The Sabbath is important to every Christian, but everyone has varying ideas about what is appropriate. Instead of opening up the question for debate, I was wondering what the Bible has to say about it.

We all know the 10 commandments where it says:

8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Exodus 20: 8-11

Most Christians believe that the 10 Commandments are still valid, so I figure this is a valid statement of the question.

From these verses, we know that on the Sabbath, we should:

  • Avoid work
  • Don't require others to work
  • Worship (hallowed the Sabbath)

What else has the Lord told us to do with respect to Sabbath-day worship?

2 Answers 2


I think some of the more telling things about our understanding of the Sabbath should be what Jesus said about the subject, and more importantly what Jesus did on the Sabbath.

Jesus healed on the Sabbath several times Matt 12:9-14 (NIV)

9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

Earlier in this same passage Jesus' disciples had helped themselves to some grain in a field, also unlawful according to Jewish law. These things indicate a new understanding of Sabbath was underway.

Mark 2 (NIV) addresses this same event and has a different quotation here

27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

In fact all of the gospels depict Jesus doing at least one if not more healing miracles on the Sabbath. All of these gospels record the Pharisees challenging Jesus for doing what they considered work on the Sabbath.

This study would seem to indicate that the rules for the Sabbath have changed. It is a day to minister to those around us, to benefit our communities. It is still for sure a day of rest, however "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" should resonate with us, it's not a day that we should feel restricted by what we cannot do, it's a day for freedom and rest.

The same freedom from the restriction of the law that is preached in the rest of the New Testament is present here as well. There is no set regulation for what we can do on the Sabbath or how it should be spent. We are free. It should be spent resting or doing things in our community, but what rests me is not what rests you.

  • It's not "the restriction of the law". Those restrictions you (we) speak of were put in place by people, not by God. Jesus just corrected what had gone awry. Aug 29, 2011 at 12:37
  • 1
    I like how you closed with "what rests me is not what rests you". It's what I was thinking about when I was answering questions on here, then did a little programming. The programming I did, though, was something new and exciting to me, so I didn't feel like I was laboring.
    – a_hardin
    Aug 29, 2011 at 13:10
  • 1
    I think that last distinction is important for us gardeners, although I do feel guilty telling my kids that I'm 'working' out in the garden on sunday. Or that I've got a lot of 'work' to do (when I know I'm really just playing).
    – Peter Turner
    Aug 29, 2011 at 13:18
  • What about the worship part? Made the day holy is a pretty big deal.
    – user3961
    Apr 20, 2013 at 6:01

The Old Testament day of rest was a prefigure for the rest we have in Christ. As the author of Hebrews says, we "cease from our own works" every day (see Galatians 5:19-21), not just on a particular day of the week.

Hebrews 4:8-10 King James Version (KJV) For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

The Old Testament Sabbath was held on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. As Paul noted, Jesus didn't give us another day to rest. Sunday worship services are held in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus, which allowed us to enter into a permanent rest (Sabbath), ceasing from our own works. To a Christian, every day is the Sabbath.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .