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Showing posts from March, 2010

A River Runs Near It

Sabbath Study, Part 31
There is one Saturday-Sabbath story in the book of Acts that does not take place in a synagogue. In Acts 16, Paul and his fellow missionaries travel to the city of Philippi. It appears that for some reason the city did not have a synagogue. This didn’t stop the Christians from setting out to find a Jewish gathering where they could preach the gospel.

And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And…she and her household were baptized… (Acts 16:13-15)

Where prayer was customarily made.
This phrase could be translated, “Where there was thought to be a proseuche [i.e., a place of prayer]” (Robert Young).
The sense of this phrase is not that the Christians were in the habit of meeting at a c…

Ministering on the Jewish Sabbath

Sabbath Study, Part 30

The book of Acts includes several instances of Christian leaders attending Jewish Sabbath services to share the gospel with those in attendance. Examples include Acts 13:43; 14:1; 16:14; 17:4, 17; and 18:4. These passages mention the presence of religious Gentiles as well as Jews, leading some to believe that Christian and Jew alike celebrated the Sabbath on the same day. Otherwise, why would Gentiles be participating in the Saturday Sabbath?

At first, this had been my conclusion as well. After digging deeper, however, I realized that, in order for us to really understand who these non-Jewish worshipers are, we need to understand the different types of Gentiles the New Testament deals with. There are at least three groups:

Gentile believersGentile unbelieversGreek proselytes—i.e., Gentile converts to Judaism (divided by some into two sub-groups: “proselytes of righteousness” and “proselytes at the gate”; the former were more fully integrated into Judaism than the l…

The Day that Changed Everything

Sabbath Study, Part 29
Jesus was crucified and buried on a Friday. During the Jewish Sabbath, His body remained in the tomb. Early Sunday morning, at the beginning of a new week, Christ arose, victor over sin and death. After first appearing to Mary that morning (Jn. 20:14ff), He met and traveled with two disciples on the road to Emmaus later that day (Lk. 24:13ff). When He vanished from their presence, they realized whom they had been talking with and they immediately returned to Jerusalem. That evening, while they were describing to the other disciples their encounter with the risen Savior (see Lk. 24:36), Jesus appeared to them all.

Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19)

The first day of the week. John makes a point of mentioning what day it was when Jesus first appeared to them. “Christ arose…

Sabbath Preparation

Sabbath Study, Part 28
Jesus, the man characterized by the Pharisees as a sinner (a glutton, a drunkard, and a Sabbath breaker), suffered and died in the place of sinners (including gluttons, drunkards, and Sabbath breakers). Shortly thereafter, Joseph of Arimathea (a member of the Jewish council and a follower of Christ) had the body of Jesus buried in a stone tomb. All this took place on a Friday.

That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near. And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. (Luke 23:54-56)

That day was the preparation. The hurried manner in which Jesus’ body was taken down and buried is due to the approach of the Sabbath. For the Jews, proper observance of the fourth commandment required preparation before the Sabbath day actually arrived. Once more, their days were reckone…

Blind Man, Blind Leaders

Sabbath Study, Part 27

In John chapter 9, we read of Jesus passing by a blind man on a Sabbath day and stopping to help. He spit on the ground, made mud with his saliva, and anointed the man’s eyes with the mud. Jesus then told him to wash in the pool of Siloam. When he did so, his sight was completely restored. Eventually, the man was brought to the Pharisees to be examined.

They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” Therefore some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. (John 9:13-16)

They brought him…to the Pharisees.With Jesus repeatedly using the Sabbath observance as an object lesson, it almost seems as though He is tryin…

The Letter or the Spirit?

Sabbath Study, Part 26

A couple chapters after healing the lame man by the pool (John 5:1-18), Jesus brings this incident up during His interaction with a Jewish group on the Feast of Booths.

Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work [the healing of the man by the pool], and you all marvel. Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:21-24)

Jesus answered.“The sabbath day (which is here set before us as a standard of all ceremonies) was not appointed to hinder, but to further and practise God’s works, amongst which the main one is the love of our neighbour” (Geneva Bible Notes).
I did one work. According to commentators, Jesus had healed the man at the…

The Working Prerogative of Jesus

Sabbath Study, Part 25
In Jerusalem, Jesus encounters a man who has been debilitated by an infirmity for 38 years. After asking if he wants to be healed, Jesus proceeds to miraculously restore the man’s health.

Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.” He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’” Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. For this reason the Jews persecuted Jes…