The Quartodeciman Controversy (Part 2)

The Quartodeciman Controversy (Part 2)

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

In part one of this series, we looked at the first phase of the Quartodeciman Controversy. It started when the Church of Rome decided to depart from the celebration of the Biblical Passover (also called Pascha) under the influence of Gnostic heresies. As its replacement, they enacted a resurrection service on the Sunday after Passover. This change was an uphill battle as Christians even in Rome resisted this move for decades. In the second century, many Christians in the East still observed Passover as they received it from Jesus and the first disciples.

In part two of this series, we will discuss the next two phases of the Quartodeciman Controversy, which are often overlooked.

Confusion Abounds

The second phase of the Quartodeciman Controversy is confusion. Because the new ‘Roman Pascha’ mixed some human reason with some Biblical reasoning, variations of practice were developed by Christians in other areas. Pascha might be observed in a different way or date depending on the city or region.

An important early writing on this subject was composed by Anatolius of Alexandria. He was the bishop of Syrian Laodicea in the mid to late third century. In The Paschal Canon, he discussed the variation of calculations concerning the Paschal date.

Anatolius reasoned that Pascha should be celebrated anytime between the 14th day through the 20th day of the first lunar month so long as it was held on Sunday (which he called the Lord’s Day). Other variations existed. One group he described might keep Pascha as late as the 22nd or 23rd day of the first month, which he found unacceptable. He also disagreed with another group who commemorated Pascha on the 21st day of the first month (or as late as the 21st day). Another source tells us that some Christians kept March 25 as Pascha every year (Epiphanius, Panarion, 50.1.6).

Moreover, he reasoned that it was necessary to calculate a range of dates on the Roman Calendar that Passover should fall within. According to his calculations, Pascha should always occur between March 27 and April 23. This cycle was not accepted by certain believers in north Africa. They asserted that Pascha had to occur between March 22 and April 21. Why did this discrepancy exist?

In ancient times, the spring equinox was recognized as a different day in different places. The Roman Julian Calendar established March 25 to be the day of the equinox, but the Alexandrian Calendar viewed the equinox as March 21. Both groups thought Passover should fall after the equinox, but they disagreed as to which day was the equinox. So there were also differing views as to which dates on the Roman Calendar were acceptable to keep Pascha. To this day, the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches disagree on the calculation for Pascha.

If this wasn’t confusing enough, there were also disagreements as to how many years into the future that the Pascha feast should be calculated. For instance, Anatolius argued for a nineteen-year time cycle. Hippolytus had a sixteen-year cycle, and Dionysius had an eight-year cycle (Eusebius, Church History, 6.22.1, 7.20). There is also the famous Hippolytus statue. On it is inscribed a 112-year cycle for keeping Pascha. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, an 84-year time cycle was also utilized in the early church (article: Easter Controversy).

The following were variables that resulted in numerous ways to keep Pascha in the second, third, and fourth centuries:

1) Different view of which range of dates the Pascha could fall upon (or if a specific date were needed)

2) Differing view of the equinox

3) Different view of yearly cycles

At the very least, the writings of Anatolius and others give us an idea of the confusion initiated by the first phase of the controversy. No one could really agree on when to keep the new Pascha introduced by the Roman Church. In his discourse about this subject, Anatolius also mentioned the Quartodeciman Christians. He claimed that they did not have any difficulty with their observance.We have a quote from him below:

“…But nothing was difficult to them with whom it was lawful to celebrate the Passover on any day when the fourteenth of the moon happened after the equinox. Following their example up to the present time all the bishops of Asia—as themselves also receiving the rule from an unimpeachable authority, to wit, the evangelist John…were in the way of celebrating the Paschal feast, without question, every year, whenever the fourteenth day of the moon had come, and the lamb was sacrificed by the Jews…”

Why did the Quartodeciman Christians not have difficulty? Because they obeyed the Bible, not the commandments and doctrines of men. When the Bishops of Rome and other leaders tried to change the Scriptures, it caused confusion. “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…” (I Cor. 14:33).

Forced Conformity

The third phase of the Quartodeciman Controversy is Forced Conformity. In the fourth and fifth centuries, people were coerced to comply with the Roman Church practice concerning Pascha. Four methods were used in these efforts: 1) Church Councils, 2) Polemic Writings, 3) Roman Law, and 4) Force.

Constantine became Western Roman Emperor in 312 AD. The next year, he gave freedom of worship to all religions with the Edict of Milan; this included Christianity. During his reign, an opportunity arose for the Roman Church to assert its reckoning of Pascha above all others – but not in the way you might think.

Disputes erupted between the Roman Church and other Christian groups in the early fourth century regarding other issues. Church Councils were convened to resolve them. As part of this process, these groups appealed to Constantine to settle the disagreements. After all, he was the highest civil authority in the Western Roman world. This led to a series of unforeseen consequences that favored the Roman Church Pascha.

Church Councils

Arles (314 AD) – The Council of Arles was held in 314 AD. It was the third council convened to resolve the dispute between Donatists and the Roman Church. Arles was also the first Church Council with wide representation from across Western Europe. The first judgment issued by the Council was to impose upon all other regions the same Pascha observance as the Roman Church (canon one). This helps us understand its importance to their leaders. They desired to end the confusion by imposing their view on others.

Nicaea (325 AD) – In 324 AD, Constantine became ruler of the entire Roman Empire. The next year, he was again asked to resolve a dispute between the Roman Church and two other groups: the Meletians and Arians. The Council of Nicaea was convened to resolve these issues and others. At its conclusion, Constantine directed that a letter be sent to church leaders and compelled them to follow, among other things, the Roman reckoning for Pascha. It was left up to Church leaders to enforce its contents. This letter did not have the force of imperial law; Quartodeciman practice still existed in some areas of the east.

While these church councils were initially convened to resolve disputes, Roman Church leaders utilized them to force other groups to follow their Pascha practice. Other councils were held after Constantine’s reign that increased the marginalization of Quartodeciman Christians. We have summarized three of them below.

Antioch (341 AD) – The first canon or decision of the council excommunicated from fellowship Quartodeciman Christians.

Laodicea (363/364 AD) – One of the goals of this council was to pronounce condemnation on Christians who practiced celebrations considered Jewish. In canon seven, Quartodecimans and other groups were pronounced as heretics. In canon twenty-nine, Christians were condemned for keeping the Sabbath. In canon thirty-seven, Christians were denounced for keeping feasts with Jewish people or heretics. This council expressed the views of the Roman Church and did not have the force of law behind it.

Constantinople (381 AD) – In canon seven, heretical groups were required to perform certain actions to be accepted back into fellowship with the ‘Catholic’ Church. Some were required to write down a renunciation of their beliefs and then be anointed by a priest. Others had to be rebaptized. Quartodeciman Christians could fall into either category.

Polemic Writers

Roman Church leaders also composed polemic writings and sermons against Quartodecimans. These works condemned them in various ways. For instance, Epiphanius (late 300s AD) and Theodoret (early to mid 400s AD) both denounced Quartodeciman practices as false doctrine (Panarion, 70.10.1-5; Compendium of Heretical Tales, 3.4). John Chrysostom (late 300s AD) pronounced eternal condemnation on those Christians who kept feasts such as Passover (Eight Homilies Against the Jews, 3.4.1, 3.5.6, 4.3.5, 4.4.1, 6.7.9). He was also very anti-Semitic.

Roman Laws

Another development which started during the reign of Constantine was the gradual intertwining of Roman Empire and Roman Church. Laws were enacted which favored and codified Roman Church practices, including their Pascha feast. By the end of the fourth century, this religious system became the preferred religion of Roman Emperors. Thus, Roman law became another method by which the Roman Pascha was imposed on others. There were two categories of laws pertaining to this subject.

The first category of laws curbed or prohibited public activities on the Roman Pascha. This granted their version of the feast recognition by the imperial government and throughout the empire. This forced the average person to be aware of the Roman Church Pascha because their activities were restricted. The bulk of these laws were enacted between 389-425 AD (see CT: 2.8.19, 2.8.21, 2.8.24, 9.35.4, 9.38.3-4, 9.38.8, 15.5.5).

The second category of Roman laws related to this subject were those which condemned heretics. As previously discussed, various fourth-century Church Councils started to define certain beliefs, practices, and groups as ‘heretical.’ As the Roman Church and Roman Empire became intertwined, punishments against groups deemed ‘heretical’ became codified into Roman law.

In 380 AD, the Roman Emperor Theodosius enacted a law that commanded all to follow the teachings of the Bishop of Rome (CT: 16.1.2). Those who did were called ‘Catholic Christians’; all other groups were pronounced as heretical and insane. Other Theodosian laws relating to religion were fanatical.

For instance, non-Roman Church groups were banned from owning church buildings or assembling. Sometimes they chose the Paschal season to perform these confiscations! (CT: 16.5.12 [383 AD]) Theodosius tried to intimidate people into conformity.

Other laws, both during and after his reign, prescribed exile and confiscation of goods upon non-conformist groups (see CT: 16.6.6, 16.10.24). In 425 AD, heretics were banned from the city of Rome (CT: 16.5.62). Anyone caught assisting non-conformist groups were fined and could be severely punished (CJ: 1.5.5 [428 AD]). This second category of laws took civil protections away from groups considered heretical.


The early Christian historian Sozomen wrote that Theodosius chose not to enforce the harshest laws against non-conformist groups (Church History, 7.12). He hoped to persuade people to the Roman Catholic cause through intimidation rather than force. Despite this laxity in enforcement, his laws established a dangerous precedent. After his reign, we have at least two recorded instances where certain punishments prescribed by Roman law were carried out.

The first of these came from John Chrysostom, a virulent anti-Semitic Roman Catholic leader of that time (briefly discussed above). He was also the bishop of Constantinople from 398-403. He was deposed for his violent mistreatment of non-conformist groups, including Quartodeciman Christians. Socrates Scholasticus recorded: “Others, however, asserted that John had been deservedly deposed, because of the violence he had exercised in Asia and Lydia, in depriving the Novatians and Quartodecimans of many of their churches…” (Church History, 6.19).

Another example of this violent behavior was exhibited by Nestorius, who was the archbishop of Constantinople from 428-431. His tenure started the same year that a repressive anti-heresy law was enacted (CJ: 1.5.5). He supposedly received a prophetic message from ‘God’ that the emperor would be given heaven and victory over the Persians if he purged the empire of heretics. Immediately after this message, the audience erupted into a frenzy and burned down a non-Catholic place of worship.

He also persecuted Quartodeciman Christians in Asia Minor. Apparently, he caused people in other cities to be put to death! His aggressive rhetoric may have incited mob violence against them.  Socrates related the following concerning these events: “…With what calamities he visited the Quartodecimans throughout Asia, Lydia, and Caria, and what multitudes perished in a popular tumult of which he was the cause at Miletus and Sardis, I think proper to pass by in silence…” (ibid, 7.29).

While unconscionable, the actions of John Chrysostom and Nestorius followed established Roman Law towards non-conformists. Other such incidences may have occurred. These violent acts were a by-product of the intertwining of Roman Church and Roman State.

Another point to be emphasized from these sources is that Quartodeciman practice still existed in the fifth century. This means that the group did not instantly disappear during previous times. Due to the pressure from Church Councils, Polemic Writings, Roman Law, and Force, Quartodeciman Christians were reduced to a small minority. Their civil rights were taken from them. Being involved with or connected to the group became dangerous.

Quartodeciman Christians were thus scattered to the wind. Various groups have held to this practice off and on from that time until the present.

To read about this subject in more depth, download our free book “The Quartodeciman Controversy” from (Free Resources Page).


To view the Bibliography, see The Quartodeciman Controversy, pp 109-113.

References to God in the Text of Each U.S. State Constitution

References to God in the Text of Each U.S. State Constitution

“Want to represent God and share your faith in the public square? Afraid you’ll be accused of “religious intolerance” by the politically correct thought police? Tired of your free-speech rights being abridged, just because you are a Christian?

No Problem! Present the Theistic world-view, and illustrate the Judeo-Christian presuppositions upon which America is based, simply by reading from your state’s founding documents!

FACT: All 50 states acknowledge God in their constitutions. FICTION: Conventional wisdom held by many today (a presupposition drilled into the public consciousness by organizations like the ACLU, People for the American Way, and others) is that America was organized as a strictly secular nation.

FOR INSTANCE: Alabama (Date admitted to the union: December 14, 1819): Preamble. “We the people of the State of Alabama, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution.”

Alaska (Date admitted to the union: January 3, 1959): Preamble. “We, the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land….”

Arizona (Date admitted to the union: February 14, 1912): Preamble. “We, the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution….”

Arkansas (Date admitted to the union: June 15, 1836): Preamble. “We, the people of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government….” California (Date admitted to the union: September 9, 1850): Preamble. “We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom….”

(this article is an excerpt from the March-April 2007 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 7, click this link:

Three Christian Leaders Mentioned in Historical Sources

Three Christian Leaders Mentioned in Historical Sources

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

As we survey the New Testament, we learn about some of the great ministers of early Christian history. People tend to be familiar with Peter, John, Paul, Barnabas, and James. Other major leaders are mentioned, but these are among the most well-known ministers.

What about historical sources outside of the New Testament?

The earliest non-Biblical historical sources that reference Christianity come from Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny the Younger. Of them, Josephus mentions James, the brother of Jesus (Antiquities of the Jews, 20.9.1). In the New Testament, James is discussed as a leader of the early Christian movement in Jerusalem (Gal. 1:9).

Pliny also mentioned other Christian leaders. These two individuals are not mentioned in the New Testament, but they must have been very important. In about 110/111 AD, Pliny served as the governor for the province of Bithynia in Asia Minor. While there, Christians were put on trial for their faith. He reported to the Roman Emperor Trajan how he handled the situation and if Trajan would advise any changes to his strategy. We have an excerpt of his letter below (listed by Loeb as Letter 96; listed by Bosanquet as Letter 97).

“…to the Emperor Trajan: It is my invariable rule, Sir, to refer to you in all matters where I feel doubtful; for who is more capable of removing my scruples, or informing my ignorance? Having never been present at any trials concerning those who profess Christianity, I am unacquainted not only with the nature of their crimes, or the measure of their punishment, but how far it is proper to enter into an examination concerning them…”

“An anonymous information was laid before me containing a charge against several persons, who upon examination denied they were Christians, or had ever been so. They repeated after me an invocation to the gods, and offered religious rites with wine and incense before your statue (which for that purpose I had ordered to be brought, together with those of the gods), and even reviled [cursing] the name of Christ: whereas there is no forcing, it is said, those who are really Christians into any of these compliances: I thought it proper, therefore, to discharge them…”

“Some among those who were accused by a witness in person at first confessed themselves Christians, but immediately after denied it; the rest owned indeed that they had been of that number formerly, but had now (some above three, others more, and a few above twenty years ago) renounced that error. They all worshipped your statue and the images of the gods, uttering imprecations at the same time against the name of Christ…”

“…They affirmed the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they met on a stated day before it was light, and addressed a form of prayer to Christ, as to a divinity, binding themselves by a solemn oath, not for the purposes of any wicked design, but never to commit any fraud, theft, or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble, to eat in common a harmless meal. From this custom, however, they desisted after the publication of my edict, by which, according to your commands, I forbade the meeting of any assemblies…”

“…I judged it so much the more necessary to endeavor to extort the real truth, by putting two female slaves to the torture, who were said to officiate in their religious rites: but all I could discover was evidence of an absurd and extravagant superstition…”

“…I deemed it expedient, therefore, to adjourn all further proceedings, in order to consult you. For it appears to be a matter highly deserving your consideration, more especially as great numbers must be involved in the danger of these prosecutions, which have already extended, and are still likely to extend, to persons of all ranks and ages, and even of both sexes…” (Letter 96/97).

This document is a powerful witness of early Christians. Among the details to be garnered from it are the fact that Christians lived a moral life and that the gospel message had an appeal to people from all ages and ranks of Roman society. The faith also appealed to both males and females. Unfortunately, the persecution of Christians also caused some to recant their faith and return to the worship of other gods. This report also contains a fascinating piece of evidence that could be easily overlooked.

Pliny noted that he desired to learn more about the Christian faith. As a result, he sought out leaders who could explain it even further. His search led him to two female leaders!

The underlying Latin for the section that mentions them is: Quo magis necessarium credidi ex duabus ancillis, quae ministrae dicebantur, quid esset veri, et per tormenta quaerere. Nihil aliud inveni quam superstitionem pravam et immodicam.

I have highlighted some Latin words in bold. Duabus means two. Ancillis means hand-maid, servant, or slave. Ministrae dicebantur is translated as “…they were said to be ministers…” In other words, other people reported them as operating in this capacity. The Latin word ministrae is in the feminine plural form of ministra; it means “female attendant or servant.” This word is where we derive the English word minister.

The translator renders the term ministrae as officiating in religious rites. Other translations, such as Loeb, render this word deaconess. This is likely because Pheobe in Romans 16:1 is called a deaconess.

One must remember that Pliny was not a believer. Therefore, he attempted to use language to describe something from an outsiders perspective (in anthropology, this is called the etic view). Female officiants in religion were not uncommon in the ancient world, so the fact that women were report to him was not strange at all.

These women are two of three Christian leaders mentioned in early historical sources outside of the Bible. We do not know their names. After Roman authorities interrogated some Christians, they sought prominent individuals. These women were known by others to be Christian leaders and individuals who could explain the Christian faith deeper. These were extraordinary examples of the faith!  They also were known to officiate services, which means that they had authority within the Christian community.

These women remind us of other female leaders in the early Christian community. In Romans 16:1, Pheobe was called a deaconess or diakonon. She obviously was a woman with authority because Paul said: “…that you receive her in the Lord, in a way worthy of the saints, and that you assist her in whatever matter she may need from you, for she herself also has been a helper of many, and of my own self” (Romans 16:2, WEB).

Later in the same chapter, Paul commended Priscilla, Junia, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, and others. These women worked hard for the faith and were considered trustworthy witnesses of the gospel message.

While we may not know much about these two women, we commend their bravery. They rose to prominence in a time when Christians were persecuted. While others recanted their faith, these women endured for the faith.

They remind us that women played a significant role in the early Christian community.

God bless!

Kelly McDonald, Jr.


Holy Bible. World English Bible (WEB). Public Domain.

Pliny the Younger, Letter 96. Translated by William Melmoth. Revised by W. M. L. Hutchinson. Vol 2. New York: The MacMillan Co. 1915. p 404-405.

Pliny the Younger. Letter 97. Translated by Melmoth. Revised by Rev. F. C. T. Bosanquet, London: George Bell and Sons, 1905. pp 393-397.

Fix my Kid

Fix my Kid

By Al Menconi

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” This verse from Proverbs 22:6 is the desire of most of the parents to whom I have ever talked. The question I am usually asked is, “How is it done? How can we train our children to love God and live for Him?”

I’m sorry to say, the majority of Christian parents that I have encountered believe this verse means that we should lecture our children about Jesus and that we should send them to church and Sunday school. “Here’s my child, Mr. Bible class teacher/youth leader. Fix my kid and teach him about Jesus.” I have talked to literally hundreds of parents who have tried this and they don’t understand why their children have no desire to live for Jesus.

The majority of children raised by Christian parents will not live for Jesus as adults. In fact, research has shown that as many as 70-75 percent of children raised by Christian parents will NOT live for Jesus as adults. How can this be? Either we don’t have the Truth of Jesus or we are conveying this Truth improperly. I believe the latter is the case…”

(this article is an excerpt from the May-June 2008 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 13, click this link:

Sabbath Meditation #42 – The Sabbath Parables of Jesus (Part 1 of 2)

Sabbath Meditation #42 – The Sabbath Parables of Jesus (Part 1 of 2)

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

Jesus taught many parables, but some of them were delivered on the Sabbath. It is fascinating that He chose the seventh day to reveal these truths. Jesus was known for saying and doing things at just the right time (Luke 4:14-30). God and Christ are intentional in everything They do.

In Luke 13:10-16, we learn about the crippled woman who was healed on the Sabbath. Just after this miraculous event, Jesus told two parables:

“He said, ‘What is God’s Kingdom like? To what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and put in his own garden. It grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the sky live in its branches.’ 20 Again he said, ‘To what shall I compare God’s Kingdom? 21 It is like yeast, which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened’” (Luke 13:18-21, WEB).

These parables teach us about the Kingdom of God. They can also teach us about certain principles of the Kingdom, including the Sabbath. It is a weekly experience/commitment that guides our time and behaviors as children of God. Below, we explain some lessons applied as it pertains to the Kingdom of God and the Sabbath.

Parable of the Mustard Seed – When people accept the teaching of the Kingdom of God, its importance in their lives continually grows. As time passes, it overshadows other things in their lives and becomes a source of life and blessing to others around them.

As we observe the Sabbath, it can seem like a small step. However, its importance increases over time, and it becomes a monumental part of our lives, just like the mustard seed grows from a small seed to a large tree. It overshadows other things in our lives that once had importance before we observed it.

For instance, I once placed such a high emphasis on work – and I still think work is important – but God’s Sabbath has greater importance. Like a tree, the seventh day rest overshadows work. Work must be paused for it. As we observe the Sabbath, there is life (it is a day of life – click HERE to learn more). Others will be drawn to us as we exalt Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath.

Recall from the parable that the man planted the mustard seed in his own garden. Just like the garden of Eden, we must protect the Kingdom teaching and our Sabbath observance from the serpent’s craftiness and cunning. Wherever there is an opportunity at life, satan desires to talk us out of it.

Parable of the Yeast – The Kingdom of God is compared to yeast. When one begins their walk, it starts out seemingly small just like yeast. As we apply its eternal principles and allow God’s Spirit to change us, it slowly impacts every part of our lives. Eventually, the way we walk, talk, and conduct our daily lives reflects His Kingdom rather than our former selves.

The Sabbath also has a yeast application. Once people start to observe the Sabbath, it gradually impacts various parts of our lives. Many decisions made throughout the week are made with the Sabbath in mind. Future planning is impacted by the Sabbath.

Said another way, our whole lives become organized with the Sabbath in mind. The Sabbath is one commandment we will have to either obey or disobey every week – even if other situations are not put before us. This is another reason why God said “Remember the Sabbath.”

The Kingdom of God and its eternal principles – such as the Sabbath – have increased from the time of Jesus until now. “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end…” (Isaiah 9:7).

We will continue this thought next month!


Kelly McDonald, Jr.

Bible Sabbath Association (

Queen Elizabeth Honors Jamaica’s Adventist Governor-General during Buckingham Palace Audience

Queen Elizabeth Honors Jamaica’s Adventist Governor-General during Buckingham Palace Audience

 By Michael Ireland

“LONDON, UK (ANS)– A Seventh-Day Adventist pastor, who became Governor General of Jamaica, has been knighted by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.

According to an article by Mark A. Kellner, News Editor of the Adventist World (www.adventistreview. com), the first Seventh-day Adventist pastor to serve as governor-general of Jamaica is now a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II knighted governor general of Jamaica, Sir Patrick Allen, accompanied by his wife, Lady Patricia Allen, when he was presented his credentials during a private audience in Buckingham Palace….”

(this article is an excerpt from the July-August 2009 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 14, click this link:

New Booklet Available! – The New Testament and History Volume 1

New Booklet Available! – The New Testament and History Volume 1

To read this booklet for FREE, just click the picture below.

Summary: There are people who view the New Testament as a compilation of fabricated tales. In this work, we connect the New Testament text with the historical and archaeological record. This work will deepen your understanding and appreciation for the written record of Jesus and His earliest disciples.

How Well Do You Reflect Godʼs Kingdom?

How Well Do You Reflect Godʼs Kingdom?

By Dave Havir

“BIG SANDY, Texas—Recently I was preparing a sermon with the goal of helping people to see a glimpse of God’s Kingdom in our lives.

There are some professing believers (including some inside the Church of God movement) who claim to have more knowledge and insights than the rest of us. While I acknowledge and appreciate any and all truth that God has given to us, I agree with the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:12.

We see through a glass darkly.

We know only in part.

 If we (who claim to be believers) have a fuzzy picture of God, how unclear does an unbeliever see?

And, if an unbeliever has only a fuzzy picture of the Kingdom, what are we doing to reflect the Kingdom of God while we walk this earth?…”

(this article is an excerpt from the Nov-Dec 2010 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 21, click this link:

New Testament Verses That Mention the Sabbath

There are people who question whether or not the Sabbath is mentioned in the New Testament. In this article, we have a list of these verses below. The first section has references to the verses. The second section has the verses.

Section I: Verse References

Matthew: Matt. 12:1-12, Matt. 24:20, Matt, 28:1

Mark: Mark 1:21,32, Mark 2:23-28, Mark 3:1-4, Mark 6:2, Mark 16:1

Luke: Luke 4:16,31, Luke 4:40, Luke 6:1-9, Luke 13:10-16, Luke 14:1-5, Luke 23:54-56

John: John 5:9-10,16-18, John 7:22-23, John 9:14-16

Acts: Acts 1:12, Acts 13:14,27,42,44, Acts 15:21, Acts 16:13, Acts 17:2, Acts 18:4

Colossians: Colossians 2:16-17

Hebrews: 4:1-10

Section II: New Testament Sabbath Verses

(57 total verses – the entire passage is included when several references are group together)

Matthew 12:1-12 – 1 At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. 3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; 4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? 6 But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. 7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day. 9 And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: 10 And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. 11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? 12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.

Matthew 24:20 – But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:

Matthew 28:1 – In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

Mark 1:21 – And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.

Mark 2:23-28 – 23 And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. 24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? 25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? 26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? 27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

Mark 3:1-4 – “1 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. 2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. 3 And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. 4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.”

Mark 6:2 – And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?

Mark 16:1 – And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

Luke 4:16 – And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

Luke 4:31 – And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.

Luke 6:1-9 – 1 And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. 2 And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days? 3 And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him; 4 How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone? 5 And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. 6 And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered. 7 And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him. 8 But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. 9 Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?

Luke 13:10-16 – 10 And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11 And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. 12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. 13 And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. 14 And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. 15 The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? 16 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?

Luke 14:1-5 – 1 And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. 2 And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. 3 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? 4 And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; 5 And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?

Luke 23:56 – And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

John 5:9-10 –  And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.

John 5:16 – And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

John 5:18 – Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. (CLICK HERE to read an article that explains John 5:9-18).

John 7:22 – Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man.

John 7:23 – If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?

John 9:14 – And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.

John 9:16 – Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

Acts 1:12 – Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey.

Acts 13:14 – But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.

Acts 13:27 – For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.

Acts 13:42 – And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.

Acts 13:44 – 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. The next Sabbath, almost the whole city was gathered together to hear the word of God. (WEB)

Acts 15:21 – For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.

Acts 16:13 – And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.

Acts 17:2 – And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,

Acts 18:4 – And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

Colossians 2:16-17 – Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. (CLICK HERE to read an article that explains these verses)

Hebrews 4:1-10 – 1 Let’s fear therefore, lest perhaps anyone of you should seem to have come short of a promise of entering into his rest. 2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, even as they also did, but the word they heard didn’t profit them, because it wasn’t mixed with faith by those who heard. 3 For we who have believed do enter into that rest, even as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, they will not enter into my rest;” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he has said this somewhere about the seventh day, “God rested on the seventh day from all his works;” and in this place again, “They will not enter into my rest.” 6 Seeing therefore it remains that some should enter into it, and they to whom the good news was preached before failed to enter in because of disobedience, 7 he again defines a certain day, today, saying through David so long a time afterward (just as has been said), “Today if you will hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another day. 9 There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered into his rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from his. WEB

Sabbath Meditation #41 – What Did Jesus Do on the Sabbath?

Sabbath Meditation #41 – What Did Jesus Do on the Sabbath?

Years ago there was a movement where people wore bracelets which read “What Would Jesus Do?” (WWJD). While this is a great reminder to guide our daily lives, another question we could ask is “What DID Jesus Do?” (WDJD)

There are many times we can know what Jesus would do in a situation because He already did it when He walked on earth. In this case, there’s no need to wonder. The example was already set for us.

Such is the case for the Sabbath!

If we ever needed an example of flawless, bountiful Sabbath observance, Jesus set the standard. In this article, we want to examine what Jesus actually did on the Sabbath. It will teach us about God’s expectations for us on the day. We will look at some examples from the gospels.

Luke 4:16-21
“16 He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He entered, as was his custom, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, 18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to deliver those who are crushed, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’ (Isaiah 61:1-2) 20 He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began to tell them, ‘Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”

In these verses, we learn that it was Jesus’ custom to gather with others on the Sabbath. Synagogues such as the one discussed in Luke have been found in Israel. Migdal, the hometown of Mary Magdalene, had two synagogues that dated to the time of Jesus (Click here to learn more).

Jesus read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. This helps us understand that He read the Scriptures on the Sabbath. He also chose this day to announce to the people that the prophecy from Isaiah about the captives being free was fulfilled. This happened on this day in part because the Sabbath is the day of freedom! The principles discussed in those verses from Isaiah are embodied in the Sabbath!

Later in this same chapter, we are given another instance of Jesus keeping the Sabbath!

Luke 4:31-39
31 He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. He was teaching them on the Sabbath day, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word was with authority. 33 In the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 saying, “Ah! what have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God!” 35 Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” When the demon had thrown him down in the middle of them, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 Amazement came on all, and they spoke together, one with another, saying, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37 News about him went out into every place of the surrounding region. 38 He rose up from the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a great fever, and they begged him for her. 39 He stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her. Immediately she rose up and served them.”

In this example, we learn that Jesus taught people, cast out a devil, fellowshipped with people in homes, and prayed for the sick to be healed on the Sabbath. Later in Luke, we see another example of Jesus’ actions on the Sabbath:

Luke 14:1-5
“1 When he went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees on a Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching him. 2 Behold, a certain man who had dropsy was in front of him. 3 Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’ 4 But they were silent. He took him, and healed him, and let him go. 5 He answered them, ‘Which of you, if your son or an ox fell into a well, wouldn’t immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?’” 6 They couldn’t answer him regarding these things. 7 He spoke a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the best seats, and said to them…”

There are three things about Jesus and the Sabbath we learn in Luke 14:1-5, which I have broken down below:

1) He ate with others on the Sabbath. In another place, Matthew 12:1-12, we learn that Jesus and the disciples ate grain on the Sabbath. We learn that eating is an important part of the Sabbath. When people get together, food is often involved!

2) He healed someone, which was a common part of His Sabbath observance. The gospels give us many examples of Jesus healing others on the Sabbath. Some other examples include, but are not limited to, Mark 3:1-6, John 5:1-15, John 9:1-12. He also taught us about the deeper meaning of the Sabbath in these instances.

3) Lastly, Jesus taught other people in Luke 14. The lesson did not make them feel comfortable or good; He challenged them. He called out their traditions about healing and then told them a parable to correct their attitudes about how to treat other people. Later in the chapter, Jesus told the parable of the wedding banquet.


So when it comes to Jesus and the Sabbath, the example is very clear. The New Testament record reveals that He did the following:

– Gathered with others
– Read the Scriptures
– Taught about the Scriptures, how to treat others, and the proper way to observe the Sabbath
– Declared prophetic fulfillments
– Offered correction to false beliefs/doctrine
– Taught parables
– Healed people
– Cast out devils
– Freed people from affliction, illness, bondages, strongholds
– Fellowshipped in homes
– Ate with others

What an example for us of how to keep the Sabbath!


Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President –