Martin Luther on Sabbath
I’ve been reading “Martin Luther: the man who rediscovered God.” The author, Eric Metaxas, has written an inspiring and definitive work on Luther’s life. So many of Luther’s bold statements of the veracity and sovereignty of God’s word versus the errancy of man’s pronouncements paved the way for the spiritual rebirth of God’s plan for His Creation.
Over and over again, Luther says to the religious and ruling political authority, “show me from God’s word where I am wrong.” Five hundred years ago, with this mantra, he redefined the relationship between the believer and the church.
With this backdrop, I was wondering why the church continued to observe Sunday, rather than Saturday as Sabbath.
It would seem Luther, for all his virtues as scripture scholar, could still be affected by his prejudices. He did not find favor with the Jewish community of the late 1500s in Europe. So, I believe, he became anti Semitic. His interpretation of scripture reflected this bias. In answer to the question of Saturday Sabbath, he often quoted Apostle Paul’s Galatians 5:3. He would say if you kept the Jewish Sabbath, you’d have to keep all the Law, including circumcision.
Luther, the bible scholar seems to have forgotten that basic interpretation principle of reading what precedes and follows your “proof” text.
The way I read these verses, Apostle Paul was concerned about the Jews, who may have believed in Messiah Yeshua, but did not believe you could have salvation apart from keeping the Law, especially circumcision.
Paul’s position is that Messiah’s work on the cross, the breaking of His flesh and the shedding of His blood, was the complete sacrifice and atonement for our redemption and the forgiveness of our sin. The physical act of circumcision gained nothing and if you relied on it, you were brought under the burden of keeping the entire Law for your salvation.
In this scripture, Paul was not addressing Sabbath keeping, he kept Saturday Sabbath himself, but not for salvation, but to be obedient to God’s commandments.
It is only through appropriating the shed blood of Messiah for forgiveness of sin, that we have salvation and have any confidence in being able to keep God’s Commandments. “May God’s Holy Spirit show me my ‘blind spots’ to the truth of His word,”
I still heartily recommend the book. It really reflects a 29th chapter to Acts.