John Murray on the Sabbath

‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.  Wherefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath’ (Mark 2:27, 28).  What the Lord is affirming is that the Sabbath has its place within the sphere of His messianic lordship and that He exercises lordship over the Sabbath because the Sabbath was made for man.  Since He is Lord of the Sabbath it is His to guard it against those distortions and perversions with which Pharisaism had surrounded it and by which its truly beneficent purpose has been defeated.  But He is also its Lord to guard and vindicate its permanent place within that messianic lordship which He exercises over all things—he is Lord of the Sabbath, too.  And He is Lord of it, not for the purpose of depriving men of that inestimable benefit which the Sabbath bestows, but for the purpose of bringing to the fullest realization on behalf of men that beneficent design for which the Sabbath was instituted.  If the Sabbath was made for man, and if Jesus is the Son of Man to save man, surely the lordship which He exercises to that end is not to deprive man of that which was made for his good, but to seal to man that which the Sabbath institution involves.  Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath—we dare not tamper with His authority and we dare not misconstrue the intent of His words.

John Murray, “The Sabbath Institution,” in The Collected Writings of John Murray, vol. 1, 205-218 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1976), 207-208.

John Murray was assistant professor of theology at Princeton Seminary from 1929-1930.  He followed in the tradition of the Hodges and Warfield.  Because of the struggle at Princeton between historic Christianity and theological liberalism, in 1939 Murray followed J. Gresham Machen, O. T. Allis and R. D. Wilson to the newly formed Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia.  There he taught Systematic Theology to generations of students until 1966.

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