Sermon No: 415-Sabbath versus Lord's day

SERMON TOPIC: Sabbath versus Lord's day

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 8 February 2010


Sermon synopsis: Should Christians keep the Sabbath (7th day), Sunday (1st day) or doesn’t it matter?
Did “the Pope” change the day of worship or perhaps Constantine?
What can we learn from Jesus, the apostles and the early church in this regard?
What do we find regarding this matter in the earliest Christian writings?

Sabbath vs Lord's Day


God created the world and all that was in it in 6 days. We are told that “On the seventh day God ended his work which he had made: and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” (Gen 2:2-3) 1

However God gave no commandment to Adam to keep the seventh day. The only commandment given was not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 1

You will look in vain to find Adam commanded to keep the Sabbath. Nor will you find any such commandment given to men before the flood. 1

1 “The Sabbath Or The First Day Of The Week?” – Warren Paynter


After the flood we find God makes a covenant with Noah. There are a number of provisions made in this “everlasting covenant”, including the provision for the death penalty for murder. 1

Now, before the flood there was no death penalty for murder. As murder is forbidden in commandment number six as well as in the everlasting covenant, it is strange that there is no mention of the Sabbath in the everlasting covenant. In fact, there is no mention of the Sabbath until we come to Moses and Mount Sinai. 1

Noah was not commanded to keep the Sabbath. There is no command concerning the Sabbath given for 2500 years from the creation until the Exodus of Israel from Egypt under Moses. 1 1 Ibid


We have seen that, from Adam to Moses, no commandment to keep the Sabbath was given to anyone. 1

Now at Mount Sinai the law was given to Moses to give to Israel, and not to the Gentiles. The ten commandments were never given to the Gentile nations. 1

Exodus 20:1-8 reads in this way, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage … remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” 1 1 Ibid

This non-observance of the Sabbath before Moses was noted by the early Church fathers. After mentioning Adam, Abel, Enoch, Lot, Noah and Melchizedek, Justin Martyr (100–165 AD) writes:

“Moreover, all those righteous men already mentioned though they kept no Sabbaths, were pleasing to God; and after them Abraham with all his descendants until Moses…” 1

1 Dialogue With Trypho


Justin Martyr (100–165 AD)

Again Justin Martyr writes: “But if we do not admit this, we shall be liable to fall into foolish opinion, as if it were not the same God who existed in the times of Enoch and all the rest, who neither were circumcised after the flesh, nor observed Sabbaths, nor any other rites, seeing that Moses enjoined such observances... For if there was no need of circumcision before Abraham, or of the observance of Sabbaths, of feasts and sacrifices, before Moses; no more need is there of them now, after that, according to the will of God.” 1

About 170 AD Irenaeus says that “Abraham without circumcision and without observance of Sabbaths believed in God,” which proves “the symbolical and temporary character of those ordinances, and their inability to make perfect.” 2


1 Ibid 2 Against Heresies IV:16

Eusebius Pamphilus, Bishop Of Caesarea (c. 263–339 AD) writing of the godly men prior to Abraham says, “They did not, therefore, regard circumcision, nor observe the Sabbath, neither do we; neither do we abstain from certain foods, nor regard other injunctions, which Moses subsequently delivered to be observed in types and symbols, because such things as these do not belong to Christians.” 1

Tertullian (c.160–c.220 AD): “Let him who contends that the Sabbath is still to be observed as a balm of salvation, and circumcision on the eighth day because of threat of death, teach us that in earliest times righteous men kept Sabbath or practiced circumcision, and so were made friends of God…” 2

1 Ecclesiastical History, Book 1, Ch 4 2 An Answer to the Jews 2:10


Tertullian continues, “Therefore, since God originated Adam uncircumcised, and inobservant of the Sabbath, consequently his offspring also, Abel, offering Him sacrifices, uncircumcised and inobservant of the Sabbath, was by Him commended… Noah also, uncircumcised - yes, and inobservant of the Sabbath - God freed from the deluge. For Enoch, too, most righteous man, uncircumcised and inobservant of the Sabbath, He translated from this world… Melchizedek also, ‘the priest of most high God,’ uncircumcised and inobservant of the Sabbath, was chosen to the priesthood of God.” 1

1 An Answer to the Jews 4:1


Tertullian (c.160–c.220 AD)

Saturday is the 7th day of the week and the day instituted in the Old (Mosaic) Covenant as the day to rest and honour God. Sunday is the 1st day of the week and was revered by Christians in the New Covenant because it was the day that Jesus rose from the dead.

Mark 16:9 When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene…


On 2 other occasions after Jesus’ resurrection (besides to Mary Magdalene) it is noted that he appeared to the disciples on the first day of the week (Sunday).

John 20:19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

John 20:26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

The Holy Spirit (on the day of Pentecost) was also poured out on the first day of the week.



Already in the book of Acts, believers were breaking bread on Sunday.

Acts 20:7 On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.

In Acts 20:6-11 we see that Paul the apostle was in the town of Troas for seven days. Now seven days must include all the days of the week, including the seventh. Yet we see that the church in Troas met, not on the Sabbath, but on the first day of the week. Verse 7 tells us that they had their communion service and then Paul preached to them. 1

1 “The Sabbath Or The First Day Of The Week?” – Warren Paynter


The church at Corinth (Greece) and the province of Galatia (Asia Minor) met on Sunday (the first day):

1 Cor 16:1-2 Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.

“On the first day of every week” they were to put aside their contribution to the work of God. Obviously they did this as they assembled together. 1

1 Ibid


Some Sabbatarians allege that “the Pope” changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday?

The response is:

Which Pope?

When exactly did this happen?

Where is the historical source evidence?


This false argument originated with the Adventist ‘prophet’ E.G. White who writes of a vision where: “I saw that God had not changed the Sabbath, for he never changes. But the pope had changed it from the seventh day to the first day of the week; for he was to change times and laws.” 1 & 2

1 “Early Writings of Ellen G. White”- Adventist publication 2 This linking of Daniel’s “changing the times” is a result from the mistaken Historicist notion of identifying the Pope with the Antichrist.

Ellen G. White (1827-1915): author and co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church

To say that the Pope changed the day of worship is to ignore the historical evidence. The NT records cases of believers meeting on the first day of the week. We will see that all the Christian writers of the first 3 centuries record that Christians met on the first day.

The first Pope was Boniface III in the 7th century. 1

Justin Martyr (100–165 AD) wrote: “But Sunday is the day on which we hold our common assembly…” 2


1 In 606 AD Sabinian, the bishop of Rome died and was replaced by Boniface. The Byzantine Emperor Phocas (r. 602-610) wrote to Boniface and through imperial decree of the Roman government, proclaimed him as the “Head of all the Churches” and “Universal Bishop”. 2 First Apology of Justin, Ch 68



Others accuse the first Christian Emperor Constantine (in the 4th Century AD) of changing the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. It is also claimed that he had sinister motives here because of a secret admiration for the sun god, Sol Invictus. This is a totally frivolous claim and unsupported not only by the evidence in the NT, but also by early historical documents.

Constantine (ruled 306-337 AD)

Constantine did not change the Sabbath to Sunday, he merely created the first ‘Sunday closure law’ because Christians had been worshipping on the first day of the week since apostolic times. 2

1 Constantine’s decree - Constantine, March 7, 321. Codex Justinianus lib. 3, tit. 12, 3; trans. in Philip Schaff, “History of the Christian Church”, Vol. 3, p. 380, note 1 2 7-pope-changed.htm

On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. 1

So what did Constantine really do regarding Sunday?

Considering that the church was struggling into existence, and that a large number of Christians were slaves of heathen masters, we cannot expect an unbroken regularity of worship and a universal cessation of labor on Sunday until the civil government in the time of Constantine came to the help of the church and legalized (and in part even enforced 1) the observance of the Lord’s Day. 2

1 There were exclusions e.g. farmers. The edict continues, “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 grain-sowing or vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.” 2 History of the Christian Church, Volume II: Ante-Nicene Christianity. A.D. 100-325. by Philip Schaff (1819-1893)


He forbade work on Sunday (a big deal to the slaves).

Constantine required all subjects of the Roman Empire to observe the Lord’s day as a day of rest… He allowed Christian soldiers leave to attend church on Sunday… Prior to this time, the seven day week had not been officially observed by the Roman Empire. Instead, the days of the month were denoted by counting down toward the Kalends, the Nones, and the Ides of each month. 1

Constantine’s laws enforced and reflected his Christian reforms … Sunday was declared the official day of rest, on which markets were banned and public offices were closed (except for the purpose of freeing slaves). 2

1 http:// liturgy.html 2 Wikipedia


Hence, all Constantine did in 321 AD was to legalize Sunday for worship and a time of rest for all people, even though Sunday had already been set apart for centuries from the time of the original apostles.

Phillip Schaff writes, “The celebration of the Lord’s Day in memory of the resurrection of Christ dates undoubtedly from the apostolic age. Nothing short of apostolic precedent can account for the universal religious observance in the churches of the second century. There is no dissenting voice. This custom is confirmed by the testimonies of the earliest post-apostolic writers.” 1

1 History of the Christian Church, Volume II: Ante-Nicene Christianity. A.D. 100-325. by Philip Schaff (1819-1893)


Those who claim Constantine was both Christian and pagan should carefully examine the record. He did not outlaw paganism and allowed religious freedom - but:

… in the words of an early edict, he decreed that polytheists could “celebrate the rites of an outmoded illusion,: so long as they did not force Christians to join them.” 1 In a letter to the King of Persia, Constantine wrote how he shunned the “abominable blood and hateful odors” of pagan sacrifices, and instead worshiped the High God “on bended knee”,2 and in the new capital city he built, Constantine made sure that there were no pagan temples built.3

1 Codex Theodosianius 9.16.2. 2 Eusebius, “Life of Constantine” 4.10. 3 R. Gerberding and J. H. Moran Cruz, Medieval Worlds


Between 324 and 330, Constantine built, virtually from scratch, a new imperial capital at Byzantium on the Bosphorus (it came to be named for him: Constantinople) – the city employed overtly Christian architecture, contained churches within the city walls (unlike ‘old’ Rome), and had no pagan temples. There was a corresponding closure of pagan temples due to a lack of support. State funds were no longer allocated for the repair of pagan temples, going rather to Christian causes.


Looking at the historical record leaves no doubt as to Constantine’s Christian allegiance. So linking the choice of Sunday as the Christian day of worship to sun god worship has no historic basis.

This very accusation of linking the sun god to the choice of Sunday for worship was made by pagans at least a century earlier than Constantine and refuted by Tertullian, “Others… suppose that the sun is the god of the Christians, because it is well-known that we regard Sunday as a day of joy.” 1

1 To the Nations 1: 133



To say that Sunday must not be the day of worship because the Romans revered the Sun on that day is absurd. Every week day for that matter is linked to a pagan deity. You can just as well say that you can’t use Saturday because they revered Saturn on that day.

So becoming legalistic about a day gets you into all sorts of trouble.


Sol (The Sun)


Jupiter (Norse: Thor)


Luna (The Moon)


Mars (Norse: Tyr)


Venus (Norse: Frija)


Mercury (Norse: Wodin)




This association of days with pagan deities is similar to the early issue of food sacrificed to idols.

1 Cor 8:4-7 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled.

Romans 14:5-6 makes it clear that God is not concerned with any particular day, even the first day of the week. 1

Rom 14:5-6 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

Ps 118:24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

1 “The Sabbath Or The First Day Of The Week?” – Warren Paynter

We will see that the early Church saw the first day of the week as THE LORD’S DAY as indeed are all days of the week. We serve the Creator of all days, rather than some petty deity linked to one day by man.



Seventh-day Adventists use a Historicist interpretation of prophecy and identify the Antichrist with the Roman Catholic Church. They teach that the “mark of the Beast” will be an international Sunday law, enforced by religious and secular authorities. Those who do not observe Sunday will be persecuted and killed.

A literal reading of the Bible shows that the Antichrist is a future literal man and that the mark of the Beast is linked to commerce and most likely a credit-card technology in the form of an implanted microchip.

Rev 13:16-17 He also forced everyone… to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark…

In addition to the Pauline teachings which appear to rescind the Sabbath, Jesus himself is recorded as redefining the Sabbath law… As Jesus proclaimed Himself to be “Lord of the Sabbath” who has “fulfilled the Law”, this has been interpreted by many Christians to mean that those who follow Him are no longer bound by the Sabbath. 1

1 Wikipedia



Q: Why does it say that, “on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.” (Luke 4:16)

A: Jesus was a Jew and he ministered almost exclusively to Jews whose meeting day was the Sabbath as commanded in the Old Covenant law.

Q: Why did Jesus say, “Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.” (Matt 24:20)

A: Because he was speaking to Jews. Those who believe in a Premillennial Pre-Tribulation Rapture, understand that the Antichrist will try and destroy the Jews after he has set up the Abomination of Desolation. So Jesus cautions them to flee.

In actual fact, Jesus was repeatedly considered a Sabbath-breaker by the Pharisees.

The Pharisees plot to kill him when he heals a man with a shriveled hand on the Sabbath. (Matt 12:9-14)

They want to kill him for healing the whole man on the Sabbath. Jesus tells them, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” (John 7:19-24)

The synagogue ruler is enraged when he heals the cripple woman on the Sabbath. Jesus calls him a hypocrite. (Luke 13:10-17)

Jesus defends his disciples when they pick grain on the Sabbath. He tells the Pharisees, “If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matt 12:1-8)

He heals the invalid on the Sabbath and instructs him to “Pick up your mat and walk.” This enrages the Jews and they persecute Jesus. He responds by saying, “Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set.” (John 5:1-47)

He heals a man with dropsy on the Sabbath while in a Pharisees house. (Luke 14:1-6)

He heals the man born blind on the Sabbath and instructs him to go and wash in a public pool (of Siloam). Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” Jesus accuses them of being spiritually “blind”. (John 9:1-41)


John 4:16-18 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

The Pharisees were very worried about the Sabbath (amongst other things), but Jesus said that they had “neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.” (Matt 23:23).


The Jerusalem Council was the first Church Council where Paul and Barnabas met with the other apostles - James (Jesus’ brother), Peter and John - to determine what Gentile Christians must observe.

… SABBATH KEEPING IS CONSPICUOUSLY ABSENT. Peter exhorts the leadership of the Church not to place the Gentiles under the Law: “Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.” (Acts 15:10-11). 1

1 J. Mark Martin -

The final judgment of the Jerusalem Council contains no reference to Sabbath keeping. Circumcision was discussed and deemed unnecessary (vss. 5-6; 19-20). If Sabbath keeping were to be an essential part of the New Covenant relationship with God it would have been mentioned in the discussion because it would have been an unfamiliar practice to the Gentiles. Sabbath keeping was not even discussed because it is not a requirement for New Covenant believers: “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials; that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.” (Acts 15:28-29). 1 Ibid



1 Ibid


The only time the Sabbath is mentioned from Acts through Revelation is for evangelistic purposes to the Jews and the setting is usually in a synagogue (Acts chapters 13–18). Paul wrote, “to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews” (1 Corinthians 9:20). Paul did not go to the synagogue to fellowship with and edify the saints, but to convict and save the lost. Once Paul states “from now on I will go to the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6), the Sabbath is never again mentioned. And instead of suggesting adherence to the Sabbath day, the remainder of the New Testament implies the opposite. 1

1 http:// page/ 1ev9f/ Bible_Tools/ Why_Do_We_Worship_On_Sunday.html


The apostle John was worshiping on the Lord’s day when he received his vision recorded in Revelation:

Rev 1:9-10 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet…

What is the Lord’s Day?

It was the day of Jesus’ resurrection.

So John was worshipping on the first day of the week (Sunday).

Very early in the apostolic church, the first day came to be called THE LORD’S DAY. We know this from many documents which predate both Constantine and the first Popes by centuries.

Ignatius (c.35-c.117 AD) identifies the Lord’s day with Sunday when speaking of Jesus’ resurrection, “At the dawning of the Lord’s day He arose from the dead…” 1

Cyprian (died 258 AD): “The eighth day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath, and the Lord’s Day.” 2

1 The epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians 2 Epistle 58, Sec 4

The early church celebrated the Lord’s resurrection on the first day of the week or “The Lord’s Day”


Ignatius (c.35-c.117 AD): “… 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.” 1

Ignatius: “We have seen how former adherents of the ancient customs have since attained to a new hope; so that they have given up keeping the Sabbath, and now order their lives by the Lord’s Day instead (the day when life first dawned for us, thanks to Him and His death.)” 1

Clement Of Alexandria (190 AD): “He does the commandment according to the Gospel and keeps the Lord’s day, whenever he puts away an evil mind… glorifying the Lord’s resurrection in himself.” 2

1 Ignatius, Epistle to the Magnesians 2 Miscellanies VII.xii.76.4


Eusebius Pamphilus, (c. 263–339 AD) writes that the Ebionites 1 “also observe the Sabbath and other discipline of the Jews, just like them, but on the other hand, they also celebrate the Lord’s days very much like us, in commemoration of his resurrection.” 2


1 A Jewish-Christian sect that insisted on the necessity of following Jewish religious law. 2 Ecclesiastical History, Book 3, Ch 27

Eusebius Pamphilus

The fathers did not regard the Christian Sunday as a continuation of, but as a substitute for, the Jewish Sabbath, and based it not so much on the fourth commandment, and the primitive rest of God in creation, to which the commandment expressly refers, as upon the resurrection of Christ and the apostolic tradition. 1

The Apostolic Constitutions (400 AD):

“… every Lord’s day, hold your solemn assemblies, and rejoice: for he will be guilty of sin who fasts on the Lord’s day, being the day of the resurrection…” 2

“And on the day of our Lord’s resurrection, which is the Lord’s day, meet more diligently.” 3

1 History of the Christian Church, Volume II by Philip Schaff 2 Apostolic Constitutions, Book 5, Ch 20 3 Apostolic Constitutions



The Didache (90-120 AD): “But on the Lord’s own [day] assemble and break bread, and give thanks, first confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure.” 1

Ignatius (c.35-c.117 AD): “Be not deceived with strange doctrines, nor with old fables, which are unprofitable. For if we still live according to the Jewish law, we acknowledge that we have not received grace… 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 Sabbaths, but fashioning their lives after the Lord’s Day…” 2

1 Didache, also called The Teaching of the Apostles, 14 2 Ignatius – “Epistle to the Magnesians”


Ignatius: “… 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. It is absurd to speak of Jesus Christ with the tongue, and to cherish in the mind a Judaism which has now come to an end. for where there is Christianity there cannot be Judaism… These things I address to you, my beloved, not that I know any of you to be in such a state; but, as less than any of you, I desire to guard you beforehand, that ye fall not upon the hooks of vain doctrine, but that you may rather attain to a full assurance in Christ…” 1 1 Ibid

The martyr Ignatius of Antioch


Justin Martyr (100–165 AD): “We are always together with one another. And for all the things with which we are supplied we bless the Maker of all through his Son Jesus Christ and through his Holy Spirit. And on the day called Sunday there is a gathering together in the same place of all who live in a city or a rural district… We all make our assembly in common on the day of the Sun, since it is the first day, on which God changed the darkness and matter and made the world, and Jesus Christ our Savior arose from the dead on the same day. For they crucified him on the day before Saturn’s day, and on the day after, which is the day of the Sun, he appeared to his apostles and taught his disciples these things.” 1

1 First Apology of Justin, 1, 67:1-3, 7


Dionysius, Bishop Of Corinth (died 170 AD) : “Today we have kept the holy Lord’s day, on which we have read your letter, which we shall ever possess to read and to be admonished, even as the former one written to us through Clement.” 1

Bardesanes 2 (154–222 AD) of Edessa in Syria writes “Wherever we are, we are all called after the one name of Christ: Christians. On one day, the first of the week, we assemble ourselves together…” 3

1 Quoted by Eusebius Pamphilus in Ecclesiastical History, Book 4, Ch 23 2 Considered by some to be a Gnostic heretic 3 Against Fate, 5


Tertullian (c.160–c.220 AD)

“We solemnize the day after Saturday in contradistinction to those who call this day their Sabbath…” 1

“It follows, accordingly, that, in so far as the abolition of carnal circumcision and of the old law is demonstrated as having been consummated at its specific times, so also the observance of the Sabbath is demonstrated to have been temporary.” 2

“By us, to whom Sabbaths are strange… for to the heathens each festive day occurs but once annually: you have a festive day every eighth day.” 3

1 Tertullian’s Apology, Ch 16 2 An Answer to the Jews 4:1 3 On Idolatry


Origen (c.185–254 AD) writes: “On Sunday none of the actions of the world should be done. If then, you abstain from all the works of this world and keep yourselves free for spiritual things, go to church, listen to the readings and divine homilies, meditate on heavenly things.” 1

Council Of Laodicea (360 AD): “Christians should not Judaize and should not be idle on the Sabbath, but should work on that day; they should, however, particularly reverence the Lord’s day and, if possible, not work on it, because they were Christians…” 2

1 Homil. 23 in Numeros 4, pg 12:749 2 Council of Laodicea, canon 29


The Didascalia (225 AD): “The apostles further appointed: On the first day of the week let there be service, and the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and the oblation, because on the first day of the week our Lord rose from the place of the dead…” 1

Augustine (354–430 AD): “Well, now, I should like to be told what there is in these Ten Commandments, except the observance of the Sabbath, which ought not to be kept by a Christian…” 2

1 Didascalia 2 2 The Spirit and the Letter 24



Victorinus (died c.303 AD): “The sixth day [Friday] is called Parasceve, that is to say, the preparation of the kingdom… On this day also, on account of the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, we make either a station to God or a fast. On the seventh day he rested from all his works, and blessed it, and sanctified it. On the former day we are accustomed to fast rigorously, that on the Lord’s day we may go forth to our bread with giving of thanks. And let the Parasceve become a rigorous fast, lest we should appear to observe any Sabbath with the Jews… which Sabbath he [Christ] in his body abolished.” 1

1 The Creation of the World


Cyril Of Jerusalem (c.313 – 386 AD): “Fall not away either into the sect of the Samaritans or into Judaism, for Jesus Christ has henceforth ransomed you. Stand aloof from all observance of Sabbaths and from calling any indifferent meats common or unclean…” 1

1 Catechetical Lectures 4:37

Cyril of Jerusalem


John Chrysostom (c.347–407 AD): “You have put on Christ, you have become a member of the Lord and been enrolled in the heavenly city, and you still grovel in the Law [of Moses]? How is it possible for you to obtain the kingdom? Listen to Paul’s words, that the observance of the Law overthrows the gospel, and learn, if you will, how this comes to pass, and tremble, and shun this pitfall. Why do you keep the Sabbath and fast with the Jews?” 1

1 Homilies on Galatians 2:17

John Chrysostom


The Apostolic Constitutions (400 AD):

“And on the day of our Lord’s resurrection, which is the Lord's day, meet more diligently, sending praise to God that made the universe by Jesus, and sent him to us, and condescended to let him suffer, and raised him from the dead. Otherwise what apology will he make to God who does not assemble on that day… in which is performed the reading of the prophets, the preaching of the gospel, the oblation of the sacrifice, the gift of the holy food” 1

“On the day of the resurrection of the Lord, that is, the Lord’s day, assemble yourselves together, without fail, giving thanks to God…” 2

1 Book 7, Chapter 30 2 Book 2, Chapter 59


Paul includes considering one day more special than another in his list of disputable matters about which Christians should not fight or pass judgment on others:

Romans 14:1-4 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

As this is a disputable matter Paul says that “each man should be convinced in his own mind” and not pass judgment on others who differ.

Romans 14:5-10 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God… You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.


Don’t be judged or condemned by another on this issue:

Col 2:16-22 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ… Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings.



The Adamic creation began with God making the heavens and the earth on the first day and ending that creation by creating man on the sixth day. The new creation begins with God recreating us in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:10) and ending by creating a new heaven and a new earth. (2 Pet 3:13). 1

Athanasius wrote (345 AD): “The Sabbath was the end of the first creation, the Lord’s day was the beginning of the second, in which he renewed and restored the old in the same way as he prescribed that they should formerly observe the Sabbath as a memorial of the end of the first things, so we honor the Lord’s day as being the memorial of the new creation.” 2

1 “The Sabbath Or The First Day Of The Week?” – Warren Paynter 2 On Sabbath and Circumcision


God is making all things new. So that which pertains to Adam is no longer of any concern to us. We are concerned with the new creation. Now the head of that new creation and its author is the Lord Jesus. 1

The Apostolic Constitutions (400 AD): “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. But there is only one Sabbath to be observed by you in the whole year, which is that of our Lord’s burial, on which men ought to keep a fast, but not a festival.”

1 “The Sabbath Or The First Day Of The Week?” – Warren Paynter 2 Apostolic Constitutions, Book 7, Chapter 23


That new creation began when Jesus Christ, the firstfruits of them that slept (1 Cor 15:23), rose from the dead on that first day of the week. That is why the first day is important. 1

The Sabbath relates to Adam and in Adam all die. The first day of the week relates to Jesus Christ, and in Christ we live a new life, we are a new creation. (2 Cor 5:17.) 1

All that belongs to the Genesis creation is behind us. The Sabbath of that creation is past and gone and forgotten. We belong to the creation which began with the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the first day of the week. 1

1 “The Sabbath Or The First Day Of The Week?” – Warren Paynter

The Letter of Barnabas (74-132 AD): “Moreover God says to the Jews, ‘Your new moons and Sabbaths cannot endure.’ You see how he says, ‘The present Sabbaths are not acceptable to me, but the Sabbath which I have made in which, when I have rested from all things, I will make the beginning of the eighth day which is the beginning of another world.’ Wherefore we Christians keep the eighth day for joy, on which also Jesus arose from the dead…” 1

1 The Letter of Barnabas, 15:6-8


Paul wrote to the Galatians because although they had accepted salvation by grace through faith, certain people had convinced them that they had to be circumcised to be saved. Paul cautions that if you take this approach, you are obliged to follow the entire Law.

Galatians 5:1-4 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.


Not only does the principle apply to circumcision, but also to observance of “special days”.

Galatians 4:9-11 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.


Justin Martyr (100–165 AD) writes, “There is no other thing for which you blame us, my friends, is there than this? That we do not live according to the Law, nor, are we circumcised in the flesh as your forefathers, nor do we observe the Sabbath as you do.” Trypho the Jew then acknowledges that Christians “do not keep the Sabbath.” 1

Jesus points out that the Jews esteemed circumcision more important than the Sabbath when he says, “Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” (John 7:23-24)

1 Dialogue with Trypho 10:1-3.



Regarding this, John Chrysostom (c.347–407 AD) correctly observes that if circumcision is no longer required, how much more the Sabbath!

“The rite of circumcision was venerable in the Jews’ account, forasmuch as the Law itself gave way thereto, and the Sabbath was less esteemed than circumcision. For that circumcision might be performed, the Sabbath was broken; but that the Sabbath might be kept, circumcision was never broken; and mark, I pray, the dispensation of God. This is found to be even more solemn than the Sabbath, as not being omitted at certain times. When then it is done away, how much more is the Sabbath.” 1

1 Homilies on Philippians 10

Bishop of Rome, Gregory I (597 AD): “It has come to my ears that certain men of perverse spirit have sown among you some things that are wrong and opposed to the holy faith, so as to forbid any work being done on the Sabbath day… For if anyone says that this about the Sabbath is to be kept, he must needs say that carnal sacrifices are to be offered. He must say too that the commandment about the circumcision of the body is still to be retained. But let him hear the apostle Paul saying in opposition to him: ‘If you be circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing’ (Gal. 5:2)” 1

1 Letters 13:1

Gregory I


2 Corinthians 3:2-3 says that, “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” Hence, Christians no longer follow a law written “in tables of stone” (that is, the Ten Commandments), but follow a law written upon “tablets of human hearts.” 1

1 SOURCE: Wikipedia


2 Cor 3:7-8, 3:11, “Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading through it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?… And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!”

This is a direct reference to the 10 Commandments; therefore New Covenant Christians are no longer under the Mosaic law, 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). 1

1 SOURCE: Wikipedia


And in this vein Justin Martyr (100–165 AD) argues, “But the Gentiles, who have believed on Him, and have repented of the sins which they have committed, they shall receive the inheritance along with the patriarchs and the prophets, and the just men who are descended from Jacob, even although they neither keep the Sabbath, nor are circumcised, nor observe the feasts. Assuredly they shall receive the holy inheritance of God.” 1

In fact the Sabbath was a sign of the Old Covenant. God says to Israel, “I am the LORD your God; follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us.” (Ezek 20:19-20)

1 Dialogue With Trypho the Jew


Col 2:16-17 … a religious festival… or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ


Both religious festivals and the Sabbath are said to be shadows, the reality being found in Christ. Just as we no longer keep the Jewish festivals which were simply typical of the realities in the NT, so the Sabbath is typical – being fulfilled in Christ who gives us the true rest (from works).

The Passover was a shadow of Jesus’ death, Pentecost of the pouring out of Holy Spirit. The OT shadows pointed to Christ. The tabernacle was a shadow of Jesus. The high priest was a shadow of Christ as our High Priest. The book of Hebrews shows clearly that the OT shadows pointed to the coming of the one who would fulfill them and thus end them. With Jesus’ work finished, the shadows were no longer needed.


Eusebius Pamphilus (c.263–339 AD): “The day of his [Christ’s] light… was the day of his resurrection from the dead, which they say, as being the one and only truly holy day and the Lord’s day, is better than any number of days as we ordinarily understand them, and better than the days set apart by the Mosaic Law for feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths, which the Apostle [Paul] teaches are the shadow of days and not days in reality…” 1

1 Proof of the Gospel 4:16:186


Tertullian, at the close of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd century, views the Lord’s Day as figurative of rest from sin and typical of man’s final rest, and says: “We have nothing to do with Sabbaths, new moons or the Jewish festivals, much less with those of the heathen. We have our own solemnities, the Lord’s Day, for instance, and Pentecost. As the heathen confine themselves to their festivals and do not observe ours, let us confine ourselves to ours, and not meddle with those belonging to them.” … he also considered it Christian duty to abstain from secular care and labor, lest we give place to the devil. 1

1 History of the Christian Church, Volume II: Ante-Nicene Christianity. A.D. 100-325. by Philip Schaff (1819-1893) quoting Tertullian’s “De Orat. c. 23”


Sabbatarians will argue that “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God” (Heb 4:9) indicates that we should observe the Sabbath. However the context shows that the writer to the Jewish Christians clearly indicates that the real Sabbath referred to a “rest from works”:

Heb 4:8-10 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.

Thus the true Sabbath is to cease from your own efforts and works and depend on the work of Jesus. As Paul wrote, “Not I, but Christ. I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).


In the same context about God’s true rest, God says to the ‘Sabbath-keeping’ people, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” (Heb 3:11)

The writer goes on to show that unbelief (i.e. no faith is what prevents us from receiving God’s true rest)

Heb 3:12-19 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness… And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.


We then see that the Sabbath day of the Mosaic Covenant did not give the promised rest:

Heb 4:1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it…

Neither was the Promised Land of Canaan a fulfillment of the promise of rest:

Heb 4:8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.


Hebrews 3:7-4:11 shows:

that the seventh-day Sabbath is no longer relevant as a regular, literal day of rest, but instead is a symbolic metaphor for the eternal ‘rest’ that Christians enjoy in Christ, which was in turn prefigured by the promised land of Canaan. 1

Faith was required to obtain the true rest:

Heb 4:2-3 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest…

1 SOURCE: Wikipedia


The Sabbath is superseded by a day called “Today” where we rest from works by grace through faith:

Heb 4:4-10 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.” … It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” … There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.


So Jesus fulfilled the Sabbath rest shadowed in the OT by “resting” in the tomb on Saturday, but rose from the dead on the first day allowing us to enter our rest.

Origen writes: “Hence it is not possible that the [day of] rest after the Sabbath should have come into existence from the seventh [day] of our God. On the contrary, it is our Savior who, after the pattern of his own rest, caused us to be made in the likeness of his death, and hence also of his resurrection…” 1

1 Commentary on John 2:28


Going back to the full context of Colossians 2 we now understand the “rest” from works that Jesus achieved at the cross:

Col 2:13-17 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Therefore do not let anyone judge you by … a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.


This is why Jesus said that the “Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27). So the true Sabbath rest is to rest from works by relying on what another (Jesus) has done.

This is why Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28)

In contrast, Jesus said of the legalistic Pharisees that they “tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” (Matt 23:4)


So the NT indicates that the Sabbath found its goal in Christ’s redemptive work where through his death and resurrection we have rest from our own efforts to reach and please God.

The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to “therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience” (Heb 4:11).


Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Mt 11:28-30)


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Be not seduced by strange doctrines nor by antiquated fables, which are profitless. For if even unto this day we live after the manner of Judaism, we avow that we have not received grace ... If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer observing Sabbaths but fashioning their lives after the Lord's day, on which our life also arose through Him ... how shall we be able to live apart from Him?

— Ignatius to the Magnesians 8:1, 9:1-2, Lightfoot translation.


Let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner, and rejoice in days of idleness, ... But let every one of you keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner, rejoicing in meditation on the law, not in relaxation of the body ... and not eating things prepared the day before, nor using lukewarm drinks, and walking within a prescribed space ... 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

— Letter to the Magnesians 9, Roberts and Donaldson translation, p. 189.