The Old Testament Theology of the Sabbath: Creation, Old Covenant, and Old Testament Prophecy -- By: Richard C. Barcellos

Journal: Reformed Baptist Theological Review
Volume: RBTR 03:2 (Fall 2006)
Article: The Old Testament Theology of the Sabbath: Creation, Old Covenant, and Old Testament Prophecy
Author: Richard C. Barcellos


The Old Testament Theology of the Sabbath:
Creation, Old Covenant, and Old Testament Prophecy

Richard C. Barcellos

Richard C. Barcellos pastored for over 15 years in CA and has relocated to Owensboro, KY, to serve as Part-time Lecturer in New Testament and Administrative Assistant to the Dean at the Midwest Center for Theological Studies (MCTS) beginning this fall.

Quite often when combating the doctrine of the Christian Sabbath, those against it are quick to run to Romans 14, Galatians 4, or Colossians 2 as though these texts were trump cards that overruled every other argument. This approach, however, discards the flow and progress of redemptive history concerning the Sabbath. It assumes the Sabbath has only two functions in redemptive history-as a sign between God and Old Covenant Israel and as a shadow of Christ to come. This is a myopic approach to a more complex issue with far-reaching implications for God’s people.

My aim is to examine the OT’s teaching on the Sabbath. Quite unashamedly, I will approach this study utilizing the biblical-theological or redemptive-historical approach, which seeks to examine a subject in the historical (and usually, in the canonical) order in which it is presented in Scripture. This allows us to see a doctrine’s inception, the various stages of its application and modification, and sometimes its abrogation. This method helps us to see a doctrine’s basis, to identify unique, redemptive-historical applications, and to address the question of continuity and discontinuity in the biblical materials. It gives us a panoramic view of the doctrine’s development within the Bible itself. When the doctrine of the Sabbath is approached this way, the case for a Christian Sabbath becomes not only clear but also compelling.

We will approach our subject under the following headings: (1) The Sabbath and Creation; (2) The Sabbath and the Old Covenant; and (3) The Sabbath and Old Testament Prophecy.

The Sabbath and Creation

The Sabbath began at creation (Gen. 2:2–3). This assertion is based primarily on how the rest of the Bible views aspects of the creation account as an ethical paradigm that transcends covenants and cultures.

To establish this, we will examine three NT texts that do this with marriage, divorce, and male/female roles in the church. We will then examine two texts (one in the OT and one in the NT) that do the same with the Sabbath. In this way we will see that the Bible views the creation account as containi...

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