Isaiah 56:6 (NET):

As for foreigners who become followers of the Lord and serve him, who love the name of the Lord and want to be his servants — all who observe the Sabbath and do not defile it, and who are faithful to my covenant —

So given that in the New Testament Paul writes that following the sabbath is a part of the shadow and the substance is found in Christ. Do we follow what Paul says about the Sabbath or do we follow Isaiah? How do we reconcile these two?

6 Answers 6


Paul writes that following the sabbath is a part of the shadow and the substance is found in Christ.

The question completely misrepresents what Paul was saying.

It is holy days, sabbaths, and new moons that are referred to as "a shadow". These festivals provide prophetic symbolism (foreshadowing) of God's plan ("things to come").

"substance" should be translated as "body", as it is in over 100 other instances in scripture, in this case as "the body of Christ". The passage is saying to let no man judge you, to accept only the judgement of the body of Christ (the Church).

For more details, see exegesis - Keeping the Sabbath and Colossians 2:16 - Christianity Stack Exchange

Do we follow what Paul says about the Sabbath or do we follow Isaiah? How do we reconcile these two?

Both. They are in agreement and there is nothing to reconcile.


Your question relates to two different covenants. Isaiah, under being ‘under’ the old covenant, would be following the principles outlined in Leviticus and Exodus.

EXODUS 12:49 The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you.”

But, we are not ‘under’ that old covenant. That was specifically for the children of Israel, and one of the reasons for that covenant was to keep them separate from other nations.

HEBREWS 8:7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

So,the ‘simplistic’ answer to your question is .... follow Paul.

  • Where does "God has found fault with it and created a better covenant, enacted on better promises." come from? It's not in any version of the Bible that I have. Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 23:44
  • @Ray Butterworth (Amended to NKJ). To answer your Q, I rechecked to find the translation used, and it wasn’t referenced.
    – Dave
    Commented Dec 19, 2020 at 1:38
  • Yes, the old covenant was only for Israel,. But Hebrews 8:8 talks about a new covenant that also is "with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah", so that verse doesn't support your point. ¶ Notice that the "fault" wasn't with the covenant itself [it], but with the Israelites [them]. Read those verses as if "marriage" had been said instead: "For if that first [marriage] had been faultless …. For finding fault with [the wife] he said … I will make a new [marriage] ….". Commented Dec 19, 2020 at 3:52
  • @Ray Butterworth I agree with both your points, that the new covenant was for Judah, and, that the fault was with ‘man’ - not the covenant. There is actually no (different) covenant’ for ‘gentiles’. We only have salvation ‘in or through christ’ - that’s the only way we can participate in the ‘new’ covenant. And, Paul outlines how.
    – Dave
    Commented Dec 19, 2020 at 4:53

When God created the 7th day, it was made holy by God for no other reason than because he rested. (Genesis 2:2). At that time, there no Jews, no Gentiles, no Israel, no human beings. It has nothing to do with Jews, Gentiles, or Israel. Also, it is the only commandment in the 10 commandments in which God said to REMEMBER. Remember the Sabbath, to KEEP it holy (Exodus 20:8). Why? Because one day, man will forget the Sabbath. There's a reason why it's so divisive today. The inverse of Exodus 20:8 is also true, To forget the Sabbath is to make it unholy. This verse implies that you know how to KEEP the Sabbath. How do you do that? Not working, not resting, but spending time with God, study his word. Granted, one can do that any day of the week but God only made 1 day holy, and that is the 7th day.


Does Isaiah 56 mean gentile christians have to keep sabbath?

The answer to your question is "NO".

The Sabbath.

The sabbath law applied only to the Israelites and proselytes as given , the Law through Moses: (Deut.5:2-3 and Ezek 20:10-12

Deuteronomy 5:2-3 ASV

2 Jehovah our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3 Jehovah made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.

Ezekiel 20:10-12 ASV

10 So I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness. 11 And I gave them my statutes, and [a]showed them mine ordinances, which if a man do, he shall live [b]in them. 12 Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that [c]I am Jehovah that sanctifieth them.

The Jews were released from the "Law of Moses" by the sacrifice of Christ. Christians. By his sacrifice Jesus abolished the hostility of the Law covenant, so now Jews and non-Jews, "the two could be one new person." Paul wrote.

Ephesians 2:15 NASB

15 By abolishing in His flesh the hostility, which is the Law composed of commandments expressed in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two one new person, in this way establishing peace;

Romans 7:6-7 NASB

6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the [a]Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. 7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? [b]Far from it! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except [c]through the Law; for I would not have known about [d]coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not [e]covet.

Christians are not required to keep the sabbath. Paul wrote (1 Cor.9:21) that Christias are under the "Law of Christ" which does not require the keeping, the sabbath.

1 Corinthians 9:21 NASB

21 To those who are without the Law, I became as one without the Law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might gain those who are without the Law.

Galatians 6:2 NASB

2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

Colossians 2:16-17 NET

16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you with respect to food or drink, or in the matter of a feast, new moon, or Sabbath days— 17 these are only the shadow of the things to come, but the reality is Christ![c]


None of the Ten Commandments were for Jews only. All ten of them are for all people. Of course, God gives us freedom of choice, and we are at liberty to choose our own course; yet, in terms of God's requirements, the Ten Commandments apply to all of mankind.

And the fourth commandment applies to keeping the weekly Sabbath, the seventh day of the week.

The sabbaths could also be years.

But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. (Leviticus 25:4, KJV)

And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. (Leviticus 25:8, KJV)

And the sabbaths could also be particular rest days that were not tied to the weekly sabbath.

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. (Leviticus 23:24, KJV)

It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath. (Leviticus 23:32, KJV)

Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. (Leviticus 23:39, KJV)

These special feast days (ceremonial sabbaths) and seventh years (sabbaths for the land) were not part of the ten commandments. These festivals and ceremonies pointed forward to Christ and his atonement. They were types, leading to the great Antitype. These are those which are no longer applicable--to anyone, Jews included (if only they would accept Jesus as the Messiah).

Paul addresses the ceremonial sabbaths in Colossians 2:16.

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: (Colossians 2:16, KJV)

This is clear because Paul kept the weekly Sabbath himself, entering the synagogue on Sabbath; and Paul would not tell anyone they should be free from the obligations of the Ten Commandments. Jesus said himself that he had not come to change the law.

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 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 5:17-18, KJV)

In order, then, for any part to "pass from the law," it must first "be fulfilled." Only the ceremonial laws which pointed to Christ's sacrificial atonement could be "fulfilled" at the cross; therefore, only these laws could "pass from the law." None of the Ten Commandments, including the fourth, are of this category. They were written in stone, indicating their permanence.

  • The 10 commandments represents the cov of Moses. Paul says the written law in ordinances have been abolished. That is not to say the (moral eternal) commands of God but only the law of Moses. Eph 2:15 abolishing in His flesh the enmity, [which is] the Law of commandments [contained] in ordinances
    – Michael16
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 11:56
  • @Michael16 If you study the usage of "ordinances" throughout the Bible, and especially the Old Testament, you will notice that they are not on par with the Ten Commandments. The ordinances are indeed, as you point out, the laws written by Moses. More than this, they are the ceremonial laws--those that pointed forward to Christ (which is why Jesus' crucifixion ended them). Let's not forget that the Ten Commandments (not ordinances) were written by God Himself--in stone.
    – Polyhat
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 15:53
  • You are assuming that the 10 commands are separate from the law. There is no different; the Tablet was part of the Torah of Moses. Regarding the ordinances, there could be a topic for that. It is one thing to say the moral law is eternal, but another to say that the specifically the 10commands were meant for the world. “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. Exo20:2
    – Michael16
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 16:30
  • @Michael16 No, I am assuming no such thing. The Ten Commandments are certainly God's law--a most significant part of it. All Christians are brought out of spiritual Egypt and slavery (to sin). See Zech. 10:10; Mat. 2:15; and Rev. 11:8. But how can you say there was no difference when the Ten Commandments were placed inside the Ark (Deut. 10:2) and the ordinances Moses wrote were placed in a pocket outside the ark? Consider: "Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee." (Deut. 31:26)
    – Polyhat
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 16:57
  • 1
    Jesus made no new convent - this came after, invented by Paul - clear Matthew 5:17-19 - 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, ....." - are we followers of Jesus or Paul? Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 11:45

The "stranger at the gate" was circumcised, but not included as Jews. Although not required they did observe some commandments.

In the era of around the first century, Rabbi Gamaliel had a slave named Tavi who was a Torah scholar. He was classified along with women and was not required to keep commandment based on time, so was not required to keep Shabbat.

  • It would be great if you post details and references.
    – Michael16
    Commented Aug 14, 2021 at 6:42
  • @Terence Miller Hi Terence, welcome to BH-Stack Exchange, we are glad you are here. Please be sure to take the site tour and read our code of conduct. Thanks! Commented Aug 14, 2021 at 9:52
  • Please don't deface your post like that. If you want, you can just delete your answer.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 23:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.