Changing the Sabbath and the Antichrist

‘Antichrist’ picture per Pixabay


A Roman Catholic writer named Jimmy Akin posted the following:

“Changing the Sabbath” and the Antichrist

Recently I was contacted by someone who seems quite openminded and who asked me some questions about why we worship on Sunday rather than the Sabbath.

In particular, this person was wondering why that should be the case if the only person in the Bible who seeks to change the Sabbath is the Antichrist.

I responded as follows . . .

When you refer to the Antichrist changing the Sabbath, I assume that you’re referring to Daniel 7:25, where a coming king will “think to change times and seasons.”

Concerning this prophecy specifically, I’d make several points:

1) It does not specifically mention the Sabbath, but this is almost certainly included in the meaning of changing times and seasons …

6) It is possible that a future dictator may also try to compel the Jewish people to give up their faith–including its holy days–and this future dictator may be the same as the final Antichrist, but we must be careful about such speculation as the prophecy is not repeated in the New Testament and not every prophecy has a later fulfillment. …

At least, I couldn’t prove that they all will have a fulfillment at the end of the world, so I have to leave this proposal as a possible speculation but only a speculation.

So, you may well be right that the final Antichrist will attempt to force the Jewish people to drop the Sabbath, but I can’t say this for certain, myself. …

In the first century and for a time thereafter, many Jewish Christians did continue to observe the Sabbath, … However, this was not the day that Christians held their religious gatherings on. …

The Sabbath is when it always was: the seventh day of the week. It’s just that Christians are not required to observe it, as it was something that pertained to the Jewish people prior to the time of Christ. Instead of celebrating the Sabbath, Christians celebrate the first day of the week in honor of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. 10/28/20

Before getting to Daniel 7:25, let’s address a couple of historical points.

The first is that it is true that Jewish Christians kept the Sabbath. And, they were considered to be faithful Christians according to Greco-Roman historians (e.g. Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book III, Chapter V, Verses 2,3.& Book IV, Chapter 5, Verses 2-4, pp. 45, 71).

Second, Gentile Christians, such as Polycarp of Smyrna did observe the Sabbath and hold church services then. Here are some statements related to that:

Polycarp … And on the following sabbath he said; ‘Hear ye my exhortation, beloved children of God. I adjured you when the bishops were present, and now again I exhort you all to walk decorously and worthily in the way of the Lord…Watch ye, and again Be ye ready, Let not your hearts be weighed down, the new commandment concerning love one towards another, His advent suddenly manifest as of rapid lightning, the great judgment by fire, the eternal life, His immortal kingdom. And all things whatsoever being taught of God ye know, when ye search the inspired Scriptures, engrave with the pen of the Holy Spirit on your hearts, that the commandments may abide in you indelible.’ (Life of Polycarp, Chapter 24. (1889) from J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 3.2, pp. 488-506)

“Specifically, Vita Pol. {Life of Polycarp} supplies evidence … for Christian gatherings on the Sabbath” (Hartog P, ed. Polycarp’s Epistle to the Philippians and the Martyrdom of Polycarp:Introduction, Text, and Commentary. University Press, 2013, p. 6).

The first part of second century witnessed major separation between Jews and Christians. Before 100 A.D., the majority of Christians were of Jewish origins; they held worship services in synagogues, respected some Jewish alimentation ordinances as “kosher eating” , kept major Jewish annual feasts and observed Jewish Ten Commandments, resting on Sabbath. In summary, Christians were generally seen as another Jewish sect. …

Polycarp … disciple of John the Apostle and bishop of Smyrna in the second century was esteemed to be Sabbathkeeper. In the letter The Martyrdom of Polycarp by the Smyrnaeans, his disciples wrote following: “on the day of the preparation, at the hour of dinner, there came out pursuers and horsemen” later concluding that Polycarp was killed “on the day of the great Sabbath”.

The use of these two expressions (“day of the preparation” and “the day of the great Sabbath”) indicates that Christians in Smyrna were still keeping the Sabbath around 156 A.D. (the approximate date of Polycarp’s martyrdom).

Another evidence from the mid second century of continuant Sabbath observance comes from the apocryphal work Acts of John where seventh-day Sabbath is mentioned as being a true “Lord’s day”. …

Theophilus of Antioch, (130- 185 AD) considered a saint by both Catholic and Orthodox Christians, was known to attack the use of icons, immortality of soul and quoted Sabbath as being the Seventh-day appointed by God in the fourth commandment. (Zivadinovic D. REVISED and CORRECTED “SABBATH in the EAST. “Andrews University, c. 2019)

So, yes, early Gentile Christians also kept the Sabbath. Gentile leaders such as Polycarp of Smyrna and Theophilus of Antioch held Church of God, not Greco-Roman Catholic, doctrines.

What about changing times and Daniel 7:25? Let’s see that verse:

25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time. (Daniel 7:25)

Various Greco-Roman councils, starting no later than the Council of Nicea in 325, chose Sunday over the Sabbath. And several later councils attempted to forbid Sabbath-keeping.

Dr. Hoeh of the old Radio Church of God wrote:

Daniel prophetically gazed upon this ecclesiastical system that would “think to change times and laws” (Daniel 7:25). Jesus condemns it as “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth”! (Rev. 17:5) …

Constantine Enforces Sunday!

The opening of the fourth century was tumultuous for the Roman Empire.

In 321 A.D., on the seventh of March, an unusual edict was issued by Crispus and Constantine, often designated as the earliest Sunday law. It read thusly:

“On the venerable day of the sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not suitable for grain sowing or for vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.” (Codex Justinianus, lib. 3, tit. 12, 3; translated in History of the Christian Church, by Schaff, Vol. III, p. 380).

This edict was a civil statute, not an ecclesiastical one. It was a heathen institution of which Hutton Webster says:

“This legislation by Constantine probably bore no relation to Christianity; it appears, on the contrary, that the emperor, in his capacity of Pontifex Maximus (a title the popes later took from the emperors), was only adding the day of the Sun, the worship of which was then firmly established in the Roman Empire, to the other ferial days of the sacred calendar” (Rest Days, pp. 122, 123).

That is how Sunday became the official “MARK of the Beast.” (The Beast is the Roman Empire) It was imposed by the STATE! The professing Christian world voluntarily accepted it. All who would not obey the new decree were forced to flee the confines of the Western Roman Empire. Only in the East did Sabbath keepers remain. (Hoeh H. Where Did Jesus Command You to Observe SUNDAY? Plain Truth, December 1962)

Sabbath-keeping in Asia Minor was publicly still going on to at least 364 A.D. or else the Eastern Church would not have convened a Council in Laodicea to excommunicate any who rested on the seventh day. Notice what the Council of Laodicea declared in English and Latin,

CANON XXIX. CHRISTIANS must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord’s Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ (THE COMPLETE CANONS OF THE SYNOD OF LAODICEA IN PHRYGIA PACATIANA).

Quod non oportet Christianos Judaizere et otiare in Sabbato, sed operari in eodem die. Preferentes autem in veneratione Dominicum diem si vacare voluerint, ut Christiani hoc faciat ; quod si reperti fuerint Judaizare Anathema sin a Christo (Cited in Andrews, p. 362).

But although that Council tried to abolish the Sabbath, sabbath-keeping continued among the faithful. Around 404 A.D. Jerome noted,

…the believing Jews do well in observing the precepts of the law, i.e….keeping the Jewish Sabbath…there exists a sect among… the synagogues of the East, which is called the sect of the Minei, and is even now condemned by the Pharisees. The adherents to this sect are known commonly as Nazarenes; they believe in Christ the Son of God, born of, the Virgin Mary; and they say that He who suffered under Pontius Pilate and rose again, is the same as the one in whom we believe”—yet, Jerome considered them to be part of “a most pestilential heresy” (Jerome. Translated by J.G. Cunningham, M.A. From Jerome to Augustine (A.D. 404); LETTER 75 (AUGUSTINE) OR 112 (JEROME). Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series One, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1887. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

But it was not just Jewish Christians keeping the Sabbath.

There were Semi-Arians in Armenia who also kept the seventh-day Sabbath in the late fourth century:

Eustathius was succeeded by Erius, a … semi-Arian … he urged a purer morality and a stricter observance of the Sabbath (Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, p. 20).

Also in the fourth century, but in Ethiopia, Frumentius reported:

“And we assemble on Saturday,” he continues ; “not that we are infected with Judaism, but to worship Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath” (Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, pp. 41-42).

Even though many in Syria had apostatized by the mid-third century (see The Smyrna Church Era), those there understood that there were to keep the Sabbath, though they also kept Sunday (there is no evidence that Sunday was observed there in the second century).

Now getting back to prophecy, Daniel gives more information about this Beast as well.

23 “And in the latter time of their kingdom,
When the transgressors have reached their fullness,
A king shall arise,
Having fierce features,
Who understands sinister schemes.
24 His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power;
He shall destroy fearfully,
And shall prosper and thrive;
He shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people.

25 “Through his cunning
He shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule;
And he shall exalt himself in his heart.
He shall destroy many in their prosperity.
He shall even rise against the Prince of princes;
But he shall be broken without human means. (Daniel 8:23-25)

Without going into all the details, this beast is also called the King of the North in Daniel 11 (see Who is the King of the North? and/or watch a video titled: The Future King of the North):

36 “Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done. 37 He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all. 38 But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things. 39 Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain. (Daniel 11:36-39)

Notice that the Beast honors the ‘god of fortresses’ as well as a ‘god his fathers did not know.’ So, this is a changed religion of some type. One that will get the world’s attention (Revelation 13:4,8).

Getting to the New Testament, here is some of what the Book of Revelation teaches about the Beast and the Antichrist:

1 Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. 2 Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. 3 And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. 4 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?”

5 And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. 6 Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. 7 It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. 8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear. 10 He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. (Revelation 13:1-10)

11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. 12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. 14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. 15 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. (Revelation 13:11-15)

Notice that there is a beast that comes from the sea. This is a reference to a European power as it is the power that borders the Mediterranean sea and will again control pretty much all sides of it (cf. Daniel 11:40-43). This Beast will be associated with an ecumenical/interfaith religion (see Will the Interfaith Movement Lead to Peace or Sudden Destruction?) that the world will fall for–all those who do NOT have their names written in the Book of Life.

With all that as background, will the Beast enforce Sunday over the Sabbath?

Well, since the Beast will kill those who do not follow his ways, and the Antichrist (the Beast of the earth in Revelation 13:11-17) will cause those who do not worship the Beast to be killed, it is logical that not allowing Sabbath keeping will be done. Consider also the following from the Book of Revelation:

12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)

During the time of the Beast and the Antichrist, despite the persecution, true Christians will be keeping the commandments of God–and that includes the Sabbath.

But the Beast and his supporters will be against ALL of the Ten Commandments. We cover this in the following free online book The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast as well as in the following online sermon: The Ten Commandments and the Beast of Revelation.

That being said, I would like to comment that I found it of interest that the first item that comes up in a search at Pixabay for the word “Antichrist” is someone looking like a pontiff forcing a cross into the head of someone. Consistent with centuries old Church of God teachings, it is the position of the Continuing Church of God that crosses are a mark of the Antichrist and will likely be forced upon people until death.

That being said, Roman Catholics consider that Sunday is their mark:

“Sunday is our mark of authority. . . .The church is above the Bible, and this transference is proof of that fact.” The Catholic Record, September 1, 1923.

“Of course the Catholic Church claims that the change (from Saturday to Sunday) was her act. It could not have been otherwise, as none in those days would have dreamed of doing anything in matters spiritual and religious without her, and the act is a mark of her ecclesiastical power and authority in religious matters. The Catholic Mirror, September 23, 1893. (as reported in: Wehr J. Who Are These Three Angels? Hartland Publications, 1997, p. 112)

“Perhaps the boldest thing, the most revolutionary change the Church ever did, happened in the first century. The holy day, the Sabbath, was changed from Saturday to Sunday. ‘The Day of the Lord’ (dies Dominica) was chosen, not from any directions noted in the Scriptures, but from the Church’s sense of its own power. The day of resurrection, the day of Pentecost, fifty days later, came on the first day of the week. So this would be the new Sabbath. People who think that the Scriptures should be the sole authority, should logically…keep Saturday holy”. Priest Leo Broderick, Saint Catherine Catholic Church Sentinel, Algonac, Michigan, May 21, 1995. (as reported in Morgan K. Sabbath Rest. TEACH Services, Inc., 2002, p. 59)

“It was the Catholic Church which…transferred this rest to the Sunday in remembrance of the resurrection of the Lord. Thus the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the church.” (Monsignor Louis Segur. “Plain Talk about the Protestantism of Today.” Patrick Donahoe, 1868, p 225 (note some other sources say p. 213); as cited in Hartland Publications. What Shall I Do to Inherit Eternal Life? 2004, p. 83)

Perhaps it should also be mentioned that some Roman Catholics consider the cross to be their mark. Roman Catholics tend to believe that they are SUPPOSED to be MARKED with a cross and in the future those with such a mark will persecute those without one:

Tertullian (De cor. Mil., iii), “in all our coming in and going out, in putting of our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles , in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupieth us, we mark our foreheads with the sign of the cross”. (As cited in Thurston, Herbert. Sign of the Cross. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. Robert Appleton Company, 1912)

The sign of the cross…marks with the imprint of Christ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1235, p. 347).

Anne Catherine Emmerich (October, 1820): warriors, led by a rider on a white horse; and … citizens and peasants, many of whom were marked on the forehead with a red cross. As this army drew near, the captives and oppressed were delivered and swelled the ranks whilst the demolishers and conspirators were put to flight on all sides (Emmerich AC. The Life and Revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich. Schmöger edition, Vol. II. Approbation: Bishop of Limbourg Peter Joseph. Reprint TAN Books, Rockford (IL), 1976, pp. 290-291).

More on marks can be found in the following:

The Mark of Antichrist What is the mark of Antichrist? What have various ones claimed? Here is a link to a related sermon What is the ‘Mark of Antichrist’?
Mark of the Beast What is the mark of the Beast? Who is the Beast? What have various ones claimed the mark is? What is the ‘Mark of the Beast’?
What is the Origin of the Cross as a ‘Christian’ Symbol? Was the cross used as a venerated symbol by the early Church? Three related YouTube videos would be Beware of the ‘Ecumenical Cross’, The Chrislam Cross and the Interfaith Movement, and Origin of the Cross.

Other items of related interest may include:

The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast This is a free pdf book explaining the what the Ten Commandments are, where they came from, how early professors of Christ viewed them, and how various ones, including the Beast of Revelation, will oppose them. A related sermon is titled: The Ten Commandments and the Beast of Revelation.
Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church: Could a remnant group have continuing apostolic succession? Did the original “catholic church” have doctrines held by the Continuing Church of God? Did Church of God leaders uses the term “catholic church” to ever describe the church they were part of? Here are links to related sermons: Original Catholic Church of God?, Original Catholic Doctrine: Creed, Liturgy, Baptism, Passover, What Type of Catholic was Polycarp of Smyrna?, Tradition, Holy Days, Salvation, Dress, & Celibacy, Early Heresies and Heretics, Doctrines: 3 Days, Abortion, Ecumenism, Meats, Tithes, Crosses, Destiny, and more, Saturday or Sunday?, The Godhead, Apostolic Laying on of Hands Succession, Church in the Wilderness Apostolic Succession List, Holy Mother Church and Heresies, and Lying Wonders and Original Beliefs. Here is a link to that book in the Spanish language: Creencias de la iglesia Católica original.
The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church? Here is a related sermon video The Christian Sabbath and How and Why to Keep It.
Persecutions by Church and State This article documents some that have occurred against those associated with the COGs and some prophesied to occur. Will those with the cross be the persecutors or the persecuted–this article has the shocking answer. There is also a YouTube video sermon you can watch: The Coming Persecution of the Church.
The Spanish Inquisition and Early Protestant Persecutions Was the Church of Rome really responsible for this? What happened? A video of related interest is titled: The Past and Future Inquisition.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism The CCOG is NOT Protestant. This free online book explains how the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants. Several sermons related to the free book are also available: Protestant, Baptist, and CCOG History; The First Protestant, God’s Command, Grace, & Character; The New Testament, Martin Luther, and the Canon; Eucharist, Passover, and Easter; Views of Jews, Lost Tribes, Warfare, & Baptism; Scripture vs. Tradition, Sabbath vs. Sunday; Church Services, Sunday, Heaven, and God’s Plan; Seventh Day Baptists/Adventists/Messianics: Protestant or COG?; Millennial Kingdom of God and God’s Plan of Salvation; Crosses, Trees, Tithes, and Unclean Meats; The Godhead and the Trinity; Fleeing or Rapture?; and Ecumenism, Rome, and CCOG Differences. These sermons also cover materials not in the book.

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