Saturday, February 4, 2017

Early Church Practice of the Sabbath

As I have said before, I have friends who are Seventh-Day Adventists. They claim that the Sabbath was forcibly changed from the seventh day to the first day of the week by Emperor Constantine, the council of Laodicea, and the Catholic Church, in the Fourth Century.

However, as is confessional for my own church, I hold that the change occurred in Acts, as a result of the resurrection of Christ on the first day of the week (as I have written before; use the "sabbath" tag below). This is testified in the Apostolic Fathers, such as the Epistle of Barnabas, which dates, at least, from the Second Century. It may have been written by Saint Barnabas, who figures prominently in Acts.

St. Barnabas
In 15:8-9, we read, "Further, He says to them, 'Your new moons and your Sabbaths I cannot endure.' Ye perceive how He speaks: Your present Sabbaths are not acceptable to me, but that which I have made, [namely this,] when, giving rest to all things, I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world. Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead. And when He had manifested Himself, He ascended into the heavens."

After citing Isaiah 1:13, the author tells us that the practice of the Christians, in honor both of Christ's resurrection and ascension, gathered on the eighth day, which would be the first day of the following week. He uses "eighth day" instead of "first day" because of the prophecies of such, e. g., Leviticus 22:27, 23:11, 23:36, and especially the Feast of Pentecost in Leviticus 23:15-16. Notice the repeated references to the eighth day in the context of atonement!

This epistle, while not Scripture, nevertheless indicates that it was the practice of the church to celebrate the first day of the week, not the seventh. And, thus, the claims of the Adventists are erroneous.


Michael Pursley said...

I think that historically you might find that your argument to be a bit weak. The Change from Jewish Sabbatarianism was gradual, and not commanded. I also deal with a lot of SDA's. Probably about 100k current and former SDA's as co-Admin and chaplin let me share with you what I tell them about the Law and the Covenants. And yes it does go further than the Westminster confession, and even the London Baptist confession, but I think that the principles are valid none the less.... is impossible to understand the law without understanding the Covenants. For the Law, regardless of which one you are talking about is bound up as a necessary, and yes, vital part of the conditions and precepts of a particular and specific covenant.

While they come back that God does not change, my believe is that God does change both his laws and his Covenants, when he pleases and when he chooses. (See Hebrews 7:12)

Therefore, one must need to understand that every Covenant in the bible, (whether you are speaking of a biblical Covenant, or of a theological Covenant) has a certain set of Characteristics.

First of all, Each Covenant is specific and unique unto itself.

Second. Each Covenant has its own unique Laws, precepts, or admonitions, which are that Covenant's specific conditions.

Third. Each Covenant has its own has its own unique purpose.

Fourth. Each Covenant has its own specific time.

Fifth. Each Covenant has its own set of people, who are included in as a part of that covenant.

Sixth. Each Covenant has its own unique sign.

Now let me specifically apply this to what I am saying. And that is, if you are following the Ten Commandments, or as it is called, the Sinaitic Covenant, you are distinctly following the wrong Covenant, with the wrong Laws, and you are living under the wrong conditions or laws to fulfill the covenant that is currently in operation.

As a result, you are with the wrong people, your wrong covenant has the wrong purpose, with the wrong time, and with the wrong sign.

I invite comment, I hope that helps.

Chris said...


Merlin Houzet said...

The world has been printing the Phases of the Moon on its Gregorian calendars that we hang on the walls of our homes for scores and scores of years but has failed to see the obvious Sabbath that is signalled by every printed Phase. But then many still go and warm the pews of their houses of worship on that Pagan Roman day of "the Invincible Sun" ๐ŸŒ—๐ŸŒ•๐ŸŒ“๐ŸŒ’

knodeljr said...

The one thing that many people miss is that God’s authority to define out boundaries can come either by word or example! On account of our sola scriptura commitment, we often feel insecure unless we see the explicit verbal command.

But in the case of the Sabbath (Lord’s Day) command, in both the OT/NT, God legislates by his example and not Word; first by resting/sanctifying himself on his 7th Day (our 1st whole day), and then by rising from the dead, and sanctifying the new day — again by example — and fulfilling all the 8th day symbolism spread throughout the OT!

7th Day Adventists and 7th Day Sabbatarians all miss this fundamental biblical principle! Similarly, God gives us no verbal command re marriage, in the creation. Yet he exemplifies his order (Law-order) by creating Adam and Eve versus Adam and a harem!

This constitutes a much simpler apologetic for the change in day; and is much more easily hammered home!