Questions & Answers

Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible

 (Matthew Henry died in 1721)

     Since our Q&A response to a question about The Lord's Day has raised many new questions -- and since Andy and I are not theologians (just servants of God who pray that He will use us to share His Truth) -- we have added these notes from Matthew Henry's respected Commentary.




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The Sabbath: Saturday, Sunday or every day?

"I, John, both your brother and  companion in the tribulation and  kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.  I was in the Spirit on  the Lordís Day, and I heard behind me aa loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, 'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last.'Ē Revelation 1:9

Commentary: 3. The day and time in which he had this vision: it was the Lordís day, the day which Christ had separated and set apart for himself, as the eucharist is called the Lordís supper. Surely this can be no other than the Christian Sabbath, the first day of the week, to be observed in remembrance of the resurrection of Christ. Let us who call him our Lord honour him on his own day, the day which the Lord hath made and in which we ought to rejoice.

4. The frame that his [John's] soul was in at this time: He was in the Spirit. He was not only in a rapture when he received the vision, but before he received it; he was in a serious, heavenly, spiritual frame, under the blessed gracious influences of the Spirit of God. God usually prepares the souls of his people for uncommon manifestations of himself, by the quickening sanctifying influences of his good Spirit. Those who would enjoy communion with God on the Lordís day must endeavour to abstract their thoughts and affections from flesh and fleshly things, and be wholly taken up with things of a spiritual nature."

"Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first that He went through the grainfields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands.  And some of the Pharisees said to them, ďWhy are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?Ē
        But Jesus answering them said, ďHave you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he went into the house of God, took and ate the showbread, and also gave some to those with him, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat?Ē And He said to them, ďThe Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.Ē  Luke 6:1-5

Commentary: The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath. In the kingdom of the Redeemer, the Sabbath day is to be turned into a Lordís day; the property of it is, in some respects, to be altered, and it is to be observed chiefly in honour of the Redeemer, as it had been before in honour of the Creator, Jer. 16:14, 15. In token of this, it shall not only have a new name, the Lordís day (yet not forgetting the old, for it is a Sabbath of rest still) but shall be transferred to a new day, the first day of the week."

"...He said to them, 'Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?'
      "And He said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.Ē Mark 2:25-28

Commentary: "Whom the Sabbath was made by (v. 28); "The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath [It's the Lord's Day!]; and therefore he will not see the kind intentions of the institution of it frustrated by your impositions.íí Note, The Sabbath days are days of the Son of man; he is the Lord of the day, and to his honour it must be observed; by him God made the worlds, and so it was by him that the Sabbath was first instituted; by him God gave the law at mount Sinai, and so the fourth commandment was his law; and that little alteration that was shortly to be made, by the shifting of it one day forward to the first day of the week, was to be in remembrance of his resurrection, and therefore the Christian Sabbath was to be called the Lordís day (Rev. 1:10), the Lord Christís day; and the Son of man, Christ, as Mediator, is always to be looked upon as Lord of the Sabbath. This argument he largely insists upon in his own justification, when he was charged with having broken the Sabbath, Jn. 5:16.

They came together upon the first day of the week, which they called the Lordís day (Rev. 1:10), the Christian Sabbath, celebrated to the honour of Christ and the Holy Spirit, in remembrance of the resurrection of Christ, and the pouring out of the Spirit, both on the first day of the week. This is here said to be the day when the disciples came together, that is, when it was their practice to come together in all the churches. Note, The first day of the week is to be religiously observed by all the disciples of Christ; and it is a sign between Christ and them, for by this it is known that they are his disciples; and it is to be observed in solemn assemblies, which are, as it were, the courts held in the name of our Lord Jesus, and to his honour, by his ministers, the stewards of his courts, to which all that hold from and under him owe suit and service, and at which they are to make their appearance, as tenants at their Lordís courts, and the first day of the week is appointed to be the court-day.

3. They were gathered together in an upper chamber (v. 8); they had no temple nor synagogue to meet in, no capacious stately chapel, but met in a private house, in a garret. As they were few, and did not need, so they were poor, and could not build, a large meeting-place; yet they came together, in that despicable inconvenient place. It will be no excuse for our absenting ourselves from religious assemblies that the place of them is not so decent nor so commodious as we would have it to be.

4. They came together to break bread, that is, to celebrate the ordinance of the Lordís supper, that one instituted sign of breaking the bread being put for all the rest. The bread which we break is the communion of the body of Christ, 1 Co. 10:16. In the breaking of the bread, not only the breaking of Christís body for us, to be a sacrifice for our sins, is commemorated, but the breaking of Christís body to us, to be food and a feast for our souls, is signified. In the primitive times it was the custom of many churches to receive the Lordís supper every Lordís day, celebrating the memorial of Christís death in the former, with that of his resurrection in the latter; and both in concert, in a solemn assembly, to testify their joint concurrence in the same faith and worship."

"Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene band the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for can angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door...
    "...the angel answered and said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 'He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.  And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed  He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.Ē  Matthew 28:1-8

Commentary: "...the seventh-day Sabbath being buried with Christ, it arose again in the first-day Sabbath, called the Lordís day (Rev. 1:10), and no other day of the week is from henceforward mentioned in all the New Testament than this, and this often, as the day which Christians religiously observed in solemn assemblies, to the honour of Christ, Jn. 20:19, 26; Acts 20:7; 1 Co. 16:2.

"If the deliverance of Israel out of the land of the north superseded the remembrance of that out of Egypt (Jer. 23:7, 8), much more doth our redemption by Christ eclipse the glory of Godís former works.

"The Sabbath was instituted in remembrance of the perfecting of the work of creation, Gen. 2:1. Man by his revolt made a breach upon that perfect work, which was never perfectly repaired till Christ arose from the dead, and the heavens and the earth were again finished, and the disordered hosts of them modeled anew, and the day on which this was done was justly blessed and sanctified, and the seventh day from that. He who on that day arose from the dead, is the same by whom, and for whom, all things were at first created, and now anew created.

(4.) "He arose as it began to dawn toward that day; as soon as it could be said that the third day was come, the time prefixed for his resurrection, he arose; after his withdrawings from his people, he returns with all convenient speed, and cuts the work as short in righteousness as may be. He had said to his disciples, that though within a little while they should not see him, yet again a little while, and they should see him, and accordingly he made it as little a while as possible, Isa. 54:7, 8.

"Christ arose when the day began to dawn, because then the day-spring from on high did again visit us, Lu. 1:78. His passion began in the night; when he hung on the cross the sun was darkened; he was laid in the grave in the dusk of the evening; but he arose from the grave when the sun was near rising, for he is the bright and morning Star (Rev. 22:16), the true Light. Those who address themselves early in the morning to the religious services of the Christian Sabbath, that they may take the day before them, therein follow this example of Christ, and that of David, Early will I seek thee."

"One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who fobserves the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. For hnone of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lordís." Romans 14:5-8

Commentary: (2.) Those who thought themselves still under some kind of obligation to the ceremonial law esteemed one day above anotherókept up a respect to the times of the Passover, Pentecost, new moons, and feasts of tabernacles; thought those days better than other days, and solemnized them accordingly with particular observances, binding themselves to some religious rest and exercise on those days. Those who knew that all these things were abolished and done away by Christís coming esteemed every day alike.

"We must understand it with an exception of the Lordís day, which all Christians unanimously observed; but they made no account, took no notice, of those antiquated festivals of the Jews. Here the apostle speaks of the distinction of meats and days as a thing indifferent, when it went no further than the opinion and practice of some particular persons, who had been trained up all their days to such observances, and therefore were the more excusable if they with difficulty parted with them. But in the epistle to the Galatians, where he deals with those that were originally Gentiles, but were influenced by some judaizing teachers, not only to believe such a distinction and to practice accordingly, but to lay a stress upon it as necessary to salvation..."

"For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.  In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.'..." 1 Corinthians 11:23-25

Commentary: "...The Lordís supper is not a temporary, but a standing and perpetual ordinance. We have here the sacramental actions, the manner in which the materials of the sacrament are to be used.

    "[1.] Our Saviourís actions, which are taking the bread and cup, giving thanks, breaking the bread, and giving about both the one and the other.

    "[2.] The actions of the communicants, which were to take the bread and eat, to take the cup and drink, and both in remembrance of Christ. But the external acts are not the whole nor the principal part of what is to be done at this holy ordinance; each of them has a significancy. Our Saviour, having undertaken to make an offering of himself to God, and procure, by his death, the remission of sins, with all other gospel benefits, for true believers, did, at the institution, deliver his body and blood, with all the benefits procured by his death, to his disciples, and continues to do the same every time the ordinance is administered to the true believers. This is here exhibited, or set forth, as the food of souls. And as food, though ever so wholesome or rich, will yield no nourishment without being eaten, here the communicants are to take and eat, or to receive Christ and feed upon him, his grace and benefits, and by faith convert them into nourishment to their souls. They are to take him as their Lord and life, yield themselves up to him, and live upon him. He is our life, Col. 3:4.

III.  "We have here an account of the ends of this institution. [1.] It was appointed to be done in remembrance of Christ, to keep fresh in our minds an ancient favour, his dying for us, as well as to remember an absent friend, even Christ interceding for us, in virtue of his death, at Godís right hand...

    "[2.] It was to show forth Christís death, to declare and publish it. It is not barely in remembrance of Christ, of what he has done and suffered, that this ordinance was instituted; but to commemorate, to celebrate, his glorious condescension and grace in our redemption. We declare his death to be our life, the spring of all our comforts and hopes. And we glory in such a declaration; we show forth his death, and spread it before God, as our accepted sacrifice and ransom. We set it in view of our own faith, for our own comfort and quickening; and we own before the world, by this very service, that we are the disciples of Christ, who trust in him alone for salvation and acceptance with God.

IV.  "It is moreover hinted here, concerning this ordinance, [1.] That it should be frequent: As often as you eat this bread, etc. Our bodily meals return often; we cannot maintain life and health without this. And it is fit that this spiritual diet should be taken often tool The ancient churches celebrated this ordinance every Lordís day, if not every day when they assembled for worship.

     "[2.] That it must be perpetual. It is to be celebrated till the Lord shall come; till he shall come the second time, without sin, for the salvation of those that believe, and to judge the world. This is our warrant for keeping this feast. It was our Lordís will that we should thus celebrate the memorials of his death and passion, till he come in his own glory, and the Fatherís glory, with his holy angels, and put an end to the present state of things, and his own mediatorial administration, by passing the final sentence. Note, The Lordís supper is not a temporary, but a standing and perpetual ordinance."

"Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem." 1 Corinthians 16:1-3

Commentary: "2. Here is the measure in which they are to lay by: As God hath prospered them... as he has been prospered, namely, by divine Providence, as God has been pleased to bless and succeed his labours and business. Note, All our business and labour are that to us which God is pleased to make them. It is not the diligent hand that will make rich by itself, without the divine blessing, Prov. 10:4, 22. Our prosperity and success are from God and not from ourselves; and he is to be owned in all and honoured with all. It is his bounty and blessing to which we owe all we have; and whatever we have is to be used, and employed, and improved, for him. His right to ourselves and all that is ours is to be owned and yielded to him. And what argument more proper to excite us to charity to the people and children of God than to consider all we have as his gift, as coming from him?...
"3. Here is the time when this is to be done: The first day of the week, kata mian sabbatoĶn (Lu. 24:1), the Lordís day, the Christian holiday, when public assemblies were held and public worship was celebrated, and the Christian institutions and mysteries (as the ancients called them) were attended upon; then let every one lay by him. It is a day of holy rest; and the more vacation the mind has from worldly cares and toils the more disposition has it to show mercy: and the other duties of the day should stir us up to the performance of this; works of charity should always accompany works of piety."

See God's Eternal Covenant and His covenant with Abraham.

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