WRITINGS OF THE CHURCH FATHERS DOCUMENTING THAT THE EARLY CHRISTIANS UNANIMOUSLY OBSERVED SUNDAY AS THE LORD’S DAY AND THEIR DAY OF WORSHIP
By Dr. Rey V. Entila, Ph.D
In the book entitled “The Almost Forgotten Day”(Finley, 1994:.55-56), SDA television evangelist Mark Finley, stated, “A careful study of the existent historical sources from the First to the Fifth centuries reveals the amazing fact that the transference of the sacredness of the true Bible Sabbath to Sunday was a long and gradual process” . He quoted Dr. Kenneth Strand, Professor of Church History at Andrews University, Michigan who wrote:
Until the Second century there is no concrete evidence of a weekly Sunday celebration anywhere. The first specific reference during that century come from Alexandria and Rome, places that also rejected the observance of seventh-day Sabbath.”(The Sabbath in Scripture and History, p. 330, Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1982).
There is no evidence of Christian weekly Sunday worship before the second century, but the evidence indicates that by the middle of that century some Christians were voluntarily observing Sunday as a day of worship, not a day of rest. (Seventh-day Adventists Believe, p. 259).
This researcher has to answer to Finley that to say “There is no evidence of Christian weekly Sunday worship before the second century” is to ignore ALL the New Testament passages that clearly show the Apostles and first century Christians worshipped Christ on Sunday. The first public worship of the Apostles to Christ happened on Sunday (Mt.28:1-9); Jesus appeared and strengthened the Apostles gathered on Sunday (Jn.20:19-23); Jesus appeared once to the assembled Apostles and was worshipped as Lord and God by Thomas (Jn.20:24-29); the Apostles and Christian disciples gathered in prayer and worship when the Holy Spirit came down to them on Pentecost which was Sunday (Acts 2:1-12); the first Christian kerygma or proclamation of the Gospel after Christ’s resurrection happened on Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2:14-36); and the first baptism of 3000 Christian converts happened on that Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2:37-41); the holy assembly of the Apostles and first Christians were done on Sundays (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor.16:1-2);Finally, St. John was in the Spirit during the Lord’s Day or Sunday (Rev.1:10).
Mark Finley then quoted as other proofs the following church historians of the early church.
First Century Christians. “Then the spiritual seed of Abraham fled to Pella, on the other side of Jordan, where they found a safe place of refuge, and could serve their Master and keep his Sabbath.” (Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical history, b.3, chapter 5).
The quotation above, however, is highly questionable when it added the words “and could serve their Master and keep his Sabbath”. The actual words of church historian Eusebius in Book 3, Chapter 5 verses 6-8 are:
The death of the rest of the Apostles was plotted in numerous ways and they were driven from the land of Judea, and they went their way to teach the Gospel among all nations, supported by the power of Christ, who said to them: “Going teach ye all nations in my name.But the people of the Church at Jerusalem were commanded by an oracle given out by revelation before the war to esteemed men there to depart from the city and to inhabit a city of Peraea which they called Pella. Those who believed in Christ migrated to this city from Jerusalem, that, when holy men had entirely abandoned the royal capital of the Jews and the entire land of Judaea, the judgment of God might soon overtake them for their many crimes against Christ and His Apostles and utterly destroy that generation of the wicked from among men. (The Fathers of the Church, Vol. 19: Eusebius on Ecclesiastical History Bk.3, Ch.5:6-8).
This researcher also searched from the internet on-line writings (38 volumes) of the Church Fathers found in www.newadvent.org/fathers and in Christian classics Ethereal library www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf
. It is surprising to see that all three sources are similar, but the additional words by Finely are nowhere to be found. Did Pastor mark Finley consult the voluminous books or did he copy only from a wrong quotation from an old, recycled SDA publication? Good scholarship and intellectual honesty requires any religious writer to truly check the sources. Else, well-intentioned readers will be swayed by a dishonest work.
Furthermore, to use Eusebius to advance the Sabbatarian cause is futile since Eusebius himself testified that Sunday was the day of worship for the Christian assembly. Here are the quotations below. Bold words are emphasized as anti-Sabbatarian points of these Church Fathers.
Eusebius of Caesarea
- “They [the early 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 [A.D. 312]).
“[T]he 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 [A.D. 319]).
The early Church Fathers can be quoted out of context and interpreted erroneously by anybody who would like to support his or her own theological view. To avoid misquotation and misinterpretation, this researcher himself consulted the voluminous books of the early Church Fathers from the university library. The same material can be read on-line in www.newadvent.org
and in www.ccel.org
on the writings of these Church Fathers. This is just and fair for any Christian who would like to investigate objectively the history of early Christians through the ancient documents. Therefore this researcher endeavored to show the larger contexts of those quotations used by SDA’s particularly by Mark Finley.
Below is Finley’s short quotation which he interpreted in favor of Sabbatarianism.
For almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries (Lord’s Supper) on the Sabbath of every week. Yet the Christians at Alexandria and Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this. The Egyptians in the neighborhood of Alexandria and inhabitants of Thebais hold their religious assemblies on the Sabbath. (Italics supplied.) (Socrates Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History, 5.22(NPNF)/22:132).
But here is the larger quotation of the writing of Church historian Socrates Bk 5 ch 22 as found in the book and in the internet.
CHAPTER 22. THE AUTHOR’S VIEWS RESPECTING THE CELEBRATION OF EASTER, BAPTISM, FASTING, MARRIAGE, THE EUCHARIST, AND OTHER ECCLESIASTICAL RITES.
As we have touched the subject I deem it not unreasonable to say a few words concerning Easter
. It appears to me that neither theancients
nor moderns who have affected to follow the Jews, have had any rational foundation for contending so obstinately about it.
For they have not taken into consideration the fact that when Judaism
was changed into Christianity
, the obligation to observe the Mosaic law and the ceremonial types ceased.
And the proof
of the matter is plain; for no law of Christ permitsChristians to imitate the Jews
. On the contrary the apostle expressly forbids it; not only rejecting circumcision, but also deprecating contention about festival days.
In his epistle to the Galatians Galatians 4:21
he writes, ‘Tell me ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law.’ And continuing his train of argument, he demonstrates that the Jews
were in bondage as servants, but that those who have come to Christ are ‘called into the liberty of sons.’ Galatians 5:13
Moreover he exhorts them in no way to regard ‘days, and months, and years.’ Galatians 4:10
Again in his epistle to the Colossians Colossians 2:16-17
he distinctly declares, that such observances are merely shadows: wherefore he says, ‘Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of any holy
-day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath-days; which are a shadow of things to come.’
The same truths are also confirmed by him in the epistle to the HebrewsHebrews 7:12
in these words: ‘For the priesthood
being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.’ Neither theapostles
, therefore, nor the Gospels
, have anywhere imposed the ‘yoke of servitude’ Galatians 5:1
on those who have embraced thetruth
; but have left Easter and every other feast to be honoredby the gratitude of the recipients of grace….
Such is the difference in the churches on the subject of fasts
. Nor is there less variation in regard to religious assemblies. For although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the sabbath of every week, yet theChristians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this. The Egyptians in the neighborhood of Alexandria, and the inhabitants of Thebaïs, hold their religious assemblies on the sabbath, but do not participate of the mysteries in the manner usual amongChristians in general: for after having eaten and satisfied themselves with food of all kinds, in the evening making their offerings they partake of the mysteries.
At Alexandria again, on the Wednesday in Passion week and on Good Friday, the scriptures are read, and the doctors expound them; and all the usual services are performed in their assemblies, except the celebration of the mysteries
The Sabbatarians quoted the passage above out of context to imply that early Christians churches were Saturday-keepers. Yet, as this researcher has included the preceding parts of the quotation used, it is clear through the bold and italicized words that Christians were prohibited to follow the Jews in observing Jewish festivals and Sabbaths. This includes the yearly, monthly and weekly Sabbath observances. Therefore, it is clear that early Christians were not Sabbatarians.
The paragraph quoted by Sabbatarians cannot support the Sabbatarian cause. While almost (not all) other Churches outside of Rome and Alexandria celebrated the sacred mysteries (or the Eucharist as ancient historians write), that refers only to their assembly, but it does not prove that they observed the Sabbath the way Jews and Sabbatarians observed the whole Sabbath duration. In fact, as was seen above, Christians were forbidden to follow the Jewish laws and observances since Judaism was replaced by Christianity.
The Sabbatarians are not correct in pitting other Churches in Europe or Asia against Rome and Alexandria (Egypt) as equals. While Christian churches spread throughout the world, the three ancient centers of Christianity in ancient times were Rome, Alexandria and Antioch, while Constantinople became another center during the 4th century reign of Emperor Constantine. Jerusalem was not any more its center since the Jews (Christians and non-Christians) were killed by the thousands in 70 AD and the temple ruined to the ground. Christians themselves spread throughout the world. Biblically speaking, Christ prophesied against Jerusalem, “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from youand given to a nation producing the fruits of it” (Mt.21:43). Jerusalem was even named by the Apostle John as Sodom and Egypt “Their corpses will lie in the main street of the great city, which has the symbolic names ‘Sodom, and ‘Egypt,’ where indeed their Lord was crucified (Rev.11:8, NAB).
Concerning the Roman Church, St. Paul himself who was inspired by the Holy Spirit, recognized the leading role of Roman Christians who were martyred for their faith by the thousands by the pagan Romans “To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” (Rom.1:7-8, RSV). It is the very Church which ALL the Churches of Christ salute to “All the churches of Christ salute you.” (Rom.16:16, Am. Standard Bible). The historian Socrates writes that Rome and Alexandria have ceased to observe Eucharistic gathering on Sabbath because of some ancient tradition, tradition which, according to this researcher’s previous chapter on the analysis of Sabbath in the New Testament letters, the Apostles observed Sunday instead of Sabbath day.
The paragraph quoted by Sabbatarians do not help their cause because it says that Roman and Alexandrian Christians, leading Churches in early Christianityceased to observe Sabbath gathering. Furthermore, Rome is clearly the leading church followed by all Christians throughout the world. Church historian August Franzen wrote of the primacy of Rome over all Christian churches, “From the beginning, the Roman community assumed eminent position in the church as a whole. In the West it was always the recognized leader, if for no other reason than that it was he oldest, the largest, and the only western apostolic community” (Franzen, 1968: 100). The famous Protestant historian J.N.D. Kelly writes concerning the Primacy of the Roman See:
Everywhere, in the East no less than the West, Rome enjoyed a special prestige, as it is indicated by the precedence accorded without question to it. The only possible rival was the new, rapidly expanding see of Constantinople, but the highest claim that the second Ecumenical Council (381) could put on for it (even that claim was ignored by Alexandria, and was to be rejected by the papal legates at Chalcedon and declared null by Pope Leo I) was to the effect that the bishop of Constantinople shall hold the first rank after ‘the bishop of Rome, because Constantinople is the new Rome’. Thus Rome’s preeminence remained undisputed in the Patristic period. (Kelly, 1978: 406).
HERE IS ANOTHER QUOTATION USED BY MARK FINLEY WHICH HE SUPPOSED TO FAVOR OF SABBATARIAN BELIEF:
“The people of Constantinople and almost everywhere assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or Alexandria.” (Italics supplied.) (Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History, 7.19 (NPNF)2/2:390).
But here is the fuller context of the writing of Church Historian Sozomen Bk VII ch 19:
CHAPTER 19. A LIST WORTHY OF STUDY, GIVEN BY THE HISTORIAN, OF CUSTOMS AMONG DIFFERENT NATIONS AND CHURCHES.
At Alexandria the bishop
of the city alone teaches the people, and it is said that this custom has prevailed there ever since the days ofArius
, who, though but a presbyter
, broached a new doctrine. Another strange custom also prevails at Alexandria which I have never witnessed nor heard of elsewhere, and this is, that the archdeacon alone reads the Gospel
in this city, whereas in some places it is read by the deacons
, and in many churches only by thepriests
; while on noted days it is read by the bishops
, as, for instance, at Constantinople, on the first day of the festival of the resurrection. In some churches the interval called Quadragesima, which occurs before this festival, and is devoted by the people tofasting
, is made to consist of six weeks; and this is the case in Illyria and the Western regions, in Libya, throughout Egypt
, and in Palestine; whereas it is made to comprise seven weeks at Constantinople, and in the neighboring provinces as far asPhœnicia
. In some churches the people fast three alternate weeks, during the space of six or seven weeks, whereas in others they fast continuously during the three weeks immediately preceding the festival. Some people, as the Montanists, only fast two weeks. Assemblies are not held in all churches on the same time or manner. The people of Constantinople, and almost everywhere, assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed atRome or at Alexandria. There are several cities and villages inEgypt where, contrary to the usage established elsewhere, the people meet together on Sabbath evenings, and, although they have dined previously, partake of the mysteries.
Concerning church historian Sozomen whom Sabbatarian quote to buttress Sabbath agenda, former SDA defender, writer and champion, Pastor DM Canright, renounced Seventh Day Adventism. He wrote: “5th century. Passing back to about A.D. 450, we come to the history of the church written by Sozomen. In book 2, Chapter VIII, page 22, of Constantine, he says: “He honored the Lord’s Day, because on it he arose from the dead.” This shows what was meant by Lord’s Day in those early times” (Adventism Renounced, 1914, ch.10, p.125).
If Sabbatarians truly read and quote contextually Book 7 chapter 19 of Sozomen and believe in him as a faithful church historian, one shall discover that the early Christian church is hierarchical in its structure, the bishops, priests and deacons as leaders, not different from the present Catholic Church structure, but not same with SDA church structure. Secondly, the same chapter proves contrary to Sabbatarian belief that Resurrection day was not commanded to be observed by Christians. The fact is Christians recognized the supreme importance of theresurrection of Christ and observed it as a festival. This further proves that Sunday observance in honor of the Resurrection of Christ is a correct Christian practice as is proven by the post-resurrection Church, onwards to the Apostolic Fathers in the 2nd century, to the apologists and subsequent centuries of Christian history.
If one reads carefully the quotation from Sozomen, the Christians had holy assembly in both Sabbath (Saturday) and Lord’s Day (Sunday). This is fatal to the Sabbatarian cause because they do not assemble on Sunday, but only on Saturday.
Since the quotation above bears similarity with the quotation from church historian Socrates, so the same argument above can be used with the quotation from Sozomen that Rome and Alexandria were leading Churches in early Christianity and that practice was correct.
Lastly, gathering on Sabbath for Eucharistic assembly or the breaking of the Bread (popularly known as the Holy Mass for Catholics), is done everyday (Acts 2:42,46) by the Apostles and the early Christians. Surprisingly, among more than 33,000 Christian sects, denominations and cults today, it is the Catholic Church that stands out to be faithful to this ancient Biblical practice. Therefore, gathering on Saturday for Mass in no way opposes the fact that for early Christians as well as for Catholics today, that Sunday is the greatest DAY of the week for worshipping the Father, son and the Holy Spirit. Yet, to say, as the Sabbatarians do, that Sabbath is THE Day for Christians to gather and worship is contrary to all known and established facts found in the Bible and the history of Christianity.
Sabbatarians only pick and choose some ancient quotations from the early Church Fathers, whose works are truly unavailable to millions of Church goers. But thanks to Christian theological libraries and the internet especially, the truths contained in their writings are now available to everyone on-line. Anybody who uses ancient documents can truly investigate concerning the truthfulness or falsity of his or her claims and interpretations. This researcher believes that the Lord uses human technological advancement to light the truth shine in the world. Below are the authentic testimonies of the early Church Fathers who unanimously, without exception, proclaim that the Lord’s Day as the day of worship for all Christians. Sabbatarians who proclaim other wise go against the clear, infallible truth.
On page 152 of SDA official book, Seventh-Day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine, it is written:
The seventh-day Sabbath continued to be kept by Christ’s followers for several centuries. But along with the Sabbath there was a growing observance of what was known as the festival of the resurrection, celebrated on the first day. This was observed at least from the middle of the second century (See Socrates, Ecclesiastical History Vol.V.22).And the first recorded observance was at Rome (Justin Martyr, First Apology, ch.67).
The quotation above should not be accepted immediately by any person reading the Adventist material without examining the veracity of its claim. First of all, the authentic Christian documents of the early Church flatly deny such contention. Documents such as the Didache (80-100 A.D), Letter of Barnabas (circa 70-79 A.D), and Ignatius of Antioch (110 A.D), tell us that true Christians who were the disciples of the Apostles themselves observed the Lord’s Day, instead of the Sabbath Day. Secondly, it is not true that the first recordedobservance is that of St. Justin Martyr in Rome. The quotations below prove the official declaration of Seventh-Day Adventist Church is wrong and misleading. True Christians observed Sunday as the Lord’s Day from the first century onwards. It was later in the Council of Laodicea in 360 A.D that heretical Christians who were Sabbathizing and did not follow the true Christian practice were condemned by the Christian Church herself.
THE TESTIMONY OF THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS
The Didache - “But every Lord’s day . . . gather yourselves together and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. 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” (Didache 14 [A.D. 80-100]). (Belmonte, 1996).
The Letter of Barnabas - “We keep the eighth day [Sunday] with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead” (Letter of Barnabas15:6–8 [A.D. 74]).
Ignatius of Antioch - “[T]hose who were brought up in the ancient order of things [i.e. Jews] 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” (Letter to the Magnesians 8 [A.D. 110]).
- “[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 to keep the Sabbath, and imposed 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 [A.D. 155]).
“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 Savior on the same day rose from the dead” (First Apology 67 [A.D. 155]).
Tertullian - “[L]et him who contends that the Sabbath is still to be observed as a balm of salvation, and circumcision on the eighth day . . . teach us that, for the time past, righteous men kept the Sabbath or practiced circumcision, and were thus rendered ‘friends of God.’ For if circumcision purges a man, since God made Adam uncircumcised, why did he not circumcise him, even after his sinning, if circumcision purges? . . . Therefore, since God originated Adam uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath, consequently his offspring also, Abel, offering him sacrifices, uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath, was by him [God] commended [Gen. 4:1–7, Heb. 11:4]. . . . Noah also, uncircumcised—yes, and unobservant of the Sabbath—God freed from the deluge. For Enoch too, most righteous man, uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath, he translated from this world, who did not first taste death in order that, being a candidate for eternal life, he might show us that we also may, without the burden of the law of Moses, please God” (An Answer to the Jews 2 [A.D. 203]).
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 [sacrifice of the Mass], because on the first day of the week [i.e., Sunday] 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 [A.D. 225]).
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 [A.D. 229]).
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 [A.D. 350]).
Note: Sabbatarians assert that Churches in the East, most especially Jerusalem was ever observant of the Sabbath Day as Christians. This flatly contradicts the clear authentic testimony of St. Cyril of Jerusalem.
The Apostolic Constitutions
- “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” (Apostolic Constitutions
2:7:60 [A.D. 400]).
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 [A.D. 412]).
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 [A.D. 360]).
Mark Finley on page 61 of his book (The Almost Forgotten Day) comments:
Council of Laodicea – A.D. 365 “Canon 16 – On Saturday the Gospels and other portions of the Scripture shall be read aloud.” “Canon 29 – Chistians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday, but shall work on that day; but the Lord’s day they shall especially honor, and, as being Christians, shall, if possible, do no work on that day.” (Hefele’s Councils, Vol.2, b.6).
He further comments, “The Council of Laodicea was an eastern gathering which represented Greek Orthodox churches. An eastern church was revising the celebration of the Lord’s Supper on the Sabbath at about the time this Council was held. The Council of Laodicea attests to the re-establishment of Sabbath observance of the east. This was one factor which led to the split in eastern and western branches of Christianity”.
Finley’s comments which are italicized here for emphasis flatly flies on the face of what was written in Canon 29 of what the Catholic bishops have condemned in their local Council of Laodicea (360 AD). One should read it again if one misses its crystal clear command. It commands Christians not toJudaize, meaning, not to follow the Jewish Sabbatarian laws and other Old Testament practices which have been abolished in the new Testament (see Col.2:16). Christians instead should observe the Lord’s Day. This again refutes the Sabbatarian belief that the Lord’s Day is the Sabbath day, because clearly, this Council differentiates Sabbath day or Saturday from the Lord’s day which is Sunday. If one asks what is the power of the Church council of Bishops, the answer is, the bishops have the power of binding and loosing (Matt.18:18), the power to forbid and to permit in the name of Christ. Since heresies arise from time to time as self-proclaimed prophets and teachers, not legitimately ordained by the Church, so this is the same Church that was established by Christ has the power to condemn false teachings and uphold the Christian truth. Sabbatarians should learn from this important Council of Laodicea.
Finley further wrote,
“For 200 years (110-300 A.D.) Sunday observance existed side by side with the true Sabbath observance. But the trend set by Constantine eventually led to the change of Sabbath to Sunday” (Finley, 1994, p.57).
Finley finely ruins his own Sabbatarian argument that Sabbath was the day that early Christians observe, not Sunday. If he means that Sunday was also observed by Christians this also ruins his argument that Sunday is pagan practice. Furthermore, to say that it was Constantine who eventually set the trend for Sunday observance, this runs counter also to what he has written that Sunday observance existed side by side with Sabbath observance, which means that it was already a trend before Constantine arrived in the 4th century.
SDA’s most authoritative book today “Seventh-Day Adventists Believe” advanced the following quotations to show that it was the Catholic church which changed the Sabbath law to Sunday obligation.
Catholic Cardinal Gibbons once wrote, “You may read the bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday”. (Seventh-day Adventists Believe, p.258, quoting James Gibbons The Faith of Our Fathers, 47th rev.enl.ed., Baltimore, 1895).
To answer the above-mentioned quotation, Cardinal Gibbons was right because the context was that he was discussing the relationship between the Church and the Bible. Nowhere does the Bible say that it is the ONLY authority in teaching the truths about our Christian faith. In fact the Church ALSO is given that infallible authority of which every Christian should follow (Lk10:16; Mt.16:19; Mt.18:17-18; Mt.28:19-20; Mk.16:15-16; 1 Tim.3:15). The truth is, the Bible does not have the Table of Contents for the number of inspired books in the New Testament. But Christians throughout the world, including non-Catholics and Seventh-day Adventists, followed the authority of the Catholic Church in proclaiming in the Councils of Rome (382 A.D), Council of Hippo (393) and Council of Carthage (397) ( Beginning Apologetics 1, 2004, p.11) that there are 27 books in the New Testament. The same Catholic Church which is the “pillar and the ground of truth” (1 Tim.3:15) and was given full authority to “teach everything” what Christ taught (Mt.28:19-20) proclaimed that the Lord’s Day (Sunday) is to be observed instead of Saturday Sabbath.
This argument collapses all the myriads of oft-repeated quotations coming from Catholic publications which the SDA’s hopelessly try to buttress in order to uphold Sabbatarianism. These same answer above destroys ALL his quotations and arguments made by Seventh-Day Adventist Steve Wohlberg in his website www.whitehorse.org.
“Yet faithful men and women of God resisted the trend. Existing historical documents reveal a deep interest in Sabbath worship. God had His faithful and obedient followers who championed His truth. Although the candle of Sabbath truth flickered, loyal stalwarts of truth obediently guarded the flame”. Then he quoted from the following sources:
Pope Gregory I, A.D. 590 to 604. “Gregory, bishop by the grace of God to his well-beloved sons, the Roman citizens: It has come to me that certain men of perverse spirit have disseminated among you things depraved and opposed to the holy faith, so that they forbid anything to be done on the day of the Sabbath. What shall I call them except preachers of anti-Christ?” (Epistles, b.13:1).
Thanks to Mark Finley for quoting Pope Gregory the Great. That further proves that sabbatarianism was a heresy condemned long time ago by holy and exemplary leaders of Christ’s Church, but men and women who do not study past errors and learn from them are prone to commit the same condemned errors. What is at stake is the eternal destiny of man who obstinately teaches and repeats long-past false doctrines .
THE TESTIMONY OF A FORMER SABBATARIAN
A former Seventh-Day Adventist Pastor Canright, who became a Baptist pastor, wrote in his classic book “Seventh-day Adventism Renounced” (1914):
“Almost universally Christians regard Sunday as a sacred day. Do they offer for this any adequate reasons? Yes, indeed, and those which have been satisfactory to all the best and ablest Christians the church has ever had. After keeping the seventh day and extensively advocating it for over a quarter of a century, I became satisfied that it was an error, and that the blessing of God did not go with the keeping of it. Like thousands of others, when I embraced the Seventh-day Sabbath I thought the argument was all on one side, so plain that one hour’s reading ought to settle it, so clear that no man could reject the Sabbath and be honest. The only marvel to me was that everybody did not see and embrace it.”
Some religious organizations (Seventh-Day Adventists, Seventh-Day Baptists, and certain others) claim that Christians must not worship on Sunday but on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. They claim that, at some unnamed time after the apostolic age, the Church “changed” the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday.
However, passages of Scripture such as Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2, Colossians 2:16-17, and Revelation 1:10 indicate that, even during New Testament times, the Sabbath is no longer binding and that Christians are to worship on the Lord’s day, Sunday, instead.
The early Church Fathers compared the observance of the Sabbath to the observance of the rite of circumcision, and from that they demonstrated that if the apostles abolished circumcision (Gal. 5:1-6), so also the observance of the Sabbath must have been abolished. The following are few quotations taken from the early Church documents and the writings of the Church Fathers up to St. Augustine in the 5th century A.D. They undoubtedly the show that the first Christians understood this principle and gathered for worship on Sunday.
IV. HISTORICAL BASES FOR THE OBSERVANCE OF THE LORD’S DAY INSTEAD OF THE SABBATH DAY BY CHRISTIANS FROM THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS UP TO THE PRESENT TIME
THE TESTIMONY OF CHURCH HISTORY FROM THE RECENT PAST
TO THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS
This researcher met one elderly SDA Pastor during their 2005 Negros Annual Convention held at Negros Mission Academy at Taculing, Bacolod City. He was friendly and the conversation pro9ceeded to the truth about Sabbath-keeping of the Adventists and why they differ from all other Protestant Sunday-keepers. The conversation led to historical discussions on whether or not Christians before the coming of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church were Sabbath-keepers or Sunday-keepers. He said that even the Protestant Reformers, anti-Catholic as they were, were not really freed from the fetters of Roman Catholicism which invented Sunday-keeping. This researcher asked him how sure was he that millions and even billions of Christians are wrong throughout history and all of a sudden only a handful Sabbath-keeping Adventists were right? Did the Holy Spirit totally abandon the people of God and therefore, the Church of Christ was defeated by Satan? Is it not arrogant to claim that they alone are right and all Christians throughout the history of the world were wrong? The interesting discussion began.
In line with the unfailing guidance of the Holy Spirit to the Church of Christ which was meant to be universal ( Gk. “katholikos” = Engl. “catholic”), this researcher would point to one outstanding example in SDA history. Pastor DM Canright, who, after 28 years of championing the Seventh-Day Adventist cause, renounced Sabbatarianism. Below are excerpts from his scholarly book “Seventh-Day Adventism Renounced”, which as of this writing and as far as this researcher knows, no SDA book has ever demolished, or tried to demolish, and will never demolish.
But after keeping it (Sabbath) twenty-eight years; after having persuaded more than a thousand others to keep it; after having read my Bible through, verse by verse, more than twenty times; after having scrutinized, to the very best of my ability, every text, line and word in the Bible having the remotest bearing upon the Sabbath question; after having looked up all these, both in the original and in many translations; after having searched in lexicons, concordances, commentaries and dictionaries; after having read armfuls of books on both sides of the question; after having read every line in all the early church fathers upon this point; and having written several works in favor of the Seventh-day, which were satisfactory to my brethren; after having debated the question for more than a dozen times; after seeing the fruits of keeping it, and weighing all the evidence in the fear of God, I am fully settled in my own mind and conscience that the evidence is against the keeping of the Seventh-day.
Those who observe Sunday say that they do it in honor of the resurrection of Christ upon that day, and that this practice was derived from the apostles and has been continued in the church ever since. Let us see. “The Lord’s Day” is a term now commonly applied to the first day of the week in honor of the Lord’s resurrection on that day. Thus: “We believe the Scriptures teach that the first day of the week is the Lord’s day.” Baptist Church Directory, page 171. Excepting a few Sabbatarians of late date, all Christendom, numbering four hundred and sixteen million people, of all sects and all nations, regard Sunday as a sacred day and agree in applying the term “Lord’s Day” to Sunday. So every dictionary, lexicon and cyclopedia applies that term to the first day. Here is a grand, undeniable fact of today. When did this stream begin? Let us trace it up to its head through all the centuries.
18th century, A.D. 1760. Rev A.H. Lewis, D.D., Seventh-day Baptist, is the author of “Critical History of Sunday Legislation.” From page 181 I quote: “The profanation of the Lord’s Day is highly offensive to Almighty God.” Laws of Massachusetts, A.D. 1760.
17th century, A.D. 1676. The Laws of Charles II of England say: “For the better observation and keeping holy the Lord’s Day, commonly called Sunday, be it enacted,” etc. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 108.
16th century, A.D. 1536. Going back over 300 years ago to the reformers, we find all Christians calling Sunday the “Lord’s Day.” Calvin, voicing the universal sentiment of his time, says: “The ancients have, not without sufficient reason, substituted what we call the Lord’s Day in the room of the Sabbath.” Calvin’s Institute, Book 2, chapter VIII, section 34. Luther, Zwingle, Beza, Bucer, Cranmer, Tyndale, etc., likewise speak of the Lord’s Day as the first day of the week. Here is another great fact as to the Lord’s Day. It was in existence and universally observed 300 years ago.
15th century, A.D. 1409. “He that playeth at unlawful games on Sundays…shall be six days imprisoned.” Statute of Henry IV of England. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 90.
14th century, A.D. 1359. “It is provided by sanctions of law and canon that all Lord’s Days be venerably observed.” Archbishop of Canterbury. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 82.
13th century, A.D. 1281. “The obligation to observe the legal Sabbath according to the form of the Old Testament is at an end…to which in the New Testament hath succeeded the custom of spending the Lord’s Day…in the worship of God.” Archbishop of Canterbury. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 81.
12th century, A.D. 1174. “We do ordain that these days following be exempt from labor:…All Sundays in the year,” etc. Emperor of Constantinople. History of Sabbath and Sunday, page 191.
11th century, A.D. 1025. “Sunday marketing we also strictly forbid.” Laws of Denmark. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 77.
10th century, A.D. 975. “Sunday is very solemnly to be reverenced.” Saxon Laws. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 75.
9th century, A.D. 813. “All Lord’s Days shall be observed with all due veneration and all servile work shall be abstained from.” Council of Mayence.
8th century. In the year 747, an English council said: “It is ordered that the Lord’s Day be celebrated with due veneration, and wholly devoted to the worship of God.” Andrew’s History of the Sabbath, page 377.
7th century, A.D. 695. “If a slave work on Sunday by his lord’s command, let him be free.” Saxon Laws. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 71.
6th century, A.D. 578. “On the Lord’s Day it is not permitted to yoke oxen or to perform any other work except for appointed reasons.” Council of Auxerre.
5th century. Passing back to about A.D. 450, we come to the history of the church written by Sozomen. In book 2, Chapter VIII, page 22, of Constantine, he says: “He honored the Lord’s Day, because on it he arose from the dead.” This shows what was meant by Lord’s Day in those early times.
Stepping back once more to about A.D. 400, we reach the great theologian of the early church, St. Augustine. He says: “The day now known as the Lord’s Day, the eighth, namely, which is also the first day of the week.” Letters of St. Augustine, letter 55, Chapter XIII. He says the first day of the week was known as the Lord’s Day in his times.
4th century. In A.D. 386, the Emperor of Rome decreed as follows: “On the day of the sun, properly called the Lord’s Day, by our ancestors, let there be a cessation of lawsuits, business, and indictments.” Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 36. Even the civil law at that early date recognized Sunday as the Lord’s Day.
Going back again to the era of Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor, we reach Eusebius, the “Father of Church History,” A.D. 324. He constantly and familiarly uses the term “Lord’s Day” for the first day of the week. One passage: “They (the Jewish Christians) 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.” Eccl. History, book 3, Chapter XXVII. Here Lord’s Day is distinguished from the Jewish Sabbath, and is said to be kept on account of the resurrection.
This brings us to the era of the Early Christian Fathers. I quote them as translated in the “Ante-Nicene Christian Library.”
A.D. 306. Peter, Bishop of Alexandria in Egypt: “But the Lord’s Day we celebrate as a day of joy, because on it, he rose again.” Canon 15.
3rd century, A.D. 270. Anatolius, Bishop of Laodicea, in Asia Minor: “Our regard for the Lord’s resurrection which took place on the Lord’s Day will lead us to celebrate it.” Chapter X.
About A.D. 250. The Apostolic Constitution: “On the day of our Lord’s resurrection, which is the Lord’s Day, meet more diligently.” Book 2, sec. 7.
A.D. 250, Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage in Africa: “The eighth day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day.” Epistle 58, section 4.
A.D. 200. Tertullian in Africa: “We solemnize the day after Saturday in contradiction to those who call this day their Sabbath.” Apology, Chapter XVI. “We however, just as we have received, only on the day of the Lord’s resurrection, ought to guard not only against kneeling, but even posture and office of solicitude, deferring even our business.” On Prayer, Chapter XXIII.
2nd century, A.D. 194. Clement of Alexandria, Egypt: “He, in fulfillment of the precept, according to the gospel, keeps the Lord’s Day, when he abandons an evil disposition, and assumes that of the Gnostic, glorifying the Lord’s resurrection in himself.” Book 7, Chapter XII.
A.D. 180. Bardesanes, Edessa, Asia: “On one day the first of the week, we assemble ourselves together.” Book of the Laws of Countries.
A.D. 140. Justin Martyr: “But Sunday is the day which we all hold our common assembly, because Jesus Christ, our Saviour, on the same day rose from the dead.” Apology, Chapter LXVII.
A.D. 120. Barnabas. “We keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day on which Jesus rose again from the dead.” Chapter XVII.
A.D. 96. St. John on Patmos: “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day.” Rev. 1:10.
A.D. 60. Luke, Asia Minor: “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them.” Acts 20:7.
Thus we have traced the Lord’s Day or Sunday as a sacred day among Christians from our time back through all the centuries up to the New Testament itself.
Who can fail to see that the “Lord’s Day” and the “first day of the week” are spoken of in the same manner both by the apostles down through all the fathers and reformers to our day? To every unbiased mind the evidence must be conclusive that the Lord’s Day of Rev. 1:10, written A.D. 96, is the resurrection day the same as it is in every instance where it is used by all the Christian fathers immediately following John. Mark this fact: IN NOT ONE SINGLE INSTANCE EITHER IN THE BIBLE OR IN ALL HISTORY can a passage be found where the term the LORD’S DAY IS APPLIED TO the seventh day, the JEWISH SABBATH. This fact should be and is decisive as to the meaning in Rev. 1:10. Even Sabbatarians themselves do not call the seventh day the Lord’s Day, but always say “Sabbath day.
Retrieve from: http://cfdbacolod.blogspot.com/2013/10/analysis-of-historical-proofs-from_261.html