Did Paul teach that there is now no official Sabbath day or that there are now no appointed holidays?
Many use Romans 14 as a proof text to say that we should not judge others for not keeping the Sabbath or Yahweh’s appointed holy days. They also use it to say that there are now no laws regarding clean and unclean meats.
Contrary to what some have imposed upon the text, this passage has nothing to do with the Sabbath or the appointed Holy Days that Yahweh established in His word for all believers.
Let’s look at what the text is REALLY saying:
“The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.”
Eats vs Abstaining
This is the concept of keeping FAST days which are traditional, not commanded in scripture.
It is also talking about whether or not to eat meats that are unknown as to whether they have been sacrificed to an idol. Paul’s conclusion is that it’s ok to eat whatever is sold, but if you are presented with meat which has been made known to you that it has been sacrificed to an idol then you are not to partake in that person’s sin.
The reason many of the new converts were refusing to eat these meats can be found and explained in 1 Corinthians 8.
Now back to fasting. Paul was addressing those who were unsure whether they should be fasting or not. This was not a new topic. Consider:
Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” (Matt 9:14)
There are 4 traditional fast days found in the book of Zechariah 7:5-6.
Compare what Zechariah said and what Paul said:
“When ye FASTED and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast UNTO ME, even to Me (YHWH)? “And when ye did EAT, and when ye did drink, did ye not EAT FOR YOURSELVES and drink for yourselves?” -Zechariah
“The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.” -Paul
Remember that Paul kept the feasts and the Sabbath. (Acts 16:13, 20:16, 20:6, 27:9, 18:21)
The point that Paul was making was in direct reference to the Zechariah text. Zechariah was reprimanding the people of Israel for keeping the fast days for their own glorification rather than with the intention of honoring and blessing Yahweh. Paul makes clear contrast by stating that those who choose to fast or to eat should do so by honoring and giving thanks to Yahweh rather than out of mere obligation or boasting.
It is a great fallacy to try to apply this passage to the Sabbath or any of Yahweh’s set apart holy days.
“Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them” -Ezekiel 22:26
What is the difference between “clean” and “common”?
“I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.”
At face value, this passage may present a problem for those who believe that God’s dietary laws apply today. The text appears to be stating that now there is no meat that can be considered “unclean” in and of itself.
A closer look will reveal the truth of the matter. The Greek word for “unclean” used in this passage is actually the word “Koinos”, which means “common”. Translating “koinos” to “unclean” is simply not consistent and is a blatant translational error.
A food deemed to be “common” means that it has been MADE ritually unclean due to contamination. For example, beef is a clean meat. If however it has been dedicated to a false god then it may be considered “common” or “defiled” by someone who came out of deep idolatry. They may have a hard time eating that meat with a clean conscience. This is why Paul says to “eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience.”
In the meat market foods were commonly dedicated to false gods and new converts were especially sensitive to this practice because they just came OUT of it!
Another example of a food being made “koinos” would be if say the cow was mauled by a beast or not drained of its blood. Although the cow is clean by default, it has been made “koinos” due to the method in which the meat was obtained.
Nothing is common in and of itself… it has to be MADE that way. There are things that are unclean in and of themselves and these things are designated in God’s holy law. The word of God also tells us which things are clean and sanctified for our consumption.
This is the same point that Paul is making in 1 Timothy 4:4-5:
“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.”
Let us draw near to God with a clean conscience and let everything we do be done with a heart to honor and give thanks to our Creator and King rather than for a self-serving agenda.