A Sabbath Remains: The Place of Hebrews 4:9 in the New Testament’s Witness to the Lord’s Day -- By: Robert P. Martin
RBTR 1:2 (Jul 2004) p. 3
A Sabbath Remains:
The Place of Hebrews 4:9 in the New Testament’s Witness to the Lord’s Day
In treating the biblical evidence for the perpetuity of the Sabbath under the New Covenant, a comprehensive biblical-theological approach eventually must take notice of Heb. 4:9, where the writer says, “There remaineth therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (ASV).1 The KJV and NKJV translations of this verse do not use the word “Sabbath,” only the word “rest,” i.e., “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.” This is unfortunate. The word “rest” appears ten other times in Heb. 3 and 4. In each case, the original word is either κατάπαυσις or the verb equivalent καταπαύω. At 4:9, the writer uses a different word, σαββατισμός. The reader of the KJV or NKJV would never suspect this, because these versions also translate this word as “rest.” Found only here in the New Testament, σαββατισμός (sabbatismos) is derived from the Hebrew word “Sabbath.” The translation “Sabbath rest” (ASV, RSV, NASB, NIV, ESV) at least preserves the word’s distinctiveness. The Bible in Basic English has “a Sabbath-keeping.”2
Hebrews 4:9 and the Doctrine of the Christian Sabbath
Before we consider Heb. 4:9 in its larger context, I want to underscore a point respecting the place of this text in the study of the Christian
*Robert P. Martin, Ph.D. is Pastor of Emmanuel Reformed Baptist Church, Seattle, Washington and Editor of Reformed Baptist Theological Review.
RBTR 1:2 (Jul 2004) p. 4
Sabbath. Some see in it only a reference to a heavenly Sabbath.3 Others believe that it also speaks of an earthly Christian Sabbath day.4 Only rarely does anyone try to use it to argue against a Christian Sabbath.5 The most sustainable proposition is that either Heb. 4:9 has nothing to do with the subject of a weekly Sabbath or it supports a Christian Sabbath; but there is nothing in this verse that undermines the idea of a Lord’s Day Sabbat...
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