What is the Sabbath? Definition, Meaning, and Origin

  • Sabbath means to rest or to stop from your work.
  • It is a day of rest and worship established, sanctified, and blessed by God after the 6 literal creation days. (Genesis 2:2-3)
  • The first people who kept the Sabbath were Adam & Eve, long before the Jewish nation! It was made for mankind, and not only for the Jewish people! (Mark 2:27)
  • The Sabbath is the 4th commandment of the decalogue (Exodus 20:8-11)
  • The Sabbath is a sign of sanctification between God and His people (Exodus 31:13)
  • It is a sign of God’s power and identifies Him as the Creator of all things. (Exodus 20:11)
  • It is on every seventh day of the week – Saturday (Luke 23:52-56). It starts on Friday sunset and ends on Saturday sunset. (Leviticus 23:32)
  • It was kept by Jesus and the apostles. (Luke 4:16), (Acts 13:42,44), (Acts 18:4), (Acts 16:13), (Acts 17:2)
  • The Sabbath is mandatory for Christians because it is the 4th commandment and will be kept for eternity by the saved ones! (Matthew 5:17-19), (Jacob 2:10), (John 14:15), (Isaiah 66:22,23).

Sabbath Definition and Meaning | What is the Sabbath?

What is the Sabbath and how do we define it? 

The Sabbath is a day of worship and a rest day established, blessed, and sanctified by God!

The Sabbath means to rest or to stop from your work/activities. It is a gift from God, our Creator, and its purpose is to draw us closer to Him, to our family and friends, and to take a break from everything! We all need a day off from work to recharge mentally, physically, and spiritually.

God knew our tendency to work non-stop without rest! Thus, the Sabbath was created exactly for us, to rest and rejuvenate from the hard work and activities of our daily life!

It is a blessing from God, we are not to do any work on the Sabbath or our daily activities such as working, shopping, cooking, or worldly pleasures to keep the day holy as the commandment says.

Instead, we can go to Church to worship and study the Word of God with Christians that love Him and His commandments!

Sabbath definition

What Is The Origin Of The Sabbath?

The Sabbath was established by God after the 6 literal days of creation. (Genesis 2:2-3)

Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 
Genesis 2:3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

The origin of the Sabbath is from the beginning of this world, after the 6 literal days of creation when the only humans alive were Adam & Eve.

Even in that perfect environment uncorrupted by sin, before their fall, humans were to keep holy every seventh-day!
The weekly Sabbath was a reminder and a communion with their Creator and was made for us all to not forget our origins!
We should know that we are dependent on God, and by worshipping on this day we acknowledge Him as our Creator and God who takes care of all our needs!
Thus, long before the Jewish nation, the Sabbath was given to our first parents, and it was blessed and sanctified by God! And what He blesses will remain blessed forever! (1 Chronicles 17:27)

Is Sunday the Sabbath Day or Saturday?

According to the Bible, the Sabbath is on the 7th day of the week! (Exodus 20:10). But which is the seventh-day of the week?

The dictionary states that Saturday is the seventh-day of the week!

Sabbath in dictionary

And Sunday is the first day of the week!

Sabbath definition

The Bible also tells us that Saturday is the seventh-day and Sunday is the first day of the week!

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. 
Mark 16:2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 
Mark 16:6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 

Mark 16:9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. 

Everyone knows and the churches agree that Jesus rose from the grave on Sunday or the 1st day of the week!

So, according to the Bible, Saturday is the Sabbath, and not Sunday as some may think! Sunday is just a normal working day like the other ones, but we will find out later who changed the Sabbath to Sunday! And it was not Jesus nor the apostles!

Observance of The Sabbath | What are the Sabbath rules in the Bible? 

God did not intend for His 4th commandment to be a list of dos and don’ts! Yet, the Jewish leaders made the Sabbath a burden for the people! (Matthew 12:1-8), (Matthew 23:2-4)

But the will of God for the Sabbath is to be a day of rest and worship! A holy day on which we stop from our work and daily activities, and go to Church and worship and study His Word!

We can also spend time in nature to admire the creation of our powerful God! Visiting and spending time with family members. Listening to their struggles, and encouraging them from the Word of God is also a great activity to be done on this day!

Another thing that can be done on the Sabbath is to help people in need from our local community. Jesus declares that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath! (Matthew 12:9-12)

Do we still have to observe the Sabbath?

Yes, the Sabbath was never abolished and will never be abolished! The Bible declares that God does not change! (Malachi 3:6)

His Laws are eternal!

Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not;…

Psalms 89:34 My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. 

Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 

Matthew 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 

Matthew 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 

Jesus declares that is rather possible for heaven and earth to pass but not His Holy Law!

Revelation 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 

The Sabbath is the 4th commandment of God and He says that those who do His command are blessed, and have the right to the tree of life!

Exodus 20:8-11 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 

But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 

For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Isaiah 66:22,23 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. 

And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD. 

The Sabbath will be kept for eternity by the redeemed ones!

Sabbath in the New Testament | What Did Jesus Say About the Sabbath Day?

Jesus kept the Sabbath when He was on this Earth!

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. 


Jesus healed people and did well on the Sabbath

Matthew 12:9-13 KJV And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: 

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. 

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? 

How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. 

Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. 


What did Jesus say about the Sabbath day

Jesus “rested” in the grave on the Sabbath day!

Luke 23:53-56 KJV And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. 

And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. 

And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. 

And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment. 

Luke 24:1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. 

Luke 24:6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 


Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath

Mark 2:27,28 KJV And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 

Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. 

The above verses tell us that the Sabbath was made for everyone, not only for the Jewish people as some may think! We are to enter into His rest on this Holy day as God did after the Creation days! (Hebrews 4:8-11)

There is no such term as “Jewish Sabbath” in the Bible! 


Jewish Sabbath is not a term found in the Bible

The Apostles also kept the Sabbath

On many occasions in the New Testament, we find bible verses that confirm the fact that the apostles were also active in the keeping of the Sabbath! (Acts 13:42,44), (Acts 18:4), (Acts 16:13), (Acts 17:2)

How do you prepare for the Sabbath to Keep it Holy?

The Bible tells us that we should do our daily activities on the first 6 days of the week! (Exodus 20:8-10)
This means that all the work: cooking, washing, shopping, and work inside or outside the house should be done in the first 6 days of the week – Sunday to Friday. (Exodus 16:23)
We are also to let everyone free to rest on this day in case we have people or animals working for us!
The Sabbath takes place from Friday evening to Saturday evening! Or rather from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset! (Leviticus 23:32)
Thus, it is necessary to have everything prepared before the Friday sunset for Sabbath observance! 
This includes food, clothes, cleaning inside the house, and shopping ready!
This day should be a delight and we are to forget about our daily stresses!

Who made Sunday a day of worship instead of the Seventh day?

“The earliest recognition of the observance of Sunday, is a constitution of Constantine in 321 A.D, enacting that all courts of justice, inhabitants of towns, and workshops were to be at rest on Sunday”. – Vol XIII, Encyclopedia Britannica page 654

Who made Sunday a day of worship

“On the Venerable Day of the Sun [“Venerable die Solis” -the sacred day of the Sun ] let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or for vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost- given the 7th day of March [A.D. 321], Crispus and Constantine being consuls each of them for the second time.”- The First Sunday Law of Constantine I, in “Codex Justianianus,”lib. 3, tit. 12,3; trans. in Phillip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3, p. 380. 1910


Catholic Church and Sunday Observance

The Catholic Church also got involved in changing the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday in the Council of Laodicea in 364 A.D

“When the practice of keeping Saturday Sabbaths, which had become so general at the close of this century, was evidently gaining ground in the Eastern church, a decree was passed in the council held in Laodicea [A. D. 364]. That members of the church should not rest from work on the Sabbath day, like Jews, but should labor on that day, and preferring in honor the Lord’s day. Then, if it be in their power, should rest from work as Christians.” – Sermons on the Sacraments and Sabbath, pp. 122, 123.

They call Sunday Lord’s day, however, nowhere in the Bible do we find this association with the first day! Instead, the Bible says the Sabbath is the seventh day and thus Lord’s day:
Isaiah 58:13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: 

Has God predicted this change of His Holy Law?

Daniel 7:25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time

What does God have to say about the changing of His Holy Law?

Mark 7:7,9 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 
And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 
1 John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
Ezekiel 22:26,31 Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.
Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD. 
James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 
John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. 
Revelation 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
Revelation 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. 

Benefits Concerning The Sabbath

  • A weekly day of rest helps us to take a break from the demanding activities of everyday life
  • You can strengthen your relationships with family, friends, and other Christians
  • Better spiritual health – You get closer to God and have more time to know Him better through reading His word and studying it with other fellow believers
  • Better physical and mental health through walking in nature and doing good to others
  • More joy, happiness, and strength for a new week of challenges

Final Words on the meaning of the Sabbath

Throughout this post, we have discovered what is the Sabbath, its definition, and its meaning. It is one of the ten commandments. God established, blessed, and sanctified the Sabbath after the 6 literal creation days.

It was given to all mankind and not only to the children of Israel. We are to keep this day holy by going to Church, reading and studying the Bible, walking in nature, and admiring the wonderful creation of God.

It is for our own benefit to stop all work on this day. Be it a job, cooking, washing, shopping, or doing our worldly pleasures. Instead, spending time with God, friends, and family, and helping others.

The Seventh-day which God blessed and sanctified is Saturday according to the Bible and dictionary.

The Sabbath was kept by faithful people of God in the Old Testament as well the ones from the New Testament such as the apostles. Jesus also kept the Sabbath on Saturday or the seventh day!

In conclusion, we have nothing but to gain from obeying God’s laws and resting on the Sabbath!

What about you? Are you convinced that the Sabbath was made for everyone and it is for our benefit and more?
Are you planning to start keeping the Sabbath if you haven’t already done so?
If so, we recommend looking for a Sabbath Keeping Church near you and enjoying the Holy Sabbath with other faithful Christians!


Holy Bible KJV


Butler, George, Ide – The Change of the Sabbath

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