The Bible’s answer
What is the Sabbath?
The word “sabbath” comes from a Hebrew word meaning “to rest; to cease.” It first appears in the Bible in commands given to the nation of ancient Israel. (Exodus 16:23) For example, the fourth of the Ten Commandments says: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it sacred. You are to labor and do all your work for six days, but the seventh day is a sabbath to Jehovah your God. You must not do any work.” (Exodus 20:8-10) The Sabbath day ran from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. During that time, the Israelites could not leave their locality, light a fire, gather wood, or carry a load. (Exodus 16:29; 35:3; Numbers 15:32-36; Jeremiah 17:21) Violating the Sabbath was a capital offense.—Exodus 31:15.
Some other days in the Jewish calendar, as well as the 7th and 50th years, were also called sabbaths. In Sabbath years, the land was to lie uncultivated and Israelites could not be pressed to repay debts.—Leviticus 16:29-31; 23:6, 7, 32; 25:4, 11-14; Deuteronomy 15:1-3.
Why doesn’t the Sabbath law apply to Christians?
The Sabbath law applied only to the people subject to the rest of the Law given through Moses. (Deuteronomy 5:2, 3; Ezekiel 20:10-12) God never required other people to observe a sabbath rest. In addition, even the Jews were “released from the Law” of Moses, including the Ten Commandments, by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. (Romans 7:6, 7; 10:4; Galatians 3:24, 25; Ephesians 2:15) Rather than adhere to the Law of Moses, Christians follow the superior law of love.—Romans 13:9, 10; Hebrews 8:13.
Misconceptions about the Sabbath
Misconception: It is wrong to set aside one day every week for rest and worship.
Fact: The Bible leaves such a decision to each Christian.—Romans 14:5.
a See also the New Catholic Encyclopedia, Second Edition, Volume 13, page 608.