Creation and the Sabbath – John 5:17

Samuele Bacchiocchi continues his defense of the creational origin of the Sabbath by examining John 5:17.

In this passage, Jesus is accused of Sabbath breaking by healing a paralyzed man. Jesus answers by saying, “My Father is working is working until now and I am working.” Bacchiocchi notes that this has traditionally been interpreted to mean that God has been continually working (creating and preserving the world) since the original creation of the world and thus he is justified in working on the Sabbath.

How Is God Working?

Bacchiocchi notes that this view is problematic for a few reasons. First, God’s “working” and the “works of God” in the book of John are “repeatedly and explicitly” identified with Christ’s redemptive mission and not with God’s creation or preservation. So the works that we are talking about are “works of redemption.”

In addition, Bacchiocchi notes that the original term translated as “until now” does not mean “constancy” but “inauguration an culmination” of God’s working.

This term “until now” is speaking of a beginning and a end. Thus the term actually alludes to both the original culmination (sabbath) of God’s redemptive work for humanity and the final culmination (final Sabbath) of God’s redemptive work of humanity.

Jesus’ Defense

Thus, Jesus was defending himself by essentially saying, “God started God’s work of redemption in the beginning at the Sabbath, God will end God’s work of redemption at the final Sabbath. All of the Sabbath’s in between are for the redemptive work of humanity. thus I am not guilty of Sabbath breaking, but of keeping the Sabbath more fully.”

Thus Jesus tells us how to keep the Sabbath and also alludes to the creation to justify his redemptive mission which gives an endorsement of its Edenic origin.

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