Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Myth That Roman Emperor Constantine Changed The Sabbath

           Seventh-Day Adventists claim that the Roman Catholic Church changed the Jewish Sabbath Day from Saturday to Sunday during the reign of Emperor Constantine in the fourth century. They argue that we must avoid gathering on that day due to participation allegedly being the mark of the Beast. Typical attempts to substantiate their claims involve the citation of various nineteenth century authors, who simply made guesses regarding the methodology of early Christian worship services. However, any notion of Rome changing the Sabbath Day to Sunday is false. Mandatory Sabbath observance was only meant for Israel. The tradition of gathering on Sundays for worship has been practiced since the first century in correspondence with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

          The text of Acts 20:7-12 very clearly describes Christians as having fellowship on Sunday. People came together and broke bread. The New Testament records the existence of this tradition elsewhere in passages such as John 20:19-20, 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, and Revelation 1:10. The point is that Christians have always gathered on the first day of the week. Constantine therefore could not have made such a change to the Sabbath, even if he wanted to. The tradition of gathering on Sunday can be found in the earliest existing sources outside of the Bible:

          "But every Lord's day do ye gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, saith the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations." (Didache: The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, Chapter XIV)

          This text speaks of brethren offering pure spiritual sacrifices to God. They were to be done in a state in which people were not at variance with each other. Personal conflicts or grievances were to be resolved, if they existed. Believers set aside time weekly to have fellowship with each other. The "Lord's Day" is a reference to Sunday.  

          "[T]he Gentiles, who have believed on Him, and have repented of the sins which they have committed, they shall receive the inheritance along with the patriarchs and the prophets, and the just men who have descended from Jacob, even although they neither keep the Sabbath, nor are circumcised, nor observe the feasts." (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, chapter XXVI)

          The Gentiles are said to be members of God's kingdom, even though they never previously observed Jewish customs or feast days. Converts from that background were described in a continuous sense as not observing the Sabbath. That is not the basis of receiving the inheritance which God promised to our forefathers.

            "[T]hose who were brought up in the ancient order of things [i.e. Jews] have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s day, on which also our life has sprung up again by him and by his death." (Ignatius of Antioch​​​​​​​, Letter to the Magnesians 8 [A.D. 110])

            This text says without qualification that Sabbath observance is not a part of the Christian life and distinguishes that day from the "Lord's Day."

            It is simply invalid to assert that the Roman Emperor Constantine altered this Jewish day of observance from Saturday to Sunday. No one on earth has the power to change the Sabbath because it was originally instituted by God for the Jewish people.

1 comment:

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

You are 100% correct that Constantine did NOT change the Sabbath. No one can change the Sabbath because GOD instituted it for the Jews only. No one else can even claim it.