What Is The 4th (Fourth) Commandment In The Bible?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What is the Fourth Commandment in the Bible?  How does this relate to the Sabbath and Sunday?

The Ten Commandments

How sad that people see the Ten Commandments as rituals, rules, and restrictions, when it’s actually like the “Dangerous Curve” sign on a mountain road or a stop sign that is intended to save lives.  Would we say that the traffic laws are only rituals, rules, and restrictions or that they serve a purpose and that’s to keep us safe (and even alive!). The Ten Commandments are the perfect set of laws, which if kept, would eliminate crime, murder, theft, layoff law enforcement agencies, erase the debt, end the wars, and just about every evil under the sun you can think of.   What is commonly thought to be about a million laws in this country could be replaced by ten laws which are the Ten Commandments. Of course, the problem is not a matter of head knowledge but of the heart (Jer 17:9). We are not smart enough to govern ourselves as “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart” (Prov 21:2) and “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes” (Prov 12:15a) so God’s ways are not the ways we choose to live by. This is why God gives us, for our own good, the Ten Commandments.  Do them and live!

The 4th Commandment

The Fourth Commandment

When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, He was highly concerned with proper worship on that day.  God instructed them to do no work and no one who was working for them could work either and this included the animals. I believe God commands us to rest, even today, but not necessarily on Saturday.  ven the preacher can’t rest on Sunday, so it’s not so much what day you worship but rather that it is done in spirit and truth (John 4:24). God reminded His people, Israel, in the 4th Commandment that:

“the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates” (Ex 20:10).

This rest reminded them of the Creator’s work in creating everything and Who He was. If even God rested on the seventh day, and yet never tires, how much more do we need to rest, “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day? Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Ex 20:11).


This has been such a divisive issue among Christians. I believe it is safe to say that we can’t judge others for observing a Sabbath (Saturday) but neither can they who observe the Lord’s Day (Sunday).  Jesus or the Apostles never once commanded the observance of the Saturday Sabbath, which is the 7th day of the week.  Christians began to worship on Sunday’s after Jesus resurrection and the hundreds of years that followed.  There is liberty in this, just as the Apostle Paul expressed to the Colossians, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath” (Col 2:16).  Paul would have never written this to the Colossians if the Jews had not been trying to sabotage the gospel by requiring observances of the Jewish new moons, feasts, and Sabbath day and that they were necessary for salvation.  Jesus gives us a great lesson about the Sabbath by saying “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27) because “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Col 2:17). The shadow isn’t the real thing; the fulfillment was in Christ. These foreshadowed His coming and His work on the cross.

God’s Special Sign

When you read the Fourth Commandment about the Sabbath, it is always addressed to Israel. Never is it commanded to be observed by non-Jews.  The New Testament makes no such claims that we must worship only on the Sabbath (Saturday).  In the giving of the Fourth Commandment, God told the nation of Israel to “remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” (Deut 5:15) That narrows it done to them. When the Sabbath is addressed more comprehensively in Exodus 31, the Lord said “Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever.  It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed” (Ex 31:16-17). Twice God mentions that it’s a special sign for Israel.  In other words, the observance of this day would mark them as different from the rest of the world and it still does to a great extent.


We can get into debates or heated arguments about the Sabbath or Sunday worship and that’s sad because we are to become one in mind, body, and spirit and Christ is not divided, “Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother” (Rom 14:13) and to “take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Cor 8:9) be kind toward “the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions” (Rom 14:1).

More about the Sabbath here: Remember the Sabbath

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Russ June 10, 2016 at 7:02 pm

Well noted. As a Christian I am save by grace, a gift from God because I have accepted his offer of salvation Thru Jesus. Blessings


antonio July 20, 2019 at 10:54 am

It does not work this way, you might read it as such in the Bible, but reading out of context messes one up and also the Bible interpts the Bible. Many try to fit the times now or modren times into the meanings of the Bible. This is a false teaching and false following.
Even Jesus taught on the Sabbath, If one’s thinking no long need to be saved by the LAW, but only by Grace….then good luck to you. Jesus has no rights to changing the LAWS of God, no man can either, not even Pope. Look into Constatine’s rule and see how he changed the Sabbath to Sunday, the Pagan sun goddess for Sunday worship….then you might consider you are not saved by grace.


Jack Wellman July 20, 2019 at 2:23 pm

Jesus taught on the Sabbath, but He taught everyday. If you areJewish, I can understand why you want to keep it but keeping it to save oneself is wrong (Gal 3). The Sabbath command always had attached to it, “Thus say to the children of Isreal” so if you’re an orthodox Jew, I can see why you want to keep it. If you depend on works you do not understand grace. We should not, as Paul said, judge others over days, foods, etc…but you apparently are. YOu are free to worship Saturday, but you are not free to try to bind the Sabbath command on others. And you don’t understand grace either…its not about doing, but about what Christ’s done (Eph 2:8-9). Please study this further as you are offbase and teaching legalism.


antonio July 23, 2019 at 2:16 pm

What is the sign of the Christ?

If you know Him, you will know Him and what that sign is?
Then you will know I’m not misleading anyone nor you.


Jack Wellman July 23, 2019 at 2:34 pm

Whoever tries to keep the law must keep it all or stumble in all, so you are a Jew? Gal 2 & 3 show that if you are under the law you are under a curse. I pray you repent and not trust in works. To you, salvation must be Jesus + Sabbath Keeping= Salvation, and you could not be more wrong sir. Get a good Study Bible to find how your error in trying to save yourself by the law and works.

John Morris December 17, 2018 at 4:19 pm

Grace is only required when one has transgressed the Law of Yahuwah. If there is no law, why do we need Grace? It astounds me when I read / hear ‘I don’t need the law, I am saved by grace’. You can’t separate the two. They are joined at the hip.


Jack Wellman December 17, 2018 at 4:45 pm

Hello Mr Morris. Thankfully we are not saved by keeping the law but the law shows us we cannot save ourselves but must look elsewhere; precisely looking to Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of our faith. Saved by grace and not by law-keeping or works but by grace alone. Having said that, we do not ignore the law. We are not saved by the law but the saved will strive to live by the law of God.


Sheila April 17, 2019 at 8:30 pm

Yes, we are saved by grace through Yashua or Jesus but we are not above the law.. every word Yashua spoke was from his Father, he only spoke about his fathers kingdom. (Not my will but yours be done……). he was the sacrifice like animals in the old testiment. He came to restore us back to the Commandments of his father. Nothing has changed! Read the red letters —-Christians……..everything in the new testiment was already written in the old. Don’t people study the bible. NO! They just read right of Matthew. WAKE UP! He is not in a church, he is a relationship with his word. He is the WORD that became flesh and dwelt among men.


Jack Wellman April 17, 2019 at 9:00 pm

Hello Sheila. Jesus is the Head of the Church, so if there is no church, then the Body of Christ is headless. Jesus said the gates of hell won’t prevail against it, and yu say, He is not in a church.” Have you been to them all? No way you could. Jesus never commanded the Sabbath command of others or the Apostles demand of the church, so you are trying to put a yoke of bondage and the Sabbath was given to Israel, so unless you are an Orthodox Jew, the 4th commandment is not commanded of us. As for Red Letter Christians…be warned about such thinking, so read this please: https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/red-letter-christians-are-jesus-words-more-important-than-pauls/


Rich April 3, 2020 at 12:49 am

“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy….” It’s so funny the God knew we would forget his correct day and when it was changed in 321 to become Sunday even then we would forget it again and not honor it? Yes the day does matter because as we see now; we changed the day and then we changed the working and then we just do an hr of church and then we forget it all together! So yes the day does matter! …Also we did honor Saturday up until 321 so why the change of heart?? Read the history of how the Pope changed it to bring Pagans in to the church to worship on their Sun God day! Look for a pamphlet about 101 reasons that Saturday is the Sabbath! …All these things are only proven by following Gods guidance as a child with a parent! Try honoring it fully without working but instead worshipping God! You will be amazed!


Jack Wellman April 3, 2020 at 10:54 am

Hello RIch. The Sabbath Command was always given to Israel and was in verses “Thus say to the children of Israel” so if you are Jewish, you can keep the Sabbath, but that cannot save you. Read Gal 3. The Sabbath command was not ever given anywhere to the church or is mentioned anywhere in the New Testament. You are under grace, not the Law, so please stop trying to add works to your salvation. You are in great error.


Jill December 26, 2020 at 12:11 pm

We are Israel. We are grafted in to the commonwealth of Israel. This is not just for the Jews. Matt 5:17-20
Ephesians 2;8-9, but don’t forget verse 10
Lastly you should consider Jeremiah 23:1-2 as this is talking about you.
We are to walk in Spirit sand Truth
God bless


Jack Wellman December 26, 2020 at 1:53 pm

Hello Jill. Jeremiah 23:1-2 is about the hundreds of false prophets in Israel and Judah that were all prophesying lies. And Jeremiah wrote this to Israel, not to the Gentile nations or to us. We did not even exist at the the time Jeremiah wrote this. The relationship between the people of God in the Old Testament and the people of God in the New Testament is better described in terms of an organic development rather than either separation or replacement. During most of the Old Testament era, there were essentially three groups of people: the Gentile nations, national Israel, and true Israel (the faithful remnant). Although the nation of Israel was often involved in idolatry, apostasy, and rebellion, God always kept for Himself a faithful remnant—those who trusted in Him and who would not bow the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18). This remnant, this true Israel, included men such as David, Joash, Isaiah, and Daniel, as well as women such as Sarah, Deborah, and Hannah. There were those who were circumcised in the flesh and a smaller number who had their hearts circumcised as well. So, even in the Old Testament, not all were Israel who were descended from Israel (Rom. 9:6).

The tree represents the covenant people of God—Israel. Paul compares unbelieving Israel to branches that have been broken off from the olive tree (v. 17a). Believing Gentiles are compared to branches from a wild olive tree that have been grafted in to the cultivated olive tree (vv. 17b–19). The important point to notice is that God does not cut the old tree down and plant a new one (replacement theology). Neither does God plant a second new tree alongside the old tree and then graft branches from the old tree into the new tree (traditional dispensationalism). Instead, the same tree exists across the divide between Old and New Testaments. That which remains after the dead branches are removed is the true Israel. Gentile believers are now grafted into this already existing old tree (true Israel/the true church). There is only one good olive tree, and the same olive tree exists across the covenantal divide.

What does this mean for our understanding of the relationship between the church and Israel? It means that when true Israel was baptized by the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, true Israel became the New Testament church. Thus, there is continuity between true Israel and the church. This is why the Reformed confessions can speak of the church as existing from the beginning of the world (for example, Belgic Confession, Art. 27). Yet there is discontinuity between the church and national Israel as well, just as there was discontinuity between the faithful remnant and apostate Israel in the Old Testament.


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