Is Paul referring to the seventh day Sabbath in Galatians 4:9-11?

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Paul wrote, “But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain” (Galatians 4:9-11).

Feasts of the Mosaic Law

In Galatians 4:9-11, Paul referred to the seven ceremonial sabbaths and the new moons of the ceremonial system (Lev. 23; Num. 10:10; 28:11–15). There were seven yearly holy days, or holidays, in ancient Israel which were also called sabbaths. These were in addition to, or “beside the Sabbaths of the Lord” (Leviticus 23:38), or seventh-day Sabbath.

These laws were part of the Mosaic law which was the temporary law of the Old Testament. This law regulated the priesthood, sacrifices, feasts, rituals, meat and drink offerings, etc., all of which foreshadowed and ended at the cross. This law was added “till the seed should come,” and that seed was Christ (Galatians 3:16, 19). Moses’ law pointed forward to Christ’s sacrifice. When He died, the law of Moses came to an end (1 Kings 2:3, Acts 13:39).

The seventh day Sabbath of God’s moral law

There is no basis in the Bible for assuming that the “days” of which Paul here spoke refer to the seventh-day Sabbath. Nowhere in the Bible is the seventh day referred to in the language here used. The seventh-day Sabbath was instituted at creation (Gen. 2:1–3; Ex. 20:8–11) before the entrance of sin.  Also, it was instituted some 2,500 years before the inauguration of the ceremonial system at Mt. Sinai. If observance of the seventh-day Sabbath subjects a man to bondage, it must be that the Creator Himself entered into bondage when He observed the world’s first Sabbath! That conclusion is unthinkable, as God said all that He created was very good and then blessed the seventh day (Genesis 2:3).

Paul makes it clear that God’s moral law is still binding.  He wrote “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet” (Romans 7:7). He adds, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31). Further, he emphasizes that the Circumcision of the Mosaic law is canceled at the Cross but keeping God’s commandments remains for ever binding. “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God” (1 Corinthians 7:19).

Moses’ law abolished / God’s law stands forever

Jesus declared that He is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8) and that His law can’t change. He said, “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 5:18). Then, He invited us to keep His law: “If you love me keep my commandments” (John 14:15). The apostle John added, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3, 4).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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