Sunday and Christianity

By COGwriter

This article will discuss look to the Bible and second century writings to determine the appropriateness of worship on Sunday for Christians today. A related sermon is available: Sunday: First and Eighth Day?

Sunday and The New Testament

There are a total of eight verses in the New Testament that specifically use the expression "first day of the week." The term Sunday is not in the New Testament (NKJV).

In addition, to those verses, which we will get to shortly, most Sunday observers have pointed to John's statement about the day of the Lord, which they call the Lord's Day in Revelation 1:10, as proof that Sunday was the day for Christian worship. Suffice it to say that that is the only place in the Bible where that specific expression is used and it makes to reference to any day of the week (more information can be found in the article Is Revelation 1:10 Referring to the Lord's Day or the Day of the Lord?).

So let us look at every verse in the New Testament that discusses the first day of the week. The first six of them are referring to the time after Jesus was resurrected. And they are Matthew 28:1, Mark16:2,9; Luke 24:1, John 20:1,19. None of them discuss any worship service.

Herbert Armstrong wrote the following about these 6 verses:

The Day AFTER Sabbath
(1) Matthew 28:1: "In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher." This is the first place in the Bible where "the first day of the week" is mentioned. Matthew wrote these words, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, many years after the New Testament Church came into being. The text says that late on the Sabbath day it was drawing TOWARD the first day of the week. So this Scripture, we must admit, tells us plainly that three days and three nights after all that was done away had been securely "nailed to the Cross," the Sabbath was still the day BEFORE the first day of the week—still the seventh day of the week.

One point is here plainly proved. Many tell us that the Sabbath command was merely for "one day in seven"—that it did not have to be THE seventh day of the week, but merely the seventh part of time. They argue that Sunday, being one day out of seven, fulfills the command. But here is a passage in the NEW Testament, inspired by the Holy Spirit many years after the beginning of the NEW Testament Church, stating in plain language that, three days after all abolished things had been done away, the Sabbath still existed and that it was the seventh day of THE WEEK—the day before the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK. That much is proved, and must remain settled for all who honestly seek and accept BIBLE authority. But, was the day changed later?

(2) Mark 16:2: "And very early in the morning THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun." This is merely Mark's version of the sunrise visit to the tomb. It was written several years after the crucifixion. The first day of the week, also, was "AFTER the Sabbath was PAST," according to verse 1. So this text proves the same thing as the one above—that the first day of the week was not at that time (three days after the crucifixion) the Sabbath, but the day AFTER the Sabbath. The Sabbath, then, still was the SEVENTH day of the week.

A Common Work Day
(3) Mark 16:9: "Now when Jesus was risen, early the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils." This text speaks of Jesus' appearance to Mary Magdalene later the same day, -the day AFTER the Sabbath.

Nothing here calls the first day of the week the Christian Sabbath, we must admit. Nothing here calls it "The Lord's Day." Nothing here hallows Sunday or says God made it holy. Nothing here commands us to observe it. Nothing here sets it apart as a memorial of the Resurrection, or for any purpose. No command or example of REST on this day no authority for observing Sunday here.

(4) Luke 24:1: "Now UPON THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing their spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them."

This text tells again the same event recorded by Matthew and Mark, and it shows that on THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK these women came to do the work of a common week-day, AFTER having rested the Sabbath day "according to the commandment." For we read, in the verse just before this, "And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment." Shall we say these women did not yet know the commandment was abolished? No, we cannot, for this statement was not made by the women, but inspired by the HOLY GHOST, who did know it was not abolished. And it was written, at least twenty five years after the establishing of the New Testament Church! The Holy Ghost THEN inspired the direct statement that the rest of these women on the Sabbath day was according to the commandment, which statement would not be possible had the commandment been abolished.

This text, then, establishes Sunday as a common work day, three days after the crucifixion, and it further established that at that time the command to rest on the Sabbath had not been abolished.

(5) John 20:1. "THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher."

This, written many, many years after the crucifixion, is John's version, describing the same visit to the tomb. It confirms the facts above.

Was This a Religious Meeting, to Celebrate the Resurrection?
(6) John 20:19: "Then the same day at evening, being THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you."

Let us examine this carefully, for some claim this was a religious service called for the purpose of celebrating the Resurrection. But notice this is the same first day of the week that FOLLOWED the Sabbath. It was Jesus' first opportunity to appear to His disciples. For three and a half years He had been constantly with them, on ALL days of the week. His meeting with them, of itself, could not establish any day as a Sabbath.

Were they assembled to celebrate the Resurrection, thus establishing Sunday as the Christian Sabbath in honor of the Resurrection? The text says they were assembled "for fear of the Jews." The Jews had just taken and crucified their Master. They were afraid. The doors were shut because of their fear— probably bolted. Why were they assembled? "FOR FEAR OF THE JEWS" according to this text, and also because they all lived together in this upper room (Acts 1:13). They could not have assembled to celebrate the Resurrection for THEY DID NOT BELIEVE JESUS WAS RISEN (Mark 16:11; Luke 24-37, 39, 41). Nothing in this text calls this day "Sabbath," or "Lord's Day," or any sacred title. Nothing here sets it apart, makes it holy. No authority here for changing a command of God! (Armstrong HW. Why Do You Observe Sunday?).

Thus none of the first six are any proof that Christians should worship on Sunday. To show that more modern translations agree with that, here are the first three verses from the New King James Version:

1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. (Matthew 28:1)

1 Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. (Mark 16:1-2)

9 Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. (Mark 16:9)

While the comma is off in Mark 16:9, it should be translated as follows "Now after He had risen, early on the first day of the week He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons" (Mark 16:9, NASB, with comma moved by me; at least six versions [NASB, New Living Translation, Berean Study Bible, Holman Christian Standard Bible, International Standard Version, and New American Standard 1977] translate the timing as AFTER He arose). This verse does not endorse Sunday as a Christian day of worship, nor the day of the resurrection.

Here are the next three:

1 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. (Luke 24:1-2)

1 Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. (John 20:1)

19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." (John 20:19)

None of the six passages mentioning the first day of the week above even hint that Sunday is to be kept.

There is, however, one verse that shows a first day of the week convocation (other than Pentecost) in the New Testament. And it is in the Book of Acts.

Acts 20:7 states:

7 Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.

While Acts 20:7 does mention the first of the week, it does not mention the term ‘Lord’ much or the expression ‘Lord’s Day.’  And it is talking about either the Sabbath or a Saturday night, and not a Sunday morning. The term "day" is not in the original Greek--and even if it is, again it would be referring to a Saturday night.

Essentially, after a Sabbath dinner, Paul preached to the Christians because he was going to travel on Sunday. Actually, the term ‘Lord’ (Κυριω in the Greek) is not even mentioned until verse 19 of Acts 20, which the context shows occurs several days later (either on Wednesday or Thursday—and no one has claimed that these are “the Lord’s Day”).

The eighth and final place were the term "first day of the week" was mentioned is as follows (the word day is also not in the original Greek):

2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come (1 Corinthians 16:2).

Essentially, Paul wants people to put together a collection for him , before he comes, so it won't be going on while he is there. Thus, this is not an authorization to take up a collection at a Sunday worship service, instead it is a time Paul felt would be more convenient for people. Plus being the day after the Sabbath, they would have been more likely to remember to do it if they were told about in on the Sabbath.

Perhaps, I should also place here, Herbert Armstrong's explanation of 1 Corinthians 16:2, as he adds some helpful insights:

This speaks of a collection—but for WHOM— for WHAT? Note it! Not for the preacher—not for evangelism—but "the collection FOR THE SAINTS." The poor saints at Jerusalem were suffering from drought and famine. They needed, not money, but FOOD. Notice Paul had given similar instruction to other churches. Now observe his instruction to the Romans: "But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia (where the Corinthian Church was located) to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem . . . When, therefore, I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain." (Rom. 15:25-28).

Ah! Did you catch it? It was not money, but FRUIT that was being sealed for shipment to the poor saints at Jerusalem!

Now turn back to I Corinthians 16. Paul is speaking concerning a collection FOR THE SAINTS. Upon the first day of the week each of them is instructed to do what? Look at it! Does it say drop a coin in the collection plate at a church service? Not at all!

It says "let everyone of you lay by him in STORE." Note it! LAY BY! STORE UP! Store up BY HIMSELF—at home! Not lay by at the church house—lay by HIM---at home.

Now WHY? "That there be no GATHERINGS when I come." Men GATHER fruit out of the orchard—they GATHER vegetables out of the ground, to be STORED UP. But putting coins in a collection plate at church, or handing in your tithe- envelope could not be called a GATHERING, but an offering or collection.

Notice further: "And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they (more than one) shall go with me." (verses 3-4).

Apparently it was going to require several men to carry this collection, gathered and stored up, to Jerusalem. If it were tithe or offering for the minister or the spread of the Gospel, Paul could have carried the money alone.

So, once again, the last and final text in the Bible where we find "THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK" mentioned, it is a WORK DAY—a day for gathering fruit and food out of the orchards and the fields and gardens, and storing it up. It was to be the FIRST labor of the week, hence the first day of the week, as soon as the Sabbath was past! (Armstrong HW. Why Do You Observe Sunday?).

That is it. That is all the verses in the New Testament about the first day of the week, which we now call Sunday. So, it is clear that the idea of Sunday worship simply does not come from the New Testament.

The Resurrection Was Not on Sunday

A careful reading of the related scriptures (Matthew 28:1, Mark16:2,9; Luke 24:1, John 20:1,19) which were already discussed above shows that Jesus was already resurrected prior to sunrise on Sunday.

I will state here that Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday, just before the first day of unleavened bread. As that Sabbath was a high day (John 19:31), and since the day before the high days was considered to be a preparation day, it was that day, and not a Friday, that Jesus was crucified on. If professing Christians would keep the Holy Days, more would realize that.

Here is a detailed explanation about the day of the crucifixion:

Was Jesus Resurrected on Sunday?

If you visit a mainstream Christian church and ask members why the day on which they and other people attend worship services is Sunday, a typical response might be that Jesus was resurrected on that day. But how well does this idea bear up under close scrutiny?

Notice what Christ told the Pharisees, who were looking for a sign of the Messiah: "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and NO SIGN will be given to it EXCEPT the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matt. 12:39-40).

The only sign Jesus gave to prove He was the Messiah was that the grave would only hold Him for a limited amount of time-exactly "three days and three nights" (or 72 hours). But the Easter Sunday tradition maintains that Christ was buried just before sunset on "Good Friday" afternoon and resurrected early Sunday morning-only two nights and one day (or 36 hours)!

Some will argue the definition of "day." But Christ clearly stated that there are 12 hours in a day, not including the night (John 11:9-10). Therefore, when Easter Sunday proponents take His remark and conclude that Christ was in the grave three days x 12 hours = 36 hours, we can see that they are leaving out the "three nights." There are approximately 12 hours of daytime and 12 hours of nighttime in one 24-hour day! So three days and three nights is definitely 72 hours. But was it exactly 72 hours? Jesus said He would rise "AFTER three days" (Mark 8:31)-i.e. no less than 72 hours. But He also said He would rise "IN three days" (John 2:19, 21)-i.e. no more than 72 hours. This is absolutely clear-72 hours exactly! And God is always right on schedule.

Also consider that, when the women came to His tomb Sunday morning, "it was still dark" (John 20:1) and He had already risen. How could this be? The Sunday-resurrection proponents contend that He had risen just moments before. If they are correct, then "three days and three nights" earlier would be just before sunrise on Thursday morning. Yet no one believes Christ was buried on Thursday morning-or any morning for that matter-and with good reason. When Joseph of Arimathea laid Christ's body in the tomb, "the Sabbath drew near" (Luke 23:50-54). Biblical days, including Sabbaths, begin at sunset and end the following sunset (cf. Genesis 1:5-31; Leviticus 23:32)-a nighttime period followed by a daytime period.

Christ, then, was buried in late afternoon-before a particular Sabbath began at sunset. Three days and three nights later would be the same time of day-late afternoon! Now we have another problem. If we assume that Christ was buried on Friday afternoon, as the Good Friday tradition asserts, then His resurrection-72 hours later-would be Monday afternoon. Yet no one believes this either-again, with good reason. For remember that Christ had already risen before the women came to His tomb prior to daybreak Sunday morning! What, then, is the answer?

Why have so many thought that Christ was put in the grave on Friday afternoon? Mark 15:42 states that "it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath." Since the weekly Sabbath always occurred on the seventh day of the week (now called Saturday), the "Preparation Day" was normally on Friday. However, we have already seen the problem with this. The answer to the apparent dilemma is that the weekly Sabbath is not the only Sabbath mentioned in the Bible. Leviticus 23 lists seven annual Holy Days that occur in God's Festivals. Each of these days was considered a Sabbath (or a "rest" from normal labor). All annual Sabbaths or "High Days" (except Pentecost) fell on particular calendar dates rather than set days of the week.

Now the mystery can be solved by reading John 19:31. The Jews wanted to remove the crucifixion victims "because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a HIGH DAY)." Christ kept the Passover with His disciples the night before His death (Luke 22:15). He died on the cross the next afternoon, which was still Passover (the 14th of Abib or Nisan according to the Hebrew Calendar-Leviticus 23:5). Leviticus 23:6-7 reports that the next day, beginning the evening after His crucifixion, was not a weekly Sabbath, but an annual Sabbath-the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Now put together the facts. It is clear from the Bible that Christ died and was buried on Passover afternoon-and that the following day was an annual Sabbath. It is also clear that he was resurrected at the same time of day-late afternoon. But which afternoon? Since the women found Him already gone Sunday morning, it would be sensible to conclude that He had been resurrected the previous afternoon on Saturday! This would mean He had been buried three days and three nights earlier-Wednesday afternoon. It would also mean that Passover, Nisan 14, fell on a Wednesday that year. And, indeed, that is what happened in A.D. 31, a year that fits the time frame the Bible demands.

Scripture also provides further proof that there were TWO Sabbaths that week-an annual and a weekly one. In Mark 15:47, Mary Magdalene and her companion watched Joseph of Arimathea lay Jesus in the tomb near the end of the Passover. The next verse, Mark 16:1, tells us that after the "Sabbath," Mary Magdalene and her companions bought spices with which to anoint Christ's dead body. However, Luke 23:56 shows that they prepared the spices before the Sabbath. Naturally, they couldn't have prepared spices before they were even bought! The only explanation that makes sense is that they bought the spices on Friday and prepared them the same day-after the annual Sabbath on Thursday and before the weekly Sabbath on Saturday! Then they rested on the weekly Sabbath-at the end of which Jesus was resurrected. The next morning, Sunday, they came to the tomb before sunrise and found him already gone.

But some will point out Mark 16:9, which says, "Now when He rose early on the first day of the week...." Yet how can this be? To understand, we should read the verse in the original King James Version and continue further in the sentence: "Now when Jesus was risen [the perfect tense is correct here-He was already risen] early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene." He was not "rising" on Sunday morning. As we've seen, He rose Saturday afternoon. So early Sunday morning, He was already "risen." Also realize that in the original Greek there was no punctuation. Had the King James translators simply put a comma after the word "risen" and not after "week," this would make complete sense. The Centenary Translation renders it this way: "Now after his resurrection, early on the first day of the week he appeared first to Mary Magdalene."

To conclude, a Sunday morning resurrection could not be the reason for changing the weekly day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. But even if Christ were resurrected on Sunday, why would His disciples-who had kept the seventh-day Sabbath with Him-have abandoned His example of keeping the Ten Commandments and switched to Sunday-keeping? And why would they have picked Sunday, a day already associated with pagan sun worship? But the Bible is very clear that Christ was NOT resurrected on Sunday morning. So this pitiful attempt to CHANGE God's Law does not hold water! (Meredith R.C. Which Day is the Christian Sabbath? © 2006 Living Church of God).

Furthermore, the idea that Jesus was arrested late Tuesday night, and delivered to the authorities early on Wednesday (the fourth day of the week), was understood in the late second/early third century as even the Didascalia Apostolorum teaches:

For when we had eaten the passover on the third day of the week at even, we went forth to the Mount of Olives; and in the night they seized our Lord Jesus. And the next day, which was the fourth of the week, He remained in ward in the house of Caiaphas the high priest (Didascalia Apostolorum, Chapter 21, verse 14. R. Hugh Connolly, version Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1929).

Now although the above account later states that the crucifixion was actually on Friday, that portion of the Didascalia Apostolorum account does not agree with the scriptures. The Bible account does not allow for a holding period of a couple of days before the actual crucifixion (the biblical account specifically discusses the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread and this would not allow for such a delay). Thus, it was understood in the second century that Jesus' arrest occurred Tuesday night, and therefore must have been crucified on the following Wednesday.

Furthermore, notice what else was understood by some in the late second/early third century as recorded in the Didascalia Apostolorum:

And again (there was) the day of the Sabbath; and then three hours of the night after the Sabbath, wherein our Lord slept. And that was fulfilled which He said: The Son of man must pass three days and three nights in the heart of the earth [Mt 12.40], as it is written in the Gospel. And again it is written in David: Behold, thou hast set my days in measure [Ps 38.6 LXX] (Didascalia Apostolorum, Chapter 21. R. Hugh Connolly, version. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1929).

Notice that the above account teaches that Jesus was resurrected late evening on a Saturday. And while we in the COGs (Churches of God) would suggest that the resurrection occurred a few hours earlier, the above account (which is often used by Roman Catholics and others) shows that Jesus was NOT understood to have been resurrected on a Sunday!

In the third century, the Catholic bishop and saint Victorinus wrote:

Now is manifested the reason of the truth why the fourth day is called the Tetras, why we fast even to the ninth hour, or even to the evening, or why there should be a passing over even to the next day...

The man Christ Jesus, the originator of these things whereof we have above spoken, was taken prisoner by wicked hands, by a quaternion of soldiers. Therefore on account of His captivity by a quaternion, on account of the majesty of His works,--that the seasons also, wholesome to humanity, joyful for the harvests, tranquil for the tempests, may roll on,--therefore we make the fourth day a station or a supernumerary fast (Victorinus. On the Creation of the World. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

The above account shows that the fasting occurred the fourth day (tetras means fourth) at the ninth hour (3:00 pm). That is the precise time of the death of Christ according to the Bible. Victorinus is admitting that later that day, there was the Passover time (as does the Bible). He also clearly states that Jesus was arrested on Wednesday. And that is correct. And three days later would be late Saturday afternoon.

Roman Catholic leaders, as late as the fifth century complained that there were those who professed Christ that believed that Jesus was resurrected on the seventh-day Sabbath, even though they also observed Sunday:

...he celebrated the sabbath of the passover; then on the next day he went to church...Smyrna, kept Easter on the fourteenth day of the moon, as Eusebius attests in the fifth book of his Ecclesiastical History. While therefore some in Asia Minor observed the day above-mentioned, others in the East kept that feast on the sabbath indeed (Socrates Scholasticus. Ecclesiastical History, Book V, Chapters, XXI,XXII. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 2. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

In the late sixth century, Bishop Gregory of Tours wrote:

The day of the Lord's resurrection is the first, not the seventh (Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks, trans. Ernest Brehaut (extended selections), Records of Civilization 2, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1916. Electronic version © Paul Halsall December 1997).

Bishop Gregory would have not insisted that the resurrection was on Sunday and not the Sabbath unless there were those who held a contrary position.

Another part of the reason is that even into the 19th century, there was a ceremony in Rome that indicated a Saturday resurrection. Notice:

This ceremony is thus graphically described by the authoress of Rome in the 19th Century:"...the Pope himself, who walked beneath a crimson canopy, with his head uncovered, bearing the Host in a box; and this being, as you know, the real flesh and blood of Christ, was carried from the Sistine chapel through the intermediate hall to the Paulina chapel, where it was deposited in the sepulchre prepared to receive it beneath the altar...I never could learn why Christ was to be buried before He was dead, for, as the crucifixion did not take place till Good Friday, it seems odd to inter Him on Thursday. His body, however, is laid in the sepulchre, in all the churches of Rome, where this rite is practised, on Thursday forenoon, and it remains there till Saturday at mid-day, when, for some reason best known to themselves, He is supposed to rise from the grave amidst the firing of cannon, and blowing of trumpets, and jingling of bells...*"

* The above account referred to the ceremonies as witnessed by the authoress in 1817 and 1818. It would seem that some change has taken place since then, caused probably by the very attention called by her to the gross anomaly mentioned above; for Count Vlodaisky, formerly a Roman Catholic priest, who visited Rome in 1845, has informed me that in that year the resurrection took place, not at mid-day, but at nine o'clock on the evening of Saturday. This may have been intended to make the inconsistency between Roman practice and Scriptural fact appear somewhat less glaring. Still the fact remains, that the resurrection of Christ, as celebrated at Rome, takes place, ...on the day of Saturn...(Hislop, Alexander. Two Babylons. Loizeaux, Neptune (NJ), Second American Edition, 1959--originally expanded in 1858).

Whether the above ceremony still exists, this writer does not know. But it is interesting that at least one Roman ceremony acknowledged a Saturday resurrection that late. Perhaps, this ceremony was originally adopted by Rome partially because the early Romans knew that Jesus was actually resurrected on Saturday.

Irrespective of that celebration, it is clear that there is evidence outside the Bible that among those that professed Christ, there were some who understood that the crucifixion was on a Wednesday and the resurrection was on a Saturday.

Furthermore, even the late Jerry Falwell, a Sunday-keeping Protestant evangelic minister stated:

Rev. Jerry Falwell, chancellor of Liberty University in Virginia. "Saturday is clearly the Sabbath as is recorded many times in the Old Testament...“I personally believe he was crucified on Wednesday evening … and rose after 6 p.m. Saturday evening,” Falwell tells WorldNetDaily. (Kovacs J. Sunday, holy Sunday? Pastor resurrects Sabbath debate with $1 million reward. Posted: October 13, 2001 1:00 am Eastern.

Hence, it is clear that some know that Jesus was not resurrected on a Sunday.

More biblical information on this subject can also be found in the article What Happened in the Crucifixion Week?.

Jesus and Paul Did Not Observe Sunday

Neither Jesus nor Paul observed Sunday. They both taught and observed the seventh day Sabbath. Jesus repeatedly taught on the Sabbath:

2 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue (Mark 6:2, NKJV throughout except where indicated).

16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read (Luke 4:16).

6 Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught (Luke 6:6).

10 Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath (Luke 13:10).

31 Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths (Luke 4:31).

What was different about Jesus, as far as the Pharisees were concerned, was that Jesus emphasized that the Sabbath was not just for rest, it was a time to do good. Here are a few statements from Jesus on that:

12 Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath (Matt 12:12).

9 "I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?" (Luke 6:9).

5 "Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?" (Luke 14:5).

23 If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? 24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment (John 7:23-24).

As far as when the Sabbath actually is for Christians, the Apostle Paul was inspired to write:

Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'" And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work." And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest." It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience...There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience (Hebrews 4:3-6,9-11, NIV).

This clearly shows that the command to keep the seventh day Sabbath is in the New Testament. Only those who will not observe it because of their disobedience argue otherwise. And that is when Paul observed it. As Acts 13:42-44 shows,

...the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God.

Also Acts 18:4, discussing Paul, states, "And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks."

Perhaps it should be mentioned that The Catholic Mirror ran a series of articles essentially proving that the biblical Sabbath was Saturday, that the Lord's day in Revelation 1 is not a reference to Sunday, that the Church of Rome implemented Sunday, and that nearly all Protestants followed Rome. The full text is found in the article The Christian Sabbath.

The Book of Jubilees

There is a writing that is believed to come from certain Jews between 100-300 B.C., though no one is certain of the date called the Book of Jubilees. It has a prediction that the day of the week would be changed:

(Book of Jubilees, Chapter 6, verses 33-37. From The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament by R.H. Charles, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913 Scanned and Edited by Joshua Williams, Northwest Nazarene College. accessed 10/31/15)

This seems to be a prediction for Sunday. But this prophecy did not come from God. It is likely that Satan knew he would eventually influence various ones to keep Sunday. A version of Mithraism affected parts of the world when the above was likely written, but probably had not entered into the Roman Empire then. ut later it did--and before Jesus was born. There is also a small possibility that one of God's prophets warned the children of Israel, and some of it was incorporated into the Book of Jubilees (something similar seems to have happened with the Enoch--the Bible refers to to one of his statements in Jude 14--which is also found in the co-called Book of Enoch--yet other than perhaps the first chapter or so, the rest of the claimed Book of Enoch did not come from Enoch nor God).

Mithra, Sunday, and Jesus Christ

Mithraism is believed to have entered Rome around 75 B.C. While various Romans worshiped the sun-god, sun-god worship became obligatory throughout the Roman Empire under Heliogabalus who reigned from 218-222 (Monroy MS. The Church of Smyrna: History and Theology of a Primitive Christian Community. Peter Lang edition, 2015, p. 215).

The pagan Emperor Constantine allegedly saw a vision of the sun-god Sol in 310 and became more of a sun-god worshiper and followed Mithras (a little more on that later). 

Perhaps it should be mentioned that it has been claimed that the Gnostics got the idea of Sunday from the sun-god called Mithras also spelled as Mithra (whose "birthday" is celebrated on December 25th). Here is some of what The Catholic Encyclopedia admits:

Mithraism A pagan religion consisting mainly of the cult of the ancient Indo-Iranian Sun-god Mithra. It entered Europe from Asia Minor after Alexander's conquest, spread rapidly over the whole Roman Empire at the beginning of our era, reached its zenith during the third century, and vanished under the repressive regulations of Theodosius at the end of the fourth century...Helios Mithras is one god...Sunday was kept holy in honour of Mithra...The 25 December was observed as his birthday, the natalis invicti, the rebirth of the winter-sun, unconquered by the rigours of the season (Arendzen. J.P. Transcribed by John Looby. Mithraism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

More recent scholars have noted basically the same thing. Notice what the 21st century historian Craig Harline wrote about the origin of Sunday:

The Roman calendar has long featured numerous annual festivals and an eight day market cycle, but it had no tradition of weekly commemoration of a particular day. During the first century AD, this changed as Rome adopted a seven-day week of its own, shaped by Jewish, planetary, and native Roman traditions...

To begin with, Sun Day mattered more than even among Roman pagans, who still far outnumbered Christians and who may well have influenced how Christians worshiped on their special day.

The second century pagan empire was not irreligious...on Sun Day, Roman pagans began with early services in honor of the rising Sun and Sun God...

More important in raising the status of Sun Day among pagans was Mithraism. This movement was related to the emperor's Invincible Sun Cult but carried much broader appeal, especially among the empire's multitude of soldiers. Followers of Mithra did emphasize Sun Day, and with greater impact than early Christians. In fact they may have influenced the Christian choice of the first day of the week for worship and some Christian forms of worship. Purification by baptism, the virtues of abstinence...setting aside heaven for the pure...and celebrating the birth of their God on December 25 are all allowable parallels. Another was Mithraism's treatment of Sun Day.

Christians assigned their own meanings to such practices...Christ was the true Sun, and east was the direction in which Christ ascended into heaven...the similarities in worship, the new status of the first day among both groups at about the same time, the pagan assumption that Christians were fellow Sun-worshipers, and the emergence of the Christian metaphor "Christ the Sun" all suggest a connection of some sort (Harline C. Sunday: A History of the First Day from Babylonia to the Super Bowl. Doubleday, NY, 2007, pp. 5,9-10).

Absolutely astounding! There is nothing in the Bible to suggest Jesus Christ is the Sun nor that east was the direction in which Christ ascended into heaven (to verify that latter point, simply read the account in Acts 19-11). Actually, the Bible is clear that humans are not to worship any celestrial bodies, which includes the sun:

And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the LORD your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage (Deuteronomy 4:19).

Although in English, the terms "son" and "sun" sound exactly the same, that is not the case in either Greek nor Latin. In Greek they are phonetically pronounced hwee-os and hay-lee-os respectively (Source: Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). In Latin, they are spelled filius and sol respectively.

Furthermore, the Greek for the expression Christ the Sun would be Χριστός τό Ηλiου. Ηλiου meant sun, but was also the name of the sun god (Helios). Wikipedia has this interesting statement:

In Late Antiquity a cult of Helios Megistos ("Great Helios") drew to the image of Helios a number of syncretic elements, which have been analysed in detail by W. Fauth by means of a series of late Greek texts, namely: an Orphic Hymn to Helios; the so-called Mithras Liturgy. Notice that Helios is tied to Mithraism. And that the cult of Helios drew syncretic elements (Helios. Wikipedia. verified 09/10/07).

Combining "Christianity" was pagan elements is syncretic. But since Mithraism was itself syncretic, it is more accurate to say that a modified Mithraism is what emerged after Constantine (including the dress of clergy, etc.).

Does any true Christian think that real Christians were going around saying, "Christ is true Helios" or "the Son of God is Helios"?

Thus, this is apparently why those into Mithraism would consider that the paganized "Christians" that did this were sun-worshipers like them. This probably brought the two groups (Mithraism/Helios followers and sun-honoring Christ professors) closer together and may better explain how what passes for mainstream Christianity adopted such non-biblical practices such as a December 25th celebration called Christmas.

Thomas H. Greer wrote:

Mithra was also associated with the sun, and his followers marked Sunday as his day of worship. They called it the "Lord's Day," for Mithra was known to them as Lord (Greer T. A brief history of Western man, 3rd edition.  Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977; Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized Apr 27, 2006, p. 121).

Notice the following carving of Mithra:

Carving of Mithra the Sun God

Can you see the sun-rays from around Mithra's head? Does that not suggest the "halo" like depictions of Christ that now exist? This is yet another area where pagan practices apparently influenced what now passes for mainstream "Christianity."

Second Century Writings and Sunday

Many people cite the Didache (circa 70-135 A.D.) as the first text showing that Sunday was used by 2nd century Christians. However, the terms for Sun or day are not in the text.

In the Didache, the Greek expression normally translated by 19th Century Protestant scholars as "On the Lord's day" is Κατα κυριακήν δε κυριου (The Didache.  Verse 14.   In: Holmes M. The Apostolic Fathers--Greek Text and English Translations, 3rd printing 2004, pp. 266-267) which literally means "According to the Lord's way, even the Lords" and the context appears to actually be referring to the Christian Passover (which Protestant scholars do not observe, hence this may explain why they did not translate it literally). Thus, this passage does not in any way support the idea that Christians observed Sunday.


The other early text often cited by Sunday supporters is from Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians. However, the terms for Sun or day are also not in the text. Although some scholar erroneously translated `κυριακήν as "Lord's Day", it should be translated as “Lord’s way” or combined with the Greek word that follows it , ζωντες (Ignatius.  Letter to the Magnesians. Verse 8. In: Holmes M. The Apostolic Fathers--Greek Text and English Translations, 3rd printing 2004, p. 154 ), “Lord’s way of life” or “Lord’s living.” More information on this can be found in the article The Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath.

There is also a quote allegedly from Ignatius’ Letter to the Trallians, however it is from verse 9 in the ‘longer version’ of that letter, which scholars discount as not authentic--it was lengthened much later by someone else—the shorter version, whose authenticity is widely accepted, says nothing about “the Lord’s Day” (Ignatius.  Letter to the Trallians. Verse 9. In: Holmes M. The Apostolic Fathers--Greek Text and English Translations, 3rd printing 2004, pp. 164-165).

It should be noted that although Sunday-leaning historians such as Philip Schaff have suggested that there was no controversy involved with the switch to Sunday, this is a false assertion, as he ignores some of what he edited. No one in the truly in the Church of God ever accepted Sunday.

Furthermore, around 200 A.D. Tertullian's writings suggest that there were problems regarding the switch to Sunday:

Others, with greater regard to good manners, it must be confessed, suppose that the sun is the god of the Christians, because it is a well-known fact that we pray towards the east, or because we make Sunday a day of festivity. What then? Do you do less than this?...We are not far off from your Saturn and your days of rest (Tertullian. Ad Nationes (Book I), Chapter 13. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Notice that Tertullian is stating that Sunday worshipers have been charged with worshiping the sun as God and that Tertullian is trying to claim that Sunday is not far from Saturday as the day of rest. But Saturday was the day God implemented, not Sunday.

Greek in the 21st Century

Year ago, I wondered before going to Greece why native Greeks did not realize that Κυριακήν did not literally mean "Lord’s Day" as that meaning is not inherent in the word.  But after speaking with several knowledgeable Greeks, I concluded that because of pressures of tradition from compromised religious authorities, the meaning of this term had been changed over time--so much so that modern Greeks do not seem to think about its original meaning.

Now the modern Greek word for Sunday is Κυριακή (Stavropoulos DN.  Oxford English-Greek Learner’s Dictionary, 14th ed.  Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003, p. 487).  Hence the Greeks consider that the word is simply now means Sunday, and thus they ignore its literal meaning. However, even in modern Greek, Κυρια (the base of the other words) still literally means Master or Lord—it has nothing to do with the Sun or a day—nor is the idea of "Sunday" supported by the context in Ignatius (more information can be found in the article Lord's Day or Day of the Lord?). 

Jesus taught that "in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9, see also the article Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings).

The Eighth Day and Sunday

The alleged Epistle of Barnabas (c. 135 A.D.) from Alexandria is sometimes also cited by Sunday supporters, but scholars do not believe that Barnabas wrote it, and it essentially claims God wanted the ‘eighth day’ instead of the seventh-day Sabbath in the Book of Isaiah (even though terms for eight or eighth are never mentioned in Isaiah).  It should be understood that the "eighth day" was popular with those involved with Greek philosophy at that time (which included most of the "educated" classes).

The idea of Christianity being tied to an "eighth" comes from a concept held by Gnostic heretics that the Logos (Jesus) was related to the Ogdoad (a word signifying eight). Irenaeus condemned that as a heresy in the second century and noted the following:

By the conjunction of Logos and Zoo were brought forth Anthropos and Ecclesia; and thus was formed the first-begotten Ogdoad, the root and substance of all things, called among them by four names, viz., Bythus, and Nous, and Logos, and Anthropos. For each of these is masculo-feminine, as follows: Propator was united by a conjunction with his Ennoea; then Monogenes, that is Nous, with Aletheia; Logos with Zoe, and Anthropos with Ecclesia.

These Aeons having been produced for the glory of the Father, and wishing, by their own efforts, to effect this object, sent forth emanations by means of conjunction...Moreover, they declare that this invisible and spiritual Pleroma of theirs is tripartite, being divided into an Ogdoad, a Decad, and a Duodecad. And for this reason they affirm it was that the "Saviour" -- for they do not please to call Him "Lord" -- did no work in public during the space of thirty years, thus setting forth the mystery of these Aeons (Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book 1, Chapter 1, Verses 1-3).

1...Valentinus, who adapted the principles of the heresy called "Gnostic" to the peculiar character of his own school, taught as follows: He maintained that there is a certain Dyad (twofold being), who is inexpressible by any name, of whom one part should be called Arrhetus (unspeakable), and the other Sige (silence). But of this Dyad a second was produced, one part of whom he names Pater, and the other Aletheia. From this Tetrad, again, arose Logos and Zoe, Anthropos and Ecclesia. These constitute the primary Ogdoad. He next states that from Logos and Zoe ten powers were produced (Irenaeus. Against Heresies, Book 1, Chapter 11, Verse 1).

There are several important concepts above. The first is that this is clearly not biblical. The second involves the Ogdoad, that is, the eighth--this eighth quickly develops into an eighth day of the week belief, which is now the day we call Sunday (Sunday is considered to be both the first and eighth day of the week by Roman heretics such as Justin Martyr). The third is that Irenaeus was condemning people such as Valentinus and his followers for holding such views. And while Valentinus was condemned by Polycarp around 155 A.D., the Roman Catholics allowed him and his people to fellowship with them for another two decades before finally putting them out forever. However, by tolerating these heretical ideas, the Romans and their followers sadly adopted these unbiblical practices.

WCG/GCI writer Michael Morrison (prior to 2006) wrote:

Ignatius used kuriake alone, and textual variants cause the meaning to be debatable...

Clement of Alexandria (c. 190) also gives clear evidence that kuriake meant the eighth day, Sunday, and he spoke of “keeping” the Lord’s day. He quoted a Valentinian Gnostic who equated the kuriake with the ogdoad, the eighth heaven. “The same identification of kuriake, the eighth day, with the ogdoad, the eighth heaven, is found in the antignostic Epistula Apostolorum [also second century].”

In summary, evidence for the use of “Lord’s day” is clear for the latter half of the second century, but it is less clear for the first half.

Notice that it is admitted that Sunday was not shown to be the "Lord's day" until a century or so AFTER Jesus was resurrected. Also, notice that Clement of Alexander tied his eighth day in with the Gnostic ogdoad.

The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches:

Clement of Alexandria, himself infected with Gnosticism, actually uses Marcus number system though without acknowledgement (Strom, VI, xvi) (Arendzen JP. Transcribed by Joseph P. Thomas. Marcus. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

This Marcus was a heretic, who followed the Gnostic heretic Valentinus who was denounced by COG leader Polycarp of Smyrna, but tolerated for decades afterwards by the Church of Rome. He also taught the ogdoad as well--the sun and the zodiac circle were important to the Marcosians:

They maintain, then, that first of all the four elements, fire, water, earth, and air, were produced after the image of the primary Tetrad above, and that then, we add their operations, viz., heat, cold, dryness, and humidity, an exact likeness of the Ogdoad is presented. They next reckon up ten powers in the following manner:— There are seven globular bodies, which they also call heavens; then that globular body which contains these, which also they name the eighth heaven ; and, in addition to these, the sun and moon. These, being ten in number, they declare to be types of the invisible Decad , which proceeded from Logos and Zoe . As to the Duodecad , it is indicated by the zodiacal circle, as it is called; for they affirm that the twelve signs do most manifestly shadow forth the Duodecad , the daughter of Anthropos and Ecclesia...The sun also, who runs through his orbit in twelve months, and then returns to the same point in the circle... Also the circumference of the zodiacal circle itself contains three hundred and sixty degrees (for each of its signs comprises thirty); and thus also they affirm, that by means of this circle an image is preserved of that connection which exists between the twelve and the thirty. Still further, asserting that the earth is divided into twelve zones, and that in each zone it receives power from the heavens, according to the perpendicular [position of the sun above it], bringing forth productions corresponding to that power which sends down its influence upon it, they maintain that this is a most evident type of the Duodecad and its offspring. (Irenaeus. Adversus Haereses, Book I, Chapter 17, Verse 1).

Catholic scholar and Priest Bagatti wrote:

The application of these principles, of Platonic or Pythagorean origin, to Christianity introduced a great diversity of views…In this system were admitted as personified the tetrad (= 4), namely, the four fundamental elements of the cosmos, become through application synonymous with the cross…the ogdoad was referred to Christ-Day for which reason the eighth day was called the ‘Lord’s Day’… (Bagatti, Bellarmino. Translated by Eugene Hoade. The Church from the Circumcision. Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi, 13 Maii 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 14 Junii 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970. Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, p. 149)

So, pagan Greek concepts, that the Gnostics adopted, apparently combined some information from Mithraism, ended up in the Lord's Day.

Notice what the Greco-Roman Bishop Victorinus wrote in the late 3rd century:

"This you have also, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitanes." But because you yourself hate those who hold the doctrines of the Nicolaitanes, you expect praise. Moreover, to hate the works of the Nicolaitanes, which He Himself also hated, this tends to praise. But the works of the Nicolaitanes were in that time false and troublesome men, who, as ministers under the name of Nicolaus, had made for themselves a heresy, to the effect that what had been offered to idols might be exorcised and eaten, and that whoever should have committed fornication might receive peace on the eighth day. Therefore He extols those to whom He is writing; and to these men, being such and so great, He promised the tree of life, which is in the paradise of His God. (Victorinus. Chapter 2, verses 6-8. Commentary on the Apocalypse. Translated by Robert Ernest Wallis. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886)

The statement about hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans comes from Revelation 2:6 and relates to the Church of Ephesus. It was towards the end of the Ephesus era (c. 130-135) that the Greco-Romans began to adopt Sunday, which they and the Gnostics called the eighth day.

That being said, the first clear reference to those professing Christ meeting on Sunday (as opposed to simply "the eighth day") was from the philosopher Justin Martyr around 150 A.D.

His statement is often translated as,

... on the day called Sunday (Justin Martyr.  The First Apology.  Chapter LXVII. Text edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson and first published in Edinburgh, 1867. Additional introductionary material and notes provided for the American edition by A. Cleveland Coxe 1886. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprint 2001 ).

The actual Greek expression Justin used was, τῇ τοῦ ῾Ηλίου λεγομένη ἡμέρᾳThe terms he used were ἡμέρᾳ which means day, Ηλίου is considered to mean Sun (although it is the term for the sun god Helios, also called Mithra), and λεγομένη currently means said. Thus Justin literally stated "on the day said {of} Helios" or more awkwardly"on the Helios said day".

Justin's Greek comment demonstrates that the term Κυριακήν was not then the common Greek word for Sunday. If any of you reading this article are Sunday supporters and believe that you should rely on the teachings of Justin Martyr, you may wish to read the article Justin Martyr: Saint or Heretic and Apostate?

But why Sunday?

In one place, Justin gives two reasons:

We hold our common assembly on the day of the sun, because it is the first day, on which God put to flight darkness and chaos and made the world, and on the same day Jesus Christ our saviour rose from the dead (Justin Martyr.  The First Apology.  Chapter LXVII. Text edited by H. Betteson and C. Maunder. Documents of the Early Church, 3rd ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1999, p.73).

This poses two problems as the Bible disagrees with both of those positions.

Regarding the first, notice that the seventh day Sabbath is observed because of the entire creation, not Sunday, as the Bible shows:

11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it (Exodus 20:11).

Furthermore, as odd as this will sound, Justin claimed that Sunday worship was ordained because circumcision was on the eighth day after the birth of Hebrew males in the Old Testament:

Now, sirs," I said, "it is possible for us to show how the eighth day possessed a certain mysterious import, which the seventh day did not possess, and which was promulgated by God through these rites...there is now another covenant, and another law has gone forth from Zion. Jesus Christ circumcises all who will--as was declared above--with knives of stone; that they may be a righteous nation, a people keeping faith, holding to the truth, and maintaining peace (Dialogue with Trypho. Chapter XXIV).

The average person who worships on Sunday probably does not wish to believe that this is what Sunday is based on, but this eighth day logic is what the first Sunday references base its superiority on (and this was apparently done so that the obvious connection to Mithra and the Ogdoad would not be considered as the true causes).

Hence, both the heretical Epistle of Barnabas and the heretic Justin Martyr actually teach that Sunday worship for Christians is wrapped up in a theology involving the eighth day, which they claim is the still the first day, but preferred as it comes after the seventh day. As mentioned earlier, the idea of the eighth day being of value originated with the Greek philosophers and was later adopted by Gnostic heretics.

But that, combined with Mithraism, is where a lot of early support for Sunday worship originated.

The semi-Gnostic Clement of Alexandria also wrote:

And the Lord's day Plato prophetically speaks of in the tenth book of the Republic, in these words: And when seven days have passed to each of them in the meadow, on the eighth they are to set out and arrive in four days. By the meadow is to be understood the fixed sphere, as being a mild and genial spot, and the locality of the pious; and by the seven days each motion of the seven planets, and the whole practical art which speeds to the end of rest. But after the wandering orbs the journey leads to heaven, that is, to the eighth motion and day. And he says that souls are gone on the fourth day, pointing out the passage through the four elements. But the seventh day is recognised as sacred, not by the Hebrews only, but also by the Greeks; according to which the whole world of all animals and plants revolve. Hesiod says of it:—

The first, and fourth, and seventh day were held sacred.

And again:—

And on the seventh the sun's resplendent orb.

And Homer:—

And on the seventh then came the sacred day.


The seventh was sacred.

And again:—

It was the seventh day, and all things were accomplished.

And again:—

And on the seventh morn we leave the stream of Acheron.

Callimachus the poet also writes:—

It was the seventh morn, and they had all things done.

And again:—

Among good days is the seventh day, and the seventh race.


The seventh is among the prime, and the seventh is perfect.


Now all the seven were made in starry heaven,
In circles shining as the years appear.

The Elegies of Solon, too, intensely deify the seventh day.

And how? Is it not similar to Scripture when it says, Let us remove the righteous man from us, because he is troublesome to us? when Plato, all but predicting the economy of salvation, says in the second book of the Republic as follows: Thus he who is constituted just shall be scourged, shall be stretched on the rack, shall be bound, have his eyes put out; and at last, having suffered all evils, shall be crucified. (Clement of Alexandria. Stromata, Book V, Chapter 14).

And the fourth word is that which intimates that the world was created by God, and that He gave us the seventh day as a rest, on account of the trouble that there is in life. For God is incapable of weariness, and suffering, and want. But we who bear flesh need rest. The seventh day, therefore, is proclaimed a rest—abstraction from ills—preparing for the Primal Day, our true rest; which, in truth, is the first creation of light, in which all things are viewed and possessed. From this day the first wisdom and knowledge illuminate us. For the light of truth—a light true, casting no shadow, is the Spirit of God indivisibly divided to all, who are sanctified by faith, holding the place of a luminary, in order to the knowledge of real existences. By following Him, therefore, through our whole life, we become impassible; and this is to rest.

Wherefore Solomon also says, that before heaven, and earth, and all existences, Wisdom had arisen in the Almighty; the participation of which—that which is by power, I mean, not that by essence—teaches a man to know by apprehension things divine and human. Having reached this point, we must mention these things by the way; since the discourse has turned on the seventh and the eighth. For the eighth may possibly turn out to be properly the seventh, and the seventh manifestly the sixth, and the latter properly the Sabbath, and the seventh a day of work (Clement of Alexandria. Stromata, Book VI, Chapter 16).

So let's see. Clement says that God rested on the seventh day and now he keeps the eighth day, but that it is possible that the eighth day is really the seventh day, thus he keeps the eighth. But since the pagan Plato endorse it and other things, it is acceptable. How bizarre!

Jesus and the Jews clearly kept the seventh day, so there is no way that the seventh day could turn out to be the sixth and a day of work and the eighth the seventh day of rest as Clement suggested.

By the time of Augustine, we see him come up with another odd explanation about the "eighth day":

The Sabbath is the seventh day, but the Lord's Day, coming after the seventh, must needs be the eighth, and is also to be reckoned the first. For it is called the first day of the week, and so from it are reckoned the second, third, fourth, and so on to the seventh day of the week, which is the Sabbath. But from Lord's Day to Lord's Day is eight days...Further too, the number fifty in itself also contains a great mystery. For it consists of a week of weeks, with the addition of one as an eighth to complete the number of fifty...In like manner, therefore, the circumcision on the eighth day, which was given to the patriarchs, foretold our justification, to the putting away of carnal lusts through the resurrection of our Lord, which took place after the seventh day, which is the Sabbath-day, on the eighth, that is, the Lord's day, which fell on the third day after His burial (Augustine. Exposition on Psalm 150, Chapter 1).

Notice that Augustine recognize that the Sabbath is the seventh day, but that he apparently felt sometimes using an eighth-day week helped justify an eighth day Sunday observance.

Notice something more recent:

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 24, 2006 - a translation of Benedict XVI's address: It is what is also emphasized by the Second Vatican Council's constitution on the sacred liturgy, which affirms: "The Church, by an apostolic tradition, which has its origin in the same day of the resurrection of Christ, celebrates the paschal mystery every EIGHT DAYS, on the day that is called with reason 'day of the Lord' or Sunday". ("Sacrosanctum Concilium," No. 106).

Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church acknowledges that the seventh day is the Sabbath, but that it keep the eighth:

The sabbath...The sacred text says that "on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done"...

The eighth day. But for us a new day has dawned: the Day of Christ's resurrection (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 345,349. Imprimi Potest + Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, New York, 1994, p. 100).

Since the resurrection was not on Sunday and the eighth day came from pagans and Gnostic heretics, should you observe it?

Calvinists Claim The Eighth Day Foretold?

Notice a report about John Calvin published in 1650:

Mr. Calvin [in his Institutions, lib. 3: chap, 8. sect, 33.] saith, The old Fathers, not without choice of their owne, put in place of the Sabbath, the day we call Sunday, etc. And a little after exhorte thus, to follow the order, by the Church appointed; etc. (Ockford J. The Fourth Commandment Deformed by Popery Reformed and Restored to Its Primitive Purity. London, Printed by G. Dawson, 1650)

In other words, John Calvin admitted and accepted that Greco-Roman leaders, not Jesus or the Bible, choose to switch to Sunday.

But later, in an apparent effort to look for justification for "eighth day" worship, notice what the following Calvinist "catechism" states:

Q. 11. Under what name or designation is the Christian Sabbath foretold in the Old Testament?

A. Under the name of the EIGHTH DAY, Ezek. 43:27 -- "And when these days are expired, it shall be that upon the EIGHTH DAY, and so forward, the priests shall make your burnt offerings upon the altar, and your peace offerings: and I will accept you, Saith the Lord."

Q. 12. Why called the eighth day?

A. Because the first day of the week now, is the eighth in order from the creation. (THE SHORTER CATECHISM EXPLAINED. The Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics. 06/07/20 also Erskine E, Fisher J. The Westminster Assembly's Shorter Catechism Explained. William S. Young publisher, 1840, p. 81).

Is Ezekiel prophesying Sunday, or is he talking about something else? Notice the context of what Ezekiel wrote:

18 And He said to me, "Son of man, thus says the Lord GOD: 'These are the ordinances for the altar on the day when it is made, for sacrificing burnt offerings on it, and for sprinkling blood on it. 19 You shall give a young bull for a sin offering to the priests, the Levites, who are of the seed of Zadok, who approach Me to minister to Me,' says the Lord GOD. 20 You shall take some of its blood and put it on the four horns of the altar, on the four corners of the ledge, and on the rim around it; thus you shall cleanse it and make atonement for it. 21 Then you shall also take the bull of the sin offering, and burn it in the appointed place of the temple, outside the sanctuary. 22 On the second day you shall offer a kid of the goats without blemish for a sin offering; and they shall cleanse the altar, as they cleansed it with the bull. 23 When you have finished cleansing it, you shall offer a young bull without blemish, and a ram from the flock without blemish. 24 When you offer them before the LORD, the priests shall throw salt on them, and they will offer them up as a burnt offering to the LORD. 25 Every day for seven days you shall prepare a goat for a sin offering; they shall also prepare a young bull and a ram from the flock, both without blemish. 26 Seven days they shall make atonement for the altar and purify it, and so consecrate it. 27 When these days are over it shall be, on the eighth day and thereafter, that the priests shall offer your burnt offerings and your peace offerings on the altar; and I will accept you,' says the Lord GOD." (Ezekiel 43:18-27).

Even a cursory reading of the above should make it clear to normal people that Ezekiel was not prophesying that the Seventh-day Sabbath would be changed to Sunday. But this is the type of argument that Sunday is actually based upon.

Consider further that God inspired the prophet Ezekiel to write:

26 Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. (Ezekiel 22:26)

So, yes, religious leaders like many Protestant ministers do not distinguish between the clean and unclean and have hidden their eyes to the truth about the Sabbaths (which includes the Holy Days). They are helping to fulfil Ezekiel’s prophecy, and not the one in in Ezekiel 43:27.

For more on Protestant errors, check out the free online book: Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differs from Protestantism.

Passover, Easter, & Sunday

Although most who profess Christianity now celebrate it, Easter-Sunday was not observed by the second century Christians in Asia Minor. They observed Passover.

However, beginning with possibly Telesphorus or Hyginus or Sixtus (there are no contemporaneous records, only a report 5-6 decades later written by Irenaeus), what is now called Easter began to be observed in Rome (though it does not appear to have been enforced before Bishop Soter). First, it was apparently a change in date of Passover from the 14th of Nisan to a Sunday. This is believed to have happened because there was a rebellion by Jews and that any distancing between Jews and Christians seemed physically advantageous (at least to some in Rome and the Greeks in Jerusalem).

Samuele Bacchiocchi noted that the change to Easter-Sunday and to a weekly Sunday was due to persecution (the new Gentile hierarchy he is referring to are Greek bishops in Jerusalem, which took over after the rebellion was crushed):

The actual introduction of Easter-Sunday appears to have occurred earlier in Palestine after Emperor Hadrian ruthlessly crushed the Barkokeba revolt (A.D. 132-135)...

The fact that the Passover controversy arose when Emperor Hadrian adopted new repressive measures against Jewish religious practices suggests that such measures influenced the new Gentile hierarchy to change the date of Passover from Nisan 14 to the following Sunday (Easter-Sunday) in order to show separation and differentiation from the Jews and the Jewish Christians...

A whole body of Against the Jews literature was produced by leading Fathers who defamed the Jews as a people and emptied their religious beliefs and practices of any historical value. Two major causalities of the anti-Jewish campaign were Sabbath and Passover. The Sabbath was changed to Sunday and Passover was transferred to Easter-Sunday.

Scholars usually recognize the anti-Judaic motivation for the repudiation of the Jewish reckoning of Passover and adoption of Easter-Sunday instead. Joachim Jeremias attributes such a development to "the inclination to break away from Judaism." In a similar vein, J.B. Lightfoot explains that Rome and Alexandria adopted Easter-Sunday to avoid "even the semblance of Judaism" (Bacchiocchi S. God's Festival in Scripture and History. Biblical Perspectives. Befriend Springs (MI), 1995, pp. 101,102,103).

Sometime after Sixtus, probably around 155 A.D., Polycarp of Smyrna went to Rome to deal with various heretics and he tried to persuade the bishop not to switch Passover to Easter Sunday. Irenaeus records this:

And when the blessed Polycarp was sojourning in Rome in the time of Anicetus, although a slight controversy had arisen among them as to certain other points…For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp to forego the observance [in his own way], inasmuch as these things had been always observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant; nor, on the other hand, could Polycarp succeed in persuading Anicetus to keep [the observance in his way], for he maintained that he was bound to adhere to the usage of the presbyters who preceded him. And in this state of affairs they held fellowship with each other; and Anicetus conceded to Polycarp in the Church the celebration of the Eucharist, by way of showing him respect (Irenaeus. FRAGMENTS FROM THE LOST WRITINGS OF IRENAEUS. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc).

Irenaeus claimed that Anicetus of Rome (who argued with Polycarp) was following previous Roman bishops, beginning with Sixtus, as Irenaeus around 180 A.D. wrote:

And the presbyters preceding Sorer in the government of the Church which thou dost now rule--I mean, Anicetus and Pius, Hyginus and Telesphorus, and Sixtus--did neither themselves observe it [after that fashion], nor permit those with them to do so (Irenaeus. FRAGMENTS FROM THE LOST WRITINGS OF IRENAEUS. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc).

Later Roman Bishops attempted to enforce this change on the churches throughout the world, but those in Asia Minor refused to make that change, citing the Bible and the teachings of the apostles.

The Catholic writer Lopes noted this about the Roman bishop Victor:

14. VICTOR I, ST. (189-199) An African...Victor tended not to advise other churches but to impose Rome's ideas on them, thus arousing resentment at times in bishops not inclined to accept such impositions. This was the case of Polycratus, the Bishop of Ephesus, who felt offended at this interference. The question was again that of Easter. Victor reaffirmed the decisions of Soter and Eleutherius both with regard to the date, which had to be a Sunday, and with regard to several customs of Jewish origin which were still practiced in some Christian communities...Polycratus justified himself before the pope with a letter containing the phrase " is more important to obey God rather than men" (Lopes A. The Popes: The lives of the pontiffs through 2000 years of history. Futura Edizoni, Roma, 1997, p. 5).

The Catholic writer Eusebius recorded that Polycrates of Ephesus, around 195 A.D. wrote the following to the Roman Bishop Victor who, as the previous writing showed, wanted all who professed Christ to change Passover from the 14th of Nisan to Sunday:

We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord's coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead? All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ' We ought to obey God rather than man' (Eusebius. Church History, Book V, Chapter 24. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1890. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Hence it is clear that throughout the second century, that Polycarp and the churches in Asia Minor continued to observe the Passover on the 14th of Nisan, and not just on Sunday, unlike the Romans.

The second century Christians in Asia Minor also observed the seventh day Sabbath (please see the article Sabbath and the Early Church). They would not accept any Roman compromise (and this may partially explain why Justin left Asia Minor and moved to Rome).

By combining this and the previous sections, it appears that since Greek philosophers liked the eighth day, but the Bible, the Jews, and the early Christians observed the seventh day, and there was a persecution against all things Jewish, that there were those in Rome and elsewhere who determined that it was safer to meet on the "eighth day" as this would distance themselves from the Jews.

Sabbath in the Third Century

During the third century, apostacy hit Antioch of Syria. Part of the compromise was to keep Saturday and Sunday and to keep passover on Sunday.

Notice what the so-called Apostolic Constituitions, written in Syria around 250 A.D. states:

XXIII...But keep the Sabbath, and the Lord's day festival; because the former is the memorial of the creation, and the latter of the resurrection (Apostolic Constitutions - Didascalia Apostolorum Book VII, Section II).

XXXVI. O Lord Almighty Thou hast created the world by Christ, and hast appointed the Sabbath in memory thereof, because that on that day Thou hast made us rest from our works, for the meditation upon Thy laws...Thou didst give them the law or decalogue, which was pronounced by Thy voice and written with Thy hand. Thou didst enjoin the observation of the Sabbath, not affording them an occasion of idleness, but an opportunity of piety, for their knowledge of Thy power, and the prohibition of evils; having limited them as within an holy circuit for the sake of doctrine, for the rejoicing upon the seventh period...On this account He permitted men every Sabbath to rest, that so no one might be willing to send one word out of his mouth in anger on the day of the Sabbath. For the Sabbath is the ceasing of the creation, the completion of the world, the inquiry after laws, and the grateful praise to God for the blessings He has bestowed upon men. All which the Lord's day excels, (4) and shows the Mediator Himself, the Provider, the Lawgiver, the Cause of the resurrection, the First-born of the whole creation, God the Word, and man, who was born of Mary alone, without a man, who lived holily, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and died, and rose again from the dead. So that the Lord's day commands us to offer unto Thee, O Lord, thanksgiving for all (Apostolic Constitutions - Didascalia Apostolorum Book VII, Section II).

Notice that although the writer of the so-called Apostolic Constituitions claims that the Lord's day is better, the writer clearly shows that all knew that the Sabbath was appointed by Christ to be observed. Some information on the apostacy to hit Antioch is included in the article The Smyrna Church Era.

Sunday in the Fourth Century

Many claim that Emperor Constantine was, or became, a Christian no later than in 312 A.D. when he supposedly had a vision that contained a cross.

Yet, this is not quite so. It is not that he did not claim to have a militaristic vision then which could not have come from God (see also Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare or Encourage Violence? and What is the Origin of the Cross as a 'Christian' Symbol?), but he had not renounced his connections to the sun god.

Constantine personally claimed to see an apparition of the sun god Sol in a grove of Apollo in Gaul in 310 (discussed in Rodgers, Barbara S. “Constantine’s Pagan Vision, ”Byzantion, vol. 50, 1980, pp. 259–78)--this obviously was NOT from God. (Those interested in messages from God may wish to read the article Dreams, the Bible, the Radio Church of God, and the Continuing Church of God and/or watch the sermon Dreams, COGs, and One Man Rule.)

Even after his alleged conversion to his claimed version of the Christian faith in 312 (if he was ever baptized, it was supposedly on his death bed in 337 A.D., despite him declaring himself a lay “Christian” bishop by 325), Emperor Constantine still put the sun god Sol on his coins.

Below is a coin from 317 A.D. which shows his likeness on one side and the sun-god on the other side:

Constantine Coin Honoring Sun God

The expression SOLI INVI-C-TO COMITI in English means “In honor of the unconquered Sun (god)”.  Hence it is clear that in 317 Constantine was still honoring the sun-god.

Constantine decreed circa March 7, 321:

Let all judges, the people of cities, and those employed in all trades, remain quiet on the Holy Day of Sunday. Persons residing in the country, however, can freely and lawfully proceed with the cultivation of the fields; as it frequently happens that the sowing of grain or the planting of vines cannot be deferred to a more suitable day, and by making concessions to Heaven the advantage of the time may be lost (Code of Justinian, Book III, Title XII, III. THE JUSTINIAN CODE FROM THE CORPUS JURIS CIVILIS. Translated from the original Latin by Samuel P. Scott. Central Trust Company, Cincinnati, 1932).

Shortly after the above decree, Eusebius recorded this about Constantine:

Accordingly he enjoined on all the subjects of the Roman empire to observe the Lord's day, as a day of rest (Eusebius. Life of Constantine, Book IV, Chapter 18).

Notice that "the Lord's day" became enjoined by a decree of a Roman Empire. Also notice the following:

There is a large body of civil legislation on the Sunday rest side by side with the ecclesiastical. It begins with an Edict of Constantine, the first Christian emperor, who forbade judges to sit and townspeople to work on Sunday (Slater T. Transcribed by Scott Anthony Hibbs. Sunday. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight).

The bolded quote shows one of the first official intertwinings of European politics and Catholic doctrine. Despite the fact that he was not baptized nor ordained, the influence of the sun-god worshiping Emperor Constantine, who declared himself a bishop, was highly significant:

So prominent had Christians and their day become that when the Emperor Constantine proclaimed Sun Day as the weekly holy day for all Romans, some Christians believed that it was for their sake. More likely Constantine, like many Roman aristocrats of the time, was simply trying to find common ground for his mixed pagan and Christian subjects, especially his soldiers. Unity was for the good of the state and the emperors' power (Harline C. Sunday: A History of the First Day from Babylonia to the Super Bowl. Doubleday, NY, 2007, p. 17).

However, after a time, Constantine did clearly begin to provide more favor the Roman version of Christianity which (like the pagans, but unlike the Church of God) endorsed Sunday. He, the sun-worshiping emperor (see Do You Practice Mithraism?), then called for the famous Council of Nicea, which took place in 325 A.D. This council decided that Sunday was to be the day of worship and that Passover was to be observed on Sunday (and that eventually became what is known as Easter). After that council, those in the Church of God who kept the Sabbath were considered to be heretics and outcasts and had to flee in the wilderness.

The Emperor authorized persecution. Around 332, Constantine issued what is known as the Edict Against the Heretics,

Victor Constantinus, Maximus Augustus, to the heretics. “Understand now, by this present statute, ye Novatians, Valentinians, Marcionites, Paulians, ye who are called Cataphrygians, and all ye who devise and support heresies by means of your private assemblies, with what a tissue of falsehood and vanity, with what destructive and venomous errors, your doctrines are inseparably interwoven; so that through you the healthy soul is stricken with disease, and the living becomes the prey of everlasting death. Ye haters and enemies of truth and life, in league with destruction! All your counsels are opposed to the truth, but familiar with deeds of baseness; full of absurdities and fictions: and by these ye frame falsehoods, oppress the innocent, and withhold the light from them that believe. Ever trespassing under the mask of godliness, ye fill all things with defilement: ye pierce the pure and guileless conscience with deadly wounds, while ye withdraw, one may almost say, the very light of day from the eyes of men. But why should I particularize, when to speak of your criminality as it deserves demands more time and leisure than I can give? For so long and unmeasured is the catalogue of your offenses, so hateful and altogether atrocious are they, that a single day would not suffice to recount them all. And, indeed, it is well to turn one’s ears and eyes from such a subject, lest by a description of each particular evil, the pure sincerity and freshness of one’s own faith be impaired. Why then do I still bear with such abounding evil; especially since this protracted clemency is the cause that some who were sound are become tainted with this pestilent disease? Why not at once strike, as it were, at the root of so great a mischief by a public manifestation of displeasure?" (Chapter LXIV.—Constantine’s Edict against the Heretics. This document is from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at Calvin College).


As with the Jewish Sabbath, the observance of the Christian Sunday began with sundown on Saturday and lasted till the same time on Sunday (Slater T. Transcribed by Scott Anthony Hibbs Sunday. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight).

But this changed for most who observed Sunday, to a midnight to midnight observance.

Sabbath and Sunday in the Fifth Century

While initially all who professed Christ observed the seventh day Sabbath, in Rome and Alexandria, they began to also observe Sunday, beginning in the second century.

After a while, those in Rome and Alexandria dropped that Sabbath practice. However, some in Asia Minor still observed the seventh day Sabbath. Others in Asia Minor decided to observe both until at least the fifth century.

For although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the sabbath of every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this (Socrates Scholasticus.  A History of the Church in Seven Books: From the Accession of Constantine, A.D. 305, to the 38th Year of Theodosius II, Inluding a Period of 140 Years, Book V, Chapter 22. Published by S. Bagster, 1844.  Original from Harvard University, p. 404).

So, those in Rome and Alexandria were the first to abandon the Sabbath--they apparently were the first (or among the first) who professed Christ to adopt it. The fact that they "ceased" keeping the Sabbath strongly indicates that they switched the day of their worship.

Sozomen, in the mid-fifth century reported:

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 at Alexandria (Sozomen. THE ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF SOZOMEN. Comprising a History of the Church, from a.d. 323 to a.d. 425. Book VII, Chapter XIX. Translated from the Greek. Revised by Chester D. Hartranft, Hartford Theological Seminary UNDER THE EDITORIAL SUPERVISION OF PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D., AND HENRY WACE, D.D., Professor of Church History in the Union Theological Seminary, New York. Principal of King's College, London. T&T CLARK, EDINBURGH, circa 1846).

There is a long history of Sabbath observance from the beginning of the New Testament to present (some of which is documented in the articles Sabbath and the Early Church and the Churches of Revelation 2 & 3.

Some have indicated that Sunday may be the "mark of the Beast" of Revelation 13:16-17 (see also The Mark of Antichrist). Certain Catholic published positions seem to lean in the direction that Sunday is a Catholic mark as the following indicate:

“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)

Interestingly, here is what Tertullian of Carthage (in eastern Egypt) noted near the beginning of the third century:

Mithra there, (in the kingdom of Satan,) sets his marks on the foreheads of his soldiers (Tertullian. The Prescription against Heretics, Chapter 40. Translated by Peter Holmes, D.D., F.R.A.S.)

Furthermore, the Catholic scholar Aiken noted about followers of the Sun god Mithras:

To attain to a life of happiness in heaven, the rites proper to Mithraism were held to be of exceptional efficacy and importance...Of the Mithraic priesthood... They were presided over by a high priest, styled in the inscriptions Father of Fathers, Pater Patrum, or Pater Patratus. ...and if my memory still serves me right, Mithra there puts a mark on the forehead of his soldiers. (Aiken C.F., Mithraism, p. 264).

More information on Mithras can be found in the article Do You Practice Mithraism?

Sabbath and Sunday in the Eleventh Century

People in the British Isles, including Ireland, may be shocked to learn this, but the Sabbath was kept in them by many until an English woman married Malcom III king of the Scots, and later forced Sunday upon her husband's subjects.

Noted theologian James Moffat reported:

It seems to have been customary in the Celtic churches of early times, in Ireland as well as Scotland, to keep Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, as a day of rest from labor, and Sunday, commemorative of the Lord's resurrection, as one of rejoicing, with exercises of public worship.  In that case they obeyed the fourth commandment literally upon the seventh day of the week…

The queen insisted upon the single and strict observance of the Lord's Day. People and clergy alike submitted, but without entirely giving up their reverence for Saturday, which subsequently sank into a half-holy day preparatory for Sunday (Moffat , James Clement.  The Church in Scotland: A History of Its Antecedents, it Conflicts, and Its Advocates, from the Earliest Recorded Times to the First Assembly of the Reformed Church. Published by Presbyterian Board of Education, 1882.  Original from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Digitized Mar 13, 2008, p. 140).

The queen mentioned above was Margaret who died in 1093.  Margaret was canonized a Roman Catholic saint in the year 1250 by Pope Innocent IV.  Thus, once again political power was used to try to stop people from following the biblical practices of early Christianity.

Comments from Leaders of Sunday Churches

Since so many churches keep Sunday, it might be of interest to say what some of their leaders say about its origins.

In the 16th century, the Pope Pius V’s Catechism claimed:

…the Church of God has in her wisdom ordained that the celebration of the Sabbath should be transferred to "the Lord’s day:" as on that day light first shone on the world...(The Catechism of the Council of Trent: published by command of Pope Pius the fifth.  Translated by Jeremiah Donovan.  F. Lucas, Publisher.  Original from Harvard University, Digitized, Apr 26, 2006, p. 267)

Of course, the true and faithful “Church of God” did no such thing, it was the Church of Rome that made this change (nor did any of the original Apostles authorize it in scripture or elsewhere).

Notice also a Catholic question and answer from The Douay Catechism of 1649 (as published in the 19th century from Catholic sources) telling Protestants who gave them Sunday:

Q. How do you prove that the church hath power to command feasts and holy days?

A. By the very fact of changing the Sabbath into Sunday which Protestants allow of; therefore they fondly contradict themselves by keeping Sunday strictly, and breaking most other feast days commanded by the same church. (Turberville H. The Douay Catechism of 1649: Abridgment of Christian Doctrine.  Approbation: Datum Duaci, Martii 11, 1649; Later approbation: + BENEDICT, Bp Bn.Boston, April 24th, 1833. Excelsior Catholic Publishing House, New York, p. 58 ( viewed 07/08/12)

The following came from the booklet titled Which Day is the Christian Sabbath?:

Saturday vs. Sunday
Statements from Other Churches

Jesus Christ said of the Pharisees, "'In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'  For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men....  All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition" (Mark 7:7-9).  Yet notice what other churches admit regarding their observance of Sunday instead of Saturday.


Stephen Keenan, A Doctinal Catechism, p. 174:
"Question:  Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept?
"Answer:  Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her—she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no scriptural authority....
"Question:  When Protestants do profane work upon Saturday... do they follow the Scripture as their only rule of faith...?
"Answer:  On the contrary, they have only the authority of tradition for this practice.  In profaning Saturday, they violate one of God's commandments, which He has never clearly abrogated, 'Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath.'"

The Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, 3rd ed., p. 50:
"Question:  Which is the Sabbath day?
"Answer:  Saturday is the Sabbath day.
"Question:  Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
"Answer:  We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea [c. 363] transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday."

Catholic Press, Aug. 25, 1900
"Sunday is a Catholic institution, and... can be defended only on Catholic principles....  From beginning to end of Scripture there is not a single passage that warrants the transfer of weekly public worship from the last day of the week to the first."


Charles Buck, A Theological Dictionary, "Sabbath":
"Sabbath in the Hebrew language signifies rest, and is the seventh day of the week... and it must be confessed that there is no law in the New Testament concerning the first day."

Clovis Chappell, Ten Rules for Living, p. 61:
"The reason we observe the first day instead of the seventh is based on no positive command.  One will search the Scriptures in vain for authority for changing from the seventh day to the first."


The Christian at Work", April 19, 1883, and Jan. 1884:
"Some have tried to build the observance of Sunday upon Apostolic command, whereas the Apostles gave no command on the matter at all....  The truth is, so soon as we appeal to the litera scripta [literal writing] of the Bible, the Sabbatarians have the best of the argument."


Isaac William, D.D., Plain Sermons on the Catechism, vol. 1:
"Where are we told in Scripture that we are to keep the first day at all?  We are commanded to keep the seventh; but we are nowhere commanded to keep the first day....  The reason why we keep the first day of the week holy instead of the seventh is for the same reason that we observe many other things, not because the Bible, but because the Church, has enjoined it."


Philip Carrington, Toronto Daily Star, Oct. 26, 1949:
"The Bible commandment says on the seventh day thou shalt rest.  That is Saturday.  Nowhere in the Bible is it laid down that worship should be done on Sunday."


Harold Lindsell (editor), Christianity Today, Nov. 5, 1976:
"There is nothing in Scripture that requires us to keep Sunday rather than Saturday as a holy day."

It was not just older writers who confirm that the day was changed to Sunday. Even the popular book The Da Vinci Code mentions it in the following passages:

In Constantine's day, Rome's official religion was sun worship--the cult of Sol Invictus, or the Invincible Sun--and Constantine was its high priest...By fusing pagan symbols, dates, and rituals into the growing Christian tradition, he created a type of hybrid religion...

Nothing in Christianity is original. The pre-Christian God Mithras – called the Son of God and the Light of the World – was born on December 25, died, was buried in a rock tomb, and then resurrected in three days. By the way, December 25 is also the birthday of Osiris, Adonis, and Dionysus. The newborn Krishna (of Hinduism) was presented with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Even Christianity’s weekly holy day was stolen from the pagans....... Originally, Christianity honoured the Jewish Sabbath of Saturday, but Constantine shifted it to coincide with the pagan’s veneration day of the sun...... To this day, most churchgoers attend services on Sunday morning with no idea that they are there on account of the pagan sun god’s weekly tribute – Sunday. (Brown D. The Da Vinci Code. Doubleday, New York, 2003, pp. 232-233).

Furthermore, even the current Pope Benedict XVI confirmed that Sunday became the day of worship from tradition and that based upon it being some type of eighth day when he stated:

This Sunday the Gospel of John recounts that the risen Jesus appeared to his disciples, gathered in the cenacle, on the evening of the "first day of the week" (John 20:19), and that he showed himself to them again in the same place "eight days later" (John 20:26).

From the beginning, therefore, the Christian community began to live a weekly rhythm, highlighted by the encounter with the risen Lord.

It is what is also emphasized by the Second Vatican Council's constitution on the sacred liturgy, which affirms: "The Church, by an apostolic tradition, which has its origin in the same day of the resurrection of Christ, celebrates the paschal mystery every eight days, on the day that is called with reason 'day of the Lord' or Sunday" ("Sacrosanctum Concilium," No. 106). (Benedict XVI. Homily of April 23, 2006, Vatican City. Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana).

Of course, the resurrection was not on Sunday. And this eighth day discussion is essentially nonsense. Also, according to the Bible, the Passover is an annual event. But the world's form of Christianity accepts the Roman Catholic teachings on both Sunday and the paschal (Passover) observance.

Furthermore, Pope Benedict XVI admits cites the heretic Origen (and he was denounced as a heretic by the Roman Catholic Church) as part of his "proof" for Sunday:

From the very outset, this has been a stable element in the perception of the mystery of Sunday: "The Word", Origen affirms, "has moved the feast of the Sabbath to the day on which the light was produced and has given us as an image of true repose, Sunday, the day of salvation, the first day of the light in which the Savior of the world, after completing all his work with men and after conquering death, crossed the threshold of Heaven, surpassing the creation of the six days and receiving the blessed Sabbath and rest in God" (Comment on Psalm 91)...

Sunday was not chosen by the Christian community but by the Apostles, and indeed by Christ himself, who on that day, "the first day of the week", rose and appeared to the disciples (Benedict XVI. Papal Letter to Cardinal Arinze. January 9, 2007.

I would challenge anyone to show any statement from Jesus ("The Word") that even hints that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday--as such a statement does not exist except in the imaginations of heretics like Origen. Nor does the Pontiff cite one scripture that says that Jesus changed the date (the comments about Jesus supposedly rising on the first day of the week were previously dealt with in this article).

Furthermore, any rational person who reads Psalm 91 would realize that it is discussing protection from God and is not in any way advocating a Sunday rest--and although it does use the terms shadow and night, it never once discussed light--so there is no support at all in Psalm 91 for Origen's false conclusion.

Perhaps I should add that Benedict did know that the Bible teaches that the seventh day is the sabbath, as he previously stated:

"Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord, your God" (Exodus 20:8-9). The sabbath is a holy day, that is, a day consecrated to God on which man understands better the meaning of his life and his work. It can therefore be said that the biblical teaching on work is crowned by the commandment of rest. (Benedict XVI. Homily of March 19, 2006, Vatican City. Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana).

Notice that he called this the biblical teaching. And the biblical teaching is that the seventh day is the sabbath. That is what former Pope Benedict XVI should be endorsing, not Sunday. Yet, his church admits that they changed the date; notice:

The Church, on the other hand, after changing the day of rest from the Jewish Sabbath, or seventh day of the week, to the first, made the Third Commandment refer to Sunday as the day to be kept holy as the Lord's Day (Stapleton, J.H. The Ten Commandments. Transcribed by Marcia L. Bellafiore. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Conclusion about Sunday and the Early Church

There are no verses in the New Testament that enjoin Sunday. The first writings about Sunday worship for those that professed Christ were from heretics. It was enjoined upon the Roman world by a Roman emperor. Even leaders of many of the Sunday observing churches admit that weekly Sunday worship is without biblical support.

The Bible does tell of an eighth day of the week--this is a concept clearly from paganism.

Actually, historically, it is fairly clear that Sunday observation among those that professed Christ had some tie into Roman paganism, most likely Mithraism. Sadly, many practices of Mithraism (such as a December 25 "Christmas") are also still retained by the majority who profess Christ. Yet Jesus Christ, His apostles, and His true followers all observed the biblical seventh-day Sabbath, and not Sunday.

Furthermore, the Bible and early historical accounts support the concept that Greek philosophers, who Romans seemed to follow, liked the eighth day of the week. However, the Bible and early history shows that the Jews and the early Christians observed the seventh day and there was a persecution against all things Jewish. Sadly history shows that there were those in Rome and elsewhere who determined that it was safer to meet on the "eighth day" as this would distance themselves from the Jews (as well as the practices of true Christians). And this desire to safely fit in with the Roman world led to false Christian leaders accepting and teaching the observance of Sunday.

Jesus taught,

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24).

Since Sunday worship did not come from the Bible, can any who observe Sunday truly they are worshiping Him in truth?

Any who observe Sunday are not "obeying God rather than men."

A related sermon is available: Sunday: First and Eighth Day?

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Thiel B. Ph.D. Sunday and Christianity. (c) 2006 2007 2008/2009/2010/201/2012/2013/2014/2015/2017/2020 1106