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April 9, 2010

When people ask me for one verse that shows without a doubt that Sabbath-keeping is still relevant after the death of Christ, more often than not I’ll point to Hebrews 4:9:

9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. (NKJV)

9So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. (ESV)

Notice the word rest, or Sabbath rest in verse 9.  The Greek word for rest/Sabbath rest is SabbatismosThis is the only instance this word was used in the entire Bible. It literally means “Sabbath-keeping” or observance and the term is believed to be coined for this very express purpose to denote literal Sabbath-keeping.

The following is an extended definition of the term, taken from Fred R. Coulter’s booklet:

The Greek word that is used in Hebrews 4:9, σαββατισμός, pronounced sabbatismos, which means “Sabbath rest, Sabbath observance” (Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament).

This definition of the Greek word σαββατισμός sabbatismos is confirmed by other historical works: “The words ‘sabbath rest’ is translated from the GK noun sabbatismos, [and is] a unique word in the NT.  This term appears also in Plutarch (Superset. 3 [Moralia 166a]) for sabbath observance, and in four post-canonical Christian writings which are not dependent on Heb. 4:9” (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 5, p. 856).

The Greek word, σαββατισμός sabbatismos, is a noun. The verb form of the word is σαββατίζω sabbatizo, which means “to keep the Sabbath” (Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament).

This definition of σαββατίζω Sabbatizo is confirmed by its use in the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament which dates from third century BC.  It is called the Septuagint, meaning “Seventy” because the first five books were translated by seventy scholars who were Greek-speaking Jews in Alexandria, Egypt.  Jews used the Septuagint in synagogues throughout the Roman empire, and by the Greek-speaking Jewish and Gentile coverts in the early New Testament church. The apostle Paul, quotes extensively from the Septuagint in his epistle to the Hebrews.  When Paul used the Greek word σαββατισμός sabbatismos in Hebrews 4:9, he knew that the meaning of this word was well known to the Greek-speaking believers of that day.  The verb form σαββατίζω, sabbatizo was used in the Septuagint which was as familiar to the Greek-speaking Jews and Gentiles of New Testament times as the King James Bible is to Christians today.

The use of the verb σαββατίζω sabbatizo in Leviticus 23:32 in the Septuagint leaves no room to mistake its meaning. The Greek English Lexicon of the Septuagint defines σαββατίζω sabbatizo as “to keep sabbath, to rest” (Lust, Eynikel, Hauspie). The English translation of this verse in the Septuagint reads: “It [the Day of Atonement] shall be a holy sabbath [literally, ‘a Sabbath of Sabbaths’] to you; and ye shall humble your souls, from the ninth day of the month: from evening to evening shall ye keep your sabbaths” (The Septuagint With the Apocrypha, Brenton).

The phrase “shall ye keep your sabbaths” is translated from the Greek phrase σαββατιείτε τα σάββατα sabbatieite ta sabbata, which literally means, “You shall sabbathize the Sabbaths.”  The form of the Greek verb σαββατίζω sabbatizo is the second person plural σαββατιείτε sabbatieite, which means, “ye shall keep.”  Since the verb sabbathize, means “to keep the Sabbath,” this verb is a special verb that also relates to and defines “Sabbath-keeping,” for God’s command for the land Sabbath every seven years.  In the entire Septuagint, the verb σαββατίζω sabbatizo is never used to define the “keeping” of anything else. Rather, it is always used in relation to “Sabbath-keeping” and “Sabbath-keeping” only.  In keeping with this definition, the KJV translates σαββατιείτε sabbatieite, this way: “shall ye celebrate your sabbath.”

There is no question that the Greek verb σαββατίζω sabbatizo in Leviticus 23:32 is specifically referring to Sabbath observance.  This meaning applies equally to the noun form σαββατισμός sabbatismos, which we find in Paul’s epistle to Hebrews.  The fact that Paul used the Septuagint translation in this epistle confirms that the meaning word σαββατισμός sabbatismos, in Hebrews 4:9, is in complete accord with the meaning of σαββατιείτε τα σάββατα sabbatieite ta sabbata, in Leviticus 23:32. Clearly Paul is upholding the observance of the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week.

And there you have it.  Clearly, the Sabbath is still very much valid today, and to say that we no longer have to keep it holy, because “Jesus is our Sabbath rest”, is dangerous and foolish.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. marcusmaxis permalink
    April 10, 2010 9:29 am

    Isaiah 58:13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

    Isaiah 58:14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

  2. April 10, 2010 1:32 pm

    I fully agree, please read my post on the sabbath for further scriptural evidence.

  3. pastor larry permalink
    May 7, 2012 2:23 pm

    need to read all the Bible to get the the heart of GOD not pull out a verse or two and is it old or new testament, you can not stand on the meaning of a word out of context of the verse or ch. or the book its in

    • May 18, 2012 10:35 am

      That’s what the above post does, takes verses from the OT and NT to emphasize that the Sabbath, (seventh-day) is still in effect.

  4. Wanda Bohl permalink
    March 13, 2018 7:18 am

    The Law is still valid for the Jews who do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus came to get us out from “under the Law”; He died the death that we deserved. We rest in Him when we accept what He did for us (Sabbatismos)! He is the “Sabbath” (the Rest). The Jews crucified Christ because He broke the Sabbath! Don’t cherry pick from God’s Word.

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