While there was just an article on JGIG regarding whether or not the Sabbath is still mandated for Christians today, this article is also excellent, bringing out some of the more historical issues in question, as well as some additional Scriptural/doctrinal issues. This article will be linked to on the Articles Page here at JGIG for future reference. The other article recently posted regarding the Sabbath can be found HERE, as well as at the Articles page.
From Let Us Reason Ministries (used as per copyright rules as stated at end of article):
THEY CHANGED THE SABBATH TO SUNDAY
There is no point of greater distinction between the reign of law and of grace then the observance of the seventh day and the first day of the week. Each represent a different dispensation and how God related to man.
There are many Sabbatarian groups that trace this event to Constantine in 321 A.D. and the council of Laodicea held in 364 A.D. In changing the Sabbath day of worship to Sunday. In the 4th cent. Sunday was declared to be the day of rest and worship. This does not mean Constantine changed the Sabbath day to Sunday, the Sabbath is still Saturday.
On the contrary there is much historical evidence to show Sunday worship was a universal practice of all the church’s outside the land of Israel by the beginning of the 2nd century. While there was a dispute between the Roman Catholic and eastern church hundreds of years later, on which day to worship there certainly was a repulsion to keep anything that was related to Judaism. While there may be a grain of truth in some of the arguments their is much exaggeration and even more extremism in changing the historical facts. Some go as far as to say Sunday is the day of the sun (worship ) so that is what Christians are doing they are practicing paganism. That early Christianity was mixed with pagan practices that led to the adoption of Sunday worship. This kind of rhetoric appeals to ignorance. Those who motivate others with guilt say you must worship on Saturday know this word is named after the Roman god Saturn. Like every day of the week it has a reference to a pagan name since many of these words come from that time period. The point is we don’t worship the day or the name of that day which would be idolatry. We worship the maker of that day and every day. God made all the days of the week and does not expect to be worshipped on only one day.
Philip Schaff a noted historian who is honest with history writes in his book the history of the Christian church cites Ignatius, Barnabus and Justin Martyr as observing the first day of the week. History includes Dionysius, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian of Africa and numerous others attesting to Sunday as the day of worship from the beginning of the church.
Schaff writes in the Schaff- Herzog Encyclopedia of religious knowledge 1891 Ed., vol.4 Article on Sunday. “Sunday… was adopted by the early Christians as a day of worship.. . Sunday was emphatically the weekly feast of the resurrection of Christ, as the Jewish Sabbath was the feast of creation. It was called the Lords day, and upon it the primitive church assembled to break bread. No regulations for its observance are laid down in the new testament nor, indeed, is its observance even enjoined. Yet Christian feeling led to the universal adoption of the day, in imitation of the apostolic precedence. In the second century its observance was universal.” In other words this wasn’t to replace the Sabbath but held as a whole new day for a new dispensation
Ignatius 110 A.D. wrote in his epistle to the Magnesians 9… “If they who were concerned in old things, arrived at a newness of hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living according to the Lord’s day, by which our life sprung from him and by his death (whom certain persons deny)…we have been made his disciples, let us live according to Christianity.”
Barnabas 120A..D. “Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day, also, on which Jesus rose again from the dead”
Justin Martyr 140 A..D. “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, made the world; and Jesus Christ our savior , on the same day rose from the dead.”
Didache 80-90 A.D. “And on the day of our lords resurrection, which is the Lord’s day meet more diligently.”
We do not make our doctrine from history; all these quotes which are few in comparison to numerous others available. They show what took place in history. These are quotes from those who kept the canon of scripture, built churches and defended the faith among the pagans. There is too much evidence on Sunday worship and none for Sabbath keeping except to evangelize the Jews. The change of day was not instituted by the pope centuries after the apostles nor was it made to replace the Sabbath day no matter what a certain church claims.
Catholic Encyclopedia states “Sunday was the first day of the week according to the Jewish method of reckoning, but for Christians it began to take the place of the Jewish Sabbath in Apostolic times as the day set apart for the public and solemn worship of God.”
It is claimed by Sabbatarians that Constantine’s edict was the institution of change from the Sabbath to Sunday as the day of worship. What nonsense. Pliny was governor of Bithynia, in Asia Minor from AD 106-108. He wrote to Trajan the emperor concerning the Christians in 107 AD. “They were wont to meet together, on a stated day before it was light, and sing among themselves alternately a hymn to Christ as God….When these things were performed, it was their custom to separate and then to come together again to a meal which they ate in common without any disorder.”
History agrees with this. The day the early church broke bread was Sunday according to the Bible. “Upon the first day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread” (Acts 20:7).
Ireneaus in 155-202 A.D. wrote: “The Mystery of the Lord’s Resurrection may not be celebrated on any other day than the Lord’s Day, and on this alone should we observe the breaking off of the Paschal Feast.” We all know he resurrected the day after the Sabbath, the feats of first fruits which establishes what the early church calls the LORD’S day. All these quotes prove the Church held Sunday as a significant day long before any edict in the 300’s. What Sabbatarians want to do is ignore historical fact and make up a fantasy to promote their own legalistic view of what a Christian can and cannot do.
THE NEW TESTAMENT AND THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK
What we need to do is look at what transpired on the first day of the week and then look at the scriptural evidence for the assembly on the first day in the New Testament.
1. Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week after the Sabbath (John 20:1). He was the first fruit until eternal life others were also raised Mt.27:53. The resurrection is the capstone of our faith and the proving of the new covenant. He was raised for our justification..
2. Jesus appeared to ten of His disciples on that first day of the week (John 20:19).If he appeared on the 7th day do you think the Sabbatarians would use this to promote the Sabbath ?
3. Jesus waited one week, and on the next first day of the week appeared to the eleven disciples (John 20:26).
4. The promised coming of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled on the first day of the week, the day of Pentecost he was sent, (Pentecost by law came on the first day of the week (Lev. 23:16).
5. On the first day of the week the first gospel sermon preached by an apostle on the death and resurrection of Jesus was by Peter (Acts 2:14).
6. On that first day of the week the three thousand converts were united into the New Testament covenant separating from Judaism (Acts 2:41). While at the first Pentecost 3,000 were slain on this day God reversed it and instead they were given eternal life. The law kills the new covenant gives life.
7. On that same first day of the week the rite of Christian baptism into the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was administered for the first time (Acts 2:41).
8. At Troas Paul preached to the assembled Christians on the first day of the week The only example of the Lord’s supper being practiced on Sunday (Acts 20:6, 7). So did the churches of Galatia and Corinth.
9. Paul instructed the Christians at Corinth to make contributions on the first day of the week (I Cor. 16:2).Why did Paul specifically give orders to the church for this to be done on the “first day of the week.” Offerings are a part of worship itself. Offerings are a part of our worship and since offerings took place on the first day of the week, wouldn’t it make sense that worship also took place on the same day of the week. This is only day in the New Testament that commands Christians to give, they would have to be gathered to do so.
If Sunday was not an allowable day to worship or teach on then none of this would have occurred.
There is a biblical numerology in which 7 is the number of completion (of rest) the week is completed in 7 days. The number 8 is a symbol of new beginnings. Both days were used as In Ex.12. given at the same time.
No one ever changed the Sabbath day to SUNDAY
The Sabbath commemorated a finished creation with rest. The first day commemorates a finished redemption and a new work.
The Sabbath commemorates Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery and God resting on the 7th day. The first day commemorates Christ’s resurrection, victory over death and eternal punishment . It gives hope that all who believe will also be resurrected from the dead.
The Sabbath is a day of rest and quiet. The first day is a day of worship and praise. Sabbath means rest, not Saturday! There were other Sabbaths given to Israel on other days. The Sabbath was made for man to rest, God was telling Israel to keep the rest, their focus was not a day.
Christians met in houses for their assemblies Philemon 2, Romans 16:5, Col.4:15. According to the Sabbatarian’s they were to assemble together in the temple so they are breaking the Sabbath not keeping it.
The New Testament, principle is given in Heb.10:24-25: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” If on does not want to assemble with the rest of the believers during a service certainly reveals a spiritual anemia. The day of the week to assemble is of the church’s choice whether it be Monday, Wednesday or Saturday. Many churches today have Saturday services as well as Sunday. The New Testament has no legislation for which day we are to assemble. History shows the early church chose Sunday because of its significance, not because they hated the Sabbath. Almost all the church the first 10 years were Jews. They certainly knew the difference. How can a believing church meet in an unbelieving Synagogue. To meet together in worship is beneficial to oneself and others. It stirs up others to hear what God is doing in each others life. This verse of Hebrews tells us to encourage each other by being present.
1 Cor. 16:1-2: “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come”. To give has always been a means of worship. Paul sets the rule telling them as they gather together to take up an offering. This is not a tithe as in the O T. but a principle of as the Lord has prospered you, ( giving cheerfully not out of obligation) there is an absence of legalism that one would find under the law. Notice he says that he has instructed the churches in Galatia the same as the Corinthians. This certainly indicates this was not an isolated command but a common practice during even the apostles time to gather on Sunday.
Acts 20:7: “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.” When to come together was an option of choice not obligation. Obviously this was decided upon and they were already carrying it out by the apostles. To break bread consisted of what is called a love feast, eating a meal and taking communion which is to be done in an assembly. Paul was speaking til midnight. The Jewish first day began on sundown Saturday so this took place Saturday night Through the first day, after the Sabbath.
The truth is 9 of the commandments Ex.20:3-4 are repeated and incorporated in the New Testament epistles but the 4th one is not, why?
The 1st and 2nd commandment- which prohibit the worship of other Gods (50 times) and idols are repeated (12 times) Acts 15:29, 17:16: Rom.1:25; 1 Cor.6:9-10, 10:14: 1 Jn.5:21: Rev.21:8, 22:15.
The 3rd commandment of reverencing his name not to take it in vain (4 times ) Ex.20:7 is also repeated in the New Testament Mt.5:33; James 5:12.
The 4th commandment- ? Where do the apostles teach to keep the Sabbath? Its missing even for the Gentiles who had no concept of the Jewish laws would need to be instructed.
The 5th commandment- to respect your parents is also repeated (6 times) Mt.15:4-9: Eph.6:1-3 and Rom.13:1-7.
The 6th commandment- of forbidding murder Ex.20:13 is in the New Testament (4 times). Rom.13:9; Mt.19:18 and the true intent is explained in Mt.5:21-22
The 7th commandment- prohibiting adultery and any sexual sin Ex.20:14 is also found ( 12 times) in Acts.15:20; Rom.2:22, 13:13: 1 Cor.5:11, 6:9, 13,15, 18: 10:8: Eph.5:3,11-12.
The 8th commandment- forbids one to be dishonest, stealing,Ex.20:15 is found in the New Testament (6 times) Rom. 2:21 Eph. 4:28: 1Thess.4:6: Jms.5:4; Mk.10:19; Lk.18:20.
The 9th commandment- condemning a false witness, to lie Ex.20:16 is found in the New Testament (4 times) Mt.15:19,19:18; Lk.3:14 and 1 Tim.1:9-10.
The 10th commandment- tells us not to covet Ex.20:17 is repeated (9 times) in Mk.7:21-23; Lk.12:15,33-34; Rom.1:29, 13:9 1 Cor.5:11; 6:10; Eph.5:3.
Isn’t it amazing the one law that the legalists use to bully everyone around to show their disobedience is not found specifically in the New Testament? Why? Not because its practice was self evident as some claim! Its just as self evident not to murder. This was law before the 10 commandments but it is repeated often. The answer is in the fact the Sabbath is not suppose to be there! Not once in the New Testament is breaking the Sabbath called a sin or do we find anyone punished for it. Its ceremonial not moral because the very things forbidden for that day are allowed on all others , this would not be so if it was a moral law.
While Sabbatarian’s state “there is no command to worship on Sunday” They can’t produce a single command that the Church was to assemble on the Sabbath for worship? If there is one in the New Testament epistles (the teachings for the Church), please bring it to our attention and we will do it. Instead we find the very opposite.
Contrasting the Sabbath day in the Old Testament covenant
Neither Jesus nor the apostles teach it necessary for the believer to keep the Sabbath. There is no command after the death and resurrection for the Church to keep the Sabbath as an obligation to Christ nor is it a salvation issue (actually Galatians makes it a gospel issue- if one adds it, it destroys the gospel of grace.) The epistles were mostly corrective letters reinforcing what was taught in person by the apostles and to add further revelation to what was being taught. There was absolutely no warning against Sunday worship that would be construed as pagan worship. In fact we find it is the very opposite, they were given freedom where they did not have before.
At the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 dealing with the teaching of the Judaizer’s and how the Gentiles are to practice their Christianity it does not mention the Sabbath. The very law (circumcision) that is a requirement in the Abrahamic covenant and a condition in the Mosaic is rejected in the New Covenant. Under the Abrahamic covenant it was for Jews only. Under the Mosaic it was mandatory for the Jews and the gentile proselytes showing their submission to the law (Lev.12:3). Paul states “for I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to the whole law. (Gal.5:3) This can be substituted with any part of the Mosaic law, diet, clothing and the Sabbath. The Hebrew epistles such as James and Hebrews written to dispersed Israel never refer to continue keeping the Sabbath day because even Jewish believers were not obligated.
“Grace that had been behind the law came to light through Jesus Christ so that it could be realized.” (Arthur Pink)
D.N. Canright who left the 7th day Church in 1914 had this to say: For myself, I feel profoundly impressed that the Sabbatarian theory is built all the way through upon a narrow, forced, and unnatural interpretation of the Bible, one that cannot stand the test of fair criticism. The more I study it the more apparent these facts become to me. I am devoutly thankful to God that he has led me out of that error.
The New Testament Church clearly saw Sunday not as the substitute and replacement for the Jewish Sabbath. Sunday was not seen as a modification or as a new Sabbath, but as a day that stood on its own merits having its own meaning. The church was given the resurrection and used this day to proclaim the very capstone of our faith. What some have done is use fear and devious manipulation to prove one is under the wrath of God by simply worshipping on a day apart from the Covenant given to Moses.
There is no Scripture in the New Testament which states that God will punish Sabbath breakers. There are in the New Testament statements for those who practice idolatry, thieves, liars, murderers, the covetous, the sexually immoral will not enter the kingdom of God and be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur (1Cor.6:9,10; Eph.5:5-7; Rev. 21:8). These were included in the 10 commandments for Israel but notice the Sabbath is missing. Because it was not in the moral law category but a ceremonial one.
Acts 13:38-39: “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.” The Sabbath was part of the law of Moses.
Gal.4:10-11: “You observe days and months, and times, and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.” To observe days the months years the holy days is a sign of weakness and immaturity. The DAYS are the Sabbaths and Holy days. Months are the new moon festival, seasons are the festivals of Lev.23, years are the sabbatical years and the year of jubilee. Paul did not want the New Testament believer to become entangled in bondage again. We are free to live toward Him every day, we don’t rest on one day or another but rest spiritually in Him. [Do not] condemn those who do not practice the days, food codes and the rest of the law that has clearly been removed from the New Covenant.
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