Paul Keeps the Sabbath with the Galatians
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.
“13 From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem. 14 From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.”
Pisidian Antioch is in the region known as Galatia. While many of Paul’s letters were written to churches in a single city, his letter to the Galatians addressed believers in an entire region. Acts 13:13-48 shows us the practice of Paul while in the area.
In verses 13-15, we learn that Paul ministered on the Sabbath and was given the opportunity to speak. Notice the content of Paul’s preaching:
“28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed….30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.”
The content of Paul’s message was Jesus being the Messiah who died for the sins of mankind and His subsequent resurrection. In all of this preaching about Christ’s death and resurrection, NOT ONCE did he mention it changing the day of rest away from the Sabbath. What was the response of the people after they heard the message?
Acts 13:42-45, 48
“42 So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. 43 Now when the synagogue broke up, many of the Jews and of the devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas; who, speaking to them, urged them to continue in the grace of God. 44 The next Sabbath, almost the whole city was gathered together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with jealousy, and contradicted the things which were spoken by Paul, and blasphemed.… 48 As the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of God. As many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” (WEB)
In verse 42, we learn the reaction of the crowd. The Gentiles BEGGED Paul to preach to them… when? On the next Sabbath! This means no part of Paul’s message conveyed that the Sabbath was changed.
In Acts 13:43, He taught them to continue in the grace of God. In verse 44, they met on the Sabbath with Jews AND Gentiles. He taught them about the grace of God and then they continued to honor the Sabbath. This is proof positive that grace and law are not contradictory ideals. Gentiles were there and received eternal life.
At any point in this visit, Paul could have announced that there was a new Sabbath or that it had been changed. He could have invited Gentiles to keep a “different Sabbath”, but he did not. The Sabbath always has been and always will be Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.
This was honored by the earliest believers, both Jew and Gentile. In fact, the majority of Christians honored the Sabbath for hundreds of years. Click this link to learn more: The Sabbath in the 300s and 400s AD.
Kelly McDonald, Jr. BSA President
You can follow Kelly on his website: www.kellymcdonaldjr.com