This article is a companion to the article Was Jesus Crucified On Friday Or Wednesday?
If the title of this treatise is a bit surprising, the reader may rest assured that it was intentional. These are the exact words the New Testament uses for Sunday. This is a fact that the opponents of the Sunday Sabbath have ignored.
Opponents of Sunday as the Christian Sabbath are not so because they have studied the subject thoroughly, but because they have not studied the subject enough.
I realize these are strong words, but it is time for strong words. Plain statements in the New Testament have been ignored too long, and it is high time for us to challenge those who ignore them.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul uniformly call Sunday, "The First of Sabbaths," in the Greek text. This will be clearly shown as we proceed in our study.
It is the position of this writer that:
Following the deaths of the Apostles, God raised up devout men who became the leaders in the Church. Many of these men wrote etensively and, fortunately for the Church today, some of their writings have been preserved. While their writings are not considered inspired like the books of the New Testament, still they are very valuable for many reasons. One of these reasons is that they let us know the state of the Church in their day and what Christians believed and practiced.
This writer is fortunate to have the ten volume set of books containing many of the writings of these early Church Fathers from the time of the Apostles to the year 325 A.D. This set is called the Ante-Nicene Fathers. In studying these writings I have found several statements which give irrefutable proof that the early Church in the days of the Apostles and immediately following was already observing the First Day of the Week as their day of assembly and worship. Following are statements from these Church Fathers.
Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, lived in the years 30 to 107 A.D. There is a story, whether true or not, which represents him as the little child whom Jesus placed in the midst of the Apostles (Matthew 18:2) which indicates at least the time when he was born. Tradition tells us that he and Polycarp were fellow disciples under the Apostle John.
Fifteen Epistles bear the name of Ignatius. It is the opinion of some critics that eight of them were not written by Ignatius. The remaining seven are in two forms, a Shorter Recension and a Longer Recension.
In the Longer Recension of Ignatius' Epistle to the Magnesians is this statement on the Sabbath: "And after the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ keep the Lord's Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days (of the week). Looking forward to this, the prophet declared, `To the end, for the eighth day' on which our life both sprang up again, and the victory over death was obtained in Christ, whom the children of perdition, the enemies of the Saviour, deny…"
Notice that the "Lord's Day" is called the "resurrection-day" and also "the eight day." It is "the queen and chief of all the days (of the week)." This certainly gives priority over Saturday or the seventh day of the week. Here we have the Lord's Day identified as the "Day of the Resurrection" which was the First Day of the Week, and we are told it is "the queen and chief of all days." It is also spoken of as "the eight day" inasmuch as it followed the seventh.
In his Epistle to the Trallians, Ignatius wrote: "During the Sabbath He continued under the eart in the tomb in which Joseph of Arimathea had laid Him. At the dawning of the Lord's day he arose from the dead, acording to what was spoken by Himself, `As Jonah was three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.' The day of the preparation then, comprises the passion; the Sabbath embraces the burial; the Lord's day contains the resurrection."
This statement twice identifies the Lord's Day as the Day of the Resurrection, and the Lord's Day has been observed by Christians as their day of worship from the times of the Apostles.
In the Shorter Recension of Ignatius' Epistle to the Magnesians, Chap.IX, he says: "If therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His dead — whom some deny, by which mystery we have obtained faith, and therefore endure, that we may be found disciples of Jesus Christ, our only Master."
This writer is aware that some critics have wrangled over the writings of Ignatius, some saying that the Longer Recension is an interpolation of the Shorter Recension, and others holding that the Shorter Recension is an epitome of the Longer Recension. But regardless of which position one takes, he cannot escape the fact that Ignatius shows that as early as his day, and he lived from 30 to 107 A.D., Christians observed the Lord's Day. Notice the words: "No longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's Day."
The Epistle is attributed to the Barnabas of the New Testament by some and believed to have been written about 70 A.D. Others hold that it was written by someone else and Barnabas' name became attached to it, or that the writer was also named Barnabas, and it was written in the years between 120 and 150 A.D. Whatever the truth may be it is agreed by all that th is is a very ancient document, and was written no later than the first half of the second century. It gives us strong proof that the Christian Sabbath is the Day when Jesus rose from the dead.
"Further, He says to them, `Your new moons and your Sabbaths, I cannot endure.' Ye perceive how He speaks: Your present Sabbaths are not acceptable to Me, but that is which I have made, (namely this,) when, giving rest to all things, I shall make a beginning of the eight day, that is, a beginning of another world. Wherefore, also, we keep the eight day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead. And when He had manifested Himself, He ascended into the heavens."
This Epistle, regardless of who was the true author, shows that Christians as early as 120 to 150 A.D. were already in the practice of keeping the day on which Jesus rose from the dead, also referred to as the eighth day, which in reality was the First Day of the Week, the Lord's Day, or Sunday, as their Sabbath.
Justin was born at the beginning of the second century, the date being given as 100, 110, and 114 A.D. He suffered martyrdom in the year 165 A.D. His writings are among the most important that have come down to us from the second century. He was born in the Holy Land, in Flavia Neapolis, a city of Samaria, and came in contact with many people who had known Christ's Apostles personally. He also travelled extensively and was in contact with almost the whole of the main body of the Christian Church. The crucifixion and resurrection were events in the living memory of people of his day. So his testimony concerning the days of the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the Christian Sabbath is of tremendous value.
In his First Apology, Chap.LXVII, Justin makes this statement concerning "Weekly Worship of the Christians": "And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows, and those who, through sickness or any cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds, and the strangers sojourning among us, and in word takes care of all who are in need. 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 Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration."
In words that no one can misunderstand Justin Martyr informs us that all Christians in his day, 100 to 165 A.D., observed Sunday as their day of worship because on that day Jesus rose from the dead. Now if it were common practice to worship on Sunday in the time of Justin, then the practice must have originated long before his day, which puts us back into the times of the Apostles.
This short but ancient writing is a most important piece of Christian literature, written no later than the first half of the second century, possibly in the year 120 A.D. although some English and American scholars place the date of writing as between 70 and 120 A.D.
In chapter XIV of the Teaching, also known as the Didache (Greek for Teaching) is this statement: "But every Lord's day, do ye gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure."
It has already been shown that the expression "Lord's Day" meant the Day of the Resurrection, the First Day of the Week, or Sunday. The Didache shows that as early as the first quarter of the second century Christians were already in the practice of meeting on the Lord's Day for worship. If that be so, then the practice must have begun much earlier, otherwise it could not have become an established custom by then.
Titus Flavius Clemens was born about 153 A.D. and died 217 A.D. He wrote extensively, and in his writings called The Stromata, or Miscellanies, Book VII, Chap.XII, is this statement: "He, in fulfilment of the precept, according to the Gospel, keeps the Lord's day, when he abandons evil disposition, and assumes that of the Gnostic, glorifying the Lord's resurrection in himself."
Once again the Lord's Day is mentioned as the day observed by Christians because it was the day of the Lord's resurrection.
While the exact date of the writing of the Apostolic Constitutions is not known for sure, it is believed the first six books were written between 250 and 300 A.D. and the seventh and eighth books no later than 325 A.D.
In Book VII, Sec.II, Par.XXX, we find this statement: "On the day of the resurrection of the Lord, that is, the Lord's day, assemble yourselves together without fail, giving thanks to God, and praising Him for those mercies God has bestowed upon you through Christ, and has delivered you from ignorance, error, and bondage, that your sacrifice may be unspotted, and acceptable to God, who has said concerning His universal Church: `In every place shall incense and a pure sacrifice be offered unto me; for I am a great King, saith the Lord Almighty, and my name is wonderful among the heathen.'."
It is believed by some scholars that this statement is taken from the one given in the Didache quoted above. If that be so, it would only help to verify the antiquity of the Didache.
Tertullian who lived from 145 to 220 A.D. was one of the most voluminous writers of the early Church. In his writings on Idolatry, Chap.XIV, he chides the heathen for not sharing the Lord's Day with the Christians for fear of being identified as Christians: "Not the Lord's day, not Pentecost, even if they had known them, would they have shared with us; for they would fear lest they should seem to be Christians." Here is just one more of the many statements of the early Church Fathers that show how soon after the resurrection of Christ Sunday became the universally observed Sabbath of the Christians.
In Tertullian's writings Ad Nationes, Chap.XIII, he meets and answers the charge that Christians worshipped the sun because they worshipped on Sunday: "Others with greater regard to good manners, it must be confessed, suppose that the sun is the god of the Christians, because it is a well-known fact that we pray towards the east, or because we make Sunday a day of festivity. What then? Do you do less than this? Do not many among you, with an affection of sometimes worshipping the heavenly bodies likewise, move your lips in the direction of the sunrise? It is you, at all events, who have even admitted the sun into the calendar of the week; and you have selected its day, in preference to the preceding day as the most suitable in the week for either an abstinence from the bath, or for its postponment until the evening, or for taking rest and for banqueting. By resorting to these customs, you deliberately deviate from your own religious rites to those of strangers. For the Jewish feasts are the Sabbath and `the Purification,' and Jewish also are the ceremonies of the lamps, and the feasts of unleavened bread, and the `littoral prayers,' all which institutions and practices are of course foreign from your gods. Wherefore, that I may return from this digression, you who reproach us with the sun and Sunday should consider your proximity to us. We are not far off from your Saturn and your days of rest."
Notice particularly the last two sentences: "…you who reproach us with the sun and Sunday should consider your proximity to us. We are not far off from your Saturn and your days of rest." Here is conclusive proof that Christians in the time of Tertullian were already in the practice of observing Sunday instead of the day of Saturn, or Saturday as their day of rest. Had they been observing Saturday, Tertullian's statement would have contradicted it.
All of the above statements have been found and verified by this writer in his own set of the Ante-Nicene Fathers.
In addition to the above T.J. McCrossan in his book The Truth Sabbath Saturday or Sunday — Which? gives some more valuable statements from the early Church Fathers. Below are quotations from McCrossan, pp. 25,26.
All the following quotations can be found in Bowman's Historical Evidence of the New Testament, pp. 130-135, the Encyclopedia Britannica under `Sunday,' and Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History, Vol1, P.135, etc.
- Eusebius, in his history of the early Christian church written 315 A.D., says: `The churches throughout the rest of the world observe the practice that has prevailed from Apostolic tradition until the present time so that it would not be proper to terminate our fast on any other day but the resurrection day of our Saviour. Hence there were synods and convocations of our Bishops on this question, and all unanimously drew up an ecclesiastical decree which they communicated to churches in all places — that the mystery of the Lord's resurrection should be celebrated on no other than the Lord's Day.'
- Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, 300 A.D. says: `We keep the Lord's Day as a day of joy because of him who rose thereon.'
- Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, 253 A.D., says: `The Lord's Day is both the 1st, and the 8th day.'
- Tertullian, of Carthage, 200 A.D. (121 years before Constantine's sabbath law, and 240 years before there was any Pope) says (speaking of the `sun-worshippers'): `Though we share with them Sunday, we are not apprehensive lest we seem to be heathens.'
- Clement of Alexandria, 194 A.D. (127 years before Constantine's sabbath law and 246 years before there was any pope) says: The old sabbath day has become nothing more than a working day.
- Bardesanes, a learned heretic of Edessa, 160 A.D., writing to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, says: `Wherever we be, all of us are called by the one name of the Messiah, namely Christians, and upon one day, which is the first day of the week, we assemble ourselves together and on the appointed days we abstain from food.'
In these statements of the early Church Fathers we have shown that from the times of the Apostles Christians were already in the established practice of observing Sunday, the Lord's Day, as their day of worship. We have clear evidence that Sunday Sabbath worship was an already established custom at ta time when many persons who had knwon the Apostles were still living and they would know the practice and teaching of the Apostles concerning the Sabbath.
If Sunday Christians were already observing Sunday as the Sabbath in these early days of the Church, then the claims of the Saturday Sabbath advocates that the Pope several hundred years after Christ changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday is utter nonsense.
In the following pages we shall show that the Lord Himself changed the Sabbath at the time of the Resurrection of Christ.
Long before the death and resurrection of Christ, the Lord told Israel that He was going to bring an end to their Sabbaths. In Hosea 2:11, the Lord said to Israel: "I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts." Seven hundred eighty-five years before the birth of Christ, God let Israel know her Sabbaths were going to come to an end.
Fourteen years later in Isaiah 1:13, the Lord said: "Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity (margin — grief), even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them."
No one can make a complete study of the Sabbath and arrive at the truth without giving these verses their proper consideration. When the Lord told Israel He would cause her Sabbaths to cease, He meant what He said — Israel's Sabbaths would come to an end. They would no longer continue to be.
This raises two questions: 1. What would be the occasion or the event that would cause them to cease? 2. When did they cease? The answer to both questions is "The Resurrection of Jesus Christ."
We have already given the testimony of the early Church Fathers dating clear back to the close of the first century and showing that the Christians in those early days observed the Lord's Day, the First Day of the Week, Sunday, as their day of worship, because it was the Day of the Resurrection. But we also have the testimony of the New Testament that the First Day of the Week is the Christian Sabbath.
John says in Revelation 1:10: "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet." The Lord's Day is the First Day of the Week, Sunday. John says he "was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day." What does he mean? Simply that he was exercised in worship, praise, and communion with God.
Why did John take care to mention that it was "on the Lord's day?" Would it make any difference what day of the week it was for God to give him the Revelation? The Lord had a special reason for having John write what he did. Every statement in the Word is divinely inspired.
All the evidence points to the fact that a particular day had become very precious to Christians and that day was called the Lord's Day. Although John was exiled on the Isle of Patmos and separated from his Christian Brethren and the churches he loved so dearly, he knew that on the Lord's Day they would all be gathered together in their different places of worship and no doubt they would be offering prayers for him on that very day, and while he could not be with them physically, still he could unite with them "in the Spirit." He knew the truth of the song, although it had not yet been written: "Though sundered far, by faith we meet, Around one common mercy seat." And so John wrote: "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day." The same day when churches that John had preached to would be gathering together to worship the resurrected Christ. John himself was uniting with them in worship, praise and communion with God. "in the Spirit."
We have already shown that the Lord's Day is Sunday, the First Day of the Week, the Day of the Resurrection, and this is the Day John was speaking about.
If just one writer in the New Testament had called the First Day of the Week the Sabbath, this would have settled the dispute and established Sunday as the true Sabbath beyond any question. This was admitted by Uriah Smith, an outstanding writer and leader of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and one of its foremost champions of the Saturday Sabbath, in his tract Is Sunday Called the Sabbath in the New Testament? Here are his words: "If that day is called Sabbath by any New Testament writer, it is all the evidence that is needed to show that it is a Divine institution, and that its observance as such rests upon moral obligation."
Now we are willing to stand on Mr. Smith's statement. If we can give just one reference in the New Testament where this is the case then we are justified in demanding the Saturday Sabbath advocates admit their error and unite with us in worship on the true Sabbath, which is the Lord's Day, the First Day of the week.
It is assumed that all who read these pages know that the New Testament was not written in English but in Greek. Therefore we need to refer to the Greek New Testament in order to find the exact words used in connection with the Sabbath.
In Matthew 28:1, the King James Version reads: "In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre." However, these are not the exact words used by Matthew. Matthew's statement in the Greek reads: "Opse de sabbaton ote epiphoskouse eis mian sabbaton." One does not need to be a Greek scholar to see that the word "sabbaton" appears twice in this verse.
Now any Greek scholar knows that the word "sabbaton," used twice in this verse, in both instances, is in the genitive plural, not "at the end of the sabbath" but "at the end of sabbaths;" and not "the first day of the week" but "toward the first of sabbaths." This is the exact rendering. Both times the word is plural and in the genitive case. "The first day of the week" is a wrong rendering here. "Eis mian sabbaton" literally means "toward the first of sabbaths." An attempt has been made to deny this literal rendering of these words on the grounds that the word "Sabbaton" in the plural has two meanings — Sabbath and week. But T.J. McCrossan, in his book The True Sabbath Saturday or Sunday — Which? and Samuel Walter Gamble, in his book Sunday the True Sabbath of God have both shown that there is no foundation for such a position either in the Greek New Testament or in the Septuagint Greek Old Testament.
Robert Young, author of Young's Analytical Concordance, and one of the finest of Hebrew and Greek scholars, is the author of a Literal Translation of the Bible. He renders this verse: "And on the eve of sabbaths, at the dawn, toward the first of sabbaths." Both Gamble and McCrossan show that this is the proper rendering of Matthew 28:1. Mr McCrossan was former instructor in Greek in Manitoba University and an authority in the Greek language.
Even the King James puts the words "day" in the verse in italics indicating that it is not in the Greek text.
Why did Matthew say: "In the end of sabbaths, as it began to dawn toward the first of sabbaths?" Simply because the Lord told him to write it that way, and the Lord is letting us know that right then and there the old order of Sabbaths had ended and a new order of Sabbaths had begun.
God told Israel that He would cause her Sabbaths to cease. But Hebrews 4:9 says: "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God." The word "rest" here is "sabbatismos" in the Greek, and the marginal reading of the King James Version says "keeping of a sabbath." I have looked this verse up in 28 different translations and 25 of them use the words "keeping of a sabbath, sabbath rest, or sabbatism."
The Bible makes it clear that the Sabbaths of the Old Testament were to end. And Matthew tells us the very day when they came to an end. Hebrews 4:9 tells us that there still is "a keeping of a Sabbath to the people of God." Now if Israel's Sabaths were to end, and the people of God were still to have a "keeping of a sabbath," when did that new Sabbath begin? Matthew 28:1 tells us. It began on the Day of the Resurrection. "In the end of Sabbaths, as it began to dawn toward the first of Sabbaths."
Gamble shows that the Greek word "mian" meaning "first" literally signifies "first in point of time, foremost, chiefest, most important." That is why Ignatius called the Lord's Day "the queen and chief of all the days." The Christian Sabbath, the First of Sabbaths, the Sabbath that remains to the people of God, the Lord's Day, Sunday, the First Day of the Week, the Day of the Resurrection, is "the foremost, chiefest, most important" of all Sabbaths. The creation Sabbath which was kept from Adam until Moses, and the fixed days of the month Sabbaths which were kept from Moses until the Resurrection (For Israel's Sabbaths did not come on fixed days of the week, but on fixed days of the months regardless of the day of the week), were all to give way to this chiefest of Sabbaths, and this Sabbath which began on the Day of the Resurrection is the only one that "remains to the people of God."
What Matthew has told us about the ending of the old order of Sabbaths and the beginning of a new order of Sabbaths is also clearly stated by Mark, Luke and John.
Mark 16:1,2 says: "And when the sabbath was passed, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun." Again the King James Version says "the first day of the week" in verse 2, but the Greek words are "tes mias sabbaton." Young's Literal Translation gives the correct rendering of this verse: "And early in the morning of the first of sabbaths."
In Mark 16:9, Young's Literal Translation reads: "And he, having risen in the morning of the first of the sabbaths," which is the correct rendering for "sabbaton" instead of "the first day of the week" as the King James gives it.
Luke also agrees with Matthew and Mark. Luke 23:54-56 and 24:1: "And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre…"
Again Young gives the correct rendering for Luke 24:1: "On the first of sabbaths." The Greek reads: "Te de mia ton sabbaton." If the King James translators ahd adhered to a careful literal rendering, they would not have used the expression: "Now upon the first day of the week."
John 20:1 opens with the very same Greek words used by Luke: "Te de mia ton sabbaton," which literally is "and on the first of sabbaths." This is the way that Young puts it.
Again in John 20:19 we find the King James using "the first day of the week" when the Greek uses the word "sabbaton": "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week (mia ton sabbaton), when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you." Young says: "It being, therefore, evening, on that day, the first of sabbaths."
All writers on the subject agree that the day on which Jesus rose was Sunday, the First Day of the Week. But here are six different references where this day is called "the first of sabbaths." This certainly ought to be sufficient to show that the Bible does, not noce, but six times, call Sunday the Sabbath. Not only that, but it calls Sunday the first, the chiefest, the foremost of all Sabbaths. In all six references the word is in the plural.
In this connection we give the following from T.J. McCrossan's book on the Sabbath: "Now to find the exact meaning of Greek words, as expressed by the Jews, we must examine the Septuagint (the Old Testament) translated into Greek about 280 B.C. by seventy Hebrew scholars who could speak both Greek and Hebrew). Do we find the word `Sabbata' (the genitive case of which is sabbaton) used anywhere in the whole Septuagint to express week? No, not once. Examine Daniel 9:24 for instance: `Seventy weeks (ebdomkonta ebdomades) are determined upon thy people.' Then Daniel 9:24: `The prince shall be seven weeks' (ebomades epta); and 9:27, `And he shall confirm the convenant one week (ebdomas mia).' I have gone all through my Septuagint, and there is not one single place where these great Hebrew scholars have translated week or weeks by the word `Sabbaton' or `Sabbata.' The word for week is always `ebdomas,' while the word for Sabbath is always `sabbaton,' and for Sabbaths `sabbata.' This is the correct meaning of `sabbata' also in the New Testament.
"In dealing with the Greek word `sabbata' (sabbaths), the plural of `sabbaton' (sabbath), let us remember that its genitive case is sabbaton (of sabbaths), its dative case is sabbasin (to or for or on sabbaths), and its accusative case is `Sabbata,' the exact form of the nominative case; but no matter what its case-ending may be, it is the very same word and always means `sabbaths'."
Eighty-nine years before the King James Translation was printed, Dr. Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German, and he uniformly translated Matthew 28:1 and the parallel passages in the other Gospels to mean "of the Sabbaths."
Seventy years before the King James Translation, Luther translated or caused to be translated the New Testament into Swedish. In Matthew 28:1, Luther's Swedish Translation reads "Po forsta Sabbaten, Kom Marie Magdalene (on the first Sabbath came Mary Magdalene)." Mark 16:2 reads: "Och pa den ena Sabbaten (On the one Sabbath)." John 20:19 "Men om aftonen, pa den samma Sabbaten (In the evening of that same Sabbath)." Luther understood the Greek and he knew that the Greek grammar required this rendering.
The Apostle Paul instructed the churches to keep the Christian Sabbath. "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. (1 Corinthians 16:2)."
These instructions were not only given to the Corinthian church, but Paul says he had already given the same instructions to the churches of Galatia. And what applied to the Corinthians and Galatians also applied to all churches everywhere, for Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:2: "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours." This Epistle was not only intended fro the Corinthians, but was also intended for "all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ," which took in all the churches of that day and also includes us today.
Saturdarians attempt to lightly shrug off the forcefulness of this statement by saying that Paul was merely telling them something about setting aside their offerings and it had nothing to do with the day of worship. But this cannot be dismissed that easily. Just why did Paul tell them to do this on one particular day? He did so because that was the day set apart for divine exercises. If that particular day had no religious or Sabbath significance, then why should Paul specify it over all the other days? What difference would it make about the day they observed for setting apart their offerings? They could do it on Monday, Friday, or Tuesday just as well. But no, Paul specified a particular day, and he did not specify Saturday for this exercise. He specified the new Christian Sabbath. "Oh, but he does not call this the Sabbath!" Oh, but he does!
Paul wrote this letter in Greek, and in the Greek language he said "kata mian sabbaton," which literally means "every first of sabbaths." Paul uses the same expression that all four writers of the Gospels use for the day on which Christ arose. So Paul, as well as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, lets us know that Sunday, the Lord's Day, is the first, foremost, chiefest of the Sabbaths, taking precedence over the creation Sabbath, and all the Sabbaths of Israel, which had come to an end.
Acts 20:7 tells us: "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight."
It is not a mere coincidence or happenstance that the specific day is mentioned here. The day is specified for our benefit. Christians were already in the practice of observing Sunday as their Sabbath. "Oh, but Paul did not call it the Sabbath!" This is exactly what Paul did call it. The Greek reads: "En de te mia ton sabbaton," which literally means: "And on the first of sabbaths," the same expression uniformly used by all four Gospel writers to indicate the Lord's Day, the Day of the Resurrection. This was the day on which they held their divine exercises and the writer of this book of Acts says it is the chief of all Sabbaths.
"Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come, but the Body is of Christ (Colossians 2:16,17)."
God had told Israel in Hosea 2:11 that He was going to cause her Sabbaths to cease. Matthew 28:1 tells us that the "end of Sabbaths" took place the day before Christ arose. Now, Paul tells us not to let any man judge, condemn, or pass sentence on us for not keeping these Sabbaths which God through Christ had caused to cease.
These Sabbaths were a shadow of something to come. All of the ordinances and rituals of the Old Testament were types which pointed to Christ, shadows of that which was to come. A shadow is a forecast of a body. The body and the shadow are not the same. Hebrews 10:1 says: "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect." When the body, of which the Sabbaths were a forecast, had come then the shadow was to give place to the real.
Now notice the particular wording of this verse: "Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." The Old Sabbaths were shadows of the New Sabbath which "is of Christ." "There remaineth, therefore a keeping of a sabbath to the people of God (Hebrews 4:9)."
We can now see how all these Scriptures are connected to each other. In Hosea 2:11, the Lord said He was going to cause Israel's Sabbaths to cease. Matthew 28:1 tells us when these Sabbaths came to an end — the day before the resurrection of Christ. Paul tells us that the old Sabbaths were a shadow of that which was to come, and we are not to let any man judge us for not keeping them (Colossians 2:16,17). Matthew, Mark, Luke and John tell us that the Christian Sabbath began on the Day of the Resurrection and they called it "the first of Sabbaths" (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1,2; Luke 24:1,9; John 20:1,19). Paul tells us in Hebrews 4:11, "There remaineth therefore a keeping of a Sabbath to the people of God." So Paul instructed all the churches of Galatia and the Church of Corinth to gather their offerings on this "first of Sabbaths" (1 Corinthians 16:2). In Acts 20:7 the Church at Troas held their services on this "first of Sabbaths." In Revelation 1:10, John "was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day."
We can also see now why the early Christians kept the Sunday Sabbath and why Ignatius called it "the queen and chief of all the days."
It is the teaching of the Seventh Day Adventist Church that the Pope of Rome changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. Now if the Pope is the one who made the change it ought to be a simple matter to give the name of the Pope and the date when the change took place.
You can search through the writings of the Seventh Day Adventists until Gabriel blows assembly for Armageddon and you will never find any of their writers who can give the name of the Pope or the date when he made the change. All they offer as proof are some statements of the Catholic Church. Uriah Smith, in his book The Prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, p.609, gives the following quote from A New Catechism of Christian Doctrine and Practice, by James Bellord, a Catholic Publication: "What was the Sabbath? The seventh day, our Saturday. Do you keep the Sabbath? No: we keep the Lord's Day. Which is that? The first day: Sunday. Who changed it? The Catholic Church."
On page 611, Mr. Smith quotes the following from An Abridgement of the Christian Doctrine, by Henry Tuberville: "Q. — How prove you that the church hath power to command feasts and holy days? A. — By the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of; and therefore they fondly contradict themselves by keeping Sunday strictly, and breaking most other feasts commanded by the same church."
On page 612, Mr. Smith quotes from The Catechism Simply Explained, by H. Canan Cafferata, the following: "The Jews' Sabbath Day was the Saturday; we Christians keep the Sunday holy. The Church, by the power our Lord gave her, changed the observance of the Saturday to the Sunday."
On the basis of these statements of the Catholic Church and a few others, the Adventists build their argument for the Papal change of the Sabbath to Sunday. But the Adventists will not accept the claims of the Catholic Church concerning the authority of the Pope, the infallibility of the Pope, the supremacy of the Church of Rome, the Rosary, purgatory, transubstantiation, the assumption of Mary, prayer to the saints, or a host of other Catholic doctrines. Why then should they take the word of the Catholic Church concerning the Sabbath?
Now on what grounds does the Catholic Church claim that it changed the Sabbath? When this point is clearly understood it makes a great deal of difference. The Catholic Church claims that it is the one true Church, the Apostolic Church; that the Sabbath was changed from Saturday to Sunday by the Apostles, who with their converts composed the Church in the beginning; therefore it was the Apostolic Church that made the change and the Catholic Church is the Apostolic Church. This is a point the Saturdarians have chosen to ignore.
From Mr. Smith's own book we find Catholic statements which prove this point. On page 609, Mr. Smith quotes the following from The Catholic Christian Instructed, by Richard Challoner: "Q. — What warrant have you for keeping the Sunday preferably to the ancient Sabbath, which was the Saturday? A. — We have for it the authority of the Catholic Church, and apostolic tradition."
What is tradition? Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines tradition as: "The oral transmission of information, beliefs, customs, etc., from ancestors to posterity without written memorials; also, a belief, practice, etc., so transmitted. Something handed down from the past; an inherited culture, attitude, etc. Theologically, among Christians, that body of doctrine and discipline, or any article thereof, put forth or revealed by Christ or his apostles, and not committed to writing." The Catholic Church states their authority for Sunday Sabbath worship is of Apostolic tradition, that the Apostles were the ones who made the change.
This is brought out more clearly by two more quotations that our same Mr. Smith makes from "Roman Catechism according to the decree of the Sacred Council of Trent, published by order of St. Pius V, Pontifex Maximus." The Council of Trent was held in Trent, Italy in the years 1545-1563 A.D. This Council authorized the composition of a catechism in Latin, and in the year 1566 this catechism by St. Charles Borromeo and other theologians, was published in Rome by the Vatican Congregation for Propagation of the Faith. The Catechism was translated into English by "Very Reverend J. Donovan, D.D.… Domestic Prelate to His Holiness Gregory XVI" and published in DUblin on June 10, 1829. If there is any publication on earth that officially represents the Catholic position on the Sabbath, this certainly is the one.
Uriah Smith, writer and spokesman for the Seventh Day Adventist Church, in his book The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, p.140, makes the following quotations from this Catechism of the Council of Trent: "It pleased the church of God, that the religious celebration of the Sabbath day should be transferred to `the Lord's day' (meaning Sunday); for as on that day light first shone on the world; so by the resurrection of our Redeemer on that day, who was recalled out of darkness into light; whence also the Apostles would have it named `the Lord's day'. We also observe in the Sacred Scriptures that this day was held sacred because on that day the creation of the world commenced and the Holy Ghost was given to the Apostles."
Following is the other quotation from the Catechism of the Council of Trent, which Mr. Smith gives on p.141 of his book: "The Apostles, therefore, resolved to consecrate the first day of the seven to divine worship, which they called `the Lord's day'; for Saint John in his Apocalypse, makes mention of `the Lord's day' (Apocalypse i,10); and the Apostle orders collections to be made `on the first day of the week' (1 Corinthians xvi,2), which is, as Saint Chrysostom interprets, the Lord's day; to give us to understand, that even then the Lord's day was kept holy in the church."
These quotations made by Uriah Smith himself, a leader of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, show clearly the true position of the Catholic Church regarding the changing of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. Mr. Smith relies upon Catholic statements to prove that the Catholic Church changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, but why will he not accept this Catholic statement from the highest Catholic authority which says that the Apostles made the change?
Mr. Smith is definitely stricken with the forcefulness of these two statements, and seeing that they completely overthrow his own position he states: "It will be observed that the apostles are here charged with making the change from the seventh day to the first, but without any proof whatsoever from the Scriptures, because there is no such proof." Again he says: "In addition to falsely charging the apostles with changing the day of the Sabbath…"
Oh, consistency, thou art a jewel! Mr. Smith attempts to prove that Catholics changed the Sabbath by the statements of the Catholics themselves. Then, when the Catholic statements which Mr. Smith himself quotes say that the Apostles made the change, Mr. Smith says they are false. Well, Mr. Smith, if these statements of the Catholic Church about changing the Sabbath are false, how do you know the other statements of the Catholic Church about changing the Sabbath are not false? And how do you know when any of their statements are false and when they are true? Of course, we assume that you would consider them true or false according to whether they agreed or disagreed with your own position on the Sabbath.
Again we emphasize the fact that the Catholics claim that they changed the Sabbath on the grounds that they hold the Catholic Church is the one true Church, the Apostolic Church, that the Sabbath was changed by the Apostles who with their converts composed the Church in the beginning; therefore it was the Apostolic Church that made the change and if the Catholic Church is the Apostolic Church, then the Catholic Church made the change. Now this writer holds no brief for the Catholic Church, but on this point I am more impressed with the consistency of the Catholic position than I am with the inconsistency of Uriah Smith.
When pressed for the name of the Pope who changed the Sabbath and the date, the Saturdarians are unable to come up with either a name or a date. As a last resort many of them fall back on the Edict of Constantine and say that Constantine suppressed the Bible Sabbath and compelled the observance of the pagan Roman Sunday Sabbath. Of course, this theory is a direct contradiction of their Papal change theory. If the Pope changed the Sabbath, Constantine could not have done so. If Constantine made the change, the Pope could not have done so.
Mrs. Ellen G. White, highly respected leader of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, in her book, The Great Controversy, on page 682 of the Appendix, gives the following quotation from her book: "Edict of Constantine. — The Law issued by Constantine on the seventh of March, A.D. 321, regarding a day of rest, reads thus: `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 provisions of heaven be lost.' — A.H. Lewis, History of the Sabbath and the Sunday, 2d. ed., rev., 1903, pp.123,124."
Many sincere people have been taken in by the quoting of this edict by the Saturdarians and have been led to believe many things about this that simply are not true. Nowhere in all this statement can be found a suppression of a Saturday Sabbath. Nowhere in all this statement is any order given changing the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. These are gratuitous assumptions on the part of the Seventh Day Saturday advocates without one bit of proof.
I have already shown that Christians from the times of the Apostles were in the practice of observing Sunday as the Christian Sabbath. And no Seventh Day Adventist has ever refuted the statements of the early Church Fathers on this point. The evidence is overwhelming. I have also shown that New Testament writers uniformly call the First Day of the Week the First of Sabbaths.
The change from the Seventh Day Sabbath to the First Day of the Week Sabbath took place at the time of the Resurrection of Christ. This is a definitely stated New Testament truth.
All that Constantine did was to give official legal recognition to a day that Christians had already been observing for the past 288 years. How could Constantine make the First Day of the Week the Sabbath when Christ had already done that nearly three centuries before?
Another argument used by Seventh Day Adventists against a Sunday Sabbath is that the Book of Acts shows that on different occasions the Apostles went into the Synagogues and preached on the Sabbath Day, showing the Apostles kept Saturday instead of Sunday.
We do not deny the Apostles did this. We do deny the conclusion of the Adventists. This no more proves that the Apostles kept a Saturday Sabbath than the fact that the world-wide radio program of the Adventists known as the Voice of Prophecy is broadcast on Sunday instead of Saturday proves that the Adventists keep Sunday as their Sabbath. The Apostles preached in the synagogues on the old Sabbath as a matter of opportunity and expediency. More Jews could be reached on that day, and the Apostles took advantage of the day for missionary purposes, just as the Adventists take advantage of Sunday Radio Broadcasting so they can reach more Sunday Sabbath observers.
When this writer lived in Chicago, at times the Seventh Day Adventists would rent a theater building in the Loop and hold Sunday afternoon services. Does this prove that the Adventists observe Sunday as their day of worship? It does not. They did this so they could reach Sunday Sabbath worshippers. Neither does the preaching of the Apostles to the Jews in their synagogues on the old Sabbath prove that the Apostles did not regard Sunday as their Christian Sabbath.
If the Apostles' preaching in the Jewish synagogues on the Jewish Sabbath proves that they observed the Jewish Sabbath as their Christian Sabbath, instead of the First Day of the Week Sabbath, by the same token we can say that the Voice of Prophecy Radio Broadcast by the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Sunday, and their holding Sunday afternoon meetings in the downtown theaters of Chicago prove that the Seventh Day Advetnists observe Sunday as their Sabbath instead of Saturday.
There is a great difference between the gathering of the Jews in their synagogues on the Old Sabbath, and the gathering of Christians to worship the Lord Jesus Christ in their homes and places of worship on the Christian Sabbath.
When the Apostles wnet into the synagogues to preach Christ to the Jews on the Jewish Sabbath, they were not going to a gathering of Christians who had assembled to worship Jesus Christ. They went to the synagogues for the express purpose of preaching Christ and His Resurrection to the Jews who had not yet heard of Him, or received Him as their Messiah-Lord. And when would be the most advantageous time to reach the most amount of Jews except when they gathered together on their Sabbath day?
But when the Apostles met with Christians, who had gathered together to worship their Lord and Saviour, they met on the First Day of the Week as I have shown in the foregoing pages.
An objection that Saturdarians raise to our worshipping on the First Day of the Week because it is called Sunday, and Sunday is the day that was named after the heathen Sun God needs to be dealt with here.
In reply to this objection, I maintain that we have much more reason to object to their worshipping on Saturday, the Day of Saturn. Webster's Seventh Collegiate Dictionary says of Saturday: "a (ME saterday, fr. OE saeterndaeg; akin to OFris saterdei; both fr a prehistoric WGmc compound whose first component was borrowed fr. L Saturnus Saturn and whose second component is represetned by the OE daeg day): the seventh day of the week — Saturdays adv."
Saturn: "1 : an ancient Roman god of agriculture held to have reigned during a golden age 2: the planet 6th in order from the sun."
Saturnalia: "1 cap : the festival of Saturn in ancient Rome beginning on December 17 2 sin, pl saturnalias also saturnalia a: an unrestrained often licentious celebration: ORGY b : EXCESS, EXTRAVAGANCE — saturnalian adj."
If Saturday Sabbath advocates object to our worshipping on Sunday beause it is named after the Sun god, we similarly can object to their worshipping on Saturday because it is named after the god Saturn, and it was in honor of Saturn that the heathen had their Saturnalias of unrestrained debauchery and licentiousness.
Have the Saturdarians never considered Malachi 4:22? "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings." The Prophet here, using the expression "the Sun of righteousness," is referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation 22:16 says, "I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright and morning star." The last chapter of the Old Testament calls Jesus "the Sun of righteousness." The last chapter of the New Testament calls Him "the bright and morning Star."
Notice that Malachi uses the word "Sun" and not "Son." Jesus is the "only begotten Son of God," but the Bible also says He is "the Sun of righteousness" and He is also "the bright and morning Star." Saul of Tarsus, later to become the Apostle Paul, on the road to Damascus was confronted with a light: "At midday O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me" (Acts 26:13). It was "the Sun of righteousness" that appeared to Saul, Jesus Christ, "the bright and morning Star."
It is altogether fitting and proper that we should worship the Lord Jesus Christ, "the Sun of righteousness," on the day when He arose from the dead. The Apostles set aside the First Day of the Week and called it the Lord's Day, and on the First Day of the Week, the Lord's Day, they worshipped the Lord Jesus Christ, who is "the Sun of righteousness." The First Day of the Week is the Lord's Day, the Day of "the Sun of righteousness," the Christian Sabbath.
I have now established the points I set out to establish:
A subject I have not dealt with in the foregoing treatise, and which should be studied by anyone who desires a full and complete understanding of the true Sabbath, is that the Sabbaths of Israel were not Saturday Sabbaths. Neither were they seventh day of the week Sabbaths. They were fixed days of the month Sabbaths that came every seventh day regardless of the day of the week. As the years came and went, the Sabbath would change from one day of the week to another day of the week, just as New Year's Day, our Independance Day (Fourth of July) and Christmas come on different days of the week each succeeding year.
This is thoroughly dealt with in "Israel's Calendar and the True Sabbath," by my brother Curtis Clair Ewing. His research in this field has taken him through thousands of pages of research on all sides of the question. The charts in his treatise irrefutably demonstrate that a Saturday Sabbath could not have been possible while Israel was keeping the Mosaic Calendar.