Christianity Knowledge Base

In Christianity, the Sabbath is a weekly religious day of rest as ordained by the fourth of the Ten Commandments. The Hebrew word ("šabbāth", שַׁבָּת) means "the [day] of rest (or ceasing)," as it entails a ceasing or resting from labor. The institution of the Sabbath was in respect for the day during which God rested after having completed the Creation in six days, (Genesis 2:2-3, Exodus 23:12, Exodus 31:16-17, Isaiah 56:6-8).

Originally denoting Saturday, the seventh day of the week, or, more precisely, the time period from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, the term 'sabbath' can now mean one of several things, depending on the context and the speaker:

  • Saturday, as originally, in reference to Jewish or historical observance;
  • Saturday, as above, as a day of observance for some Christian groups;
  • Sunday, as the day of observance for Roman Catholics and other Christian groups;
  • Saturday and Sunday as a day of relaxing;

The word is also infrequently used to describe the annual Holy Days observed by several Christian groups, also called High Sabbaths or High Day Sabbaths (John 19:31): the First and Last Days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Eighth Day of the Feast.

Overview of the Sabbath[]

The special significance of the seventh day of the week, called the Sabbath, begins with God's creation of man on the earth. According to the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, God created man on the sixth day; and on the seventh day "he rested from all his labors," and therefore sanctified (made holy) the seventh day (Genesis 2:2-3, Exodus 20:11).

From the biblical story of Noah (Genesis 8:10), it is inferred that the knowledge of the Holy Sabbath was known from creation. Though most of the world forgot about God's laws and the Sabbath, Abraham and his son and grandson did not (Genesis 26:4-5). However, after 400 years under pagan slavery, the Israelites (Abraham's descendants) had forgotten most of their religious heritage. When God freed the Israelites from their bondage by the hand of Moses, he taught them again about his laws, beginning with the Sabbath (Exodus 16). And it is by the Sabbath that God tested the Israelites to see whether they would keep his commandments.

In Leviticus 23:3, God lists his Sabbath as a Feast day, or day of celebration. God's Feast days are days for rejoicing and communal unity, as well as communion with God himself (Leviticus 23:2, Isaiah 58:13, Leviticus 23:40, Deuteronomy 12, Deuteronomy 14, Deuteronomy 16). It is by the Sabbath that knowledge of God and a relationship with him is acquired; and it is a sign that identifies his people, as distinguished from those who are not his people (Exodus 31:13, Exodus 31:17).

In this regard, the Sabbath was deemed so important to God, that he made it a covenant, separate and distinct from the covenant at Sinai (Exodus 13:16).

In the New Testament, Jesus declared that he was the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28), and that it was made for man's good (Mark 2:27). Jesus, in his teachings, rebuked the Jews, and taught that it was right to do good on the Sabbath (Mark 3:4, Luke 6:9). The Sabbath continued to be a time of communal gathering for Christians (Hebrews 10:25), as well as learning the will of God (Acts 15:21). Christians continued to observe the seventh day as holy for centuries after the crucifixion of Jesus. First day observance (also called the Lord's Day, on Sunday) became traditional in the Catholic (Roman) and then later the Orthodox (Greek) churches. Though greatly reduced in number, some Christians continued to observe the seventh day Sabbath, even up to this day.

Early observance of the Sabbath[]

In the very Early History of Christianity, the first Christians were Jews and Jewish Proselytes, who on the weight of Biblical evidence (such as Acts 3:1, Acts 5:27-42, Acts 21:18-26, Acts 24:5, Acts 24:14, Acts 28:22), are usually assumed to have kept the Jewish customs, including the observation of the Sabbath from Friday's sunset to Saturday's sunset. These Christians are sometimes referred to as Jewish Christians. This practice may have continued at least until Herod's Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70. There is evidence that even Gentile Christians also observed the Biblical Sabbath, many centuries into the Christian Era, and even up to the present time. At the same time, a widespread Christian tradition, from early on, was to also meet for worship on the first day of the week, Sunday.

The Apostolic Constitutions, generally dated in the 4th century and found in the Ante-Nicene Fathers collection state: #2.36 [1] the Sabbath should be observed by resting and studying the Law; #6.19 [2] the Law has not been dissolved as Simon ( probably Simon Magus ) claims and cites Matthew 5:18, Matthew 5:17; #7.23 [3] keep the Sabbath and the Lord's Day festival.

It is known that Gentile Christians sometimes openly observed the Biblical Sabbath in conjunction with first-day Sunday worship, because the Council of Laodicea [4] around 365 attempted to put a stop to the practice. Some conjecture, then, that prior to the Laodicean council Saturday was observed as a Sabbath and Sunday as a day of worship, primarily in Palestine; but after the Laodicean Council, resting on the Sabbath was forbidden. This is often considered an attempt of the early Christian church to distance itself from Judaism which had become unpopular in the Roman Empire after the Jewish-Roman wars, see also Constantine the Great. The 59 decrees of the Council of Laodicea are part of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers collection: #16 [5] states the Bible is to be read on the Sabbath, #29 [6] states Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath but must work that day and then if possible rest on the Lord's Day and any found to be judaizers are anathema from Christ; #'s 49 [7] and 51 [8] state that the Sabbath and Lord's Day are to be excepted from Lenten restrictions.

In the 5th century, Socrates Scholasticus Church History book 5[9] states:

"Nor is there less variation in regard to religious assemblies. For although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries 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."

Also in the 5th, Sozomen Church History book 7[10] states:

"Assemblies are not held in all churches on the same time or manner. 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."

New Testament basis for Christian Sabbatarianism[]

Some Christians continue to keep the seventh day as the Sabbath day of rest. Some of the New Testament reasons for this are as follows. From Mark 2:28 and Matthew 12:8, the statement made by Jesus, "the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath," indicates for some, that Sabbath keeping is central to following Christ. In other words, since He kept the seventh day Sabbath, this is the true Lord's day according to seventh day Christians. Further, in reference to the future destruction of Jerusalem, Christ states in Matthew 24:20, "And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath." Sabbatarians maintain that this indicates Christ expected the Sabbath to be kept subsequent His death. Also, on the weight of Hebrews 4:8-11, the Sabbath remains a Christian Holy Day, and Sabbath-keeping is an abiding duty as prescribed in the fourth commandment. The gospel of Luke states in Luke 23:56 that when the body of Christ was being prepared by His followers, they rested on the Sabbath before finishing their work.

While a clear mandate is given for the Sabbath in Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15, the closest passage to a command for Sabbath-keeping in the New Testament is found in Hebrews 4:9. In that passage is found the word "sabbatismos". The Authorized Version (King James Version of 1611) and New King James Version and several others render that word as "rest". The American Standard Version of 1901, New American Standard Bible 1995 Updated Edition and several other translations somewhat more correctly render that word as "Sabbath rest". A few, such as the Darby translation, transliterate the word as "Sabbatism". However, its literal translation is "Sabbath observance", and The Scriptures, translated by The Institute For Scripture Research, render it as such, while The Bible in Basic English gives the equally literal "Sabbath keeping". In regard to taking Sabbatismos literally, Professor Andrew T. Lincoln, on page 213 in his symposium From Sabbath To The Lord's Day, states "The use of sabbatismos elsewhere in extant Greek literature gives an indication of its more exact shade of meaning. It is used in Plutarch, De Superstitione 3 (Moralia166A) of Sabbath observance. There are also four occurrences in post canonical literature that are independent of Hebrews 4:9. They are Justin, Dialogue with Trypho 23:3; Epiphanius, Adversus Haereses 30:2:2; Martyrium Petri et Pauli 1; Apostolic Constitutions 2:36:2. In each of these places the term denotes the observance or celebration of the Sabbath. This usage corresponds to the Septuagint usage of the cognate verb sabbatizo (cf. Exodus 16:30; Leviticus 23:32; Leviticus 26:34; 2 Chronicles 36:21). Thus the writer to the Hebrews is saying that since the time of Joshua an observance of the Sabbath rest has been outstanding." The literal translation then of Hebrews 4:9 is "Therefore a Sabbath observance has been left behind for the people of God." Further, the internal evidence of the preceding verses would indicate that the Sabbath observance mentioned in this verse is indeed the seventh day Sabbath and not the Lord's Day Sabbath. In verse 8, the Hebrew writer states, "For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have afterward spoken of another day." On first glance in our English translations, that word "another" would give the appearance of a different day. However, in the Greek, there are two words that mean "another". "Heteros" means "another of a different kind", while "allos" means "another of the same kind". The word used in Hebrews 4:8 is "allos", indicating a Sabbath day of the same kind as referred to in Hebrews 4:8-5, that is, the seventh-day Sabbath. In verse 7, the Hebrews writer uses the term "certain day". The Greek word for "certain" is "tis". It is clearly referrencing a specific day, and not the general thought of an eternal rest. The force of Hebrews 3:11-4:11 then seems to be saying that because Christians look toward the eternal rest of heaven, the type or shadow of the earthly Sabbath rest still remains, or is "left behind", literally, for Christians to observe. This is significant, in light of the greater context of the book of Hebrews, which deals with the entire Aaronic priesthood and its methods of worship as found in the Old Covenant being supplanted by the Melchizedek priesthood of Jesus Christ. As the Hebrews writer states in Hebrews 12:27, "And this word, Yet once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things which have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain."

While it is true that several times the apostles also met on the first day of the week, there is disagreement as to whether they were continuing into the first day (Saturday evening) after having already been gathered for the Sabbath. That would have been the beginning of the first day (Saturday evening, or any day of the week after an High Sabbath) when some activities would have begun that had not been allowed on the Sabbaths (such as preparing a meal, collecting money, and planning for travel). In addition, in the book of Acts, also believed to be written by Luke, meeting on the Sabbath is referred to eight times. Generally the religious festivals, new moons, and accompanying high sabbaths of Leviticus 23, Numbers 28-29, Isaiah 1:13-14, Hosea 2:11, Ezekiel 45:17 and Colossians 2:16-17 were continued to be observed, as can be seen in such passages as Acts 18:21, 1 Corinthians 5:8, 2 Peter 2:13, Jude 1:12, and Acts 27:9. Some Sabbatarians believe these High Sabbaths to have been fulfilled by the coming of Christ, and their misused practice condemned by Isaiah and Hosea. However, there are some who show that these Holy Days are still referenced in the New Testament as observed holy days, and are relevant to Christians.

Primary Sabbath (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) Sabbatarianism[]

For many sabbatarians, keeping the Seventh-day is about worshipping God as Creator. It is the ultimate positive worship of God given in His commandments, and is in recognition of His authority. Just as tithes and offerings are an honor to give to the cause of worship, so also it is an honor to give time to God to meet with Him on the appointed day. It is a reminder that since God created in six days, by the same power He can also resurrect from the dead. It is a reminder that after resurrection, when the earth is recreated, we will worship in His immediate presence on the Sabbath, Isaiah 66:22-23. It is the time to rest, indicating we should be productive all other days. For without work, what is the point of rest? As with the symbol of baptism, there is new life in work and action on the first day after rest and dying to self. And naturally, it is an expression of love to God, John 14:15, John 14:21.

Many believers contend that the Seventh-day Sabbath is a test leading to the sealing of God's people during the end times, though there is little consensus about how this will play out. This is taken from an interpretation of Daniel 7:25 and Revelation 13:15 where the subject of persecution in prophecy is thought to be about the Sabbath commandment.

The Socinian churches of Eastern Europe and the Netherlands more rigorously equated the Christian sabbath with the Jewish Shabbat. Sunday observance was abandoned in favor of a more Biblical observance of the Sabbath, leading to a revival of seventh-day sabbatarianism. The influence of the Socinians was felt among the Anabaptists in the Netherlands. A small number of them adopted Saturday as the day of worship. This small Seventh-day sect finally abandoned Christianity for orthodox Judaism. Seventh-day sabbatarianism did not become prevalent to any degree among Protestants, until it was revived in England by several groups of English Baptists, and through them the doctrine spread to a few churches in other denominations. Unitarian and seventh day leaders and churches were persecuted as heretics by the Trinitarian and Sunday-observing establishment, in England.

The Seventh Day Baptists arrived at the height of their direct influence on other sects, in the middle of the 19th century, in the United States, when their doctrines were instrumental in founding the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Seventh-day Church of God. The Worldwide Church of God, which (after 1934) descended from a schism in the Seventh-day Church of God, was founded as a seventh-day Sabbath-keeping church, but in 1995 renounced sabbatarianism and moved toward the Evangelical "mainstream." Its move from the biblical Sabbath, and other doctrines, caused more schism, with large groups splitting off to continue to observe the Sabbath as new church organizations. See Sabbath keeping Church of God.

The direct influence of the Socinians continues to be felt, as will be found anywhere that Unitarianism and Saturday observance appear together in a non-Jewish sect.

[Note: there is technical distinction between the doctrine of Unitarians and Unitarianism. Unitarians, among other distinctives, typically deny the miraculous birth of Christ, but this is not true of all adherents to Unitarianism, and it was not true at all of the Socinians. Although this distinction is perhaps confusing in this context, it is important.]

Protestant Sabbatarianism[]

A new rigorism was brought into the observance of the Christian Lord's Day with the Protestant reformation, especially among the Puritans of England and Scotland, in reaction to the laxity with which Sunday observance was customarily kept. Sabbath ordinances were appealed to, with the idea that only the word of God can bind men's consciences in whether or how they will take a break from work, or to impose an obligation to meet at a particular time. Their influential reasoning spread to other denominations also, and it is primarily through their influence that "Sabbath" has become the colloquial equivalent of "Lord's Day" or "Sunday". The most mature expression of this influence survives in the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 21, "Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day". Section 7-8 reads:

7. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.
8. This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe a holy rest, all the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.

Points used against Sabbath Observance[]

Some Christian theologians use Colossians 2:14-17 to show that Sabbath observance for Christians has been abolished — "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." This is often cited as a direct parallel to Numbers 28-29, where the Sabbath is described alongside burnt offerings and new moons; all things which are claimed to have been made obsolete with the coming of Christ. In conjunction with this, a second Pauline epistle is often quoted, namely Romans 14:5-6, which states "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day [alike]. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth [it] unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard [it]." In other words, the non-Sabbatarian argument is founded upon the concept that anything which does not proceed from faith is sin (Romans 14:23). Ritual observance of a weekly Sabbath is thus not required. Nevertheless, if one believes they are sinning when they break the Sabbath, they are condemned, however if their conscience does not condemn them, they have done no wrong. To further support this idea, 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 is often used, "Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart." Hence, the idea is that Christians no longer follow a law written "in tables of stone" (that is, the Ten Commandments), but follow a law written upon "fleshy tables of the heart." Finally, the cumulative argument often continues with 2 Corinthians 3:7, Corinthians 3:11, "But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious,...which glory was to be done away... For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious." Non-sabbatarians claim this is a direct reference to the 10 Commandments, namely that New Covenant Christians are no longer under the law (antinomianism), and thus Sabbath-keeping is no longer required. The New Covenant "law" is based entirely upon love, and love is considered the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10). Finally, Galatians 4:9-11 is used as justification that a Sabbath is no longer in effect under the New Covenant: "But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain." Essentially, non-Sabbatarians suggest Paul's claim here is that ritual observance of days, including the weekly Sabbath, is no longer prescribed under the New Covenant. Sabbatarians often point to the fact that Paul may have been referring to the Jewish festivals rather than the weekly Sabbath, or that perhaps Paul was targeting Gnostic heresy which had infiltrated the church.

A practical distinction sometimes arises between The Lord's Day and The Sabbath. Saturday observance has become common, for example in the United States, among Jews and other seventh-day sabbatarians, whose conscientious keeping of Saturday is considered mandated by the Law of God. This is often distinguished from Sunday observance, "first day sabbatarianism", or "eighth day sabbatarianism", according to which Sunday is kept because it is the "day of light", the first day of the new creation, and the traditional day on which many Christians have met. Alternatively, many Christians suggest that on the weight of Biblical evidence such as the aforementioned, Sabbath-keeping is not a prescribed duty for Christians under the New Covenant and thus worshipping on Sunday is acceptable.

To be non-sabbatarian doesn't necessarily equate to making all days alike. A member of a non-sabbatarian church may nevertheless be very conscientious about avoiding certain kinds of activities, and doing others, because it is the day for the church to gather, a day for prayer and for works of mercy.

Basis of First Day Observance[]

There are two instances in the New Testament where the first Christians are said to have come together on the first day of the week to break bread, to listen to Christian preaching (Acts 20:7) and to gather collections (1 Corinthians 16:2) for the financial assistance of others. Some suggest that if they had already been gathered for the Sabbath, gathering collections and preparing a meal would have been proper to begin at sunset, and would have begun at sunset Saturday evening, when the first day actually began.

It was also on the first day, according to most Christians, that Jesus was raised from the dead (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1); however, some have shown that the Bible supports a Sabbath resurrection (see article, When Jesus Died and Rose). The disciples of Jesus also claimed that on that same evening, called "the first day of the week", the resurrected Christ came to them while they were gathered in fear (John 20:19). Eight days later, on the first day of the week, Jesus is said to have appeared to them a second time (John 20:26). The writer called Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, writes that "After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God." At the end of forty days, the Christians believe that Jesus ascended into heaven while the disciples watched (Acts 1:9). Ten days later, at the onset of the feast of Pentecost (See: Shavuot) the Christians say that the Spirit of God was given to the disciples of Christ, establishing the Christian Church, on the first day of the week.

These events are cited by some Christian teachers and historians, believed to have written very early, as the reason that Christians gathered on the Lord's Day, the first day of the week, including Barnabas (AD 100), Ignatius of Antioch (107), Justin Martyr (145), Bardaisan (154), Irenaeus (178), Tertullian (180), Cyprian (200), Saint Victorinus (280), and Eusebius of Caesarea (324) [Note: dates are traditional and approximate]. These early Christians believed that the resurrection and ascension of Christ signals the renewal of creation, making the day on which God accomplished it a day analogous to the first day of creation when God made the light. It is a day of fulfillment of the Jewish Shabbat which preceded it, an "eighth day" on which sin was overcome and death was conquered. Therefore the first day has become like the seventh day when God's creating work attained to its goal, a day on which man attained to the goal of rest in God. Reasoning this way, some wrote of the first day as a greater day than the Sabbath, an "eighth day" on which, through Christ, mankind was redeemed out of futility and brought into the Sabbath-rest of God. However, these writers do not call the day a Sabbath.

The Didache (70-75) uses the term κυριακήν which is often translated as "the Lord's Day". Some claim that in the extrabiblical literature, it always refers to Sunday. Specifically, verse 14 of the Didache has often been translated as "On the Lord's own day, gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks." Some conclude that this indicates Christians were meeting on Sundays, and "breaking bread" would suggest the presence of religious observances of some kind. Others have pointed out that since the Greek term for day (ήμερα) is missing from the Didache (Lewis A.H. A Critical History of the Sabbath and Sunday in the Christian Church), that "Lord's way" or "Lord of Lords" is a better translation. The Greek expression normally translated by 19th Century scholars as "On the Lord's day" in the Didache is Κατα κυριακήν δε κυριου (Holmes M. The Apostolic Fathers - Greek Texts and English Translations), which literally means "According to the Lord of Lords". Some conclude that the Didache could be discussing the observation of the Christian Passover as Christians were keeping it "in the Lord's way" or "according to the Lord or Lord's", and not (presumably) the same way that the Jews had kept it.

The Epistle of Barnabas (120-150) uses Isaiah 1:13 to suggest that the "eighth day" marks the resurrection, and as such denotes the completion of God's work of saving mankind from sin. Although there is dispute over whether this is a correct interpretation of Isaiah, it indicates that Sunday observance had at the very least taken hold at the time it was written.

Ignatius of Antioch in Letter to the Magnesians 9.1 is the first Christian writer many claim suggests replacing the Sabbath with the Lord's Day. This claim has been disputed by several scholars (S. Bacchiochi. From Sabbath to Sunday; Lewis A.H. A Critical History of the Sabbath and Sunday in the Christian Church).

In 321, while yet unbaptized (a pagan and supposedly a sun-worshipper, see Sol Invictus), the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great issued an edict, part of which dealt with the issue of a day of rest:

On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits because it often happens that another day is not suitable for gain-sowing or vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.

Although this does not indicate a "change" of the Sabbath, it does favor a different day for rest, in the cities at least, over the Jewish Sabbath day. The dominant religions in the regions of the world where Christianity was developing were pagan, and in Rome, Mithranism, specifically the cult of Sol Invictus, had taken hold. Mithranism met on Sunday. Some theorize that, because the practice favored the Christian day by coincidence, it also helped the church to avoid implicit association with the Jews. Jews were being persecuted routinely at this time, because of the Jewish-Roman Wars, and for this reason Constantine's edict, and Christian reception of it, is sometimes labelled anti-semitic. On a closely related issue, the Quartodeciman, Eusebius in Life of Constantine, Book III chapter 18[11], claims Constantine stated: "Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way." See also Great Apostasy.

The Roman Catholic Church draws a distinction between Sabbath observance and Sunday worship, celebrating the occurrence of Jesus' resurrection on the eighth day (that is, Sunday: see 2174ff,). From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2174 Jesus rose from the dead "on the first day of the week."[104] Because it is the "first day," the day of Christ's Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the "eighth day" following the sabbath,[105] it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ's Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord's Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday: 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.[106] Sunday- fulfillment of the sabbath

2175 Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ's Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man's eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ:[107] 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.[108] 2176 The celebration of Sunday observes the moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship "as a sign of his universal beneficence to all."[109] Sunday worship fulfills the moral command of the Old Covenant, taking up its rhythm and spirit in the weekly celebration of the Creator and Redeemer of his people.

2177 The Sunday celebration of the Lord's Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church's life. "Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church."[110]

2178 This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age.[112] The Letter to the Hebrews reminds the faithful "not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but to encourage one another."[113] Tradition preserves the memory of an ever-timely exhortation: Come to Church early, approach the Lord, and confess your sins, repent in prayer.... Be present at the sacred and divine liturgy, conclude its prayer and do not leave before the dismissal.... We have often said: "This day is given to you for prayer and rest. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."[114]]

Sunday vs Saturday[]

Eastern Orthodox churches distinguish between "the sabbath" (Saturday) and "the Lord's Day" (Sunday), and both continue to play a special role for the believers, such as the church allowing some leniency during fasts on both of them, and having special Bible readings different from those allotted to weekdays; though the Lord's day with the weekly Liturgy is clearly given more emphasis. Catholics also distinguish between the Sabbath and the Lord's Day (Sunday), which they see as a fulfillment and replacement of the Sabbath. (The Catechism of the Holy Catholic Church on the Sabbath: Many Protestants have historically regarded Lord's Day, Sabbath, and Sunday as synonymous terms for the Christian day of worship (except in those languages in which the name of the seventh day is literally equivalent to "Sabbath" — such as Spanish, Italian, Russian, Modern Greek, and of course Hebrew). For most Christians the Lord's Day is distinct from the Sabbath, and some Protestants consider it non-binding for Christians. Relatively few Christians regard the first day observance as entailing all of the ordinances of Jewish Shabbat. A minority of Protestants keep Saturday, the seventh day, as the Lord's Day and the Christian Sabbath. The Ethiopian Orthodox observe a Saturday Sabbath.

Acts 20:7 says that, "On the first day of the week we came together to break bread", where Paul preached until midnight. One must remember, however, that according to Jewish tradition (and as described in Leviticus 23:32), a day begins when the sun goes down and this meeting apparently gathered in the evening, at dinner time. So, those who have believed that the Christians kept the Sabbath on the seventh day argue that this meeting (Acts 20:7) would have begun on Saturday night. Paul would have been preaching on Saturday night until midnight and then walked eighteen miles from Traos to Assos on Sunday. He would not have done so, if he had regarded Sunday as the Sabbath, much less boarded a boat and continued to travel to Mitylene and finally on to Chios. Sabbatarians often claim that Biblical evidence suggests that Paul was a lifelong Sabbath keeper for the sake of the Jews, and if Sunday was now the Sabbath, then this journey would have been contrary to his character. Those opposed to a Sabbath claim that the practice had been abolished by this time, and thus would have no impact on Paul's actions.

Some doubt that this is an instance of Paul keeping the Sabbath, although it may be if it shows him waiting until the morning of the first day to continue his work. The focus of the story is about Eutychus, his accident, and his resurrection, not the changing of the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first day of the week.

Also in Acts 2:45, they went to the Temple in Jerusalem and broke bread from house to house "daily". There is no mention of the Sabbath, and it is debatable whether this is a reference to Communion. There are many instances of the Gospel being taught and preached on non-specific days as well as daily. One example is in Mark 2:1-2 another is Luke 19:47-20:1, where it clearly indicates that Jesus himself taught and preached daily.

Christians who reject the religious observance of the first day argue, based on the reasons given above, that there is no significance given to the first day, the breaking of bread, nor the preaching; they are merely mentioned as events that might take place on any day of the week. The majority of Christians, who accept the practice of Sunday worship, suggest these actions are indicative of a new reverence for Sunday in connection with strictly Christian ceremonies; and the majority of these believe that Sunday is a Sabbatical day, a resting day set aside for worship of God through Jesus Christ, and see no continuing obligation to keep the Saturday ordinances in their Jewish form.


External links[]

Churches keeping the Seventh-Day Sabbath[]

Churches keeping a Sunday Sabbath[]

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