Let us now go to Acts 20:7 where we will step outside of the crucifixion testimony, and examine the accounting of the seven complete sabbaths to Pentecost (based on the Sadducees). In this account we will not only prove that Paul and like believers met on the Jews’ Saturday sabbath, but also, very importantly, further prove that the Jews were indeed following a Saturday sabbath. First, here again we find the identical true phrase – “one of the sabbaths.”
On one of the sabbaths, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.
What sabbath was being spoken of? First, it was indeed one of the Jews’ Saturday seventh-day sabbaths that is referred to numerous times throughout the New Testament. Despite the error that Christians want to propagate, Paul, a Pharisee, as well as believers at that time, clearly met on Saturday, the accepted sabbath day of the Jews.
So is there any way we can know exactly what sabbath was being referred to here? Indeed we can. In the verse immediately preceding, we read:
We [Luke and Paul] sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and came to them at Troas within five days; and there we stayed seven days.
Again, it is quite confirming that if Paul and others were observing Unleavened Bread, they would also be observing the Jews’ sabbath, which is clearly stated here – “on one of the sabbaths.” It really is quite absurd to think that they would have delayed their journey so as to observe Unleavened Bread, and then cut their time short at Troas in order to get to Jerusalem by Pentecost, and would have gathered together in Troas on any other day than the Jews’ sabbath. This is even moreso true since they knew Yahshua resurrected on a sabbath, and when the Greek specifically says that their gathering here was on a sabbath. How much more compelling evidence is needed? Let us now determine which specific sabbath they met on.
We read that Luke and Paul observed Unleavened Bread at Philippi, and within five days arrived in Troas, and stayed there seven days. As you will see, during this particular Unleavened Bread, the seventh-day second chief sabbath fell on the nineteenth day of the month, which left two more days of Unleavened Bread, the former of which would have been First Fruits and began the count of seven complete sabbaths to Pentecost.
They then sailed for five days, so their last day of sailing and their arrival at Troas would have been on the first complete sabbath in that count. They then stayed in Troas for seven days; and on the final day, the second complete sabbath count, they gathered together to break bread. Paul, leaving on the next day for Assos, extended the meeting until midnight.
In the following accounting of these days, the feast dates are in the upper line, and under it are the coinciding week days. The blue numbers are the five days they were sailing to Troas, and the red numbers are the seven days in Troas. The underlined bold number in black is the sabbath that would have initiated First Fruits the next day, from which they would have begun their count to Pentecost. The bold red underlined number was the sabbath gathering.
14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
So we see that the sabbath spoken of here specifically as “one of the sabbaths,” the identical term used in the gospels to identify the sabbath that marked the beginning count to Pentecost, was the second complete sabbath in that count. Therefore, here in Acts we find yet another testimony regarding these sabbaths that transpired in the count of seven complete sabbaths to Pentecost. More will be said concerning this shortly, but so as to maintain this account, let us continue.
It is noteworthy, and possibly substantive, that the only time the term “one of the sabbaths [sabbatwn]” was used, was solely in regard to this matter of the seven complete sabbaths that are from First Fruits to Pentecost: Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1 and 19, and Acts 20:7. In 1 Corinthians 16:2, the same Greek word, “heis,” was used to indicate “one”; but the word for sabbath was in the singular form, “sabbatou.” Also, this passage was preceded with the Greek word “kata,” which here means essentially: “Beginning on and continuing from.” But in this instance where the word “heis,” or “one,” preceded a sabbath, yet now in the singular form, its reference was not in regard to the seven Pentecost-count sabbaths. Thus, in 1 Corinthians 16:2, we read with the corrected text:
Beginning on and continuing from one sabbath, each of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.
In the translations of essentially all Bibles, in two ways this passage has been thoroughly distorted because of Christian traditions. Yahshua aptly asked, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3). First, we already know that these believers did not gather on Sunday, once again evidenced here. Also, this passage is often quoted by Christians to justify taking an “offering” every Sunday. Certainly this passage does not say this either. So what was Paul actually saying?
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians was written while he was in Ephesus, as stated in 16:8 – “I will remain at Ephesus ….” The time of the year of his letter was undoubtedly around Passover, for we read next in verse 8 – “…until Pentecost.” So Paul wrote: “I will remain at Ephesus until Pentecost.” It is interesting that, once again, we find these subject seven sabbaths, which Paul was going to wait through and would leave Ephesus following Pentecost. Therefore, at that time, his plans were to stay there until Pentecost, then go to Macedonia, then go to Corinth, and possibly even spend the winter with them (16:5-7). The fact is though, as we read in Acts 20, he did not see them until the sabbaths leading up to Pentecost, a year later, and even then did not go into Corinth.
So when Paul wrote the Corinthians to prepare a gift for the church at Jerusalem, what was he asking them to do? Each sabbath they were to put aside and save, as they each prospered, so that no collections were made when he came. He was expecting to be there within a few months, and he wanted them to prepare beforehand.
Let us now address yet another significant criteria set forth at the outset of this writing:
This is a contested issue by some. They say that the Jews observed lunar sabbaths, and quote such writers as Philo, a Hellenized Jewish philosopher who lived during the time of Yahshua. But the fact is that Philo never directly stated that the seventh-day sabbath is by the moon and is counted from the new moon. Furthermore, regarding all of these matters, the records of the Scriptures prevails over other opinions or accounts. There is no more accurate or more carefully preserved historical record than the Scriptures. Therefore, when the issue regarding whether the Jews followed a seventh-day (what we today would call Saturday) sabbath, then let the Scriptures tell us the answer – and clearly they do. Here is clear hard evidence that at the time of Yahshua, the “Saturday” sabbath was in practice (whatever day they may have called it).
First, we read that Yahshua resurrected on “one of the sabbaths.” With the Jews’ preparation of the Passover on the fourteenth, and their Passover on the fifteenth, their holy convocation sabbath, that leaves only one possibility for the resurrection sabbath. It had to be a seventh-day sabbath.
As we have noted, there were only two holy convocation sabbaths at Unleavened Bread – the first day and the last day. Any sabbath in-between would have to have been a floating seventh-day sabbath. And, we saw that the Scriptures tell us that that sabbath was called the second chief sabbath.
Therefore we have two evidences here. First, that it specifically says that Yahshua resurrected on a sabbath, which would have to have been a seventh-day sabbath. And second, the Scriptures identify that sabbath in two places as being the chief and even second chief sabbath.
A third evidence that is not so specific, but certainly indicative, is when Yahshua rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. As will be addressed in the next section, it is evident that this event took place on a seventh-day sabbath, once again raising the ire of the Pharisees. As you will see, Yahshua was presenting Himself as the Passover lamb on the tenth, and seven days later He would resurrect from the dead on the next sabbath on the seventeenth.
And finally, the most iron-clad indisputable evidence is what we just learned about Paul’s sabbath meeting at Troas. If the Jews were following a lunar fifteenth seventh-day sabbath, as some claim, that, of course, would have made the twenty-second a sabbath as well. But this will not work, for the sabbath meeting in Troas would come about three days too early. Indisputably, the only way to account for a sabbath gathering at the end of the five days of sailing and seven days at Troas, is for the sabbath to be on the nineteenth. And for the sabbath to be on the nineteenth, there is only one way for that to happen – it had to have been the Jews’ second chief sabbath that can fall in-between the fifteenth and the twenty-first.
Therefore, without a doubt the Jews were not following a sabbath that always landed on the fifteenth. The only way for any of these events to have taken place as recorded, once again, was for the Jews to have been observing a seventh-day Saturday sabbath. This conclusion is certain.
Continue to page 9 of The New Millennial Calendar for SATURDAY, THE TENTH