Jesus taught a different Sabbath.

Abstract: The 10 Commandments require rest. Jesus taught a different Sabbath. Jesus taught the Sabbath as a day to work to heal and restore people. By arguing with the Pharisees about what is allowed on the Sabbath, Jesus implied that certain things are not allowed. He thereby admitted the Sabbath as binding. But the seventh day, as practiced and taught by Christ, was a different Sabbath than prescribed by the Ten Commandments.

In the Law of Moses

The Law of Moses, and specifically the Ten Commandments, required the seventh day simply as a Sabbath, which means it is a day of rest. Everybody had to rest; including servants and animals. It was “a sabbath of complete rest … You shall not do any work” (Lev 23:3). Contrary to popular belief, the Law of Moses did not require people to have religious meetings or to worship God on that day. Exodus 16:29 says “Remain every man in his place.” The only requirement was rest. The religious leaders applied this extremely conservatively; disallowing anything that even remotely looks like work; even healing.

According to Christ

While the Ten Commandments state negatively what is not allowed on the seventh day; “you shall not do any work” (Exo 20:10), Christ never indicated what is not allowed. His focus always was on what may and must be done on the seventh day. As shown in the previous articles, He taught that:

Man may work on the Sabbath if that work will relieve the distress and suffering of people or animals.

Man must work on the Sabbath to restore man spiritually and physically.

This means that Christ did more than interpret the Sabbath commandment; He gave a new meaning to it. He converted the seventh day from a day of compulsory idleness to a day that is filled with purpose, activity and work; a day to show kindness and mercy; a day to free people from the physical, psychological and spiritual bonds of Satan, to elevate the entire man to God’s ideal; in particular, a day to heal.

From the Beginning

That meaning cannot be derived simply from reading the Ten Commandments or the Law of Moses. Christ derived His understanding of the seventh day from its original purpose, as it existed before sin. This is, for instance, indicated by His statement, “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). This refers to the creation account, according to which the seventh day was “blessed” and “sanctified” as part of creation (Gen 2:3). (See also Matt 19:4-8).

The Law of Christ

We should not be surprised that Christ taught a Sabbath different from the Ten Commandments because He did the same for the other commandments. Christ replaced the entire Law of Moses with a higher law with much higher moral standards. For instance, He replaced the law against murder with a law against anger. Instead of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” He taught, “turn the other (cheek).” With respect to adultery, He said “everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery”. 

Christ’s higher-level Law reveals the Father’s perfect heart. The Father loves His enemies and has compassion for people. For that reason, the Law of Christ requires His followers to do the same. The “Law of Christ” (Gal 6:2) is the law as it existed “from the beginning.” The Law of Moses was God’s eternal law for mankind, but reduced to fit the condition, abilities, and needs of the enslaved and corrupt little nation of Israel. But Christ again revealed the eternal principles on which the Law of Moses was based. See the page “The Law of Christ” for a further discussion.

But this does not mean that the requirement to rest, as given in the Ten Commandments, is no longer relevant. The Ten Commandments made rest the goal. Christ shifted the focus from the requirement to rest, to the purpose of the rest. Christ taught the seventh day as the preferred day for healing. Rest is consistent with this purpose. In Christ’s teaching rest becomes a means to an end. Healing is the end (goal) and rest is one means of achieving this goal. On the seventh day, we must cease everyday work, to be renewed and refreshed. 

But while the requirement for rest remains, the seventh day is now also a day for planned work to bring joy to people by helping them to be healed and restored. It also becomes a work day, but a different type of work. It is the day on which we work for the mentally, physically and spiritually sick, to heal them.


Sabbath Series

In the Old Testament

Christ’s Sabbath Healings

Christ’s Teachings on the Sabbath

Sabbath in the New Testament Letters

Other Articles


  • 1
    The Antichrist in Daniel, which is the same as the beast in Revelation, arises out of the Roman Empire; it is not Antiochus Epiphanes.
  • 2
    Discussion of the prophecy and the four main interpretations
  • 3
    Critical scholars teach that Daniel was written after the events it claims to predict.
  • 4
    The ultimate purpose of this website is to explain the mark of the beast.
  • 5
    Does Revelation describe events chronologically? Must it be interpreted literally? The temple in heaven, Christ’s Return, Hear/See Combinations, and the Numbers in Revelation
  • 6
    There was a book in heaven that not even Christ was able to read because it was sealed up with seven seals. But, by overcoming, He became worthy to break the seven seals and open the book.
  • 7
    This is the apex of Revelation, providing an overview of history from before Christ until the end-time, with emphasis on the end-time persecution.
  • 8
    These plagues will follow after the end-time Christian persecution and will be followed by Christ’s return. What is the purpose of these?
  • 9
    Revelation has three beasts with seven heads and ten horns each; a great red dragon, the beast from the sea, and a scarlet beast.
  • 10
    Babylon is mentioned only once in the first 15 chapters but the seventh and final plague targets her specifically. Then Revelation 17 and 18 explain who and what she is.
  • 11
    The conclusion that Jesus is ‘God’ forms the basis of the Trinity Doctrine.
  • 12
    The decision to adopt the Trinity doctrine was not taken by the church.
  • 13
    Including Modalism, Eastern Orthodoxy view of the Trinity, Elohim, and Eternal Generation
  • 14
    Discussions of the Atonement – How does God do away with sin?
  • 15
    How people are put right with God
  • 16
    Must Christians observe the Law of Moses?
  • 17
    Must Christians observe the Sabbath?
  • 18
    Are the dead still alive and aware?
  • 19
    Will the lost be tormented in hell for all eternity?
  • 20
    And why does God not make an end to all evil?
  • 21
    Key events that transformed the church into an independent religion
  • 22
    When? How? Has His return been delayed?
  • 23
    I do not have any formal theological qualifications and I am not part of any religious organization. These articles are the result of my studies over many years.

Meros in Colossians 2:16 – Let no man therefore judge you

Colossians 2:16The KJV translates Colossians 2:16 to say let no man therefore judge you “in respect of” the Sabbath, but the word translated “in respect of” actually means “part of”.  To say that the Colossians were criticized for an aspect of the Sabbath cannot mean that they were criticized for keeping or not keeping these holy days.  It can only mean that they were criticized for HOW they observe the Sabbath.  This implies that the Colossians did observe these holy days.

The Greek words of Colossians 2:16, and their English equivalents, according to an interlinear translation, are as follows:

Not – oun therefore – tis anyone – hymas you – krinetō let judge – en in – brōsei food – kai or – en in – posei drink – ē or – en in – merei part of heortēs to a feast – ē or – neomēnias a new moon – ē or sabbatōn a Sabbath

This article focuses on the Greek words ‘en merei’.  The KJV  translates this phrase as “in respect to”:

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 (2:16).

‘En merei’ is derived from the noun meros.  Meros literally means:

  • a part something or
  • a piece something or
  • a portion something or
  • one aspect of something, as opposed to a whole.

Nowhere else in the New Testament is meros translated as “in respect to”.  Below all 39 instances of the word meros in the New Testament is analyzed:

In the vast majority of instances it indicates a part of something, namely:

    • part of a geographical area,
    • part of a group of people,
    • part of a body,
    • part of some assets,
    • part of a fish,
    • part of a garment,

  • part of a body of knowledge,
  • part of a period of time,
  • part of a city and
  • part of human

In a small number of instances it indicates that a person shares in something, namely sharing in God’s kingdom, sharing in an event and sharing in an eternal inheritance.  But to say that somebody shares in something still has the meaning of a part of a bigger whole.

Since meros consistently refers to a part of something, 2:16 should be translated as “Let no man therefore judge you  in meat, or in drink, or in part of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days”.  Please consider the important difference between “in respect to” and “in part of”:

In respect to” may imply that the Colossian Christians were judged for keeping or not keeping these holy days OR for how they kept these holy days.

The phrase “in a part of” cannot mean that the Colossians were judged for keeping or not keeping these holy days.  “In a part of” can only mean that the Colossian Christians were judged for an aspect of the holy days, not for the holy days as such.  This implies that the Colossians did observe these holy days, and that Paul is saying that they should not be judged for any part there-of.

The KJV translation is generally extremely reliable, and it is with unease that I go against the KJV of Colossians 2:16.  But it must be pointed out that all translations are interpretations, and that the standard interpretation of theologians is that the Colossian heresy was syncretic in nature; combining Jewish and pagan ideas.  They therefore translate meros as “in respect to” because they believe that 2:16 warns against Sabbath observance.

The proposal here is that we read these verses in their context.  As discussed in the article on 2:16, the church, less than 30 years after Christ’s death, when the letter to the Colossians was written, still observed the Sabbath and the Jewish Festivals, for the church at first was entirely Jewish, and even today we observe some of the Jewish Festivals, such as Passover (Easter) and Pentecost.  The Jews observed these days in anticipation of what these feasts pointed to.  Christians keep these feasts to remember what happened 2000 years ago.

In the Jewish tradition the specials days were days of gladness, eating and drinking (See, for instance, Nehemiah 8:9-11).  But the Colossian deceivers were ascetic and adhered to principles of “self-abasement and severe treatment of the body” (2:23), with rules such as “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch”.  They were therefore critical of the feasting practices of the Christians in their community.  (See Pagan nature of the Colossian Deception).  They judged the Christians, not for observing these special days, but for HOW the special days were kept.

Analysis of the use of the word Meros in the New Testament

The following are all the instance of the Greek word meros in the New Testament; 39 verses in total.  Only in Colossians 2:16 it is translated as “in respect to”.  In most instances it is translated to refer to a part of some larger entity, such as:

  • Part of a geographical area, for instance “regions of” or “district” of a larger area (Mat 2:22; 15:21; 16:13; Mark 8:10; Acts 2:10; 20:2), “the upper country” (Acts 19:1), and “the lower parts of the earth” (Eph 4:9).
  • Part of a group of people, such as “one group were Sadducees and the other Pharisees” (Act 23:6) “the Pharisaic party” (Acts 23:9)(Mat 24:51; Luke 12:46; Rom 11:25; 1Co 12:27) “a place with the unbelievers” (Luk 12:46), “a place with the hypocrites” (Mat. 24:51).  Rom 11:25 indicates that “a partial hardening has happened to Israel” this is understood as that a part of Israel is hardened.
  • Part of a body (Luke 11:36)
  • Part of assets, such as “the share of the estate” (Luke 15:12), “a portion of it (money)” (Acts 5:2); Act 19:26-27)
  • Part of a fish, such as “a piece of a broiled fish” (Luke 24:42)
  • A part of a garment, such as “His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier” (John 19:23)
  • Part of a boat, namely “the right-hand side of the boat” (John 21:6)
  • Part of a body of knowledge, such as “For we know in part and we prophesy in part” (1Co 13:9) and “I know in part, but then I will know fully” (1Co 13:12), “in part I believe it” (1Co 11:18), “I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again” (Rom. 15:15), “you also partially did understand” (2Co 1:14), “of these things we cannot now speak in detail” (Hebr. 9:5 – stated differently: we cannot speak of the parts of these things), “But I have sent the brethren, in order that our boasting about you may not be made empty in this case” (2Co 9:3)
  • Part of a period of time, such as “enjoyed your company for a while” (Rom 15:24) “each in turn” (1Co 14:27)
  • A part of a city, namely “The great city was split into three parts” (Rev 16:19)
  • A part of human existence.  Acts 19:26-27 refers to idol-worship or the making of idols as “this trade of (part of) ours”

In all of these instances meros is used for a part of something. In the following instances it refers to a small share of something much larger, namely for a person to:

  • Share in an event, such as “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection” (Rev 20:6)
  •  Share in an eternal inheritance, such as “their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone” (Rev 21:8), or “God will take away his part from the tree of life” (Rev 22:19).
  • Share in God’s kingdom, such as “you have no part with Me (Christ)” (John 13:8) “you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it” (1Co 12:27), “from whom …. according to the proper working of each individual part (the whole body)” (Eph 4:16).

To say that somebody shares in God’s kingdom still refers to a small part of something much larger.

The remaining two instances are more difficult to classify.  In one instance it means “in some degree”, namely “he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree … to all of you” (2Co 2:5), which is still part of the full possible extent.  In the last remaining instance it is used to compare a smaller glory to a larger glory:

For indeed what had glory (the ministry of condemnation), in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it (the glory ministry of righteousness). (2Co 3:9-10)

It should therefore be clear that:

  • 2:16 is the only place in the New Testament where mero is translated as “in respect to”.
  • Meros is refers to a part of something.

TO: Colossians Table of Contents

TO: General Table of Contents