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Biblical Sabbath is a weekly day of rest or time of worship. It is observed differently in Judaism and Christianity and informs a similar occasion in several other faiths. Though many viewpoints and definitions have arisen over the millennia, most originate in the same textual tradition.
Sabbath in the Bible (as the verb shavath) is first mentioned in the Genesis creation narrative, where the seventh day is set aside as a day of rest and made holy by God (Gen. 2:2-3). Observation and remembrance of Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments (the fourth in the original Jewish, the Eastern Orthodox, and most Protestant traditions, the third in Roman Catholic and Lutheran traditions). Most people who observe Biblical Sabbath regard it as having been instituted as a perpetual covenant for the people of Israel (Ex. 31:13-17, Ex. 23:12, Deut. 5:13-14), a rule that also applies to proselytes, and a sign respecting two events: the day during which God rested after having completed Creation in six days (Gen. 2:2-3, Ex. 20:8-11), and God's deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt (Deut. 5:12-15).
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The Anglicized term "Sabbath" is in Hebrew Shabbath (שַׁבָּת, Strong's Concordance number 7676 as šabbāt, now usually Shabbat), meaning "day of rest". It derives from the verb shavath of same Hebrew spelling but different pointing (שָׁבַת, Strong's 7673 as šāvat, often shavat), defined as "repose, i.e. desist from exertion" (often "rest" or "cease"). (Another noun form of this root, shebeth ("cessation", 7674), is identical to the infinitive (7675) of the common word "to sit" (yashav, 3427).) Shabbath is the intensified form and is used only for a weekly cessation, 107 times in the Tanakh.
The name form is "Shabbethai" (Shabbethay, "restful", 7678), a name appearing three times in the Tanakh, and the name of Sabbatai Zevi. The Talmud also contains a pun on shebeth, where it secondarily means "dill", a spice. Another related word is modern Hebrew shevita, a labor strike, with the same focus on active cessation of labor. And in over thirty languages other than English, the common name for Saturday is a cognate of "Sabbath".
The rarely attested Babylonian Sapattum or Sabattum is cognate, but is said to be monthly rather than weekly, on the evidence of the reconstruction of a broken tablet; this word is regarded as a form of Sumerian sa-bat ("mid-rest"), attested in Akkadian as um nuh libbi ("day of mid-repose"). It is unclear which form of the concept is older.
The dependent Greek cognate is Sabbaton (4521), used in the New Testament 68 times. Two inflections, Hebrew Shabbathown (7677) and Greek "σαββατισμός" (Sabbatismós, 4520), are both translated "sabbatism" in Strong's (a "special holiday" or "the repose of Christianity"). The Hebrew form refers to High Sabbaths. The Greek form is cognate to the Septuagint verb sabbatizo (e.g., Ex. 16:30; Lev. 23:32; 26:34; 2 Chr. 36:21). In English, the concept of "Sabbatical" is cognate to these two forms.
The King James Bible uses the English form "sabbath(s)" 172 times. In the Old Testament, "sabbath(s)" translates Shabbath all 107 times (including 35 plurals), plus shebeth three times, shabath once, and the related mishbath once (plural). In the New Testament, "sabbath" translates Sabbaton 59 times and prosabbaton once (the day before Sabbath); Sabbaton is also translated as "week" nine times, by synecdoche.
Sabbath Year or Shmita (Hebrew: שמטה, Shemittah, Strong's 8059, literally "release"), also called Sabbatical Year, is the seventh (שביעי, shebiy'iy, 7637) year of the seven-year agricultural cycle mandated by Torah for the Land of Israel, relatively little observed in Biblical tradition, but still observed in contemporary Judaism. During Shmita, the land is left to lie fallow and all agricultural activity—including plowing, planting, pruning and harvesting—is forbidden by Torah and Jewish law. By tradition, other cultivation techniques (such as watering, fertilizing, weeding, spraying, trimming and mowing) may be performed as preventative measures only, not to improve the growth of trees or plants; additionally, whatever fruits grow of their own accord during that year are deemed hefker (ownerless), not for the landowner but for the poor, the stranger, and the beasts of the field; these fruits may be picked by anyone. A variety of laws also apply to the sale, consumption and disposal of Shmita produce. When the year ended, all debts, except those of foreigners, were to be remitted (Deut. 15:1-11); in similar fashion, Torah requires a slave who had worked for six years to go free in the seventh year. Leviticus 25 promises bountiful harvests to those who observe Shmita, and describes its observance as a test of religious faith. The term Shmita is translated "release" five times in the Book of Deuteronomy (from the root שמט, shamat, "desist, remit", 8058).
This passage uses root form shabath, rather than intensified form Shabbath; neither the noun form nor a positive Sabbath command appears in Genesis. In 8:4, Noah's ark comes to "rest" in the seventh month (later revealed as the month of Shabbathown); here the word for "rest" is not shabath but its synonym nuwach, the root of Noah's name.
So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in Creation. —Gen. 2:3
In 20:8-11, one month later, it is enjoined to be remembered as a memorial of Creation, as one of the Ten Commandments, the covenant revealed after God liberated Israel from Egyptian bondage.
In 31:12-17, Sabbath is affirmed as a perpetual sign and covenant, and Sabbath-breakers are officially to be cut off from the assembly or potentially killed. In 35:2-3, lighting fire on Sabbath is forbidden.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work .... 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. 20:8-11
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Three primary interpretative frameworks exist, with many subcategories. Interpretation is complicated by the differing meanings attributed to unambiguous seventh-day Sabbath prior to the resurrection of Jesus; the ambiguity of events after the resurrection, including first-day and seventh-day events (Ac. 20:7, 1 Cor. 16:2, perhaps Rev. 1:10; Ac. 1:12, 13:13-45, 15:19-29, 16:13, 17:2, and 18:4); and several early Christian observances being attested as daily or on nonspecific days (Mk. 2:1-2, Lk. 19:47-20:1, Ac. 2:42-47). Early Christians also observed Jewish practices as a sect of Judaism (Ac. 3:1, 5:27-42, 21:18-26, 24:5, 24:14, 28:22), and observed Tanakh feasts (Passover, Ac. 12:3-4, 20:6, 1 Cor. 5:7-8, 15:20, Jude 12; Pentecost, Ac. 2:1, 18:21, 20:16, 1 Cor. 16:8; Atonement, Ac. 27:9). Interpreters of each framework consider the high regard for the New Covenant described in Jer. 31:31 (cf. Heb. 8:1-13) as supporting their Sabbath positions.
Seventh-day Sabbatarians rest on the seventh Hebrew day. Jewish Shabbat is observed from sundown on Friday until the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday night; it is also observed by a minority of Christians. Thirty-nine activities prohibited on Shabbat are listed in Tractate Shabbat (Talmud). Customarily, Shabbat is ushered in by lighting candles shortly before sunset, at halakhically calculated times that change from week to week and from place to place. Observance in Hebrew Scriptures was universally from sixth-day evening to seventh-day evening (Neh. 13:19, cf. Lev. 23:32) on a seven-day week; Shabbat ends approximately one hour after sunset by rabbinical ordinance to extend the Tanakh's sunset-to-sunset Sabbath into the first day of the week. The Jewish interpretation usually states that the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31) refers to the future Messianic Kingdom.
Several Christian denominations (such as Seventh Day Baptist, Seventh-day Adventist, Sabbath Rest Advent Church, Church of God (Seventh Day), and other Churches of God) observe Sabbath similarly to or less rigorously than Judaism, but observance ends at Saturday sunset instead of Saturday nightfall. Like the Jews with Shabbat, they believe that keeping seventh-day Sabbath is a moral responsibility, equal to that of any of the Ten Commandments, that honors God as Creator and Deliverer. The Christian seventh-day interpretation usually states that Sabbath belongs inherently to all nations (Ex. 20:10, Is. 56:6-7, 66:22-23) and remains part of the New Covenant after the crucifixion of Jesus (Lk. 23:56, Mt. 24:20, Ac. 16:13, Heb. 8:10). Many seventh-day Sabbatarians also use "Lord's Day" to mean the seventh day, based on Scriptures in which God calls the day "my Sabbath" (Ex. 31:13) and "to the LORD" (16:23); some count Sunday separately as Lord's Day and many consider it appropriate for communal worship (but not for first-day rest, which would be considered breaking the Ten Commandments).
In this way, St. Ignatius saw believers "no longer observing the [Jewish] Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's Day", and amplified this point as follows: "Let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner, and rejoice in days of idleness .... But let every one of you keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner, rejoicing in meditation on the law, not in relaxation of the body, admiring the workmanship of God, and not eating things prepared the day before, nor using lukewarm drinks, and walking within a prescribed space, nor finding delight in dancing and plaudits which have no sense in them. And after the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ keep the Lord's Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days."
The Seventh-day Adventist official 28 fundamental beliefs (at 20) state:
The beneficent Creator, after the six days of Creation, rested on the seventh day and instituted the Sabbath for all people as a memorial of Creation. The fourth commandment of God's unchangeable law requires the observance of this seventh-day Sabbath as the day of rest, worship, and ministry in harmony with the teaching and practice of Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a day of delightful communion with God and one another. It is a symbol of our redemption in Christ, a sign of our sanctification, a token of our allegiance, and a foretaste of our eternal future in God's kingdom. The Sabbath is God's perpetual sign of His eternal covenant between Him and His people. Joyful observance of this holy time from evening to evening, sunset to sunset, is a celebration of God's creative and redemptive acts. (Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11; Luke 4:16; Isa. 56:5, 6; 58:13, 14; Matt. 12:1-12; Ex. 31:13-17; Eze. 20:12, 20; Deut. 5:12-15; Heb. 4:1-11; Lev. 23:32; Mark 1:32.)
The Doctrinal Points of the Church of God (7th day) (Salem Conference, at 17) state:
We should observe the seventh day of the week (Saturday), from even to even, as the Sabbath of the Lord our God. Evening is at sunset when day ends and another day begins. No other day has ever been sanctified as the day of rest. The Sabbath Day begins at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday. Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8-11; Isaiah 58:13-14; 56:1-8; Acts 17:2; Acts 18:4, 11; Luke 4:16; Mark 2:27-28; Matthew 12:10-12; Hebrews 4:1-11; Genesis 1:5, 13-14; Nehemiah 13:19.
Both Jewish and Christian seventh-day interpretation usually state that Jesus' teachings relate to the Pharisaic position on Sabbath observance, and that Jesus kept seventh-day Sabbath throughout his life on earth.
Noticing the rise of blue laws, the Seventh-day Adventist church in particular has traditionally taught that in the end time a coalition of religious and secular authorities will enforce an international Sunday law; church pioneers saw observance of seventh-day Sabbath as a "mark" or "seal" or test of God's people that seals them, even as those who do not observe Sunday rest will be persecuted and killed. Ellen G. White interpreted Dan. 7:25, Rev. 13:15, Rev. 7, Ezek. 20:12-20, and Ex. 31:13 in this way, describing the subject of persecution in prophecy as being about Sabbath commandments.
Most Christians worship communally on the first (Hebrew or Roman) day. In most Christian denominations (Roman Catholic, some Eastern Orthodox, and most Protestant), the "Lord's Day" (Sunday) is the fulfillment of the "Sabbath" (Catholic Catechism 2175), which is kept in commemoration of the resurrection of Christ, and often celebrated with the Eucharist (Catholic Catechism 2177). It is often also the day of rest. Lord's Day is considered both the first day and the "eighth day" of the seven-day week, symbolizing both first creation and new creation (2174). (Alternatively, in some calendars, Sunday is designated the seventh day of the week.) Relatively few Christians regard first-day observance as entailing all of the ordinances of Shabbat. This interpretation usually states that the Holy Spirit through the Apostles instituted the worship celebration of the first day to commemorate Jesus' resurrection, and that the New Covenant transfers Sabbath-keeping (whether defined as rest or communal worship or both) to the first day by implication. In Roman Catholicism, the transfer is described as based on their church's authority and papal infallibility.
Roman Catholics (and many Protestants) view the first day as a day for assembly for worship (2178, Heb. 10:25), but consider a day of rigorous rest not obligatory on Christians (Rom. 14:5, Col. 2:16). Catholics count the prohibition of servile work as transferred from seventh-day Sabbath to Sunday (2175-6), but do not hinder participation in "ordinary and innocent occupations". Similarly, second-century father Justin Martyr believed in keeping perpetual Sabbath by repentance, holding that Gentile Christians need not rest as Jews were commanded; but he accepted extant non-Judaizing seventh-day Sabbatarian Christians "in all things as kinsmen and brethren".
As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He has particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him (Ex. 20:8, 20:10-11, Is. 56:2, 56:4, 56:6-7): which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week: and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week (Ge. 2:2-3, 1 Cor. 16:1-2, Ac. 20:7), which, in Scripture, is called the Lord's Day (Rev. 1:10), and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath (Ex. 20:8, 20:10, Mt. 5:17). This Sabbath is to be kept holy unto the Lord when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations (Ex. 20:8, 16:23, 16:25-26, 16:29-30, 31:15-17, Is. 58:13, Neh. 13:15-19, 13:21-22), but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy (Is. 58:13).
The following textual evidence for first-day assembly is usually combined with the notion that the rest day should follow the assembly day to support first-day Sabbatarianism. On the first day of the week (usually considered the day of Firstfruits), after Jesus has been raised from the dead (Mk. 16:9), he appears to Mary Magdalene, Peter, Cleopas, and others. "On the evening of that first day of the week" (Roman time), or the evening beginning the second day (Hebrew time), the resurrected Jesus appears at a meeting of ten apostles and other disciples (Jn. 20:19). The same time of the week "a week later" (NIV) or, more literally, "after eight days again" inclusive (KJV), Jesus appears to the eleven apostles and others (Jn. 20:26). After Jesus ascends (Ac. 1:9), on the feast of Pentecost or Shavuot (the 50th day from Firstfruits and thus usually calculated as the first day of the week), the Spirit of God is given to the disciples, who baptize 3,000 people into the apostolic fellowship. Later, on one occasion in Troas, the early Christians meet on the first day (Hebrew) to break bread and to listen to Christian preaching (Ac. 20:7). Paul also states that the churches of Corinth and Galatia should set aside donations on the first day for collection (1 Cor. 16:2). Didache 14:1 (AD 70-120?) contains an ambiguous text, translated by Roberts as, "But every Lord's day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving"; the first clause in Greek, "κατά κυριακήν δέ κυρίου", literally means "On the Lord's of the Lord", and translators supply the elided noun (e.g., "day", "commandment" (from 13:7), or "doctrine"). Gleason Archer regards this as clearly referring to Sunday. Breaking bread may refer to Christian fellowship, agape feasts, or Eucharist (cf. Ac. 2:42, 20:7). Other interpreters believe these references do not support the concept of transfer of the seventh-day rest, and some add that they do not sufficiently prove that Sunday observance was an established practice in the primitive New Testament church.
By the second century, Justin Martyr stated, "We all gather on the day of the sun" (recalling both the creation of light and the resurrection); and the Epistle of Barnabas on Is. 1:13 stated the eighth-day assembly marks the resurrection and the new creation: "He is saying there: 'It is not these sabbaths of the present age that I find acceptable, but the one of my own appointment: the one that, after I have set all things at rest, is to usher in the Eighth Day, the commencement of a new world.' (And we too rejoice in celebrating the Eighth Day; because that was when Jesus rose from the dead, and showed Himself again, and ascended into heaven.)"
Ethiopian Orthodox and Eritrean Orthodox Christians (both of which are branches of Oriental Orthodoxy) distinguish between the Sabbath (seventh day) and Lord's Day (first day) and observe both. Seventh-day Adventists in several islands of the Pacific (Tonga; Western Samoa; Tokelau; Wallis & Futuna; Phoenix & Line Islands) observe Sunday while the majority of the Church observe Saturday. This happened because SDA missionaries came to the islands before the International Date Line was set to where it is now. When the International Date Line was moved, islanders who had been worshiping on Sabbath were suddenly worshiping on Sunday because of a man made international treaty. After much discussion within the church, it was decided that the islanders would continue to worship on the same day as they always had, even though the name of the day had been changed from Saturday to Sunday by decree. However this situation is not without conflict. 
Non-Sabbatarians affirm human liberty not to observe a weekly rest or worship day. While keepers of weekly days usually believe in religious liberty, non-Sabbatarians are particularly free to uphold Sabbath principles, or not, without limiting observance to either Saturday or Sunday. Some advocate Sabbath rest on any chosen day of the week, and some advocate Sabbath as a symbolic metaphor for rest in Christ; the concept of "Lord's Day" is usually treated as synonymous with "Sabbath". The non-Sabbatarian interpretation usually states that Jesus' obedience and the New Covenant fulfilled the laws of Sabbath, which are thus often considered abolished or abrogated.
Some of Jesus' teachings are considered as redefining the Sabbath laws of the Pharisees (Lk. 13:10-17, Jn. 5:16-18, 9:13-16). Since Jesus is understood to have fulfilled Torah (Mk. 2:28, Mt. 5:17), non-Sabbatarian Christians believe that they are not bound by Sabbath as legalists consider themselves to be. Non-Sabbatarians can thus exhibit either Christian liberty or antinomianism. On principles of religious liberty, non-Sabbatarian Jews similarly affirm their freedom not to observe Shabbat as Orthodox Jews do.
Non-Sabbatarian Christians also cite 2 Cor. 3:2-3, in which believers are compared to "a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written ... not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts"; this interpretation states that Christians accordingly no longer follow the Ten Commandments with dead orthodoxy ("tablets of stone"), but follow a new law written upon "tablets of human hearts". 3:7-11 adds that "if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory ..., will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? .... And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!" This is interpreted as teaching that new-covenant Christians are not under the Mosaic law, and that Sabbath-keeping is not required. Further, because "love is the fulfillment of the law" (Rom. 13:10), the new-covenant "law" is considered to be based entirely upon love and to rescind Sabbath requirements.
Non-Sabbatarians who affirm that Sabbath-keeping remains for God's people (as in Heb. 4:9) often regard this as present spiritual rest and/or future heavenly rest rather than as physical weekly rest. For instance, Irenaeus saw Sabbath rest from secular affairs for one day each week as a sign of the way that Christians were called to permanently devote themselves to God and an eschatological symbol.
Based on Genesis 2:1-4, Sabbath is considered by seventh-day Sabbatarians to be the first holy day mentioned in the Bible, with God, Adam, and Eve being the first to observe it. In order to reconcile an omnipotent God with a resting on the seventh day of Creation, the notion of active cessation from labor, rather than passive rest, has been regarded as a more consistent reading of God's activity in this passage. Non-Sabbatarians and many first-day Sabbatarians consider this passage not to have instituted observance of Sabbath, which they place as beginning with Moses and the manna. Walter Brueggemann emphasizes Sabbath is rooted in the history of the Book of Exodus.
Jesus' statement, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them," is highly debated. Some non-Sabbatarians and others such as Anabaptists believe Jesus greatly reformed the Law and thus that Sabbath could only be justified if it were reaffirmed by Jesus. Antinomianism, generally regarded as a heresy, holds that, because Jesus accomplished all that was required by the law, thus "fulfilling" it, he made it unnecessary for anyone to do anything further. Strict Sabbatarians follow or expand Augustine's statement in Reply to Faustus that Jesus empowered his people to obey the law and gave additional commands that furthered its true intentions. This passage is often related to Colossians 2, from which maintenance, transference, or abolition of Sabbath are variously taught.
The English Standard Version at Col. 2:16-7 ("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. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.") is taken as affirming non-Sabbatarian freedom from obligations to Sabbath, whether this means only annual Sabbaths (Lev. 23:4–44) or specifically weekly Sabbath (Lev. 23:1–3). This passage's threefold categorization of events is parallel to Num. 28-29, 1 Chr. 23:31, 2 Chr. 2:4, Is. 1:13, Ezek. 45:17 (Lev. 23 mentions Sabbaths and festivals but not new moons). Accordingly, non-Sabbatarians and some first-day Sabbatarians believe this passage indicates Sabbath-keeping is part of an Old Covenant that is not mandatory (cf. Heb. 8:13). Seventh-day Sabbatarians and strict first-day Sabbatarians believe this passage indicates that weekly Sabbath remains to be kept as a shadow of things future to Paul's day and/or a memorial of creation past.
Additionally, Col. 2:13-5 states, "And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him." The ESV footnote regards "in it (that is, the cross)" as equivalent to the closing in him (Christ). First-day Sabbatarians and non-Sabbatarians often regard Sabbath as changed, either to Lord's Day or to spiritual Sabbath, by the Mosaic law being the "record of debt" (ESV) nailed to the cross. Some seventh-day Sabbatarians regard only High Sabbaths as abolished due to their foreshadowing the cross, holding it impossible for weekly Sabbath (which preceded sin) to foreshadow deliverance from sin in the cross. Others see the "record of debt" (accusations) as distinct from God's unchanging law, believing it to be in force and affirmed by the evangelists after Jesus died on the cross, regarding Sabbath, new moon, and High Sabbaths not as nailed to the cross but as foreshadowing the eternal plan of God.
The unique word sabbatismos in Hebrews 4:9 is translated "rest" in the Authorized Version and others; "Sabbath rest" in the New International Version and other modern translations; "Sabbatism" (a transliteration) in the Darby Bible; "Sabbath observance" in the Scriptures 98 Edition; and "Sabbath keeping" in the Bible in Basic English. The word also appears in Plutarch, De Superstitione 3 (Moralia 166A); Justin, Dialogue with Trypho 23:3; Epiphanius, Adversus Haereses 30:2:2; Martyrium Petri et Pauli 1; and Apostolic Constitutions 2:36:2. Andrew Lincoln states, "In each of these places the term denotes the observance or celebration of the Sabbath .... Thus the writer to the Hebrews is saying that since the time of Joshua an observance of the Sabbath rest has been outstanding." Sabbatarians believe the primary abiding Christian duty intended is weekly Sabbath-keeping, while non-Sabbatarians believe it is spiritual or eschatological Sabbath-keeping; both meanings may be intended. Justin uses sabbatismos in Trypho 23:3 to mean weekly Sabbath-keeping.
However, Justin does not speak of Hebrews 4, instead holding that there is no longer any need for weekly Sabbath-keeping for anyone. Hippolytus of Rome, in the early third century, interpreted the term in Hebrews 4 to have special reference to a millennial Sabbath kingdom after six millennia of labor. St. Chrysostom interpreted the term as having reference to three rests: God's rest from His labor on the seventh day, the rest of the Israelites in arriving in Canaan, and the heavenly (eschatological) rest for the faithful. He argued that the "rest" that "has been outstanding" is the heavenly rest, since the first two rests had already been going on. He also interpreted weekly Sabbath as a symbol of this heavenly rest: "And well did he conclude the argument. For he said not rest but 'Sabbath-keeping'; calling the kingdom 'Sabbath-keeping,' by the appropriate name, and that which they rejoiced in and were attracted by. For as, on the Sabbath He commands to abstain from all evil things; and that those things only which relate to the Service of God should be done, which things the Priests were wont to accomplish, and whatsoever profits the soul, and nothing else; so also [will it be] then."
Matthew Henry calls this "a rest of grace, and comfort, and holiness, in the gospel state. And a rest in glory, where the people of God shall enjoy the end of their faith, and the object of all their desires .... undoubtedly the heavenly rest, which remains to the people of God, and is opposed to a state of labour and trouble in this world. It is the rest they shall obtain when the Lord Jesus shall appear from heaven .... God has always declared man's rest to be in him, and his love to be the only real happiness of the soul." This is taken to support the belief that Sabbath-keeping is a metaphor for the eternal "rest" that Christians enjoy in Christ, prefigured by the promised land of Canaan.
Non-Sabbatarians and some first-day Sabbatarians believe Hebrews 8 indicates Sabbath-keeping is not mandatory, because "in that he saith, a new covenant, he hath made the first old" (Heb. 8:13 KJV; or "obsolete" NIV). Seventh-day Sabbatarians and strict first-day Sabbatarians believe Hebrews 8 indicates the Law of God (including Sabbath) remains on the hearts of God's people to be kept, but not fallibly as in the older covenant (Heb. 8:9–10).