The Sabbath

Exactly how was the Sabbath changed to Sunday?

Dear Reader,

As we were saying last week, there is no biblical basis for changing the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday, the change was a gradual one over a period of many years. It also had to be legislated in order to take effect. Historical records tell us the following: As the Jews became more and more disliked due to their constant nationalism and wars of rebellion, the Romans began to suppress them with vigour and with much loss of Jewish life. In this suppression, the Christians were often persecuted as well due to their similarity to the Jews, especially as they kept the same day of worship as the Jews. In the second century AD, the Roman emperor Hadrian, intensified a poll tax on the Jews. It is believed that the Christians sought to differentiate themselves from the Jews so as to avoid paying this tax and of course, from persecution. During this period anti-Semitism grew stronger and stringer, much literature against the Jews appeared. Historical documents show that this anti-Jewish literature was not just confined to the Roman writers but also to the Early Church Fathers. Ignatius (d 117) in his writings tried to get the Christians not to sabbatise but to keep the Sunday. The Epistle of Barnabas, dated between a.d. 130 and 138 is significant because first, it makes the first explicit reference to the observance of Sunday, denominated at the "eighth day." And secondly, because it shows how the social and theological polemics and tensions which existed at that time between Jews and Christians played a key role in the devaluation of the sabbath and the adoption of Sunday by many Christians. Records show us that in order for Sunday to be universally observed it had to be legislated by the government. Here are the historical facts: In AD 321 Constantine enacted that all courts of justice, inhabitants of towns, and workshops were to be at rest on Sunday, with an exception in favour of those engaged in agricultural labour. (Encyclopaedia Britannica "Sunday" and History of the Christian Church, Philip Schaff, vol. 3,p, 380). We also read in the writings of the Fathers of how the change came about. For example, Eusebius (AD 270-338) writes how they had transferred all duties from the Sabbath to the "Lord's day." (Commentary on the Psalms, in Migne, Patrologia Graeca, vol. 23, cols. 1171, 1172. Next week we will continue on this subject. God bless.