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by Steve Keohane

Sabbath Changed to Sunday


Is confounding unaware Christians over the Saturday versus Sunday Sabbath issue a "recipe for success" for Seventh Day Adventists? Is this "cloudy" teaching swelling SDA ranks? Doesn't the Bible tell us in a straight forward way that the Saturday Sabbath was given specifically to the Jews as a reminder of the Exodus (Exodus 31:16–17 & Deuteronomy 5:15)?  There is no mention of a Sabbath as being given to Christians in the New Testament. Sure, Jesus kept the Saturday Sabbath.  But Jesus was an observant Jew who was under the Jewish "Law".

Trying not to get in trouble with the following Scripture. Please dear brothers and sisters in Christ - - like the Apostle Paul says - make your own decision about Sabbath keeping.  I merely am presenting the history of the Sabbath below.  It is up to you to decide.... I am not teaching anything here.  Just laying the issue and the historical facts "on the table".

Whoever therefore breaks one of the LEAST of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:17-19).


This makes for an interesting dilemma for non-Catholics who want to keep Holy the Sabbath (via the letter of the Law), doesn't it? Or, does it

What are we talking about when we talk of the Sabbath? 

Sabbath does not mean required church services, although communion with other believers has always been important spiritually in Christianity.  The word "Sabbath" is derived from the Hebrew word Shabath, which literally means "rest" or "cessation."  Traditionally, by choosing to keep the Sabbath Holy, Christians show our loyalty and love for God. This is entirely a free Choice according to early Church Fathers, however..

Two arguments follow.  We begin with the argument that early church fathers taught against honoring the Saturday Sabbath, or even a Sunday Sabbath; instead telling us "we should worship God everyday", and if we like - celebrate Sunday in remembrance of the Resurrection.  Far below is the alternative argument, that Jesus never spoke out against a Saturday Sabbath, but merely showed us we could enjoy it by picking corn, by going fishing, doing things for God and our neighbors, etc. Remember, most of His own healings were recorded as being done on the Sabbath.

This argument also says, that Jesus did not take away any of the original commandments, including keeping holy the Sabbath. But weren't the ten Commandments also given specifically to the Jews along with a Saturday Sabbath?

The longest surviving second-century work illustrating this Christian-Jewish discussion is Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho around 150 A.D. Trypho, a Jew, was puzzled that Christians "professing to be pious" did not "alter [their] mode of living from that of the Gentiles" or observe "festivals or sabbaths and do not have the rite of circumcision" required by the Law of Moses. Justin distinguished between the Old and the New Covenants. The Old Covenant given to Moses was valid for Jews, but the prophets predicted a "new law" and "eternal covenant" in Christ that is for all peoples. Reference: Christian History & Biography, Fall 2007, page 10


It is worthy to mention here that Sabbath keeping is the only one of the Ten Commandments not specifically repeated in the New Testament.

The Bible tells us that Jesus Himself kept the Sabbath (Saturday).  But wasn't that because Jesus was an observant Jew, and the Word of God specifically told JEWS to keep the Sabbath in remembrance of the Exodus?  "Of all the New Testament lists of sins, 'breaking the Sabbath' is never mentioned". "That is because it was given specifically and ONLY to the Jews, not the non-Jews." 

Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed” (Exodus 31:16–17). Note: It says; "the children of Israel)

The Letter to the Colossians instructed its readers that Sabbath observance was not required (See Colossians 2:16).

16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

Of note one of the strongest proofs for the 4 Gospels comes from Justin Martyr. Around 150 A.D. Justin called the 4 gospels "memoirs". He says that the church used these gospels regularly in their weekly service --indicating they had already achieved a de facto canonical status. This shows that even as early as 150 A.D. the orthodox Christians already had a great love for the 4 gospels of Jesus which they knew to be authentic.

During a time of many heresies, early Christians clung to the apostles' teaching about Jesus as the standard for determining what was true and what was not. Those who taught a different message from what the local bishop and elders taught appealed to a secret tradition going back to one of the apostles. Over against this claim to "secret teaching" their opponents pointed to the public succession of leaders and teaching in the established churches. The theologian Tertullian summarized this argument: Truth is what "the churches received from the apostles, the apostles from Christ, Christ from God," and all other doctrine is false. Reference: Christian History & Biography, Fall 2007, page 11

Irenaeus was born sometime between 130 and 140 AD in Smyrna. Irenaeus learned the key components of the Christian faith under Polycarp (a Bishop), who had been taught by the apostle John and others who had seen Christ. Irenaeus believed there was an unbroken line of tradition from the apostles, to those they mentored, and eventually down to himself and other Christian leaders.

This faith, according to Irenaeus, is found in the Scriptures and summarized in the Rule of Faith. The proof that this is the true faith is that the "Great Church" could point to a visible succession of teachers, presbyters, and bishops who taught the same things throughout the world: This is the teaching common to all apostles and the churches founded by them. The leaders of many of these churches had been taught by the apostles themselves, or disciples of the apostles, and they "neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about." Reference: Christian History & Biography, Fall 2007, page 32

Today Jews and other groups who keep the Sabbath, such as the Seventh-Day Adventists, continue to celebrate it from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.  This would mean that keeping Sunday (8th day/1st day of the week) as a Sabbath, would be from sun down Saturday night to sun down Sunday.

The existence of the Catholic Bishop of Rome (same positional authority as a Pope) Sylvester I (314-335 A.D.) who approved (for Christendom) Constantine the Great's 321 AD Edict - changing the Sabbath to Sunday also represents a dilemma for 7th Day Adventists who are teaching the lie that there was not a Bishop ahead/in charge/positional authority of The Catholic Church until 606 A.D. 

There are many Protestants who were never told this. But, at one time the Lord's entire Church was the Catholic Church.

In fact, in 314 A.D. Sylvester I was already the 33rd Bishop of Rome.  Early Christians, including bishops, all looked to the Bishop of Rome as the successor to St Peter. The 7th Day Adventists are using semantics.  It is true that Gregory I (the Great) established the papal system in the mid 7th century, but the Bishop of Rome already had the papal positional powers ever since Peter.  The Bishop of Rome was also recognized by all early church Bishops as the successor to Peter.

In 583 AD the eastern Emperor Justinian issued his famous decree that made the Pope the legal "Head of all the Holy Churches".

From 538 AD to 1798 AD, I think, the Roman Catholic Papal System was very confused, due to political and military situations in Europe and in the Middle east.  This was the dark ages, when Rome called for the Crusades against the pagan Muslims, and later they used the Inquisition, etc., against anyone they viewed as an enemy of the Catholic Church.  The Roman Empire fell in 476 AD (Caesar/Roman Empire).

Also consider these statements about Linus, the Pope (Bishop of Rome) who directly followed Peter:

The passage by Irenaeus (Adv. haereses, III, iii, 3) reads:

"After the Holy Apostles (Peter and Paul) had founded and set the Church in order (in Rome) they gave over the exercise of the episcopal office to Linus. The same Linus is mentioned by St. Paul in his Epistle to Timothy. His successor was Anacletus."

Linus was also mentioned in II Timothy 4:21

Sunday is often spoken of as "the Christian Sabbath," but this is not a technical description. Sunday is not a strict replacement for the Sabbath, but a day the Catholic Church (Early Church) instituted to fulfill a parallel function. Thus Ignatius of Antioch, the earliest Church Father to address this question, states that Christian converts "have given up keeping the Sabbath and now order their lives by the Lord's Day instead, the day when life first dawned for us, thanks to him [Christ] and his death." (Letter to the Magnesians 9 [A.D. 107]).

Yes it was the Catholic Bishop of Rome (later known as Pope) who officially changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday in Christendom after Constantine the Great's 321 A.D. edict. Sylvester I (314-335 A.D.) was the Bishop of Rome during the reign of Constantine who gave his "stamp of approval" to the 321 Edict.  Sylvester I did this because being in the office of the Bishop of Rome, with its positional authority.  Thus, nodding his approval.  This change from Saturday to Sunday was later confirmed at a council of Bishops at the Council of Laodicea (363 A.D.) said; "Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath"...meaning Saturday.

Sylvester I (314-337 A.D.) was the pope during the reign of Constantine. Here is what he thought of the Bible Sabbath: "If every Sunday is to be observed joyfully by the Christians on account of the resurrection, then every Sabbath on account of the burial is to be execration [loathing or cursing] of the Jews."--quoted by S. R. E. Humbert, Adversus Graecorum calumnias 6, in Patrologie Cursus Completus, Series Latina, ed. J.P. Migne, 1844, p. 143.

Is the Seventh Day Adventist confused attempt to return/enslave Christians to the Old Testament law -- exactly against what the apostles of Christ taught the Church?

According to Christian Apostolic (passed to Bishops by all the apostles) tradition, the Sabbath was given to Israel, not the church. The Sabbath is still Saturday, not Sunday, and has never been changed. Most Christians have always believed, the Sabbath is part of the Old Testament Law. Most Christians think we are free from the bondage of the Law (Galatians 4:1-26; Romans 6:14).

There is no record of any Sabbath keeping in Genesis, or between Adam and Moses. There is no record of Abraham, Isaac or Jacob keeping any Sabbath. The Sabbath came later, as a Covenant between God and the Jews!

Most Christians believe Sabbath keeping is not required of the Christian—be it Saturday or Sunday, BUT with the caveat;

Paul did say; We are to worship God every day, not just on Saturday or Sunday.

Gregory the Great declares: "For us, the true Sabbath is the person of our Redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ".(14) This is why the joy with which God, on humanity's first Sabbath, contemplates all that was created from nothing, is now expressed in the joy with which Christ, on Easter Sunday, appeared to his disciples, bringing the gift of peace and the gift of the Spirit (cf. Jn 20:19-23). It was in the Paschal Mystery that humanity, and with it the whole creation, "groaning in birth-pangs until now" (Rom 8:22), came to know its new "exodus" into the freedom of God's children who can cry out with Christ, "Abba, Father!" (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). In the light of this mystery, the meaning of the Old Testament precept concerning the Lord's Day is recovered, perfected and fully revealed in the glory which shines on the face of the Risen Christ (cf. 2 Cor 4:6). We move from the "Sabbath" to the "first day after the Sabbath", from the seventh day to the first day: the dies Domini becomes the dies Christi!  Above from the late Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter "Dies Domini" (The Celebration of the Creator's Work).

Scripture for Sunday Worship:
Passages of Scripture such as Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2, Colossians 2:16–17, and Revelation 1:10 indicate that, even during New Testament times, the Sabbath is no longer binding and that Christians are to worship on the Lord’s Day (Sunday) instead.

Colossians 2:
 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Consider this... The Jewish Sabbath was abolished at the cross where Christ "wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us" (Colossians 2:14).  The early Church Fathers compared the observance of the Sabbath to the observance of the rite of circumcision, and from that they demonstrated that if the apostles abolished circumcision (Gal. 5:1–6), so also the observance of the Sabbath must have been abolished.

The Apostle Paul said that each individual Christian should decide whether to observe a Sunday Sabbath, “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5).”

We do know that Paul continued to honor the Jewish Sabbath day (Saturday). One religious meeting is indeed recorded on the first day in the Bible. But it was on Saturday night after sunset, i.e., after the Jewish Sabbath. This was a gathering on a special occasion. Neither Paul nor his companions were concerned about the effort of walking and sailing on many hours of Sunday. Clearly they did not consider it to have any sabbatical meaning ... Acts 20:6-14.

This is a very important/germane argument to the question at hand

However, Paul, about thirty years after the resurrection of Jesus, claimed to be observant of Jewish practice. This was Paul's personal preference/tradition.... Acts 23:9, 24:14, 25:8, 28:17

Paul may have objected to Gentile Christians' adopting of Sabbath observance (See Galatians 4:9-10).

9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? 10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.

The Letter to the Colossians instructed its readers that Sabbath observance was not required (See Colossians 2:16).

16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

The Word of God makes it quite clear that Sabbath observance was a special sign between God and Israel: "And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine'" (Exodus 19:3–5).

Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed” (Exodus 31:16–17). Note: It says; "the children of Israel).

In Deuteronomy 5, Moses restates the ten commandments to the next generation of Israelites. Here, after commanding Sabbath observance in verses 12–14, Moses gives the reason the Sabbath was given to the nation Israel: "And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day" (Deuteronomy 5:15). (Note: Moses tells us, the Sabbath was given to the nation of Israel).

Notice the word therefore AND "you" (Israel). God's intent for giving the Sabbath to Israel was not that they would remember creation, but that they would remember their Egyptian slavery and the Lord's deliverance. Note the requirements for Sabbath-keeping: A person placed under that Sabbath law could not leave his home on the Sabbath (Exodus 16:29), he could not build a fire (Exodus 35:3), and he could not cause anyone else to work (Deuteronomy 5:14). A person breaking the Sabbath law was to be put to death (Exodus 31:15; Numbers 15:32–35).

Jesus the Firstfruit sheaf offered, rose on a Sunday, and appeared before His disciples on the Sunday of His resurrection, He broke bread with disciples the same Sunday, He appeared to them the following Sunday. The Seal of The New Covenant, The Holy Spirit came on a Sunday.

Once upon a time all Christians were Catholic. It was the Catholic church who officially changed it from the last day of the Jewish Week (Saturday) to the first day (8th day) of the Jewish Week (Sunday) by nodding agreement with the Roman Emperor's 321 AD Edict.  Catholic bishops later made this church dogma at the Council of Laodicea (363 A.D.)

The Catholic Church say they had the authority to change the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. Protestants don't deny this -because they observe Sunday as the Sabbath.  The only alternatives open to Protestants really is to plead "tradition",  or to revert back to required Saturday Worship; or else break a commandment each week.  But shouldn't we worship God every day? See the alternative argument below.

Catholics do not have this same dilemma that Protestants have.  Once upon a time all Christians thought that Jesus did hand the keys to the Church to St Peter, as Catholics still believe. If so, then the Catholic Church had all the "positional/judicial authority" they needed to change and create feast dates (Easter, Christmas, etc) and other days like when the Sabbath would be celebrated.  The keys to the church that were given by Jesus are all inclusive, including what was bound on earth is also bound in heaven--as Jesus said.

Protestants do admit to the Catholic Pope's authority in other ways other than adhering to Sunday vs Saturday worship.  You see, it was also the Catholic Church who decided  which books of the Bible are divine.  It was they who canonized what we call Holy Scripture today.

In Matthew 12:8 we read, "For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day." So either Jesus, or only who he gave authority on earth to can/could change the Sabbath Day...

So, the dilemma is--how can Protestants continue to follow Henry VIII's lead and stay outside the Catholic Church--at the same time honoring the Sabbath as Sunday?

Protestants don't believe the Pope has the right to change the Sabbath Day, yet they followed his "authority" here and the later Catholic dogma set at the Council of Laodicea. 

Or, is a Sabbath necessary at all --when we should honor God every day of the week? This certainly fulfills the requirement, and more so. If we do--then no problem.  Wasn't the Sabbath given just to Israel?

Did Jesus release us from this Sabbath Requirement, when He spoke the words; "It is Finished"?

Protestants should see the alternative argument other Protestants make below - insisting in the letter of the Law.  They've included in their argument, Matthew 5:17-19, which admonishes against teaching the breaking of any of the Laws.  But, again--if Jesus did hand the keys to the Church to Peter--surely this all inclusive positional authority included the right to change a "Law".   

I'm sure, in between issuing himself divorces while he lusted after other women, old Henry would say something like Jesus did: "The Sabbath was made for Man".

“the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)

"We have made the change from the seventh day to the first day, from Saturday to Sunday, on the authority of the one holy, catholic, apostolic church of Christ."--Episcopalian Bishop Seymour said in "Why We Keep Sunday."

One of the clearest voices in the early church to clarify the "Sabbath" question was the Catholic Bishop of Jerusalem, Cyril:

Cyril of Jerusalem
"Fall not away either into the sect of the Samaritans or into Judaism, for Jesus Christ has henceforth ransomed you. Stand aloof from all observance of Sabbaths and from calling any indifferent meats common or unclean" (Catechetical Lectures 4:37 [A.D. 350]).

Read about a miracle in Jerusalem during Bishop Cyril's episcopate here.

Early Christians did gather on Sundays to worship. - The first Christians held strictly to the doctrines taught by the apostles. For them, this was "the truth" from which they ought not to deviate ... Acts 2:42, Jude 3f, 11 Timothy 2:2, Titus 1:9, Romans 6:17

Today, both Catholic and most Protestant leaders claim that Sunday observance is in honor of Christ's first resurrection appearance which happened on the first day of the week. Whenever Christ appears in His resurrected form and the day is mentioned it is always the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1, 9, 10; Mark 16:9; Luke 24:1, 13, 15; John 20:19, 26).

Early Church / Apostolic Tradition:

Acts 20:7 states: And upon the first day of the week (Sunday), when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

The Didache, is also known as "The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles".  It is an ancient Christian text that was probably a catechism, used by the early Church.

And on the Lord's own day gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks, first confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure.  And let no man, having his dispute with his fellow, join your assembly until they have been reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be defiled; for this sacrifice it is that was spoken of by the Lord;
  Didache, paragraph 14 (probably written between 70-140 A.D.)

The Letter of Barnabas (of Alexandria)
"We keep the eighth day [Sunday] with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead" (Letter of Barnabas 15:6–8 [A.D. 74]).

Ignatius of Antioch
"[T]hose who were brought up in the ancient order of things [i.e. Jews] have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s day, on which also our life has sprung up again by him and by his death" (Letter to the Magnesians 8 [A.D. 110]).

Ignatius of Antioch
Let every friend of Christ keep the Lord's Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days of the week. (Epistle to the Magnesians, chp 9. Ante-Nicene Fathers , vol. 1, pg. 62-63.)

Justin Martyr
"[W]e too would observe the fleshly circumcision, and the Sabbaths, and in short all the feasts, if we did not know for what reason they were enjoined [on] you—namely, on account of your transgressions and the hardness of your heart. . . . [H]ow is it, Trypho, that we would not observe those rites which do not harm us—I speak of fleshly circumcision and Sabbaths and feasts? . . . God enjoined you to keep the Sabbath, and imposed on you other precepts for a sign, as I have already said, on account of your unrighteousness and that of your fathers . . ." (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 18, 21 [A.D. 155]).

"But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead" (First Apology 67 [A.D. 155]).

"[L]et him who contends that the Sabbath is still to be observed as a balm of salvation, and circumcision on the eighth day . . . teach us that, for the time past, righteous men kept the Sabbath or practiced circumcision, and were thus rendered ‘friends of God.’ For if circumcision purges a man, since God made Adam uncircumcised, why did he not circumcise him, even after his sinning, if circumcision purges? . . . Therefore, since God originated Adam uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath, consequently his offspring also, Abel, offering him sacrifices, uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath, was by him [God] commended [Gen. 4:1–7, Heb. 11:4]. . . . Noah also, uncircumcised—yes, and unobservant of the Sabbath—God freed from the deluge. For Enoch too, most righteous man, uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath, he translated from this world, who did not first taste death in order that, being a candidate for eternal life, he might show us that we also may, without the burden of the law of Moses, please God" (An Answer to the Jews 2 [A.D. 203]).

The Didascalia
"The apostles further appointed: On the first day of the week let there be service, and the reading of the holy scriptures, and the oblation [sacrifice of the Mass], because on the first day of the week [i.e., Sunday] our Lord rose from the place of the dead, and on the first day of the week he arose upon the world, and on the first day of the week he ascended up to heaven, and on the first day of the week he will appear at last with the angels of heaven" (Didascalia 2   225 A.D.).

"Hence it is not possible that the [day of] rest after the Sabbath should have come into existence from the seventh [day] of our God. On the contrary, it is our Savior who, after the pattern of his own rest, caused us to be made in the likeness of his death, and hence also of his resurrection" (Commentary on John 2:28 [A.D. 229]).

"The sixth day [Friday] is called parasceve, that is to say, the preparation of the kingdom. . . . On this day also, on account of the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, we make either a station to God or a fast. On the seventh day he rested from all his works, and blessed it, and sanctified it. On the former day we are accustomed to fast rigorously, that on the Lord’s day we may go forth to our bread with giving of thanks. And let the parasceve become a rigorous fast, lest we should appear to observe any Sabbath with the Jews . . . which Sabbath he [Christ] in his body abolished" (The Creation of the World 300 A.D.).

Eusebius of Caesarea

were accustomed to observe the Sabbath and other Jewish customs but on the Lord's days to celebrate the same practices as we in remembrance of the resurrection of the Savior. (Church History Ill.xxvii.5)

"They [the early saints of the Old Testament] did not care about circumcision of the body, neither do we [Christians]. They did not care about observing Sabbaths, nor do we. They did not avoid certain kinds of food, neither did they regard the other distinctions which Moses first delivered to their posterity to be observed as symbols; nor do Christians of the present day do such things" (Church History 1:4:8 [A.D. 312]).

"[T]he day of his [Christ’s] light . . . was the day of his resurrection from the dead, which they say, as being the one and only truly holy day and the Lord’s day, is better than any number of days as we ordinarily understand them, and better than the days set apart by the Mosaic law for feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths, which the apostle [Paul] teaches are the shadow of days and not days in reality" (Proof of the Gospel 4:16:186 [A.D. 319]).

"The Sabbath was the end of the first creation, the Lord’s day was the beginning of the second, in which he renewed and restored the old in the same way as he prescribed that they should formerly observe the Sabbath as a memorial of the end of the first things, so we honor the Lord’s day as being the memorial of the new creation" (On Sabbath and Circumcision 3 [A.D. 345]).

Cyril of Jerusalem
"Fall not away either into the sect of the Samaritans or into Judaism, for Jesus Christ has henceforth ransomed you. Stand aloof from all observance of Sabbaths and from calling any indifferent meats common or unclean" (Catechetical Lectures 4:37 [A.D. 350]).

Council of Laodicea
Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord's Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ.  (Canon 29 [A.D. 360]).

John Chrysostom
"[W]hen he [God] said, ‘You shall not kill’ . . . he did not add, ‘because murder is a wicked thing.’ The reason was that conscience had taught this beforehand, and he speaks thus, as to those who know and understand the point. Wherefore when he speaks to us of another commandment, not known to us by the dictate of conscience, he not only prohibits, but adds the reason. When, for instance, he gave commandment concerning the Sabbath— ‘On the seventh day you shall do no work’—he subjoined also the reason for this cessation. What was this? ‘Because on the seventh day God rested from all his works which he had begun to make’ [Ex. 20:10-11]. . . . For what purpose then, I ask, did he add a reason respecting the Sabbath, but did no such thing in regard to murder? Because this commandment was not one of the leading ones. It was not one of those which were accurately defined of our conscience, but a kind of partial and temporary one, and for this reason it was abolished afterward. But those which are necessary and uphold our life are the following: ‘You shall not kill. . . . You shall not commit adultery. . . . You shall not steal.’ On this account he adds no reason in this case, nor enters into any instruction on the matter, but is content with the bare prohibition" (Homilies on the Statutes 12:9 [A.D. 387]).

"You have put on Christ, you have become a member of the Lord and been enrolled in the heavenly city, and you still grovel in the law [of Moses]? How is it possible for you to obtain the kingdom? Listen to Paul’s words, that the observance of the law overthrows the gospel, and learn, if you will, how this comes to pass, and tremble, and shun this pitfall. Why do you keep the Sabbath and fast with the Jews?" (Homilies on Galatians 2:17 [A.D. 395]).

"The rite of circumcision was venerable in the Jews’ account, forasmuch as the law itself gave way thereto, and the Sabbath was less esteemed than circumcision. For that circumcision might be performed, the Sabbath was broken; but that the Sabbath might be kept, circumcision was never broken; and mark, I pray, the dispensation of God. This is found to be even more solemn than the Sabbath, as not being omitted at certain times. When then it is done away, much more is the Sabbath" (Homilies on Philippians 10 [A.D. 402]).

The Apostolic Constitutions
"And on the day of our Lord’s resurrection, which is the Lord’s day, meet more diligently, sending praise to God that made the universe by Jesus, and sent him to us, and condescended to let him suffer, and raised him from the dead. Otherwise what apology will he make to God who does not assemble on that day . . . in which is performed the reading of the prophets, the preaching of the gospel, the oblation of the sacrifice, the gift of the holy food" (Apostolic Constitutions 350-400 A.D.).

"Well, now, I should like to be told what there is in these ten commandments, except the observance of the Sabbath, which ought not to be kept by a Christian. . . . Which of these commandments would anyone say that the Christian ought not to keep? It is possible to contend that it is not the law which was written on those two tables that the apostle [Paul] describes as ‘the letter that kills’ [2 Cor. 3:6], but the law of circumcision and the other sacred rites which are now abolished" (The Spirit and the Letter 24 [A.D. 412]).

2 Corinthians 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

Pope Gregory I
"It has come to my ears that certain men of perverse spirit have sown among you some things that are wrong and opposed to the holy faith, so as to forbid any work being done on the Sabbath day. What else can I call these [men] but preachers of Antichrist, who when he comes will cause the Sabbath day as well as the Lord’s day to be kept free from all work. For because he [the Antichrist] pretends to die and rise again, he wishes the Lord’s day to be held in reverence; and because he compels the people to Judaize that he may bring back the outward rite of the law, and subject the perfidy of the Jews to himself, he wishes the Sabbath to be observed. For this which is said by the prophet, ‘You shall bring in no burden through your gates on the Sabbath day’ [Jer. 17:24] could be held to as long as it was lawful for the law to be observed according to the letter. But after that the grace of almighty God, our Lord Jesus Christ, has appeared, the commandments of the law which were spoken figuratively cannot be kept according to the letter. For if anyone says that this about the Sabbath is to be kept, he must needs say that carnal sacrifices are to be offered. He must say too that the commandment about the circumcision of the body is still to be retained. But let him hear the apostle Paul saying in opposition to him: ‘If you be circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing’ [Gal. 5:2]" (Letters 13:1 [A.D. 597]).

"The [Catholic] church took the pagan buckler of faith against the heathen. She took the pagan Roman Pantheon, [the Roman] temple to all the gods, and made it sacred to all the martyrs: so it stands to this day. She took the pagan Sunday and made it the Christian Sun day . . . The Sun was a foremost god with heathendom. Balder the beautiful, the White God, the old Scandinavians called him. The sun has worshipers at this hour in Persia and other lands . . . There is, in truth, something royal, kingly about the sun, making it a fit emblem of Jesus, the Sun of Justice. Hence the church would seem to have said, 'Keep that old, pagan name. It shall remain consecrated, sanctified.' And thus the pagan Sunday, dedicated to Balder, became the Christian Sunday, sacred to Jesus. The sun is a fitting emblem of Jesus. The Fathers often compared Jesus to the sun; as they compared Mary to the moon."--William L. Gildea, "Paschale Gaudium," in The Catholic World, 58, March, 1894, p. 809. [Dr. Gildea (1856-19 14) was rector of St. James Catholic Church in London].

Emperor Constantine the Great in the early fourth century, followed by later "Christian emperors." Not only did Constantine give Christianity a new status within the Roman Empire (from being persecuted to being honored), but he also gave Sunday a "new look." By his civil legislation, he made Sunday a rest day. His famous Sunday law of March 7, 321, reads: "On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or for vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost."[32]

This was the first in a series of steps taken by Constantine and by later "Christian emperors" in regulating Sunday observance. It is obvious that this first Sunday law was not particularly Christian in orientation (note the pagan designation "venerable Day of the Sun"); but very likely Constantine, on political and social grounds, endeavored to merge together heathen and Christian elements of his constituency by focusing on a common practice. In A.D. 386, Theodosius I and Gratian Valentinian extended Sunday restrictions so that litigation should entirely cease on that day and there would be no public or private payment of debt.[33] Laws forbidding circus, theater, and horse racing also followed and were reiterated as felt necessary.

"In the year 321 the Emperor Constantine, who was not yet a declared Christian, but was still hovering between paganism and Christianity, issued a decree making Sunday a compulsory day of rest: but the fact that he speaks of Sunday as 'the venerable day of the Sun' [the pagan sun-worship title for the day] shows that he was thinking of it as a traditional sun-festival at the same time that he thought of it as a Christian holy-day . . . Sunday came to be observed throughout Europe as it is still observed by Roman Catholics, namely, as a day on which, like our Christmas, people went to church in the morning and then gave themselves over to rest or to holiday-making and sports."--Arthur Weigall, The Paganism in Our Christianity, 1928, pp. 236-237. [A. D. Weigall (1880-1934) was a British historian, Egyptologist and inspector-general of antiquities for the Egyptian Government].

"At this time in early church history it was necessary for the church to either adopt the Gentiles' day or else have the Gentiles change their day. To change the Gentiles' day would have been an offense and a stumbling block to them. The church could naturally reach them better by keeping their day."--William Frederick, Three Prophetic Days, pp. 169-170.

Sylvester I (314-337 A.D.) was the pope during the reign of Constantine. Here is what he thought of the Bible Sabbath: "If every Sunday is to be observed joyfully by the Christians on account of the resurrection, then every Sabbath on account of the burial is to be execration [loathing or cursing] of the Jews."--quoted by S. R. E. Humbert, Adversus Graecorum calumnias 6, in Patrologie Cursus Completus, Series Latina, ed. J.P. Migne, 1844, p. 143.

Hear what the first real Protestant (Reformer), ex-Catholic Monk, Martin Luther Says in his commentary on Exodus 16:4, 22-30, regarding the Sabbath:

"Hence you can see that the Sabbath was before the Law of Moses Came, and has existed from the beginning of the world". Especially have the devout, who have preserved the true faith, met together and called upon God on this day."

As to the cause of the conversion of Constantine from heathen superstitions to the Christian faith, Philostorgius, in conformity with all other writers, ascribes it to his victory over Maxentius, in a battle in which the sign of the cross was seen in tile East, vast in extent and lit up with glorious light, and surrounded on each side by stars like a rainbow, symbolizing tile form of letters. The letters too were in the Latin tongue and formed these words, “In hoc signo vinces.”

Council of Nicea I (325 AD):

When Constantine defeated Emperor Licinius in 323 AD he ended the persecutions against the Christian church. Shortly afterwards Christians faced a trouble from within: the Arian controversy began and threatened to divide the church. The problem began in Alexandria, it started as a debate between the bishop Alexander and the presbyter (pastor, or priest) Arius.  Arius proposed that if the Father begat the Son, the latter must have had a beginning, that there was a time when he was not, and that his substance was from nothing like the rest of creation. The Council of Nicea, a gathering similar to the one described in Acts 15:4-22, condemned the beliefs of Arius and wrote the first version of the now famous creed proclaiming that the Son was "one in being with the Father" by use of the Greek word "homoousius."

The Nicene Creed introduced the word "homoousious" or "consubstantial" meaning "of one substance." This word was not invented at the Council. Eusebius writes that some of the "most learned and distinguished of the ancient bishops had made use of consubstantial in treating of the divinity of the Father and the Son".

Of interest about the excommunicated Arius.  A few years after the Council of Nicea, Arius discovered a new way to interpret the word "homoousius" that agreed with his doctrines. He then asked to be readmitted to communion, but the Church refused. Arius then appealed to the Emperor. Emperor Constantine's favorite sister, Constantia, on her deathbed, implored Constantine to support Arius and he did so. A date was set for the forcing of the Church to readmit Arius, but while he was waiting for Constantine to arrive Arius stopped to relieve himself and his bowels burst and he died. (See Arians of the 4th Century, Chapter III, Section II by John Henry Newman)

Council of Nicea II:

This gives a snapshot of the thinking of the early church fathers about keeping the Jewish Customs:

Nicea II, in the eighth century, officially banned Jewish life in Jesus. All who continued to practice circumcision, Sabbath observance or other Hebrew rites were to be banned from the Church.

Nicea II provides us with universal law. The text translated from the Latin follows:

"Because those from the Hebrew religion have been deceived, they seem to mock Christ as God, pretending to become Christians, but they deny him as they openly and secretly keep the Sabbath and follow other practices in the manner of the Jews. We determine that they are not to be received into communion, nor into prayer, nor in the Church, but the Hebrews are manifestly according to their own religion: their children are not to be baptized; nor is a slave to be purchased or acquired. But if anyone of them will convert out of a sincere faith and heart and will make a profession of faith with all his heart, disclosing their customs and practices so that others might be exposed and corrected, he is to be received and baptized, and also his children; but indeed we decree that they are to be observed so that they depart from Hebrew practices, otherwise they are not to be admitted at all."


360 AD Laodocia Council meets to decide which books and writings will be accepted as Holy Scripture.  The Greek Septuagint is accepted for the Old Testament.  Criteria for the New Testament writings include that they must be written by an Apostle or during the time of the Apostles, that they must support true doctrine and must have wide spread usage. Thus, even though the Shepherd of Hermas, the First Letter of Clement, and the Didache may have been widely used and contain true doctrines, they were not canonical because they were not apostolic nor connected to the apostolic age, or they were local writings without support in many areas. 


The Alternative Argument:

This argument denies that Christians are free from the bondage of the Law (Galatians 4:1-26; Romans 6:14). It says that Sabbath (Saturday) keeping is required of the Christian.

In Mark 2:23-28. Jesus allowed His disciples to pluck heads of grain to eat as they walked through grain fields on the Sabbath. He was challenged on this point by the Pharisees, who had added more than 60 legalistic "dos and don'ts" to the Sabbath—of their own human devising. But Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath".

Christ did not say that the Sabbath was made for the Jews—but for "man." He said the Sabbath (not Sunday) is the day He is "Lord of." Jesus did not give the slightest hint about abrogating the Sabbath commandment.

Genesis 2:2-3 begins to provide the answer in this argument.

"And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God BLESSED the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made."

Notice that God "ended" or completed His work of creation by resting on the seventh day of the week. The word "Sabbath" is derived from the Hebrew word Shabath, which literally means "rest" or "cessation." God created the Sabbath by resting on this day and ceasing from creating material things. And He "blessed" and "sanctified"—that is, set apart for holy use—this day and no other! By blessing and sanctifying the seventh-day Sabbath, God showed that His presence is IN this day in a very special way. For of all the days of the week, this one ALONE points to Him in a unique way as the true God, the One who created and now governs the entire universe.

For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away [and they still have not!], one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the LEAST of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:17-19).

Mark: 7:7-9
7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject  the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.


Coming to America

As Christianity headed west, the earliest settlers to America included both Sunday-keepers – such as the Puritans who landed at Plymouth, Mass., in 1620 – and Sabbath-observers like the Seventh Day Baptists, whose first church was founded in Newport, R.I., in 1671.

When the Puritan Christians used the word Sabbath, they would mean Sunday – "the Lord's Day" – and passed rules enforcing its observance from sunset Saturday to sunset Sunday.

Connecticut's so-called Blue Laws of the 1650s had strict codes of conduct said to include:

  • No one shall run on the Sabbath day, or walk in his garden or elsewhere, except reverently to and from meeting.
  • No one shall travel, cook victuals, make beds, sweep house, cut hair, or shave, on the Sabbath day.
  • No one shall read Common-Prayer, keep Christmas or saints-days, make minced pies, dance, play cards, or play on any instrument of music, except the drum, trumpet, and the Jews-harp.
  • Adultery shall be punished by death.

Reference: World Net Daily



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