Committed to teaching and obeying the word of God

Sabbath Controversies


  • The Sabbath and circumcision were the epitome of Pharisaic law-keeping.
  • The Sabbath is based in Scripture.
    • God modeled it (Genesis 2:2-3).
    • The Law commanded it (Exodus 20:9-10).
    • Isaiah confirmed it (Isaiah 58:13-14).
  • But they had developed extra-biblical regulations to define their Sabbath-keeping.

“heads of grain”

  • The issue was not that they were stealing grain.
  • Eating the grain was expressly allowed by the Law (Deuteronomy 23:24-25).

“not lawful on the Sabbath”

  • Violations of the Mishnah:
    • Reaping: they plucked or picked the grain.
    • Threshing: the rubbed husk from the grain.
    • Winnowing: after rubbing, the husk would have blown away.
    • Preparing: evidenced by their eating the grain.

“what David did”

      1 Samuel 21:3-6

  • David requested bread from the priest in the tabernacle.
  • The only bread that was available was holy bread.
  • The old bread was given to the priests (when the new bread was placed on the table each week).
  • The priest gave it to David for his men.
  • The bread was intended to be a blessing for those who served the Lord.
  • Rigid, legalistic application the Law would have been contrary to the purpose of the Law.


“lord the Sabbath”

  • Jesus is not rescinding the Fourth Commandment.
  • He is correcting their misrepresentation of it.
  • There is a moral principle in the Forth Commandment.
  • The moral principle is not:
    • about schedules.
    • about percentages (1/7 of the week).
    • simply about restricting otherwise permissible activity.
  • The moral principle is (according to Isaiah 58:13-14):
    • to delight in the LORD.
    • to honor or glorify the LORD.
    • to prefer the LORD over seeking your own pleasure.
  • The commandment was given as a framework in which to accomplish this.

“to find a reason”

  • The Pharisees wanted Jesus to break the Sabbath.
  • Their desire to accuse him was greater than their desire to honor the Sabbath.

“to do good or harm”

  • Which is consistent with the moral principle of the Sabbath?
  • The Pharisees stubbornly rejected a truly God-honoring Sabbath.
  • Jesus, not the Pharisees, honored the Sabbath and kept it holy.