9-4-1 The Weekly Sabbaths
Questions By Mr. Philip Bartlett Answers By Mr. Duncan Heaster
Ephesians 2:14-15 states: “For He himself is our peace who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace”. This abolishing of the “law with its commandments and regulations” sound remarkably similar to Col 2:14 where it states “having cancelled the written code with its regulations, that was against us”. You contend that this refers to the complete law of God given in the Old Testament because handwriting must somehow refer to the Ten Commandments (even though you never prove this). Yet, Ephesians 2:14-15 says that these commandments are a “barrier” between Jew and Gentile. John Calvin writes concerning this: “Ceremonial observations were afterwards added, which, like walls, enclosed the inheritance of God, preventing it from being open to all or mixed with other possessions, and thus excluded the Gentiles from the kingdom of God…. What has been metaphorically understood by the word wall is now more plainly expressed. The ceremonies, by which the distinction was declared, have been abolished through Christ” (Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1981], pp. 236-237). In addition Theodoret, Calvin, Bucer, Grotius, Meier, Holzhausen, Olshausen, and Conybeare and countless other scholars hold these passages only to be referring to the ceremonial law. In light of all of this, and the fact that the Gentiles were judged in the Old Testament for disobeying laws based on the Decalogue, how can you say that these passages refer to the whole Old Testament law?
The quotation of “scholars” is hardly Biblical proof. A number of the scholars mentioned didn’t believe in Sabbath keeping- so in any case calling them as witnesses only serves to defeat the argument being postulated: that Christians should keep the Sabbath today. The “dividing wall” clearly alludes to the wall beyond which Gentiles could not pass in Herod’s temple. For those “in Christ” by baptism, all Jew / Gentile differences are ended because they all become the true children of Abraham (Gal. 3:27-29). Colossians 2 gives us one example of this- in that the Old Covenant has been ended. The handwriting of God is further defined in 2 Cor. 3 to mean that which was “engraven on stones”- clearly the 10 commandments, which were the epitome of the entire Mosaic Law. The link between Col. 2 and Eph. 2 doesn’t prove that Paul has in mind only the “ceremonial” law. Col. 2:14-17 defines the law as including the Sabbath. The reason this has been ended is because it was fulfilled in Christ. The weekly Sabbaths just as much as those of Lev. 23 were fulfilled in Christ. You would have to argue that the weekly Sabbath was not fulfilled in Christ but those of Lev. 23 were…and this is untenable. In addition to which it is pure supposition to say that “Sabbath” in Col. 2 must not refer to the weekly Sabbaths.