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
|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.
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
MAJOR ARGUMENTS AGAINST SATURDAY WORSHIP:
The Letter to the Colossians instructed its readers that Sabbath observance was not required (See Colossians 2:16).
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
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
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:
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.
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).
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
Paul may have objected to Gentile Christians' adopting of Sabbath observance (See Galatians 4:9-10).
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).
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:
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.
Ignatius of Antioch
"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]).
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]).
"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 [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].
OFFICIALLY CHANGED TO SUNDAY
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. 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.
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."
Council of Nicea II:
This gives a snapshot of the thinking of the early church fathers about keeping the Jewish Customs:
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".
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
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