Ever since I can remember I went to Church on Sundays with my family.
My earliest memories are of attending “mother’s day out” at a local church; although I can’t recall the denomination. I think; if I remember correctly, that we attended a Baptist Church back home where I grew up. Then; my parents tried out a Church of Christ Church. Later; we visited a few others; and, as most do when they are looking for a home church really consider the programs offered to family’s.
We finally wound up at an Episcopal Church where the “Father” had a booming voice that didn’t need a microphone. He could deliver these messages like a firey Baptist if needed and could modulate his voice like a well trained orator from Greece speaking at an amplitheater. My grandparents were Methodist and I would often visit their church when I got the chance. At the Episcopal Church I sung in the choir and went every Wednesday evening to practice so on Sunday we would be prepared to deliver a beautiful melody along with the choir directors choice of music.
About three years ago; after leaving the Calvary Chapel Movement, I really began to dig into the Bible and ask questions like “why do we…” about many things. Things like Christmas; Easter; Sunday Worship; Believe in the Rapture and many other questions. When I was still attending Calvary Chapel in Murrieta California they offered a Saturday evening service. I had learned that the Biblical Sabbath was on Saturdays so I choose to start attending on Saturday evening. Initially I liked it because the worship band was more the style I liked and I didn’t have to rush to get up and dressed and get myself out the door on Sunday morning.
Later when I began to study 1st Centtury Christianity I began to find out when the Church had made their move from the Biblical Sabbath to worshipping on Sunday. After really looking at the evidence it became painfully apparent to me that this “adjustment” really didn’t have any backing, and shouldn’t have been done in the first place. My aim is to provide you with the same evidence I looked at so that you too can make an educated decision about whether you should be a Sabbath Keeper or not yourself.
For starters let’s look at see what Historians and Church authorities have to say about it why don’t we? You might want to grab some paper to take notes and pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea. Ready? Then let’s get started.
Why is Sunday kept as a sacred day of worship, when there is absolutely nothing about Sunday sacredness in the Bible?
About 300 years after the last book of the Bible was written, the changeover was made. Historians and leaders in the churches know the facts; you should too.
Here they are—from the mouths of many religious and historical experts:
ROMAN CATHOLIC LEADERS SPEAK
“Sunday is a Catholic institution, and its claim to observance can be defended only on Catholic principles. From beginning to end of Scripture there is not a single passage that warrants the transfer of weekly public worship from the last day of the week to the first.”—
Catholic Press, Sydney, Australia, August, 1900.
“Protestantism, in discarding the authority of the [Roman Catholic] Church, has no good reason for its Sunday theory, and ought logically to keep Saturday as the Sabbath.”—
John Gilmary Shea, in the American Catholic Quarterly Review, January 1883.
“It is well to remind the Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, and all other Christians that the Bible does not support them anywhere in their observance of Sunday. Sunday is an institution of the Roman Catholic Church, and those who observe the day observe a commandment of the Catholic Church.”—
Priest Brady, in an address, reported in the Elizabeth, N.J. News of March 18, 1903.
“Ques.—Have you any other way of proving that the [Catholic] Church has power to institute festivals of precept [to command holy days]?
“Ans.—Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her: She could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.” —
Stephen Keenan, Doctrinal Catechism, p. 176.
“Reason and common sense demand the acceptance of one or the other of these two alternatives: either Protestantism and the keeping holy of Saturday or Catholicity and the keeping holy of Sunday. Compromise is impossible.”—
The Catholic Mirror, December 23, 1893.
“God simply gave His [Catholic] Church the power to set aside whatever day or days she would deem suitable as Holy Days. The Church chose Sunday, the first day of the week, and in the course of time added other days, as holy days.”—
Vincent J. Kelly, Forbidden Sunday and Feast-Day Occupations, p. 2.
“Protestants accept Sunday rather than Saturday as the day for public worship after the Catholic Church made the change. But the Protestant mind does not seem to realize that in accepting the Bible, in observing the Sunday, they are accepting the authority of the spokesman for the church, the Pope.”—
Our Sunday Visitor, February 5, 1950.
“We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty.”—
Pope Leo XIII, in an Encyclical Letter, dated June 20, 1894.
“Not the Creator of Universe, in Genesis 2:1-3,—but the Catholic Church can claim the honor of having granted man a pause to his work every seven days.”—
S. C. Mosna, Storia della Domenica, 1969, pp. 366-367.
“The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, but he is Jesus Christ, hidden under veil of flesh.”—
The Catholic National, July 1895.
“If Protestants would follow the Bible, they should worship God on the Sabbath Day. In keeping the Sunday they are following a law of the Catholic Church.”—
Albert Smith, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, replying for the Cardinal, in a letter dated February 10, 1920.
“We define that the Holy Apostolic See (the Vatican) and the Roman Pontiff hold the primacy over the whole world.”—
A Decree of the Council of Trent, quoted in Philippe Labbe and Gabriel Cossart, “The Most Holy Councils,” col. 1167.
“It was the Catholic Church which, by the authority of Jesus Christ, has transferred this rest [from the Bible Sabbath] to the Sunday. Thus the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the [Catholic] Church.”—
Monsignor Louis Segur, Plain Talk About the Protestantism of Today, p. 213.
“We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.”—
Peter Geiermann, CSSR, A Doctrinal Catechism, 1957 edition, p. 50.
“We Catholics, then, have precisely the same authority for keeping Sunday holy instead of Saturday as we have for every other article of our creed, namely, the authority of the Church . . whereas you who are Protestants have really no authority for it whatever; for there is no authority for it [Sunday sacredness] in the Bible, and you will not allow that there can be authority for it anywhere else.”—
The Brotherhood of St. Paul, “The Clifton tracts,” Volume 4, tract 4, p. 15.
“The Church changed the observance of the Sabbath to Sunday by right of the divine, infallible authority given to her by her founder, Jesus Christ. The Protestant, claiming the Bible to be the only guide of faith, has no warrant for observing Sunday. In this matter the Seventh-day Adventist is the only consistent Protestant.”—
The Catholic Universe Bulletin, August 14, 1942, p. 4.
The Bible is your only safe guide. Jesus can help you obey it. Trust God’s Word more than man’s traditions.
PROTESTANT LEADERS SPEAK
“There was and is a command to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath day was not Sunday. It will however be readily said, and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week, with all its duties, privileges and sanctions. Earnestly desiring information on this subject, which I have studied for many years, I ask, where can the record of such a transaction be found? Not in the New Testament—absolutely not. There is no scriptural evidence of the change of the Sabbath institution from the seventh to the first day of the week.”—Dr. E. T. Hiscox, author of the Baptist Manual.
“It is quite clear that however rigidly or devotedly we may spend Sunday, we are not keeping the Sabbath. The Sabbath was founded on a specific divine command. We can plead no such command for the observance of Sunday…There is not a single line in the New Testament to suggest that we incur any penalty by violating the supposed sanctity of Sunday.”—Dr. R. W. Dale, The Ten Commandments, pp. 106-107.
“The day is now changed from the seventh to the first day . . but as we meet with no Scriptural direction for the change, we may conclude it was done by the authority of the church.”—The Protestant Episcopal Explanation of the Catechism.
“The Scriptures nowhere call the first day of the week the Sabbath . .There is no Scriptural authority for so doing, nor of course, any Scriptural obligation.”—The Watchman.
“There is no word, no hint in the New Testament about abstaining from work on Sunday. The observance of Ash Wednesday, or Lent, stands exactly on the same footing as the observance of Sunday. Into the rest of Sunday no Divine Law enters.”—Canon Eyton, Ten Commandments.
“And where are we told in the Scriptures that we are to keep the first day at all? We are commanded to keep the seventh; but we are nowhere commanded to keep the first day.”—Isaac Williams, Plain Sermons on the Catechism, pp. 334, 336.
“It is true that there is no positive command for infant baptism. Nor is there any for keeping holy the first day of the week. Many believe that Christ changed the Sabbath. But, from His own words, we see that He came for no such purpose. Those who believe that Jesus changed the Sabbath base it only on a supposition.”—Amos Binney, Theological Compendium, pp. 180-181.
“We have made the change from the seventh to the first day, from Saturday to Sunday, on the authority of the one holy, catholic, apostolic church of Christ.”—Bishop Seymour, Why We Keep Sunday.
“The sacred name of the seventh day is Sabbath. This fact is too clear to require argument Exodus 20:10, quoted] . . On this point the plain teaching of the Word has been admitted in all ages . . Not once did the disciples apply the Sabbath law to the first day of the week,—that folly was left for a later age, nor did they pretend that the first day supplanted the seventh.”—Joseph Judson Taylor, The Sabbatic Question, pp. 14-17, 41.
“The current notion, that Christ and His apostles authoritatively substituted the first day for the seventh, is absolutely without any authority in the New Testament.”—Dr. Lyman Abbot, Christian Union, June 26, 1890.
“Now there is no testimony in all the oracles of heaven that the Sabbath is changed, or that the Lord’s Day came in the room of it.”—Alexander Campbell, Reporter, October 8, 1921.
Disciples of Christ:
”There is no direct Scriptural authority for designating the first day ‘the Lord’s Day.’ “—Dr. D. H. Lucas, Christian Oracle, January 23, 1890.
“To me it seems unaccountable that Jesus, during three years’ discussion with His disciples, often conversing upon the Sabbath question, discussing it in some of its various aspects, freeing it from its false [Jewish traditional] glosses, never alluded to any transference of the day; also, no such thing was intimated. Nor, so far as we know, did the Spirit, which was given to bring to their remembrance all things whatsoever that He had said unto them, deal with this question. Nor yet did the inspired apostles, in preaching the gospel, founding churches, counseling and instructing those founded, discuss or approach the subject. Of course I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history as a religious day, as we learn from the Christian Fathers and other sources. But what a pity that it comes branded with the mark of paganism, and christened with the name of the sun god, then adopted and sanctified by the Papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism.”—Dr. E. T. Hiscox, report of his sermon at the Baptist Minister’s Convention, New York Examiner, November 16, 1893.
HOW THE SABBATH WAS CHANGED TO SUNDAY
“There is scarcely anything which strikes the mind of the careful student of ancient ecclesiastical history with greater surprise than the comparatively early period at which many of the corruptions of Christianity, which are embodied in the Roman system, took their rise; yet it is not to be supposed that when the first originators of many of these unscriptural notions and practices planted those germs of corruption, they anticipated or even imagined they would ever grow into such a vast and hideous system of superstition and error as is that of popery.”—John Dowling, History of Romanism, 13th Edition, p. 65.
“It would be an error to attribute [‘the sanctification of Sunday’] to a definite decision of the Apostles. There is no such decision mentioned the Apostolic documents [that is, the New Testament].”—Antoine Villien, A History of the Commandments of the Church, 1915, p. 23.
“It must be confessed that there is no law in the New Testament concerning the first day.”—McClintock and Strong, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, Vol. 9, p. 196.
“Rites and ceremonies, of which neither Paul nor Peter ever heard, crept silently into use, and then claimed the rank of divine institutions. [Church] officers for whom the primitive disciples could have found no place, and titles which to them would have been altogether unintelligible, began to challenge attention, and to be named apostolic.”—William D. Killen, The Ancient Church, p. xvi.
“Until well into the second century [a hundred years after Christ] we do not find the slightest indication in our sources that Christians marked Sunday by any kind of abstention from work.”—W. Rordorf, Sunday, p. 157.
“The ancient Sabbath did remain and was observed . . by the Christians of the Eastern Church [in the area near Palestine] above three hundred years after our Saviour’s death.”—A Learned Treatise of the Sabbath, p. 77.
“Modern Christians who talk of keeping Sunday as a ‘holy’ day, as in the still extant ‘Blue Laws,’ of colonial America, should know that as a ‘holy’ day of rest and cessation from labor and amusements Sunday was unknown to Jesus . . It formed no tenant [teaching] of the primitive Church and became ‘sacred’ only in the course of time. Outside the church its observance was legalized for the Roman Empire through a series of decrees starting with the famous one of Contantine in 321, an edict due to his political and social ideas.”—W. W. Hyde, Paganism to Christianity in the Roman Empire, 1946, p. 257.
“The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals was always only a human ordinance, and it was far from the intentions of the apostles to establish a Divine command in this respect, far from them, and from the early apostolic church, to transfer the laws of the Sabbath to Sunday.”—Augustus Neander, The History of the Christian Religion and Church, 1843, p. 186.
“The [Catholic] Church took the pagan buckler of faith against the heathen. She took the pagan Roman Pantheon [the Roman], temple to all the gods, and made it sacred to all the martyrs; so it stands to this day. She took the pagan Sunday and made it the Christian Sunday . . The Sun was a foremost god with heathendom. Balder the beautiful: the White God, the old Scandinavians called him. The sun has worshipers at this very hour in Persia and other lands . . Hence the Church would seem to have said, ‘Keep that old pagan name. It shall remain consecrated, sanctified.’ And thus the pagan Sunday, dedicated to Balder, became the Christian Sunday, sacred to Jesus. The sun is a fitting emblem of Jesus. The Fathers often compared Jesus to the sun; as they compared Mary to the moon.”—William L. Gildea, “Paschale Gaudium,” in The Catholic World, p.58, March 1894.
“The Church made a sacred day of Sunday…largely because it was the weekly festival of the sun;—for it was a definite Christian policy to take over the pagan festivals endeared to the people by tradition, and give them a Christian significance.”—Authur Weigall, The Paganism in Our Christianity, 1928, p. 145.
“Remains of the struggle [between the religion of Christianity and the religion of Mithraism] are found in two institutions adopted from its rival by Christianity in the fourth century, the two Mithraic sacred days: December 25, ‘dies natalis solis’ [birthday of the sun], as the birthday of Jesus,—and Sunday, ‘the venerable day of the Sun,’ as Constantine called it in his edict of 321.”—Walter Woodburn Hyde, Paganism to Christianity in the Roman Empire, p. 60.
“It is not strange that Sunday is almost universally observed when the Sacred Writings do not endorse it? Satan, the great counterfeiter, worked through the ‘mystery of iniquity’ to introduce a counterfeit Sabbath to take the place of the true Sabbath. Sunday stands side by side with Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Holy (or Maundy) Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Whitsunday, Corpus Christi, Assumption Day, All Soul’s Day, Christmas Day, and a host of other ecclesiastical feast days too numerous to mention. This array of Roman Catholic feasts and fast days are all man made. None of them bears the divine credentials of the Author of the Inspired Word.”—M. E. Walsh.
“Sun worship was the earliest idolatry.”—Fausset Bible Dictionary, p. 666.
“Sun worship was one of the oldest components of the Roman religion.”—Gaston H. Halsberge, The Cult of Sol Invictus, 1972, p. 26.
” ‘Babylon, the mother of harlots,’ derived much of her teaching from pagan Rome and thence from Babylon. Sun worship—that led her to Sundaykeeping,— was one of those choice bits of paganism that sprang originally from the heathen lore of ancient Babylon: The solar theology of the ‘Chaldeans’ had a decisive effect upon the final development of Semitic paganism . . [It led to their] seeing the sun the directing power of the cosmic system. All the Baals were thence forward turned into suns; the sun itself being the mover of the other stars—like it eternal and ‘unconquerable’ . . Such was the final form reached by the religion of the pagan Semites, and following them, by that of the Romans . . when they raised ‘Sol Invictus’ [the Invincible Sun] to the rank of supreme divinity in the empire.”—Franz F. V. M. Cummont, Astrology and Religion Among the Greeks and Romans, p. 55.
“When Christianity conquered Rome, the ecclesiastical structure of the pagan church, the title and the vestments of the ‘pontifex maximus,’ the worship to the ‘Great Mother’ goddess and a multitude of comforting divinities…the joy or solemnity of old festivals, and the pageantry of immemorial ceremony, passed like material blood into the new religion,—and captive Rome conquered her conqueror. The reins and skills of government were handed down by a dying empire to a virile papacy.”—Will Durant, Caesar and Christ, p. 672.
“The power of the Ceasars lived again in the universal dominion of the popes.”— H. G. Guiness, Romanism and the Reformation.
“Like two sacred rivers flowing from paradise, the Bible and divine Tradition contain the Word of God, the precious gems of revealed truth. Though these two divine streams are in themselves, on account of their divine origin, of equal sacredness, and are both full of revealed truths, still, of the two, Tradition [the sayings of popes and councils] is to us more clear and safe.”—Di Bruno, Catholic Belief, p. 33.
“Unquestionably the first law, either ecclesiastical or civil, by which the Sabbatical observance of that day is known to have been ordained, is the edict of Constantine, A.D. 321.”—Chamber’s Encyclopedia, article, “Sabbath.”
Here is the first Sunday law in history, a legal enactment by Constantine I (reigned 306-337):
“On the Venerable Day of the Sun ["Venerable die Solis"—the sacred day of the Sun] let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or for vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost—given the 7th day of March [A.D. 321], Crispus and Constanstine being consuls each of them for the second time.”—The First Sunday Law of Constantine I, in “Codex Justianianus,” lib. 3, tit. 12,3; trans. in Phillip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3, p. 380.
“This [Constantine’s Sunday decree of March 321] is the ‘parent’ Sunday law making it a day of rest and release from labor. For from that time to the present there have been decrees about the observance of Sunday which have profoundly influenced European and American society. When the Church became a part of State under the Christian emperors, Sunday observance was enforced by civil statutes, and later when the Empire was past, the Church in the hands of the papacy enforced it by ecclesiastical and also by civil enactments.”—Walter W. Hyde, Paganism to Christianity in the Roman Empire, 1946, p. 261.
“Constantine’s decree marked the beginning of a long, though intermittent series of imperial decrees in support of Sunday rest.”—Vincent J. Kelly, Forbidden Sunday and Feast-Day Occupations, 1943, p. 29.
“Constantine labored at this time untiringly to unite the worshipers of the old and the new into one religion. All his laws and contrivances are aimed at promoting this amalgamation of means melt together a purified heathenism and a moderated Christianity…Of all his blending and melting together of Christianity and heathenism, none is more easy to see through than this making of his Sunday law: The Christians worshiped their Christ, the heathen their sun-god [so they should now be combined].”—H. G. Heggtveit, Illustreret Kirkehistorie, 1895, p. 202.
“If every Sunday is to be observed by Christians on account of the resurrection, then every Sabbath on account of the burial is to be regarded in execration [cursing] of the Jews.”—Pope Sylvester, quoted by S. R. E. Humbert, “Adversus Graecorum Calumnias,” in J. P. Migne, Patrologie, p. 143 [Sylvester (A.D. 314- 337) was the pope at the time Constantine I was Emperor].
“All things whatsoever that were prescribed for the [Bible] Sabbath, we have transferred them to the Lord’s day, as being more authoritative and more highly regarded and first in rank, and more honorable than the Jewish Sabbath.”—Bishop Eusebius, quoted in J. P. Migne, “Patrologie,” p. 23, 1169-1172 [Eusebius of Caesarea was a high-ranking Catholic leader during Constantine’s lifetime].
“As we have already noted, excepting for the Roman and Alexandrian Christians, the majority of Christians were observing the seventh-day Sabbath at least as late as the middle of the fifth century [A.D. 450]. The Roman and Alexandrian Christians were among those converted from heathenism. They began observing Sunday as a merry religious festival in honor of the Lord’s resurrection, about the latter half of the second century A.D. However, they did not try to teach that the Lord or His apostles commanded it. In fact, no ecclesiastical writer before Eusebius of Caesarea in the fourth century even suggested that either Christ or His apostles instituted the observance of the first day of the week. These Gentile Christians of Rome and Alexandria began calling the first day of the week ‘the Lord’s day.’ This was not difficult for the pagans of the Roman Empire who were steeped in sun worship to accept, because they [the pagans] referred to their sun-god as their ‘Lord.’ “—E. M. Chalmers, How Sunday Came into the Christian Church, p. 3.
The following statement was made 100 years after Constantine’s Sunday Law was passed:
“Although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the Sabbath every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this.”—Socrates Scholasticus, quoted in Ecclesiastical History, Book 5, chap. 22 [written shortly after A.D. 439].
“The people of Constantinople, and almost everywhere, assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or at Alexandria.”—Hermias Sozomen, quoted in Ecclesiastical History, vii, 19, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd Series, Vol. 2, p. 390 [written soon after A.D. 415].
“Down even to the fifth century the observance of the Jewish Sabbath was continued in the Christian church, but with a rigor and solemnity gradually diminishing until it was wholly discontinued.”—Lyman Coleman, Ancient Christianity Exemplified, chap. 26, sec. 2, p. 527.
“Contantine’s [five Sunday Law] decrees marked the beginning of a long though intermittent series of imperial decrees in support of Sunday rest.”—A History of the Councils of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 316.
“What began, however, as a pagan ordinance, ended as a Christian regulation; and a long series of imperial decrees, during the fourth, fifth, and sixth, centuries, enjoined with increasing stringency abstinence from labor on Sunday.”—Hutton Webster, Rest Days, pp. 122-123, 270.
Here is the first Sunday Law decree of a Christian council, given about 16 years after Constantine’s first Sunday Law of A.D. 321:
“Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday [in the original: ‘sabbato’—shall not be idle on the Sabbath], but shall work on that day; but the Lord’s day they shall especially honour, and as being Christians, shall, if possible, do no work on that day. If, however, they are found Judaizing, they shall by shut out [‘anathema,’ excommunicated] from Christ.”—Council of Laodicea, c. A.D. 337, Canon 29, quoted in C. J. Hefele, A History of the Councils of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 316.
“The keeping of the Sunday rest arose from the custom of the people and the constitution of the [Catholic] Church…Tertullian was probably the first to refer to a cessation of affairs on the Sun day; the Council of Laodicea issued the first counciliar legislation for that day; Constantine I issued the first civil legislation.”—Priest Vincent J. Kelly, Forbidden Sunday and Feast-Day Occupations, p. 203 [a thesis presented to the Catholic University of America].
“About 590, Pope Gregory, in a letter to the Roman people, denounced as the prophets of Antichrist those who maintained that work ought not to be done on the seventh day.”—James T. Ringgold, The Law of Sunday, p. 267.
In the later centuries, persecution against believers in the Bible Sabbath intensified until very few were left alive. When the Reformation began, the true Sabbath was almost unknown.
“Now the [Catholic] Church…instituted, by God’s authority, Sunday as the day of worship. The same Church, by the same divine authority, taught the doctrine of Purgatory…We have, therefore, the same authority for Purgatory as we have for Sunday.”—Martin J. Scott, Things Catholics Are Asked about, 1927, p. 236.
“Of course the Catholic Church claims that the change [of the Sabbath to Sunday] was her act… AND THE ACT IS A MARK of her ecclesiastical power.”—From the office of Cardinal Gibbons, through Chancellor H. F. Thomas, November 11, 1895
PART TWELVE (12) OF TWELVE
This week Tim as finishes up the book of Galatians we are reminded by Paul (Gal 6:8) that “…he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” Paul is encouraging the Galatians to make wise decisions; after all we will all reap what we have sown. It is easy to see Paul’s heart as he finishes this letter – he is urging them [and us!] to “stay the course.” Paul wants everybody in his audience to one day hear the words, “well done, good and faithful servant.” This is also our desire at the Carpenter’s Shop – it is our prayer that every one of you listening would come to a greater understanding of the scriptures, and come into a closer walk with our Messiah, Yeshua.
We would like to say thank you to Tim Terry for a great study (click here to go to Tim’s website, Seeds of Restoration)! Tim has done an excellent job of putting Paul’s letter to the Galatians back into it’s historical, cultural and Hebraic context – there are lessons for every one of us within it.
Next week we will be starting the book of James, taught by Aaron Benge. If you are familiar with the book of James, then you know that it is the perfect companion to Galatians – although, it has been taught as a contradiction in the past – is it? Does James contradict what Paul taught about God’s grace? We don’t think so. Stay with us as we explore these misunderstood “contradictions” and what they mean for us today as believers in Yeshua, Jesus.
PART ELEVEN (11) OF TWELVE
How is your walk? Better yet, what defines your walk? Paul tells the Galatians to “walk in the Spirit…” which unfortunately has been used as a call to disregard Torah. The common teaching goes something like this, “walk in the Spirit – not the works of the Law!”
So what was Paul talking about when he said to walk in the Spirit? We do not believe that Paul was telling the Galatians to walk in the Spirit instead of anything. Think about it; Paul uses the Torah (Law) as his example far too many times for that to be the case!
Consider this; in Ezekiel 36:25-27 God tells us that He will “give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” Did you catch that? He tells us that He will put His Spirit in us so we can do Torah (obey the Law). What a contrast that is to what we are commonly taught! Surely Paul was not speaking contrary to the Word of the LORD, was he?
God’s Spirit dwells in and empowers us to walk according to His righteousness. Without His Spirit, we could not do it. Let’s thank God for this awesome gift – the indwelling of His Holy Spirit (Ruach Ha-Kodesh) who enables us to walk in His Statutes. Sure, we will make mistakes along the way (see Romans 3:23), but as we continue to grow, we are becoming more and more like Him.
PART TEN (10) OF TWELVE
In this week’s teaching, chapter 5:1-15, Paul sees that there is danger brewing in the walk of the Galatians. Someone that Paul never calls by name, is trying to lead them in to another gospel; that of becoming a proselyte. They were being told that they must become Jews in order to receive salvation. The NIV says that they have been “cut in on”. The gospel that they were being presented was not from God, and like we said last week, Paul loves them enough to warn them about it.
In the words of Barney Fife, Paul is encouraging them to “nip it in the bud!” Stop it before it goes any further! He fears for them, lest they should walk in vein. Paul sees that danger in getting just a little off track, and is encouraging them to take care of it before it gets a foothold, because a ‘little off track’ here eventually becomes ‘a lot off track’ in the future.
If Paul were writing to Messianic congregations today, would he have to warn us of the same things? How would Paul address those of us in the Messianic community who have renounced Messiah to simply become Jews? It is sad to look at various Messianic websites and see how we have disregarded some of Paul’s most adamant warnings. Paul’s words ring true when we see organizations shun entire books of the bible, or become steeped in arguments concerning God’s name. What would Paul have to say to us? Better yet, what would Yeshua have to say?
May we all seek diligently to know what our LORD requires of us. May we all pay attention to the warnings issued throughout the scriptures, and be willing to correct the mistakes that we may make along the way! The Messianic movement is still very young, and if problems are not “nipped in the bud” now, what will they become in the future? Like Paul, we do not want to see any of us walk in vein.
PART NINE (9) OF TWELVE
Have you ever been confronted with something that hurt you, made you angry, and rattled you to your core… because it was true? So have I. Most of us have. Paul suffered a lot for sharing the Truth with the Gentiles. In Galatians 4:16 he asks, “Have I become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” Paul’s heart was that no one would walk this walk in vein. He loved the people that he wrote to far too much to give them anything less than the truth – and sometimes it hurt. The Galatians were being excluded; left out, in order to sway them and their love in another direction. Paul loved his audience enough to tell them the truth concerning the matter. It was up to his audience to receive it or not. Are we good receivers of the truth, even when it is painful? Or do we simply ’shoot the messenger’ when confronted with rebuke?
King Solomon said in Proverbs 8:9, “Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.”
Rebuke a wise man and he will love you. LORD, give us the strength to hear the truth with open heart. Make us wise man and women, able to hear rebuke and love the person doing the rebuking. Help us to love the person telling us the truth that we need to hear, and thank him or her for loving us enough to bring it to us. Most of all, give us the grace and mercy to walk out those truths when we hear them.
PART EIGHT (8) OF TWELVE
Paul tells us in Galatians 4:6 that God has “sent forth the Spirit in your hearts, crying Abba Father.” We are to have an intimate relationship with our Father in heaven, even to the point of calling Him Abba. If you are unfamiliar with this word, it is the word that small Hebrew speaking children call their fathers – similar to an American child calling his or her father “daddy”.
We see Yeshua in the garden of Gethsemane crying out, “Abba Father, take this cup from me. Never the less, not My will but Yours be done” (Mark 14:32-42). Though He had an extremely intimate relationship with His Father in heaven, He still was submissive to His father’s will. Yeshua sets a template for us to follow here – we are to have an intimate relationship with our Father in heaven, while never forgetting to acknowledge Him as the King of Kings. Yeshua called His Father Abba, yet He was still obedient; even unto death.
We have grown comfortable in today’s Christian circles with recognizing God as friend and “Daddy” but what about Master and King? He holds both positions. When we recognize Him as Master and King, we are forced to look at the subject of obedience, and that is always a little difficult. Thank goodness we can call Him both! He is our loving Father, and our King – how blessed are those who have put our trust in Him!
PART SEVEN (7) OF TWELVE
Paul was misunderstood in his own day; how much more is he misunderstood in ours? Could it be that a surface reading of Paul in a modern day mind-set could leave the reader with the wrong impression? Peter said of Paul’s words that “…some things [are] hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2Pt. 3:15-16). This needs to be kept in mind while going through Paul’s epistles. We are even more susceptible to misunderstanding, given we are almost two thousand years removed from their writing, and separated geographically and culturally!
In this week’s teaching, Paul explains the most important reason the Torah was given – to point us toward Messiah. It is sort of a conundrum, isn’t it? The Torah leads us to Messiah… yet the Messiah is the Torah made flesh. How then could it have been done away with in Christ, when He Himself is the Word made flesh?
As we go through Galatians, remember that Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I didn’t come to destroy them, but to fulfill them…” Paul could not, as an apostle of Messiah teach otherwise. To do so would disqualify him.
As we go through these difficult words penned by Paul, keep in mind that if they seem difficult, you are not alone. People have struggled with Paul’s writings since he penned them. Let’s be good Boreans as we search the scriptures to see if these things are so (Acts 17:11). Thanks for joining us at The Word Is Grace.
PART SIX (6) OF TWELVE
Foolish Galatians! How did you get saved in the first place? Was it by what you did? Your flesh? Or was it by the Word of God?
These are some harsh words from Paul, but listen to his heart; Paul doesn’t want anyone to walk in vein. This week we see Paul addressing the question of how they received the Spirit; he wasn’t asking them about how they obeyed the Spirit. Paul is making a point; they could do nothing to earn their salvation.
How did you receive the Spirit? I was a raging alcoholic when I gave my life to Messiah. The day after I placed my trust in Him I was still a raging alcoholic… but I had received His Spirit! I began a walk with Jesus that would strip those things from my life, but on that first day, I was still covered with addictions. I received the free gift that He offered me – there was no performance of the flesh on my part. I was, like the Galatians, saved by faith in Messiah by grace; so I could walk out the good works that were laid before me at the foundations of the earth. And that is where the Torah comes in; I am called to walk in obedience to God’s instruction (Torah) not so I can be saved… but because I am!
PART FIVE (5) OF TWELVE
Was Paul’s life changed by his own merits? In verse 16 of chapter 2 Paul tells us that “man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.” Paul was saved by faith in Messiah, yet we see him observing the commandments of Torah… how do we reconcile this? He says himself that man is saved by faith in Messiah, so why would he concern himself with the Law at all?
The simple answer: obedience. Paul wanted to be like His Master! Paul knew that to imitate his Master meant to observe the Torah (Law) of God; not in an attempt to get saved, but because he was saved!
It is ironic that today, when someone finds out that a growing number of believers are obeying Torah to the best of their ability, they are accused of having “fallen from grace.” Paul was the very person who penned those words though! Surely he hadn’t fallen from grace by being obeying Torah?
PART FOUR (4) OF TWELVE
It is a common teaching in the church today; the Law is at odds with grace. You may have heard it like this: the Law=bondage while Jesus=freedom. Some even say that Jesus freed us from the Law. Is that what Paul was talking about when he penned the words of Galatians 2:4? In that passage, Paul says that false brethren came in “to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage.” …it sort of sounds that way, doesn’t it?
Yet again, we believe that the message Paul is giving here differs with the popular opinion of most Christian churches and commentaries. As we have stated before, to believe that Paul is teaching against the Law is to overlook his own observance of it! Remember Paul, like Stephen was “falsely accused of teaching against the Law and the customs of Moses.”
Difficult to our American ears in the year 2009, huh? What does James have to say about the things that Paul is writing? What does David have to say about the Law that Paul is supposedly teaching against? Listen along with us this week, because Tim will answer that and many other questions as we dig deeper into the book of Galatians.