What Does "The Sabbath Was Made for Man" (Mark 2:23-28) Mean?

Does Mark 2:27, "the Sabbath was made for man," teach that the Sabbath is a creation ordinance? Learn the arguments for this position.
Sabbath
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Table of Contents

  1. Recommended Resource
  2. Introduction
  3. Mark 2:23-28
  4. Interpretation of Mark 2:27

^ 1. Recommended Resource

This post heavily utilizes The Christian Sabbath: Its Redemptive-Historical Foundation, Present Obligation, and Practical Observance, by Robert Paul Martin, the best book on the Sabbath that we have come across. We highly recommend it!

In The Christian Sabbath, Martin interacts extensively with the authors of From Sabbath to Lord's Day: A Biblical, Historical and Theological Investigation, answering the arguments they make in that book. Here, we will also summarize Martin's responses to arguments against his position.

^ 2. Introduction

The question we are dealing with in this post is, "Is the Sabbath a command that Christians still need to obey today?" Here, we will examine Mark 2:23-28 to help answer this question.

This passages deals with the topic of whether the Sabbath is a creation ordinance, or, whether it is a command given to all people at all times, in contrast with the view that the Sabbath was merely given temporarily to the people of Israel.

^ 3. Mark 2:23-28

23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of[a] Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

^ 4. Interpretation of Mark 2:27

The key phrase that we will examine here is, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." From this phrase, we note the following:

  1. The Sabbath here refers to the once-every-seven-days Sabbath day.
  2. The Sabbath was "made for man" because it was "made," or created, after man was created. Man was created on the sixth day, and the Sabbath was "made," or created, on the seventh day.
  3. Because the Sabbath was "made for man" during creation, it is a creation ordinance and is a command for all humans of all times.
  4. That the Sabbath was "made for man" also means that we should view the Sabbath as a blessing, not as a burden.

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