This Happened to the Lords Day!
(This article is part 2. See also: Part 1 ~ What Happened to the Lords Day?)
Most Christians believe that Sunday is the Lord’s Day. They believe that Jesus transferred the sacredness of the seventh-day Sabbath to Sunday, the first day of the week, when He was resurrected. If Jesus did indeed make this change, there should be sufficient evidence in the Bible to prove or disprove the claim. Because the topic of the Lords Day is highly important (discussed in Part 1), it is important that we know which day of the week is The Lord’s Day.
New Testament “Proof” for Sunday Worship
There are only eight texts in the New Testament that mention the first day of the week. Biblical support for the sacredness of Sunday, if it exists, would have to come exclusively from these verses. Here are the texts for reference:
The first six texts refer to the resurrection of Jesus on the first day of the week — a well known fact. However, none of these texts say anything about the sacredness of Sunday. In fact, Luke 23:56 points out that a group of women did not prepare Jesus’ body for burial on Friday (the day called Preparation), but instead, rested on the Sabbath “according to the commandment.” Obviously, by the time of His death, Jesus had not informed His followers that the fourth commandment was going to be made void because of His resurrection.
Since the first six texts simply discuss the resurrection of Jesus, we will investigate the remaining two verses and note the absence of any command to observe Sunday as the Lords holy day of worship.
Acts 20:7 as Sunday Worship Proof?
Some Bible students refer to Acts 20 as evidence that Sunday worship was practiced by the apostles. Notice, “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people, and because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.” (Acts 20:7) Let us consider the details within this verse.
In Bible times, a day began at sunset and ended the following evening. Since Creation, the rotation of the Earth has produced this unchanging process. (See Genesis 1.) The Jews, in Christ’s time, regarded a day from evening to evening and kept the Sabbath from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. Compare Luke 23:50-56 with Leviticus 23:32. So, the actual timing described in Acts 20:7 is as follows: Paul stayed with the believers at Troas for seven days. (Acts 20:6)
At the beginning of the first day of the week, at supper time, the believers came together to eat supper with Paul and to say good-bye to their friend. Remember, the first day of the week in Paul’s time began Sabbath evening at sundown, or what we now call Saturday evening. After supper, Paul preached until midnight (Saturday midnight). A few hours later on Sunday morning, the first day of the week, he left Troas for Assos.
So, Paul met with believers for supper and preached until midnight, Saturday night. Does a farewell supper and Saturday night meeting change or abrogate the fourth commandment of God? No. Even if Paul chose to worship on Tuesday night, would this make void the law of God? No. Only God can void His own law.
Some students claim that the term “breaking of bread” indicates Paul’s visit was a communion or worship service. Not so. In Luke 24:13-31 Jesus “broke bread” at supper time with two companions after he walked more than seven miles to Emmaus with them.
Even to this day, the breaking of bread remains a custom in the Orient since bread is baked firm and is literally “broken” before it can be eaten. We also know that Jesus broke bread on Thursday night with His disciples at Passover. If “breaking bread” means a worship service was conducted, why would Jesus conduct a worship service at sundown in Emmaus, just when the second day of the week was beginning? If Paul’s meeting was supposed to be a worship service, Acts 20:7 gives no indication that this occurred.
I call Acts 20:7 a mystery text because Paul did not conduct a Sunday service in Troas. Actually, he held a meeting on Saturday night — the first part of the first day of the week in Bible times — but today is considered the last part of the seventh day. (Jews still reckon a day from sundown to sundown.
Today, we “Gentiles” reckon a day from midnight to midnight.) So, if Christians really followed Paul’s example as authority for the time of worship, they would worship on Saturday night (between sundown and midnight). Again, an honest, objective look at this text indicates that God gave no authority for Sunday observance.
1 Corinthians 16:2 as Sunday Worship Evidence?
Some Christians use the following text to demonstrate how Paul insisted that the first day of the week be used to collect offerings for the poor. Notice: “Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.” (1 Corinthians 16:1-3)
In Paul’s day, money was not a common medium of exchange like it is today. Most trading was done through bartering. For example, a person might trade a chicken for cloth or pottery. Paul instructed the church in Corinth to begin each week with selling or trading so they might obtain a sum of currency.
He preferred to take money with him to give to the persecuted believers in Jerusalem, since travel with roosters, goats, pottery and other things of value, was very difficult, if not impossible. Consequently, he asked that they take care of this matter, “first thing after the Sabbath.” (Compare with Nehemiah 13:15.) Again, the appropriate question is, “Does Paul’s instruction change or make void the fourth commandment?” Not at all.
Thoughts on Romans 6 and Sunday Worship
Currently, the most common reason Christians use to worship on Sunday is because Jesus arose from the dead on Sunday morning, the first day of the week. Yes, the resurrection is important, and the Bible does provide a celebration of the resurrection! It is called baptism. Notice what Paul says, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:1-4)
However, does baptism change or abrogate the fourth commandment? Not at all. In fact, not one of the eight texts in the New Testament says that the holiness of the seventh day was transferred to Sunday!
What was Nailed to the Cross?
Many Christians believe that the Ten Commandments were nailed to the cross. If this did not occur, then what was nailed to the cross? Most people are surprised to learn that the ceremonies relating to the sanctuary services, which were a shadow or explanation of the plan of salvation, were nailed to the cross.
The key word here is shadow. Notice what Paul said, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority…. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross…. Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize….” (Colossians 2:9-18)
If you will look at these verses carefully, you will see that Paul is discussing the regulations regarding religious feasts, New Moon observances and Sabbath days. The Sabbath days that Paul is referring to is not the seventh-day Sabbath of the fourth commandment.
Rather, the term Sabbath days applies to Sabbath “feast days,” such as the Passover or the Day of Atonement. (Leviticus 16:31) Feast days often fell on different days of the week (like our birthday) because they occurred on the same date each year. These feast days were special sabbaths of rest that pointed forward to different aspects of Jesus’ ministry and death. For example, the Passover not only reminded the Jews of deliverance from Egypt, but it also pointed forward to a time when the Passover Lamb — Jesus Christ — would die, so all people could be delivered from the bondage of sin!
The Jews confused the Ten Commandment Law of God with the laws given to Moses, much like Christians do today. The permanence of the Law of God verses the law of Moses can be seen in several ways. First, the greater law, the Ten Commandments, was written on stone by God’s own finger and kept within the ark.
The law of Moses (ceremonial or lesser law) was given by God to be written by Moses (man) and kept in a pocket on the side of the ark. (See Deuteronomy 10:1,2; 31:26.) One law was permanent, the other was temporary. This is why the ark was often called the ark of the covenant, since the Ten Commandments are the basis of God’s covenant with man. This covenant says, “If you choose to obey me, I will be your God.” (Deuteronomy 30:9-11)
What About Romans 14 as Proof for Sunday Worship?
What about Romans 14? Some Christians use Romans 14 to prove it does not matter which day of the week we use to worship God. Notice the text: “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 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. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” (Romans 14:1-10)
The context of these verses does not imply that we can worship God whenever we feel like it. No, this text is addressing a specific problem that early Christians had to deal with, namely, the religious customs of the Jews. In other words, if a new believer in Jesus felt he needed to observe Passover, Paul did not condemn the new believer except to say that his faith was weak.
Also, if the new believer could not consciously eat meat purchased in the market place, for fear it had not been killed correctly or that it had been offered before idols, Paul said to leave these people alone! (The Jews would not purchase nor eat meat unless it was killed according to Mosaic code. Leviticus 19:26)
Today, many clerics use this text as support for Sunday worship; however, I wonder if this same liberty will be offered to those who choose to honor God’s fourth commandment when the one world religious/political government is established during the Great Tribulation?
Some Christians believe that Pentecost fell on Sunday during the year that Christ died, therefore, proving that Sunday is God’s holy day. But, Pentecost has always fallen on Sunday — ever since the Exodus.
The Wave Sheaf offering was always made on the first Sunday after Passover, and Pentecost followed 50 days later (counting inclusively), always occurring on a Sunday. (Leviticus 23) So, if the annual Pentecost feast occurred on Sunday for more than a millennium before Jesus was on Earth, how does this make the fourth commandment void? It doesn’t.
Last, some clerics claim that nine of the Ten Commandments are mentioned in the New Testament, but the fourth commandment is missing. This statement is not true. In fact, the absence of any argument from the Jews or Jewish converts indicates the assumption by New Testament writers that the Sabbath remained intact without question (especially when one considers the abundance of controversy over the issue of circumcision or eating meat offered to idols).
However, Paul clears this matter in the New Testament by saying, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4:9,10)
Which is the Greatest Law?
As you might expect of a legalistic society, the Jews loved to argue about their laws. An expert lawyer even challenged Jesus with a test to see which law was the greatest! (Matthew 22:34-40)
I believe the spirituality of the Jews degenerated into a great legal system of darkness, because they generally misunderstood the purpose of God’s laws. (Matthew 23:2-15)
When the apostle Paul began to explain the purposes and relationships between the ceremonial laws and God’s moral law, you can understand the Jewish hatred exercised against him. Paul claimed that the laws of Moses had expired and this was more than the Jews could tolerate! Paul was captured and eventually beheaded for his convictions. (Acts 21:27-36)
Paul is very explicit in Colossians 2 and Ephesians 2 that the laws nailed to the cross were shadows of the real thing and these laws, that governed the constitution of Israel, came to an end at the cross. Now, in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile.
The ceremonial laws requiring the observance of new moons, sabbath feasts and the sacrifice of lambs have become unnecessary because the Lamb of God has died, removing the shadow over salvation and making it visible to all. In other words, ceremonial laws were temporary until their meaning was fulfilled.
So, consider Paul’s dilemma. How could he get the Jews to understand the true meaning of the ceremonial laws and cease doing something they had been doing for nearly 1,800 years? We have the same problem today. How can a whole nation change from Sunday observance to Saturday observance?
Paul is very clear in Hebrews 10 and Galatians 3 & 4 that these ceremonies never brought salvation to the Jews in the first place; rather, they were temporary and designed to teach how salvation occurs! Paul makes it equally clear that obeying the Ten Commandments cannot produce salvation either, because salvation comes only by faith! The problem today is that most Christians think that faith and grace make the moral law unnecessary.
Does love between husband and wife eliminate the necessity for fidelity?
No. Neither does living together make two people married. The relationship between love and obedience is simple. God grants salvation to everyone who becomes willing to do His will. He does not grant salvation to us on our ability to do His will. We demonstrate our willingness by receiving strength from God to do what He wants.
Paul understood this process. (See Romans 7.) In fact, all through his life, Paul faithfully observed the seventh-day Sabbath. (See Acts 13:44; 16:13; 17:2; 18:4,11.) Even more, Jesus Himself pointed out that the seventh-day Sabbath would remain sacred many years after His ascension! (See Matthew 24:20.)
Cannot Break One Commandment
If we take the position that Jesus nailed the fourth commandment to the cross, then we must conclude that He nailed the nine others, too. Whatever we do with the fourth commandment, we must also do with the other nine. This issue will become an important distinction between those who love God and those who rebel against Him during the outpouring of God’s judgments. The Ten Commandments are non-negotiable.
They stand as one unit representing the revealed will of God. The Ten Commandments were written on two tables of stone because they are based on two enduring principles — love for God and love for man. The first four commandments explain how we are to love God. The last six commandments explain how we are to love our neighbor. One more point: Maturity in Christ begins when we acknowledge the claims of God’s law upon our life.
Then, realizing our great weakness, placing our faith in Jesus so that we can fulfill His law through His indwelling power. Paul knew all the Ten Commandments were intact. He said: “What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what it was to covet if the law had not said, ‘Do not covet.’” (Rom. 7:7)
James wrote: “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right! But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” (James 2:8-11)
James brings us to an important and fundamental conclusion regarding the royal law, or the King’s law. He says we must obey all the commandments. If we break any one of them, we are guilty of breaking them all, because the King’s law is only fulfilled through love.
We must first love God with all our heart, mind and soul and then, our neighbor as ourselves. How should we express our love for God? Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15)
Keeping the Sabbath holy will not save anyone. Mandating Saturday laws will not save anyone either! This is why the final exam for the human race is carefully designed to test our relationship with Jesus. The basis for salvation is faith. Faith is doing what God requires at any cost.
Since eternal life comes only through faith, and since every means of human survival will be removed in the future, you and I will need great faith in God in order to remain loyal to Him! If it seems hard to obey God now, what will it be like then?
The Seventh-day of Creation is Our Saturday
The Bible reveals how God’s subjects are to worship Him. This is not a matter left to human design. Unfortunately, the devil, during the past 6,000 years, has obscured God’s truth and implemented many false religions around the world.
For example, suppose you came to Earth on a spaceship and you met three religious leaders. The first leader was a Moslem, the second, a Jew and the last, a Christian. You ask each person the same question: “What day of the week do you worship on?” The Moslem would say, “The sixth day, or Friday, because Mohammed rested on Friday from his travel.” The Jew would say, “I worship on the seventh day of the week, or Saturday, as the fourth commandment requires.” The Christian would say, “I go to church on Sunday, the first day of the week, because of Christ’s resurrection.” As you leave Earth in your spaceship, you marvel at this interesting point: These three religious bodies represent 50% of Earth’s inhabitants and each religious body claims to have the truth about God.
Each religious system also declares that the other two religious systems are false and yet, they unwittingly confirm a truth. Their diversity confirms that the weekly cycle remains intact. Here’s how: The sixth day of the week is adjacent to the seventh day, which just happens to be adjacent to the first day of the week. In other words, each religious system worships on unique days that are adjacent to each other. This fact confirms the perpetuity of Creation’s week since Jesus was on Earth and shows that the weekly cycle has not been altered.
The Israelites have formally worshiped on the seventh day since the Exodus in 1437 B.C., the Christians in Rome, according to Justin Martyr, have formally worshipped on the first day of the week since A.D. 150, and Moslems have formally worshiped on the sixth day of the week since the sixth century A.D. If the weekly cycle had been altered in any way, these holy days of worship would not be adjacent to each other!
The seventh day (Saturday) is still God’s holy day, just as it was at Creation.
So, What Happened to Traditional Sabbath Worship?
So, how did Sunday become the day known as the Lord’s Day? Who made the change and when did it occur? Material documenting first century Christianity is meager and imperfect. The best records for this period are known as the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. These documents are not part of the Bible, nor do they have the authority of the Bible. But, they do offer a glimpse into the religious thinking of that era.
This part includes several ancient references for your consideration because a great number of scholars have tried to prove from these ancient writings that Sunday observance was a widely accepted practice during the apostolic age (A.D. 30 – A.D. 100). Early Christian writings however, reveal a sinister process at work. The writings reveal how God’s word became corrupted, even in the hands of well-intentioned people. Consider these references and draw your own conclusions.
The first mention of worship occurs about A.D. 97 when Clement of Rome wrote to the believers in Corinth. He wrote:
“These things therefore being manifest to us, and since we look into the depths of the divine knowledge, it behooves us to do all things in (their proper) order, which the Lord has commanded us to perform at stated times. He has enjoined offerings (to be presented) and service to be performed (to Him), and that no thoughtlessly or irregularly, but at the appointed times and hours.” (Clement of Rome, Epistles to Corinthians, Vol I Ante-Nicean Library, (Buffalo, 1887) p. 16.)
As you can see, Clement did not endorse a particular day of the week for worship. This early quotation, however, is included because some scholars claim that Clement of Rome defended Sunday observance in A.D. 97.
Here is another early reference which people often use to support Sunday observance in the early Christian Church. Pliny the Younger, the pagan governor of Bythinia, wrote this statement about A.D. 107. Writing to Emperor Trajan, he requested advice about Christian assemblies in his province. At that time, Roman leaders anticipated civil revolts in a number of provinces and Pliny was especially cautious of a new sect of people called Christians. He wrote:
“They (the Christians) affirmed that the whole of their guilt or error was that they met on a certain stated day before it was light and addressed themselves in a form of prayer to Christ as to some God…” (Pliny the Younger, Pliny’s Letter to Trajan, Harvard Classics, Vol 9, (New York, 1937) p, 404)
Again, Pliny did not say which day of the week the Christians were meeting. All that we can learn from him is that they met for prayer before it was light.
Post Apostolic Age
As Christianity spread throughout the Roman empire, certain compromises and transformations within Christianity were made for a variety of reasons. Initially, Christians in Rome were regarded as a dangerous sect since they refused to regard Caesar as a divine god. As time passed, however, Christianity began to appeal to the educated and wealthy in Rome. These individuals could afford manuscripts and they had influence within the government of Rome. By A.D. 150, the Roman Christians and pagans had found areas of mutual respect. About this time, a well educated man named Justin Martyr became a Christian and also tried to soften the hostility existing between Romans and Christians. One area of compromise was religious meetings on Sunday. The Romans regarded Sunday as a holiday. As Christians in Rome began to worship on Sunday, they found that they met little resistance, since the pagans regarded Sunday as a holiday. Justin Martyr writes:
“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.” (Justin Martyr, First Apology of Justin Martyr, Ante-Nicean Christian Library, (Boston 1887) p, 187 Chap 67)
Justin Martyr’s justification for holding a common assembly on Sunday is interesting. He cited the separation of darkness and light on the first day of Creation as grounds for holding a common assembly, and then, the resurrection of Jesus. Martyr offers no Scriptural authority for holding an assembly on Sunday, but his remarks do support the idea that Roman Christians were anxious to divorce themselves from the cradle of Judaism.
Christianity had no “central office” in those days and each geographical location adjusted doctrine to meet their needs. During the last part of the second century A.D., Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, became alarmed at a number of heresies that had infiltrated the Christian movement. He knew that Christians in Rome were meeting on Sunday and that they had abandoned the seventh-day Sabbath. He spoke against this practice when he wrote:
“For He (Christ) did not make void, but fulfilled the law (Ten Commandments).” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Vol 1 Ante-Nicean Christian Library, (Boston, 1887) p, 471)
Tertullian, another church father, wrote extensively about Christian doctrine. He, like Irenaeus, was alarmed by the practices of certain Christians, especially those in Rome. In regard to the seventh-day Sabbath he wrote:
“Thus Christ did not at all rescind the Sabbath. He kept the law (Ten Commandments) thereof… He restored to the Sabbath the works which were proper for it.” (Tertullian, Book IV, Chap 12, Vol 3 Ante-Nicean Christian Library, (Boston, 1887) p, 362)
Many leaders considered Sunday observance in those early days. Bishop Archelaus wrote in his disputation with Manes:
“Again as to the assertion that the (seventh-day) Sabbath has been abolished we deny that He (Christ) has abolished it plainly. For He Himself was also Lord of the Sabbath.” (Archelaus, The Disputation with Manes, Vol 4 Ante-Nicean Christian Library, (Boston 1887), p, 217)
By the time Christianity reached the end of the third century A.D., confusion was taking a heavy toll on Christian doctrine. Christians had spread to every province within the Roman Empire. Christians in Alexandria, Egypt (the South) were beginning to defend views different from those in Rome (the North). The authority of the Church was being discussed. Church doctrine needed stronger and clearer definition.
Questions were raised for which there was little agreement. Cultural, linguistic and social factors were beginning to define Christendom according to geography. The result, which could be easily anticipated, was a highly fractured church. A “central office” for church leadership was needed. The Christians in Rome believed they were in the best position to lead a universal Christian Church, since the Roman government was looking more favorably toward Christianity.
When Constantine came to the throne, he used Christianity for political advantage. Constantine thought that Christianity could unify the Roman empire. By endorsing a “Roman version” of Christianity, Constantine set a powerful sequence of events into motion. In future years, the church in Rome would dominate all factions of Christianity.
What do these events have to do with Sunday observance? The Roman Christians were the first group to adopt Sunday observance. Strange as it may seem, they never claimed divine authority for this action. Further, the Roman Christians did not consider Sunday work as sinful. Instead, Sunday was regarded as a day of celebration and rejoicing, not a day of fasting or reflection.
Constantine was an astute politician. When he ascended to the throne, the Roman empire was fractured by ethnicity. Constantine was looking for a way to unify the empire and He saw Christianity as a means to an end. Therefore, “he got religion” and baptized his army into Christianity by marching them through a river. To further promote his religion and political interests, he implemented the first Sunday law in A.D. 321:
“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 their 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.” (Cod. Justin, III Tit 12, L.3., March 7, A.D. 321)
Of course, this decree brought great pleasure to the bishop of Rome since the aims of the Roman church and the aims of the government were on parallel courses. The government wanted a stable empire and the church wanted control over one universal Christian church.
There’s a World Out There
Even though the Roman church was meeting on Sunday when Constantine issued his decree, most Christians were still observing the seventh-day Sabbath. Socrates wrote at the turn of the fourth century:
“Such is the difference in the churches on the subject of fasts. Nor is there less variation in regard to religious assemblies. For although almost all churches through the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the Sabbath of every week, yet the Christians of Rome and Alexandria have ceased to do this.”
(Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, Book V, Chap 22,
Ante-Nicean Christian Library, Vol II, (Boston, 1887) p, 132)
However, Constantine’s decree did not reduce the importance of the seventh-day Sabbath for most Christians. Something else would need to occur before the importance of the seventh day could be minimized. The church in Rome needed an elaborate doctrine that dealt directly with the issue of the “Lord’s Day.” Church leaders in Rome needed to present a strong case to the Christian body. So, the doctrine of Sunday observance was masterminded by Eusebius, a Christian confidant and advisor to Constantine. Notice his argument for the observance of Sunday:
“Wherefore as they (the Jews) rejected it (the Sabbath law), the Word (Christ) by the new covenant, translated and transferred the feast of the Sabbath to the morning light, and gave us the symbol of true rest, viz., the saving Lord’s day, the first (day) of light, in which the Savior of the world, after all his labors among men, obtained the victory over death, and passed the portals of heaven, having achieved a work superior to the six-days creation. On this day, which is the first (day) of light and of the true Sun, we assemble, after an interval of six days, and celebrate holy and spiritual Sabbaths, even all nations redeemed by him throughout the world, and do those things according to the spiritual law, which were decreed for the priests to do on the Sabbath. And all things whatsoever that it was the duty to do on the Sabbath, these we have transferred to the Lord’s day, as more appropriately belong to it, because it has a precedence and is first in rank, and more honorable than the Jewish Sabbath. All things whatsoever that it was duty to do on the Sabbath, these we have transferred to the Lord’s Day.” (Eusebius’s Commentary on the Psalms 92, quoted in Coxe’s Sabbath literature, Vol I, page 361)
Eusebius, who lived three hundred years after Christ, is the first man documented to claim that Christ changed the day of worship. THEN, Eusebius testifies that he (and others) “have transferred all things, whatsoever that it was duty to do on the Sabbath” to Sunday. Notice that Eusebius offers no Scriptural authority for the change. Further, no church father or authority during that time period seconded the claims of Eusebius, nor did Eusebius quote from another source. Eusebius just took the thorny problem of worship in hand and became the father of a false doctrine which favored the church at Rome. Can mere mortals change the law of Almighty God? In just three hundred years, Christians repeated the failure of the Jews. Christians altered the plainest truths of God’s Word. Jesus said of the Jews, “They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’” (Matthew 15:9)
Even with Constantine’s blessing upon Eusebius’ writings, the seventh-day Sabbath did not die in Christian churches. By the year A.D. 460, Sozomen wrote: “Assemblies are not held in all churches on the same time or manner. The people of Constantinople and almost everywhere assemble on the (seventh-day) Sabbath as well as the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or Alexandria.” (Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History, Book VII, Chap 19, Ante-Nicean Christian Library, Vol II, (Boston 1887) p, 390)
Students of church history know the church in Rome eventually dominated Christianity. Eventually, the Roman empire became the Holy Roman Empire and the bishop at Rome became the Bishop of the Universal Christian Church. For nearly 13 centuries, the kings and queens of Europe were subservient to the Bishop of Rome. This great period of church domination was appropriately called the “Dark Ages” because religious dominion is a cruel master.
Sunday observance started in Rome as a compromise with the pagans. Most Roman Christians were not of Jewish descent so Judaism and its seventh-day Sabbath was not considered a high priority issue. In fact, early Christians in Rome did not want to be identified with Judaism since the Jews were hated in Rome. The early Christians in Rome were predisposed to meet on Sunday for religious celebrations (since this was the pagan practice in Rome) and did not view their actions as having serious ramifications in ages to come. However, as centuries passed, the church in Rome became the world’s leading Christian church. It was strategically located close to the leaders of world government. About the third century A.D., the Lord’s Day became an issue of significant concern. Eusebius constructed a doctrine to justify Sunday observance and Constantine implemented a Sunday law in A.D. 321 to unify the Roman empire. Today, almost all of Christianity worship on Sunday. Protestant denominations still show allegiance to the Church in Rome by worshiping on Sunday.
There is no Biblical basis for Sunday sacredness and no Biblical basis for observing the Lord’s Day on Sunday. The support for Sunday observance and sacredness as the Lord’s Day is based on tradition and the arrogance of man. God’s law has not changed. The Ten Commandments stand without impeachment. If ten thousand men were to justify the change from Sabbath to Sunday, this does not change the law of God. The fourth commandment still establishes the seventh day of the week as God’s holy day.
I would like to close this part with three texts. The first text was written by King Solomon. “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man for God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. “ (Ecclesiastes 12:13,14) Jesus said, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” (John 15:10) Surrendering your life to Jesus means you resolve to obey God’s commandments at any cost, which includes His Sabbath. Think of it this way: God offers you and me a one-day vacation each week from the cares of this world. He promises to sustain everything we do until we return to work, so that nothing will be lost. Faith in God means being willing to obey God. When you consider His wonderful offer, what could keep any intelligent person from accepting it? Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
(This article is part 2 of 2. See also: Part 1 ~ What Happened to the Lords Day?)