Sabbath - Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words


[ 1,,G4521,sabbaton / sabbata ] the latter, the plural form was transliterated from the Aramaic word, which was mistaken for a plural; hence the singular, sabbaton, was formed from it. The root means to cease, desist" (Heb., shabath; cp. Arab., sabata, "to intercept, interrupt"); the doubled b has an intensive force, implying a complete cessation or a making to cease, probably the former. The idea is not that of relaxation or refreshment, but cessation from activity.

The observation of the seventh day of the week, enjoined upon Israel, was a sign between God and His earthly people, based upon the fact that after the six days of creative operations He rested, Exodus 31:16-Exodus 31:17, with Exodus 20:8-Exodus 20:11. The OT regulations were developed and systematized to such an extent that they became a burden upon the people (who otherwise rejoiced in the rest provided) and a byword for absurd extravagance. Two treatises of the Mishna (the Shabbath and Erubin) are entirely occupied with regulations for the observance; so with the discussions in the Gemara, on rabinical opinions. The effect upon current opinion explains the antagonism roused by the Lord's cures wrought on the "Sabbath," e.g., Matthew 12:9-Matthew 12:13; John 5:5-John 5:16, and explains the fact that on a "Sabbath" the sick were brought to be healed after sunset, e.g., Mark 1:32. According to rabbinical ideas, the disciples, by plucking ears of corn (Matthew 12:1; Mark 2:23), and rubbing them (Luke 6:1), broke the "sabbath" in two respects; for to pluck was to reap, and to rub was to thresh. The Lord's attitude towards the "sabbath" was by way of freeing it from these vexatious traditional accretions by which it was made an end in itself, instead of a means to an end (Mark 2:27).

In the Epistles the only direct mentions are in Colossians 2:16, "a sabbath day," RV (which rightly has the singular, See 1st parag., above), where it is listed among things that were "a shadow of the things to come" (ie., of the age introduced at Pentecost), and in Hebrews 4:4-Hebrews 4:11, where the perpetual sabbatismos is appointed for believers (See REST); inferential references are in Romans 14:5; Galatians 4:9-Galatians 4:11. For the first three centuries of the Christian era the first day of the week was never confounded with the "sabbath;" the confusion of the Jewish and Christian institutions was due to declension from apostolic teaching.


(1) In Matthew 12:1, Matthew 12:11, where the plural is used, the AV (as the RV) rightly has the singular, "the sabbath day;" in Matthew 12:5 the AV has the plural (See above). Where the singular is used the RV omits the word "day," Matthew 12:2; Matthew 24:20; Mark 6:2; Luke 6:1 ("on a sabbath"); Luke 14:3; John 9:14 ("it was the sabbath on the day when ..."). As to the use or omission of the article the omission does not always require the rendering "a sabbath;" it is absent, e.g., in Matthew 12:2.

(2) In Acts 16:13, "on the sabbath day," is, lit., "on the day of the sabbath" (plural).

(3) For Matthew 28:1, See LATE.

(4) For "the first day of the week" See ONE, A,


[ 2,,G4315, prosabbaton ]
signifies "the day before the sabbath" (pro, "before," and No. 1), Mark 15:42; some mss. have prin, "before," with sabbaton separately).

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words