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THE SABBATH DEBATE (Barbados, May 19, 2007). Rev. Clinton Chisholm [email protected] FUNDAMENTAL POINTERS. As I contend on my CD ‘The Sabbath vs. Sunday Debate’ the Sabbath cannot be discussed in isolation from the covenant to which it belongs, that cut at Sinai.

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THE SABBATHDEBATE(Barbados, May 19, 2007)

Rev. Clinton Chisholm

[email protected]


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FUNDAMENTAL POINTERS

  • As I contend on my CD ‘The Sabbath vs. Sunday Debate’ the Sabbath cannot be discussed in isolation from the covenant to which it belongs, that cut at Sinai.

  • The covenant at Sinai is called in scripture “the first covenant” (Heb. 8.7; 9.1) the “old” covenant (Heb. 8.13) “the law” (Gal. 3.17)


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  • The Decalogue then was at the heart of the “old/first covenant” or “the law” and is at times equated with the covenant (Ex. 34.28) by the figure of speech called synecdoche (a part representing the whole).

  • WITH THE “OLD/FIRST COVENANT” OR “THE LAW” THE SABBATH STANDS OR FALLS.


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  • Only if the Sinaitic covenant is still binding, covenant” or “the law” and is at times equated with the covenant (Ex. 34.28) by the figure of speech called synecdoche (a part representing the whole).in all its particulars, can Sabbath observance be regarded as binding today, because the Sabbath cannot be separated from the Sinaitic covenant. So we need to explore the witness of the New Testament concerning the Sinaitic or Old covenant.


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  • As Uriah Smith (a leading Adventist of another era) said in his book Two Covenants, “If the Ten Commandments constituted the old covenant, then they are forever gone.” (p. 5)

  • Let’s now focus on the biblical evidence for the abolition/abrogation of the old covenant with Sabbath at its heart.


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The Abolition of the Old Covenant his book

1. Galatians 3.17-4.7

  • Gal. 3.25 “Now that faith has come we are no longer under the infant-guide (Gk. paidagogos) [the Law].” Why not?

  • 3.26 “For we are all mature sons (Gk. huioi) of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”


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2. Gal. 4.21-31 (Hagar & Sarah allegory) his book

  • 4.24 “…the women represent two covenants…”

  • Hagar = Sinai = bondage

  • Sarah = Jerusalem above = freedom

  • 4.30 “Get rid of the slave woman and her son…”


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4 his book . Heb. 8.6-13

  • 8.13 “By calling this covenant ‘new’, he has made the first one obsolete and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.”

    5. Heb.10.1, 8-10

  • 10.9 “He sets aside the first to establish the second.”


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6. 2 Cor. 3.7-11 his book

  • 3.7 “Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone…”

  • 3.11 “And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts.


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7. Eph. 2.14 his book

“He is our peace who has made the two one…by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations…”

8. Col. 2.13-14

“God made you alive with Christ…having cancelled the written code, with its regulations…”


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  • SINCE, AS WE HAVE SHOWN, BIBLICALLY, THE OLD COVENANT HAS BEEN ABOLISHED, ABROGATED, SET ASIDE BY GOD, IT MEANS THAT THE SABBATH TOO, AS A PART OF THE OLD COVENANT HAS BEEN ABOLISHED, ABROGATED, SET ASIDE BY GOD.

  • For more detailed arguments see my CDs

    ‘The Sabbath vs. Sunday Debate’

    ‘Galatians: The Christian & the Mosaic Law’


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‘Sabbath’ in Ex. 16.34 and 20.11 BEEN ABOLISHED, ABROGATED, SET ASIDE BY GOD, IT MEANS THAT THE SABBATH TOO, AS A PART OF THE OLD COVENANT HAS BEEN ABOLISHED, ABROGATED, SET ASIDE BY GOD.

  • Ex.16 is the first appearance of the term and concept of Sabbath in the Old Testament and is either a pre-covenant trial run of Sabbath obedience or a literary strategy by the writer designed to give the reader advance information about the nature of the people with whom God would make/cut his covenant at Sinai. Either way the Sabbath cannot be pulled out of its covenant setting.


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  • Re the use of ‘Sabbath’ in Ex. 20.11, it must be remembered that Moses wrote the book of Exodus after the events happened and so from a history of Sabbath practice he calls the 7th day proper, a Sabbath. (cf. “I was in Primary School with P.M. Arthur”)

  • He does something similar in Ex. 16.34 re the Testimony even though the Testimony = stone tablets became realities only after the covenant is cut (Ex. 20) and after the “book of the covenant” was written by Moses (Ex. 24.7, 12)


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Sabbath, creation ordinance? remembered that Moses wrote the book of Exodus after the events happened and so from a history of Sabbath practice he calls the 7

  • An ordinance is a practice commanded as such. Sabbath is not even mentioned let alone commanded in the whole of Genesis. Further, nobody could be commanded to imitate God’s rest in Genesis because the rest there is equal to cessation from creative acts. ‘God rested’ means God stopped creating on the 7th day.


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Mt. 5.17ff remembered that Moses wrote the book of Exodus after the events happened and so from a history of Sabbath practice he calls the 7

  • This text is a deadly Spaniard machete for Sabbatarians, for if the passage is viewed as arguing for the continuing validity of the law (and hence of the Sabbath) then IT IS EVERY BIT OF THE LAW OR OLD COVENANT THAT WOULD BE STILL BINDING SINCE NOT ONE SMALLEST PART IS TO BE REMOVED!!


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  • Note though remembered that Moses wrote the book of Exodus after the events happened and so from a history of Sabbath practice he calls the 7the critical time limitation “till all is fulfilled”. John 19.28-30 capture the essence of Jesus’ finished work on Calvary as satisfying (fulfilling) all the demands of the whole Old Testament (=‘the law and the prophets’). Note vv.28, 30, “Later, knowing that all was now completed…Jesus said “It is finished (Gk. tetelestai)


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