Who Kept The Sabbath?

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-An outline of Sabbath keepers from Genesis to Revelation-

The following list shows that the Sabbath has been kept and observed as a sanctified day from the very beginning of time, and will continue this will throughout eternity.


God kept the Sabbath day:

Genesis 2:1-3
(1) Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
(2) And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
(3) And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Adam and Eve kept the Sabbath

Mark 2:27
(27) And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:

Note: The Sabbath was made “for man” and when the Sabbath first came into the picture (Genesis 2:1-3) the only man alive then was Adam and his wife Eve. The word “made” alludes back to creation week when everything was “made” and the word “man” point to Adam and Eve, the only “man” alive during that time. Therefore, the Sabbath was made for them, and for their offspring. See our study: Mark 2:27: Was the Sabbath made for Adam and Eve?

Cain and Abel kept the Sabbath

Genesis 4:1-8
(1) And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
(2) And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
(3) And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
(4) And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
(5) But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
(6) And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
(7) If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
(8) And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

Note: Cain “slew” his brother Abel, therefore committing a sin, and God told him in verse 7 that “sin lieth at the door.” Now the definition of sin “is the transgression of the law.” – 1 John 3:4. And every law, the 4th, the 5th, the 10, the 6th, and the rest of the 10 Commandments, are all equal and are to be treated the same, according to James 2:10-11. In Romans 4:15, we also read that, “where no law is, there is no transgression.” Therefore, if all the laws must be together, and one can’t be violated without violating the other, when Cain killed Abel, he broke the entire law, including the Sabbath law, for where there is no law, there is no transgression. Since sin existed in the time of Cain and Abel, the entire law was also existence in their time, for one law can not exist without the other.

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob kept the Sabbath

Genesis 26:5
(5) Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

Note: Many would be surprised to learn that faithful Abraham was also a Sabbath keeper. The above verse states that he obeyed God and kept his commandments. Now lets read some more about the commandments that Abraham kept:

1 Chronicles 16:15-17
(15) Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations;
(16) Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac;
(17) And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant.

Some believe the covenant God made with Abraham was circumcision, but a closer look reveals this circumcision was not the covenant, but the “sign” of that covenant:

Genesis 17:7-11
(7) And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
(8) And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
(9) And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
(10) This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
(11) And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

Notice that circumcision was to be a token (or sign) “of the covenant.” In 1 Chronicles 16, verse 17, we read that the same covenant God made with Abraham was “the same” he made with “Israel for an everlasting covenant. What was the covenant he made with Israel?

Deuteronomy 4:13
(13) And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

Therefore, since the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was the Ten Commandments, which included the Sabbath, this means they were all Sabbath keepers.

Joseph kept the Sabbath

Genesis 39:7-9
(7) And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.
(8) But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;
(9) There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

Note: Joseph understood that committing adultery was againt the commandments of God. Since all the law is connected (James 2:10-11) and he did not want to violate the 7th commandment, it follows that he would not have wanted to also violate the 4th commandment, the Sabbath, since they are all part of that same covenant God made with Abraham.

King David observed the Sabbath:

Psalm 92:1-3
(1) A Psalm or Song for the sabbath day. It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:
(2) To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night,
(3) Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.

Note: King David, although a sinner, was such a faithful Sabbath keeper that he even dedicated one of his Psalms for the Sabbath.


Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath:

Luke 4:16
(16) And he came to Nazareth, where he [Jesus Christ] had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

Note: There are three recorded instances where we read that Jesus observed the Sabbath. First, as creator of this world (John 1:3), Jesus observed it in the beginning (Genesis 2:1-3). He observed it during his lifetime (Luke 4:16), and he also observed it while in the grave (Luke 23:53-56, 24:1-3). Through this he showed that from the beginning of time until the day following his death (he died the day before the Sabbath) no change has taken place in the Sabbath. It was neither changed, nor abolished. Jesus was a Sabbath keeper both before any ceremonial law ever existed and after the ceremonial law has been done away with. True followers of Christ are to “walk even as he walked” – 1 John 2:6.

Joseph of Arimathea kept the Sabbath:

Luke 23:50-56
(50) And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just:
(51) (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.
(52) This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.
(53) And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.
(54) And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.
(55) And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.
(56) And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses kept the Sabbath

Mark 15:47
(47) And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.

Note: According to the context of Mark 15:40-47, these women were with Joseph of Arimathea when he “rested the sabbath day.” Compare with Luke 23:50-56. Just like Jesus, they kept the Sabbath after his death. Note also that they were by this time “christians” because by definition a christian is a “follower of Christ” and they followed Christ.

Paul and Barnabas kept the Sabbath

Act 13:14
(14) But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.

Note: They did not only go to the church simply to witness to the Jews. This was Paul’s “manner” – Acts 17:2. See link Did Paul keep the Sabbath?

Luke the Physician kept the Sabbath

Act 16:13
(13) And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.

Note: Luke, the author of Acts, used the word “we” to indicate that he was also among those who kept the Sabbath by the river side. Also, the book of Acts was written about 62 AD (see this link), therefore it was about 62 AD, years after the moment Christ went back to heaven, that we find Christians like luke keeping the Sabbath. Luke was a Christian because he too followed the teachings of Christ. Hence we have a Christian keeping the Sabbath at about the time of 62 AD (not to mention the gathering of the Gentiles on the Sabbath in the book of Acts).


Christians in the Dark Ages kept the Sabbath:

Matthew 24:20
(20) But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day.

Note: Jesus prophesied that those fleeing from the great tribulation would be faithful Sabbath keepers.

The Sabbath is kept today

By church such as the Seventh Day Adventists, Seventh Day Baptists, Seventh Day Pentecostals, Church of God Seventh Day, and more.


Finally, the Sabbath will be kept in the New Heavens and the New Earth:

Isaiah 66:22-23
(22) For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.
(23) And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.

For further study, see:

The Sabbath in Genesis
Isaiah 66:23: New Moon Observance?
Colossions 2:16: The Sabbath a shadow?


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About The Author

Edwin Cotto

With over 13 years of experience in apologetics, evangelism and youth directing, Edwin has worked with various ministries both in English and Spanish. Having had the opportunity to travel to various states in the USA, and also to Venezuela and Mexico, he has enjoyed the privilege of conducting evangelistic meetings and apologetics seminars. His education includes training in the Medical Field, Adult Education at Valencia College, Biblical Hebrew with the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, and Evangelism with Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism. He is furthering his academic studies in theology while also working as a bible worker for the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Ordained as an elder, Edwin's passion for ministry begins first at home with his wife and kids.

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