Resources for Studying the Sabbath

Friends have asked me on more than one occasion what I recommend reading on the Sabbath. I finally got the sense to make a post about it that I can point them to. Since iron sharpens iron, I’ve also included in the list responsible resources opposed to sabbatarianism. If you have any further recommendations, please let me know.

Why So Many People Think of the Sabbath as a Burden

The reason that so many people feel it as a burden is partly that we have so much leisure, we don’t feel the need for the sabbath rest; but more important, I think, is the fact that not many people really enjoy what God intended us to enjoy on the sabbath, namely, himself. Many professing Christians enjoy sports and television and secular books and magazines and recreation and hobbies and games far more than they enjoy direct interaction with God in his Word or in worship or in reading Christian books or in meditative strolls.

Therefore, inevitably people whose hearts are set more on the pleasures of the world than on the enjoyment of God will feel the sabbath command as a burden not a blessing. This is what John says in 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” The measure of your love for God is the measure of the joy you get in focusing on him on the day of rest. For most people the sabbath command is really a demand to repent. It invites us to enjoy what we don’t enjoy and therefore shows us the evil of hearts, and our need to repent and be changed.

Balance in Application
How is a happy medium in Sabbath observance to be obtained? What will preserve us from undue laxity on the one side, and unwarrantable severity on the other? Where shall we turn for that much-needed guidance which will deliver us from the grievous yoke of Pharisaical excess, and which will also prevent us from degenerating into the lawlessness of our Moderns? We have searched long and diligently for a satisfactory answer to this question, but (amid much that was helpful on other branches of our subject) have failed to meet with anything clear and definite. Personally our firm conviction is that we shall be kept from going wrong in this matter, if we, first, adhere strictly to the letter of the Fourth Commandment; and second, apply that commandment to the details of our lives in the spirit of the New Covenant.
-A.W. Pink The Holy Sabbath

(13) Rather than dictating a detailed list of things forbidden on the Sabbath it is best if ministers and elders enunciate the principles involved and allow each individual or family to prayerfully and conscientiously determine how they will sanctify the Sabbath.


I have heard very good things about this volume: Perspectives on the Sabbath



Pro Articles:

Why Should Christians View the Lord’s Day as the Sabbath? (Richard Barcellos)

Interesting Observations

  • Finally, here is an interesting book. I don’t recommend it as an argument, but as a simple observation of the 4th commandment written on the hearts of all men. It’s written by a non-Christian after trying to explain to his daughter where we get weeks from. Read the first 10 pages: The Seven Day Circle: The History & Meaning of the Week
“Unlike the day and the year [and the month], the week is an artificial rhythm that was created by human beings [or their Creator] totally independently of any natural periodicity.” p. 4

11 thoughts on “Resources for Studying the Sabbath

  1. The whole sabbatarian position is weakened by the use of the word Sabbath. No where does the Bible call Sunday the Sabbath – it is “the day after the Sabbath”, or “first day of the week.” Sabbath keeping by Christians was unknown until the early Roman Catholic church thought it up. Early reformers did not hold to it. It was retrograde to take it back up again and the Puritans’ record in doing so is not pretty.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Some is opinion, some is fact or falsehood in Manfred’s post.

        For example, the 1st sentence is opinion.
        Sentence 2 is an assertion that can be checked.
        #s 3 & 4 are historical claims that likewise can be researched.
        Sentence 5 is a combo of opinion and assertion.

        COL. 2:16 – the sabbath was a shadow. Don’t let the neo-Puritans get you observing days (GAL. 4:10) or re-establishing law which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear…{ACTS 15:10}

        But abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. {ACTS 15:29}

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Hugh McCann

    Don’t forget “pro” WCF-1st-day-sabbath work:

    Reformation Heritage Books saith:

    In The Market Day of the Soul, James T. Dennison examines the question of the supreme Christian holy day, the Sabbath. He shows how the Sabbath emerged from the imprecision of the sixteenth century to become a celebrated cause in pre-Revolutionary England. Finally, he demonstrates the triumph of the Puritan Sabbath during the Revolution, a triumph that continued to make the English Sabbath distinctive into the nineteenth century. In the course of this investigation, Dennison shows that the Puritan view of the Lord’s Day became the dominate view – both theologically and practically – by the latter half of the seventeenth century, in spite of challenges it faced from the “medieval” position of the Court party and the Seventh-day Sabbatarians.

    Liked by 2 people

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  5. Kirk L

    Thank you for this brave article. People so quickly make judgements without fully testing what God might be speaking to them [Luke 6:46]. I do believe the modern church is responsible for this in part.

    I never was ‘church trained’ and began reading the Bible without the ‘help’ of pastors and theologians telling me what I should think of what I am reading. Very early on I saw not only the importance of the Sabbath to God, but of Sabbath keeping. In trying to understand this very foreign concept (not only the idea of a Sabbath Day, but a commandment that didn’t seem to have a moral feeling to it at the time – such as theft or murder) I printed out every instance of Sabbath in the Bible (172 occurrences in 146 verses) – that is what my Teacher [Mat 23:10] tells me to do…let the Bible explain the Bible.

    In response to an earlier post, he is right – no where in the Bible do they call Sunday the Sabbath – because Yom Shabbat (Hebrew for our English equivalent ‘Sabbath Day’) is the name of Saturday in the Biblical language. We see nowhere outside of man’s doctrine where God ‘changes’ the day [Heb 13:8, Mal 3:6].

    Isn’t it strange that right after Hebrews 13:8 ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.’ that it reads ‘Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines…’Hebrews 13:9a This may be the same argument a non Sabbath keeping Christian might use in his defense, but I would guess in the day and time this was written, not keeping it might be the exception rather than the rule. That along with much of today’s church-given doctrines – pretty strange ones indeed…

    It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls . It is a statute forever .
    Leviticus 16:31 (NKJV)

    “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the LORD honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 58:13-14 (NKJV)

    So I also raised My hand in an oath to them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, ‘flowing with milk and honey,’ the glory of all lands, because they despised My judgments and did not walk in My statutes, but profaned My Sabbaths; for their heart went after their idols. Ezekiel 20:15-16 (NKJV)


  6. Hugh McCann

    Interesting that Matt. 28 is taken not as, “the end of the sabbaths/ start of the sabbaths,”

    but as, “the first day of the week.”

    … Ὀψὲ δὲ σαββάτων, τῇ ἐπιφωσκούσῃ εἰς μίαν σαββάτων …

    Young’s Literal: “And on the eve of the sabbaths, at the dawn, toward the first of the sabbaths”

    ESV: “Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week”

    One might then conclude that the OT sabbaths were done away with, and the new rest in Christ had begun. That the new covenant did away with types and shadows and that everyday IN CHRIST is a sabbath/ rest.

    But then, that’d give us a great deal of freedom and latitude, even where we might be allowed to decide for ourselves whether to religiously observe a day of rest, dietary restrictions, etc., a la Romans 14:5f & Colossians 2:16f. But that might be too much grace!

    Hebrews 4:6-11 (ESV) ~ Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

    For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken of another day later on.

    So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

    Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

    Hint: This is not about either a Saturday or a Sunday sabbath.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Brandon,

    Some of your links are broken Barcellos critiquing Tom Wells’s book that I was interested in. I haven’t checked any of the other links, but you might want to check through them again.


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