COGaic Reports on SDA Comments on Jesus, Mark, and the Sabbath


COGaic’s Peter Nathan reported the following:

Tom Shepherd, of Andrews University presented a paper on the Gospel of Mark which asked the question, how the implied reader of Mark’s Gospel was to understand the references to the Sabbath day included in the Gospel…

What Mark seeks to convey is the teaching of Jesus about the Sabbath day and how it should be properly kept as opposed to the accretion of traditions that people had imposed.  In Mark 2 and 3, two incidents relating to the Sabbath are provided.  Because of the way that the book has been divided into chapters and verses, long after the Gospel had been written, we can easily lose sight of the message being conveyed.  Mark presents Jesus as providing proper understanding for the listeners.  In the two cases, the instruction is given in response to a question.  Firstly the religious leaders asked one of Jesus (2:23-28), in the second, the roles are reversed.  Jesus asks the question of the leaders (3:1-5). The results of the two questions are not the abrogation of the Sabbath commands, but an understanding of the standards that Jesus and by extension, the Father expect in the Sabbath observance.

Of the seven occurrences of the term Sabbath in the Gospel of  Mark, two record Jesus teaching in the Synagogue on the Sabbath Day (Mark 1:21, 6:1).  The consequence of both occasions was recorded as public amazement at the quality of teaching of Jesus.  Between these two Synagogue events, we have the teaching provided about the Sabbath in chapter 2 & 3, as though they are sandwiched between the two events to give the reader an insight into the reasons for the reaction to the teaching.  So easily overlooked is the fact that in both cases, they seek to undo the tradition associated with the Sabbath and not the Sabbath itself.  This would have been ideal place for Jesus to describe the Sabbath as being redundant, or for Mark writing years after the death of Jesus to editorialize that this was now all changed because the church now kept Sunday in memorial of His resurrection.  Such is not the case.

Actually, we find the followers of Jesus, including the Apostle Paul, keeping the Sabbath and Festivals along with the rest of the Jewish community.  The Scriptures such as Acts 20:7-11 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 which have long been used to justify Sunday observance have nothing to do with worship or Sabbath or Sunday keeping.

Andrews University describes itself as a “Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary” hence it would make sense that it would teach about the seventh-day Sabbath.

What was not in the above report, however, was specific information on the practices of the Christians after the apostles died.  And while the information is not always as clear as we would prefer to see, the fact is that the faithful in Jerusalem, Asia Minor, and elsewhere kept the Sabbath into the second century and other times.  And even after various councils condemned it, the Sabbath has always been kept throughout the ages (see The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad).

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church?
The Dramatic Story of Chinese Sabbathkeepers This reformatted Good News article from 1955 discusses Sabbath-keeping in China in the 1800s.
Sunday and Christianity Was Sunday observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians? Who clearly endorsed Sunday?
Do You Practice Mithraism? Many practices and doctrines that mainstream so-called Christian groups have are the same or similar to those of the sun-god Mithras. Do you follow Mithraism combined with the Bible or original Christianity?
SDA/LCG Differences: Two Horned Beast of Revelation and 666 The Living Church of God is NOT part of the Seventh-day Adventists. This article explains two prophetic differences, the trinity, differences in approaching doctrine, including Ellen White.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

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