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The History of the change of the Sabbath



The History of the Change of God's Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday

The Law of God is as sacred as God Himself. It is a Revelation of His will, a transcript of His Character, the expression of Divine Love and Wisdom. Patriarchs and Prophets- page 52

There is a lot of history in the change of the Sabbath. This study will be devoted largely with what occurred after the first century church. We have learned in our previous study of Daniel 7, that the beast power would think to change the times and the law, Daniel 7:25. We also studied that the Papacy declares that they changed the Sabbath and did so on their ecclesiastical authority, for which there was no Biblical authority to do so. We learned that there were nine points of identification in both Daniel 7 and Revelation 13, to show that the beast of Daniel 7 and the beast of Revelation 13 were one and the same, and could be no other power but Papal Rome. Now we will discover what actually took place to bring about the change of the Sabbath.

We learned that the entire Bible is silent on Sunday sacredness. But the Bible is filled with references to God's blessed Sabbath day. We learned that Jesus as God of creation made the worlds and He made the Sabbath on the seventh day when He rested from His work of creation. Jesus as man kept the seventh day Sabbath and declared it was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. He spoke that it would be in existence in AD 70 and the Bible tells us that it will be kept in the earth created anew. Jesus kept the Sabbath in the tomb as He rested from the work of redemption. He spoke of no change to anyone and Himself declared He did not come to destroy the law but to fufill, and fufill the righteous requirements is what He did, leaving us an example to follow.

NO CHRISTIAN EVER kept Sunday until after 200 AD

In all of the Old Testament, reference is made 126 times to the the Sabbath that God commanded as His expressed will, the seventh day. There are 61 New Testament references to the same Sabbath, 51 are harmoniously in the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In 2003, only the Israelites and those Christian churches keeping the seventh day Sabbath have the exclusive weight of scriptural evidence on their side, while any church claiming the Bible and the Bible only, has not a word in self-defense of their position on accepting the substitution of Sunday for Sabbath. At the conclusion of this historical look at the change of the Sabbath, we are going to quote leaders of various Protestant denominations on the Sabbath question.

The fact of the matter is that NO CHRISTIAN EVER kept Sunday until after 200 AD. The earliest Christians were Jews and there never was a question as to which day was Sabbath. The Jews of today still worship on the Sabbath of creation week. In fact, they have been keeping the same weekly seventh day Sabbath from Sinai to today, 2003, a period of 3,493 years. In the time of Christ we know that the fourth and final world empire, Rome was in power. The pagan Romans hated the Jews because of Jewish rebellions throughout the empire. In 115 AD the Jews revolted in Cyrene, Egypt and Cyprus. More than 220,000 Greeks and Romans perished in Cyrene alone. After crushing each revolt the Romans would tighten their yoke around the Jews.

The Roman emperor Hadrian said he would rebuild the temple of the Jews, but it would be dedicated to a Roman Deity. A Jew named Bar Kochba proclaimed himself to be the long awaited messiah and began a revolt in Palestine in 132-135 AD. In the first year of the revolt, the Romans were driven out of more than 50 cities and villages. Bar Kochba proclaimed himself king and even struck his own coinage. Hadrian had his top general Julius Severus to lead the troops into a three year battle to crush the rebellion and finally killed Bar Kochba.

These rebellions inflamed Roman Anti-Judaism. After the Bar Kochba revolt, Jews were forbidden to enter Jerusalem. Hadrian outlawed Judaism, the study of the Torah and Sabbath-keeping. The first day of the week was the Pagan day of worship and most of the Roman empire was largely pagan. Through the influence of Eastern sun cults, sun worship had become dominant in Rome by the early second century.

Christianity was still in its infancy and it was caught between Roman Imperialism and Jewish Nationalism. Since Christianity originated in the land of the Jews, and its Holy Writings were Jewish, Christians were mistaken for Jews. A small number of Christians after 200 AD, eased away from the seventh day Sabbath so as to appear different from the Jews.

The Gradual Shift to Sunday

A dispute arose amongst Christians about annually observing one day in honor of Christ's resurrection. The church of Rome suggested Sunday, but all the other churches preferred Nisan 16 regardless of what day it fell on. Rome's insistance on Sunday prevailed and all accepted that day as a yearly celebration.

Later on, while still keeping the seventh day Sabbath, a dispute arose over introducing lent into the church. Then it was decided to keep every Sunday during those 40 days. It was not until the fourth century that a decision was made to keep every Sunday in the year. Christians were keeping both Saturday the Sabbath, and Sunday in honor of the resurrection.

Now there was a decided shift from being identified with anything Jewish. The Roman Church began to show their prejudice by making Saturday a day of mourning and fasting, while exalting Sunday with feasting and joy. The Bishop Victorinus extended the fast to include both Friday and Saturday, to make sure the populace REALLY liked Sunday.

The Pagan Emperor Constantine Converts to Christianity

Obelisks and altars, objects of Pagan sun worship, had proliferated throughout the city and the empire, from the early second century. By the third century, Roman Christians favored Sunday, the day of the resurrection, over the Sabbath.

For Justin Martyr, Sunday commemorated the First day of creation, the creation of light. For the church fathers of that day, the resurrection was a secondary reason for Sunday observance. As sun worship began to fade in the Roman empire, the resurrection became the primary motive for Sunday keeping.

It was early in the fourth century that the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. He gave power and authority to the Church at Rome as well as its base of operation. The emperor moved his power base to the city known today as Constantinople. He had great influence over the pagan world. The church at Rome made many concessions to accomodate the flood of Pagans converting to Christianity. The first day worship was an easy one, since so many concessions had already been made. The Pagans worsipped many gods and carved out likenesses in wood and stone. The Pagan-Christians would merely stop making heathen idols and start carving likenesses of Mary, Jesus, Joseph, apostles and other saints. The church fathers reasoned God would not be particular when so many numbers were swelling the ranks of Christian believers. The second commandment of God, forbidding idol worship was thrown out. The tenth commandment became the ninth and tenth.

Emperor Constantine the Great, as he was known, issued the first known secular Sunday blue law, ordering Sunday rest instead of Sabbath rest. And in later Church councils the Catholic Church enforced Sunday-keeping on pain of death. This is that law given the seventh of March in 321 AD:

"Let all judges and all city people and all tradesmen rest upon the venerable day of the sun. But let those dwelling in the country freely and with full liberty attend to the culture of the fields; since it frequently happens that no other day is so fit for the sowing of grain, or the planting of vines; hence, the favorable time should not be allowed to pass, lest the provision of heaven be lost."

Many Chrisitans felt that this was good and Constantine brought about the end of the persecution of Christians. However, the questionable conversion of Constantine brought into the church the secular law ordering fourth commandment violation through a counterfeit Sabbath, Mother-Goddess worship of Mary, idol worship in general and Caesar like proclamations of being God.


Sunday envelops Christianity and is firmly rooted by the sixth century

The Council of Trent convenes in the sixteenth century to deal with Protestantism

The total transition from Sabbath to Sunday finally enveloped Christianity by the sixth century. By the early sixteenth century, the Catholic Church convened a series of meetings known as "The Council of Trent". The purpose was to formulate its permanent fundamentals to be known as the Catholic Creed. The other purpose was to deal with the questions raised and forced upon the attention of Europe by the Protestant reformers. They charged that the Catholic Church had apostatized from the truth as contained in the written word, the Bible. Their constant watchwords were, "The Bible and the Bible only." The Catholics insisted on "The Scripture and Tradition." The Bible as interpreted by the Church and the reasoning of its "Holy Fathers" the Popes and Bishops of earlier generations. There was a large and strong party of Catholics who were in favor of abandoning "tradition" in favor of "the scriptures only," as the standard of authority.

Debates were long and heated. The church fathers realized that to accept this position would be a big step toward justifying the claims of the protesters. The ultra-Catholic portion of the council had the difficult task of convincing the others that "scripture and tradtion" was the only sure ground to stand on. If this could be done, a decree could be issued that would condemn the reformation. Day after day debates raged and sides remained fast until the council was brought to a standstill. Finally the Archbishop of Reggio introduced the following argument to the council:

"The Protestants claim to stand upon the written word only. They profess to hold the scripture alone as the standard of faith. They justify their revolt by the plea that the church has apostatized from the written word and follows tradition. Now the Protestants' claim, that they stand on the written word only, IS NOT TRUE. Their profession of holding the scripture alone as the standard of faith is FALSE!

The PROOF: The written word explicitly enjoins the observance of the seventh day as the Sabbath! They do not observe the seventh day, but reject it! If they do truly hold the scripture alone as their standard, they would be observing the seventh day as is enjoined in the scripture throughout. Yet they not only reject the observance of the Sabbath enjoined in the written word, but they have adopted the observance of Sunday, for which they only have the TRADITION of the Church. Consequently the claim of scripture alone as the standard FAILS and the doctrine of scripture and tradition as essential, is fully established, the Protestants themselves being the judges."

By this observation the archbishop scored a telling point, for the Protestants' own statement of faith, the Augsburg Confession of 1530, had clearly admitted that the observation of the Lord's day had been appointed by the church only.

The argument was hailed in the council as "pure inspiration", and the party of Catholics in favor of scripture only surrendered. The council at once unanimously condemned Protestantism and the whole Reformation as only an unwarranted revolt from the communion and authority of the Catholic Church.

Note- This information on the Council of Trent was taken from the booklet, "Romes Challenge" pages 25-27.

The Protestants stand on "The Bible and the Bible Only",
defeated by Sunday Sacredness

It was only on the basis that the Protestants rejected the Biblical seventh day Sabbath, that the Catholic Church had the grounds to condemn the movement, and tradition was to continue. And what did Jesus say regarding tradition? In Matthew 15:3 "Why do ye also transgress the Commandment of God by your tradition?" And in verse 6 Jesus said, "Thus have you made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition." Now the Jews had enacted a rule that let a person by-pass leaving his possessions to his parents in case of his dying, which ran contrary to the commandment to "Honor thy father and mother...." Clearly the Lord is not pleased with us following the traditions of men in place of any of His commandments. Read very carefully what Jesus then said in verse 9. "In VAIN do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men,". But this is exactly what the Catholic Church has perpetrated!! And when Protestants endorse worshipping on Sundays, they support the Roman Church's traditions. Is the Holy Spirit reaching your understanding?

Now read what the position of different Protestant churches are in regards to the Sabbath day:


Dr. Edward T. Hiscox, author of "The Baptist Manual," made this candid admission before a group of ministers:

"There was and is a commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath day was not Sunday. Earnestly desiring information on this subject, which I have studied for many years, I ask, where can the record of such a transaction [change of the Sabbath] be 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 know quite well that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history. ... 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 papal apostasy and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism!" (In a paper read before a New York Ministers' Conference, November 13, 1893.)


"There never was any change of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. There is not in any place in the Bible any intimation of such a change." First Day observance, pp 17,19.

Church of Christ

"I do not believe that the Lod's day came in the room of the Jewish Sabbath, or that the Sabbath was changed from the seventh to the first day." - Alexander Campbell, Washington Reporter, Oct. 8, 1821.


"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, January 19, 1882.


"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.


"Take the matter of Sunday....there is no passage telling Christians to keep that day, or to transfer the Jewish Sabbath to that day."
Harris Franklin Rall, Christian Advocate, July 2, 1942.


"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, quoted in Catholic Sabbath Manual, part 2, Chapter 1, Section 10.


"The Christian Sabbath (Sunday) is not in the Scriptures, and was not by the primitive church called the Sabbath."
Dwights Theology, vol. 4, page 401.

Sunday Sacredness is not Biblical,
it is purely a Papal Instituted TRADITION

And from the Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, vol. 9 page 196, "It must be confessed that there is no law in the New Testament concerning the first day."

There you have it, but for the icing on the cake, let's look at a quote from James Cardinal Gibbons of the Roman Catholic Church, in "The Faith of Our Fathers," page 111. "You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we (Catholics) never sanctify."

Note- Though some individual pastors may argue the point, and even trivialize the keeping of any particular day, there is not one single Sunday-keeping organization which did not in its official literature plainly admit that there is no Scripture to support Sunday observance.