Question for All Scholars Concerning Sabbath


This is for all Christian scholars and historians both Catholic and Protestant.
Why do we worship on Sunday rather than the Sabbath? Are we not breaking a Commandment by doing so? I am Congregational Methodist and of course our main worship time is sunday morning just as it is for most of Christianity but why is that? When did it begin? Is it the doings of some Roman Emperor as the Adventists and others say? Fill me in.


You can blame Paul and the Apostles, not the Roman Emperors. The first generation of Christians began to worship on Sunday, long before Constantine. CA has some great pamphlets on it.


Thank you Reverend (is Rev appropriate for a Catholic?) , I had gotten into a discussion with a member of the Armstrong group who began to tell me the error of my Sunday worship and I really did not know how to explain why it is done that way. Did the early Christians do this for any particular spiritual reason or just to seperate themselves from Judaism?


They did this because Sunday was the day the Lord rose from the dead. In the New Testament there are passages that say that they worshiped on the Lord’s Day. Christ died on Friday. He was in the tomb 3 days. That would be Friday, Saturday and then Sunday he Resurrected. The Adventist are keeping the Jewish Sabbath, not the Christian Sabbath.


Romans 14, col 2


“The Commandments speak of remembering the Sabbath day, and keeping it holy (Gen. 2, 3; Exod. 20, 8). The Sabbath is Saturday, so why do Catholics worship publicly on the first day of the week, that is, Sunday?”

This is a question normally posed by those - such as the Seventh-Day Adventists - who regard Sunday worship as a mark of the Apostate Church of the Beast.

Our Lord Jesus Christ declared that He was Lord of the Sabbath and that its observance was at His disposal: St. Matt. 12, 1-8; St. Mark 2, 24-26; St. Luke 6, 5; St. John 5, 10-11. As a consequence, the early Church, in order to distinguish itself from the worship of the Synagogue, felt itself free to depart from Sabbath worship and worship God on an alternate day of the week. This is evident from the words of St. Paul to the Colossians: “Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (2, 16-17).

If Christ Himself had the power to “dispose” of the Sabbath, so too His Church which is His Body. The power of the Church to make such a change is specifically found in Our Lord’s words to St. Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (St. Matt. 16, 19).

From the outset of the Church’s history Christians would replace the Sabbath day with a new day of public worship in commemoration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead - the Day of the Lord. This day is Sunday, the first day of the week:

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb” (St. Luke 24, 1-2);

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb” (St. John 20, 1).

The official “birthday” of the Church, Pentecost Sunday, also fell on the first day of the week: Acts 2, 1.

The public worship of the Mass was celebrated by the early Christians on Sunday:

“On the first day of the week, when we met to break bread…” (Acts 20, 7).

Collections in support of the Church were gathered on Sunday:

“On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that contributions need not be made when I come” (1 Cor. 16, 2).

St. John received his Revelation on Sunday:

“I, John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution…was on the island called Patmos…I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day…” (Rev. 1, 9-10).

It is important to note that in changing the Sabbath law the Church did not make a change in the divine law obliging men to worship God - a law which is irrevocable - but merely a change in the day on which it was to be offered, that is a change in the positive ceremonial law. All positive laws, including those of divine institution, can be altered or revoked according to changes in time, circumstance or place.

The Fathers:

Sunday worship has always been the worship of the Church:

The Didache (C. 90-150 A.D.):

“On the Lord’s Day of the Lord gather together, break bread and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure…”

St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Magnesians (110 A.D.):

“Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the Sabbath, but the Lord’s Day, in which our life is blessed by Him and by His death.”

St. Justin Martyr, First Apology, C. 67 (C. 155 A.D.):

“We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day (after the Jewish sabbath, but also the first day) when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on this same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.”


I’m not a scholar, but some random comments here:

  • The original commandment specifies sabbath day and seventh day. Note that it does not specify what the first day is. That was left up to man to decide.
  • Without a first day specification, the commandment reduces to “every seventh day”.
  • There is no indication in the commandment that the seventh day a church uses must be the seventh day the Hebrews use.
  • There is no indication in the commandment that the seventh day the church uses must be the same as the seventh day their society uses.
  • Our society is inconsistent on what the first day is anyway. My work week begins on Saturday. Does this mean the sabbath should be Friday.
  • There is nothing that would stop our society from deciding the normal work week is Wed-Sun. Would that make Tuesday our sabbath?
  • Psychologically Sunday feels like the seventh day to me. 5 days at my job, 1 day for house chorses, 1 day for church and watching football or baseball.
  • I think the calendar was adjusted 11 days at one time because of errors in it. Does that mean the sabbath should be say Wednesday.

Given these realities, I have no problem with the church arbitrarily deciding their seventh day is Sunday. Sheesh, I don’t have a problem with a denomination deciding their seventh day is Saturday. Or even Tuesday.

The only thing I have issues with is when any denomination decides that their particular seventh day is the only God ordained one and makes it a central tenet of their faith. Check the commandment again, God did not specify what the first day was.


Short answer, Christ is the fulfillment of the law and we are no longer bound by days, feasts, sabbaths…and the People of God do have a Sabbath Rest…Jesus is our Sabbath Rest…in him all the requirements have been fulfilled…he is Priest, King, God, and Sabbath Rest.

The resurrection day of First Day…“Let there be light”…a new creation…a new beginning…old things have passed away…all things become new in him.


What also needs to be remembered is that Sabbath observance was part of the Mosaic Law, the 613 Commandments given to the people of Israel as part of the covenant. If you seek justification in observing the law, and break any one of the 613 Paul tells us you become guilty of them all. This is what needs to be remembered in any discussion of Paul’s comments on “works of the law” he was specifically speaking of the 613 Mosaic Laws…of which the ten commandments are part.


If Paul said that he was wrong. That’s not how Judaism works or worked.


That is some good information. :thumbsup:

A SDA coworker of mine has been trying to hard to convince me that we non-SDA types are all worshipping on the wrong day, etc, etc. I’ve tried everything in my bag of apologetic tricks to include most of what you mentioned above, but you have stated it much better than I could. Unfortunately, I think there is just no convincing him otherwise.

On another topic, this same coworker told me today that the SDA church is the “remnant church that follows the Bible completely which is the only source of truth.” I think I’ll have fun with that statement. :smiley:


The Sabbath commandement is not part of the Mosaic law, it`s part of the 10 commandments written by God himself.


They did not begin to worship on Sunday. Where did you read this in the Bible?


There is no Jewish Sabbath, there is only God`s Sabbath.


You mean the Bible that we Catholics wrote and canonized? The one that the Catholic Church has authority to interpret? And the one that never says anywhere that the Bible alone is all we need?


Paul also says we should keep the law.


I mean the Bible which I can get in any normal bookshop. And I dont really care who put it together, it certainly wasnt you.


I’m sure there’s more, but here is one verse where the faithful came together to celebrate the New Covenant.

*And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread… *- Acts 20:7


And you are sure that meeting was on a Sunday morning??


So Paul then was talking from Sunday morning till midnight? And they also had candles on all the time? And they broke the bread after midnight?!


Is there another first day of the week? Monday, Tuesday ??

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