Romans 14:5 & the Sabbath

My last post on Sunday worship elicited the expected response from the HRM crowd. Unfortunately many of them still use the strawman “The Sabbath didn’t change,” Of course I do not think it changed but rather that it became irrelevant when the covenant changed. A “go to” passage is traditionally:

“Therefore do not let anyone judge you with reference to eating or drinking or participation in a feast or a new moon or a Sabbath,”(Col 2:16)

Judaizers intentionally obfuscate and twist that passage as explained here. Although that verse is devastating to their arguments that New Covenant Christians must keep the Sabbath, another passage is lesser known but clearly teaches that it is a personal preference.

“One person prefers one day over another day, and another person regards every day alike. Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind.”(Ro 14:5)

At first glance this seems vague but the Sabbath is certainly in focus. Here is the ESV Study Bible note which is very illuminating:

“14:5 The weak thought some days were more important than others. Given the Jewish background here (see v. 14), the day that is supremely in view is certainly the Sabbath. The strong think every day is the same. Both views are permissible. Each person must follow his own conscience. What is remarkable is that the Sabbath is no longer a binding commitment for Paul but a matter of one’s personal conviction. Unlike the other nine commandments in Ex. 20:1–17, the Sabbath commandment seems to have been part of the “ceremonial laws” of the Mosaic covenant, like the dietary laws and the laws about sacrifices, all of which are no longer binding on new covenant believers (see also Gal. 4:10; Col. 2:16–17). However, it is still wise to take regular times of rest from work, and regular times of worship are commanded for Christians (Heb. 10:24–25; cf. Acts 20:7).”

Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2181.

The HRMer would be the “weak” in this case and it is perfectly acceptable for them to observe special days. What is not acceptable is to judge others who choose not to, which is, unfortunately what most of them do.

About Cris Putnam
Logos Apologia is the ministry of Cris D. Putnam. The mission of Logos Apologia is to show that logic, science, history and faith are complementary, not contradictory and to bring that life-changing truth to everybody who wants to know.


  1. jmvpho says:

    Let me ask you something. If you took a closer look and found out that perhaps we’ve read into the passage what we want instead of taking a critical look from the culture it was written from and to, would it matter to you?

    Col 2:16 “Therefore do not let anyone judge you with reference to eating or drinking or participation in a feast or a new moon or a Sabbath,” Is this statement coming from those who obey these Torah commands or from those who disobey and make “irrelevant” these commands? Before answering, you’re going to have to provide evidence that anyone actually changed or abolished the Sabbath in their actions and if so, where were the commands from YHVH to do so? If Paul changed or made irrelevant, any commands, would he pass the Deut 13 test that YHVH told us we should examine? And if we disregard Deut 13, do we ourselves, fail?

    Rom 14:5 “One person prefers one day over another day, and another person regards every day alike. Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind.” This is an easy one. The context itself is about fasting and that day being considered holy to that person. Absolutely nothing is said about one of the 10 commandments.

    Read Isaiah 56 lately?

    • JT says:

      I too would like to see an answer to these questions. Everything has to be put into context, culture, time of when things were said. So much time has passed and having a human nature about us want to make everything work for us the way we want to justify our own beliefs. The real question is what does God, and His word tell us? Just because it doesn’t fit our “traditions” really shouldn’t matter. Good to see you posting again jmvpho. I always enjoy a good debate, and expect either Chuckles, or Cris to respond shortly. Iron sharpens iron, and I definitely need to be sharpened!!!

    • Joshua Ephriam says:

      From the text it is quite clear he is talking to people who are participating in a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. If we continue reading the next few verses we find he is talking about how we should not give in to human traditions and regulation e.g. like the one saying the Sabbath command was abolished or made void. I always get a kick out of (the stuff they add).
      Colossians 2:16–23 (ESV)

      16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
      20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

      Exodus 20:8–11 (ESV)
      8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

      The Sabbath command is described in more detail than all the other commands and it is the only one in which God Says “Remember” before he spells it out. It is as if God knew that his people would forget this one. I’m always amused by the circular logic that must be conjured up to say that this command only needs to be honored in spirit. Can we also commit adultery in the flesh as long as our heart is with our wife? If we come under threat of beheading can we then swear allegiance to Allah as long as long as we worship the true God in spirit? I submit to you, another question; if you are not willing to die to yourself and for your belief in Christ’s work than you are most likely one of these people,
      Matthew 7:21–23 (ESV)

      21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

      You must “do the will of the Father” or you are practicing “Lawlessness”. Look up the biblical definition for Lawlessness. If the forth commandment is obsolete than God made an imperfect law. This is a failed argument from the start.
      Esther 8:8 (ESV)
      8 But you may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king’s ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be revoked.”

      In the Book of Esther we find that even this evil pagan king could recognize the divine principle of which a perfect and divine king cannot revoke a law once he has established it. So what did he do? He gave his authority to another, who came not to abolish but to make full. He provided another way without revoking the divine law of the king. This was accomplished by writing another law that allows us to escape the punishment but the law is still on the books. For the love of God start trying to keep his commandments.
      John 14:21 (ESV)
      21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
      John 14:23 (ESV)
      23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
      John 14:15 (ESV)
      15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

      As far Romans 14:5 is concerned all i can say is
      Romans 3:31 (ESV)
      31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

      Quite frankly Cris’s statement says it all.
      “the Sabbath commandment seems to have been part of the “ceremonial laws” of the Mosaic covenant,” Sorry I don’t wish to follow what you yourself admit only “seems” to be made obsolete. I think ill stick with the clear text and not follow doctrines of men.

      • jmvpho says:

        Love that explanation.

        I don’t get it……why, when the context clearly reveals what is being said….do people like Chris Putnam refuse to acknowledge it? Romans 14 is talking about a “holy day” of fasting or denying yourself food or a food group. This is not a new problem in 1st century Jerusalem. The letter to Timothy refers to the exact same problem.

        As well, when the list of Torah instructions is cited in Colossians, everyone needs to determine from which position Paul is speaking. Is he keeping the 7th day Sabbath? (yes, all throughout Acts) Is he teaching everyone to keep the Torah? (yes, Acts 15, 21-23) Does our Father expect everyone to keep the Sabbath and only put in our mouths what He says? (yes, Isaiah 56, 58, 66).

        These things are undeniable to the child interested in serious scriptural studies and pleasing YHVH………yet deniable to those who could care less.

  2. “As Christians, we are to keep the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law.”

    Yes, we are to keep the spirit of the law, but does that mean we can disregard the letter?

    “Thou shalt not commit adultery” is the letter of the law. Jesus said if we “lust” after these women, we have committed adultery in our heart. This is the spirit of the law. Would it be okay to say “Well, I will keep the spirit of the law by not lusting after my neighbor’s wife, I will just rape her, but I won’t lust after her while I rape her.” Is it possible to keep the spirit of the law while breaking the letter of the law at the same time? No.

    “Thou shalt not kill” is the letter of the law. Jesus said to not be angry with our brother. This is the spirit of the law. Would it be okay to say, “Well, I will keep the spirit of the law by not being angry with my brother, I will just be a serial murderer, but I won’t be angry with anyone while I kill my brothers.” Is it possible to keep the spirit of the law while breaking the letter of the law at the same time? No.

    “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD” is the letter of the law. Is it possible to keep the spirit of the law while breaking the letter of the law at the same time? No.

  3. Mike says:

    “Therefore do not let anyone judge you with reference to eating or drinking or participation in a feast or a new moon or a Sabbath,”(Col 2:16) -Chris Putnam – In order to understand this verse let us look at Hebrews 9:1 – Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. where Paul’s use of the words “had also” indicating that they were separate, and not the same. That being said, we see how Paul was addressing the ceremonial Law and NOT the moral Law. Let’s take a deeper look!
    1) Erev Pesah (Passover). This is not mentioned as a sabbath.
    2) Shavuot (Feast of Weeks or Firstfruits). This was a sabbath (verses 10-11).
    3) Feast of Unleavened bread. This is not mentioned as a sabbath but work was to be ceased upon the first day and the seventh day of this week long festival.
    4) Rosh Ha-shanah (Feast of Trumpets). This feast is specifically mentioned as a sabbath (verse 24).
    5) Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). This feast is specifically mentioned as a sabbath (verse 28-32).
    6) Sukkoth (Feast of Tabernacles). This is specifically mentioned as sabbaths (verses 39-42

    After careful examination we see that there were feast days that were specifically addressed as “sabbaths” according to Leviticus 23, but these were not to be mingled in any way with the seventh day Sabbath of creation week. Verse 38 makes this clear when after speaking about the feast days in verse 37, in verse 38 God specifically says that those are “beside the sabbath of the Lord…” The word “beside” is from the Hebrew word “bad” which means “separation.” God therefore sets a separation between his feasts/sabbath feasts and the seventh day Sabbath of the 10 Commandments mentioned in verse 3. In light of the above evidence of both the context of Colossians 2 and the aspects of the laws, these ceremonial sabbath feasts must have therefore been the sabbaths Paul was talking about when he said verse 16. There is so much more but I will stop here.

  4. Mika says:

    Wait! this is such a deep topic, there is one more important point that I would like to make. Also concerning Colossians 2:16 – Since “the context [of this passage] deals with ritual matters. These annual Sabbaths were intimately connected to events foreshadowing Christ’s death and His Second Coming. They were designed by God to be shadows or pointers to the coming Messiah. again Lev 23:37 uses the language of Col 2:16,17 to describe these ceremonial Sabbaths.In other words, Paul is saying, “Don’t let these Judaizing teachers judge you in what you eat or drink at these feasts, or during the Sabbath, or during the New Moon. Jesus has died for you, He is the true Lamb of God. These false apostles are telling you to sacrifice a lamb, and they do not want to accept that all the lambs sacrificed, pointed to the true lamb of God. All of these animals were a shadow of things to come.” Also, I do realize, the original word translated into the plural “sabbaths” in Colossians 2:16 is, says Strong’s Hebrew/Greek concordance, “of Hebrew origin.” This means that Paul used a word that finds its origin in the Hebrew language when mentioning the Sabbath I get that, that it is a very important point BUT some have felt that this proves his was specifically talking about the seventh day Sabbath, but note that this same Hebrew word, being the Hebrew word “shabbath,” is the same one used in Leviticus 23 for the sabbath feast days. Again, the context of the chapter, therefore, is what will settle the debate on which sabbath he was referring to, not the original words alone. You should further note the following, I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts. (Hos 2:9-11) There it is again, this text is NOT talking about the weekly sabbath. In the last days, the war between God and Satan’s will come to a climax, at that point in time, the Sabbath/(Sun-[worship]day) issue will resurface. However, God would never have anything to do with Sun(day) worship study Mithra Worship, how it evolved into the church. Further, in the last days, there is something that happens in the Holy place at the very end, (es qes) it will lead to desolation. In Matthew, Christ said to look at the book of Daniel for answers. See Daniel 12, 3 1/2 year prophecy. Also review Daniel 11: 30, 31 – remember research! research! research! What was the first denomination that accepted Sunday worship? Clue – research Bishop (pope) sylvester 1and constantine – role in bringing Sunday into the church. -then ask why?