From Sabbath to Sunday—How the Early Church Forsook the Sabbath for Sunday Worship

Purpose of This Study

The study of how the early (post-apostolic) church turned away from a Torah-centric orientation and embraced the theology that is now the skeletal framework of modern mainstream Christianity is a complex and difficult one, since we have to look back 2000 years to review scanty historical data. Different researchers will view the same tiny amount of documentation that remains from that era and arrive at different conclusions. The final analysis is often determined by the theological glasses the scholar is wearing and thus viewing the data from. Those who start with a pro-Torah penchant or even bias versus an anti-Torah bias will likely come to different conclusions.

Suffice it to say, the brief study that follows will in no way do justice to the subject of how the early church turned Sabbath to Sunday. Our goal is merely to introduce the reader to a different point of view than they have commonly heard in the mainstream church. In this study, we will have achieved our goal if we can gently persuade the reader at least to have an open mind, and to prove all things to see if they are true, and, perhaps, they will, at least, consider the idea that some long-held and institutionalized mainstream Christian beliefs may be more fiction than fact.

Christian Tradition With Regard to Sunday

Why the mainstream church embraces Sunday over Sabbath observance can be summarized succinctly as follows:

The celebration of the Lord’s Day [Sunday] in memory of the resurrection of Christ dates undoubtedly from the apostolic age. Nothing short of apostolic precedent can account for [its] universal religious observance in the churches of the second century. There is no dissenting voice. This custom is confirmed by testimonies of the earliest post-apostolic writers, as Barnabas, Ingnatius and Justin Martyr… (History of the Christian Church, vol 2, pp. 201–202, by Philip Schaff).

In his book, Our Father Abraham, Christian scholar Marvin Wilson takes a more moderated approach when discussing the issue of the early church’s switch from Sabbath to Sunday. He admits the existence of tension between the Jews and Gentile believers over adherence to the Torah making a move from Sabbath to Sunday “exceedingly difficult, if not virtually impossible.” Potential Jewish converts to Christianity, he notes, would have been suspect of any faith that would abandon the Torah (law of Moses) or the Jewishness of one’s past (Ibid., pp. 79–80). Unlike some of his more dogmatic scholarly colleagues, Wilson admits that it is not known when the early church began Sunday worship. He seems to concede to some possible allusions to Sunday worship in the New Testament (NT) by citing several of the scriptures that Christians perennially use to “prove” Sunday observance in the primitive (apostolic) church (e.g., Acts 20:71 Cor 16:2), but he’s reluctant to see these as a clear apostolic mandate for a switch from Sabbath to Sunday. He admits that the Acts 20 passage may be a reference to the Saturday evening (Heb. havdallah or Motza’ei-Shabbat) service, which was, in reality, simply an extension of the regular daily Sabbath service into the evening (Ibid., p. 80).

Our approach to analyzing the subject of when Sunday worship began in the Christian church will be somewhat different than the conventional method of sabbatarians to simply refute the arguments Sunday-keepers make in favor of Sunday worship by quoting NT verses that may suggest a Sunday replacement of the Sabbath. This approach, though seemingly a valid one, ignores the proverbial elephant in the room. That “elephant” is the undeniable pro-Torah views and practices of Yeshua and his apostles, which, when considered, makes their changing Sabbath to Sunday observance a highly incongruent if not an impossible proposition without making the Word of Elohim to lie and the apostles to be lying hypocrites.

To continue reading go here: https://hoshanarabbah.org/blog/2015/02/01/from-sabbath-to-sunday/

 

Did Yeshua break the Sabbath? Some Christian Bible teachers claim he did…

John 5:18, [Yeshua]…broke the Sabbath. Allow me to share an interesting and sad, but true story from my life about a false Christian teacher that I went head-to-head with.

Many years ago, I was in a meeting where a Christian Bible teacher was giving a message on the end times. In the middle of his teaching and totally out of context, he quoted this passage from John and claimed that Yeshua broke the Sabbath. There was a rustle in the audience of about 300 people. A little later, he made the same statement again and began to deride the Sabbath. This time there was an audible moan from some in the audience—many of whom were Sabbath keepers. A feeling of being hit in the gut went through me. A little later, he made the same statement again, and continued to bash Sabbath observance. This time, I could hold my peace no longer, and I stood up and challenged him in the middle of the meeting. I told him that to say that Yeshua had broken the Sabbath was to call Yeshua a sinner, and that Yeshua had not broken the Sabbath, but some Jewish legal traditions (or halakhah) pertaining to the Sabbath. The speaker was flustered and had no response, and the host of the meeting decided to take an intermission.

A year later, it was announced that this Bible teacher had suddenly and unexpectedly dropped dead in the pulpit while preaching. One can’t help but wonder if he had come Continue reading


 

More Instructions on How to Have a Blessed Sabbath

Exodus 35:2, The seventh day … shall be … a set-apart day. In our journey through the Torah, the subject of the seventh day Sabbath keeps popping up. Why is this? It must be an important subject to YHVH. 

When YHVH said in Exodus 20:8 to “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it set-apart (Heb. kadosh),” he is reminding the Israelites of it so that they won’t forget it! He reminds us again in the verse above to keep the Sabbath set-apart. 

But there’s more. 

With each reminder to keep the Sabbath, he gives additional instructions about how to keep the Sabbath set-part (see Gen 2:2–3; Exod 16:23–30; 20:8–11). 

In this passage, he adds not kindling a fire to the list of requirement for properly keeping the Shabbat. This was not just any kind of fire, but a certain type of fire, as we discuss below. Additionally, keeping the Sabbath was so important to the spiritual welfare of Continue reading


 

YHVH and His Sabbath Vs. Stiff-Necked Rebels

Observance of the seventh day Sabbath was one of the first things YHVH taught his people after coming out of Egypt. This shows the importance of this commandment in the eyes of the Creator. Egypt is a biblical metaphor for this world, Passover is a picture of salvation and coming through the Red Sea is a picture of baptism for the remission of sins. This teaches us that Sabbath observance is one of the first acts of obedience that a new believer will do after “being saved.” All arguments to the contrary—about how the Sabbath was done away with or exchanged for Sunday—are meaningless, irrelevant and antibfiblical lies having been propagated by liars, deceivers and the biblically ignorant. Period.

Exodus 16:4–30, The Sabbath. This chapter chronicles YHVH’s efforts to literally force an irreverent, unruly and disobedient nation to keep the seventh day Sabbath.

YHVH endeavored to teach the Israelites the importance of the Sabbath in a most  poignant way and pragmatic way—through food and hunger.

It’s as if YHVH were instructing the stiff-necked and rebellious Israelites that if they refused to follow his Sabbath instructions, they would literally go hungry. “If you don’t obey me, you don’t eat.”

This shows the gravity the Creator places on the Sabbath command. Yet despite these clear instructions, most in the Babylonian (Rev 18:4) mainstream church today, like the rebellious children of Israel of old, refuse to obey YHVH’s clear instructions regarding the Sabbath. Instead, they prefer to believe the doctrines of men proffered to them by their spiritual leaders that purport to invalidate the Continue reading


 

Is it lawful to “do good on the Sabbath” by working on the Sabbath?

I just received an email question from a brother who works at a hospital in the maintenance department, but wants to follow the Torah by observing the Sabbath (Shabbat). His work schedule was just changed, so that he now has to work on Friday evenings at the beginning of the Sabbath. He asked me whether his working on the Sabbath fell under the category of what the Bible calls “doing good on the Sabbath.”

Here was my response to him.

When Yeshua asked the question, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days…” (Mark 3:4; 6:9) it was not in reference to one’s employment, but to miraculously healing a sick person on the Sabbath. Big difference.
Whether one works on the Sabbath because one’s job requires it or not is simply a matter of one’s level of obedience and faith. I believe that if you resolve to obey YHVH and his clear commandments about not violating the Sabbath, and then take the necessary steps of faith NOT to work on the Sabbath, YHVH will bless you with the answer to your problem, so that you’ll not have violate his commands (called sin, 1 John 3:4) by working on the Sabbath. I’ve seen miraculous doors open up for people many times who have resolved not to work on the Sabbath. Be it according to your faith. So that I wouldn’t have to face the difficult situation of breaking the Sabbath and biblical feasts by working on them is why I chose to be self employed more than 35 years ago instead of the pursuing a career in the corporate world upon graduating college. Face it, this world isn’t a friendly to those of us who want to obey YHVH.
One more thing. Please keep this in mind. To the degree we obey YHVH we will be blessed in all areas of our lives. To the degree we don’t, regardless of our excuses, we won’t be blessed. This is a simple spiritual law of cause and effect.
I in no way judge or condemn you. These are difficult issues that many, if not most, people struggle with regularly. YHVH is merciful and gracious and gives us time and space to come into alignment with his perfect will. It doesn’t always happen overnight, but we must be taking steps in that direction.
Let’s keep in mind the clear biblical commands regarding observing the Sabbath in Exodus 20:8–11):
  • We are to remember (i.e. not to forget) the Sabbath day.
  • We are to keep the Sabbath holy or set-apart (i.e. not to profane it by doing our regular secular activities).
  • We are to rest (i.e. not to work) on the Sabbath.
  • We are not to labor (i.e. engage in any work) on the Sabbath (i.e. doing our employment or laborious work).

It’s really that simple.


 

Is “The Lord’s Day” a Proof of Sunday Observance?

Revelation 1:10, The Lord’s Day. This verse is one of the cliche biblical passages that mainstream church scholars use to “prove” Sunday’s replacement of the Sabbath. The problem with this position is that there’s no clear scriptural proof that the apostles ever changed the Sabbath to Sunday. What’s more, to view this passage as referring to Sunday is to take a phrase the early church fathers used as a euphemism for Sunday when pushing for Sunday in place of Sabbath observance and to retroactively apply this meaning to John’s use of the phrase. Frankly, it is biased and dishonest scholarship to take the phrase “the Lord’s day” with its second century colloquial meaning and then to back-apply this meaning to John’s use of the phrase when there’s no reason to believe this was John’s intended meaning.

Alternatively, the phrase, “the Lord’s day, can be a reference to the biblical term “the day of the Lord’s wrath” when YHVH, in the end times, will judge the nations for their wickedness. This is a point that several biblical scholars have made (see From Sabbath to Sunday, by Samuele Bacchiochi, p. 111; E. W. Bullinger’s Companion Bible footnote on Rev 1:10; The Jewish New Testament Commentary on this verse, p. 791, by David Sterns).

There is actually more scriptural proof that the phrase “the day of the Lord” is a reference to the seventh day Sabbath than to the first the week. In Isaiah 58:13, the prophet YHVH refers to the Sabbath as “my holy day…the holy day of the Lord.” So conceivably, it could have been on the Sabbath day itself that John received his vision on the island of Patmos about that great and terrible day of YHVH’s wrath that is to come on the earth just prior to the Messiah’s second coming. 


 

The Sabbath: Physical and Spiritual Rest

Hebrews 4:9–10, Rest. The Greek word sabbatismos means “a keeping of the Sabbath” and is derived from the Hebrew word sabbaton meaning “the seventh day or Sabbath.” It is  derived from the Hebrew word shabbat meaning “sabbath,” which originates from the root verb shabat meaning “to cease, desist, rest.”

Those who have entered into the Sabbath rest do so by following the example of YHVH the Creator who not only rested spiritually, but literally rested on the seventh day after the creation. He set this as an example for man to follow.

Some people see this verse in Hebrews only as a mandate to rest from their spiritual works by putting their faith in Yeshua. This is only partial rest. We must follow the example of YHVH who literally rested on the seventh day as well. Yeshua was YHVH the Creator (Heb 1:10; John 1:3, 10). He kept the Sabbath as YHVH the Creator, and as Yeshua the Messiah. (If Yeshua didn’t keep the Sabbath, then he was a sinner in that he violated the law, and is not our perfect, sin-free Savior! And if he kept the Sabbath, and he did, we are to imitate him as his obedient disciples and imitators by doing what he did. See 1 Cor 11:1.)

When we rest both physically and spiritually, we’re walking out a higher level of truth by walking out both the letter and the spirit of the law as Yeshua taught us to do in his Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:17–48), and as such, we’ve positioned ourselves before YHVH to receive more divine revelation from him. In other words, the more we obey him faithfully in love, the more truth he can entrust us with for safekeeping, for he knows we won’t take for granted or trample his precious truth nuggets. To those who are faithful in much, YHVH gives more. That’s how it works in his spiritual economy.

You see, the Jews keep the physical Sabbath, but have missed the revelation of spiritual rest in Yeshua, while the mainstream Christians have rejected the physical Sabbath rest but accepted the spiritual rest in the Messiah. Both sides have half the truth. Let’s put the two halves together and walk out the full truth!

Keeping the seventh day Sabbath with this fuller understanding is another way of connecting the gospel message to its Hebraic, pro-Torah roots.