The Bible Speaks

18. The Change of the Sabbath

In a previous study on the subject of the Sabbath, we discovered that the only day called the Lord’s Day in Scripture is the Sabbath. In Isaiah 58:13 God calls it “My Holy Day”. Nowhere in the Bible is the sanctity withdrawn from the Sabbath and placed on any other day. The Sabbath is a sign between God and His people that they belong to Him. It was made for the good and happiness of mankind.

01. What does the fourth commandment say regarding the Sabbath?
Exodus 20:8-11
8 Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
9 You have six days each week for your ordinary work,
10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you.
11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

02. Has God hinted anywhere in the Bible that he might change this day of worship?
Psalms 89:34
No, I will not break my covenant; I will not take back a single word I said.

03. Where did the idea of worshipping on Sunday originate?
Deuteronomy 17:3-5
3 For instance, they might serve other gods or worship the sun, the moon, or any of the stars—the forces of heaven—which I have strictly forbidden.
4 When you hear about it, investigate the matter thoroughly. If it is true that this detestable thing has been done in Israel,
5 then the man or woman who has committed such an evil act must be taken to the gates of the town and stoned to death.

Note 1
The nations surrounding ancient Israel worshipped many gods, including the sun, moon and planets. God commanded those who did so to be put to death. The worship of the sun goes back many thousands of years, and the day “Sunday” is named after the sun god.
Webster’s Dictionary 1973 Edition - “Sunday: so called because this day was anciently dedicated to the sun”.

04. Did the apostle Paul honour the Sabbath in the New Testament?
Acts 18:4
Each Sabbath found Paul at the synagogue, trying to convince the Jews and Greeks alike.

05. Did those who were close to Jesus honour the Sabbath?
Luke 23:56
Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law.

06. Did Jesus Himself honour the Sabbath?
Luke 4:16
When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures.

07. Where is the first indication in the Bible that the Sabbath was going to be subject of an unauthorised change?
Daniel 7:25
He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time. (NKJV)
Note 1
This chapter seven of Daniel is discussed fully in Study 25. Notice the power mentioned here is said to “think to change times and laws”. Here is predicted a change in the law of God, and as we look back in history we can see the fulfilment of this prophecy. Changes were made in the law of God, and in particular, the commandment referring to time; “Remember the Sabbath day”. The church openly admits having brought about a change in transferring the solemnity of the Sabbath to Sunday. There is no record anywhere of God’s authorisation; rather, man changed it. The change did not occur suddenly, but was a gradual process until the seventh day was almost entirely lost sight of.

Note 2 - Historically Speaking: How did the change of the Sabbath occur?
1. Immediately after Christ
Christians faithfully observed the Sabbath after Christ died. But within the first few centuries there was rapid deterioration of the faith. The seemingly harmless roots of later changes go back to the time of the apostles, just as Paul predicted. While Philip and John were still living, Christians voluntarily commenced celebrating the crucifixion weekend. They centred their celebrations on the crucifixion day, which was the day of the Jewish Passover. Christians suffered much from their origin as a Jewish sect, and the commemoration of the Passover day in memory of the crucifixion was seen in Rome as further identifying Christianity with Judaism. They decided to make a change.

2. Sixtus the Bishop of Rome (42AD - 126AD)
It was Sixtus, the bishop or the papa of the Church in Rome, who started the process that ended in transference of the day of worship. He led Christians to celebrate not the crucifixion, but the resurrection, and to use not the Passover day that fell on different days of the week each year, but rather a Sunday. However it was at first not a weekly, but an annual observance. The Christians in the city of Rome dreaded being confused with the Jews, who had become extremely unpopular because of a series of Jewish revolts against Roman rule. By changing this celebration to Sunday, and applying it to the resurrection, they hoped to avoid being thought Jewish.

3. Movement of Sunday celebration from annual to weekly event
How, and exactly when, the step from the annual resurrection celebration on Sunday, to weekly worship on Sunday, is made is not clear. But it did happen. And it happened in Rome. By A.D. 155 Justin Martyr could say:
“And on the day called Sunday, all who live in our cities or in the country gather together in one place, … Sunday is the day on which we hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, … made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead”.
Our Firm Foundation, page 649.

The next important act in the drama came in A.D. 200 when Pope Victor sought to enforce the annual observance of resurrection Sunday. He ordered all bishops excommunicated who would not follow the plan of celebrating the resurrection festival. Sunday observance was the vehicle the Bishop of Rome used in his attempt to gain control of the church. Rome’s influence, however, was still very limited, for in A.D. 450 Socrates, the skilled church historian, could write:
“For although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries of the Sabbath every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this”
The “ancient tradition” was no doubt the importance Sixtus and Victor had put upon honouring Sunday.

4. Constantine's Compromise
The emperor of Rome, Constantine, was responsible for the compromise between the pagan religion and Christianity. He welded the two together and in so doing elevated the day of the sun above the Sabbath. The first law in favour of Sunday was passed in A.D. 321. The church took action in the council of Laodicea A.D. 336 by transferring the solemnity of the Sabbath to Sunday.
“On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits.”
Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vo1.3, page 1902.
Various councils and laws increasingly condemned the seventh day and exalted Sunday. Thus the pagan institution became the Christian Sunday.

5. The modern day catholic church claims her right to change the Sabbath day
Catholic Mirror (Official organ of the late Cardinal Gibbons) Sept.23, 1893.
“The Catholic church, for over 1,000 years before the existence of a Protestant, by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday…You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorising the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day we never sanctify”

The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, page 50, Peter Geiermann:
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 (A.D.336), transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.

The church of Rome claims responsibility. There are many sincere Roman Catholics, and it is not our purpose to condemn them, or criticise their church. What we are stating are accurate historical facts. Outwardly the church of Rome made the change, but the issue goes much deeper than this. This was a program of sabotage by Satan. He is the one who is primarily responsible for the change of the Sabbath.

6. Further Information
Click Here for a detailed description of the historical events that occurred which resulted in the "changing" of the Sabbath from Saturday (the 7th day) to Sunday (the 1st Day).

08. What about those who continue to keep the counterfeit Sabbath in ignorance?
John 9:41
“If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. But you remain guilty because you claim you can see".

09. What about those who recognise the truth of the Sabbath and still refuse it?
James 4:17
Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.

10. Are we certain that Jesus does not recognise the change of the Sabbath?
Mark 7:7,9
7 Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’
For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.”
9 Then he said,
You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition.

11. How enduring was the sign of the Sabbath to be?
Exodus 31:15-17
15 You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day dedicated to the LORD. Anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death.
16 The people of Israel must keep the Sabbath day by observing it from generation to generation. This is a covenant obligation for all time.
17 It is a permanent sign of my covenant with the people of Israel. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he stopped working and was refreshed.’ ”

12. So who should we be obedient to? The little horn who changed the Sabbath or God who created it?
Acts 5:19
But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.
Hebrews 5:9
In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.

A special day of worship does not indicate one day is better than another: it is what these days stand for that counts. The seventh day belongs to Christ: it is a sign of His power. The first day is a counterfeit, in opposition to Christ. To keep the seventh day shows we give our allegiance to Christ, but to keep the first day shows we give our allegiance to man. Many have unknowingly accepted the counterfeit. In the time of their ignorance God does not hold them responsible, but when one discovers what is truth, one should immediately discard error, or suffer the consequences for rejecting the truth of God. What is stopping you from accepting God's true Sabbath today?

Concluding Question