Promises and Secrets

Promises and SecretsPromises and Secrets

A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.

Early Christians and Sunday


Did early Christians keep Sunday or the Sabbath? Depending on who is speaking - the answer is yes - both. This was not true in the first century. The apostles, including Paul, kept the Sabbath. The real question is why did each modern person who claims either one take their position?


In the early centuries of Christianity, after the first century, some Christians kept the Sabbath and some kept Sunday.


Let's take a look at the beginning.

WARNING:This page is going to demonstrate, with evidence, that the traditional churches of today are following a non-biblical worship system started by pagans and continued by what eventually became the Catholic Church. The quick summary is that most Sunday-keepers insist that Gentiles are not required to keep the seventh-day Sabbath. They feel that if anyone does keep it, then they are being "legalists" and are claiming that the Bible laws and commands of God still apply to us.

The purpose of this page is to show that the reasons for taking any anti-Sabbath position are not based on the word of God. They are instead based on the statements made by the early "Church Fathers" that were founded on their self-admitted hatred for the Jews and all things Jewish. In fact, the seventh-day Sabbath we know as Saturday is the only day that God blessed and made holy. Today, churches across the nation are profaning God's holy day.

If you are not familiar with the tactics of modern-day "scholars" who reject the Sabbath as "old school", or just plain Jewish and therefore of no importance to today's Christian, then read on. You will find that most of these "rejecters" use the words of old second- and third-century writers who, by the time they became Christians, had already learned to hate the Jews and anything they believe. Kind of weird for people who supposedly believe that a Jew will be the Savior of the world.

"Church Fathers" not even Jewish

These writers used by pastors to support Sunday-keeping were most often not Jews. Also, they have no valid Biblical reasons for the position they take on the issue. The subject matter of the verses they quote in support of their position often have no bearing on the Sabbath issue. The amazing thing about this is that the statements from the Bible that they twist into a new meaning were all written by Jews. Hence, the decision to reject the Sabbath and other Jewish practices was hardly based on God's statements or lack thereof. On the contrary, it is an entirely emotional decision based on human desires.

A little history

First, let's see what was going on in the intertestamental period (the four hundred years immediately before Christ), before the first and second centuries, with regard to the Jews. At Wikipedia, we find the following historical summary of anti-Semitism during these times. First, the period between the Old and New Testaments:

Inter-testamental Period

175 BCE-165 BCE

The Deuterocanonical First and Second Books of the Maccabees record that Antiochus IV Epiphanes attempts to erect a statue of Zeus in Jerusalem. The festival of Hanukkah commemorates the uprising of the Maccabees against this attempt.

139 BCE
Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Hispanus expels all Jews from the city of Rome.

124 BCE
A woman with seven sons was a Jewish martyr described in 2 Maccabees 7 (2 Maccabees was written c. 124 BCE) and other sources. Although unnamed in 2 Maccabees, she is known variously as Hannah, Miriam, and Solomonia. 2 Maccabees states that shortly before the revolt of Judas Maccabeus (2 Maccabees 8), Antiochus IV Epiphanes arrested a mother and her seven sons, and tried to force them to eat pork. When they refused, he tortured and killed the sons one by one. The narrator mentions that the mother "was the most remarkable of all, and deserves to be remembered with special honour. She watched her seven sons die in the space of a single day, yet she bore it bravely because she put her trust in the Lord." Each of the sons makes a speech as he dies, and the last one says that his brothers are "dead under God's covenant of everlasting life". The narrator ends by saying that the mother died, without saying whether she was executed, or died in some other way.

The Talmud tells a similar story, but with the refusal to worship an idol replacing the refusal to eat pork. Tractate Gittin 57b cites Rabbi Judah saying that "this refers to the woman and her seven sons" and the unnamed king is referred to as the "Emperor" and "Caesar". The woman commits suicide in this rendition of the story: she "also went up on to a roof and threw herself down and was killed".

Other versions of the story are found in 4 Maccabees (which suggests that the woman might have thrown herself into the flames, 17:1) and Josippon (which says she fell dead on her sons' corpses).

63 BCE
12,000 Jews die and many more are sent into the diaspora as a result of Pompey's conquest of the East.

59 BCE
Cicero criticizes Jews for being too influential in public assemblies. He also refers to Jews and Syrians as "races born to be slaves."

38 BCE
Anti-Jewish riots erupt in Alexandria, countless Jews are killed, synagogues are defiled, Jewish leaders are publicly scourged and the Jewish population is confined to one quarter of the city.

OK. It seems that the Romans, and much of the rest of the world, were trying to force some decidedly pagan ideas on the Jews in Jerusalem (statues of Zeus, junk so-called "food", etc.), and they fought back. That would create some hard feelings betweem patriotic Romans and the Jews.

No reason, just hatred of Jews

Just to get the full picture, here is an excerpt from The life of Flavius Josephus, chapter 6, (you can see the entire document at Documenta Catholica Omnia):

Those that dwelt in the neighboring cities of Syria seized upon such Jews as dwelt among them, with their wives and children, and slew them, when they had not the least occasion of complaint against them; for they did neither attempt any innovation or revolt from the Romans, nor had they given any marks of hatred or treacherous designs towards the Syrians. But what was done by the inhabitants of Scythopolis was the most impious and most highly criminal of all; for when the Jews their enemies came upon them from without, they forced the Jews that were among them to bear arms against their own countrymen, which it is unlawful for us to do; and when, by their assistance, they had joined battle with those who attacked them, and had beaten them, after that victory they forgot the assurances they had given these their fellow citizens and confederates, and slew them all, being in number many ten thousands [13,000].

Many of those who lived during and shortly after that time saw that Jewish action as "treachery" against even the Jewish laws. They believed this even though these Jews were forced to fight against other Jews in order to save their own families. Even fighting against their kinsmen didn't work as they were eventually killed anyway when the fighting was over.

Those non-Jews at the time grew and maintained a hatred of Jews because it was safer than siding with them and taking a chance that the Romans would take offense. It seems most felt that way, and the sentiment was so common that their children learned it as well. That sets the basis for the dominant feelings of the first century:

19 CE
Roman Emperor Tiberius expels Jews from Rome. Their expulsion is recorded by the Roman historical writers Suetonius, Josephus, and Cassius Dio.

37-41 CE
Thousands of Jews killed by mobs in the Alexandrian pogrom, as recounted by Philo of Alexandria in Flaccus.

50 CE
Jews are ordered by Roman Emperor Claudius "not to hold meetings", in the words of Cassius Dio (Roman History, 60.6.6). Claudius later expelled Jews from Rome, according to both Suetonius ("Lives of the Twelve Caesars", Claudius, Section 25.4) and Acts 18:2.

66-73 CE
The Great Jewish Revolt against the Romans is crushed by Vespasian and Titus. Titus refuses to accept a wreath of victory, because there is "no merit in vanquishing people forsaken by their own God." (Philostratus, Vita Apollonii)[citation needed]. The events of this period were recorded in detail by the Jewish-Roman historian Josephus. His record is largely sympathetic to the Roman point of view and it was written in Rome under Roman protection; hence it is considered a controversial source. Josephus describes the Jewish revolt as being led by "tyrants," to the detriment of the city, and he describes Titus as having "moderation" in his escalation of the Siege of Jerusalem (70).

70 CE
Over 1,000,000 Jews perish and 97,000 are taken as slaves following the destruction of the Second Temple.

94 CE
Fabrications of Apion in Alexandria, Egypt, including the first recorded case of blood libel. Juvenal writes anti-Jewish poetry. Josephus picks apart contemporary and old antisemitic myths in his work Against Apion.

96 CE
Titus Flavius Clemens, nephew of the Roman Emperor Vespasian and supposed convert to Judaism is put to death on charges of atheism.

100 CE
Tacitus writes anti-Jewish polemic in his Histories (book 5). He reports on several old myths of ancient antisemitism (including that of the donkey's head in the Holy of Holies), but the key to his view that Jews "regard the rest of mankind with all the hatred of enemies" is his analysis of the extreme differences between monotheistic Judaism and the polytheism common throughout the Roman world.

So, according to Josephus, at this time the Romans, Greeks, Babylonians, Egyptians, and others were writing very inaccurate documents condemning his people (the Jews, see the first part of his Against Apion at Univ. of Chicago for his own words.) With all this going on, we finally get to the second century:

115-117 CE
Thousands of Jews are killed during civil unrest in Egypt, Cyprus, and Cyrenaica, as recounted by Cassius Dio.

119 CE
Roman Emperor Hadrian bans circumcision, making Judaism de facto illegal.

132-135 CE
Crushing of the Bar Kokhba revolt. According to Cassius Dio 580,000 Jews are killed. Hadrian orders the expulsion of Jews from Judea, which is merged with Galilee in order to form the province of Syria Palaestina. The purpose of this name change was to suppress the Jewish people's connection to their historic homeland (Judea / Land of Israel). (For other antisemitic actions resulting from this name change, see events of 1967 below (NOTE: 1967 is Not included in Promises and Secrets web page. To see that, go to Wikipedia)) Although large Jewish populations remain in Samaria and Galilee, with Tiberias as the headquarters of exiled Jewish patriarchs, this is the start of the Jewish diaspora. Hadrian constructs a pagan temple to Jupiter at the site of the Temple in Jerusalem, builds Aelia Capitolina among the ruins of Jerusalem.

136 CE
Hadrian renames Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina and builds a Roman monument over the site of the Temple Mount. Jews are banned from visiting. Judea is renamed Palestine to suppress the Jewish connection with the land.

167 CE
Earliest known accusation of Jewish deicide (the notion that Jews were held responsible for the death of Jesus), made in a sermon On the Passover, attributed to Melito of Sardis.

175 CE
Apollinaris the Apologist writes two books against the Jews.

Since all that was going on...

Many use writers from the early second through fourth centuries to prove that Christ's death was the signal to reject the seventh-day Sabbath and begin Sunday worship. While this is a popular thought among today's theologians and pastors, it seems to be based on the same emotion and lack of reasoning you hear in today's Sunday-keeping churches.

Again, as stated on this site many times before, there is nothing wrong with Sunday worship - as long as it does not replace the keeping of the Sabbath. That replacement was exactly what was happening, not because of any Biblical indications to do so, but because of hatred of the Jews and everything they stood for. Let's take a look at some of the "reasoning" and actual statements of the early writers commonly used today to justify defying God.

Where do they get this stuff?

First, let's list the ones commonly thrown around:

John 5:17 - written around 60-90 C.E. (hereafter the term "written around" will be abbreviated ca.)
Acts 2:46 - by Luke ca. 62 C.E.
Ignatius - ca. 115 C.E.
Barnabus - ca. 70-132 C.E.
Tertullian - ca. 155-240 C.E.
Justin Martyr/Trypho Dialogue - ca. 150-155 C.E.
Irenaeus - ca. 180 C.E.
Eusebius - ca. 260-340 C.E.

Do we know why they said these things?

John 5:17

John, a very well accepted early Christian writer, recorded a statement in John 5:17
17In his defense Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working."

by Jesus that inflamed the Jews, and is taken by today's pastors as a statement that confirms that the fourth commandment is no longer valid. They claim that Jesus, with this remark, permitted everyone to work all the time, even on the Sabbath.

If you doubt this statement, see page 3 of a 102-page pdf by Michael D. Morrison, Thomas C. Hanson and Ralph G. Orr called "Sabbath and Sunday in History:". You can read it at Grace Communion International. However, if you keep reading, this same paper confirms that the apostles and others kept the Sabbath. Then, they claim by the twisting the context of a another verse at Colossians 2:16
16Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.

, that no one is to question the practices of different opinions about the Sabbath or any other day they want to keep. But, what about Isaiah 66:23
23"From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says the LORD.


Why do pastors say it doesn't matter what day we keep, when God tells us that everyone who is obedient to Him will keep it. The very next verse in Isaiah tells us that those who are rebellious will be loathsome to all mankind (Isaiah 66:24
24"And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."

). It sounds more like the Colossians passage is telling those who do keep the Sabbath, and the New Moon celebrations on the first day of each Jewish month, not to let people talk them out of keeping them.

For some reason, most separate the passage from the context of Colossians 2:8
8See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. (emphasis mine)

which keeps Paul's statement in the context of why people were doing things while they were dead in their sins. Sunday is human tradition, not the Sabbath. He is saying to leave the ways of the world and human tradition, get back to God's stated will, and accept the gift of Christ.

Can you even show how this passage is not defending the right of Sabbath-keepers to keep it, rather than twisting the passage into a reason to disobey God? That is what Paul was talking about. Where are the references to God stating that His rules don't apply any more? Does no one stay in context any more, not even those "brilliant" pastors with Doctorates?

Back to reality...

Now, how does this fit with the custom of Jesus to keep the Sabbath, obey all God's laws and honor His Father in all that He did? Even better, what was it about the statement that upset the Jews? They felt He was breaking their version of the Sabbath (which even they kept) by healing a man on that day. However, the main issue for them was His claim to be equal with the Father. Remember, He demonstrated in Matthew 12 that the Pharisees had burdened the Sabbath beyond the intent of the commandment. He told them that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath without breaking it. They just did not recognize His authority to teach them.

What about His statement that His Father has been working until now, so He too is working? What did they think was going on with God? Let's see, if we pray to God for something on the Sabbath, is He supposed to ignore us until after the Sabbath? Since Jesus is God, is He supposed to ignore us on the Sabbath as well? Now, how is it possible for us to take Jesus' statement that He is not ignoring human needs on Sabbath and make that into a release that allows us to work on the Sabbath? Oh, that's right. I forget that we can just claim that the statement means something besides what it actually says, and go on like we are still smart people.

Acts 2:46

Another "obscure" writer from the first century was Luke, who made a statement in Acts 2:46
46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,

that is somehow supposed to justify rejecting the Sabbath for Sunday. (see page 4 of the same 102-page pdf above by Michael D. Morrison, Thomas C. Hanson and Ralph G. Orr called "Sabbath and Sunday in History:") By the normal logic employed by these Doctorate holders, we should take this to mean we should go to church every day. But, thankfully, they limited it to Sunday. Why not Sabbath, if they met every day? And, sticking to the point, how does meeting every day to worship equate to rejecting the Sabbath?

Now we move to more "obscure" early writers used to "prove" that no Christians kept the seventh-day Sabbath. Interestingly enough, there is a page at Daniel Secomb, Bible Teacher that discusses the attitude of the "Church Fathers" of the first four centuries toward the Jews, and vice-versa. If you don't want to read the whole page, the gist is:

"Apart from the occasional glimmers of light as a result of correct Biblical understanding concerning treatment of the Jews by some Church Fathers, the vast majority of church history is stained by hostile anti-Judaic attitudes and shameful anti-Semitic behaviour.

To be fair, the vast majority of atrocities carried out in the name of the church were not carried out by genuine believers, but by "Christians" in name only. Yet, this does not let genuine believers off the hook. Probably, the most sobering revelation that this essay brings to light is that the hostile actions toward the Jews in early and medieval church history were directly related to the theological positions held by the church, which came to be known as 'replacement theology'. As we shall see, some of the most prominent theologians and Church Fathers throughout church history have been behind some of the most damning examples of anti-Semitic rhetoric, which inevitably led to the anti-Semitic behaviour of those under their influence.

In case you are wondering, today's Sunday-keeping church (instead of Sabbath-keeping) displays that same anti-Semitic behavior. They refer to anything Jewish as "legalist" without even knowing anything about the practices they are condemning.

Ignatius of Antioch, born in Syria, died ca. 115 C.E.

Ignatius wrote early in the second century, and instructs the readers of his writings to "oppose all things Jewish". He was a Syrian, which would explain his stance against the Jews, and against the keeping of the Sabbath of the Jewish God who is supposed to be the same God he worshiped.

Barnabas - ca. 70-132 C.E.

This Barnabas was evidently not the one in the New testament, who was a Jew born in Cyprus to Levite parents, and who walked with the Apostles. According to Western Reformed Seminary, this Barnabas of early second century writing fame was against Jews:

Epistle of Barnabas
(ca. AD 70-132; between two Jewish rebellions)

apparently not by the Barnabas of the NT

quoted by later fathers, especially the Alexandrian fathers (Barnabas allegorizes the OT); found in Codex Aleph (Sinaiticus) along with Shepherd of Hermas

opposes Jews, especially reliance on physical temple, etc.; defends eighth day for worship (Barnabas 15); claims 6000 year history for the world

Since he opposed the Jews, this would explain why he wrote against keeping the Sabbath and supported Sunday instead. This would also likely mean that he was not Jewish.

Tertullian - ca. 155-240 C.E.

Tertullian, the son of a Roman centurian, was not converted to Christianity until 180 C.E., then converted to Montanism in 207 C.E. The site at COGWriter provides us with this:

Tertullian (ca. AD 160-220; flourished ca. 200)
son of a Roman centurian, he lived in Carthage; lawyer and scholar; converted ca. AD 180 wrote many works, mostly in Latin (his Greek works have not survived);

some of them:
Apology (to Septimius Sevarus, shows absurdity of persecution of Christians)
Against Marcion (opposes Gnosticism)
Against Praxeas (most advanced work on the Trinity from this period)
various works of ethics and morals, as Women's Dress and Shows, etc.

ca. AD 207, converted to Montanism for its emphasis on anti-worldliness; thus never made a "saint" by the Catholic church

developed Latin theological vocabulary; vivid writer; most famous sentence: "The blood of the martyrs is seed." (commonly paraphrased, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.")

Some of his most famous quotes, as gathered by those who oppose the Sabbath (from

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

What do you expect from a Roman converted to Christianity during a period of anti-Semitism and hatred of the Jews? His argument is based on the absence of Sabbath-keeping before God gave the commandments. The logic is, evidently, that God did tell us to do it, but it is not important to Him if we Gentiles don't follow the only command regarding keeping a weekly day Holy. If it's only for the Israelites, what about Isaiah 56:1-8
1Maintain justice
    and do what is right,
for my salvation is close at hand
    and my righteousness will soon be revealed.

2Blessed is the one who does this-
    the person who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it,
    and keeps their hands from doing any evil."

3Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say,
    "The Lord will surely exclude me from his people."
And let no eunuch complain,
    "I am only a dry tree."

4For this is what the Lord says:

"To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
    who choose what pleases me
    and hold fast to my covenant-

5to them I will give within my temple and its walls
    a memorial and a name
    better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
    that will endure forever.

6And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord
    to minister to him,
to love the name of the Lord,
    and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
    and who hold fast to my covenant-

7these I will bring to my holy mountain
    and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
    a house of prayer for all nations."

8The Sovereign Lord declares-
    he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
"I will gather still others to them
    besides those already gathered."


One more thought before we move on. If the fact that no one kept the Sabbath before Moses means that we should not keep it after God commanded us to do so, should we sleep with our immediate family members - brothers and sisters, fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts and other close relatives - in order to grow our families as they did before Moses? Hold on now. Look at the Bible using reasoning from Tertullian above.

Wait, if we follow one, why not...

In Leviticus 18, everyone was intimate with family members and God "only told the Israelites" to stop doing it. Does that mean the rest of us can do it? Then, why aren't we? Because it makes sense. The same applies to what is and is not considered "food" as described by God in Leviticus 11. Since He "only told the Israelites" what was "food" and what was not "food", can we just ignore that order and eat things not considered "food" by God? What about murder? Can we just go out and murder because "He only gave that to the Israelites"? Why does one order seem to apply to us and not the other?

And who is making these decisions for us? Just reading the Bible would not give us the freedom to go against the will of God. If anyone brings this matter to their pastor, he just tells them, "That's just for the Israelites.", and they go their merry way. Well, let's just say that it is only for the people who follow what God says. There's a reason why He thought it important enough to mention. As in Exodus 16:4-5,22-23
4Then the Lord said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days."

22On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much-two omers for each person-and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. 23He said to them, "This is what the Lord commanded: 'Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.' "
, He is watching to see who will follow instructions. If we are going to pick and choose which instructions to follow, we should at least have a reason for doing so that complies with everything else the Bible says. Remember how upset He was at those who did not pay attention.

Justin Martyr/Trypho Dialogue - ca. 150-155 C.E.

Justin Martyr is often quoted by modern theologians as the authority behind the keeping of Sunday as opposed to the Sabbath. He was born in ancient Shechem in Samaria, to a pagan family, and defined himself as a Gentile. While many say that he justified rejection of the Jewish Sabbath, many Sunday-keeping sites admit that this was not the case. Grace Communion International is one:

Justin Martyr

Justin Martyr gives us evidence from yet another location: Rome, c. 150. His comments probably reflect Christian custom in other cities, too, such as Ephesus, where he lived for a while.
"On the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together in one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read... 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."
The author of the article then continues:
Justin is clear: It was the widespread practice of Christians to observe Sunday. "Perhaps there were some Gentile Christians who kept the Sabbath...but if so, they found no spokesman whose writings survive." Maxwell concludes:
Many Christians were already honoring Sunday near the beginning of the second century... Evidence is very strong...that many if not most Christians had given up the Sabbath as early as A.D. 130... Just as Sunday observance came into practice by early in the second century, so among Gentile Christians Sabbath observance went out of practice by early in the second century.
But this was not a replacement for the Sabbath:
Sunday was observed only as a day for worship, not as a Sabbath on which to refrain from work... Sunday was not at first celebrated as a 'Sabbath.'... It was not observed in obedience to the fourth commandment... Sunday was regarded by Christians generally not as a day of rest or holiness but as a day of joy.

So, reading more of his writings than just the isolated quotes used by pastors and Sunday theologians, we start to get the real truth, even on their own sites. Note that even the Sunday worship was not intended to replace the Sabbath as a day of rest, as commanded by God. Sunday was just a new day of joy. If they decided to keep Sunday instead of the Sabbath, that was from inside of themselves, not something approved by God or Jesus - just like you see happening today. Of course, there are some who did not make the decision themselves, they just accepted whatever they were told, regardless of what the Bible actually says.

Irenaeus - ca. 180 C.E.

The most notable work of Irenaeus was his Against Heresies. According to Early Christian Writings:

Irenaeus of Lyons wrote his Against Heresies c. 175-185 CE. His work is invaluable to modern scholarship in the attempt to recover the content of Gnostic teachings in the second century. Irenaeus also provides the first explicit witness to a four-fold gospel canon.

Naturally, this would require us to know what is represented by Gnostic teachings. A quick search brought up the site at Got Questions? which provided this gem:

There is actually no such thing as Christian Gnosticism, because true Christianity and Gnosticism are mutually exclusive systems of belief. The principles of Gnosticism contradict what it means to be a Christian. Therefore, while some forms of Gnosticism may claim to be Christian, they are in fact decidedly non-Christian.

Gnosticism was perhaps the most dangerous heresy that threatened the early church during the first three centuries. Influenced by such philosophers as Plato, Gnosticism is based on two false premises. First, it espouses a dualism regarding spirit and matter. Gnostics assert that matter is inherently evil and spirit is good. As a result of this presupposition, Gnostics believe anything done in the body, even the grossest sin, has no meaning because real life exists in the spirit realm only.

Second, Gnostics claim to possess an elevated knowledge, a "higher truth" known only to a certain few. Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis which means "to know." Gnostics claim to possess a higher knowledge, not from the Bible, but acquired on some mystical higher plane of existence. Gnostics see themselves as a privileged class elevated above everybody else by their higher, deeper knowledge of God.

You can read more at the site above, or do your own search, but the gist is that another revered "early church father" has stressed the modification of the faith according to emotion, the influence of hatred for the Jews, and just poor scholarship in general.

Eusebius - ca. 260-340 C.E.

Simply put, Eusebius held the very early Christian Jews, before the death of Christ, in high regard. However, in his Church History (Book III), he disparages the Jews because of their killing of Christ and after that, specifies that nothing that they hold dear is to be held by any Christians. Thus, the Sabbath, being a Jewish response to God, was to be rejected. In Chapter 27 of the same document, he also discounts the Ebionite following of the Sabbath (which the Ebionites did in addition to keeping Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus) as merely a response to the "evil demon". Since some of the Ebionites held that Mary's conception of Jesus was not virginal, they rejected everything the Ebionites did as demon influenced.

What about the ones you don't hear about?

Yet, while people go to these apocryphal writers to cherry pick statements that they conjecture "could mean" something, they ignore other writers that actually made statements that contradict the ones they chose:

Trypho - ca. 150-155 C.E.
Argued with Justin Martyr in the Dialogue between the two of them, defending the Sabbath and the rule of God.

Gospel of Thomas - dates range from 30-60 C.E. to as late as 250 C.E.
All Sunday-keepers avoid this document because it's authenticity is not solidly verifiable, and it does not support Sunday-keeping. However, the same people cherry-pick from the writers that have been verified in order to "prove" a point. I daresay that if the statement below was replaced by something by Thomas that supported their need to denigrate the Sabbath, they would use it with vigor. All of the sayings in this document given at Wikiversity support the concepts of Jesus' words. Here is an example:

(27) "If You do not fast as regards the world, You will not find the Kingdom. If You do not observe the Sabbath as Sabbath, You will not see the Father."

The Acts of Peter - 150-200 C.E.
Briefly, there is a statement in the apocryphal document called the Acts of Peter (see Early Christian Writings under the heading THE VERCELLI ACTS, for the entire document), heralded by many to claim that Jesus did away with the Sabbath of the Jews:

For they had in mind also how that Paul had oftentimes contended with the doctors of the Jews and confuted them, saying: Christ, upon whom your fathers laid hands, abolished their sabbaths and fasts and holy-days and circumcision, and the doctrines of men and the rest of the traditions he did abolish.

This happens to be the first sentence that contains the word "sabbath" in that document, which is why that passage retains such importance to the Sunday-keepers. However, there are nine mentions in this document of the word "sabbath", and every one of the other eight uses the "sabbath" as a day by which those people reckoned their time. There is also a mention of "the Lord's day" as the day when Peter was to visit Marcellus. This is interesting because that phrase is never mentioned in the accepted Gospels, and is used only once in the entire Bible with no reference to a day of the week.

Another real issue with this document is the evident purpose of it. The story put forth is of a "contest of faith on the sabbath" that supposedly took place between Peter and a man named Simon Magus, a magician. You can read a quick summary of the story at Did You Know?, and probably get an idea why this is considered apocrypha. The man Simon is supposedly the same one that tried to buy the power of the Holy Spirit from Peter in Acts 8:4-24.

It seems amazing that this incident would be reported in the Bible, but not the contest where Simon flies through the air into Rome, Peter gives the power of speech to a dog, brings a dead fish back to life, gives adult voice to a seven-month-old baby who curses Simon. Other things happen, but the bottom line is that if you accept the fact that Jesus did away with the Sabbath and most of the practices of the Jews including circumcision, you must accept that Jesus appeared to Peter the night before the contest promising to perform the miracles when Peter needed them. If you do that, then you have to accept the rest of this story, all the while explaining why the Sabbath, Feasts, and circumcision continued to be practiced by the Jews, including Paul.

A worthy resource

You might want to take a look at Sabbath Diagnosis (2004) by C. Gary Hillquist, a medical doctor who analyzes the history of the Sabbath and its abandonment by today's churches. He delves deeply into the causes of the apostasy predicted in the Bible that makes itself known in the teachings of most of the best-known pastors in the world. He reveals the little recognized fact that the "conflict" between the Catholic church and the Protestants of the world is more a disagreement over how to disobey God rather than how to conform to His will.

The Protestant "confession of faith"

Further justification of this thought is the text of actual document of the Augsburg Confession of 1530 which you can see at Augsburg-Confession.pdf. This document was the result of the outset of the Protestant Reformation started when Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Schlosskirche (Castle Church), Wittenberg, on October 31, 1517.

The Confession recognizes the apostasy of the Church decision to abandon the Sabbath of Scripture and other precepts of God, but then actually goes on to justify the keeping of some of the despicable Church practices, including the abandonment of the Sabbath, while dismissing other apostate decisions with which they disagree. The most applicable to the Sabbath change can be seen on page 33 under numbers 57] through 64], where you see this "reasoning":

55] As long as it does not offend others, churches may properly follow such customs in order to preserve love and peace. In this way all things will be done in the churches in an orderly way and without any confusion (1 Corinthians 14:40; compare Philippians 2:14). 56] They should do this in such a way that no consciences will be burdened by thinking that obeying these customs is necessary for salvation. And no one will think that they are sinning when they do not observe them yet do not offend others. For example, no one should say that a woman sins who goes out in public with her head uncovered, as long as she does not give offense by doing so.

57] Observing the Lord's Day, Easter, Pentecost, and other holy days and rituals are customs of this kind. 58] For those people make a big mistake by claiming that the church by its authority has decreed that Christians must worship on Sunday rather than the Sabbath Day. 59] For it was Scripture that did away with the observance of the Sabbath Day. The Bible teaches that since the gospel has now been revealed, none of the cere-monies of the law of Moses need be followed. 60] Yet, since a day did have to be chosen so that Christians would know when they should gather for worship, it seems that the Christians chose Sunday for this purpose. It seems that this day was chosen for another reason as well. It gives people an example of how to use their Christian freedom, and shows them that it is not necessary to observe the Sabbath nor any other day in particular.

61] There are a great number of arguments about the changing of the law, the ceremonies of the new law, and the changing of the Sabbath Day. All of these have arisen because of the false belief that the church must have some set of laws, like the Old Testa-ment Levitical laws, and the false belief that Christ had com-manded his apostles and bishops to invent new ceremonies that people must obey to be saved. 62] These errors slipped into the church when it was not being taught clearly that righteousness comes by faith. 63] Some people argue that worshiping on Sun-day may not be a command of God, but it is like a command of God. Then they make laws about how much work can be done on these holy days. 64] Such arguments only become traps for people's consciences. For although they try to change the tradi-tions, yet this lessening cannot bring real improvement as long as the thought remains that they are necessary. This will be the case wherever the righteousness of faith and Christian liberty are not properly understood.

Notice that item 57] declares Sunday and Easter as holy days, I guess made holy by the decree of men since God sure didn't make them holy. And 59] said that Scripture "did away with the observance of the Sabbath Day", but gives no Biblical references, leaving men to interpret on their own to somehow determine this meaning from Scripture. The usual justification for changing the will of God, in order to advance church ordinances, was as stated in 55] (shown above), "As long as it does not offend others, churches may properly follow such customs in order to preserve love and peace. In this way all things will be done in the churches in an orderly way and without any confusion".

"Scripture is supreme, unless we change it..."

An example of how to see and understand this need to change things is a quote in Sabbath Diagnosis (on page 142) from a speech given by Archbishop Reggio D. Gaspare do Fosso in 1562:

"The Protestants claim to stand on the written word only. They profess to hold the Scripture alone as the standard of faith. They justify their revolt by the plea that the Church has apostasized from the written word and follows tradition. Now the Protestants claim, that they stand upon the written word only, is not true. Their profession of holding the Scripture alone as the standard of faith, is false. PROOF: The written word explicitly enjoins the observance of the seventh day as the Sabbath. They do not observe the seventh day, but reject it. If they do truly hold the scripture alone as their standard, they would be observing the seventh day as is enjoined in the Scripture throughout. Yet they not only reject the observance of the Sabbath enjoined in the written word, but they have adopted and do practice the observance of Sunday, for which they have only the tradition of the Church. Consequently the claim of 'Scripture alone as the standard,' fails; and the doctrine of 'Scripture and tradition' as essential, is fully established, the Protestants themselves being judges." Heinrich Julius Holzmann, Kanon und Tradition (Canon and Tradition), published in Ludwigsburg, Germany, in 1859, page 263. (emphasis in original)

But, Who is the One being offended?

They forget that God is the One they should worry about offending - not other people. Also, as stated in 64] of the confession segment above, they reason that people must not be required to follow any laws because "What else are such disputations than snares of consciences?". So the terms "righteousness of faith and Christian liberty" (see 64] two boxes above) become reasons to disobey those undisputable commandments of God and determine what they insist that He is to consider holy, since they said it was holy. Now "Christian liberty" has become a reason to disobey even the original Christian?

Following those who admittedly apostasize to prove your own faith

Using early Christian writers to support your position of claiming that God and Jesus must have done away with something God stated would be a sign "forever" (Exodus 31:17
17It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.

) smacks of desperation. Also, Isaiah stated that the Sabbath would apply to "foreigners" as well (Isaiah 56:1-8
1Maintain justice
    and do what is right,
for my salvation is close at hand
    and my righteousness will soon be revealed.

2Blessed is the one who does this-
    the person who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it,
    and keeps their hands from doing any evil."

3Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say,
    "The Lord will surely exclude me from his people."
And let no eunuch complain,
    "I am only a dry tree."

4For this is what the Lord says:

"To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
    who choose what pleases me
    and hold fast to my covenant-

5to them I will give within my temple and its walls
    a memorial and a name
    better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
    that will endure forever.

6And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord
    to minister to him,
to love the name of the Lord,
    and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
    and who hold fast to my covenant-

7these I will bring to my holy mountain
    and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
    a house of prayer for all nations."

8The Sovereign Lord declares-
    he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
"I will gather still others to them
    besides those already gathered."

). This is a clear sign of blatant opposition to God - not for any solid reason, but apparently just to be contrary. Know your Bible (see Proverbs 2:12-15
12Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
          from men whose words are perverse,

13who have left the straight paths
          to walk in dark ways,

14who delight in doing wrong
          and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,

15whose paths are crooked
          and who are devious in their ways.

). When something claimed to be from God's "servant" contradicts a clear teaching of the Bible, one of them is wrong.

Guess which one I choose.

Disagree? Find an error? Contact us at and give us your view.

Contact Us | Back to Top

Sabbath Discussions ::

Nailed to the Cross?
Which Day is the Sabbath?
Is Sabbath Keeping Necessary?
Early Christians and Sunday



Tell us yor side.