The Sabbath Changed to Sunday
Sun worship infects ancient Israel: In the ancient world, ‘sun worship’ was one of the most common forms of pagan idolatry. Immediately after Israel left Egypt, God warned His people against being “driven to worship ... the sun.” Deuteronomy 4:19. Yet Israel later yielded to temptation, compromised with the nations around them, and dedicated their “horses ... to the sun.” 2 Kings 23:11. During a time of revival, King Josiah purged much of Israel and “burned the chariots of the sun with fire.” 2 Kings 23:11. Before the Babylonian captivity, many Israelite leaders rejected their Creator, yielded again to idolatry, and “worshipped the sun toward the east.” Ezekiel 8:16. At the same time, God declared that they “hid their eyes from My Sabbaths.” Ezekiel 22:26. Thus ancient Israel shifted from Sabbath keeping to sun worship. In 1 Corinthians 10:1-11, Paul warned the Church against repeating the sins of ancient Israel.
Sun worship, “the day of the sun,” and “Sunday”: The Romans called the sun god “Mithra” and “Apollo,” and they especially worshiped the sun on “the first day of the week,” also called “Dies Solis” (Latin), which means, “day of the sun.” The name “Sunday” was adopted “because this day was anciently dedicated to the sun, or to its worship. The first day of the week.” Webster’s Dictionary; 1929 edition.
A predicted “falling away” within the Church: Through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, Paul discerned that a tragic “falling away” from Jesus Christ and Bible truth would eventually occur within Christianity and that “the man of sin” would arise. 2 Thessalonians 2:3. This “man of sin” is the same power as the “little horn” with “eyes like the eyes of a man” (Daniel 7:8), and “the beast” (Revelation 13). Even in his own day, Paul saw errors creeping into the Church, and declared: “the mystery of iniquity doth already work.” 2 Thessalonians 2:7. Paul warned that after his death, from among “the elders of the Church,” men would “arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Acts 20:17, 30. This apostasy would result in a departure from God’s Word and the original faith as taught by Jesus Christ. See 1 Timothy 4:1. Other New Testament writers warned that deceptions were entering the Church. See 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 2:18-19; Jude 3-4.
Anti-Jewish sentiment fuelled the Sabbath-to-Sunday shift: Near the end of His ministry, Jesus predicted that every stone of the Jewish Temple would be “thrown down.” Matthew 24:1-2. This occurred when the temple was destroyed by the Romans during “The First Jewish War” in 70 A.D. When the Romans again made war with the Jews from 132-135 A.D., the Roman Emperor Hadrian banished all Jews from Palestine. These Jewish Wars took place after the book of Acts was written and resulted in great pressure upon the early Christian Church to move away from anything that “appeared Jewish,” including the Sabbath. Because Sunday was already popular throughout the Roman Empire as a day for sun worship, some Christian leaders (now called the early “Church Fathers”) yielded to temptation and began the shift of the “Sabbath to Sunday change.” “Jesus Christ rose on Sunday!” became their rationalizing cry. Thus they used the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who “died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3) which is the breaking of God’s Law (1 John 3:4), as an excuse to break one of the Ten Commandments.
Christians compromise with pagan “sun worship” practices and adopt “Sunday” as a day of rest: “Before the coming of Christ, all the Eastern nations performed divine worship with their faces turned to that part of the heavens where the sun displays his rising beams ... The Christian converts ... retained the ancient and universal custom of worshiping toward the east, which sprang from it.” Mosheim’s Ecclesiastical History, century ii, part ii, ch. iv, par. 7. “Sunday (Dies Solis, of the Roman calendar; ‘day of the sun,’ because it was dedicated to the sun), the first day of the week, was adopted by the early Christians as a day of worship.” Schaff-Herzog Encyclopaedia of Religious Knowledge, Art. “Sunday.” “We all gather on the day of the sun ... on this same day Jesus Christ our Savoir rose from the dead.” From the “Church Father,” St. Justin. Quoted in the New Official Catholic Catechism (1994), p. 524.
Following in the steps of ancient Israel, Christians in the 1st (latter part), 2nd and 3rd centuries “hid their eyes” from God’s Sabbaths (see Ezekiel 22:26) and adopted pagan traditions associated with sun worship.
The Church “in Rome” becomes the Roman Catholic Church: Before the Jewish Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., a strong Christian Church was planted through missionary efforts inside the city of Rome itself – in the heart of the Roman Empire. Paul wrote his letter, “The Epistle of Paul to the Romans,” to those early believers “in Rome.” Romans 1:7. But because it was surrounded by paganism inside the world’s mightiest capital, this Church soon experienced a “falling away” (see 2 Thessalonians 2:3) from the purity of the gospel and meta-morphed into the wealthy, politically savvy and powerful Roman Catholic Church. This transition especially took place during the time of the Emperor Constantine (4th century) who favoured the Roman Catholic Church above all other Christian Churches.
Constantine, Catholicism, sun worship and Sunday: In 312 A.D., prior to his pivotal victory over his rival Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge, Constantine became a “Christian” after claiming to see in broad daylight a vision of “a cross above the sun” with these words emblazoned, “in hoc signo vinces” (by this sign conquer”). After defeating his enemies and becoming Emperor of Rome, Constantine presided in full royal pomp over the “First Council of Nicea” in 325 A.D.
A shrewd political genius, his scheme was to unite paganism and Christianity in an effort to strengthen his disintegrating empire. Constantine knew that pagans throughout the empire worshiped the sun on “the first day of the week,” and he discovered that many Christians – especially in Rome and Alexandria – also kept ‘Sunday’ because Christ rose from the dead on that day. So Constantine developed a plan to unite both groups on the common platform of Sunday keeping. On March 7, 321 A.D., he passed his famous national Sunday law:
“Let all judges and townspeople and occupations of all trades rest on the venerable day of the Sun [Sunday]; nevertheless, let those who are situated in the rural districts freely and with full liberty attend to the cultivation of the fields, because it so frequently happens that no other day may be so fitting for ploughing grains or trenching vineyards, lest at the time the advantage of the moment granted by the provision of heaven may be lost.” The Code of Justinian, Book 3, title 12, law 3.
Now a professed Christian, Constantine nevertheless remained a devout sun worshipper. “The sun was universally celebrated as the invincible guide and protector of Constantine,” notes Edward Gibbon in his classic Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ch. xx, par. 3. Constantine even printed coins which “bore on the one side the letters of the name of Christ, on the other the figure of the sun god.” Arthur P. Stanley, History of the Eastern Church, lect. vi, par. 14. Again, Constantine’s promotion of Sunday observance was part of his definite strategy to combine paganism with Christianity: “The retention of the old pagan name of dies Solis, or ‘Sunday,’ for the weekly Christian festival, is in great measure owing to the union of pagan and Christian sentiment with which the first day of the week was recommended by Constantine to his subjects, pagan and Christian alike, as the ‘venerable day of the Sun.’” Stanley’s History of the Eastern Church, p. 184 (emphasis added).
“The Jewish, the Samaritan, even the Christian, were to be fused and recast into one great system, of which the sun was to be the central object of adoration.” Henry Milman, The History of Christianity, Book 2, chap. 8, Vol. 22, p. 175. In 330 A.D., Constantine moved his capital from Rome to Constantinople (modern Istanbul), thus preparing the way for the Roman Catholic Popes to reign in Rome as the successors of Constantine. As the Papal Church grew in power, it opposed Sabbath observance in favour of Sunday sacredness.
Many 5th-century Christians kept the Sabbath and Sunday: In spite of the rising popularity of Sunday sacredness, Church historian Socrates Scholasticus (5th century) wrote: “For although almost all Churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries [of the Lord’s Supper] on the Sabbath of every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this.” Socrates Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History, Book 5, ch. 22. Another historian confirmed this, stating, “The people of Constantinople, and almost everywhere, assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or at Alexandria.” Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History, Book 7, ch. 19. Thus even in the 5th century, Sabbath keeping was universally prevalent (except in Rome and Alexandria), along with Sunday keeping. Many Christians kept both days. But as the centuries wore on, Sunday keeping grew in prominence, especially within Roman Catholic territories. Today, the majority of Christians observe Sunday, but the question remains, What does the Bible say?
For very comprehensive information on how the Sabbath was changed to Sunday that also involves the origin of 666 and the worship of Satan back as far as 2000 B.C.
Roman Catholics Testify
Question: Which is the Sabbath day?
Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath day.
Question: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
Answer: We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.” Rev. Peter Geiermann C.S.S.R., The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, p. 50 (1946).
“But since Saturday, not Sunday, is specified in the Bible, isn’t it curious that non-Catholics who profess to take their religion directly from the Bible and not from the Church, observe Sunday instead of Saturday? Yes, of course, it is inconsistent; but this change was made about fifteen centuries before Protestantism was born, and by that time the custom was universally observed. They have continued the custom, even though it rests upon the authority of the Catholic Church and not upon an explicit text in the Bible. The observance remains as a reminder of the Mother Church from which the non-Catholic sects broke away like a boy running away from home but still carrying in his pocket a picture of his mother or a locket of her hair.” The Faith of Millions: The Credentials of the Catholic Religion, by Rev. John O’ Brien, Ph.D., p. 473.
‘‘The [Roman Catholic] Church changed the observance of the Sabbath to Sunday by right of the divine, infallible authority given to her by her founder, Jesus Christ. The Protestant claiming the Bible to be the only guide of faith, has no warrant for observing Sunday.’’ The Catholic Universe Bulletin,August 14, 1942, p. 4.
“The observance of Sunday by the Protestants is homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the [Roman Catholic] Church.” Monsignor Louis Segur, Plain Talk about the Protestantism of Today, p. 213.
‘‘I have repeatedly offered $1,000 to anyone who can prove to me from the Bible alone that I am bound to keep Sunday holy. There is no such law in the Bible. It is a law of the holy Catholic Church alone. The Bible says ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’ The Catholic Church says, No. By my divine power I abolish the Sabbath day and command you to keep holy the first day of the week. And lo! The entire civilized world bows down in reverent obedience to the command of the Holy Catholic Church.” Priest Thomas Enright, C.S.S.R., February 18, 1884
“Sunday is a Catholic institution, and... can be defended only on Catholic principles... From beginning to end of Scripture there is not a single passage that warrants the transfer of weekly public worship from the last day of the week to the first.” Catholic Press, Aug. 25, 1900
“The Sabbath was Saturday, not Sunday. The Church altered the observance of the Sabbath to the observance of Sunday. Protestants must be rather puzzled by the keeping of Sunday when God distinctly said, ‘Keep holy the Sabbath Day.’ The word Sunday does not come anywhere in the Bible, so, without knowing it they are obeying the authority of the Catholic Church.” Canon Cafferata, The Catechism Explained, p. 89.
‘‘Reason and sense demand the acceptance of one or the other of these alternatives: either Protestantism and the keeping holy of Saturday, or Catholicity and the keeping holy of Sunday. Compromise is impossible.’’ John Cardinal Gibbons, The Catholic Mirror, December 23, 1893.
Protestants Testify (Representative Leaders)
“There was and is a Commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath day was not Sunday. It will be said, however, and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week, with all its duties, privileges, and sanctions. Earnestly desiring information on this subject, which I have studied for many years, I ask, where can the record of such a transaction by found? Not in the New Testament, absolutely not. There is no Scriptural evidence of the change of the Sabbath institution from the seventh to the first day of the week. Of course, I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history as a religious day, as we learn from the Christian fathers and other sources. But what a pity that it comes branded with the mark of paganism, and christened with the name of the sun god, when adopted and sanctioned by the papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism!” Dr. Edward T. Hiscox D.D., author of The Baptist Manual, stated Nov. 13, 1893, at a New York Minister’s Conference discussing the heated debate over whether the Chicago World’s Fair should remain open on Sunday (emphasis added).
Church of Christ:
“There is no direct Scriptural authority for designating the first day [as] the Lord’s day.” Dr. D. H. Lucas, Christian Oracle, Jan. 23, 1890.
Church of England:
“Many people think that Sunday is the Sabbath. But neither in the New Testament nor in the early Church is there anything to suggest that we have any right to transfer the observance of the seventh day of the week to the first. The Sabbath was and is Saturday and not Sunday, and if it were binding on us then we should observe it on that day, and on no other.” Rev. Lionel Beere, All-Saints Church, Ponsonby, N.Z. in Church and People, Sept. 1, 1947.
“Is there any command in the New Testament to change the day of weekly rest from Saturday to Sunday? None.” Manual of Christian Doctrine, page 127.
“The current notion that Christ and His apostles authoritatively substituted the first day for the seventh, is absolutely without any authority in the New Testament.” Dr. Lyman Abbott, Christian Union, Jan. 18, 1882.
Disciples of Christ:
“If it [the Sabbath Commandment] yet exists, let us observe it... And if it does not exist, let us abandon a mock observance of another day for it. ‘But,’ say some, ‘it was changed from the seventh to the first day.’ Where? when? and by whom? - No, it never was changed, nor could it be, unless creation was to be gone through again: for the reason assigned [in Genesis 2:1-3] must be changed before the observance or respect to the reason, can be changed. It is all old wives’ fables to talk of the ‘change of the sabbath’ from the seventh to the first day. If it be changed, it was that august personage changed it who changes times and laws ex officio, - I think his name is “Doctor Antichrist.’” Alexander Campbell, The Christian Baptist, February 2, 1824, vol 1, no. 7.
“The Bible Commandment says on the Seventh day thou shalt rest. That is Saturday. Nowhere in the Bible is it laid down that worship should be done on Sunday.” Phillip Carrington, quoted in Toronto Daily Star, Oct 26, 1949.
“The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals, was always only a human ordinance.” Augustus Neander, History of the Christian Religion and Church, Vol. 1, page 186.
“The observance of the Lord’s Day (Sunday) is founded not on any command of God, but on the authority of the Church.” Augsburg Confession of Faith.
“They [the Roman Catholics] allege the change of the Sabbath into the Lord’s day… and they have no example more in their mouths than the change of the Sabbath. They will needs have the Church’s power to be very great, because it hath dispensed with the precept of the Decalogue.” The Augsburg Confession, 1530 A.D. (Lutheran), part 2, art 7, in Philip Schaff’s The Creeds of Christiandom, 4th Edition, vol 3, p. 64.
“It is true that there is no positive command for infant baptism. Nor is there any for the keeping of the first day of the week. Many believe that Christ changed the Sabbath. But, from His own words [Matthew 5:17-19], we see that He came for no such purpose. Those who believe that Jesus changed the Sabbath base it only on a supposition.” Amos Binney, Theological Compendium, p. 180-181.
“Sabbath in the Hebrew language signifies rest, and is the seventh day of the week... and it must be confessed that there is no law in the New Testament concerning the first day.” Charles Buck, A Theological Dictionary, “Sabbath.”
Moody Bible Institute:
“The Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever since. This fourth Commandment begins with the word ‘remember,’ showing that the Sabbath already existed when God wrote the law on the tables of stone at Sinai. How can men claim that this one Commandment has been done away with when they will admit that the other nine are still binding?” D.L. Moody, Weighed and Wanting, page 47.
“God instituted the Sabbath at the creation of man, setting apart the seventh day for the purpose, and imposed its observance as a universal and perpetual moral obligation upon the race.” American Presbyterian Board of Publication, Tract No. 175.
Biblical Answers to Good Questions
Christians are “saved by grace? So why keep the Sabbath?
Yes, undoubtedly, Christians are “saved by grace.” Ephesians 2:8. But it is vital to inquire, saved from what? Here’s the answer: Jesus Christ came to our dark world to “save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21. That was His mission. Next question: What is sin? Here’s the answer: “Sin is the transgression of the law.” l John 3:4. Next question: What law? Here’s the answer: Paul wrote, “I had not known sin, but by the law.” Then he quoted the tenth Commandment, “You shall not covet.” Romans 7:7. Thus, according to Paul, it is the law of Ten Commandments that reveals sin to us. The Good News is that Jesus Christ “died for our sins, according to the Scriptures” (see 1 Corinthians 15:3), which would include breaking the Sabbath Commandment too. Ever since the days of Adam and Eve, humanity has strayed from its Creator. “All have sinned” and are “guilty before God” for breaking His law. Romans 3:23, 19. Once guilty, we cannot be saved or “justified” (made right with God) by keeping the law (Romans 3:20), but only through faith in Jesus Christ our Savoir (Romans 3:21-28). If we confess our sins, God promises to forgive us (1 John 1:9). Then Jesus says, “If you love Me, keep My Commandments.” John 14:15. Which ones? Here’s the answer: By comparing John 14:15 with Exodus 20:6, we discover that Jesus was quoting the second Commandment. Thus the Ten Commandments are Jesus Christ’s Commandments (along with all of His teachings), for Jesus Christ is God (see John 1:1-3; read carefully also Matthew 5:17-19). If we love our Savoir, we will want to obey His Commandments, not to be saved, but because we are saved by His love and grace.
“Is God so particular?”
Ask Adam and Eve. One bite plunged our entire world into chaos and led to the death of Jesus Christ. The Sabbath day is very important to God. See Ezekiel 22:26; Jeremiah 17:19-27; Isaiah 58:13. The Bible says that breaking God’s Law is sin (see 1 John 3:4), and that sin is what caused Jesus Christ to die on Calvary (see 1 Corinthians 15:3).
“Shouldn’t we worship God every day?”
Of course, but only “the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord.” Exodus 20:10. The Sabbath is the only day that God rested on, blessed, and sanctified. See Genesis 2:1-3.
Are all “Sunday-keepers” lost?
Obviously not. Throughout history millions of Spirit-filled Christians have not understood the Sabbath Commandment and have kept Sunday. It is the same today. Yet listen to God’s Word: During “the times of THIS IGNORANCE God winked; but now He commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). When further light comes, God wants us to follow it. In “the time of the end ... knowledge shall increase.” Daniel 12:4. Knowledge is now increasing on the Sabbath subject. You may not be aware of the trend, but around the world ministers and Christians of many denominations are studying and accepting the truth about the Sabbath of Jesus Christ.
“How can so many ‘good people’ be wrong?”
Eve was not only a good person, but she was a perfect person, yet she was wrong when she obeyed the serpent (see Genesis 3:1-6). Only eight people entered Noah’s ark, which teaches us that majority opinion should not be our guide. See Matthew 7:13-14. Jesus told a group of religious leaders that they were “making the word of God of none effect” by their “tradition.” Mark 7:13. If this happened to religious leaders in Christ’s day, it can happen today. Many “good people” have never really studied this subject carefully.
How to Keep the Sabbath Holy
1) The Sabbath is a special day to focus on Jesus Christ our Maker: According to the New Testament, “the world” was “made” by Jesus Christ (see John 1:1-3, 14, 10; Colossians 1:16). Jesus is “the Lord” who made the world in six days, and “rested on the seventh day.” Exodus 20:11. Thus the Sabbath is a special day to focus on the Jesus Christ as the Creator and Sustainer of all life. It is a day to come apart from the normal stresses and cares of everyday living, to be refreshed and blessed by the great Creator who loves and died for us.
2) “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work” (Exodus 20:8-10): This is the fourth Commandment. We are to work at our normal jobs during the six working days, but from sundown Friday night until sundown Saturday night, we should “not do any work.” Late Friday afternoon, after Jesus died, “the Sabbath drew on.” Luke 23:54. When the sun went down, Christ’s followers “rested the Sabbath day according to the Commandment.” Luke 23:56. Secular business should be laid aside. Shopping, laundry, homework, and housecleaning should be done during the six working days. The Bible also calls buying and selling on the Sabbath an “evil thing.” Nehemiah 13:15-22.
The Lord says, “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath [from trampling on it], from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honourable, and shall honour Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 58:13-14. The Pharisees made the Sabbath a burden, but Jesus wants us to “call the Sabbath a delight,” and to “delight” ourselves in Him. Sabbath keeping is something we “grow into” as Jesus teaches us how to “keep it holy.”
3) Friday is “the preparation day” (Luke 23:54): The “preparation day” is a good day for dusting, ironing and housecleaning. When the sun sets our minds should be free from care to focus on Jesus. In the wilderness, the Lord instructed Israel to “bake what you bake” on the day before the Sabbath. Exodus 16:23-29. Paul specifically said the history of Israel in the wilderness is “an example” for us “upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11. If a special meal is planned for the Sabbath, it would be good to do as much of the cooking as possible on Friday.
4) Jesus was in “the synagogue on the Sabbath day” (Luke 4:16): Jesus worshiped with God’s people every Sabbath. Luke 4:16, 31-32. So should we. We should not “forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.” Hebrews 10:25. In “the new earth ... from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, says the Lord.” Isaiah 66:22-23. We all need the blessing of “fellowship” with other believers who love Jesus and keep His Commandments. Exodus 20:6; John 14:15; 1 John 1:7.
5) Jesus said, “it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath days” (Matthew 12:12): Jesus healed and helped people on the Sabbath (see Mark 1:21-27; Matthew 12:10-13; Luke 13:10-17), and His deeds of mercy were fully “lawful” on the Sabbath, that is, they were in harmony with true Sabbath keeping. The Sabbath is a good day to visit the sick, help someone in need, etc. Thus we can follow the example of Jesus.
6) “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth ... and rested on the seventh day. Wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:11): The Sabbath is a wonderful day to enjoy the beautiful things of nature. Take the children for a walk in the park. Relax under a tree. Read the Bible by a stream or lake. Enjoy special fellowship with the One who said, “Moreover also I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” Ezekiel 20:12. The Sabbath reveals the glorious truth that the One who created our entire world in six days, and rested on the seventh, is also able to re-create our hearts back into His own image. See Genesis 1:26; Psalms 51:10; Ephesians 4:21-24.
7) What if I work on the Sabbath?: Kindly approach your employer and say, “My conscience tells me that I can no longer work on the Sabbath day. How can we work around this?” Tens of thousands have done this. Most employers will accommodate firm religious convictions. Even if you lose your job (which isn’t likely, but it does happen), God will help you find another one. Study Daniel 3 and you will see that God blessed the three Hebrews who refused to break the second Commandment. At the end of Daniel 3, they were promoted. If you stand up for Jesus and His fourth Commandment, He will stand up for you. If you are the only member in your family who wants to keep the Sabbath, don’t push it on them. Jesus will guide and help you step by step if you look to Him for direction and strength. See Psalms 29:11.
“Blessed are those who do his Commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life and may enter in through the gates into the city ... the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Revelation 22:14, 21 (KJV)
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