished the work that we couldn't, so we can rest in Him. We enter through faith in what He accomplished.

28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. 29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19)

If you think that you have to keep the sabbath to make God happy, you are like the guy who tried to carry wood too. It is called obtaining salvation by works.

32 While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, 34 and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35 Then the LORD said to Moses, "The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp." 36 So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses. (Numbers 15)

The whole law of Moses was fulfilled in Christ and replaced with just one commandment.

34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13)

12This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. 17These things I command you, that ye love one another. (John 15)

12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7)

13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. 16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 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. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Galatians 5)

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