Tree of Life & Knowledge – No Sabbath even for Gentile Believers
“In the next place, I fancy that thou art chiefly
anxious to hear about their not practising their
religion in the same way as the Jews.
The Jews then, so far as they abstain from the
mode of worship described above, do well in claiming to reverence one God of the universe and to regard Him as Master; but so far as they offer Him this worship in methods similar to those already mentioned, they are altogether at fault…
But again their scruples concerning meats, and
their superstition relating to the sabbath and the vanity of their circumcision and the dissimulation of their fasting and new moons, I do [not] suppose you need to learn from me, are ridiculous and unworthy of any consideration…
That the Christians are right therefore in
holding aloof from the common silliness and error of the Jews and from their excessive fussiness and pride, I consider that thou hast been sufficiently instructed; but as regards the mystery of their own religion, expect not that thou canst be instructed by man.” (Chapter 3, Verses 1 – 2, Chapter 4, Verse 1,6 – Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus)
This Ancient Christian Epistle Concludes the following regarding the “Tree of Knowledge” & the “Tree of Life”:
12:1 Confronted with these truths and listening to them with attention, ye shall know how much God bestoweth on those that love (Him) rightly, who become a Paradise of delight, a tree bearing all manner of fruits and flourishing, growing up in themselves and adorned with various fruits.
12:2 For in this garden a tree of knowledge and a tree of life hath been planted; yet the tree ofknowledge does not kill, but disobedience kills;
12:3 for the scriptures state clearly how God from the beginning planted a tree [of knowledge and a tree] of life in the midst of Paradise, revealing life through knowledge; and because our first parents used it not genuinely they were made naked by the deceit of the serpent.
12:4 For neither is there life without knowledge,
nor sound knowledge without true life; therefore the one (tree) is planted near the other.
12:5 Discerning the force of this and blaming the knowledge which is exercised apart from the truth of the injunction which leads to life, the apostle says, _Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth._
12:6 For the man who supposes that he knows anything without the true knowledge which is testified by the life, is ignorant, he is deceived by the serpent, because he loved not life; whereas he who with fear recognises and desires life plants in hope expecting fruit.
12:7 Let your heart be knowledge, and your life true reason, duly comprehended.
12:8 Whereof if thou bear the tree and pluck the fruit, thou shalt ever gather the harvest which God looks for, which serpent toucheth not, nor deceit infecteth, neither is Eve corrupted, but is believed on as a virgin,
12:9 and salvation is set forth, and the apostles
are filled with understanding, and the passover of the Lord goes forward, and the congregations are gathered together, and [all things] are arranged in order, and as He teacheth the saints the Word is gladdened, through Whom the Father is glorified, to Whom be glory for ever and ever [ages of Ages?] Amen.”
(Chapter 12 – Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus)
P/S: First Christianity had “no” Sabbaths but only voluntary gatherings on a Sunday by some, to quote:
The Didache (c. A.D. 120) declares that “every Lord’s day” the Christians gather themselves together and “break bread” (ANF.VII.381).
The Epistle of Barnabas (c. A.D. 120), in discussing such things as incense, new moons, and Sabbaths, says that the Lord “abolished these things” in deference to “the new law of our Lord Jesus Christ” (ANF.I.138). Later, it is affirmed: “Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead” (I.147).
Justin Martyr (A.D. 140) declared that “on the day called Sunday” the primitive Christians met for worship. He further stated that this was the day on which Christ was raised from the dead (I.186).
Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 194) spoke of the one who “keeps the Lord’s day” as “glorifying the Lord’s resurrection in himself” (ANF.II.545).
Tertullian (A.D. 200) argued that the “old law” had been consummated; thus the “observance of the Sabbath is demonstrated to have been temporary” (ANF.III.155). Elsewhere he says that “Sabbaths are strange” to Christians, and that they share together “the Lord’s day” (70).
Eusebius (A.D. 324), known as the “father of church history,” stated that Sabbath observance does not “belong to Christians.” On the other hand, he asserted that Christians “celebrate the Lord’s days . . . in commemoration of his resurrection” (26,113).
Noted historian Philip Schaff concludes:
“The universal and uncontradicted Sunday observance in the second century can only be explained by the fact that it had its roots in the apostolic practice” (478-479).
Paul declared that no one could “judge,” i.e., condemn (cf. Thayer, 361) a Christian for not keeping feast days, Sabbaths, etc. (Col. 2:16). That statement could not have been made had the Sabbath law still been operative.
P/S: Is Sunday meeting a must?
No, it is “optional” as the Verse below allows this “freedom” as ‘both ways can be considered as doing it for the Lord’:
“One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.” – apostle Paul (Romans 14:5, NASB)
But doesn’t Hebrews 10:25 make church attendance compulsory?
Firstly, when Hebrews 10:25 was Written, no church existed as per the meaning today. Believers gathered at will and as long as a Christian meets another Christian for discussing the Word or praying together etc. in their own capacity (“as even when two or three are gathered in His Name, the Lord is in their midst”, Matthew 18:20) they are fulfilling this Verse.
P/S 2: Why is it so?
Christians must live every day as if it’s a Sabbath in Principle and thus “no special day” in analogy is needed under the “New Law or New Covenant” as St. Justin explains:
“… The new law requires you to keep perpetual sabbath, and you, because you are idle for one day, suppose you are pious, not discerning why this has been commanded you:.. ” – St. Justin Martyr (CHAPTER XII — THE JEWS VIOLATE THE ETERNAL LAW, AND INTERPRET ILL THAT OF MOSES, DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO)
P/S 3: But isn’t Sabbath an “Eternal Law”?
St. Justin Martyr’s explanation below itself contradicts the statement above because if it was an eternal Law, the righteous men before Abraham or Moses would have observed these which is ‘not’ the case:
“… Moreover, all those righteous men already mentioned, though they kept no Sabbaths, were pleasing to God; …” – St. Justin Martyr (CHAPTER XIX — CIRCUMCISION UNKNOWN BEFORE ABRAHAM. THE LAW WAS GIVEN BY MOSES ON ACCOUNT OF THE HARDNESS OF THEIR HEARTS, DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO)
“… why did He not teach those–who are called righteous and pleasing to Him, who lived before Moses and Abraham, who were not circumcised in their foreskin, and observed no Sabbaths–to keep these institutions?” – St. Justin Martyr (CHAPTER XXVII — WHY GOD TAUGHT THE SAME THINGS BY THE PROPHETS AS BY MOSES, DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO)
P/S 4: What if some Christians force others to observe the “Sabbath” (be it on a Sunday these days?)
St. Justin Martyr does NOT agree with them, calls them “weak” and allows Grace toward them instead:
“There are such people, Trypho,” I answered; “and these do not venture to have any intercourse with or to extend hospitality to such persons; but I do NOT AGREE with them.
But if some, through WEAK-MINDEDNESS, wish to observe such institutions as were given by Moses, from which they expect some virtue, but which we believe were appointed by reason of the hardness of the people’s hearts, along with their hope in this Christ, and [wish to perform] the eternal [AGE-DURING] and natural acts of righteousness and piety, yet choose to live with the Christians and the faithful, as I said before, NOT inducing them either to be circumcised like themselves, or to keep the SABBATH, or to observe any other such ceremonies, then I hold that we ought to join ourselves to such, and associate with them in all things as kinsmen and brethren.
But if, Trypho,” I continued, “some of your race, who say they believe in this Christ, compel those Gentiles who believe in this Christ to live in all respects according to the law given by Moses, or choose not to associate so intimately with them, I in like manner do NOT APPROVE of them.
But I believe that even those, who have been persuaded by them to observe the legal dispensation along with their confession of God in Christ, shall probably be saved.
And I hold, further, that such as have confessed and known this man to be Christ, yet who have gone back from some cause to the legal dispensation, and have denied that this man is Christ, and have repented not before death, shall by no means be saved.
Further, I hold that those of the seed of Abraham who live according to the law, and do not believe in this Christ before death, shall likewise not be saved, and especially those who have anathematized and do anathematize this very Christ in the synagogues, and everything by which they might obtain salvation and escape the vengeance of fire.
For the goodness and the loving-kindness of God, and His boundless riches, hold righteous and sinless the man who, as Ezekiel tells, repents of sins; and reckons sinful, unrighteous, and impious the man who fails away from piety and righteousness to unrighteousness and ungodliness. Wherefore also our Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘In whatsoever things I shall take you, in these I shall judge you.’ ” – St. Justin Martyr (CHAPTER XLVII — JUSTIN COMMUNICATES WITH CHRISTIANS WHO OBSERVE THE LAW. NOT A FEW CATHOLICS DO OTHERWISE, DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO)
Further Reading regarding First Christianity in regards to this, please consider the post below for edification:
Peace to you