Critics, Debates


by Edwin M. Cotto
Advent Defense League

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.


This is a response to chapter 2 of the antisabbatarian book, “The Sabbath: What you need to know: 16 Propositions Against Mandatory and Salvational Sabbath-Keeping.” Please keep in mind that as we publish responses to chapters, changes may take place without notice to anyone. Please revisit this page often for updates as the goal is to reply to all 16 propositions. Responses to each chapter will continue to be published as time goes by. Visit chapter 123456, 7, 8.

Response to Chapter 2:
The Sabbath as a Sign, the Sabbath and the Gentiles, and Marriage

We proceed into Elce’s second chapter where he continues to try and prove that the Sabbath belongs strictly for the Jews, but this time coming from several other angles. Here is the chapter summary:

  1. Point 1: The Sabbath is a sign between God and Israel, not between God and the world (page 5).
  2. Point 2: The Sabbath was never binding on Gentiles (pages 5-7).
  3. Point 3: Mark 2:27 does not prove that the Sabbath was made for mankind (pages 7-12).
  4. Point 4: Sabbath keeping is optional like Marriage (pages 11-12).

The Sabbath is a sign between God and Israel, not between God and the world (page 5).

After quoting Exodus 31:12-13, 17 and Ezekiel 20:10-12, 20 to prove that the Sabbath was a sign between God and Israel, Elce wrote that Sabbatarians say the Sabbath was an “all-inclusive sign for the world or binding on every nation…” and that the Sabbath was “Israel’s exclusive Old Covenant sign between God and themselves.”

First of all, the claim that the Sabbath was a sign of the Old Covenant is irrelevant insofar as the New Covenant is concerned. Contrary to antisabbatarian belief, Adventists do not seek to enforce the Old Covenant. Rather, we see the New Covenant, described in Jeremiah 31:33, as a relocation of the same law to the tablets of the heart. If the Old Covenant was the Ten Commandment written on stone (Deut. 4:13), then “my laws” in this text is the same Law, but internalized. Typically, critics respond using the first clause of verse 32 which says, “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt…” However, these critics fail to realize that the covenant was composed of various aspects. It contained: A) the actual laws of Ten Commandments, B) the addition of ceremonial laws (Heb. 9:1), and C) the agreement to keep those laws (Exo. 19:9, 24:3). According to Hebrews 8:8, God found fault with the people. Soon after they made their agreement they were caught worshiping a golden calf, and behaviors such as this characterized them for the rest of their existence as a nation. Then, the ceremonial laws came to an end after the cross. What about the Ten Commandments? In the context of the New Covenant, Paul alludes to the Ten Commandments when he speaks of the “tablets of stone,” and commends the Corinthians for being examples of what was written in their heart (2 Cor. 3:3). Thus, we see that what was to be written in the heart in Jer. 31:33 was the contents of what was written on stone… the Ten Commandments. This makes sense, because Paul is consistent with advising his people to obey the Ten Commandments.(1) What was it, then, that was “not according to the (previous) covenant?” Namely this, whereas previously the people made the promise to obey the Law, now God does the work of writing it in the heart. He makes the promise and fulfills it, simultaneously offering forgiveness for violating the Ten Commandments and through His people, as “living epistles,” spreading the knowledge of His existence (cf. Jer. 31:34, 2 Cor. 3:2-3). 

Or course, no critic would let pass the opportunity to claim that 2 Cor. 3 teaches the Ten Commandments have been abolished. We will respond to this claim in chapter 8. Suffice it to say that Paul is not contradicting himself. Examine the immediate context. Since the law was written in the hearts of the Corinthians, and they literally became living, moving and walking epistles, it follows that the Law was not abolished, but rather that it became an intimate, internalized part of their whole being, going from tables of stone to “fleshy tables of the heart” (verses 2- 3). One need not tell them to avoid stealing, killing or lying. So long as they continued to submit to the Spirit, they will live the precepts of the Law in their lives. They are “known and read by all men.” How then has the Ten Commandments been abolished?(2)

The Sabbath the Old Covenant Sign?

Now let us examine carefully Exodus 31:12-13, 17 and Ezekiel 20:10-12, 20. From these texts it is clear that the Sabbath was a sign that God was the sanctifier, not man. It is also clear that the Sabbath was a sign that YHWH was their God, and that He created all things. This was especially important after over 400 years of being surrounded by false gods in Egypt.(3) One thing that is not 100% clear is that the Sabbath was a sign “of the old covenant.” This is a favorite claim of the critics, but God has elsewhere been very clear as to signs of covenants. There is absolutely no ambiguity, for example, when it comes to the sign of the Noahic covenant being the rainbow (Gen. 9:12-17) or the sign of the Abrahamic covenant being circumcision (Gen. 17:11). We do read that the Sabbath was a sign, but only that it was a sign between God and Israel, not that it was a sign “of the covenant” (verse 17).

However, let us grant that the Sabbath was a sign of the Old Covenant, what exactly is that supposed to prove? That it was strictly for Israel and began to exist with them? Not really. We saw earlier that in the fourth commandment Moses designates the very first seventh-day of creation by the word “Sabbath.” Even Jesus placed the Sabbath in the beginning when He said “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).  In other words, it predates Israel and thus was not exclusively Israelite or “Jewish.” We will go deeper into Mark 2:27 in a moment.

Or, is the Sabbath as a sign of the Old Covenant supposed to mean that it no longer applies under the New Covenant? Also no, because the New Covenant places the contents of that which was written on the tablets of stone, the Ten Commandments, into tablets of the heart (Jer. 31:30, cf. 2 Cor. 3:3). One of those ten, or course, was the Sabbath commandment (Exo. 20:8-11). And the observance of the Sabbath by the followers of Christ hardly speaks to its abrogation after the New Covenant was ratified on the cross (see Luke 23:56).

That Israel was made the bearers of it and the rest of God’s laws does not mean God did not desire for it to be shared with non-Jews, as can be seen in texts such as Isaiah 56. Even if it was a sign “of the old covenant,” the Sabbath existed prior to it, and it forms a part of that law which was to be written in the heart under the New Covenant as well. Therefore, it continues after the Old Covenant nonetheless.


Moreover, critics are quick to point to the Sabbath as a sign between God and Israel, but slow to ask who Israel actually is. According to Paul, Israel is more of a spiritual concept than a racial one. He said:

“But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.” (Rom. 9:6-8.)

The critics’ reaction to an Adventist quoting this text is more surprising than it is satisfactory. These verses are very clear about who Israel actually is. In context Paul is concerned regarding the fulfillment of the promise in Israel, his “countrymen according to the flesh” (verses 1-5, cf. 11:7, 25). The promise was that they would inherit the world (Romans 4:13), which is ultimately a promise of salvation. It seems like Israel will be lost, and the promise of salvation will not be fulfilled, until Paul says, “it is not that the word of God has taken no effect.” Why Paul? Because “they are not all Israel who are of Israel…” What a revolutionary concept! Not everyone who was born an Israelite, is actually an Israelite! “Nor are they children because they are the seed of Abraham.”

This makes sense and we have a few biblical examples. God rejected Ishmael, Esau and the children of Keturah(4) who were physical children of Abraham. These became Arabian nations, and one of them was Midian, known predominantly for their licentious behavior which succeeded in bringing down the Israelites while they were encamped in Shittim.(5) Though literally the “seed of Abraham,” yet they are not really children of Abraham.

Who then is an Israelite, Paul? “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” He is quoting from Genesis 21:1-3, 8-12, where God visited Sarah “as He had said… as He had spoken.” God made a promise to them that Sarah would bear a son, even though it seemed impossible (Gen. 17:19, 18:10, 14). But what made Isaac so much more special then Ishmael? That he was born out of this promise! Thus Paul says, “That is, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but the children of the promise are considered to be the offspring. For this is the statement of the promise: At this time I will come, and Sarah will have a son.’” (Rom. 9:9). Do you see it? All who are “children of the promise” are “considered to be the offspring.” True Israelites, therefore, are all who believe in the promise! That is why earlier in Romans 2:28-29 Paul said, “For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart ​— ​by the Spirit, not the letter. That person’s praise is not from people but from God.”(6)

This is also why in John 8:37-47 our Lord told the “descendants of Abraham” that because of their desire to kill him, they, though literal Jews, were actually children of the devil. A true Jew is one who “hears God’s word.” Since they would not hear, they were “not of God” (verse 47). To be truly Jewish therefore is a spiritual matter, not a racial one, and all who hear God’s word and receive Christ, “to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12).

So yes, the Sabbath was made into a sign with ISRAEL, but “Israel” is a term used to represent ALL who accept the promise, not just the physical descendants. The idea that “all” can join Israel is not a New Testament phenomenon. In the Old Testament we are told that even the Egyptian, the Moabite, the Ammonite, the Eunuch (who could not even be circumcised) and all the “sons of the strangers” could join in the camp of Israel and “keep from defiling the Sabbath.” (Isaiah 56). We Adventists are not impressed with the claim that the Sabbath was strictly for Israel just because God said it was a sign between him and them, because it shows a lack of understanding who Israel actually is.

Finally, the claim that Adventists say the Sabbath is an “all-inclusive sign for the world” can be easily misunderstood. By “all-inclusive” we do not mean those who reject the Lord (like those ancient nations), but those who are with him. Since we believe the Sabbath was created “for man” (Mark 2:27), it is in that sense that it was “all inclusive.” But when man rejected the creator they by default rejected the Sabbath, which represents the creator.

RESPONSE TO POINT 2: The Sabbath was never binding on Gentiles (pages 5-7).

To prove this, Elce says that historically and presently “Jews never accepted that the Sabbath was automatically binding on Gentiles.” To them, it was “exclusively” a covenant sign “between themselves and God.” And to what does Elce resort to prove a biblical point? Why, to a bunch of non-biblical sources of course! But what saith the scriptures? That to the Jews pertained everything that was to reveal God to the world(7)which included the Sabbath, and that they were supposed to be a “light to the Gentiles” and “salvation to the ends of the earth.”(8) The Sabbath was not made for them. Rather, it was made “for man.” To the Israelites it was merely revealed or “made known,”(9) and instead of selfishly holding on to it, they were actually supposed to share it with the world (Isaiah 56:2-6)! The Bible says that they were full of “Jewish fables” and “commandments of men that turn from the truth”(10)and will Elce now use their teachings to prove a biblical point?

One of the sources Elce quotes from is the Book of Jubilees where it says that God, “did not sanctify all peoples and nations to keep Sabbath thereon, but Israel alone: them alone he permitted to eat and drink and to keep Sabbath thereon on the earth.” But quoting from this book is not favorable to the claims previously made in Elce’s book. Note Table 2:1:

TABLE 2:1:

The Sabbath: What You Need to KnowBook of Jubilees

“It (the Sabbath) is first mentioned by name, practice and observance in Exodus 16… they went to gather Manna on the seventh day (the newly instituted Sabbath) and found none…” page 1.

“…how in six days the Lord God finished all His works and all that He created, and kept Sabbath on the seventh day…” 2:1.

“And He gave us a great sign, the Sabbath day, that we should work six days, but keep Sabbath on the seventh day from all work.” 2:17.
“And to this (Jacob and his seed) it was granted that they should always be the blessed and holy ones of the first testimony and law, even as He had sanctified and blessed the Sabbath day on the seventh day.” 2:24
NOTE: Verse 1 makes it clear that the Sabbath was first mentioned by name in creation week. Verse 17 is followed by an explanation of what was created on the previous six days while verse 24 says “He had sanctified and blessed the Sabbath day on the seventh day” thus also making that first seventh day the “Sabbath” day.”


“They (the Jews) always understood is (the Sabbath) to be their covenant sign between themselves and God, exclusively.” pages 5-6.

“And the angel of the presence spake to Moses according to the word of the Lord, saying: Write the complete history of the creation, how in six days the Lord God finished all His works and all that He created, and kept Sabbath on the seventh day and hallowed it for all ages, and appointed it as a sign for all His works.” Verse 1.

“Nehemiah 9 reinterates the fact that the Sabbath was instituted at Mt. Sinai.” page 2. 
EX. 16:

“And after this law I made known to thee the days of the Sabbaths in the desert of Sin[ai], which is between Elim and Sinai. And I told thee of the jubilee years in the sabbaths of years: but the year thereof have I not told thee till ye enter the land which ye are to possess.” 50:1-2.

“And I have chosen the seed of Jacob from amongst all that I have seen, and have written him down as My first-born son, and have sanctified him unto Myself for ever and ever; and I will TEACH them the Sabbath day, that they may keep Sabbath thereon from all work.’ 2:20.

“And to this (Jacob and his seed) it was granted that they should always be the blessed and holy ones of the first testimony and law, even as He had sanctified and blessed the Sabbath day on the seventh day.” 2:24 
NOTE: If it was granted to Jacob, and had to be taught to his descendants, then “made known” means it was revealed, not instituted.

“This institution was established by God with the newly, liberated nation at the Sinai Peninsula. It is first mentioned by name, practice and observance in Exodus 16.” page 1.

“And to this (Jacob and his seed) it was granted that they should always be the blessed and holy ones of the first testimony and law, even as He had sanctified and blessed the Sabbath day on the seventh day.” 2:24(11)

Thus the Book of Jubilees itself contradicts Elce’s claims. Moreover, the Book of Jubilees makes fanciful claims such as Sabbath and Feast keeping in heaven, circumcised angels, talking animals in Eden,(12) and the creation of angels of various elements such as angels of fire, wind, cloud, darkness, snow, hail, frost, and angels of winter, spring, autumn, and summer.(13) The purpose of the book was to draw sharp distinctions between Jews and Gentiles(14)while, as we saw above, the scriptures try to unite them. So of course it would say that the Sabbath was only for the Jews!  Additionally, the Jews never accepted it into the canon of the Torah nor viewed it as inspired except by Ethiopian Jews. 

I don’t think that quoting from Jubilees did Elce any favors. As a matter of fact, we ought to be very skeptical of any sources we quote from. I can just as easily quote from sources outside the Bible to prove my own point as well. I can quote from the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria for example, who was more contemporary with Jesus. In his “A Treatise on the Account of the Creation of the World as given by Moses” in chapter 30, he made the following remark about the seventh day of creation:

“But after the whole world had been completed according to the perfect nature of the number six, the Father hallowed the day following, the seventh, praising it, and calling it holy. For that day is a festival, not of one city or one country, but of all the earth; a day which alone it is right to call the day of festival for all people, and the birthday of the world.”

Had I depended on the writings of others outside the scriptures, I can make just as strong a case, if not stronger, by this one quote, that the “Sabbath was made for man” as in, all of mankind, and not just for the Jews! Especially because Philo was better respected by the Jews then was the Book of Jubilees! But as much as Elce, I am sure, would not agree with the rest of what Jubilees says, I also would not agree with many other things that Philo taught. The writings of authors outside the bible are great for a nice history lesson, such as in trying to understand the thinking of the people of those times. Non-biblical sources are also great to use in seeking to understand the usage of certain Hebrew, Aramiac and Greek terms, so long as the usage of Bible authors are taken into account first. We can use them to help us form our thoughts on certain topics, so long as they do not contradict the Bible, or cause us to steer away from clear bible teachings. But ultimately our “doctrine,” that which we believe are biblically true, must be derived from the “bible and the bible only” in the true spirit of Protestantism. The apostle was very clear, “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16).

RESPONSE TO POINT 3: Mark 2:27 does not prove that the
Sabbath was made for mankind (pages 7-12).

Elce admits that the word man “can mean man or humanity in a general and universal way…” (page 8). With Mark 2:27, however, he makes an exception, saying that the Adventist interpretation is erroneous “when linguistics, historical and immediate contexts are considered” (page 7). Let’s begin with linguistics. On page 9, Elce gives various scriptures in an effort to prove when a “universal principle or teaching is being enjoined” because they point to the beginning. He uses Matt. 19:3-6 as an example to correctly show how Marriage has “universal import,” since creation is being referenced. But Elce shoots himself in the foot by pointing this out, because there are various linguistic indicators in Mark 2:27 that also point to the beginning. Notice the following six points:

  1. The Greek word ἐγένετο, here translated “made,” can also be used for creation (see John 1:3, 10, 1 Cor. 15:45, and Gen. 2:4, 5, 7 LXX). One interlinear for the NRSV titled, “The New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament” (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 1990) has the reading for εγένετο as “created” in Mark 2:27. Additionally, the Lamsa Bible, a translation of the Aramiac Peshitta, translates Mark 2:27 as follows, “The sabbath was created for the sake of man, and not man for the sake of the sabbath.”(15)
  2. Although the Greek word for “man” can refer either to mankind or to certain kinds of people, we have an allusion to creation week when it is here juxtaposed with the word “made,” since that was the moment when man was made. To be sure, the second clause of verse 27 says “and not man for the sabbath,” which, of course, suggests that man was also “made.” 
  3. The Greek also has the definite article “the man.” The only “man” who was “made” at creation was Adam. He, however, is representative of mankind (see Acts 17:26).
  4. There is a neat parallel in verse 27 with the last two days of creation week. Jesus says that man was not made “for the Sabbath,” which makes sense because in creation week man was made on day six, while the Sabbath was made on day seven. So of course Jesus would say that man was not made for the Sabbath because the Sabbath did not yet exist when “the man” was made! This parallel, which alludes to creation week, cannot be ignored.
  5. In verse 28 Jesus alludes to his divinity as creator when he claims ownership and authority over the great institution of the Sabbath by saying “the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.”
  6. In Matthew’s account, we notice that at this moment Jesus also said He was greater then the Temple (Matt. 12:6). The bible says that not even the heavens can contain God, much less the Temple (cf. 2 Chron. 6:18). By claiming to be greater then the Temple Jesus was in essence claiming to be God, the creator.

Additionally, it seems quite reasonable to believe that the man in the phrase, “the Sabbath was made for man” in verse 27 pertains to mankind, just as much as the same word man in the phrase “Son of Man” in verse 28 pertains to mankind.  Afterall, “It is a rule of grammar,” wrote Dudley M. Canright, “that a noun unlimited by an adjective is to be taken in its broadest sense, as, ‘Man is mortal,’ meaning all men, the race. So in this case; Christ does not limit it to one class of men, but says that it was made for ‘man,’ that is, the race.”(16) Therefore, based on the foregoing evidence from Mark 2:27, even Elce would conclude that the Sabbath also has “universal import.” 

The critic may argue that creation is not being discussed, but it is not uncommon to make a sudden and temporary detour to the creation in order to lay the foundation for the argument being made. For example, creation is not being discussed in 1 Corinthians 11:9 either where we find the parallel text, “neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” But Paul does reference it for a moment to prove his point regarding head coverings and male headship. Something similar happens in Matthew 19:4 when Jesus refers back to the beginning when trying to prove that divorce was never a part of God’s original design for marriage. In Mark 13:19, where the context is not the past, but the prophetic future, Jesus points to the beginning to emphasize the enormity of the trials that will befall the inhabitants of the earth in the last days. A detour can also take place even when it does not point to the beginning. For example, Jesus responds to a question regarding eating foods with unwashed hands by pointing to their hypocritical use of the fifth commandment, although that’s not what the Pharisees asked about. Once His detractors were shut down, He proceeded with answering their charge in the hearing of all the people there (see Matt. 15:1-20). Evidently, there would have been nothing strange about Jesus suddenly pointing to creation in Mark 2 to make His point, even though the context is not about creation per say. His sudden reference to creation lays the foundation for the Sabbath’s original intent of serving mankind, and therefore doing that helped justify the actions of the disciples in satisfying their hunger.

Moving on to the historical and immediate contexts, Jesus draws from two old testament examples as more evidence for His disciples’ rights to satisfy their hunger during sacred hours. The first example is when King David ate sacred bread. Critics often use this as an excuse for no longer keeping the Sabbath, but that is not the lesson Jesus intended to teach here. First, David had just fled from the wrath of King Saul with nothing to either eat, drink, or even defend himself (1 Sam. 21:1-8). In this situation he found himself suffering from hunger. Like Jesus, the priest understood the importance of sustaining life (ibid, verse 4), so He gave David some of the sacred bread, “which is not lawful to eat except for the priests…” (Mark 2:26). The lesson is clear; in cases of hunger, that which was considered sacred should assist God’s people, and not hinder them. Keep in mind that the disciples were traveling with Jesus for some time, living a nomadic life of which at times their ministry depended on the generous donations of others (Luke 8:1-3). Though admittedly less drastic than the life threatening situation that David was in, the disciples found themselves in a similar situation, and the sacred hours of the Sabbath should no less prevent them from satisfying their hunger either. Afterall, the Sabbath was to be a delight and not the burden that the legalistic Pharisees made it out to be (see Isaiah 58:13). 

Elce and other antisabbatarian critics need to answer the following questions. Did eating temple shewbread become a habit for David and his men? No, it did not. Was the law regarding the sacred bread suddenly null and void, just because David had to eat it under his particular situation? No, of course not. After this incident, did the priest continue to reserve the sacred bread for only those who worked the priesthood? Yes. Did the temple bread remain sacred? Yes! In like manner, the Sabbath remained sacred for Jesus and the disciples, so what was Elce’s point? Four chapters later we see them continuing in their habit of attending services on the Sabbath (Mark 6:2) and Luke 23:56 says that His followers kept the Sabbath long after the grainfield incident “according to the commandment.” Obviously, Jesus did not intend to use the story of David and the shewbread as an excuse to break the Sabbath. While Jesus is strictly speaking about benefiting man, Elce stretches this to mean that even secular work can be done on the Sabbath. But that is classic eisegesis. The Lord is not outrightly teaching that the Sabbath can be violated for any reason, but rather that works of mercy are permitted and in fact in keeping with the Sabbath’s true intent, since the Sabbath was made “for” man, to benefit him.

In the parallel text of Matthew 12, we find in verse 5 Jesus giving a second example which contains a notable difference. Whereas in the story of David the incident takes place once, in the example of the priests the sacred work they did was on a weekly basis. Critics might assume that this is an excuse for continual Sabbath breaking, but on the contrary, this important detail demonstrates that the Sabbath should always be used for ministry, since after all, ministry was the work to which the priests were engaged. In Numbers 28:9-10 we read that the priests actually “worked” on the Sabbath days. Now unless the command God gave them caused them to sin every Sabbath, then the disciples, like the priests, were not in violation, because both were doing God’s work. Note the parallel:


Were working for the service of God.Were working ministry with Christ.
This work was sacred, not secular.This work was sacred, not secular.
Allowed and appropriate on the Sabbath.Allowed and appropriate on the Sabbath.

Evidently, doing God’s work on the Sabbath does not violate the Sabbath. Like the priests, the disciples were engaged in ministry right alongside Jesus, and if it was permissible for the priests to do this kind of work, how much more the disciples?

As a matter of fact, the only thing actually forbidden in the fourth commandment was secular work, not spiritual work (see Exo. 20:9-10).(17) The Old Testament constantly demonstrates that missionary work, or any work for that matter that pertained to the Lord and benefitted His people, was in perfect harmony with the Sabbath. Note these other examples:

  • In Exodus 30:7 the priests were to tend to the altar of incense “every morning” and in Leviticus 24:8 the bread of the shewbread was to be set in order “every Sabbath.”
  • In 2 Kings 4:23 we learn that prophets performed their prophetic work on the Sabbath. 
  • In 2 Kings 11:5-9 we are told that Israelites soldiers were in the service of God when they had to attend to their duties on the Sabbath. 
  • In Ezekiel 46:1-5 we read that “the gateway of the inner court” facing the east needed to be opened “on the Sabbath.” On that day the priests also had to “prepare his burnt offerings and his peace offerings” and offer them to the Lord.
  • In Nehemiah 13:22 the Levites were to guard the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day.
  • In Joshua 6:3-4 God commanded the Israelites to march around the city of Jericho for seven days, including the Sabbath, during a military operation.

Critics think that this violated the Sabbath, but not according to the commandment which, again, forbids only secular work. In fact, this is how it was always meant to be as we see in God’s conduct on the first seventh day. In it He both rested from creating things while at the same time upheld all things “by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3, Col. 1:17).(18) If He had stopped that sacred work His creation would have imploded. Jesus said that He and His Father have been working from the very beginning (John 5:17), and yet, Jesus was a faithful Sabbath keeper (Luke 4:16, John 15:10). Evidently, works of ministry on the Sabbath are not only appropriate, but a duty. They are in keeping with what the Sabbath was all about! The words, “it is lawful to do good on the sabbath days” (Matt. 12:12) demonstrates that the issue was not if the Sabbath should be kept, but how it should be kept. They convey clarification, not abolishment or change. Works of mercy and works of ministry are essential to what the Sabbath was all about.

But if the Sabbath wasn’t being broken, why does Jesus say that the priests profane the Sabbath? (see Matthew 12:5-6). One might just as easily ask why Jesus said to gouge out your eye or chop off your hand if it causes you to sin (ibid, 5:29-30). Jesus was simply speaking hyperbolically. In fact, according to the Old Testament (from which He was actually quoting from), it was wrong to profane the Sabbath (see Eze. 22:8, 26, Neh. 13:17)! Do critics really think that Jesus will quote from the Old Testament to say that it’s ok to profane the Sabbath, while that same Old Testament says it’s not ok to profane the Sabbath? Obviously, the Old Testament cannot at the same time both condemn and encourage Sabbath breaking. To the Pharisees He was profaning the Sabbath, but to the Lord He was magnifying and honoring the law (Isaiah 42:21).

“But Jesus was changing things,” replies the critic, “and He proved the Sabbath could be broken.” Critics typically don’t understand the confusion they cause themselves. When exactly was the law and the Sabbath abolished? At the cross? Then Jesus was sinning by breaking the Sabbath and telling others to do the same, because this event took place before the cross. Or was it before the cross that the law and the Sabbath was abolished? If so, where is the scripture text to prove it? Such a text cannot be furnished.

Finally, the underlying principle of all of God’s commands, including the Sabbath, is mercy. This is why the text reads that the Sabbath was made for man. But this principle was buried under the traditions and requirements that the Pharisees burdened the Sabbath with. They emphasized the mechanics of observing the day, rather than its principle. Jesus rebuked them right there on the grainfield by quoting Hosea 6:6, “If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.” (Matt. 12:7 NIV, cf. Matt. 23:23). Why were they innocent, and not guilty? Because, as mentioned previously, the disciples were doing something that lies at the very foundation of the Sabbath. Here is where antisabbatarian critics totally miss the mark. Like the Pharisees, they accuse the disciples of breaking the Sabbath, while on the other hand Jesus explains that “it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath days” (Matt. 12:12). Something that is lawful, is allowed, permitted or right. Jesus asked, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?” (ibid, verse 11). The obvious answer is that all of them would save the sheep. Why then was it wrong to do good towards a fellow human being on the Sabbath day? It’s not as if the scripture didn’t reveal the philanthropic nature of the Sabbath (see Isaiah 58, Exo. 20:10, Deut. 5:14). The reason why Jesus tells them that if they truly understood Hosea 6:6 they “would not have condemned the guiltless,” (NKJV) was because the disciples were actually guiltless of violating the Sabbath. Plain and simple, the accusation of the Pharisees was false. The observance of the principle of the law did not violate the law because that principle was the very essence or nature of the law. The critic might respond by saying that observing the principle of the law sets the actual command aside. In actuality, the principle of the law serves as the very reason for keeping the law. It’s why love precedes obedience (John 14:15). The “weightier matters of the law” Jesus said, is “justice and mercy and faith.” But notice how this verse ends, “these you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. (Matthew 23:23).

I would ask the critics the same questions that Jesus asked the Jewish leaders, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?” (Luke 6:9). To the Pharisees it was not lawful to do good on the Sabbath, but to Jesus it was. Will Elce join the Pharisees and accuse the disciples of doing something wrong; of breaking the Sabbath? Or, will he join Jesus in justifying the disciples for doing something that laid at the very foundation of the Sabbath institution? 


Whereas my thesis above demonstrates that what they did was in keeping with the very essence of the Sabbath, Elce says that “the activities of the disciples were a clear violation of Exodus 34:21, in the minds of the Pharisees…” (page 6). When studying passages where Jesus counters the interpretation of the Pharisees, we need to keep in mind that they were in the habit of misapplying the law (see Matt. 15:3-9). Exodus 34:21 offers a great opportunity for us to see an example of this. 

While harvesting was forbidden on the Sabbath, the disciples were very hungry, and since it was “lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matt. 12:12), their act of harvesting to satisfy their hunger (and not as secular labor) did not actually break the Sabbath. To cement this further, notice first that the surrounding context of Exodus 34:21 contains nothing prohibiting charity on the Sabbath. The verse merely prohibits the secular labor of harvesting and plowing during their associated seasons. Second, four chapters earlier, God commanded that ministry work be done on the Sabbath (cf. Exo. 30:7 w/Lev. 24:8), and was not the act of allowing them to satisfy their hunger a form of ministry? Were they not also engaged in ministry work with the Lord at this time? Finally, and more importantly, Jesus’ reference to the beginning when the Sabbath was made pre-dates the postlapsarian ordinance of Exodus 34:21. Therefore, to Jesus the foundational principle of the Sabbath (that it was made for man’s benefit, Mark 2:27), takes precedence over anything that comes afterwards, just like how union in marriage takes precedence over the allowance of divorce, which also came afterwards (cf. Matt. 19:8). Since the disciples were in need, and since they were also currently engaged in missionary work, the Sabbath would not hinder their efforts at satisfying their hunger, because originally the Sabbath was made “FOR man,” and not against him. Elce needs to stay in context when interpreting these texts. Jesus is pointing to the beginning, before the Exodus 34:21 ordinance was ever in existence.

Elce somewhat agrees with me. On page 8 he writes that the story of David “provided a legal framework for Him to justify the actions of the disciples,” and that the priestly work on the Sabbath excused them because “their work was in the service of God.” But he goes on to write that in this they were actually violating the Sabbath.(41) But was what the disciples did a “violation,” or was it that they did what the Sabbath would have encouraged them to do? Does saving life take “precedence” over the Sabbath, as Elce says, or does saving life actually form a part of the Sabbath’s very essence? Did Jesus break the Sabbath by doing secular work, or keep it by doing spiritual work? I think the answer to these questions is obvious. The old testament predicted that He would “magnify the law, and make it honorable.” (Isa. 42:21). If His disciples were reducing it and making it dishonorable, we should expect Jesus to have rebuked them for it.

Moreover, what Elce is promoting is far more than “violating” the Sabbath for purposes of ministry or satisfying hunger in extraordinary cases, such as the situation the disciples were in. For some reason, the story affords Elce an excuse for discarding the Sabbath altogether, something the very disciples didn’t do. According to Mark 6:2 and Luke 23:56, Jesus and his disciples continued keeping the Sabbath every week after the grainfield incident took place. Now, some critics have argued that they did so because it was their culture. That they were used to it and so they did it anyway regardless of the law. But that is not what we read. Luke 23:56 says they prepared for the Sabbath “according to the commandment.” If Jesus and the disciples were used to it, it was because they were used to being obedient, not because it was merely cultural. Moreover, how does satisfying hunger or doing ministry work on the Sabbath equate to violating the Sabbath by, say, mowing your lawn, painting your house or going to a secular job? I’m afraid Elce’s attempt at disparaging the Sabbath using Mark 2 is completely out of context. His interpretation is an insertion of a presupposition that is actually absent from the text in question. As we wrote above, it’s what scholars call “eisegesis.”

On pages 9-10, Elce says that the word “man” in verse 27 strictly means Jews because, “contextually, we can see that it is the ‘Jewish man’ being referenced” since “everything under focus here is strictly Jewish.” He goes on to prove this by pointing out that the accused disciples were “Jewish,” along with saying that it was “Jewish leaders” questioning a “Jewish Rabbi concerning the conduct of Jewish citizens who violated Jewish law; to which Jesus made a defense by citing the past and excusable behaviors of prominent Jewish figures with Jewish institutions.” However, eight chapters later, “Jewish leaders” again questioned a “Jewish Rabbi concerning the conduct of Jewish citizens” to which Jesus also made a defense using that same word “man” in the Greek, but citing a verse from the “Jewish” scriptures and later expounding on His lesson to His “Jewish” disciples. Notice:

“The Pharisees came and asked Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce [his] wife?’ testing Him. And He answered and said to them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.’ And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.  ‘But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man (ἄνθρωπος) shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, ‘and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. ‘Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.’ In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter. So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. ‘And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’” (Mark 10:2-12).

Here we have the same audience including the same disciples, same period of time, same Greek word, same context and even the same author. Why then does the presence of everyone Jewish make “man” in Mark 2:27 Jewish, but does not make “man” in Mark 10:7 Jewish, where apparently, everyone present there was Jewish also? And if the presence of Jews makes the Sabbath Jewish in the one case, why doesn’t the presence of Jews make marriage Jewish in the other case? Either our critic did not notice this blunder, or he has a double standard. More importantly, however, is the parallel between these two texts which places both marriage and the Sabbath at creation week:

MARK 2:27MARK 10:7
“And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”“But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, ‘and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

More then likely there were also non-Jews present in both these situations anyway. Nevertheless, assuming Elce’s argument is valid, that argument may work well for the Sabbatarian cause. As noted earlier, this would have been the perfect moment for Jesus to tell all those Jews that the Sabbath was made for them. After all, the Bible often addresses other institutions as “Jewish.” For example:

  • The language of the Jews (Isaiah 36:11)
  • Arimathaea, a city of the Jews (Luke 23:51)
  • The Passover of the Jews (John 2:13, 6:4, 11:55)
  • A feast of the Jews (John 5:1)
  • The Jewish feast of tabernacles (John 7:2)
  • The Jewish preparation day (John 19:42).
  • The land of the Jews (Acts 10:39)
  • The synagogues of the Jews (Acts 13:5, 14:1, 17:1, 10)
  • The law of the Jews (Acts 25:8).(19)
  • The religion of the Jews (Gal. 1:13, 14)

Clearly Jesus had the ability to address the Sabbath as a Jewish institution, but what did He do? He told a group of “Jews” that the Sabbath was made for MAN. Moreover, even if the Sabbath was made for the Jews, that in and of itself would not prove that the Sabbath was strictly for them, anymore then the Jewish Messiah or the Jewish scriptures would prove that these were only for the Jews. Obviously, we’d need more than that to make the case that the Sabbath was strictly Jewish. It seems to me that no matter how one looks at it, Elce just cannot prove his case.

To try and further prove that Mark 2:27 does not deal with the origins of the Sabbath in creation week, on page 10 Elce quotes Ex. 31:12-17, Deut. 5:12-15, Eze. 20:12, 20 and Neh. 9:13-15, 10:28-31, 13:15-22 in an effort to prove that the Sabbath “came into being at Mt. Sinai.” It doesn’t occur to Elce that if the Old Testament says that the Sabbath was made for the Jews at Mt. Sinai, the New Testament would not contradict that by saying it was made for man at creation! Nevertheless, none of these verses speak of the origins of the Sabbath. For example, we already noted the words “made known” in Neh. 9:14 no more proves that the Sabbath didn’t exist prior, anymore than the same phrase in Ezekiel 20:5 proves God didn’t exist prior.

Two other points that Elce makes on page 10 which I will next address. He wrote:

  1. Jews never thought that the Sabbath applied to Gentiles.
  2. Nor did they consider Gentiles to be “men” but “dogs, “beasts,” and “unclean creatures.”

These points are true insofar as the Jewish leaders are concerned, but it was typical of them to believe such falsehoods contrary to their own scriptures. Isaiah 56 invites Gentiles to keep the Sabbath, but according to verses 9 through 12, the leaders were not responsible enough to share that message because they wanted everything for themselves (verse 11). And while they indeed addressed the Gentiles as dogs, God actually says that they were the dogs (verses 10 and 11). So who cares if Jesus didn’t say “the sabbath was made for dogs!” If he did he would have been saying it was made for these hypocritical leaders. And that would make no sense.(20)

I will now respond to the last two points in Elce’s chapter. The first point can be found on page 11 of his book. Here, Elce takes the word “also” in Mark 2:28 and draws the following conclusion (the best way to reply was to quote most of his argument here):

“In this passage, Jesus’ Lordship and authority is being called into question by the Pharisees when they asked Him why He permitted His disciples to do what was unlawful to do on the Sabbath. And of course ‘days’ are being discussed and acceptable behaviour on them. So when He said the ‘Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath,’ He assumes lordship over all days. He is Lord also of the Sabbath and can determine acceptable behaviour on it, just as He would for the other days. The statement is not setting the Sabbath apart from the other days, contrarily, it is grouping or lumping (copulating, cumulating) the Sabbath with them. That is what ‘even/also’ means in this statement. Simply put, Jesus is saying that the Sabbath is not outside the scope of his Lordship and control. He is Lord even of the Sabbath! He is not bound by nor tied to it. Rather, it is at His disposal and control. And by virtue of His disciples being connected to Him and His work, they too are not bound by the Sabbath and can dispose it as they see fit.” (emphasis are original)

With this wild interpretation Elce concludes that the Sabbath was confined for the Jews, was a ceremonial law, and was placed under man’s authority and disposal. Where do I begin?

First, we all admit that Jesus is Lord over all days, including the Sabbath. That is something no true Christian will deny. We know He is the creator and that He created all days. We also know that it was He who set apart the seventh day as well. But even though the seventh day was elevated to a higher status yet it remains true that He is Lord over all days.

However that is not what is meant by the word “also” in verse 28, not contextually at least. Elce’s case is built on the statement “And of course ‘days’ are being discussed and acceptable behaviour on them.” Not really. It is not “days,” plural, that is being discussed, but one day, singular… the Sabbath day! Verse 24 asks, “why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” Like a house built upon a weak foundation, this assumption on Elce’s part is the premise for the rest of his statements. Understanding that contextually it’s not all days being discussed here, but one day, demonstrates why the conclusion he reached is false. Yet it’s convincing to the unsuspecting victim, because the idea that Jesus is Lord over all days remains true. This is exactly how deception works. There is a false premise in Elce’s line of argumentation that ends with a true conclusion. The best way we can avoid falling into the deception of truth mixed with error is to both read the context carefully and any other statements made in the bible about this text, and point out the presuppositions. 

The term “also” is unexplained in Mark 2, but not in Matthew’s version of the same story. Matthew 12:6-7 adds this important detail:

“But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.”

The word “even” in verse 8 is also kai in the Greek, and answers contextually to the “temple” not to “days.” That is the comparison the context let’s us make. When Jesus said that He was Lord “even” or “also” of the Sabbath, He was claiming Lordship over both the Temple and the Sabbath, which were immensely great in the eyes of the Pharisees. These are the two things being “grouped or lumped together.” Since these two things were divinely appointed institutions, claiming to be greater than them was nothing more than claiming to be God himself, the creator!

This sleight-handed attempt by Elce was done for one simple reason; to downgrade the Sabbath into a disposable ceremonial law that can be treated in any which way by the Jewish disciples. The idea that the Sabbath can be treated as one sees fit is what led the Jews to violate the Sabbath in the past which is one of the reasons why God refused them and destroyed them in the wilderness (see Ezekiel 20).  Elce twists this scripture to promulgate the same thing, now laying the charge on Jesus and His disciples. We must tread carefully, brethren! When seeking to draw conclusions, we need to study everything the Bible says on the subject first. When this is done one cannot be in error. Incidentally, Elce ends this section by saying that to conclude otherwise would mean “preconceptions being read into the passage rather [than] arriving at truth via immediate and contextual exegesis.” In other words, if we don’t reach the conclusion he reached, which was reached via an assumption, we are in error. But isn’t that what he did, when he eisegetically inserted into the text by saying that “days” are being discussed here?

RESPONSE TO POINT 4: Sabbath keeping is optional like Marriage (pages 11-12).

Finally, just in case we sabbatarians are correct in our interpretation, Elce makes this final point on page 11:

“Although this passage is not justifying nor universalizing Sabbath-keeping, even if we grant Sabbatarians this interpretation it still would not make Sabbath-keeping salvational and a universal obligation on all men simply because it was “made for man.”

First of all, no one states that Sabbath keeping, nor the keeping of any commandment is “salvational.” Obedience is the natural response of spiritually minded people. Romans 8:7 says that “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God neither indeed can be.” The inference here is that the spiritual man is subject to the Law of God, for “the law is spiritual” (cf. verses 14, 9, Gal. 5:16). If Elce believes himself to be a spiritually minded individual, he should cease attacking the law of God and retract his antisabbatarian books.

Second of all, two pages earlier Elce wrote that in the New Testament “whenever a universal principle or teaching is being enjoined, Adam is either referred to by name or as a generic ‘man’ (with variants), or creation is explicitly referenced, or both Adam and creation are spoken of together” (page 9, emphasis mine). But we noted earlier that creation actually is referenced in Mark 2:27 along with the allusions made in the immediate context. This creation reference, therefore, does make the Sabbath a “universal principle” on all men.

But what about marriage? That’s the example that Elce gave to support the theory that the Sabbath is optional just as marriage is optional. Here’s how he put it:

“Even the things that are ‘made for man’ are left to personal conviction, liking, ability, calling, affordability, etc. One such thing is marriage. 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 speak of the fact that woman was ‘made for man’ as a universal principle. But even this universal principle is not salvationally nor inflexibly binding on all men. Every man does not have to have a woman and get married simply because the woman was “made for man.”

Among all the institutions God created in the beginning, such as the Sabbath and Marriage, there is also Labor (Gen. 2:15), and this, even after sin, is not “left to personal conviction.” Paul wrote, “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” (2 Thess. 3:10). Elce did not give you the whole story. In his efforts to justify optional Sabbath keeping, he will quote Paul in 1 Cor. 11:8-9 which points to the creation institution of Marriage as “made for man” which is optional after sin, but won’t quote 2 Thess. 3:10 which points to the creation institution of labor, also “made for man” but not optional after sin. Inconsistent reasoning.

Moreover, while it is true that marriage and labor suffered in some fashion under the curse of sin, yet the institution of the Sabbath was enhanced. If rest was a blessing before man sinned, it is even more a blessing after man sinned, not just because it brings relief from the pressure of sweat and pain during labor, but also because it remains a little piece of paradise for us today. Through it we can taste that relationship Adam must have had when he walked in the garden with God in holiness, and receive a greater sense of God’s presence in our lives. It is a deep and meaningful institution, in addition to its intense symbolism of the gospel (Heb. 1-16) and antisabbatarian critics do us no favors in trying to minimize its significance in our lives.

But let’s look a bit deeper into the institution of Marriage after sin. It is true that Marriage, though “made for man,” is now optional for man. However, that status changes when a relationship begins. This is another important detail Elce did not factor into his explanation above. Food and clothing (which Elce brings up as things that were also “made for man”) do not pertain to relationships, but marriage and the Sabbath does. For example, when I met my wife (at that point, my girlfriend), marriage was indeed optional for me and I was certainly under no obligation to do it. But once I decided that I wanted to enter into a covenant relationship with her, and we ended up actually getting married, now the options flew out the window! My marriage is now sealed and I am at this point obligated to honor the marriage institution! Now, after the relationship has become, marriage is no longer “optional.”

On the other hand, when adultery is committed, a man no longer has to continue with the relationship. Jesus said that this would be the only reason for a divorce (Matt. 5:32). Thus when this happens, that is when marriage has become optional. The man can leave, or he can stay.

The same is true of the Sabbath. It certainly is optional to everyone. People can rest on the seventh day if they choose to do so or not, yet that would not be true Sabbath keeping. But once a person enters into a covenant relationship with the author of the Sabbath, and the Law is written in their hearts, now, at that point, the Sabbath is no longer optional. Contrastingly, there is no sense in observing it if a man decides to no longer follow Christ and be a Christian. Note the following parallel:

Table 2:3

Creation Ordinance.Creation Ordinance.
Becomes optional after sin enters the world, outside a relationship with another person.Becomes optional after sin enters the world, outside a relationship with the Creator.
Once in a relationship, it is no longer an option.Once in a relationship, it is no longer an option.
Optional when adultery is committed.Optional when spiritual adultery is committed.

Here is a strong parallel between these two institutions. And thus the phrase “made for man” in both Mark 2:27 and 1 Cor. 11:9 does make them both universal and obligatory, but only when in the former there is a relationship taking place with the Lord, and in the latter when there is a relationship taking place with the spouse. The “mandatory” part begins after the relationship begins, not before.

By the way, didn’t Elce argue previously that the phrase “made for man” in Mark 2:27 must mean that it was made for “Jews?” A very similar phrase is used in 1 Cor. 11:9, and why doesn’t it mean “Jews” there? We have a double standard here.


Elce made four points in this chapter to try and refute plain facts. He said first that the Sabbath is a sign between God and Israel, not between God and the world. But the claim that we believe it is a sign between God and the world is a strawman argument. The Sabbath is a sign between God and His chosen people. Now we know He chose Israel, but we also know that true Israel does not mean exclusively those of literal Israelite descent. A true Israelite, said Paul, is one who is a Jew of the heart, and not of the flesh merely. So there is still an Israel as much as there is still a Sabbath, and there is still a Law as much as there is still it’s sign. But the law is now written in the heart. Jeremiah 31:33 did not prophecy that only 99% of that law would be written in the heart. No, God plainly said “my law” will be written in the heart. And since the Old Covenant was the 10 Commandments which included the fourth commandment (Deut. 4:13) it is as plain as day that it is the 10 Commandments, including the fourth, it still being a sign of sanctification, which is written in the heart.

To prove that the Sabbath belonged strictly to the Jews Elce appeals to the book of Jubilees, which incidentally says that the Sabbath was instituted at creation week. He then goes through various pages seeking to prove that Mark 2:27 does not mean what it says; that the “man” there is the Jew. We learned that such an interpretation fails in light of the context and a close examination of the words “man” and “made” in that chapter.

Finally, brother Elce’s attempt at trying to discard Sabbath as optional just as marriage is optional only seems convincing when we do not understand that a relationship is required in order to truly participate in the two. When this is understood, we see that actually, both of these indeed are mandatory, and that there is no excuse in discarding either of them unless one commits adultery.

The Sabbath continues vindicated. It seems like every attempt made against it fails when closely scrutinized by the scriptures. We will continue to see this take place as we move forward into the next chapters.



1) See for example his  letter to the Ephesians, where Paul tells them to obey various commandments in the decalogue (Eph. 5:2, 3, 5, 25, 28-31, and 6:1-3). See also 1 Cor. 7:19, which is an exhortation to obey “the commandments of God.” Contextually he is giving marital advice and warning against sexual immorality, which is a sexual sin that would violate the 7th commandment.

2) For a closer look at 2 Cor. 3, see:

3) Because the Exodus is attached to the Sabbath, critics often assume that makes it exclusive to the Israelites. But that no more limits the Sabbath to them anymore than the command to “love your neighbor” because they “were strangers in the land of Egypt” excluded the Gentiles from participating (Lev. 19:34, Deut. 10:19). We will explain this further soon.

4) The children of his concubine Keturah, sent “to the country of the easy” to be away from Isaac, who was the child of the promise. See Gen. 25:1-6.

5) See Numbers 22, 25, 31. Also Judges 6-8 where the Israelites were actually enslaved by the Midians for 7 years. Although these physical children were rejected, God allowed them, including even the Moabites, Ammonites and the Egyptians, to “enter the assembly of the Lord (Deut. 23:8) after a few generations. One stipulation though. They must enter into the covenant and, believe it or not, keep the Sabbath! See Isaiah 56.

6) Christian Standard Version. In Romans 11 Paul breaks down how both the Israel of the flesh and the Gentiles become one Israel. Many in Israel of the flesh were natural branches that were broken off for not believing (verse 17), but the Gentiles who believed were “grafted in” and made a part of the people of God (verse 19). Israel too can be grafted back in if they choose to believe (verse 23). Both can become a “partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree.” Thus, if both believe, “all Israel will be saved…” (verse 26). They are not saved by nationality, they are saved by grace through faith (verse 6-10, 20, 23), so “all Israel” is not a reference to salvation by race, but salvation by faith. Otherwise, “all Israel” means even those literal Israelites who did not believe. As Paul clearly pointed out in Romans 9, all can become Israel in a spiritual sense, and thus all Israel, whether Jew or Gentile by nationality, “will be saved.”

7) Romans 9:1-4, cf. John 4:22.

8) Acts 13:47, cf. Isaiah 42:6, 49:6. They failed at this mission, so Jesus became that light. Compare Is. 42:1-4 with Matt. 12:18-21.

9) Neh. 9:14. There are references that say the Sabbath was “given” to them, but giving something does not mean that it did not exist prior. Many people will be given this book to read, but the book was created and published long before. It already existed.

10) Matt. 15:9, Tit. 1:14.

11) Commenting on this text, a professor from Trinity College in 1902 acknowledges that the Sabbath was kept at least as far back as the time of Jacob: “Not till Jacob’s time, therefore, could the Sabbath be rightly observed on earth. Moreover, the Sabbath was given to Israel alone.” BOOK OF JUBILEES or THE LITTLE GENESIS, translated from the editor’s Ethiopic text and edited, with introduction, notes, and indices, R. H. Charles, D.D., professor of biblical Greek, Trinity College, Dublin, London, 1902, page 18.

12) See Jubilees 2:18, 30 and 6:17-18. Ibid, 15:26-27. The Jewish Encyclopedia comments on this verse saying, “As a sign of its union with God, both the Sabbath and circumcision have been given to it, privileges which it shares with the angels…” The 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia. See: Jubilees 3:27-28.

13) Ibid, 2:2.

14) “Obviously, the chief object of the work is to exalt the Law (and Hasidæan practise) as divinely ordained and fixed from eternity, to extol the institutions of the Sabbath and circumcision as heavenly signs distinguishing Israel from the rest of the nations, and, finally, to draw the sharpest possible lines of demarcation between Israel and the Gentiles—in striking contrast to the practise of the Hellenist party.” The 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia. See:

15) See: The word for “made” as used in Mark 2:27 of the Peshitta is ܐܬܒܪܝܬ and the literal meaning is to “make, created.” See: I have attached a screenshot of this link in Appendix B.

16) Canright, Dudley, M., “The Morality of the Sabbath” quoted in Signs of the Times, Vol. 1, No. 15, Feb. 11, 1985. Link:

17) It is quite evident that it is secular work that is forbidden in the fourth commandment since there is a reference to the work even of cattle, which cannot do spiritual work.

18) Actually it was Jesus himself who created all things and rested on the seventh day (Col. 1:16). Jesus was merely doing in the grainfield what he did in the beginning, sustaining life. Preparations should be made, but in a fallen world, emergencies do arise. Thus the command which is “just” (Romans 7:12) is not dishonored by helping others, but honored.

19) The critic should be careful not to assume that this verse calls the Sabbath Jewish just because it says “law,” since the word law can encompass any law that even the critics would admit does not belong strictly to the Jews. Such as the laws of love, and those forbidding murder, theft and lying for example. When speaking of the moral law, we find Paul employing the phrase “Law of God” such as in Rom. 7:22, 25 and 8:7, which in context is the Ten Commandments (cf. 7:7).

20) There is one instance in Matthew 15:21-28 where it may seem as if Jesus was in agreement with the idea of calling Gentiles dogs. However a closer look reveals Jesus’ intent. He uses the word “dogs” in the presence of his Jewish disciples, who either shared this sentiment or were exposed to it by Jewish leaders, but instead of treating her like a dog, He stays in her presence and grants her her request. In this way he breaks down that social barrier and shows His disciples that although he came first for the Israelites, there is enough to share even with Gentiles. So rather then proving Gentiles were dogs, this story actually does the opposite. He takes the stigma of the times and removes it completely. Jesus was not so insensitive.


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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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