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Did Constantine change the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday?



    
    

Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

For follow-up discussion and general commentary on the topic. Comments are sorted chronologically.

Mini Larry Truelove

If we are to believe that Daniel 7:25 is a prophecy of Constantine changing the Saturday-Sabbath to Sunday in 321 AD, then we must also believe that his dominion was taken away 3 1/2 years later. But history tells us he reigned until 337 AD. We would also have to believe HE was the Anti-Christ.

Such reasoning rips Daniel 7:25 completely out of context. Considering that "times" could mean many things, it most likely refers to something else. It makes no specific reference to changing the Sabbath.

One must either change their eschatology to fit the verse or change or their interpretation that it refers to the Sabbath. But they cannot have both, given the context.

February 18 2014 Report

Mini Michelle Anderson

Gods word never changes. The Sabbath is just like your birthday; God gave you a day to be born, if you choose to celebrate your birthday on any other day that is your choice, not God's. We must remember that the Sabbath was created and was made holy by God at the very beginning of creation. I would rather observe the true Sabbath that God requires us to observe than the one that was established by a man that was created by God.

August 29 2014 Report

Img 0360 Terry Gillard

Just now I'm studying Galatians.

Looking at the plethora of opinion and argument in response to the question, I'm asking "What difference does it make?" If you are in Christ, you are free (not free to indulge yourself in your own desires). Celebrate on a Saturday if you want - and leave the rest to be blessed on our Sunday. To demand one way or the other is the worst kind of law - it is sacrilegious to make this issue a problem!

It reminds that apparently the Church leaders held an important conference in Spain at about the time the Moors were landing and occupying - their discussions included the question of the colour of Jesus eyes! This is pointless arguing over minuscule issues that make no difference to the true Church of Christ. Galatians 1:6 comes to mind.

June 10 2015 Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie

If you mean what day we should worship or 'go to church', then certainly it is meaningless. We should worship every day, and the early church met any/every day of the week (Acts 2:42, Acts 5:42). Our true Sabbath is rest from dead works (Heb 4:1-13).

However, the discussion over whether the physical Sabbath was or could be 'changed' to Sunday is highly pertinent to the church.

If the physical Sabbath (a type of the True Sabbath in Hebrews 4:1-13) could be changed, then one is advocating:

- Man has the right to change times/laws/dates that God appointed [Scripture considers this a bad thing, Dan 7:25]
- Gentiles, not having to conform to the Jewish system to come to God, must come through their own works-based system to come to God [Untrue, Gal 2:16-17]
- Physical types that point to Christ can be retroactively changed [Which would make it hard to understand Christ as forshadowed in the OT.]

It was the Council of Laodicea that tried to introduce law back into grace, by forcing specific actions:

"Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honoring the Lord's Day: and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be Judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ" (Canon 29)"

It is that policy which seeks to exclude people from the body of Christ based on their treatment of a day, wheras scripture says we have freedom of conscience in regards to how we keep the Sabbath or Jewish Holidays (Col 2:16-17).

June 10 2015 Report

Mini Susan DeAngelis

Someone in my family belongs to cult named Mission Society church of God. They believe the sabbath is on Saturday and anyone believing otherwise is doomed. What would I say to that person? I got to church nondenominational every Sunday and when she visits will not go with me. Her "church" forbids her going to any other church or on Sunday for that matter.

February 23 2016 Report

Mini Larry Truelove

Susan,
There are probably a dozen ways to answer your concerns. The short answer is that Sunday was the day Christians gathered from the first century. Constantine did not originate Sunday worship but it is possible that he made it law.

Facebook has a number of support groups with extensive biblical answers and quotes from the church fathers. The Didache, Epistle of Barnabas and other statements earlier than Constantine by 2-300 years can be shown that Sunday worship did not originate in the 4-5th centuries.

In my opinion, the NT scriptures do not command any holy day, neither Saturday nor Sunday. See Romans 14. Sabbath observers usually argue that it refers to ceremonial sabbaths and not weekly sabbaths. Space and time limit my ability to give you more than a short answer. Simply said, your relatives are mistaken about Constantine. Check out support groups on Facebook for more information.

February 23 2016 Report

Mini Susan DeAngelis

Thank you

February 23 2016 Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie

I am afraid a lot of that is misinformation, Larry.

Contrary to popular teachings by many pastors (and they usually are repeating what they heard in seminary), the Didache does not teach Sunday worship. There is one hard to translate line in it, which doesn't mention 'day' at all: "According to the Lord, even the Lord's, after being gathered together, break bread and give thanks..." This passage (Didache 14:1) does not mention a day. The implication of the passage, in context, is that they are meeting by the command of the Lord. It is possible that the Passover celebration is implied. Even had 'The Lord's Day' been mentioned, at this point in history the phrase 'The Lord's Day' did not reference Sunday meeting, but the Passover celebration which some kept on the Sabbath of Passover week and others on the Sunday following Passover - a divergence of custom which bloomed into the quartodecimen controversy.

Most misquotes attributed to the Didache actually come from the later Apostolic Constitutions. The Apostolic Constitutions (250-300AD) show that Christians were still meeting 'daily', but principally on the Sabbath, but also on the Lord's day (by that time a general term for Sunday meeting.)

Persecution by Emperor Hadrian, and the later banning of Sabbath resting by the Council of Laodicea, diminished the practice of Sabbath meeting and rest.

Physical Sabbath rest is not required, however, as the true Sabbath is rest in Christ from dead works (Col 2:16-17, Heb 4).

February 23 2016 Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie

Related topics:

https://ebible.com/questions/3574-what-is-the-world-mission-society-church-of-god-and-what-do-they-believe [What the WMSCOG cult believes]

https://ebible.com/questions/453-how-is-jesus-our-sabbath-rest

It is also worth pointing out that the Didache is not scripture, but was rather an anonymous treatise written to instruct gentile Christians. It called for fast days on Wed/Fri while forbidding fasts on Mon/Thurs, called for baptism in flowing water or pouring water on the head three times, and other customs which it recommended, but may or may not have been in practice in the wider church. Scholars tend to think that it was written by a remote, backward Jewish Christian community.

Related topics:

http://ebible.com/answers/14345?ori=167400 [Discussion of Acts 20:7, and how the Passage does -not- show an official Sunday day of worship for the church].

https://ebible.com/questions/14388-are-christians-free-to-worship-god-any-day-of-the-week#answer-22510

Quotes from the Apostolic Constitutions:

"Let the slaves work five days; but on the Sabbath-day and the Lord's day let them have leisure to go to church for instruction in piety. We have said that the Sabbath is on account of the creation, and the Lord's day of the resurrection." —bk. 8, sec. 4, xxxiii.

"But keep the Sabbath, and the Lord's day festival; because the former is the memorial of the creation, and the latter of the resurrection." bk. 7, sec. 2, xxiii.

February 23 2016 Report

Mini Larry Truelove

I'm not calling the Didache scripture. I'm calling it history.

Epistle of Barnabas, 70-130 AD
"Wherefore also we keep the eighth day for rejoicing, in the which also Jesus rose from the dead...

Ignatius. 100's AD
"...have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the sabbath, but living in observance of the Lord's Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death"

Didache
"But every Lord's Day (kata kurisken de kuriou) gather yourselves together and break bread.."

It's pretty clear from the words of Igatius that The Lord's Day referred to Sunday.

You call it misinformation. I call it your opinion.

February 24 2016 Report

Mini Larry Truelove

Sunday worship by Justin Martyr,
First Apology, chapter 67
"But Sunday is the day on which we hold our common assembly because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead."

February 24 2016 Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie

The quote you give from the Didache is a mistranslation of Didache 14:1, as I mentioned above. The phrase 'Kata kuriaken de kuriou' is Kata (According to), kuriaken (Lord's - note that this is just a form of Kurio), de (even, but, now), Kurio (Lord). The phrase 'The Lord's day' would be kuriake hemera, such as in Rev 1:10.

Ignatious was not representative of the whole church (which differed in customs, such as what day to keep Passover, or how often/when they met, etc.), but was writing a letter to the Magnesians, for whom Sabbath traditions and Jewish customs had become a stumbling block. His philosophy was also that Jewish Christians should abandon -any- Jewish seeming custom. [Which we know from the life of Paul, who continued to keep the Sabbath day and Jewish festivals, that that is not a Biblical stance either. It is not that one can't keep Jewish customs, especially ethnic Jews, but that they are no longer binding and they are not the source of our spiritual growth or identity in Christ]. Here too, "day" is not mentioned in the quote from Ignatious [άλλά κατά κυριακήν ζώντες - note ἡμέραν (hemera) is not present]. A proximate translation is "living according to our Lord's way".

Epistle of Barnabas: Please read in context (chap 15). He shows Sabbath meaning is eternal, not physical, and references the eighth day Passover feast which many kept on Sunday at that time.
http://www.auss.info/auss_publication_file.php?pub_id=1009&journal=1&type=pdf

February 24 2016 Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie

As for Justin Martyr, he did not hold to the inerrancy of scripture, and thought the Sabbath originated with Moses and not with God. He lived in secularized Rome, and told the Roman monarch that Christians met 'on the day of the sun' to worship. This was true of most Roman Christians. Given the prior persecution by Emperor Hadrian, it is doubtful that there were many Sabbath-worshiping Christians left in Rome).

The Apostolic Constitutions do show that both the Sabbath and Sunday had become entrenched as the particular meeting days of the church (vs. the more informal 'daily' meetings of the early church).

However, it was the Council of Laodicea, as mentioned above, that codified Sunday worship into law and forced Christians into particular customs to be counted as 'Christian'; a worse error than even the Galatians or Judiazers of scripture, since the Council didn't even have former directives of God to base this in.

February 24 2016 Report

Mini Larry Truelove

Whatever the proper translation, I'm not a linguist. The point is that Sunday worship did not originate with Constantine. I believe Jewish Christians continued to attend synagogues and Jewish feasts until the non-Christian Jews forced them out. After the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, no one kept the law, priests included. And it (the law) and Saturday sabbath observance was never made binding upon new covenant Gentiles. Acts 15 certainly would have been a chance for that.

New Testament scriptures do not mandate the keeping of any special day as holy beyond any other. Romans 14.

February 24 2016 Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie

Sunday certainly became a particular day of worship fairly early on, but the Sabbath was kept as well, well into the fourth century. Certainly, no particular day of worship (Sunday or Saturday) is binding or even required, as our Sabbath rest is in Christ wherin we rest from dead works (Heb 4). It was the Council of Laodicea that 'mandated' Sunday worship and forbid Sabbath rest. This topic is not about if a day is required for worship (adressed elsewhere on ebible: https://ebible.com/questions/14388-are-christians-free-to-worship-god-any-day-of-the-week#answer-22510), but about whether Constantine changed the Sabbath to Sunday. Constantine may have contributed with his "sabbath edict" allowing rest on Sunday, but it was the Council of Laodicea that called for excommunicating anyone who still kept the Sabbath.

Apostolic Constitutions (300-350AD):

"Let your judicatures be held on the second day of the week, that if any controversy arise about your sentence, having an interval till the Sabbath, you may be able to set the controversy right, and to reduce those to peace who have the contests one with another against the Lord's day —bk. 2, sec. 6, xlvii.

[The Lord's day changed from reference to one Sunday/the Ressurection to a more generic term for Sunday worship sometime in the late second century]

Here again, that the Sabbath is still kept, along with Sunday worship.

February 24 2016 Report

Mini Larry Truelove

Jennifer,
I haven't researched it enough personally to say who did or did not keep the sabbath. In Romans 14, Paul treated it as a matter of conscience. I personally believe Jewish Believers continued observing the Sabbath possibly long after the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. Paul observed some of the feasts and festivals. In part, it appears that it was for evangelistic reasons.
For example, I was taught that partaking in alcohol was sinful. When I learned differently, my conscience still prevented me. Therefore, if someone thought they should, I can accept that. But some groups teach that one's eternal destiny is at stake. Ellen G. White said, "It means eternal salvation to keep the sabbath holy unto the Lord." I realize that this belief is not universal among sabbath keepers or even Seventh Day Adventists. I have yet to meet one who agrees with that statement. But many still believe in her as a prophetess or messenger from God.

February 24 2016 Report

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