Unraveling Great Controversy’s Myths about the Origin of Sunday Worship
“I differ from Ellen White, for example, on the origin of Sunday. She teaches that in the first centuries all Christians observed the Sabbath and it was largely through the efforts of Constantine that Sunday-keeping was adopted by many Christians in the fourth century. My research shows otherwise. If you read my essay HOW DID SUNDAY-KEEPING BEGIN? which summarizes my dissertation, you will notice that I place the origin of Sunday-keeping by the time of the Emperor Hadrian, in A. D. 135.” – Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi / Seventh-day Adventists most predominant Historian.
On pages 52-53 of The Great Controversy Mrs. White wrote:
“In the first centuries the true Sabbath had been kept by all Christians. They were jealous for the honor of God, and believing that His law is immutable, they zealously guarded the sacredness of its precepts.”
Notice here that the word “centuries” is plural. This indicates that for a minimum of two centuries the Sabbath was observed by “all Christians.” Mrs. White seems to have believed that all Christians observed the Sabbath until “the early part of the fourth century [when] the emperor Constantine issued a decree making Sunday a public festival throughout the Roman Empire.” (p. 53)
Dr. Bacchiocchi writes in his newsletter (End time Issues number 87):
“What is problematic is the impression many people get from EGW’s statements that the Sabbath was observed ‘by all Christians . . . in the first centuries’ until ‘the early part of the fourth century [when] the emperor Constantine issued a decree making Sunday a public holiday.’ ( The Great Controversy pp. 52-53) …
“The earliest documents mentioning Sunday worship go back to Barnabas in 135 and Justin Martyr in 150. Thus, it is evident that Sunday worship was already established by the middle of the second century.”
Bacchoichi’s book, From Sabbath to Sunday, provides substantial evidence that Sunday worship started much earlier than Mrs. White claimed.
Sabbath Condemned by Ecumenical Councils
Mrs. White wrote in The Great Controversy of “vast councils” that supposedly attempted to “press down” the Sabbath in order to exalt Sunday in its place. She writes:
“Vast councils were held from time to time, in which the dignitaries of the church were convened from all the world. In nearly every council the Sabbath which God had instituted was pressed down a little lower, while the Sunday was correspondently exalted.” ( The Great Controversy page 53)
There were seven church councils held (Nicaea I in 325, Constantinople I in 381, Ephesus in 431, Chalcedon in 451, Constantinople II in 553, Constantinople III in 680, and Nicaea II in 787). However, Mrs. White seems to have been ignorant of their content. Dr. Bacchiocchi writes:
“The problem is with the second part of the statement which speaks of the Sabbath as being ‘pressed down a little lower’ in almost every general council. In all my reading of the seven ecumenical councils, I have not found a reference to the Sabbath/Sunday question being debated in such councils. Presumably the reason is that Sunday observance was no longer a debated question–it had become widely accepted by Christians.”
How could the Sabbath have been “pressed down” a little lower in these councils when it was not even discussed? This is simply another case of Mrs. White inventing history in her writings, and then claiming it was inspiration from God!
Mrs. White would have us believe the Waldenses observed the Sabbath:
“Through ages of darkness and apostasy there were Waldenses who denied the supremacy of Rome, who rejected image worship as idolatry, and who kept the true Sabbath. Under the fiercest tempests of oppositions they maintained their faith.” (page 65)”Some of whom [Waldenses] were observers of the Sabbath.” (page 577)
Dr. Bacchiocchi has probably done more research on the Sabbath than any living human. Did he find evidence that some of the Waldenses observed the Sabbath?
“I spent several hours searching for an answer in the two scholarly volumes Storia dei Valdesi–(History of the Waldenses), authored by Amedeo Molnar and Augusto Hugon. These two books were published in 1974 by the Claudiana, which is the official Italian Waldensian publishing house. They are regarded as the most comprehensive history of the Waldenses. To my regret I found no allusion whatsoever to Sabbath-keeping among the Waldenses.”
Dr. Bacchiocchi is not the first Adventist to search in vain for evidence of the Waldenses keeping the Sabbath. The only thing researchers have found thus far are some documents which refer to the Waldenses by their nickname, “insabbati.” Unfortunately for Mrs. White, the term has nothing to do with the Sabbath. It refers to the sandals the Waldenses were known to wear. The Latin word for sandals is sabbatum. Thus, the Waldenses were insabbati–“sandal wearers.”
A Waldensian minister in Italy was contacted and asked if the Waldenses ever kept the Sabbath. Here is his response:
“The Waldensians did not keep the Sabbath and were not guardians of the “Sabbath Truth” as you call it. … We can therefore say very clearly that the Waldensians were not Seventh-day Sabbath keepers and they were not persecuted for keeping Saturday as the Sabbath!” (click here to read the entire letter)
Apparently Mrs. White wanted to have a line of unbroken Sabbath-keeping, from the time of the Apostles, to the Waldenses in the mountains of Europe, all the way through to the time of the Seventh-day Adventists. Unfortunately, such a continuum does not exist. Sunday-keeping began much earlier than Mrs. White realized, and the Waldenses never kept the Sabbath at all.
Another inaccurate statement Mrs. White made about the Waldenses is:
“Behind the lofty bulwarks of the mountains . .. the Waldenses found a hiding place. Here the light of truth was kept burning amid the darkness of the Middle Ages. Here for a thousand years, witnesses for the truth maintained the ancient faith.” (pp. 65-66)
The Waldensian movement was established by Peter Valdes around 1176. The Waldenses were not excommunicated from the church until 1184. Therefore, the move to the mountains could not have taken place until after 1184, and the persecution of the Waldenses had subsided by the late 1600s. Therefore, it would be impossible for the Waldenses to have kept the light of truth burning for “a thousand years” during the Middle Ages. 500 years is a more likely number.
Whether or not the Seventh-day Adventist church is the “remnant” in Revelation 12:17 stands or falls on whether or not the Waldensians were in fact the “woman,” that 1. fled into the wilderness for 1260 days/years (Revelation 12:14-16) and were 2. Sabbath-keepers. Historical evidence disproves both points necessary for the Waldensians to fulfill this prophecy! Ellen’s unbroken link theory, which is one of Adventism’s main pillars has no historical backing – from beginning to end!
The entire matter has resulted with a very powerful illusion, built entirely upon myths that were delicately fabricated within the Great Controversy, carefully embedded within many historically accurate truths, all of which have subtly avoided detection. As a consequence these ideas about history have been widely accepted as fact within the Seventh-day Adventist church, and only by the Seventh-day Adventist church! Truly, the title “Seventh-day Adventist truth” is fitting, since these things we have discussed are held to be true only within the Adventist church. More evidence to follow! So stay tuned! You will want to read all the links posted at the bottom of this article from Harvard University, the Smithsonian, the British Museum, and others, to continue this study unraveling Great Controversy’s myths about the origin of Sunday Worship.
THE GREAT CONTROVERSY
The Great Controversy has been portrayed as a book that was written out by Ellen White from her heaven-sent visions. Thanks to Dr. Bacchiochi, and others, it can be clearly seen that her writings did not originate in heaven at all, but rather were based upon the sometimes faulty information that was readily available to her, and the authors she plagiarized from, at the time of its writing.
At the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Nov. 15-19, 1981
“Mrs. White borrowed not only the words and phrases used by these authors, but in some cases, followed the outline of their expositions and drew from [their] facts, illustrations, thoughts, and concepts. The material borrowed by Mrs. White included historical, geographical, and chronological information, as well as devotional material, theological concepts—and scriptural and prophetic expositions. She also employed extra-Biblical comments on the lives of various Biblical characters, often turning the speculations and conjectures of her sources into statements of positive fact.”
“These borrowings occurred not only in the historical sections of the Great Controversy, but also in its prophetic sections. They appear in descriptions of the content of specific visions given to Mrs. White. It would be unwise at this point to assert that there is any particular book written by Mrs. White or any type of writing from her pen in which literary borrowing will not be found.”
“Many of the beautifully expressed thoughts, that is, many of the literary gems found in Mrs. White’s writings were borrowed from other authors. This fact, together with the knowledge that her writings were polished by literary assistants, leads us to avoid the suggestion that the literary beauty of her writings is an evidence of her divine inspiration.”
On March 14, 1858, Ellen White was purported to have had her famous Lovett’s Grove vision about “The Great Controversy”. Interestingly enough, a mere four days later, on March 18, 1858, a glowing review of H. L. Hastings, “Great Controversy Between God and Man” appeared in James White’s Review magazine! Don McAdams in his manuscript on John Huss says on Page 21: “Hastings’ book is remarkably similar to the short Spiritual Gifts volume Ellen published shortly after her Lovett’s Grove, Ohio, vision on March 14, 1858, subtitled, “The Great Controversy Between Christ and His Angels, and Satan and His Angels.” The two volumes have the same title, the same theme, the same beginning and ending, and in fact interpret Scripture almost identically.” Having worked for a book publisher myself (Harvestime Books 2007 – 2010), it is interesting to note, that it is set in the same type-face, and set to the same unusually small sized page as the Spiritual Gifts volume Ellen published shortly after her Lovett’s Grove, Ohio, vision on March 14, 1858.
Ellen ‘got caught with her hand in the cookie jar’ when she copied one of H. L. Hastings clerical errors, “God heard their murmurings, and bade Moses SMITE the rock, that the children of Israel might have water.” Spiritual Gifts Volume I p. 41. This is a serious ‘boo boo!’ Numbers 20:7,8 says “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying… SPEAK ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water…” Moses was not permitted to enter the promised land for smiting the rock, which brought upon himself God’s displeasure.
The following detailed analysis further shows how each writer enunciated on some of the same themes and topics: (This analysis was created by By D. Anderson < click to read more of Anderson’s research about the ‘controversy’ over Hastings and E. G. White’s TWO Great Controversy’s)
|Noah and the Flood||Wickedness of the earth||1SG p. 66||p. 21|
|God calls Noah to preach||p. 69||p. 22|
|People ignored and mocked Noah||p. 70||pp. 22-23|
|Noah and animals enter ark||p. 72||p. 23|
|Dark clouds fill the sky||p. 73||p. 23|
|Floods from above and below||p. 73||p. 23|
|Lightning bolts flashed||p. 74||p. 24|
|Cities/Buildings destroyed||p. 74||p. 24|
|The lost were “wailing”||p. 74||p. 24|
|The “loftiest” points covered by water||p. 76||p. 24|
|God protected the ark||p. 75||p. 24|
|Babel||Wicked congregate in plain of Shinar||p. 91||p. 25|
|Tower of Babel built||p. 92||p. 25|
|God confuses the languages||p. 92||p. 26|
|Builders were unable to communicate||p. 92||p. 26|
|Abraham||Abram called to separate from wicked||p. 93||p. 27|
|Lord made promises to Abraham||p. 93||p. 27|
|The Exodus||Dwelled in the land of Goshen||3SG p. 177||p. 31|
|New king enslaves Israelites||p. 178||p. 31|
|Moses was born||p. 180||p. 32|
|Hidden in bulrushes||p. 180||p. 32|
|Educated with pharaohs||p. 183||p. 32|
|Dwelt in the desert||p. 187||p. 32|
|Moses and Aaron visit Pharaoh||p. 197||p. 33|
|Pharaoh refuses request||p. 198||p. 33|
|Pharaoh increases burdens on slaves||p. 198||p. 33|
|Plagues fall||pp. 207-221||pp. 34-35|
|Passover observed||pp. 222-228||p. 36|
|Death wail heard at midnight||p. 229||p. 36|
|Pharaoh releases captives||p. 229||p. 36|
|Camped by Red Sea||p. 230||p. 36|
|Pharaoh pursues Israelites||p. 231||pp. 36-37|
|Moses parts the waters||p. 234||p. 37|
|Egyptian army destroyed||p. 235||p. 39|
|Israelites sing to the Lord||p. 236-238||pp. 40-41|
|Other nations are witness to the Exodus||p. 242||p. 42|
|Jesus||Angels announce Christ’s birth||1SG p. 28||p. 80|
|John heralds Christ, baptizes people||p. 29||p. 81|
|Mob threatens to throw Jesus from hill||p. 36||p. 82|
|Was abused during the trial||p. 55||p. 83|
|Jesus was “delivered” to be crucified||p. 57||p. 83|
|Cross was laid on His shoulders||p. 58||p. 83|
|Nails hammered in||p. 59||p. 83|
|Hung between thieves||p. 59||p. 83|
|Given vinegar to drink||p. 60||p. 83|
|Guard placed at the tomb||p. 65||p. 83|
|Guards lied about resurrection||p. 68||p. 84|
|Returns to heaven with “captives”||p. 69||p. 85|
|Jerusalem 70 AD||Apostles preached to Jerusalem||GC88 p. 28||p. 88|
|God rejects Jewish nation||p. 29||p. 90|
|Christians evacuate Jerusalem||p. 30||p. 91|
|Rome lays siege to Jerusalem||p. 31||p. 91|
|Women ate their own children||p. 32||p. 92|
|City and temple destroyed||pp. 33-35||p. 92|
|Final judgment||Lord has a controversy with the nations||p. 656||p. 134|
|Slain shall cover the earth||p. 657||p. 134|
|Son of Man appears in clouds||p. 643||p. 143|
|Wicked turned to stubble||p. 673||p. 146|
|Lake of fire destroys wicked||p. 672||p. 165|
|New Earth||New Jerusalem descends||p. 663||p. 166|
|Tree of Life||p. 675||p. 166|
|No light is needed||p. 676||p. 166|
|Righteous unite in songs of praise||p. 678||p. 167|
|Sinners are no more||p. 678||p. 167|
(1SG=Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1, 3SG=Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, GC88=Great Controversy, 1888 ed.)
More Evidence Unraveling Great Controversy’s Myths about the Origin of Sunday Worship
ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA: Sunday, first day of the week; in Christianity, the Lord’s Day, the weekly memorial of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The practice of Christians gathering together for worship on Sunday dates back to apostolic times, but details of the actual development of the custom are not clear. Before the end of the 1st Century AD, the author of Revelation gave the first day its name of the “Lord’s Day” (Rev. 1:10). Saint Justin Martyr (c. 100-c. 165), philosopher and defender of the Christian faith, in his writings described the Christians gathered together for worship on the Lord’s Day: the gospels or the Old Testament was read, the presiding minister preached a sermon, and the group prayed together and celebrated the Lord’s Supper. The emperor Constantine (d. 337), a convert to Christianity, introduced the first civil legislation concerning Sunday in 321, when he decreed that all work should cease on Sunday, except that farmers could work if necessary. This law, aimed at providing time for worship, was followed later in the same century and in subsequent centuries by further restrictions on Sunday activities. (15th edition, vol. 11, pg. 392)
ENCYCLOPEDIA AMERICANA: From the apostolic era to the present it has been customary for Christians to assemble for communal Sunday services. (Sunday, 1988, pg. 21)
COLLIER’S ENCYCLOPEDIA: The New Testament contains clear evidence that from a very early period the first day of the week was observed by Christians as a day of assembly for “the breaking of bread” and perhaps for the collection of freewill offerings. (Acts xx:7 and 1 Corinth xvi:2). Justin Martyr in the middle of the second century describes how “on the day called Sunday” all town and country Christians assembled for instructions in holy writings, for prayer distribution of bread and wine, and the collection of alms. Tertullian declared that the Christians “made Sunday a day of joy, but for other reasons that to adore the sun which was not part of their religion. (Sunday, , 1985, pg. 632-633)
HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH: 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, as Barnabas, Ignatius, and Justin Martyr. (Philip Schaff, , vol. 1, pg. 201-202)
HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH: Hence, the first day was already in the apostolic age honorably designated as “the Lord’s Day.” …it appears, therefore, from the New Testament itself, that Sunday was observed as a day of worship, and in special commemoration of the Resurrection, whereby the work of redemption was finished. The universal and uncontradicted Sunday observance in the second century can only be explained by the fact that it has its roots in apostolic practice. (Philip Schaff, , vol. 1, pg. 478-479)
NEW SCHAFF HERZOG ENCYCLOPEDIA: The earliest traces of the observance of the first day of the week in remembrance of Christ’s resurrection is found in the Pauline period of the Apostolic Age. (Sunday, pg. 145)
ANCIENT HISTORICAL EVIDENCE
- 90AD DIDACHE: “Christian Assembly on the Lord’s Day: 1. 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. 2. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. 3. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, saith the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations.” (Didache: The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, Chapter XIV)
- 100 AD BARNABAS “We keep the eighth day [Sunday] with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead” (The Epistle of Barnabas, 100 AD 15:6-8).
- 100 AD BARNABAS: Moreover God says to the Jews, ‘Your new moons and Sabbaths 1 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 [heaven: Heb 4] 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 and when he appeared ascended into heaven. (15:8f, The Epistle of Barnabas, 100 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers , vol. 1, pg. 147)
- 110AD Pliny: they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath not to (do) any wicked deeds, never to commit any fraud, theft, or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of good food—but food of an ordinary and innocent kind. (About three years after the death of Ignatius in 250, an important official communication was sent from one Pliny to Trajan the Roman emperor. Pliny, the Roman governor of Bithynia, wrote of the Christians who had been congregating there probably from at least A.D. 62 onwards. In this remarkable it is explicitly stated that these early Christians observed the substance of most of the Ten Commandments, and it is implied that they observed all ten as far as they were able to do so. As far as they were able, for as most of the early Christians were of slave stock or from other lower classes’-, and those who had heathen masters or employers—the vast majority—would be forced to work on their day of rest, which was unfortunately an official working day throughout the empires’ until Constantine’s “Sabbath” Edict in 321 A.D. gave them some measure of public protection. Hence one reads that after meeting “on a certain fixed day before it was light”, the first century Bithynian Christians had “to separate”—many of them having to labour for their masters and/or employers from dawn to dusk—”and then reassemble to partake of . . . food”. The “certain fixed day” [stato die"'] on which the Christians met, is regarded by Seventh-day Adventists as Saturday’-. Certainly the expression would seem to indicate a regular day of meeting, probably each week. But Sunday is far more likely to have been the “certain fixed day” than Saturday. For if Pliny had been referring to the old Saturday Sabbath, as a Roman he would doubtless have referred to the “later” meeting first and only then to the morning meeting on the day al ter the “certain fixed day”, seeing that the old Saturday Sabbath was demarcated from the evening of one day to the evening of the following day. But Pliny makes no such reference. Instead, he mentions that the pre-dawn meeting took place first—and only afterwards the later meeting; and that both meetings took place on the same “certain fixed day”. This rather points to the Roman (and—more importantly!—New Testament) midnight to midnight demarcation of modern Sunday-keepers than to the evening to evening demarcation of the Jews and the Seventh-day Adventists. (The covenantial Sabbath, Francis Nigel Lee, Pg 242)
- 150AD EPISTLE OF THE APOSTLES.- I [Christ] have come into being on the eighth day which is the day of the Lord. (18)
- 150AD JUSTIN: “He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us, who in every place offer sacrifices to Him, i.e., the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the Eucharist, affirming both that we glorify His name, and that you profane [it]. The command of circumcision, again, bidding [them] always circumcise the children on the eighth day, was a type of the true circumcision, by which we are circumcised from deceit and iniquity through Him who rose from the dead on the first day after the Sabbath, [namely through] our Lord Jesus Christ. For the first day after the Sabbath, remaining the first of all the days, is called, however, the eighth, according to the number of all the days of the cycle, and [yet] remains the first.”. (Justin, Dialogue 41:4)
- 150AD JUSTIN: …those who have persecuted and do persecute Christ, if they do not repent, shall not inherit anything on the holy mountain. 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. (Dialogue With Trypho the Jew, 150-165 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers , vol. 1, page 207)
- 150AD JUSTIN: 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, Jesus Christ the Son of God has been born without sin, of a virgin sprung from the stock of Abraham. (Dialogue With Trypho the Jew, 150-165 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers , vol. 1, page 206)
- 150AD JUSTIN: “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 other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a 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.” (First apology of Justin, Weekly Worship of the Christians, Ch 68)
- 150AD JUSTIN: Moreover, all those righteous men already mentioned [after mentioning Adam. Abel, Enoch, Lot, Noah, Melchizedek, and Abraham], though they kept no Sabbaths, were pleasing to God; and after them Abraham with all his descendants until Moses… And you [fleshly Jews] were commanded to keep Sabbaths, that you might retain the memorial of God. For His word makes this announcement, saying, “That you may know that I am God who redeemed you.” (Dialogue With Trypho the Jew, 150-165 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers , vol. 1, page 204)
- 150AD JUSTIN: 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. (Dialogue with Trypho 10:1. In verse 3 the Jew Trypho acknowledges that Christians ‘do not keep the Sabbath.’)
- 150AD JUSTIN: 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. (There follows an account of a Christian worship service, which is quoted in VII.2.) 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 the appeared to his apostles and taught his disciples these things. (Apology, 1, 67:1-3, 7; First Apology, 145 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers , Vol. 1, pg. 186)
- 155 AD Justin Martyr “[W]e too would observe the fleshly circumcision, and the Sabbaths, and in short all the feasts, if we did not know for what reason they were enjoined [on] you–namely, on account of your transgressions and the hardness of your heart. . . . [H]ow is it, Trypho, that we would not observe those rites which do not harm us–I speak of fleshly circumcision and Sabbaths and feasts? . . . God enjoined you [Jews] to keep the Sabbath, and impose on you other precepts for a sign, as I have already said, on account of your unrighteousness and that of your fathers” (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 18, 21).
- 180AD ACTS OF PETER.- Paul had often contended with the Jewish teachers and had confuted them, saying ‘it is Christ on whom your fathers laid hands. He abolished their Sabbath and fasts and festivals and circumcision.’ (1: I)-2
- 180AD GOSPEL OF PETER: Early in the morning when (he Sabbath dawned, a multitude from Jerusalem and the surrounding country came to see the scaled sepulchre. In the night in which the Lord’s day dawned, while the soldiers in pairs for each watch were keeping guard, a great voice came from heaven. [There follows an account of the resurrection. Early in the morning of the Lord’s day Mary Magdalene, a disciple of the Lord …. came to the sepulchre. (9:34f.; 12:50f.)
- 190AD CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: (in commenting on each of the Ten Commandments and their Christian meaning:) The seventh day is proclaimed a day of rest, preparing by abstention from evil for the Primal day, our true rest. (Ibid. VII. xvi. 138.1)
- 190AD CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: 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. (Ibid. Vii.xii.76.4)
- 190AD CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Plato prophetically speaks of the Lord’s day in the tenth book of the Republic, in these words: ‘And when seven days have passed to each of them in the meadow, on the eighth they must go on.” (Miscellanies V.xiv.106.2)
- 200AD BARDESANES: 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 (On Fate)
- 200AD TERTULLIAN: “We solemnize the day after Saturday in contradistinction to those who call this day their Sabbath” (Tertullian’s Apology, Ch 16)
- 200AD TERTULLIAN: 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. (An Answer to the Jews 4:1, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 3, page 155)
- 200AD TERTULLIAN: Let him who contends that the Sabbath is still to be observed 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. .. …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. (An Answer to the Jews 2:10; 4:1, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 3, page 153)
- 200AD 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. (To the Nations 1: 133)
- 200AD TERTULLIAN: To us Sabbaths are foreign. (On Idolatry, 14:6)4
- 220AD ORIGEN “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. (Homil. 23 in Numeros 4, PG 12:749)
- 220 AD Origen “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” (Commentary on John 2:28).
- 225 AD The Didascalia “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, and on the first day of the week he arose upon the world, and on the first day of the week he ascended up to heaven, and on the first day of the week he will appear at last with the angels of heaven” (Didascalia 2).
- 250AD CYPRIAN: The eight day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath, and the Lord’s Day.” (Epistle 58, Sec 4)
- 250 AD IGNATIUS: “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 death-whom some deny, by which mystery we have obtained faith, and therefore endure, that we may be found the disciples of Jesus Christ, our only Master-how shall we be able to live apart from Him, whose disciples the prophets themselves in the Spirit did wait for Him as their Teacher? And therefore He whom they rightly waited for, being come, raised them from the dead. If, then, those who were conversant with the ancient Scriptures came to newness of hope, expecting the coming of Christ, as the Lord teaches us when He says, “If ye had believed Moses, ye would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me; ” and again, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad; for before Abraham was, I am; ” how shall we be able to live without Him? The prophets were His servants, and foresaw Him by the Spirit, and waited for Him as their Teacher, and expected Him as their Lord and Saviour, saying, “He will come and save us.” Let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner, and rejoice in days of idleness; for “he that does not work, let him not eat.” For say the [holy] oracles, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread.” 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, admiring the workmanship of God, and not eating things prepared the day before, nor using lukewarm drinks, and walking within a prescribed space, nor finding delight in dancing and plaudits which have no sense in them. 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, “whose god is their belly, who mind earthly things,” who are “lovers of pleasure, and not lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” These make merchandise of Christ, corrupting His word, and giving up Jesus to sale: they are corrupters of women, and covetous of other men’s possessions, swallowing up wealth insatiably; from whom may ye be delivered by the mercy of God through our Lord Jesus Christ! (Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians, Chapter IX)
- 250AD IGNATIUS: “On the day of the preparation, then, at the third hour, He received the sentence from Pilate, the Father permitting that to happen; at the sixth hour He was crucified; at the ninth hour He gave up the ghost; and before sunset He was buried. During the Sabbath He continued under the earth in the tomb in which Joseph of Arimathaea had laid Him. At the dawning of the Lord’s day He arose from the dead, according to what was spoken by Himself, “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man also be 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.” (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians, chapter 9)
- 250AD IGNATIUS: If any one fasts on the Lord’s Day or on the Sabbath, except on the paschal Sabbath only, he is a murderer of Christ. (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Philippians, chapter 8)
- 250AD IGNATIUS: “This [custom], of not bending the knee upon Sunday, is a symbol of the resurrection, through which we have been set free, by the grace of Christ, from sins, and from death, which has been put to death under Him. Now this custom took its rise from apostolic times, as the blessed Irenaeus, the martyr and bishop of Lyons, declares in his treatise On Easter, in which he makes mention of Pentecost also; upon which [feast] we do not bend the knee, because it is of equal significance with the Lord’s day, for the reason already alleged concerning it.” (Ignatius, Fragments)
- 300 AD Victorinus “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” (The Creation of the World).
- 300AD EUSEBIUS: “They did not, therefore, regard circumcision, nor observe the Sabbath neither do we; … because such things as these do not belong to Christians” (Ecc. Hist., Book 1, Ch. 4)
- 300AD EUSEBIUS: [The Ebionites] were accustomed to observe the Sabbath and other Jewish customs but on the Lord’s days to celebrate the same practices as we in remembrance of the resurrection of the Savior. (Church History Ill.xxvii.5)
- 300 AD Eusebius of Caesarea “They [the pre- Mosaic saints of the Old Testament] did not care about circumcision of the body, neither do we [Christians]. They did not care about observing Sabbaths, nor do we. They did not avoid certain kinds of food, neither did they regard the other distinctions which Moses first delivered to their posterity to be observed as symbols; nor do Christians of the present day do such things” (Church History 1:4:8).
- 300 AD Eusebius of Caesarea “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” (Proof of the Gospel 4:16:186).
- 345 AD Athanasius “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” (On Sabbath and Circumcision 3).
- 350 AD APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS: Be not careless of yourselves, neither deprive your Saviour of His own members, neither divide His body nor disperse His members, neither prefer the occasions of this life to the word of God; but assemble yourselves together every day, morning and evening, singing psalms and praying in the Lord’s house: in the morning saying the sixty-second Psalm, and in the evening the hundred and fortieth, but principally on the Sabbath-day. 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 to hear the saving word concerning the resurrection, on which we pray thrice standing in memory of Him who arose in three days, 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? (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, book 2)
- 350 AD APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS: For if the Gentiles every day, when they arise from sleep, run to their idols to worship them, and before all their work and all their labors do first of all pray to them, and in their feasts and in their solemnities do not keep away, but attend upon them; and not only those upon the place, but those living far distant do the same; and in their public shows all come together, as into a synagogue: in the same manner those which are vainly called Jews, when they have worked six days, on the seventh day rest, and come together in their synagogue, never leaving or neglecting either rest from labor or assembling together… If, therefore, those who are not saved frequently assemble together for such purposes as do not profit them, what apology wilt thou make to the Lord God who forsakes his Church, not imitating so much as the heathen, but by such, thy absence grows slothful, or turns apostate. or acts wickedness? To whom the Lord says to Jeremiah, “Ye have not kept My ordinances; nay, you have not walked according to the ordinance of the heathen and you have in a manner exceeded them… How, therefore, will any one make his apology who has despised or absented himself from the church of God? (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, book 2)
- 350 AD APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS: Do you therefore fast, and ask your petitions of God. We enjoin you to fast every fourth day of the week, and every day of the preparation, and the surplusage of your fast bestow upon the needy; every Sabbath-day excepting one, and 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, or during the time of Pentecost, or, in general, who is sad on a festival day to the Lord For on them we ought to rejoice, and not to mourn. (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, book 5)
- 350 AD APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS “Which Days of the Week We are to Fast, and Which Not, and for What Reasons: But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites; for they fast on the second and fifth days of the week. But do you either fast the entire five days, or on the fourth day of the week, and on the day of the Preparation, because on the fourth day the condemnation went out against the Lord, Judas then promising to betray Him for money; and you must fast on the day of the Preparation, because on that day the Lord suffered the death of the cross under Pontius Pilate. 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 one only 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. For inasmuch as the Creator was then under the earth, the sorrow for Him is more forcible than the joy for the creation; for the Creator is more honourable by nature and dignity than His own creatures.” (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, book 7)
- 350 AD APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS “How We Ought to Assemble Together, and to Celebrate the Festival Day of Our Saviour’s Resurrection. 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.” (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, book 7)
- 350 AD Cyril of Jerusalem “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” (Catechetical Lectures 4:37).
- 360 AD Council of Laodicea “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” (canon 29).
- 387 AD John Chrysostom “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?” (Homilies on Galatians 2:17).
- 387 AD John Chrysostom “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 that the Sabbath, as not being omitted at certain times. When then it is done away, much more is the Sabbath” (Homilies on Philippians 10).
- 412 AD Augustine “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 . . . Which of these commandments would anyone say that the Christian ought not to keep? It is possible to contend that it is not the Law which was written on those two tables that the apostle [Paul] describes as ‘the letter that kills’ [2 Cor. 3:6], but the law of circumcision and the other sacred rites which are now abolished” (The Spirit and the Letter 24).
- 597 AD Gregory I “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. What else can I call these [men] but preachers of Antichrist, who when he comes will cause the Sabbath day as well as the Lord’s day to be kept free from all work. For because he [the Antichrist] pretends to die and rise again, he wishes the Lord’s day to be had in reverence; and because he compels the people to Judaize that he may bring back the outward rite of the Law, and subject the perfidy of the Jews to himself, he wishes the Sabbath to be observed. For this which is said by the prophet, ‘You shall bring in no burden through your gates on the Sabbath day’ (Jer. 17:24) could be held to as long as it was lawful for the Law to be observed according to the letter. But after that the grace of almighty God, our Lord Jesus Christ, has appeared, the commandments of the Law which were spoken figuratively cannot be kept according to the letter. 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)” (Letters 13:1).